October 20, 2013
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
The Place to Be

No Way Out 08
February 17, 2008
Thomas & Mack Center
Las Vegas, NV
Attendance: 13,306
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Jonathan Coachman, Joey Styles & Tazz

Dark Match

Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeats Shelton Benjamin

Pay Per View

Fun Fact: This is Nevada's fourth PPV, all in Sin City. After a subpar debut performance at Wrestlemania IX, Las Vegas has hosted what many consider two of the greatest PPVs of all time in No Way Out 2001 and Vengeance 2005.

1) Chavo Guerrero defeats CM Punk (Phil Brooks) to retain ECW Title with a Frog Splash at 7:06

Fun Fact: On the 1/22 ECW, Chavo Guerrero upset CM Punk to capture the ECW Title. The following week, GM Armando Estrada held a celebration for Chavo in the ring, which was resplendent in balloons and a mariachi band. During the party, once of the band members smashed Chavo with a guitar, eventually revealing himself to be CM Punk. That week on Smackdown, Punk teamed with Rey Mysterio to defeat Edge and Guerrero when Punk pinned Chavo. A week later, Punk faced Chavo in a non-title Gulf of Mexico match, which Punk won when he sent Chavo flying into the Gulf with a G2S. The 2/12 ECW ended with Punk again taking out Chavo with another G2S. Punk ended the show standing tall with the title in his hands.

Scott: In what I thought was a huge upset at the time, Chavo Guerrero won the ECW Title from one of the top five hottest guys in the company. Chavo had been hanging around the Cruiserweight division, but then suddenly joined Edge’s faction with his aunt Vickie Guerrero. That made me think something may have been up, and sure enough after having a solid run with the title since September, Punk is defeated on free TV. So here he gets his rematch. Punk had pretty much had the upper hand against Chavo since losing the title, including crushing him with a guitar and giving him the Go 2 Sleep three different times. So I had a feeling going in that Punk was not going to regain the title in this match. The other thing in the back of my mind was that with Wrestlemania and a Money in the Bank match around the corner, maybe now was the time to elevate the Straight Edge Superstar to the next level. So he obviously needed to finish off the previous level and drop the ECW strap. The match isn’t bad, as Punk’s on a roll and Chavo when pushed could be pretty solid in the ring. Chavo’s most recent opponents have been a little smaller than Punk since he was in the Cruiserweight division but now facing someone closer to his weight class may require some adapting. Punk was about to go for a top rope move but Chavo throws him off and out of nowhere hits the Frog Splash and beats Punk clean to retain his title. The result doesn’t surprise me but the way it ended did. Maybe it was Punk paying a little dues before being elevated. Is he actually being elevated? We’ll see March 30 in Orlando. Grade: 2.5

Justin: In a shocking turn of events, we have a brand new ECW Champion as Chavo Guerrero upset CM Punk on TV a month before this show. The feud has been pretty much dominated by Punk since, but Chavo has kept hold of the gold. This seemed quite egregious at the time, but you could also look at it as a positive, as it was clear they were getting ready to graduate Punk to Raw or Smackdown and had to get the title off him. That said, Chavo came out of nowhere to be the man to dethrone him. This really felt like a courtesy reign more than anything else. Punk struck first, but Chavo quickly slowed him down with a flurry of strikes. Chavo focused on Punk’s midsection, trying to wear him down slowly and keep him grounded. Punk recovered and attempted the G2S, but Chavo reversed into a hurricanrana and tornado DDT for two. These two had some pretty good chemistry but I was still having a hard time buying into Chavo as a legit champion after years of misuse. The crowd actually seemed to be behind Chavo here, especially once Punk started emulating Eddie Guerrero. I am sure he meant it as a tribute, but perhaps it came across as an insult instead. After a back and forth series, Punk went for a top rope hurricanrana, but Chavo shoved him to the mat and Punk banged his knee hard. As he writhed on the mat, Chavo dropped the frog splash for the victory. This seemingly will end the feud and it is clear this feud was used to solidify Chavo as a legit title holder and to push Punk out of ECW. The fans popped for the finish and I am curious why they turned on Punk like they did. Either way, this was a good, hard fought opener. Grade: 2.5

*** Backstage, Mike Adamle interviews Rey Mysterio. They are joined by boxing star Floyd Mayweather, who is there as a guest of Mysterio. ***

2) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) wins Smackdown Elimination Chamber to earn a match with the World Champion at Wrestlemania

