Adam Pearce Announced a Universal Championship No. 1 Contender's Elimination Chamber Match
It was announced on Monday's Raw that we're getting an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship, so I assumed the second one would be for the women of either brand. Well, apparently not because now we know we're getting another men's one, though this one will determine Roman Reigns' challenger later on in the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. It's an interesting concept, but we really should be getting a women's Chamber this year. Nonetheless, this was a solid segment that laid the groundwork for the rest of the show with the announcement of qualifiers. I can see why Kevin Owens would automatically qualify, but why Jey Uso? I can understand why Pearce would do that from a storyline standpoint (to tease tension between him and Reigns), but what the hell did he do to deserve the shot?
Sami Zayn and King Corbin def. Rey and Dominik Mysterio to Qualify for the Universal Championship No. 1 Contender's Elimination Chamber Match
Corbin has had his issues with the Mysterios for months, so this was logical. There wasn't anything overly spectacular about the match, but it was well-wrestled and Rey and Dominik are developing strong chemistry as tag partners. Hopefully they'll be in the tag title picture before long, but there was no need for them to be in the Chamber. Corbin and Zayn make more sense to be in there, even though neither of them have the slightest chance of winning.
Intercontinental Champion Big E def. Shinsuke Nakamura by Disqualification
Although this was initially an open challenge, Apollo Crews demanded another opportunity and Big E turned him down. I'm glad he didn't come across like a dumb babyface and accept the challenge anyway because, like he said, Crews has already had his chances and lost every single time. I'm happy the feud is still going because Crews' slow-burn heel turn has been terrific. Nakamura vs. Big E was a fresh matchup but was way too short. I assume Nakamura remains in the title hunt because of Crews' interference here. Speaking of Nakamura, why the hell wasn't he in a qualifier? He has unfinished business with Reigns from last month.
Seth Rollins Attacked Cesaro
It's worth noting Rollins came out to his old "Burn It Down" theme instead of the new song he debuted last spring as part of his messiah gimmick. I don't think the messiah stuff is dead because there were still shades of that in this segment, but it might be tweaked a bit to make it a bit more interesting. I love the "Burn It Down" theme, but I think it's too soon for him to be going back to it. Also, why were the Superstars around ringside for his return? I realize it was for the visual of them walking away once he heeled it up in his promo, but it was weird for them to be out there to begin with. I love that Rollins went after Cesaro because that indicates they could be feuding or something along those lines. My guess is that it's a bridge to Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 37, especially since Bryan made the save for Cesaro when he attacked him, but we'll see. I was happy that it didn't result in Cesaro being pulled from his Chamber qualifier later in the night.
Bayley def. Liv Morgan
Bayley beat Ruby Riott last week, so it made sense for Morgan to get the shot this week. Bayley has gone on record (including in my interview with her last summer) that she's wanted Morgan one-on-one and she finally got her wish here. Unfortunately, the match wasn't anything special. but at least Morgan put up a fight before losing. While Billie Kay's papers were what led to her loss, it was Riott who threw them in the ring to begin with, so really Riott is to blame. Kay's strange storyline with The Riott Squad continues, but at least Natalya and Tamina are seemingly out of the picture.
The Street Profits def. Chad Gable and Otis
The story is that Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode believe Street Profits haven't done anything to earn another shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. I mean, if it isn't them, then who else? SmackDown's tag team division is so dead that there aren't many other possible contenders. There's the Mysterios, but they're fresh off a loss, so they'd need to be built up first. At any rate, this was a fun little match between two talented teams. That said, it simply served as a reminder that although these guys are good, SmackDown needs more tandems.
SmackDown Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair Humiliated WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
At this point, if Belair doesn't choose to face Banks at WrestleMania, a lot of people are going to be disappointed (including me). It's been so heavily teased and it's the only 'Mania match for Belair that makes sense. I enjoyed their exchanges on the mic, but I'm all for positioning them as allies for the next little while. I don't think they will (or even should) win the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship, but it's a nice attraction for Elimination Chamber. Plus, some dissension between them could be what leads to the 'Mania matchup happening and Banks possibly going full heel again.
Daniel Bryan and Cesaro def. SmackDown Tag Team Champions Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler to Qualify for the Universal Championship No. 1 Contender's Elimination Chamber Match
There was never any doubt over who was winning, but this was an entertaining main event, nonetheless. I liked how Cesaro showing respect toward Bryan last week was what effectively turned him face and then they teamed up here. It's the right role for him at the moment and I truly want to see him succeed as a singles star this time around. He has the momentum, so why not capitalize on it? The Chamber better come down to Bryan and Cesaro because they're the only two I want to see win it.
I still can't believe the Chamber pay-per-view is next Sunday. I know Fastlane is happening next month, but the Chamber really should have been a week later to allow the brands more time to build to it. The card feels thrown together, but this SmackDown Chamber has potential. The qualifiers were largely logical and took center stage on this show. There was the usual filler with the women's and tag team divisions, but the Universal Championship and Intercontinental Championship pictures continue to hold my interest and carry these shows (along with Banks and Belair, who have to be headed for a WrestleMania showdown).