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Road To WrestleMania

Top 5: WWE Elimination Chamber Competitors

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The Elimination Chamber is a match that still carries some weight with a number of fans. Unlike other gimmick PPVs the Elimination Chamber feels right at home as the biggest stop on the road to WrestleMania. Though the Chamber is known as one of the most dangerous matches there are some competitors who’ve managed to conquer it. Here are the top five competitors to ever step foot in the Elimination Chamber.

5. Chris Jericho

While Jericho does lay claim to the records of most Chamber appearances with eight and eliminations of all time with ten, Y2J only has one win within the confines of the steel structure. That of which came with interference from Shawn Michaels. Realistically, Jericho could be put on a worst competitors list considering his abysmal record, but he has had such an impact that it would be a shame if he wasn’t a part of the list.

4. The Undertaker

The Undertaker is often associated with a handful of gimmick matches, from Hell in a Cell, to Casket, to Buried Alive matches. However it has seemingly gone under the radar that he does happen to be a standout performer in the Elimination Chamber. He may only possess one win inside the chamber, but the Phenom does have six eliminations under his belt in only three appearances. This is the best elimination to appearance ratio in the chamber’s history. He is also one of the men to start from the first position to go on an win the match, and let us not forget he competed in one after getting severely burned by his pyro.

3. Edge

The Rated R Superstar doesn’t exactly come to mind when taking about Elimination Chamber competitors, but the numbers don’t lie. With two wins out of four appearances and averaging one elimination per outing, Edge is quite decorated when in comes to the chain mesh. He is also the only man to compete in two chamber matches in the same night, one of which he ended up winning.

2. John Cena

John Cena will make his seventh appearance inside the chamber come Feb 25, bringing him just under Jericho in overall appearances. If he manages to win, Cena will tie Triple H with the Elimination Chamber wins, however unlikely that may be. What’s interesting, however, is two of Cena’s wins would lead to a defeat moments later, one by Edge cashing in his Money in the Bank contract at New Year’s Revolution 2006 and the other being Batista at the Elimination Chamber PPV in 2010.

1. Triple H

With four wins, seven eliminations, and six appearances, the Game certainly deserves to be king of the chamber. The first man to lose and retain a championship in the structure, as well as well as being the only man to win back to back chamber matches, and doing it twice, he has been an integral part of the match’s history. It is safe to say Triple H won’t be stepping inside the chamber to compete for gold in the later stages of his career, so someone may take over his top spot someday. But for now he sits atop the Elimination Chamber throne.

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Opinion

Top Five: Superstars Who Surprisingly Never Faced The Undertaker at WrestleMania

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Hulk Hogan Flex

The Undertaker has slain a who’s who of wrestling legends at WrestleMania. But there are some larger than life athletes that are missing from Undertaker’s WrestleMania hit list. From old foes to dream matches these are five superstars the Undertaker surprisingly didn’t face at the grandest stage of them all.

5. Sting

Sting WrestleMania Undertaker

This spot was hard to fill, as there are so many top contenders the Undertaker never faced at the show of shows. From top stars to great rivals, there have been many that have missed the chance to tangle with the reaper with the whole world watching. It was Sting, however, who wanted this match more than most others, and we were right along side him. Seeing the Icon vs. The Phenom would have been a moment worthy of WrestleMania, and it is a shame that it didn’t happen. It is widely documented that the loyalty each man had to their respective business during the Monday Night Wars was unparalleled.  It is also perplexing why the WWE didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to pair up the two legends when they got the chance. It would have been a big money match, and neither man would have been hurt by a defeat. Alas, it will forever be a dream match.

4. Yokozuna

Yokozuna WrestleMania Undertaker

With Undertaker’s reputation of wrestling big men early in his career, it is a true surprise that he never faced the top big man of the time on the grandest stage. In Undertaker’s first few years in the company, Yokozuna was perhaps his biggest rival. Considering the dead man has faced off against WrestleMania opponents for much less, it is rather curious. Taker was one of the few main event guys at the time next to Hart and Michaels, as well as the aforementioned Yokozuna. While Hart did battle the big man at the show of shows multiple times, the honor never went to Taker. Thus Yokozuna is one man who escaped being on Undertaker’s WrestleMania victims list.

3. Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan WrestleMania Undertaker

As one of the few men to have multiple victories over Hogan, Undertaker certainly could have been one of those big bad monsters Hogan usually faced at WrestleMania. Of course, this may have put an end to any hint of a streak, but as stated, Hogan was no stranger to losing to him. The two did feud over the WWF Championship where Taker gained the top title just one year after his debut. It was a rivalry that could have easily continued to the granddaddy of them all, seeing as we were given Hogan vs. Sid at that year’s event. Perhaps Taker could have even defeated Hulkamania, and made his WrestleMania streak all the more impressive.

2. Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin Undertaker

Out of all the faces of WWE’s version of Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore, Taker has interacted with Austin the most. As one of Stone Cold’s obstacles that Mr. McMahon frequently put in his way, the two were constant adversaries. However, it was usually the Rock who would square off with the Rattle Snake while the Phenom was too busy focusing on building his impressive record. To be fair their story never called for a monumental blow off like other rivalries, but seeing as how bother men were on top at the same time, it would have been a spectacle to witness.

1. Mankind

Mankind WWF Undertaker

The Undertaker’s greatest rival that never faced him on the grandest stage is of course Mankind. Their rivalry is well documented and their infamous Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring 1998 is arguably the most known match in the world beside Hogan vs. Andre. An epic clash between the two would have felt right at home on WrestleMania’s card. Both men were to major factors in the Monday Night Wars, and their feud was a big part of that. Mankind would also fit well in the already stacked list of people who have fallen to the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Perhaps their Hell in a Cell boat could have been exchanged with Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man inside the same structure. But what’s done is done, and sometimes is good to leave the heart wanting more.

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WrestleMania 32: Texas Takedown Or How To Put On an Amazing Show on a Shoestring.

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WrestleMania 32 Arena

WrestleMania 32 comes to us from Dallas, Texas and it comes to us in strange circumstances. WWE was hit with a streak of injuries that took out about 1/3 of the roster in the fall of 2015/winter of 2016, including top stars like John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, and others. Because of that, WWE was putting on WrestleMania 32 on something of a shoestring roster. The upside to this is that we got shocking returns, and see superstars step up to the plate, for better or worse.

Shane McMahon, the prodigal son of Vince McMahon, would return to try and save his family’s company from his family, and risk everything in the most demonic structure ever thought of in professional wrestling.

Roman Reigns would do battle to regain the title he was screwed out of time and again by the McMahons in his second WrestleMania main event.

Dean Ambrose would try to prove that he was a main event player and not the forgotten member of the Shield or Roman’s sidekick, and he would do it by going up against The Beast, Brock Lesnar.

Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch would try to cement their own places in history by becoming the first women to co-main event a WrestleMania in an epic battle for the re-instated Women’s Championship.

So, will WrestleMania live up to all this potential, even with the shoestring roster? Let’s find out!

Pre-Show

We start with the Moutain Dew Kickstart Entrance, which is a little too poppy for WWE, in my opinion.

WWE United States Championship Match: Kalisto vs Ryback

Kalisto is out first in a really cool outfit, and he gets a decent pop for a half full building. Ryback gets a round of boos. Kalisto keeps trying to fake Ryback out and I don’t think it worked.

This match was…not good. I like Kalisto and he did alright, but the rest of this match stunk in terms of story and ringwork.

For whatever reason, we get a promo for the Shane/Undertaker match in the middle of this match. Even the guys in the back don’t want to watch this match, apparently.

Back to business, Ryback’s pinned Kalisto, but only gets a two count. This is a big contrast in size and styles and it just isn’t working for me.

Winner: Kalisto retains by pinfall.