Batista pinned Big Daddy V after and Undertaker DDT at 9:08
Undertaker forces Great Khali to submit to the Gogoplata at 12:36
Finlay pinned MVP after an Undertaker chokeslam at 22:31
Undertaker pinned Finlay after a chokeslam at 24:13
Undertaker pins Batista with the Tombstone at 29:28

Fun Fact: The 2/1 Smackdown opened with Teddy Long announcing that there would be an Elimination Chamber match at the PPV to determine the number one contender at Wrestlemania. The six competitors would tussle both on the mic and in the ring over the next three weeks, setting the stage for the PPV. On 2/15, Undertaker assaulted Matt Striker after defeating Big Daddy V. He would lock Striker in the Hell’s Gate submission move, leading to Striker bleeding from the mouth as he passed out.

Fun Fact II: This marks the final PPV appearance for Nelson Frazier aka Mabel/Viscera/Big Daddy V. He would be advertised to appear at the pre-show battle royal at WrestleMania, but was sent home a week before the show and was ordered to lose weight for his own health. V would be drafted to Smackdown on June 25th via the online supplemental series, but never got to wrestle on the show and would be released with several others on August 8th. Frazier continues to wrestle to this day around the indy circuit as both King V and Big Daddy Voodoo. He also has dabbled in acting, starting in The Legend of Awesomest Maximus and also Wrong Side of Town with Batista and Rob Van Dam. His final record altogether is an absymal 7-27-1, going 0-9 at the Rumble, 1-1 at WrestleMania, 2-1 at the King of the Ring (including his win in 1995), 0-3 at SummerSlam, 1-4 at the Survivor Series, and 3-9-1 at other events. His run as Mabel was the best of the three, going 6-10-1, but he only went 1-4 at V and never won a PPV match as Viscera, going 0-13. Because of his winless run as Viscera, he was on a nasty drought between his last win at KOTR 1995 and his final win altogether at Armageddon 2007.

Scott: My first gripe here is that Michael Cole called Big Daddy V a “mastodon”. Sorry Michael, there’s only one of those, and that’s Vader. There are two kinds of Elimination Chamber matches. One has six small to medium sized risk takers that will bump all over the structure and probably bleed like stuck pigs. The other kind is how this match is: Mostly big hamhocks who will bludgeon each other in a slow, methodical fashion. There are really only two legit choices in this match and they are the two guys who start the match. They are also the two guys who were my pick for Feud of the Year in 2007. Batista and Undertaker had an incredible multi-match war that surprised the fans and WWE officials. Those last two matches were four-star gems that again came out of nowhere. They get the match going with some nice pacing and real solid strikes. With the strange combinations of size and styles surrounding them, Taker and Batista needed to get the match started fast since it will likely slow down when the next guy comes into the match, in this case Big Daddy V. At one point V throws Taker through the Chamber door, but clearly one of the referees undoes the lock. Like we weren’t supposed to see that. Batista hit the big man with a big time spinebuster. The Animal eventually pins V to get him out and he and Undertaker continue on and battle. Next up is another big piece of meat in the Great Khali. I’m getting the feeling that the point of this match is that it’s a #1 contender’s match between Taker and Batista and these other guys are just obstacles to get in the way. Sure enough, Khali last a mere few minutes before Taker slaps the Gogoplata on and Khali taps out. Finlay is up now and at least here we’ll see some athleticism for a bit as Finlay can surely hold his own with both of these men. I just love watching Taker and Batista go at it, they’re so familiar and comfortable with each other that the chemistry is practically seamless. You probably won’t see much blood here, that will come during the Raw match later when the smaller guys throw each other all over the place. Finlay is the first to last through to the next interval when MVP, still the US Champion, gets into the match. I must stand corrected from my earlier assessment as Undertaker is busted open by MVP’s decorative chain. Great shot of Taker asking for MVP to keep throwing his soupbones and the Deadman won’t go down. Eventually Taker chokeslams MVP off of one of the pods and Finlay gets the pin to eliminate him. Hornswoggle eventually pops his head out to hand Finlay a shillelagh and he almost defeats Batista after getting cracked in the head with it. Taker chokeslams Finlay on the metal grating, and we’re left, no shock, with the same two we started with. I like my theory that this was booked to be Batista and Taker for the #1 contender slot and because the chamber was booked they worked around that scenario. Batista also gets busted open, so I’m totally wrong here. Not the first time. We get the rest of the match watching two of my favorite workers just pummeling each other with soupbone shots. Batista hits the Batistabomb but Taker kicked out. Knowing that it’s Edge that’s the World Champion, either of these guys could win this match and that’s why it was booked this way, and booked well I might add. Taker hits the Last Ride but Batista returns the favor and kicks out. I know Coach got a lot of crap for his commentary when he replaced JBL and he did have his moments, but he actually wasn’t too bad here. He was informative and didn’t go overboard. We’ll see if he keeps it up. The climax is pretty cool as Batista goes for a tombstone on the metal grating, but he backs up and Taker reverses over the top rope and hits his finisher, to pin the Animal and get his long awaited match with Edge at Wrestlemania. Well Edge still has his title to defend, but you get the idea. Once again these two put on another great match even with the other guys thrown in there. So for the second year in a row, Taker is #1 contender. Grade: 3.5

