Published on 20 Feb 2022 4:59 pm (UK Time)
The Elimination Chamber has been host to many iconic WWE matches over the years. Generally, the matches are exciting and well-coordinated, with so many examples that it’s tough to pick the best. Conversely, the worst matches inside the chain construction stick out and are notoriously looked upon. With the controversial 2022 pay-per-view (PPV) out of the way, let’s take a look at both ends of the spectrum, as we pick the best and worst Elimination Chamber matches.
#5 Worst – 2018 Universal Championship #1 Contender Match
Elimination Chamber 2018 has some terrific highs and woeful lows. The other chamber match (we’ll get to that in a moment) was great whereas this was subpar. For longtime WWE fans, this was deja vu. If you are familiar with the 2003 match, the same problems arise.
With seven participants rather than the standard six, this twist on the match was definitely welcome. In addition, the array of talent is impressive for sure. Starting any match with The Miz, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins is a great decision to ensure fast-paced action. This is later emphasised with their wonderful match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 34.
There is a huge problem with this bout, however, which is simply Roman Reigns. In 2022 – as a heel – he is entertaining. While definitely overused and frustrating in relation to other talents not being pushed, he does a good job. Back in 2018 however, most fans preferred Braun Strowman as a top babyface and as the winner of this match. This is really bizarre because Strowman dominates when he leaves his pod. Strowman eliminated Miz, Rollins, Balor, Elias, and John Cena. However – like with the Goldberg situation of 2003 – this only works if Strowman wins.
Reigns versus Lesnar was rumored heavily since the night after WrestleMania 33. So to see these unpopular rumours come to fruition – especially in such a ridiculous way – pulled down this match massively. After all, that Reigns-Lesnar main event was so badly received that fans walked out of WrestleMania early!
#5 Best – 2018 Raw Women’s Championship Match
This match goes to show that the women of WWE can perform just as well as the men. Going into this match there were lots of interesting links between the six superstars. There were the three alliances of Bayley and Sasha Banks, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose as well as the duo of Mickie James and champion Alexa Bliss. This offered some very intriguing dynamics which only benefitted the bout.
Bayley and Sonya Deville began the match and this was entertaining enough. Mandy Rose entered the bout next and the narrative was quite enjoyable, seeing the experienced Bayley hold her own against the duo. Then, seeing Sasha Banks enter and thus having the battle between two teams was an interesting dynamic. Mickie James was eliminated quickly unfortunately but this didn’t take away from the match.
Seeing Sasha Banks double-cross Bayley – by kicking her, sending her crashing down – was unexpected yet a wonderful turn. The battle between both of the aforementioned and Alexa Bliss was wonderful and set a great example for women’s chamber matches going forward.
#4 Worst – 2022 WWE Championship Match
Yes, the most recent Elimination Chamber match is not great. I am writing this the morning after and I am still confused and frustrated at what I saw.
Ever since Brock Lesnar’s return at Summerslam 2021 a match between himself and Roman Reigns has been teased for WrestleMania 38. To sacrifice not just an entire Royal Rumble but also an Elimination Chamber match for the story to be told is frustrating.
For a start, Lesnar making his entrance last only to enter his pod was bizarre because the last two superstars to make their entrance start the match traditionally. From this moment alone it was very telling that the bout was going to be built around Lesnar.
Austin Theory and Seth Rollins started the match and produced some good action, with entertaining taunting throughout. Then, Rollins throws Theory through Bobby Lashley’s pod. This moment among others was done purely for shock factor and that only goes so far. Lashley was “concussed” from this and could not compete, meaning he loses the WWE Championship. Seriously?
Riddle and AJ Styles then enter the match and the four superstars show some good chemistry. However, once you see Lashley exit the chamber you know what’s about to happen. Lashley’s pod was supposed to open next and in response, an impatient Lesnar breaks his pod open (in another shock moment) and enters the fray. He quickly disposes of Rollins, Riddle, and Styles, burying all three talents in the process.
Theory and Lesnar remain and to be fair, this is quite entertaining and results in an F5 from the top of a pod (the final shock). Lesnar becomes the WWE Champion once again, setting up the champion versus champion match with Reigns in WrestleMania’s main event. To sacrifice what could have been a fantastic match for Lesnar was massively disappointing. It was hardly a match after Lesnar escaped his pod, with an over-reliance on cheap shocks which struggle to paper over the cracks and flaws of this mess.
#4 Best – 2019 WWE Championship Match
On the SmackDown before Elimination Chamber 2019, Kofi Kingston performed fantastically in a gauntlet match: that was but the beginning of the Kofimania dream, which continues here. All six superstars inside the steel structure performed well. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, and winner Daniel Bryan had a very entertaining and at times dramatic match that the fans were more than up for.
