Elimination Chamber: Speedbump on the Road to Wrestlemania

Posted: March 26, 2012 by Kick Out At 2! in Shane D, Wrestlemania Week!
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Oh, outside of Christmas, it’s now my favorite time of year…Wrestlemania Week!  It’s the time when all of that build up and excitement about this year’s run to the Grandest Stage of them all finally starts to wind to a close and I know that we’ll get the payoffs for the last few months of wrestling storyline in a few short days.

Thing is, there was a time when I had three months to get excited about Wrestlemania.  A time when January signaled the beginning of the trek towards Wrestlemania, and that station that we all got on at was called the Royal Rumble.

Now, we still have the Royal Rumble, and that’s when we get our first glimpse (and our first points toward) that year’s Mania sign hanging in the rafters, but over the last few years, something has started to knock down the special-ness of the Rumble.  In my mind, that thing is the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View.  Or, rather, it’s placement in the calendar.

Inherently, I have nothing wrong with the PPV or the Chamber match itself.  I usually dig watching it, honestly.  What I have a problem with is the placement of it in February, smack dab between the Rumble and Mania.  In my mind, it derails the momentum that we used to get leaving the Rumble knowing who our clear cut Mania headliner was.  Now, there are a few things that kind of work in unison to derail that now, like the fact that we have two Championships that the Rumble winner could vie for and easily end up in the opening match instead of the Main Event (looking at you, 2011!), or we have matches that are billed as the Main Event that aren’t for the Championship (something that I could spend a whole other blog on, honestly), but it’s the fact that it serves to either throw the Road to Wrestlemania out of whack or to stall it that really bothers me.

Now, heretofore, I’ve kept my booking ideas to a minimum, but the way I’ve always envisioned the Road to Wrestlemania working is that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets a bit more than just the satisfaction of a title shot at Mania.  The get the knowledge of knowing they’re in a headline match for the championship (which, in my mind, should always be the Main Event unless we have a mega-match on the card like Rock/Hogan, Rock/Cena, HBK/Taker II, etc.) and that they’re essentially the number one contender to the Championship.  The number one contendership has never really been an expressed point, I know this, but in reality, that’s what it is.  The Rumble winner outlasted 29 other men to become the next man in line for a shot at the title.  I’ve always wanted to see a freeze on championship matches after the title match at the Rumble PPV.  This way, the guaranteed next shot someone gets at the title is the Rumble winner, since they’re clearly the number one contender, and they’ve got a date for that match already set in stone.

What I feel the Elimination Chamber does, though, is set another month in there where we can mess things up.  Look at this year for instance.  Sheamus wins the Rumble and has his chance to compete for either the WWE or World Championship at Wrestlemania.  The next month, however, 10 other guys get title shots before him, all one one night!  Why bother trying to win the Rumble, if you can just win a battle royale on Smackdown and get a shot at the championship a month early?  Or be named into the slot by the GM of whatever show you’re on?  Not only that, but if Sheamus is as big a deal as he’s supposed to be, and a foregone conclusion as a Mania headliner, why isn’t he given one of the opportunities beforehand?

I know that the prize of the Rumble truly is the title shot at Wrestlemania.  That’s how it’s built up.  I just feel that WWE needs to make some changes to really sell how important that victory is.  If you win the Rumble and 10 other people have a shot at the title you just fought for your own shot at, it doesn’t seem as special.  The Rumble winner should be immediately recognized as the next guy to get a shot, and that shot cannot happen before Wrestlemania.  In my mind, that’s how to really up the stakes.  That way,  you can start that drive THAT NIGHT, instead of having to wait until after the February PPV to start building to the March one.

The main event of this year’s Wrestlemania was announced a year in advance, a novel approach for WWE.  The rest of the card, basically thrown together in a month.  Moving something major like the Elimination Chamber to later in the year allows you to start building at least two of your Mania matches a month earlier, giving even longer to let the feud play out and get to the point of making people pay to see them.  Especially after a year like this one, where the title doesn’t change, nothing’s really shaken up, and they could have used that month to further build towards Mania.

The Road to Wrestlemania should be like the interstate on your way to a theme park.  Ever few miles there’s a sign that hypes you up and lets you know that you’re just a little closer to your destination.  You get excited and you can’t wait to get there.  If you stick a big toy store halfway down the road and then you stop there, that gets you out of your mindset.  Sure, the toy store is awesome, but it distracted.  Now the theme park is going to be cool, but you’ve been satiated for a bit.

Imagine how awesome the toy store would have been if it had been a surprise on the way HOME from the theme park!  All that hype, all the payoff of the park, and something awesome down the road as well.

Take me to the toy store afterwards, Vince…that’s all I’m asking.

-Shane

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