Justin: With an interesting mix of skill, beef and misfits, our first Chamber match of the evening is on deck. The winner of this one earns a title match at Wrestlemania, so the stakes are high. MVP is still toting his US gold and safely enters a pod. Big Daddy V, who has Matt Striker with him at ringside, follows him and Khali and Finlay round out the pods. As I said, it is an interesting mix of talent involved here. With those four locked up, that means we are kicking this off with a bang as Batista and Undertaker reignite their Feud of the Year from 2007. Both are hungry to regain the gold that Edge stole out from under them in November, but first they need to escape the Chamber. The crowd was buzzing as the two faced off and the match got underway. They picked up right where they left off, trading heavy blows back and forth. Taker used the steel to his advantage, slamming Batista on the grating and raking him across the chain wall. Batista landed a few shots in, but Taker maintained control, slowly picking apart the Animal. As they battled to a stalemate, the first pod opened and V emerged, looking to take advantage. V pounded on both guys, keeping them on the mat and weakened. He crunched Taker with a Samoan drop, but Taker survived. He continued to dominate the action, even chucking Taker through the door and out to the floor below. Things quickly turned and despite controlling the entire segment, V ran out of steam and ate a Batista spinebuster and Taker DDT on the steel before meeting defeat. As he exited, the buzzer sounded and Khali entered next. He picked up where V left off, swatting Batista and Taker around and almost eliminating Taker with a Tree Slam. Batista would escape the head vice and drop Khali with a spear, but Taker wiped him out. I have really dug the structure of this match so far with Taker and Batista just trying to survive against these various monsters. Taker trapped Khali with the Gogoplata and forced the Giant to tap. It was now back to two, once again. Finlay entered next but this time Taker was ready and started smacking him around. Finlay shrugged him off and dropped Taker with the Celtic Cross, but Taker survived again. The violence continued as all three used the steel as part of their assault. This really felt like a war of attrition at this point and I must give the fans credit because they have hung right in. The final buzzer would ring, and despite trying to remain in the pod, MVP was dragged out and beaten down by an angry Taker. Despite that attack, MVP came in with a vengeance, kicking everyone down and using his chain to choke out Finlay. As the match wound down, we saw our first blood as Taker was busted open. MVP went for the kill, peppering the fresh wound with right hands. Taker wouldn’t back down so MVP scampered on top of the pod to escape the Deadman. Taker followed him up and dropped him with an awesome chokeslam down to the mat to a massive pop. Finlay would cover and MVP was done. Finlay kept hanging in there but all three men were quite spent by this point. Needing any advantage possible, Hornswoggle popped up from under the ring and tossed his buddy a shillelagh, which he used for a great near fall on Batista. Taker blocked the attack and chokeslammed Finlay onto the grating to finish him off. Thus, we were down to the two that began this war. I think the booking here was very shrewd as everyone knew it was coming down to Batista and Taker. The way they structured it made it seem like they had to really fight through the odds to make it to this point, at least adding some drama into the mix. Batista was now bloodied as well and the crowd was losing it as Batista powerbombed Taker for a two count. Taker answered with a Last Ride but was too wiped to cover right away, so Batista was able to kick out. After a battle on the steel, Taker lofted Batista up and dropped him with a Tombstone to win and advance to Mania. Wow, that was a red hot finish to cap off a very fun Chamber battle. When you looked the roster on paper, you weren’t sure what to expect in this one, but they more than delivered a great match. Taker moves on to Mania, once again getting the best of the Animal. Grade: 4

3) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) defeats Mr. Kennedy (Ken Anderson) via submission with the figure four at 7:14

Fun Fact: On 1/28, Mr. Kennedy revealed that he begged GM William Regal not to enter him into the Elimination Chamber match because he wanted to end Ric Flair’s career instead. He promised to put the old dog down and make history. Flair came out, wished him luck and danced the show into break. Later that week on Smackdown, Flair’s knee was injured at the hands of MVP. Kennedy then offered Flair a chance to forfeit their match, which Flair obviously turned down. On 2/11, Flair and Kennedy had a great verbal showdown that ended when Kennedy dropkicked Flair’s injured knee.