We firstly had a great tactical bout to kick off this match between Joe and Bryan. Kingston then entered, added some high flying and acrobatics, and his feud with Bryan really kicked off here. Styles entered fourth and we saw brilliant action that briefly continued his feud with Joe, including a Phenomenal Forearm to score the pinfall.
Hardy entered fifth and my only complaint with the match is that he was eliminated in just three minutes. However, those three minutes were fantastic, as Hardy pulled off terrific move after terrific move, ending with a Swanton Bomb off the top of a pod onto Styles. Orton entered last and displayed some of the great heel work he is known for.
Styles and Orton were eliminated and then we saw what is arguably the best final showdown in Elimination Chamber history. Big move after big move, Kingston and Bryan found a way time and time again to stay in the match. Bryan eventually caught Kingston with a Running Knee after Kingston took a risk and with that, the fans were fully behind Kofimania.
#3 Worst – 2015 WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Now in recent years, WWE has drastically improved the formula for Tag Team Elimination Chamber matches. In both attempts since 2015 (for the Women’s Tag Team Titles in 2019 and SmackDown Tag Team Titles in 2020), we have witnessed great spectacles, full of sublime tag team action and electrifying moments. WWE evidently learned from their mistakes because the first attempt was pretty disappointing.
This match actually starts off quite well. The Ascension and the Lucha Dragons begin the bout and it’s fun. Sin Cara also performs a wonderful Swanton Bomb from the top of a pod; it is the highlight of this match. Cesaro and Kidd – who had great chemistry – then enter and following them are Los Matadores.
Some issues creep up, such as Tyson Kidd breaking up a pinfall that would have eliminated The Ascension (which commentator John Bradshaw Layfield mentions) and Kallisto’s drop from the top of the chamber looking heavily scripted, but the match is still watchable. However, when Los Matadores and Lucha Dragons are eliminated, the contest nosedives and becomes nothing less than bland.
Unfortunately, the tempo disappears completely so we have to sit through a very slow, confusing match. To make matters worse, New Day is allowed to have all three members inside the Elimination Chamber, destroying any fairness and believability the match once had. Los Matadores has a similar advantage but it did not make a difference at least. Cesaro and Titus O’Neill are the only two superstars after these eliminations that look good in the match.
So essentially, the first eight minutes of this bout are flawed but entertaining at least. However, the rest of the match is dull and insulting to WWE fans. If Lucha Dragons had more time in this match and New Day didn’t have a ridiculous advantage, this could have been so much better.
#3 Best – 2009 World Heavyweight Championship Match
Just wow! WWE was able to pull off an incredible twist that to this day has not been replicated inside the Elimination Chamber. Earlier in the night of No Way Out 2009, Edge was the WWE Champion. His title was on the line in another Elimination Chamber match. It took just three minutes for the Rated R Superstar to be eliminated from the match, courtesy of Jeff Hardy. Needless to say this shocked everybody inside the building.
Edge’s night was not finished here, however. Amazingly, the Ultimate Opportunist attacked Kofi Kingston, who was on his way to the ring for the World Heavyweight Champion match. He then stole his spot inside the Elimination Chamber by locking his pod. Mysterio and Jericho started the match and evidenced their terrific chemistry that would later be taken advantage of in 2009.
Kane and Mike Knox entered the match and both were eliminated by the work of Mysterio and Jericho. In the case of Knox, this is a good thing. Edge’s pod then opens and Mysterio goes straight after him in a good showcase of emotion. Cena enters the match and lasts less than 90 seconds! This really added suspense in such a surprising way.
Jericho is eliminated a couple of minutes later and then we get a very enjoyable bout between Edge and Mysterio, with some very brutal moments. This was near perfect.
#2 Worst – 2006 ECW Championship Match
Wait, this isn’t the worst Elimination Chamber match? Not quite, although it is far from good and hardly watchable. In 2006 WWE had one of their worst PPVs ever: December to Dismember. Aside from the opening match (between the Hardyz and MNM), the card was lackluster at best. This match however could have saved the PPV; it did the exact opposite.
Introducing weapons in ECW fashion, the match promised brutality unlike anything else in the steel structure. Hardcore Holly and Rob Van Dam opened the match and it was okay: a bit dull but there were great moments. Although, it is difficult to look past Holly being in the match at the expense of the popular Sabu, who Holly blindsided earlier in the night.
C.M Punk was a fan favourite and entered the match third. His chemistry with RVD is easily the best thing about this atrocity. Their work with the steel chair was very good, it’s just a shame this doesn’t last long. After Test enters the match, everything goes rapidly downhill. Test goes to work on RVD and Punk thanks to his trusty crowbar. RVD then eliminated Punk with a Five Star Frog Splash before Test eliminates Holly then RVD. Fans were rightly angry with this booking.
