WWE Elimination Chamber: Doing Time in Satan’s Prison
The Cage Match has evolved through the years as a means for two people to finally settle the score with one another. Usually surrounded by mesh, chicken wire or WWE’s case in the 80’s and early 90’s steel bars, the Steel Cage was usually the final showdown between two men would settle the score once and for all to see who was better.
In 1997, the Cage Match was taken to new level with Hell in A Cell with a roof closing off the ceiling and the entire Cell surrounding the ring side area, making it no way out for anyone involved in the match (didn’t work out in the first few matches though).
In 2002, a new kind of cage match would captivate the wrestling audience and was guaranteed the shorten the careers of anyone who was to compete in this match. This match, one could call, the “younger, more demented sibling” of the Hell in a Cell. This match is called the Elimination Chamber.
Today, we take a trip through hell and going inside this dome of destruction deemed “Satan’s Prison”. We will look at the impact it had on not just the warriors who survived this match, the impact that it had from winning and the impact that this match has left on the WWE.
The Elimination Chamber match combines elements from the Royal Rumble match, Survivor Series matches and also WCW’s famed Wargames matches, such as the countdown timer and time intervals from the Royal Rumble and War Games matches, the enclosed cage format of War Games, and the elimination process from the Survivor Series contest.
On October 21, 2002, then General Manager of RAW announced the new match and leading up to the Survivor Series PPV, many vignettes promoting this new deadly structure were shown. At the Survivor Series PPV, the Chamber was unveiled and many stood in awe of the evolution of the Steel Cage.
That night, 6 RAW Superstars stepped into the Chamber to compete for the World Heavyweight Championship. The combatants were then-champion: Triple H, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kane, Chris Jericho and the returning Shawn Michaels. The champion, Triple H would not just start the match but get injured during it and also finish the match. After 40 minutes of Hell, he would not win, however. He would lose to his former partner at the time and best friend, Shawn Michaels to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Shawn Michaels would win the first Elimination Chamber and would make history yet again as he did 5 years before by winning the first Hell in a Cell. Shawn Michaels and Triple H had their rematch the next month at Armageddon 2002 in a Three Stages of Hell Match.
The first match was a Street Fight, which Triple H won. The match after that was a steel cage which Michaels won and the final match was a Ladder Match which with the help of Ric Flair, Triple H won to regain the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H held the World Heavyweight Championship again for most of 2003 which is when the next Elimination Chamber takes place.
SummerSlam 2003 would host the next Elimination Chamber match again for the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H, again coming in as the champion defending his championship vs. 2 familiar foes in Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels, Evolution teammate Randy Orton, Kevin Nash and Goldberg.
Goldberg earned the right to enter last. In the match, Kevin Nash would be eliminated first with a Sweet Chin Music from good friend, Shawn Michaels. Nash would later after his loss, beat down everyone in the match before taking his leave. When Goldberg entered, he dominated everyone in the match and forced Triple H, (who was playing chicken) to come out of his pod.
Goldberg would eliminate every last competitor standing until Triple H with the aid of a sledgehammer, would get the victory to win his first Chamber match. The Chamber would not be seen again for another year and a half.
Triple H would feud with Goldberg for the rest of the fall as he would lose his title at Unforgiven 2003 and fail to regain it at Survivor Series in November. Triple H would regain the championship yet again in December 2003 in a Triple Threat Match and would close the night with Evolution holding all of the male titles available on RAW.
On the December 13, 2004 edition of Monday Night RAW, then GM Eric Bischoff announced that at New Year’s Revolution, there would be a third Eliminaton Chamber match between Triple H, Edge, Randy Orton, Batista, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit.
On the December 27, 2004 edition of Raw, Bischoff announced that all of the match’s participants would compete in singles matches, and the length of their match would determine the entrance order of the Elimination Chamber. Batista would win in 3:02, which earned him the final spot in the match.
Also on that same night, Shawn Michaels, the first Chamber winner, would be announced as the Special Guest Referee.
In the Elimination Chamber Match, Triple H on a few occasions would be in danger of losing the match until Batista coming in last and cleaning house. Batista would be eliminated by Randy Orton only for Batista to assist Triple H again to aid Triple H to getting his 2nd Elimination Chamber victory and once again, the World Heavyweieght Championship. This match would make Triple H a 10-time World Heavyweight Champion.
Soon after, the Road to WrestleMania would start at the Royal Rumble with Triple H defeating his former Evolution teammate, Randy Orotn to retain his championship. Evolution’s Animal, Batista would go on to win the Royal Rumble match and would later, turn on Triple H to become the World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania 21.
Triple H would go on to feud with Batista for the rest of the spring only to lose two more times to Batista (the second at Backlash and the third time at Vengeance in a Hell in a Cell Match). Batista would move to Smackdown with the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H wouldn’t be seen again until October and eventually would feud with his mentor and friend, Ric Flair, officially marking the end of Evolution.