Scott: This incredibly emotional storyline continues as the verbose and arrogant Mr. Kennedy gets his chance to shut the door on the greatest wrestling career ever. MVP had his shot at the Royal Rumble but Flair escaped with his career continuing. Kennedy pulled some pretty sweet moves out early, like the Bret Hart figure four on the post to work on Flair’s taped up left knee. Kennedy really dictated the tempo here and even though it wasn’t going to happen that Flair was going to lose here, Kennedy really made it feel legit that indeed there was a chance that was going to happen. I’m not sure if it was announced yet that Flair was going into the WWE Hall of Fame, but if he was I think we knew the writing was on the wall that it was almost over. However, it would not be over here as again Flair would make the comeback with the Figure Four and survives again with a win here. The match wasn’t bad, but a great job by Kennedy to really dictate the pace and put Flair through the motions before the legend made a comeback and got another win. Grade: 2.5

Justin: As the weeks have gone along, Ric Flair kept dodging disaster by avoiding losing, thus keeping his career going. Here, another young gun is looking to end that streak, make a name for himself and put Flair down for good. After an up and down 2007, Kennedy has reestablished himself and it seems like his stock is finally back on the rise. Natch gets a warm welcome as he struts to the ring, possibly for the final time. I have continued to dig this storyline as it added some intrigue to all of Flair’s matches. Flair is nursing a bad knee here, so Kennedy goes right for it off the bell. Flair got some momentum going, but Kennedy just went right back to the knee to keep Flair grounded, scratching to keep his career alive. Kennedy emptied his back of tricks, even busting out the old ring post figure four. Back in the ring, he hooked on another figure four, trying to force Flair to submit to his own hold. Kennedy has pretty much dominated this entire match outside of a minute in the beginning. Flair finally caught a break, wriggled out of Kennedy’s grasp and went right for the knee in classic Natch style. After a near fall by Kennedy, Flair caught him off guard and locked in the figure four for the win. Kennedy gave it a go, but Flair survives and goes on to wrestle another game. The match was solid, but nothing great. Grade: 2

4) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) to retain World Heavyweight Title with a spear at 5:27

Fun Fact: On 2/1, Teddy Long informed Edge that he had to defend his title against Rey Mysterio for the second straight month. Edge wasn’t happy but Long didn’t budge. Later that night, Mysterio teamed with CM Punk to defeat Edge and Chavo Guerrero when Punk pinned Guerrero. The next week, Edge demanded that Mysterio head to the ring to apologize to Vicki for assaulting her at the Rumble. Rey came out, but was met with a flurry of slaps from Vicki. Edge then attacked from behind, but Rey fought him off and dropped him with a 619 and senton splash. On 2/15, Edge proposed to Vicki, who accepted. While they celebrated, Mysterio hit the ring to express his disgust. A brawl broke out and eventually ended when Rey hit a senton splash onto Vicki, who was bound to her wheelchair. Rey walked to the back as Edge tended to his injured fiancé as the show went off the air.

Fun Fact II: On 2/14, WWE.com announced that Rey Mysterio had torn his bicep during an overseas tour. Following this show it was revealed that Mysterio would be sidelined for at least six months, thus knocking him out of Wrestlemania for the second straight year.

Scott: After a pretty solid match at the Royal Rumble, we have our rematch between former tag team championship partners. With Undertaker winning the Chamber match earlier it’s pretty clear that Edge is going to win this match and move on to Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando. The question is how different this match will be from their Rumble encounter. Rey is nursing a right arm injury that also can change the difference in matches from January to now. Vickie Guerrero was ringside at the Rumble and was a direct part of the ending to the match. Here Edge comes out solo, due to Teddy Long telling him the Edgeheads were barred from ringside earlier, so the feeling I have is that Edge will dominate the action and Rey will have to make big comebacks. Rey’s popularity seems to be waning, meaning that he’s probably not as deserving of title matches as he once was. Obviously this was a holdover feud to Mania, but it still doesn’t have that juice. With the quick out of nowhere ending, Rey is done, and Edge moves on to try and make history at the Citrus Bowl. Grade: 1.5

