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    Wednesday, February 28, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Elimination Chamber 2018

    Roman Reigns is supposed to go to WrestleMania.

    This much we know, because this much is true, for it has been prophesied for the past year. The outcome was never in doubt, even when Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble. Even when Seth Rollins wrestled for an hour in an arbitrary gauntlet match. Even when Braun Strowman made a name for himself on RAW wrecking people and the set. Roman Reigns is supposed to go to WrestleMania, and we have had a year to accept the notion.

    So when Roman won the Elimination Chamber match to get a WWE Universal Championship match, why dilute the moment you wanted us to accept?

    All things considered, I liked the win. It wasn't one of those hokey finishes from Peak SuperCena in which he'd literally pick up a second whirlwind and dispatch his opponent as though nothing happened to him. Roman's a more solid worker than Cena was at that stage of his career, and he was in the match the whole time—I felt they earned the victory with his performance. He earned his spot at the main event of WrestleMania. This is what we were all expecting, but he made the most of it.

    So why destroy it in favor of retaining Braun Strowman's heat? I understand that he lost clean after singlehandedly eliminating five other guys and tying a record of some sort, but the way he lost never diminished any part of his chamber performance. If you really had to reclaim it, Braun could have redeemed himself the next night on RAW.

    Instead, we get the anointed challenger to Brock Lesnar as a crumpled heap of humanity at the end of the broadcast. He doesn't really get his standing-tall-looking-strong moment that sends him off into WrestleMania season. It feels like WWE was so afraid to proudly stick with their decision—and if they were, then why didn't they just switch gears and go with either Braun or Seth?

    I feel bad for Roman Reigns, for the disdain he gets is largely a product of the company completely misusing him, and even abandoning him in the wake of the misery they left him in. Time and again he's made the most of all the opportunities they've given him, relying on his strengths to power through his flaws, but they keep putting him in this position.

    The ending of Elimination Chamber is a full metaphor for how the WWE does business: they'll make you feel good with some top-notch wrestling, but at the end of the day, it's the whims of someone bigger than you that'll derail the whole thing. And now, WrestleMania—at least for the RAW side—is something to just get over with, when it could be something we might have been more excited about. B+


    Match of the Night

    It's actually a little hard to pick a MOTN because both chamber matches were solid—nothing stood out in a mindblowing fashion, even the women's match. I'd give it to the men's chamber match by default for being the best-wrestled of the night. Everyone played their roles well (even poor Elias) and it was solid from beginning to end.

    Other observations

    • How about that Alexa promo? I saw brief flashes of Trish Stratus during that, and Alexa might very well be the steal of the 2016 draft. She's exactly the champion the RAW women's division needs right now, moreso than Sasha Banks and Charlotte. I'm looking forward to a hot Alexa/Asuka feud.
    • Speaking of Asuka, her match with Nia Jax was one of the more underrated women's bouts I've seen in quite a while. I believe Nia was pretty much made in this match, and I'm kinda sad that she's a little lost in the shuffle heading into WrestleMania.
    • Why not announce the RAW Tag Team Championship match we knew was going to happen, anyway?
    • Also, relegate Titus to a full manager role and pluck Akira Tozawa up from the cruiserweight division to team with Apollo. If you're not sending Apollo back down, you might as well add an exciting new team to the division.
    • Despite Ronda's clear lack of pro wrestling promo skills, I like the direction they're taking with this. It feels like the only way to go about it—you can't bring Ronda in and assume that WrestleMania 21 31 didn't happen. However, once this match is out of the way, immediately make Ronda a Paul Heyman Girl if she's serious about being here. You'll be doing her a huge favor.

    Photo from WWE

    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Elimination Chamber 2018 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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