Highlights: Kalisto shifting just enough to get a pin attempt on Ryback after a superplex. Salida del Sol from the middle rope.

Comments: This would be Ryback’s last WrestleMania. He would leave later in the spring and has not return.

Team Total Divas (Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Paige, Eva Marie, and Natalya) vs Team B.A.D and Blonde (Lana, Emma, Naomi, Summer Rae, and Tamina)

Team Total Divas get a pretty good pop. Team B.A.D and Blonde don’t get much of a pop.

Summer and Alicia start off and Alicia quickly takes control, but Summer Rae isn’t going to be a pushover and quickly tags in Tamina. Things get out of control pretty quickly.

We get a promo for Total Divas, which I find annoying.

This was actually a really good match. Even the not-great member(s) of both teams got in good spots. Lana is making her in-ring debut at WrestleMania, and I can’t say I’m terribly impressed. She’s not in the ring that long and what she did didn’t wow me.

Brie finally gets tagged and starts cleaning house. Things get crazy quicky and everyone’s getting their spots in. Brie and Naomi are still the legal Superstars and Naomi goes for the moonsault , but Brie gets a knee up. Brie is knocked off the top turnbuckle, but counters Naomi into a rolling Yes! Lock for the win.

Winner: Brie Bella makes Naomi tap with the Yes! Lock for her team. As the Divas celebrate, Nikki comes out, to a great pop, in a neck brace, to join them. There are hugs all around and Brie is lifted up on her teammate’s shoulder.

Highlights: Natalya and Paige doing a Hart Attack on Naomi.

Comments: This would be Brie Bella’s last WrestleMania for awhile. She would retire to start a family, though she has started making returns to WWE.

The Usos vs the Dudley Boys

Usos are out first to a good reaction. I miss the war dance entrance. Dudleys get a great pop, even though they’re the heels.

Dudleys take control quickly, and the crowd wants tables. For some reason, this match feels like they’re both very tentative about it. It’s a really good match, but it just feels like they’re not either not clicking or aren’t sure how to make the most of a quick match.

Winner: Usos by pinfall. Dudleys attack from behind and get the tables, but the Usos counter and stereo Samoan Splash the Dudleys through the tables.

Comments: I enjoyed this match, but it feels like it never quite got started.

Opener

5th Harmony sings ‘America, the Beautiful’. And they sound lovely, too bad they’ve split up. Oddly, there’s not a video montage like there usually is, but the singing was still great.

The opener evokes the history of WrestleMania, Vince’s dream, and how it’s grown into the spectacle it is now. I’d love to know who they got to impersonate the superstars in this video. I also love the song they’re using.

Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens vs Stardust vs Zach Ryder vs Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz vs Sami Zayn vs Sin Cara

Ziggler gets a great pop, Miz gets a round of BOOs, Zayn gets a huge pop, Stardust gets a minimal reaction, even though he’s wearing his dad’s yellow polka dots, Sin Cara also gets a minimal reaction, though his outfit is cool, Ryder gets a mixed reaction, Owens gets a huge reaction.

This match gets off to a crazy start, as you would expect from a ladder match. Miz tries to climb the ladder without opening it and is saved by Zayn and Ziggler. Stardust’s tribute ladder to his dad got a great pop, but like his previous ladder, this one didn’t get much use.

Winner: Zach Ryder retrieves the belt and we have a new Intercontinental Champion! Ryder is a Heavyweight title away from being a Grand Slam Champion.

Highlights: Stardust’s Dream Ladder. Owens and Zayn. Ryder celebrating with his dad after winning his first WrestleMania match.

Comments: This was a great opener to the main card, lot of great spots and a surprise win for Zach Ryder.

Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles

Jericho gets a great pop, and so does Styles in his first WrestleMania.

This match was fantastic. When you have styles as similar as Styles and Jericho, there’s a good chance that the similarities will make the match boring, that didn’t happen here. These guys are showstealers and that’s what they did. I would compare this match ALMOST to Steamboat/Savage from WrestleMania III in terms of ring work.