Justin: After a tough loss at the Royal Rumble, Rey Mysterio gets another shot at the belt here, but this time around he is at a severe disadvantage thanks to a legit torn bicep. With his buddy, Floyd Mayweather, at ringside, Rey was really fired up to take the gold. Edge and his entourage have continued to dominate Friday nights, and he had interest in giving that power up. Rey tried to start fast, but the bicep was clearly hampering him and he was frustrated by Edge. Edge pounced on the injury, targeting the arm and slamming Rey into the stairs violently. Rey was noticeably affected by his arm and seemed to be mentally checked out a but due to the pain and knowing he was headed for the DL. Referee Mickie Henson kept offering to stop the match, but Rey would not give in despite the pain. After Edge missed a baseball slide, Rey had his opening and got a flurry of near falls of some high impact offense. Rey would land the 619, but was slow to follow up, allowing Edge to spear him for the win. I give credit to Rey trying to gut this out, but as a result the match wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been. Still, even with Rey dinged up and the match shortened due to it, it was still well wrestled and featured nice psychology centered on the bicep. I felt bad for Rey, taken out of a big Mania payday for the second year in a row, especially when he was in the middle of a hot run. Edge retains and he is now set to battle the Deadman under the bright lights in Orlando. Grade: 2

*** As Mysterio is being checked on by medics, the Big Show’s music fires up and the man himself struts down to the ring for his first WWE appearance since December 2006. Since his departure, he dabbled in boxing and as a result was in fantastic shape. He shows off his new body and gushes about how excited he is to be back in the fold. He vows to win gold once again, regardless of which show he ends up on. He also talks about how he will be improved in the ring thanks to his new conditioning and lighter frame. Looking to make an instant splash, Show hopped out of the ring and grabbed Mysterio by the throat, using him as bait for Floyd Mayweather, who was looking on from ringside. Show tossed Rey into the ring and held him by the neck until Mayweather finally broke through his entourage and hopped in the ring to save his buddy to a huge pop. Officials and handlers did their best to keep the two apart, but Mayweather was incensed and the crowd was rabid in egging him on. Show mocked the diminutive Mayweather and shoved him and then dropped to his knees to mock Floyd some more. Well, Mayweather took advantage and drilled Show with a nasty right hand followed by a stiff left, instantly busting Show’s nose and leaving him bloodied. As Show fell back, Floyd and his boys bolted into the night. Show wanted revenge, but Shane McMahon hit the ring and begged him to calm down and hold off. The crowd was super hyped for this and it was a very entertaining segment that served to reintroduce Big Show and also sew the seeds for a potential feud with Mayweather. ***

5) John Cena defeats Randy Orton by disqualification at 15:51; Orton retains WWE Championship

Fun Fact: On 1/28, John Cena hit the ring to talk about his Royal Rumble win the night before. Randy Orton eventually came out as well and Cena shocked the world when he suggested he cash in his Rumble win at No Way Out instead of Wrestlemania. Cena piqued Orton’s interest by surmising that Orton would have an easier time at No Way Out because Cena wasn’t yet completely healed. If they waited until Wrestlemania, Cena may be at 100%. Orton thought it over and eventually accepted the challenge. Later in the show, Cena assaulted Orton and took him out with an FU. The next week, Orton and Cena signed their PPV contract and that segment ended with an RKO. The night ended with Cena forced into an arm wrestling match with Mark Henry. Just when it looked like Cena may win, Henry hooked Cena’s arm and allowed Orton to attack from behind. Cena fought him off and Orton bailed as Cena hit an FU on Henry. On 2/11, Cena defeated Henry in a match.