Bobby Lashley then entered and while it is satisfying to see him throw Test into the pods, everything else is terrible. Lashley disposes of him before Big Show is due to be released, throwing weapons at his pod. Big Show enters the match and nothing good comes from this battle between the two big men. Lashley wins; the fans are unhappy; Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman quit WWE in response to the PPV.
#2 Best – 2002 World Heavyweight Championship Match
It is very difficult to top the original Elimination Chamber match. In 2002 this concept was utterly unique and showcased something new so spectacularly. Triple H, Kane, Shawn Micheals, RVD, Booker T, and Chris Jericho entered the chamber with no idea how the match would turn out in the eyes of fans. Fortunately, they made wrestling history.
All six of these guys were fantastic in their heyday, so it’s no surprise they exceeded expectations. Everybody had a part to play, with everybody coming out of the match strongly. RVD and Triple H begin the match in great fashion, with their contrasting styles providing high-quality entertainment. There is a good mix of in-ring action and utilisation of the chamber which keeps the match interesting.
Credit has to go to the superstars for the bumps they took. From Kane throwing Jericho through the pod to RVD landing a five-star frog splash from the top of a pod onto Triple H (which did wonders for The Game’s throat). There was no match to go off in terms of previous stunts and how to safely perform them. so this was probably as painful as it looked.
Shawn Micheals picking up his final world title win was massively satisfying to see, as he had returned from what was thought to be a career-ending injury just months prior. Micheals and Triple H’s showdown to end the match is also a work of art; you can tell that both superstars gave everything they could. Apart from Michaels’ interesting trunks, the inaugural chamber match was a superb spectacle.
Dishonourable mentions: 2003 World Heavyweight Championship Match, 2020 Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender Match.
#1 Worst – Intercontinental Championship Match 2015
Yes, there is another bad chamber match from 2015. So how can this be worse than the December to Dismember chamber match? Simple really, just have botches, an uninterested crowd, and a mid-card title (that lost much of its value) on the line.
Wade Barrett and Dolph Ziggler begin the bout, and they hardly utilise the chamber. R-Truth’s pod opens and Barrett attacks him, which to be fair is logical. They both get back in the ring and seemingly bore the crowd to death, sitting in silence. Barrett causes a botch when he throws Ziggler through Mark Henry’s pod, releasing him into the match. You can tell this is a botch because Henry is evidently confused. He enters the match out of order and the flow is interrupted significantly.
Ryback enters the match just moments later and it is just so bland. Barrett is then eliminated in such a scripted way it’s laughable. Ryback then essentially dominates until Sheamus decides to exit his pod. R-Truth, Henry, and Ziggler are then eliminated with just a couple of minutes between each. The only time the chamber is utilised here is when Sheamus throws Ziggler (poor guy) through another pod. Luckily everybody was already in the match.
The closing moments of the match see Sheamus and Ryback have an incredibly lackluster battle. Ryback won the title but the fans clearly felt defeated by a chamber match that didn’t even use the chamber. No extreme moments such as jumping from a pod or a suplex onto the steel ground means this match is just terrible.
Honourable Mentions: 2008 WWE Championship #1 Contender Match, 2010 World Heavyweight Championship Match, 2014 WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match.
#1 Best – 2017 WWE Championship Match
After the horrendous matches from 2015’s Elimination Chamber PPV, WWE held no chamber bouts in 2016. This gave WWE time to refine the chamber and make it safer and more visually pleasing. In 2017, John Cena defended his WWE title against Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, The Miz, and winner Bray Wyatt. This was an important match because if it failed, who knows if we would still see the steel structure still producing excellent matches?
Off the back of their sublime Royal Rumble match, Cena and Styles kicked off the match wonderfully. Granted, the action stayed entirely in the ring, but the action itself was great and the crowd were loving it. Once Ambrose’s pod opens, he takes the action outside of the ring. Ambrose tosses Cena into the steel wall, performs what I can only describe as an insane suplex-like move on Styles, and jumps from the top of a pod to land an elbow on Cena. Oh yeah, and Cena delivers a double german-suplex to Ambrose and Styles inside the ring. These three had flawless chemistry.
Wyatt enters and brings some energy to the bout. Spectacular move after spectacular move, this match delivers a flurry of excitement and brilliance. The same happens with Corbin. Speaking of which, Corbin’s elimination and subsequent beatdown of Ambrose is again, brilliant, which results in Ambrose being eliminated. It is hard not to appreciate the cowardly heel work of The Miz on display too.
Despite the work of Styles and Cena towards the close of the match, seeing Wyatt emerge as the new WWE Champion was a satisfying surprise. What came after during the feud with Randy Orton left much to be desired but this bout by itself is one of my favourite matches and the best Elimination Chamber match ever. Plenty of action – inside and outside the ring – as well as interesting twists and great chemistry makes it difficult to pick out a negative.
What do you think are the best and worst Elimination Chamber matches? Check out another recent piece discussing The Glaring Issue With Elimination Chamber.