One thing I didn’t like was the commentators dismissing Styles’ career before coming to WWE. Yes, TNA isn’t WWE or WCW, but when Styles was there, he competed with the likes of Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle, and was a star in Japan, it’s not something they should be sniffing at.

Winner: Chris Jericho by pinfall

Highlights: There are too many to name, just watch the match.

Comments: This was a great match. A lot of people gripe about Styles losing his first WrestleMania, but he looked really great and he and Jericho put on a barn burner match.

The League of Nations (with King Barrett) vs New Day

New Day gets a good pop and comes out of a box of Booty-Os. League of Nations come out to a round of boos.

This was a physical match. All of the LoN guys are more known for having very physical matches than for their technical skills.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t like either of these teams, so it was hard for me to get into it, I didn’t care who won or lost. That said, it was a very good match and both teams did a great job, I just wasn’t into it.

Winner: League of Nations by pinfall

Highlights: Sheamus pounding on Xavier’s chest to the tune of ‘New Day Rocks/Sucks’.

Comments: I would’ve enjoyed this more if I’d cared about one of these teams.

No Holds Barred Street Fight: Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs Dean Ambrose

Lesnar comes out first to a good pop, but the crowd is also giving him a lot of flack. There hasn’t been a Street Fight at WrestleMania since Hogan vs McMahon. Heyman is a jerk to Eden and won’t let her announce the match.

Dean gets a great pop. He’s wearing a leather jacket with ‘Fighting Spirit’ embroidered in Kanji, which I love.

This match gets physical quickly, Dean’s giving up about 50lbs in weight to Lesnar, but Dean’s been in nastier matches with scarier people than Brock Lesnar. Dean goes to the equalizers quickly, whaling Lesnar with a kendo stick.

Lesnar doesn’t seem to want to do anything but suplexes, which gets boring quickly. I feel bad for Dean have to get an actual match out someone who clearly isn’t interested.

This was a good match…on Ambrose’s end. Lesnar was clearly not interested in actually working with Ambrose and just wanted to do HIS match.

Winner: Brock Lesnar by pinfall.

Highlights: Ambrose having no fear of Lesnar and taking it to him, though Lesnar did very little. Heyman’s reaction to Ambrose beating on Lesnar with the kendo stick. Dean kissing Barbie (baseball bat wrapped in barb wire), Heyman and Lesnar’s reactions to said kiss.

Comments: I hated this match because it felt like Ambrose had a match and Lesnar was just not cooperating.

Triple Threat Match for the WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (with Ric Flair) vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks

Becky comes out to a great pop. Sasha is sung to the ring by Snoop Dogg and she gets a great pop. She’s wearing tights inspired by her hero, Eddie Guerrero. Charlotte gets a mixed reaction. Her robes were made from the robes her father wore to his last WWE match, and it looks better on her than it did on him, at least cut wise.

Sasha and Becky team up on Charlotte and then take it to each other. Each woman is going for a quick victory. Becky is knocked out of the ring and we get a battel between Sasha and Charlotte.

This was such a great match, not just because of its significance in the Women’s Revolution, but just in terms of story and ring work. I couldn’t take notes because I didn’t want to miss anything.

Winner: Charlotte by submission, new Women’s Champion.

Highlights: The German suplex/Sunset flip spot. Sasha’s Frog splash. Becky and Sasha taking out Naitch.

Comments: I loved this match, all three women did a great job and made a real case for the women getting more time and matches on big cards.

The Streak: Undertaker vs Shane McMahon – Hell in a Cell. If Shane wins, he gets control of RAW. If Taker loses, he will no longer be allowed to compete at WrestleMania

Shane comes out first, with his three boys, to a great pop. Linda McMahon and Shane’s wife, Marissa, are at ringside and take the boys. The Deadman Cometh, and gets a great pop, to battle for his career in the structure almost synonymous with him, Hell in a Cell.