Scott: I have no problem telling you right now that I hated this storyline. Unequivocally hated it. I’m sorry, but when it comes to wrestling I’m a stickler for tradition. The Royal Rumble winner gets his title shot at Wrestlemania. Not before, not after. If the booking crew was painted into a corner, tough shit. That’s what they get paid to do. So Cena should have faced someone else, maybe for his title shot at Wrestlemania, while Orton defended the title in the Chamber, won it and then faced Cena at Wrestlemania. We’ll get more into how silly this entire storyline is during the last match. Let’s talk about this match as it is. Cena and Orton had their first matches against each other in 2007. Their match at Summerslam was fantastic, while their rematch at Unforgiven was several notches below that. When they are in the ring together, there is a special chemistry between them. It’s similar to what Cena had with Edge in 2006, maybe even more. Orton has really amped up his value with big time wins since being handed the title in October. He’s defeated Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. That’s not a bad combination of opponents. I still think that the WWE used the six months-one year status of Cena’s injury as a red herring so Cena’s big return at the Garden would be such a crazy shock. Cena’s rage at Orton taking him out in October has dominated the tempo of this match early on but Orton has fought back and the early portions of the match have been back and forth. Orton has definitely stepped up his game in the ring from as recently as May or June. Once he got the title, his matches have been great and he’s definitely worked a style that caters to all sorts of babyfaces. Cena works a different style from Michaels or Jericho but Orton can throw bombs just as well as Cena does. Cena had a few chances in the middle of the match to put Orton away with the FU but Orton found ways to duck it and run. They would brawl on the ramp for a few moments then get back in the ring and keep punching. This match was not as technical as the ones from ’07 but the storyline has changed between them so it’s a little more brawling-oriented. Cena gets the STFU on Orton and the Champion is battling and gets to the ropes and the crowd cheers…so funny. Orton then did an awesome job of playing opossum by holding his knee on the outside and telling the ref to count him out. Cena comes out and Orton snaps off an RKO right on the outside floor. That’s the new Randy Orton, not the meathead Randy Orton of 2005-early 2007 who couldn’t tell a story to save his life. Then, the match ends with the worst ending I’ve ever seen. Orton just slaps Mike Chioda in the face, and get DQ’d. Are you serious? That’s the best ending you’ve come up with? Cena snaps, hits the FU and then knocks Orton unconscious with the STFU. My god how more stupid of an ending could you come up with. The match was pretty good but that ending just gives me more ammunition to show how completely stupid this entire storyline was, and I will continue that argument in the next match. Grade: 3

Justin: Our second consecutive World title match is mired in questions and controversy. Everyone expected John Cena to be out through Wrestlemania thanks to his injury suffered by in October. Well, he healed quickly and made a shocking return at the Royal Rumble, winning the match and punching his Wrestlemania ticket. Things changed on Raw, and Cena instead wanted to cash in his title match at this show instead. Over the following weeks, he proved he was healthy and would be ready to go, but Orton was banking on the opposite, which is why he took the rushed match. The crowd is split early and Cena actually got a better reaction than I expected. The two felt each other out early, with the crowd vociferously rallying both men, split evenly in half. I am not crazy about this concept at all, with Cena using his title shot here instead of Mania. I know they probably wanted to make sure both Chambers had a stip on the line, but Orton could have just defended his belt inside the cage instead. It just cheapens the Rumble win again and seemed like haphazard booking to have Cena just be able to use the match here instead. Orton’s reign has been a good one and he is coming off that hot feud with Jeff Hardy, but heading back into this Cena feud so soon didn’t give us enough time to crave a rematch between the two. Cena definitely looked fine in the ring, really letting loose and emptying his arsenal, clearly not holding back. Regardless of the heat behind the feud, these two have great chemistry in the ring and it popped here. Orton has really refined his mean streak and worked it into his match psychology and offense. Orton worked Cena over for a while, but Cena battled back and almost landed an FU before Orton slipped free and bailed to the floor. These two are very even and you could feel it in the flow of the match. After a good slugfest, Cena was able to ding up Orton’s knee, slowing him up, but Cena came up empty on a top rope legdrop attempt. After blocking an RKO, Cena retaliated with an STFU and the crowd was going insane. Orton battled and survived but the damage was done as Orton staggered to the floor and collapsed. He begged Mike Chioda to count him out, claiming he couldn’t continue the match, but it was a ploy and he was able to drop Cena win an RKO on the floor. I will say, I wasn’t crazy about this match early on but these two have won me over with their chemistry and match structure. As Cena was able to beat the count, Orton realized he was screwed so he looked at Chioda and decked him across the face for the deliberate DQ. Orton just sat and smirked as Chioda called for the bell and Cena stood in shock and anger. Cena would hit the FU and STFU after the bout ended, but it was too little, too late. As much as DQ endings can suck, this was some great character work by Orton. He knew he was beat and he knew this was Cena’s only chance, so he gets himself DQ’d and sneaks out as Champion. I totally disagree with Scott here as I liked the finish. It was perfect, vintage conniving Orton. Despite the inane booking premise, this was still a hella fun match, as usual with these two guys. Grade: 3

6) Triple H (Paul Levesque) wins Raw Elimination Chamber to earn a match with the WWE Champion at Wrestlemania