The PPV New Year’s Revolution again hosted the Elimination Chamber in 2006 and would feature: Chamber originals, Shawn Michaels and Kane and 4 new faces in Carlito, Chris Masters, Kurt Angle and the WWE Champion at the time, John Cena.
In the match, Carlito and Chris Masters would forge an alliance that would end up eliminating the two Chamber originals and Carlito would go on to eliminate Masters. A bloody John Cena would go onto roll-up Carlito to retain the WWE Championship. The Elimination Chamber did not main event the show, however as 2005 Money in the Bank winner, Edge would cash in his briefcase to defeat John Cena to become the new WWE Champion, ending Cena’s illustrious 280 days as champion.
2006 would also host another Elimination Chamber but with a more demented twist, with a weapon in each of the pods that the wrestlers were encased in.
This match would be called the Extreme Elimination Chamber. The Big Show would defend his ECW World Heavyweight Championship against Bobby Lashley, Hardcore Holly, Test, Rob Van Dam and CM Punk. Lashley would go on to win with a spear to be crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion.
The PPV as a whole was poorly received by fans and this would lead to Paul Heyman’s dismissal from the WWE. Heyman wouldn’t be seen again for another 5 1/2 years. This would be the only Elimination Chamber match of it’s kind and the last ECW branded PPV.
Lashley would go onto feud with Umaga and later Vince and Shane McMahon for the majority of 2007 until Lashley was drafted to RAW and was stripped of the championship. 2007 did not host a Chamber match.February 2008 would mark the return of the Elimination Chamber in a big way, for the first time ever, there will not just be one but two Elimination Chamber matches in the same night.
One would be from RAW and the other would be shared between Smackdown and ECW. Both matches were #1 Contender’s Matches for a chance to compete against their brand’s respective champion at WrestleMania XXIV (Smackdown/ECW for the World Heavyweight Championship and RAW for the WWE Championship)
Smackdown would open No Way Out 2008 with the biggest Chamber match in history (literally) with 5 new faces in the Chamber: Big Daddy V (formerly Viscera), The Great Khali, MVP, Finlay and The Undertaker. Batista would be the only man that has competed in the Elimination Chamber before. In the match, Batista and the Undertaker would start and end the match and in a sense, worked together to eliminate most of the field.
The Undertaker and Batista would reignite their rivalry and would brawl until a Tombstone sealed Batista’s fare as the Undertaker would go on to WrestleMania.Undertaker would go onto WrestleMania and would defeat Edge to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. Taker would feud with Edge for the remainder of the spring until losing the World Heavyweight Championship which led to his “banishment from the WWE” thanks to Vickie Guerrero. Undertaker would later be reinstated to face Edge one more time at SummerSlam in a Hell in a Cell match to defeat him.
RAW’s Elimination Chamber would have two familiar faces in DX members Triple H and Shawn Michaels and another Chamber original in Chris Jericho with three new faces to compete in Jeff Hardy, John “Bradshaw” Layfield and the monstrous Umaga. Triple H would go on to win his third Elimination Chamber match even eliminating his own best friend, Shawn Michaels to go to main event WrestleMania XXIV.
John Cena who faced Randy Orton that same night, would go on to have a rematch on RAW and if Cena won, the WrestleMania main event would be a Triple Threat match. Cena would win and at WrestleMania, Randy Orton would retain his championship.
Triple H would beat Randy Orton at One Night Stand to become the WWE Champion and would hold it the majority of 2008. No Way Out would become the new home of the Elimination Chamber match.
No Way Out would return in 2009 but this time both the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship would be on the line. The World Championship would be defended for the first time ever as Edge would defend his World Heavyweight Championship vs. Big Show, Jeff Hardy, newcomer Vladimir Kozlov, The Undertaker and Triple H.
John Cena would go on to defend his WWE Championship vs. newcomers Mike Knox, Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio. Chamber originals; Chris Jericho and Kane would be in the match as well.
The opening match would be the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber. Edge and Jeff Hardy would go on to start the match. Edge would be eliminated in the first few minutes. After 30+ minutes, Triple H after a very physical and grueling match, would pin the Undertaker in a grueling finale to become the new WWE Champion. Triple H would set a record of Four wins in the Elimination Chamber.
Afterward, Triple H would feud with Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton again and would go on to win at WrestleMania 25. Triple H would later lose the title at Backlash to Randy Orton and would fail to regain it.
Triple H would go on to reform D-Generation X with Shawn Michaels to face Randy Orton’s proteges, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes through the fall. DX would close out the year as World Tag Team Champions defeating Jerishow for the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship at the inaugural Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV in a match with the same name.
The World Heavyweight Championship would be the main event of the show and before the match would begin, former World Heavyweight Champion, Edge would assert himself in the match by attacking Kofi Kingston. Edge would later in the match would assist in the elimination of the champion, John Cena and would go on to beat Rey Mysterio to become the new World Heavyweight Champion making Edge the only man ever to walk into a PPV with one World title only to leave with another. Smackdown would go on to having two World Heavyweight Champions.
