3 Things WWE’s 2023 Elimination Chamber Got Right And 2 Things It Got Wrong

Last night was the most I’ve been excited for a non-WrestleMania, non-Royal Rumble premium live event in I don’t know how long. A ton of WWE’s biggest stars weren’t even there, and it didn’t matter. The card didn’t need Cody Rhodes or Becky Lynch or Gunther or Charlotte Flair or Drew McIntyre or Sheamus or The Miz or Bianca Belair or AJ Styles or whoever else. It had five really solid and exciting matches, all of which were trying to do very different things. And of course it was the headlined by Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns, offering us the next chapter in the most emotionally complicated and interesting story in the history of wrestling.

For the most part, I think WWE pulled it off. A ton of what Triple H and company did really worked, and we now have even more pieces moved in place for a really exciting WrestleMania. So, overall, I’m really happy with how things went, but that doesn’t mean everything was perfect. So, let’s celebrate the best of the best, and let’s complain about the worst of the worst. Here are 3 things I think Elimination Chamber got right and 2 things I think it got wrong.

Got Right: Made Everyone Look Good In The Men’s Elimination Chamber

Going into The Elimination Chamber, I had a lot of mixed feelings about this match. I was really pumped about The United States Championship being elevated to the point of being defended inside The Chamber, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with the participants. I rarely watch NXT so the appeal of Johnny Gargano has been basically lost on me since he made his main roster debut. He got no reaction at The Royal Rumble, and I was confused why he was getting put into this spot. The same could be said about Bronson Reed, who has been getting zero crowd reaction since his return. 

Well, after watching Elimination Chamber, I am pretty in on Bronson Reed as an angry superheel, and while I still think Johnny Gargano needs a character that isn’t mugging for the camera and being cocky for zero reason, I’m way more on board than I was before yesterday. They both had some spectacular moments inside The Chamber, and the same could be said for every other dude in there. Montez Ford had a few standout moments too, and we may look back on this as the launching pad for him to start a singles career. 

Damian Priest, who I love in Judgment Day, had an elimination and looked dominant for several stretches, and Austin Theory and Seth Rollins had quite a few really fun and impressive moments too. I think you could easily make the case that Bronson Reed, Johnny Gargano and Montez Ford all left The Chamber looking better and stronger than when they came in, and Priest, Rollins and Theory, who have all been much higher on the card than the first three, left without any hit to their position. Throw in the fact that the match worked and paved the way for both Seth Rollins and Logan Paul and Austin Theory and John Cena at WrestleMania, and that has to be considered a huge win.

Got Wrong: The Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley Finish

Listen: I’m not too cool for a DQ finish. I know a lot of wrestling fans want a clean pin or submission every single time, but the occasional DQ or finish with heavy outside interference can help move along a story. There’s a time and a place for shenanigans, but that time and a place is after building a feud people actually want to see. I’m not saying I wasn’t marginally hyped for Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley, but there are a lot more interesting things you could be doing with either guy. 

If the point was to get to Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania, they could have just done that and spent an extra six weeks building the feud up in a way that was more emotionally compelling. You didn’t need Elimination Chamber. But given Bray Wyatt publicly changed the winner of the Lashley and Lesnar match last Friday on Smackdown, I’m not even sure we’re going to get Brock and Bobby at ‘Mania. If that was the case, then why not give us a real finish? 

And if this was all done because you didn’t want to have either guy take a real loss, then why put them in a feud together? If you wanted Brock on the card, you could have put him with anyone and reestablished his dominance. Imagine they just said Brock Lesnar is going to spin a wheel with everyone’s name on it at Elimination Chamber and whoever it lands on has to fight Brock. The Miz could have done 3 segments trying to get Adam Pierce to rig the wheel. This premium live event didn’t need either of these two. If we would have gotten a real match, that would have been great, but since we didn’t, they should have done anything else. 

Got Right: Kept The Titles On Roman Reigns

I was emotionally rooting for Sami Zayn with everything I had last night. After his incredible Smackdown reaction and promo, part of me even wondered if he could win. But the more reasoned, long-term focused parts of my brain were always quietly confident in Roman Reigns, which is why I picked him to win in my Elimination Chamber predictions. I’m not against putting the big belt on someone to reward them for being super over with fans and having an incredible run. In normal circumstances, they should have put the belt on Sami Zayn, but in this specific case, that would have required moving around a ton of pieces for WrestleMania. It almost certainly would have also required Roman Reigns to wrestle twice. 