Chris Jericho pinned John Bradshaw Layfield with the Codebreaker at 13:44
Chris Jericho pinned Umaga after a Jeff Hardy Swanton Bomb at 19:45
Jeff Hardy pinned Chris Jericho after a Shawn Michaels Sweet Chin Music at 19:57
Triple H pinned Shawn Michaels after a Pedigree at 20:25
Triple H pinned Jeff Hardy after a Pedigree at 23:54

Fun Fact: On 1/28, after Randy Orton accepted John Cena’s challenge, GM William Regal revealed that there would an Elimination Chamber match at the PPV and the winner would face the WWE Champion at Wrestlemania. The six men would battle over the following weeks, capped by a red-hot classic battle between Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy on the 2/11 Raw.

Scott: Here is the other portion of my argument as to why this entire Cena/Orton situation was a complete mess. The winner of this match gets a title shot at Wrestlemania. Now I know that William Regal announced this after Cena did the title shot switcheroo. This entire thing is a big mess that totally throws the Royal Rumble out the window. This has begun the trend that continues today that shows WWE is so unorganized and uncreative at times that they have to wreck the unique and precious Rumble-to-Wrestlemania storyline. The Rumble winner goes to Wrestlemania, period. There is no need to change that up and ruin the long and exciting build leading to the biggest show of the year. Now you add these specialty matches in the February PPV because the bookers are too lazy to just put together a good solid show and instead need to use gimmick matches as crutches. I’ll get to this point again later. The earlier Chamber was full of big guys who worked each other over slowly, particularly since it was all about Batista and Undertaker. This match is a little more unpredictable and it’s booked differently with a much better cache of workers to up the entertainment and action value. Umaga and JBL are the biggest guys but they definitely work better than Big Daddy V or Great Khali. Everybody got their shots in and as usual Shawn Michaels was the big bleeder. At one point everyone hit their finishers pretty much all at the same time. It came down to the Armageddon rematch between Triple H and Jeff Hardy. It was the best last two guys to put in there because it indeed leaves a lot of doubt. Both guys have history with Randy Orton so it made sense. I couldn’t see Hardy winning though, and when Jeff missed the Swanton and Hunter hit the Pedigree I was sure it was over. Jeff then kicked out, which stunned me. The Game wouldn’t be denied and after a missed Twist of Fate landed Jeff on a steel chair, Triple H hit the Pedigree again, this time on the chair. Three seconds later and Triple H faces Randy Orton at Wrestlemania. To be honest, I thought that Cena/Triple H would be a much better Wrestlemania match. So if Cena was going to cash his Rumble match in, why not just have him win it and have the Wrestlemania 22 rematch you were going to have in Detroit? This Chamber is a lot of fun as Umaga really shines here by tossing everybody around and really working the entire match with everybody. We get the first hints of what will be a great feud in the second half of 2008 between two of the six competitors. We won’t tip our hand on that one either. This is one of the better, more violent Chambers of recent note, harkening back to the first one at the 2002 Survivor Series. I am indeed happy Triple H won, but this entire story arc is convoluted and stupid but there is more to come in Orlando. Grade: 4