No Way Out would be repackaged as Elimination Chamber and would yet again have two World Championship matches. The Undertaker would defend his World Heavyweight Championship vs. Edge, Chris Jericho, CM Punk and two newcomers in R-Truth and John Morrison.
Newcomer, WWE Champion, Sheamus would defend his championship vs. John Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton and two newcomers in Ted DiBiase, Jr. and Kofi Kingston. During the match, Ted DiBiase, Jr would turn on his Legacy partner, Randy Orton to eliminate him from the match and Sheamus would be eliminated from the match early. John Cena would make Triple H submit with the STF to win .
John Cena would win his second Elimination Chamber.After the Elimination Chamber match, Vince McMahon would go on to congratulate John Cena but informs him that he has to defend his championship vs. Batista. Batista would defeat Cena and leave the WWE Champion which reignited their 2008 feud. Cena would regain his WWE Championship at WrestleMania 26 and would defeat Batista again at Extreme Rules and Over the Limit.
The World Heavyweight Championship would again close out the No Way Out/Elimination Chamber PPV with Chris Jericho winning his first Elimination Chamber match, with assistance from Shawn Michaels with a Sweet Chin Music on the Undertaker. Jericho would be the third man from the original Chamber match to win the Elimination Chamber.
Chris Jericho would go on to defend his World Heavyweight Championship vs. Royal Rumble 2010 winner and former tag partner, Edge at WrestleMania XXVI and would retain the title. Jericho would lose his championship a week later to Money in the Bank winner, Jack Swagger.
The Elimination Chamber would return again 2011 and would be known as the “Last Chance to headline WrestleMania”. The WWE Championship would be a #1 Contenders Match with John Cena, Sheamus, CM Punk, Randy Orton, John Morrison and R-Truth. The World Heavyweight Championship would be contested again. Edge would defend his championship vs. Big Show, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, CM Punk and two newcomers in Wade Barrett and Drew McIntyre.
Edge successfully defended his World Heavyweight Championship and would go on to defend his Championship at WrestleMania XXVII vs. Alberto Del Rio in his very last match. Edge would win and would retire pm April 11, 2011 as he cited the doctors couldn’t clear him to wrestle ever again and that if he kept competing, he would suffer paralysis or even death. Edge would go on to retire as the World Heavyweight Champion.
John Cena however, would go on to lose to The Miz at WrestleMania XXVII but would go on to win at Extreme Rules a month later. Cena would hold the WWE Championship until being defeated by CM Punk at the Money in the Bank PPV in July. Punk would leave the WWE and a tournament to crown a new champion would occur.
Cena would regain it back on July 25th, defeating Rey Mysterio and WWE Champion, CM Punk would return. Triple H declared there were two champions and the two will face each other at SummerSlam. Cena would beat Punk to become the Undisputed WWE Champion.
Alberto Del Rio, the 2011 Money in the Bank winner, would cash it in on Cena to win the WWE Championship. Cena would win it back at Night of Champions just to lose it back to Del Rio in a Triple Threat Hell in a Cell at the Hell in a Cell PPV. John Cena has strayed away from the Championship picture since then.
This year, the Elimination Chamber returned with both championships being defended in the deadly structure. World Heavyweight Champion and Chamber newcomer, Daniel Bryan would defend his championship vs. Big Show, The Great Khali, Wade Barrett and two new faces in Cody Rhodes and Santino Marella. WWE Champion CM Punk would defend his championship vs. former tag team partner, Kofi Kingston, one of the 2010 Chamber winners, Chris Jericho, R-Truth and two new faces in the Chamber in The Miz and Dolph Ziggler.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan would both go on to successfully defend their World Heavyweight Championships. CM Punk would go on to WrestleMania and defend it successfully vs. Chris Jericho and is still the reigning WWE Champion.
Daniel Bryan would lose to Sheamus in 18 seconds at WrestleMania this year. Bryan would fail to regain it at Extreme Rules.
A month later, he would start a rivalry with CM Punk and would have a series of matches on PPV, both which Bryan lost. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan will face each other again at Money in the Bank for the WWE Championship.
In Conclusion, the Elimination Chamber has shortened careers and helped shaped the careers of those who survive it and win. It’s become the “Final chance to headline WrestleMania”. As good as that idea sounds, I personally think that two a year has become a little overdone.
With a weaker roster, it’s becoming harder and harder to pull off from that standpoint. I personally think that this alongside the Hell in a Cell and TLC should temporarily retire to save the match when it really calls for it. This match should be used to close the chapter on some rivalries and open the door to new ones and also if needed, build a new star which could have been done this year in the Smackdown Chamber with Santino Marella.
This match is a great concept but there are many more different and creative ways to defend a championship at a PPV or earn the right to compete for one at WrestleMania. I say the Chamber should be locked away and make rarer appearances before this match like it’s predecessors loses its luster and we become desensitized like we have to Hardcore wrestling and very poorly executed storylines. I hope you enjoyed your time in Satan’s Prison, please remember all your belongings as we leave…