WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view has become a post-Royal Rumble staple on the calendar as a show that goes a long way towards shaping the WrestleMania card every year.
2021 is no exception. Drew McIntyre defends his WWE championship against five challengers inside the Chamber, while Roman Reigns will await the winner of a second Elimination Chamber match in a Universal championship match later in the night. The United States championship and women’s tag team titles will also be on the line, but SmackDown women’s champion Sasha Banks is in action in the women’s tag title match (with Rumble winner Bianca Belair) and Raw women’s champion has seemingly lost a challenger with the revelation of Lacey Evans’ pregnancy, potentially taking those two titles out of play.
The picture for the dual-night WrestleMania 37 in Tampa will get clearer by the end of the night. Follow live as we break it down, match by match.
Match in progress
No matter how strong a run of momentum someone has as an Intercontinental or United States champion, they are always one night away from that status changing in a flash.
That’s what happened on Sunday as Riddle dethroned Lashley to become the new U.S. champion by pinning John Morrison in their triple threat match.
Lashley made the first major impact of the match by turning a torture rack into a device to slam Morrison ribs-first into the ringpost. Then he flipped Riddle around ringside effortlessly, and continued the battering inside the ropes. Morrison and Riddle tried multiple times to team up to slow Lashley down, and it worked very briefly until Lashley hit a one-handed Spinebuster on Morrison and a Dominator to Riddle.
The pair continued to try and gain the edge as Riddle head-scissored Lashley out of the ring and Morrison leapt over the top rope to take Lashley out of action. Riddle flipped onto Lashley as well for good measure. But that’s as far as the alliance went as Morrison took advantage of Riddle being distracted to smash him into the ringpost.
The pair battled briefly, but Lashley didn’t stay down for long. Upon his re-entry, however, Riddle landed a Final Flash Ripcord knee to and a floating Bro Flip off the top rope on Lashley. Morrison interrupted the pinfall attempt by kicking Riddle and landed Starship Pain, only for Lashley to kick out at 2.
MVP distracted Morrison and Morrison stole his crutch for good measure. Morrison swung at Lashley and missed, then got trapped into a Hurt Lock by Lashley. But as Lashley appeared to be seconds away from victory, Riddle picked up the crutch and smashed Lashley multiple times, sending him out of the ring. A still stunned Morrison was prone, and Riddle hit Morrison with Bro Derek to earn the pinfall and his first singles title in WWE.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) February 22, 2021
What’s next: It’s unlikely Lashley goes away quietly, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lashley challenge for or even regain the belt on Monday night. But for now, Riddle’s WrestleMania outlook improves.
Universal championship: Roman Reigns (c) def. Daniel Bryan
The winner of the Elimination Chamber match to determine Roman Reigns’ Universal title challenger was always going to be about a diminished winner facing an impossible task. Daniel Bryan filled that role to a T.
After fighting through a bum knee that was tweaked early in the Chamber match, Bryan did the unlikely by scoring his only elimination of the match on Jey Uso to win the opportunity. The Universal championship match followed immediately, with Bryan struggling to do so much as stand.
But as Reigns charged forward for a seemingly inevitable spear, Bryan caught Reigns in a Yes Lock. After a few moments of potential doubt, an infuriated Reigns landed a flurry of punches and elbows on the ground, followed by a powerbomb. After a few more punches, Reigns choked out Bryan and retained his title.
Even given the anti-climactic nature of the ensuing title match, the Chamber match itself was very entertaining. Cesaro and Bryan started the match, renewing their recent tensions that have cycled from brutal competition and hard-earned respect. And while this clash between two of the all-time technical greats might not seem to be the right fit for a car crash-like match like the Elimination Chamber, any opportunity to watch these two wrestle should not be taken for granted.
After they showed off strength and submission mastery, King Corbin’s pod was the first of the four other competitors to have their pod open. Corbin quickly made the match ugly, tossing Cesaro into his now unoccupied pod and raking Bryan’s face against the cage. Bryan’s knee started to have a target painted on it with Corbin slamming the knee into a pod twice, before torqueing Bryan’s knee around the ringpost and pulling.