This match was insane. All Hell in a Cell matches are insane, but add in Shane O’Mac, who not only has no fear, but spits in fear’s eye with a smile on his face, is a recipe for an insane, and insanely good match.

One thing I did notice, and it didn’t really register with me in 2016, was how limited Taker was starting to become. I think the reason why no one really noticed in 2016 was because of the Cell and Shane. With those two factors, no one was expecting more than a fight out of Taker and Shane and it was an excellent cover.

I loved this match because: 1. I love a good gimmick match. and 2. It was a great match on its own merits. Taker and Shane were great together. It was a fight from start to finish, but it was a great match.

 Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. Taker salutes the fans, but this has been a brutal match for both men.

Highlights: Shane McMahon being a crazy SOB and jumping off the top of the cell. The commentators trying to talk Shane out of jumping off the cell, not sure why they bothered. The FREAKOUT when Shane crossed himself, everyone knows what that means.

Comments: This is the first time Taker’s decline was noticeable, but they got away with it because of the cell and because of Shane being able to cover for him.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Most of the guys don’t get an individual entrance. Since the roster was so depleted, there are only twenty guys in this match. Mark Henry, being from Texas, gets his own entrance and gets a nice pop. Kane gets a mixed pop. DDP enters and gets a good pop. Big Show also gets a mixed pop.

With four giants in the ring, the other competitors realize that they need to team up. Fandango and Damian Sandow try their luck alone, but get eliminated by Show and/or Shaq.

This was a fun match, and it was a good palate cleanser for the rest of the show.

Winner: Baron Corbin by eliminating Kane.

Highlights: Big Show/Shaq face off. Shaq and Big Show chokeslamming Kane.

Comments: I don’t like Corbin, but this was a great match and got fans in a great mood.

Rock comes out and announces a new attendance record: 101, 763. There’s a confrontation with the Wyatts and Rock fights Rowan, but I’m not going to call a beatdown that only lasted six seconds a match.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H (with Stephanie McMahon) vs Roman Reigns

Stephanie gets a part as the Skull Queen after a really creepy video and gets a hell of a pop. Triple H also gets a great pop, but he’s not in the Skull King stuff.

Roman gets a mixed reaction, but I don’t think he cares. The Big Dog is ready for a fight. Triple H looks more nervous than I expected him to, probably because of the build this match had.

Though Triple H is a master ring technician, this was not a technical match, this was a fight, and really, I didn’t expect anything else. The feud these two were having in the run up was insane and there was no way it could live up to the hype.

That said, this was a great match. Triple H and Roman really worked well together and told a great story of overcoming the odds.

Winner: Roman Reigns by pinfall, we have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion! The people who booed Reigns are cheering LOUDLY for him.

Highlights: Roman spearing Stephanie right out of her shoes. Kudos to Stephanie for being game for that spot. Roman walking out with his daughter in his arms (I’m not sure that was on camera, but it was a sweet moment).

Comments: There was a lot of criticism about this match, and it didn’t quite live up to the build, but given how thin the roster was, it’s not surprising that Vince didn’t want this match to be as brutal as the build promised.

Overall Comments

So, how did WrestleMania do with a shoestring roster? It actually did really well. Yes, there were some odd matchups, but the show was really great and gave us some great moment. Also, we get to seeing Roman Reigns’ evolution to a main event player. It wasn’t quite there at WrestleMania 31, but you can see the pieces falling into place for him.

Stinkers: Kalisto vs Ryback. That was just not a good match.

Snoozers: League of Nations vs New Day. I didn’t care about either team, so it was just a drag.

Match of the Night: Undertaker vs Shane McMahon, Women’s Match.

Hall of Fame: Sting, The Godfather, Big Boss Man, Jacqueline, Stan Hanson, The Fabulous Freebirds, Snoop Dogg

Warrior Award: Joan Lunden

Final Thoughts: While I can’t say I’d watch this WrestleMania just because, I enjoyed it greatly and highly recommend it.

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