The Road to Wrestlemania always takes a detour to the Elimination Chamber. This time, with the brand split and all, the menacing structure opened its doors to the superstars of Smackdown Live!, and with only two weeks after the Royal Rumble, you would think that the pay-per-view wouldn't disappoint. Well, at least the main event was interesting enough, especially at the end. Everything else either sucked, or was "meh" enough for me to watch. With the event done, let's see how I grade this edition of the Elimination Chamber.
Best Match of the Night: Bray Wyatt def. John Cena, AJ Styles, The Miz, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, and Baron Corbin to win WWE Championship (Elimination Chamber Match)
First off, the new Elimination Chamber itself looks great. It has a square shape, has cameras and LED lights inside the square pods, and the WWE logo at the top of it all. It's more viewer friendly for fans not near ringside. The match itself started with a bang, with WWE Champion John Cena facing off against AJ Styles. As the match continued, you saw a possible Wrestlemania storyline develop: after Baron Corbin was the first elimination by Dean Ambrose, Corbin snapped, effectively destroying the Intercontinental Champion and ending his hopes of being a dual champion after a pin by Miz. The final three: Styles, Cena, and Bray Wyatt, didn't sell as much as it should have. But after Cena was eliminated, it was back and forth between Wyatt and Styles. Wyatt brought Styles down with a Sister Abigail, and he walked out the new WWE Champion. This now means (provided nothing happens), that it will be Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. The Elimination Chamber match was as destructive as it was in years past, and although it wasn't the best, it certainly was memorable, and sets up storylines for Wrestlemania for the blue brand.
Worst Match of the Night: American Alpha def. The Ascension, The Usos, The Vaudevillians, Breezango, and Heath Slater and Rhyno for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships (Tag Team Turmoil Match)
Is the WWE trying to kill the Ascension? Because this match sure as hell did it. After American Alpha (the 5th team to enter) pinned the Usos, Jimmy and Jey vented their frustration in a vindictive beatdown. This left the Ascension to pin them and win the titles for the first time since being called up to the main roster, right? Wrong! American Alpha got the win. Since coming to the main roster, the Ascension haven't been able to do anything, like they did at NXT. This was the icing on the cake. The match was horrible all the way through, and the ending has basically told me that WWE has given up on the Ascension.
Moment of the Night: Carmella and James Ellsworth Watched the Event from a Skybox
This pay-per-view was so terrible, you even had this pathetic attempt of a comedic relationship with James Ellsworth and Carmella. The only reason this was the moment of the night was because it was the only thing that got fans to laugh. There was no other moments that stood out.
Overall Grade: D+
The ONLY thing that saved this pay-per-view was the Elimination Chamber match. You can make the case that Natalya and Nikki Bella was a good one, but it ended in a double count out, possible setting up a Wrestlemania storyline, and dragging out the bickering catfight between these two from now until April. The Women's Championship was won by Naomi, but the match wasn't good at all. Becky Lynch and Mickie James was terrible, and Kalisto and Apollo Crews beating Dolph Ziggler in a 2-on-1 handicap match was one that you could miss in it's entirety. At least the pre-show match wasn't a dud because of....Curt Hawkins! Just kidding, it was. I feel that if Smackdown Live! was giving more time than 2 weeks after the Royal Rumble to set up this show, it could've been better. Yet, they didn't, and overall, this is the worst grade I've given a Smackdown exclusive pay-per-view so far. Going into Wrestlemania, I expect better storylines and matchups, given that they have a month and a half to prepare for the Grandest Stage Of Them All.
On Wednesday, the NBA and Take Two Interactive Software, the developers of the popular NBA 2K series, announced that a NBA-specific eSports league will be coming to the competitive video game circuit. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, and Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take Two, announced the partnership, with the hope that play will begin in 2018.
The NBA eLeague, as it is being called, will follow the same format as the NBA itself. All 30 teams will field five professional video gamers and compete in an actual regular season against the other teams. These teams will be like the 30 NBA teams now, but will be differentiated with an "e" in front of it (i.e. the eLakers, eSpurs, eBucks, etc). There will be playoffs and a championship round, draft, and events for fans of the newest eSports game. So basically it'll be the same as the regular NBA, but only in video game form.
This step is an interesting one to take for the NBA. Lately they've been looking for ways to adhere to fans, specifically millennials, in regards to the game itself. They've looked at possible rule changes, shorter game clocks, anything they can do to keep the attention of the younger generation. Taking a look at eSports as a whole, it has grown to an extraordinary level. The growth of competitions for popular games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, Smite, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, to name a few games, and the fan base these events bring (League of Legends sells out the Staples Center in LA for crying out loud!), it's a positive step in the right direction.
When it comes to competitive sports video games in general, the Madden NFL and FIFA series are currently on top. Madden just finished their Madden Bowl, which crowned the best online Madden player in the world, and FIFA has it's own world championship, the FIFA Interactive World Championship (FIWC). Streaming these events on social media brings out huge crowds, and have boasted positive results for these games, from both players and fans of both series. As someone who plays both games constantly, it makes the games better.
