Elimination Chamber may have had a lot of predictable matches (I correctly predicted all but the kickoff match), but the pay-per view delivered with entertaining matches for the most part. PPVs are expected to deliver in match quality, which the Chamber did. And despite no titles changing hands, a handful of wrestlers got some major pushes leading up to Wrestlemania.

At the end of the night, Randy Orton was still the champion, with Daniel Bryan was once again falling just short of becoming the WWE World Heavyweight champion. Unlike the reactions from the Royal Rumble, this time it’s not as bad as it sounds that Bryan isn’t the champion.

The Rumble was the best time and place for the plans to crown Bryan the champion to go through. Aborting the original plans now to appease the fans at the Elimination Chamber would make no sense. There is no history between Bryan and Batista, and there has already been a build for Batista and Orton to square off at Wrestlemania XXX in New Orleans.

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With opinions on the outcome for Bryan aside, let’s take a look at the PPV on a whole. Elimination Chamber is a pretty important PPV heading into Mania. This year’s main event wasn’t as predictable as last year’s when the Rock beat CM Punk to retain the title (the chamber match for the World Heavyweight No. 1 contender was earlier in the show), but it delivered in regards to entertainment.

The kickoff match between Cody Rhodes/Goldust vs Ryback and Curtis Axel was a very good match. This was expected to be the start of the split of the Rhodes brothers, leading to their match at Wrestlemania. Instead, Cody hit his Cross Rhodes finisher on Axel and the two were victorious at what could be their last PPV as a team. With six weeks until Mania, that story should start soon.

The main part of the PPV kicked off with Big E defending his Intercontinental Championship against Jack Swagger. Swagger was on a hot streak heading into the match, and a year ago at Elimination Chamber he won the chamber match for a title shot at Wrestlemania. Swagger’s hot streak cooled off though as Big E landed the Big Ending and scored a win.

The Tag Team Championship belts were put on the line next. There was decent build between the Usos and the New Age Outlaws for this match. The Outlaws have continued to look good in the ring despite being 50 and 44 years old each. The Usos continued to look impressive as well, but it was a schoolboy pin by Billy Gunn that enabled the Outlaws to steal a win and retain their belts.

Next up was the grudge match between two former tag partners, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil. O’Neil is poised for a singles run and is a very dominant performer in the ring. Between his persona and abilities, O’Neil’s push is well-deserved. O’Neil won in convincing fashion to get him going in the right direction.

The highlight of the night followed with the Wyatt Family taking on The Shield. The build up for this match was teased several months ago when the two factions showed some resistance in getting along. The feud finally came to fruition the night after the Rumble when the Wyatt’s cost the Shield places in the Elimination Chamber. Since then the two cut some fantastic promos, building up to what was set to be a great feud. The only drawback from this feud was it’s not going to continue heading into Mania.

But that didn’t hinder their match on Sunday from being the best match of the night and one of the best matches of 2014. Before the match even started, the crowd was chanting “This is awesome,” a chant reserved for when a match has gone about 15 minutes with several high spots. The two teams brawled before the match even started, and once things got underway, it set up some great high spots that highlighted the abilities of all six participants.

Roman Reigns looked his usual dominant self as he’s going to be a superstar very soon. Seth Rollins also showed some serious individual effort throughout the match, his first big spotlighted push. Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt were their typical selves as well. But the big shocked came from Luke Harper, who at 300 pounds, launched himself over the top ropes like he was the Undertaker to take out Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

The numbers game favored the Wyatt’s after Rollins was put through the Spanish announce table. Reigns tried to hold them off but a Sister Abigail from Bray Wyatt ended the match.

The next two matches had no chance of standing up against the six-man tag. A Diva’s Championship match between A.J. Lee and Cameron ended in a disqualification. Following that was Batista versus Alberto Del Rio, which the crowd showed visible disinterest in. Del Rio, who is supposed to be the heel, got cheers. The crowd even chanted for CM Punk during the match. In the end, “Bootista” hit a Batista Bomb, pinned Del Rio, and received more boos.

The main event of the night was the Elimination Chamber match with Randy Orton defending his title against Bryan, John Cena, Christian, Cesaro and Sheamus. The had high hopes of being highly entertaining with the expectations of an Orton victory. The match delivered, and despite Bryan not winning the title, it was a great match and the right outcome going forward into Mania.

Sheamus and Cesaro started the match off. The two strongest men in the match (aside from Cena) battled until Bryan entered next, battered shoulder and all. Following Bryan was Christian, Cena and then Orton. When Orton entered last, he roamed around the ring attacking the rest of the opponents who were clearly tired. But when they began to fight back, Orton slithered back into his pod to keep himself away from the others. Sheamus was having none of it and Brogue Kicked through the plexiglass, knocking down Orton and entering him into the match.

The match’s first elimination followed with Christian pinning Sheamus after a frogsplash from the top of a pod. Then Bryan eliminated Christian with a running knee. Cena then made Cesaro tap with an STF. With the final three left in the Chamber, things got interesting. The lights went out and the Wyatt’s were inside the pod. They attacked Cena, who was pinned by Orton for the elimination.

Kane, the Director of Operations, came down to restore order and get rid of the Wyatt’s. Instead, Bryan attacked Kane before continuing the match with Orton. Bryan hit a running knee on Orton and was looking to gain the pin but Kane pulled the referee out the ring. After kicking out of an RKO, Bryan rallied to set up another running knee. But Kane hit Bryan, who was RKO’d a second time before being pinned by Orton.

It looks like three matches are already set for Wrestlemania XXX. Orton will defend his title against Batista in the main event, Cena will likely feud with Bray Wyatt, which could create a great program, and Bryan will either fight Kane or Triple H to settle his score with The Authority.

Power Rankings - The best performers of the past week - Feb. 24

1 Randy Orton (2) - Despite outside help, he survived the Elimination Chamber.

2 Batista (3) - Next in line for the title, and it’s going to be at Mania.

3 Cesaro (4) - Was impressive in the Chamber; the future is bright for him.

4 John Cena (1) - Was looking good to win the title but the Wyatt’s interfered.

5 Bray Wyatt (7) - They took out the Shield; Cena next?

6 New Age Outlaws (UR) - Retained their tag belts by beating the Usos.

7 Big E (8) - Defeated a hungry Swagger to retain his Intercontinental title.

8 Roman Reigns (UR) - Looked like a star once again vs Wyatt’s.

9 Daniel Bryan (10) - Had the title won, but Kane kept him from winning.

10 Seth Rollins (UR) - Really broke out in this match and has a bright future too.

Started at The Press in 1993 as an Ocean County reporter. Moved to the copy desk in 1994 until taking over as editor of At The Shore in 1995. Became deputy sports editor in 2004 and was promoted to sports editor in 2007.

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