My colleague here at CinemaBlend Mick Joest was all about a Sami Zayn and Cody Rhodes Main Event, but I just think the likelihood of Cody winning that match is too overwhelming. Roman needs to be in there to add more doubt. Plus, it wouldn’t make any sense for him to have a run of more than 900 days and then not get a rematch. I know it’s wrestling, but the plot still needs to make sense. 

So, he would need to be in the main event, which would have left The Usos with nothing productive to do for WrestleMania other than manufacture a feud in six weeks. That makes no sense; so, you would have needed Jey and Jimmy to turn on Roman to help Sami win the belt at Elimination Chamber, which would have given us Roman and Solo vs The Usos, and I’m just not sure WWE was going to break up The Bloodline like that. Ultimately, I think WWE made the right move, but there are plenty of others who vehemently disagree with me.  

Got Wrong: Didn’t Push Rhea Ripley (Or Judgment Day) Hard Enough

I absolutely love Judgment Day. I think they have all the pieces to be a historically great stable. Rhea Ripley has the tools to be one of the best women ever. She should be the leader. Then Finn Bálor should be competing and sometimes holding mid-card titles, and after The Usos lose and the belts get split up, Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio should be tag team champions. Imagine Dominik looking like absolute trash during every match. He could get saved by Priest who almost single-handedly wins every match, and then Dom could get on the mic and brag about all his accomplishments every week. People would hate it. The boos would be deafening. 

Anyway, all of the pieces are here. A potential all-time great (Rhea), two really strong in-ring workers who are decent on the mic and have completely different styles (Priest and Finn) and a side character who is one of the most hated dudes in recent memory. That’s the formula. I want to see WWE start pushing them really hard and that means giving them more time for character development and having them pick up more Ws. 

Now, to be clear, this match (despite one egregious botch) was a ton of fun. Both Beth Phoenix and Edge still look really good in the ring, and it was a fun way to spend fifteen minutes. I enjoyed all of it, but if the long-term plans are to push Judgment Day (and they should be given Rhea winning The Rumble), then they should be looking dominant— not losing to two Hall of Famers who aren’t part of the main event scene. Once again, good match though. I just think it hurts the long-term story, or at least the long-term story I’d tell.

Got Right: Pushed Asuka (And Delivered A Good Women’s Elimination Chamber)

I like the decision to reinvent Asuka’s character a little bit with different make-up and a different attitude. She was being wasted standing behind Bianca Belair last year, but when she finished third at The Rumble behind Rhea and Liv Morgan, I started to have some doubts. Was WWE going to fully push her back to the main event scene? Well, now we know the answer is yes. Asuka needed a dominant performance to re-establish her place in the hierarchy, and we got that.

We also got an exciting and fun Elimination Chamber match. Asuka, Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez all looked great. Natalya got really strong support from the crowd back in her home country of Canada and reminded everyone what she's capable of. Camella had some fun interactions and was pushed harder than I expected, and even Nikki Cross, despite her gimmick not working at all right now, had a few good spots inside The Chamber. It was a really thoughtful, well-put together match that highlighted all the strengths of the different performers. And the end result was right. That’s a huge win.

P.S. Special Shoutout To The Crowd

I don’t really want to credit WWE for how hot the crowd was, but everyone in the crowd both for Smackdown and Elimination Chamber should be applauding themselves. This was a perfect big atmosphere crowd. They engaged with the storyline. They participated when it made sense, not in an annoying Raw after WrestleMania way that’s trying to get themselves over. They were everything you’d hope to see from a PPV audience. So, huge thumbs up. It made what would have been a very good event into something special people will remember for years to come.

WWE premium live events stream for free with a Peacock subscription. The next upcoming WWE PPV will be WrestleMania, which happens on Saturday and Sunday over the first weekend of April. Expect a tremendous show that carries on a lot of the plots we saw here. 

Mack Rawden
Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.