Sami Zayn’s pod was next to open, but he refused to exit as Corbin tried to pull him out. When Bryan knocked Corbin silly, Cesaro walked up to the open end of the pod and started battering Zayn inside that enclosed space. Then Bryan took his shots by smashing Zayn face-first into the cage. All four participants seemed to be on level ground, until Zayn missed a Helluva Kick on Bryan and smashed his leg into the metal in front of Kevin Owens’ pod.
Cesaro essentially flung Zayn to the top of Jey Uso’s pod, where the two men proceeded to fight at high altitude. Then they climbed across the top panel of chainlink, with Cesaro battering Zayn’s face in to the fence, grabbing on the top of the Chamber, kicking Zayn to the ground and then doing pullups with ease for good measure.
Back on the ground, Cesaro nailed Corbin with a spinning uppercut from the top rope, spun Corbin around with a few rotations of a Cesaro Swing and then finished it off with a tribute to his former tag team partner Tyson Kidd that he’s adopted into his arsenal of late — a sharpshooter. Corbin tapped out and was the first participant eliminated.
The buzzer sounded, and Owens was the next one to enter the match. Zayn tried to convince Owens to renew their friendship and partnership of yesteryear, and for a brief moment it seemed like Owens might even consider it. That lasted all of one second as Owens tossed Zayn back and forth into pods on opposing corners.
Everyone was wiped out from a sequence that fed from a toss-up uppercut from Cesaro to Zayn, a running knee from Bryan to Cesaro and a pop-up powerbomb from Owens to Bryan. Owens kept all three of his opponents down long enough for Uso to become the final entrant in the match, which allowed the pair to renew their tensions.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) February 22, 2021
As everyone battled outside the ring, Owens grabbed the spotlight with a moonsault on all four of his competitors from the top of a pod. Cesaro and Bryan ate stunners on the outside, and after Zayn missed a helluva kick, Owens landed another stunner on him inside the ring and pinned Zayn, eliminating him.
As Zayn was being assisted out of the ring, Uso trapped Owens’ arm in the cage with full pressure exerted. Uso landed a half-dozen superkicks on Owens, both before and after the arm was trapped, rolled and ended it with a splash. Uso pinned Owens, eliminating him.
With the presumptive favorite eliminated from the match, the final three scrambled to the finish. Cesaro modified his swing to smash Uso back and forth into the side of the cage, and then flashed incredible strength to ragdoll Bryan back into the ring. Bryan kicked Cesaro in the chest as he flew off the top rope, and the first two participants in the match clashed once more.
Cesaro jumped off the top rope with Bryan on his shoulders to hit a gut buster, and seemed to be setting Bryan up for another sharpshooter. But as Cesaro spun Bryan by his bad leg, Uso charged back into the match, landed a superkick and a splash and pinned Cesaro, eliminating him.
Uso hit another splash on a prone Bryan, but Bryan kicked out. Undeterred, Uso climbed to the top of a pod to try another splash, but Bryan got his knees up. A running knee allowed Bryan to pin Uso and earn himself a shot at Reigns’ Universal championship.
What’s next: There couldn’t have been a clearer pathway for Reigns to face Edge at WrestleMania. After the pair collided on SmackDown Friday and Reigns landed a spear on the 2021 Royal Rumble winner, Edge showed up post-match and returned the favor. Edge pointed at the WrestleMania sign, the universal signal of declaration, and so the match was made.
United States championship qualifier: John Morrison def. Ali, Ricochet and Elias
There are some occasions in which WWE strains suspension of disbelief to its breaking point. This match was one of them.
In a Fatal 4-Way match in which there are no disqualifications or countouts, Instead of actively getting involved in the match, which they could’ve done at any time. Ali’s trio of Retribution allies only interfered twice to break up pinfalls and to powerbomb Ricochet into the turnbuckle pole. As the entire faction was distracted with beating up Ricochet, their woes of trying to establish relevancy continued as Morrison rolled up Ali to earn the pinfall and the title shot.
What’s next: Morrison takes Keith Lee’s spot in the United States championship match against Riddle and Bobby Lashley. While anything is possible in a United States or Intercontinental championship match, it’s likely that Lashley continues to run roughshod for some time to come.
Still to come:
Raw women’s championship: Asuka (c) vs. TBA