Elimination Chamber (2021)
Elimination Chamber (also known as No Escape in Germany) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions. It took place on February 21, 2021, and was broadcast from the WWE ThunderDome, hosted at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was the 11th event under the Elimination Chamber chronology and the final event to air on the American version of the WWE Network before its merger with Peacock.
|Date||February 21, 2021|
|City||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Attendance||0 (behind closed doors)[Note 1]|
|WWE Network event chronology|
|Elimination Chamber chronology|
Seven matches were contested at the event, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. In an impromptu main event, The Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and defeated Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Championship after McIntyre had retained the title in Raw's Elimination Chamber match. In the opening bout, Daniel Bryan won SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match to earn an immediate Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns, who retained the title against Bryan. In another prominent match, Riddle defeated John Morrison and defending champion Bobby Lashley to win the United States Championship.
Elimination Chamber is a gimmick pay-per-view first produced by WWE in 2010. It has been produced every year since, except in 2016, and is generally held in February. The concept of the show is that one or two main event matches are contested inside the Elimination Chamber, either with championships or future opportunities at championships at stake. The 2021 event was the eleventh event under the Elimination Chamber chronology and featured wrestlers from the Raw and SmackDown brands.
On January 25, 2021, WWE announced that the WWE Network would become exclusively distributed by Peacock in the United States as part of a new agreement with NBCUniversal, which airs Monday Night Raw and NXT on the USA Network. The WWE Network will become its own premium channel under Peacock, while Peacock Premium subscribers will get access at no additional cost; other countries will maintain the current separate WWE Network service distributed by the promotion itself. This new agreement will go into effect on March 18, making Elimination Chamber the final pay-per-view to air on the American version of the WWE Network before it merges under Peacock.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE had to present the majority of its programming for Raw and SmackDown from a behind closed doors set at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida beginning mid-March 2020, although in late May, the promotion began using Performance Center trainees to serve as the live audience, which was further expanded to friends and family members of the wrestlers in mid-June. On August 17, WWE announced that all future shows and pay-per-views would be held at Orlando's Amway Center for the "foreseeable future," beginning with the August 21 episode of SmackDown. Furthermore, the shows now feature a new fan viewing experience called the "ThunderDome," which utilizes drones, lasers, pyro, smoke, and projections. Approximately 1,000 LED boards were installed to allow fans to virtually attend the events for free and be seen on the rows and rows of LED boards. Arena audio is also mixed with that of the virtual fans so that chants from the fans can be heard. After their contract with the Amway Center expired, WWE relocated the ThunderDome to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, which began with the December 11 episode of SmackDown.
The show comprised seven matches, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands, while storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
After Sheamus was drafted to the Raw brand in the 2020 WWE Draft, he re-established his old friendship with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. However, on the February 1, 2021 episode of Raw, Sheamus turned on McIntyre, declaring that he was not his friend and wanted the WWE Championship. Later, McIntyre accepted Sheamus' challenge for a one-on-one match. The following week, however, WWE officials Adam Pearce and Shane McMahon announced that McIntyre would defend the WWE Championship against five former WWE Champions in an Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber, which included Sheamus, as well as Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, and Mr. Money in the Bank The Miz. After a heated confrontation with McIntyre during a "Miz TV" segment the following week, Miz removed himself from Raw's Elimination Chamber match. Backstage, The New Day's Kofi Kingston confronted Pearce about the vacant spot due to being a former WWE Champion. Miz also confronted Pearce, wanting to give his vacant spot to his tag team partner John Morrison, who despite not being a former WWE Champion, Miz reminded Pearce and Kingston that Morrison was a former ECW World Champion. Pearce then scheduled a match between Kingston and Miz where if Miz won, Morrison would take his place, but if Kingston won, he would be in the match. Kingston won the ensuing match. Later that night, a gauntlet match was held between the six Elimination Chamber match participants to determine who would enter the chamber last. Sheamus won by last eliminating McIntyre.
In December 2020, Riddle began a feud with United States Champion Bobby Lashley. On the January 4 episode of Raw, Riddle defeated Lashley in a non-title match to earn a title match the following week, however, Riddle lost to Lashley. On the January 25 episode, Riddle earned another title opportunity against Lashley by defeating Lashley's fellow Hurt Business stablemates in a gauntlet match. Riddle received his title match the following week on Raw where Riddle would defeat Lashley by disqualification, but did not win the championship. The following week, Riddle confronted Keith Lee, where he stated that he needed to win the United States Championship. Lee, however, took issue with Riddle losing his title matches and then stated that it was time for someone else to step up to Lashley. Lee then stated that he would defeat Lashley and he could also beat Riddle. Later that night, Lee defeated Riddle. Following the match, Lashley attacked Lee and Riddle. Lashley was subsequently scheduled to defend the United States Championship against Lee and Riddle at Elimination Chamber. The day of the event, however, Lee was pulled from the match due to a reported injury. A fatal four-way match was then scheduled for the Kickoff pre-show between Ricochet, Elias, John Morrison, and Mustafa Ali to fill Lee's vacated spot in the triple threat match for the U.S. title.
