All you have to do … is Bo-lieve.
And so it came to pass that Windham Lawrence Rotunda, a.k.a. Bray Wyatt, the New Face of Fear – son of Irwin R. Schyster, brother of Bo Dallas, grandson of Blackjack Mulligan – finally found championship gold at the Elimination Chamber Smackdown-exclusive pay-per-view after a hard slog to the top.
Wyatt, who has probably THE coolest entrance in WWE right now (thanks partly to thousands of willing participants among the spectators), survived the gruelling main event which saw Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, John Cena and A.J. Styles being eliminated to leave him the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Given the emphasis on keeping things strictly PG-13, the main event this time was less visceral than it has been in the past but the intensity was no less evident. I actually expected Corbin to last a lot longer, but his sore-loser demolition of Ambrose showed that he has the capacity to grow as a monster heel.
The biggest crowd pop of the night came when defending champ Cena was eliminated by Wyatt, ending his 16th (and possibly shortest) title reign after his magnificent match against Styles at the Royal Rumble. Again, I wasn’t expecting the title change to come so soon, but the road to WrestleMania 33 now seems a lot more interesting because of the championship title picture.
If there are no further title changes (or shoulder injuries) before April 2, the Smackdown main event will see Wyatt against his own Wyatt Family member, Randy Orton – who won the Rumble and so received a guaranteed title shot at WM33.
The rest of the Elimination Chamber card was pretty decent considering the constraints of Smackdown’s roster. The three women’s division singles matches were all right, with the Becky Lynch-Mickie James clash coming off the best – James’s impressive move set and ring savvy gave the Irish Lass Kicker a really tough fight before the babyface prevailed.
The Dwaynester was hoping for a more decisive finish to the Natalya-Nikki Bella grudge match, but the double count-out and continuing backstage brawl showed that someone thinks the feud has a lot of juice left in it.
Naomi picked up the surprise win over Alex Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, which saw the new champ choking back tears when the audience chanted “You deserve it” and, er, deservedly so.
The Tag-Team Turmoil championship match saw American Alphas retaining their belts after surviving the elimination-style contest and defeating their final opponents, the Ascension. LOL of the night: Heath Slater and Rhyno are “Beauty and the Man-Beast”? I gotta watch Smackdown more often.
Best match was Randy Orton versus his “excommunicated” Wyatt Family brother Luke Harper – a high-impact, no-quarter-given confrontation which really got the crowd going. The match ended when Harper’s attempt at a spinning lariat was countered by yet another unexpected RKO, giving the Viper the win. No one expects the RKO – it’s the Spanish Inquisition of wrestling finishers.
Possibly the weakest and most baffling match of the night was the two-on-one handicap match pitting Dolph Ziggler against Apollo Crews and Kalisto. It didn’t make much sense to put two faces against a non-monstrous heel (Braun Strowman, maybe – but Ziggler?) and turned out to be mostly a one-on-one anyway, after Kalisto got ambushed before he could even reach the ring. Seriously, they could have just gone with Crews vs Ziggler and stuck with the post-match beatdown where the bad guy did his level best to injure the victorious fan favourite, and no one would have noticed Kalisto’s absence.
That one blip on an otherwise entertaining card aside, the PPV showed that when it comes to making optimum use of available talent, Smackdown is pretty far ahead of Raw at this point in time. Perhaps post-WM33, we’ll get to see the blue brand get the roster expansion it seriously deserves?
Hugs for all
So at the time of writing this, the Dwaynester hasn’t managed to catch Raw yet, but news coming out of duh Interweb is that Bayley has dethroned “Queen” Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Championship!
No one feels sorry for Charlotte, of course, but the WWE superstars and bosses were down with the idea of a new queen. Among those who tweeted their congratulations were Bayley’s former rival and current friend Sasha Banks, who played a big part in the victory; and Triple H himself!
Of course, Charlotte losing the title on Raw means that she retains bragging rights to her undefeated streak at pay-per-views.
Look for her to win it back at WrestleMania or perhaps even as soon as Fastlane?
Then again, with Nia Jax lurking in the wings of the championship scene, maybe it’s Bayley who needs to be looking over her shoulder?
The Rock fights Paige’s family
Word coming out of the movie world is that Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions will be one of the parties involved in producing a film about WWE wrestler Paige and her family of professional wrestlers.
Fighting With My Family (which was also the title of a 2012 documentary on … the same thing) will be a comedy-drama written and directed by Stephen Merchant (The Office, Extras, Hello Ladies), with Johnson himself reported to have a role.
Up-and-coming actress Florence Pugh (The Falling, Lady Macbeth) will play Paige, while Nick Frost (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Lena Headey (Game Of Thrones) have been cast as her parents Ricky and Julia. Jack Lowden, soon to be seen in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, will play Paige’s older brother Zak.
The film follows the family as it holds wrestling shows in small venues around England. When the kids get a chance to audition for WWE, it looks as if their dreams have come true – but a whole new world of challenges and drama opens up for them.
The movie is currently in pre-production and no firm release date has been announced.
March into the fast lane
Mark your calendars and set your PVRs for WWE Fastlane (March 6 on the WWE Network, Astro Ch 820/840).
The Raw-exclusive PPV has three matches set at the time of writing: Kevin Owens defends the WWE Universal Championship against Goldberg (but Chris Jericho won’t have KO’s back now … he just might stab it after what happened on this week’s Raw); Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman collide in a grudge match; and Cruiserweight Champion Neville defends against “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher.
No doubt, Charlotte will find a way onto the card too, to build up her “unbeaten” streak on the road to WrestleMania.