Justin: With three of the four Wrestlemania main event principles lined up, Raw looks to deliver the challenger for the WWE Title via Elimination Chamber. Our earlier Chamber match was filled with monsters and brawling but this one will have a slightly different look to it. I liked the mix of talent, as we have a meshing of the top guys on Raw but there is an air of freshness about it with Hardy, JBL, Umaga and Jericho in the mix as well as they are all guys that have either had time off or not been directly involved in the title hunt for all that long. In a very smart booking move, Michaels and Jericho kick this one off, looking to reignite their feud from five years earlier. They put on a hot opening segment, with a back and forth battle, teasing the crowd on a few occasions. Umaga was in next, and the violence was ratcheted up accordingly as he just chucked Jericho out onto the grating. Michaels and Jericho ended up working together a bit, but that did not end well as Umaga cracked both with a double Samoan drop. I love me some stiff Umaga offense. The Bulldozer just dominated this entire segment, crushing both Jericho and Michaels with reckless abandon but that turned quickly as Jericho hooked Umaga in the Walls and Michaels doubled the pain but locking on a simultaneous crossface. JBL entered next and broke that all up and just started bullying everyone with power strikes. His feud with Jericho was immediately back on as he hammered on Jericho in the corner. At one point, all four brawled out on the grating and in that mix, Shawn ended up a bloodied mess, his face coated with the crimson mask. Hunter was in next and he went right for Umaga, picking their feud back up but also allowing the Game to target the man that could be the biggest threat to his Mania title shot. In complete contrast to the Smackdown Chamber, we have yet to have an elimination so far in this match with five in and one left to go. A flurry of finishers changed that as it ended with Jericho dropping JBL with the Codebreaker, giving Y2J a modicum of revenge in their feud. Never one to go away easily, JBL reentered the cage and wiped everyone out with some sick chair shots. With everyone busted up and laid out, Jeff Hardy was the final man to enter the match and he came in red hot, picking his spots and looking to finally bust that glass ceiling. The blood was really flowing at this point and the crowd was riled up and seemed to mainly be backing Hardy. Umaga shook off that JBL chair shot and started to dominate once again, chucking guys around and crushing the rest. In the sickest spot of the match, Umaga charged a seated Jericho and plowed him through the chamber Plexiglas. Jericho is crazy for laying there and taking that one. Just as Umaga was set to use the Spike to finish Jericho, he was caught by Sweet Chin Music, which led to a Codebreaker, Pedigree and Swanton and eventually elimination. Michaels quickly followed with SCM on Jericho, knocking him out of the bout as well. Michaels was too weak to take advantage and he was eliminated after a Twist of Fate and Pedigree. So, just like we witnessed back in December, we now see Jeff Hardy and Triple H battle for a World title match. The pace was wild here as the two just kept dropping heavy bombs and the arena nearly burst open when Hardy kicked out of a Pedigree. I thought for sure that was the finish and I also thought for sure that now meant Hardy was winning. Jeff landed a low blow but Hunter blocked a Twist of Fate and slammed Jeff on a chair. He followed with a Pedigree on the steel and that was all she wrote. Similar to Summerslam 2003, I thought this was a missed opportunity. Hardy was red hot and everybody wanted to see him finally take that leap and take out Randy Orton. Instead we get a flat ending as Hunter wins once again. He is now set to move to Mania to face Orton. This match was great with tons of violence, blood, hate and big time spots. They all busted their asses and it never slowed down for a moment. Grade: 4.5

Final Analysis

Scott: Top to bottom this was a pretty good show. It’s in-between when ranking the Las Vegas PPVs. It’s probably about even with or slightly lower than Vengeance 2005, much better than Wrestlemania IX but not nearly as good as No Way Out 2001. The two Chamber matches were entertaining for different reasons. The Raw match had a lot of bloody shots and crazy risk-taking. The Smackdown match was large, lumbering hosses who threw haymakers and didn’t move all that much. The Edge/Rey match was essentially a throwaway as clearly Rey’s arm injury was real and not workable. The Cena/Orton match was solid as always with them but the ending was stupid. We know Orton is a shit heel who takes the easy way out but seriously that’s the best you can do? We know Wrestlemania will have a special feeling with Ric Flair but otherwise the build has been shaky at best. We’ll see in our next review whether they can deliver on their “outside the box” booking. Edge/Undertaker is set. We’re not sure about the rest. Final Grade: C+

Justin: Justin: This was a very interesting show as it had much more on the line than most February offerings do. Not only were both major titles on the line, but we also had two Chamber matches to dictate who would challenge for the gold at Wrestlemania. In addition, we had another title match plus a bout with Ric Flair’s career on the line. So, even with a loaded card and a red hot crowd, this card still fit a bit lacking in some weird way. The matches were all good, but the booking behind them all felt a bit off and backwards. I feel like they should have stuck with the usual February format and stayed simple and really stayed the course heading into Mania. Instead, everything felt jumbled up and out of place. If you absolutely had to have Cena use his title shot here, why not let Hardy win and face Orton at Mania? Then they could have the Triple H/Cena rematch as a non-title bout to help bolster the card. I guess we can delve more into that in our next review. That said, this was still a fun show to watch and there are a ton of memorable moments and each match was at least good, if not very good in my eyes. Plus, we have to add in Big Show’s return and the smoking hot brawl with Floyd Mayweather. Our two World title matches for Orlando are set as Edge will defend against Undertaker and Randy Orton will have to once again deal with Triple H. At the end of the day, this was a good show and worth a watch, but in the context of the timeframe, the booking was just a tick off. Final Grade: B

MVP: Triple H & Undertaker
Runner Up: Floyd Mayweather & Big Show
Non MVP: Rey Mysterio
Runner Up: CM Punk

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