On the February 12 episode of SmackDown, WWE official Adam Pearce scheduled Universal Champion Roman Reigns to defend his title in an Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber. However, Reigns' special counsel, Paul Heyman, pointed out that Reigns' contract only stated that Reigns had to defend the championship at the event, but not necessarily inside of the eponymous structure. To Pearce's displeasure, it was then decided that the winner of SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match at the event would get an immediate championship match against Reigns that same night. Pearce named Reigns' cousin, Jey Uso, and Kevin Owens, who Reigns defeated at the Royal Rumble in a Last Man Standing match, as the first two participants for the match, with the other four spots determined by qualification matches that same episode. King Corbin and Sami Zayn then qualified by defeating Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio in a tag team match, and later, Cesaro and Daniel Bryan defeated SmackDown Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode in a non-title tag team match to fill the final two spots.
In early January, Lacey Evans aligned herself with Ric Flair in an attempt to taunt Ric's daughter, Charlotte Flair. This would continue for several weeks, including Evans and Ric interrupting Charlotte's matches, which included causing Charlotte and Raw Women's Champion Asuka to lose the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship on the Royal Rumble Kickoff pre-show. On the February 8 episode of Raw, Evans stated that she respected Ric and his legacy, unlike his daughter. Charlotte came out and lambasted Evans for using her dad to move forward. Evans then stated that she had her sights on the Raw Women's Championship and challenged Charlotte to a match, with the stipulation that if Evans won, she would earn a shot at the title. Evans subsequently defeated Charlotte by disqualification to earn a Raw Women's Championship match against Asuka at Elimination Chamber. The following week during a tag team match that featured Charlotte and Asuka against Evans and Peyton Royce, Evans revealed that she was legitimately pregnant. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter confirmed that their match would not be taking place.
|English commentators||Michael Cole (SmackDown)|
|Corey Graves (SmackDown)|
|Tom Phillips (Raw)|
|Samoa Joe (Raw)|
|Byron Saxton (Raw)|
|Spanish commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|Ring announcers||Greg Hamilton (SmackDown)|
|Mike Rome (Raw)|
|Pre-show panel||Charly Caruso|
|John "Bradshaw" Layfield|
During the Elimination Chamber Kickoff pre-show, Ricochet, Elias, John Morrison, and Mustafa Ali (accompanied by his Retribution stablemates Mace, T-Bar, and Slapjack) competed in a fatal four-way match for the vacant spot in the United States Championship match on the main card. After an evenly contested match between the four competitors, Morrison performed a roll-up pin on Ali, who was distracted by his stablemates attacking Ricochet, to win the match and advance to the United States Championship triple threat match.
Also during the pre-show, it was announced that due to Lacey Evans' legitimate pregnancy, Asuka would defend her Raw Women's Championship against a different opponent on the main card. However, this never occurred.
The actual pay-per-view opened with SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match between Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, King Corbin, and Sami Zayn with the winner receiving an immediate Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns. Bryan and Cesaro started the match. Corbin was the third entrant, followed by Zayn. Corbin was eliminated by Cesaro after submitting to the Sharpshooter. Owens entered fifth and Jey entered last. Owens eliminated Zayn after a Stunner. Jey trapped Owens' arm in the main door of the Chamber and performed multiple Superkicks before eliminating Owens with a Superfly Splash. After a back-and-forth battle between Bryan and Cesaro, Jey eliminated Cesaro after a Superfly Splash. In the end, Bryan countered Jey and performed the Running Knee on Jey to win the match.
Following the match, the Chamber structure lifted above the ring and Roman Reigns (accompanied by Paul Heyman) made his entrance for his immediate Universal Championship defense against Daniel Bryan. Bryan applied the Yes Lock on Reigns, who escaped by performing multiple forearm smashes. Reigns applied the Guillotine Choke on Bryan, who passed out, thus Reigns retained the title by technical submission. Following the match, men's Royal Rumble match winner Edge appeared and performed a Spear on Reigns. He then pointed at the WrestleMania sign, signifying that he had chosen to challenge Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 37, which was later confirmed.
Backstage, The Miz interrupted 24/7 Champion Bad Bunny, accompanied by Damian Priest. Miz questioned why Bad Bunny was present, who stated that he was the 24/7 Champion. Bad Bunny then mocked Miz for not being a champion before slapping him.
Next, Bobby Lashley (accompanied by MVP) defended the United States Championship against Riddle and John Morrison. In the end, Riddle attacked Lashley with MVP's crutch. While Lashley was outside the ring, Riddle performed the Bro-Derek on Morrison to win the title.
In the penultimate match, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler defended the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship against women's Royal Rumble match winner Bianca Belair and SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks. In the end, Reginald came to the ring and handed a champagne bottle to Banks to use as a weapon while the referee was distracted. This backfired though, as while Banks was distracted by Reginald, Jax performed a Samoan Drop on Banks to retain the title for herself and Baszler.
Backstage, MVP was shown talking to The Miz, who had his Money in the Bank briefcase in hand.