While there are many positives about this upcoming eLeague, there are some concerns that I have. If the league will be similar to the NBA, will games be played before or during actual NBA regular season games? Will there be an All Star Game for these guys? There's just too many questions surrounding this thing that Silver and Zelnick are trying to do. I would expect that down the road, more information will come out on how this thing will be ran. But for right now, I'll be a skeptic about it.
The NBA is looking outside the box when it comes to keeping the attention of the younger generation. eSports is a great way to go about it. But while I think about what is to come for the possible future of the NBA, I find myself asking this question. Will the NBA eLeague be a booming success to fans of the NBA and video games in general? Or will be a possible failure like the XFL was long ago?
Where was I when we began going on the road to Wrestlemania? I was watching it with some buddies at my good friend Kenny's house, hoping to win our Royal Rumble pool (I had picks 8, 9, and 18). The Royal Rumble signals to the WWE Universe that Wrestlemania is getting close. It's supposed to be full of surprises, memorable moments, and in the end, the winner punches their ticket to the main event at Wrestlemania! This year, it was Randy Orton, who won the match for the second time in his career (the first being in Detroit in 2009). So did this Rumble deliver like past years? Take a look at my review and find out!
Best Match of the Night: John Cena def. AJ Styles for WWE Championship
Move over, Ric Flair! There's a new 16 time WWE Champ! And his name is (say it with me, you all know the meme) JOHN CENA! The reason that this match was the best match of the night and not the Royal Rumble match was more than Cena tying Ric Flairs record. It was a rematch of the Summerslam classic between these two incredible superstars. Many were wondering if Cena could still do what he does against a talented Styles, who arguably had the best rookie year in WWE history. These two went back and forth, and near the end, it appeared that Cena was down for the count. Yet, the man never gave up, and a few AA's later, we have a new champ. After the match, Cena went into the stands and granted a wish to a fan who was stricken with cancer, allowing him to hold the belt and smile for the camera with his hero. That, and the fight itself, is why I'm giving this match my Best Match of the Night award.
Worst Match of the Night: Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks (Pre Show)
Don't get me wrong, I love a good women's match. This time, there were three matches, two in the pre show, one in the main show. A 6 women tag team match kicked off the pre show, where Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya. Then, in the main show, there was the Charlotte vs. Bayley Raw Women's Championship match, which was dull, and could've been better. The third match, Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks, was by far the worst women's match I have ever seen in my time watching WWE, and is no doubt the worst match of the night. The whole storyline that WWE has going with these two hasn't been impressive. Jax attacking Banks while she was hurt, saying she's not a boss, they're faster turn offs to me. The match was so boring I was checking my Twitter the whole time. Ever since these two came up to the main roster, Banks had a hand in the women's revolution, while Nia Jax had done nothing to impress. If WWE wants to do something with these two, then they better get some
Best Moment of the Night: Goldberg vs Lesnar in Royal Rumble Match
If you thought Brock Lesnar was going to get Goldberg back for being humiliated at Survivor Series, well, you were disappointed. Once again, the Beast was slain by the veteran, ending his chance at not only main eventing Wrestlemania again, but any chance to getting revenge from Survivor Series. They're no doubt in my mind setting these two up for Wrestlemania. Just the fact that you got an epic rivalry going since Survivor Series, and now you can end it in Orlando.
Worst Moment of the Night: Reigns Enters As #30 Entrant
Seriously? Seriously? You had Undertaker, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar come into the match late. You could've had guys who were ready to come up from NXT. Yeah, you had Dillinger and Jack Gallagher from the cruiserweight division, but no offense, Dillinger and Gallagher haven't done anything memorable yet. You could've had Samoa Joe, the former NXT Champion who I feel is ready for the big time! Or Finn Balor, who's injury timetable would've set up the perfect opportunity for the Demon King to headline Wrestlemania (I would love a Balor/Owens match then)! When Roman Reign's theme music hit, my friends and I groaned. If he would've won, then the show would've gotten a lower overall grade. But thank the Lord for Randy Orton saving the day, possibly reigniting the Orton/Cena rivalry, providing John Cena can successfully retain his title at Elimination Chamber. WWE had a great opportunity to move forward with better talent, and they failed miserably in that department.
Overall Grade: B-
The event was a success in general. The way they had the Rumble match, however, is the reason this isn't an A. They've been pushing Reigns for the past three Royal Rumbles now. The first one set up a great main event between Reigns and Lesnar; the second, a terrible title match against Triple H. There comes a time when the WWE will have to do something else for "the guy". Looking at the other matches, Owens and Reigns was good, until Braun Strowman got involved, keeping me to believe that Kevin Owens is an illegitimate champion, and until he can win one on one, no interference, no help, then I will change my opinion. I would've started out with the WWE Universal Championship match instead of the Raw Women's title match, but that's just me. This was a good way to get us on the Road to Wrestlemania, but it could've been better.