In the main event, Drew McIntyre defended the WWE Championship against Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles (accompanied by his bodyguard Omos), Randy Orton, and Sheamus in Raw's Elimination Chamber match. Hardy and Orton started the match. McIntyre entered third, followed by Kingston. Kingston eliminated Orton with a roll-up, after which, an enraged Orton then performed the RKO on Kingston and Hardy before leaving. Omos broke open Styles' pod from the outside, allowing Styles to enter early through the Chamber's main door. WWE official Adam Pearce then came out and ejected Omos. Sheamus was the last to enter the match. Sheamus then eliminated Kingston with a Brogue Kick. After Hardy performed the Swanton Bomb on Styles, McIntyre eliminated Hardy with a Claymore Kick. Styles eliminated Sheamus after a Phenomenal Forearm. As Styles then attempted a Phenomenal Forearm on McIntyre, McIntyre caught Styles in mid-air with a Claymore Kick to retain the title.
Following the match, as the Chamber structure was lifted above the ring, a frustrated Bobby Lashley appeared and performed a Spear on McIntyre, viciously attacked him at ringside, and applied the Hurt Lock on McIntyre. The Miz then ran to the ring and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, while Lashley departed backstage. After a nearfall, Miz performed the Skull Crushing Finale on McIntyre to win the WWE Championship for a second time, last winning it in 2010, which was also via a Money in the Bank cash-in. This also made Miz the first two-time Grand Slam Champion in WWE history.
The following night on Raw, new WWE Champion The Miz celebrated his win with his tag team partner, John Morrison. Miz bragged about his victory only for Bobby Lashley and MVP to interrupt. Lashley stated that Miz only won the title because of him and then stated that he owes Lashley, who then gave Miz one hour to make a decision. Later on the show, Lashley came out for his supposed title match with Miz, however, Braun Strowman interrupted. Strowman took issue about not being part of Raw's Elimination Chamber match; WWE official Adam Pearce clarified that the Chamber match was for former WWE Champions only, which Strowman was not. An angered Strowman then said he would face Lashley. Shane McMahon came out. He liked Strowman's idea of him facing Lashley and said that Lashley would receive his title match next week against Miz and also scheduled a match between Strowman and Lashley, with the stipulation that if Strowman won, he would be added to the title match. Lashley defeated Strowman in the main event, thus Lashley's title match remained a singles match.
Also on the following Raw, new United States Champion Riddle faced John Morrison, who Riddle had pinned to win the title, in a non-title match. Riddle would subsequently defeat Morrison.
In a follow-up to the Lacey Evans and Charlotte Flair angle, Charlotte told her father Ric Flair that she cannot focus on her matches, as she and Raw Women's Champion Asuka lost a non-title tag team match against the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler earlier that night, also seemingly causing the breakup of her team with Asuka. Ric claimed that he was not the father of Lacey Evans' baby and that he was only trying to help motivate Evans just as he had motivated Charlotte to become one of the all-time greats. Charlotte stated that Ric was still trying to be the Nature Boy and told him that she was thankful for the opportunities that he provided her, but he needed to leave and let her be herself.
On the following SmackDown, Universal Champion Roman Reigns, accompanied by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso, stated that Edge ruined his victory over Daniel Bryan. He gave Edge an opportunity to back out from choosing to challenge him at WrestleMania 37. Reigns stated that he did not want to hurt him as Edge has a family. Bryan then came out and mocked Reigns for defending his championship against him right after he had won SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match. Bryan then questioned Reigns as to why he defended the title in the second match of the event instead of in the main event. Bryan then challenged Reigns to another championship match at Fastlane. Jey interjected and stated that Bryan would have to earn another opportunity like everyone else and then challenged Bryan to a match. Later, Edge confronted WWE official Adam Pearce backstage, taking issue that Bryan would receive a title shot before him, as Edge won the Royal Rumble match, which Bryan also competed in. Pearce decided that Bryan would only get a Universal Championship match at Fastlane if he could defeat Jey in their match that night. Edge later confronted Bryan backstage where Bryan stated he believed he had a better chance at defeating Reigns than Edge did, however, Edge reminded Bryan that if Bryan were to defeat Reigns for the Universal Championship, Bryan would be facing Edge at WrestleMania 37. In the main event, however, Bryan and Jey's match ended in a double countout. A rematch between Bryan and Jey in a steel cage match was scheduled for the following week with the same stipulation where if Bryan wins, he will earn the title shot at Fastlane, but if Jey wins, Bryan will have to acknowledge Reigns as the "Tribal Chief" and "Head of the Table".
Also on SmackDown, women's Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair officially announced that she would challenge Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37.
SmackDown Elimination Chamber match
|2||Sami Zayn||4||Kevin Owens||Pinfall||25:30|
|3||Kevin Owens||5||Jey Uso||Pinfall||26:50|
|5||Jey Uso||6||Daniel Bryan||Pinfall||34:20|
Raw Elimination Chamber match
|1||Randy Orton||2||Kofi Kingston||Pinfall||8:55|
|3||Jeff Hardy||1||Drew McIntyre||Pinfall||25:15|
|5||AJ Styles||5||Drew McIntyre||Pinfall||31:10|
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