365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
With eight hours of TV to fill each week, much of what happens on WWE programming tends to run together or fade into background noise. Storyline continuity is hit or miss. This can make things incredibly frustrating if you’re a week-to-week viewer. It also means that casual and lapsed followers can parachute in for the big events and not really miss out on anything.
And yet, when it comes to the big events, WWE still can put out some highly entertaining stuff — which is what makes the slog of the regular weekly TV so frustrating to so many. When it comes to big spectacles, no one does it better. I’m talking about highly-intricate concept matches like the Royal Rumble and… the Elimination Chamber.
We’re watching one of those Chamber matches today. Specifically, the 2019 Chamber match where the very first WWE Women’s Tag Champs were crowned. Your participants: the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks and Bayley), Fire and Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville), The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay), The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan), Nia Jax and Tamina, and finally the duo of Carmella and Naomi.
The Elimination Chamber has been part of WWE since 2002, and the centerpiece of the company’s February pay-per-view since 2008. This is just the second Chamber match involving women and also the second time the match has had tag teams, instead of individual competitors. Vince McMahon announced women’s tag titles were on the way near the end of 2018 and, in the weeks leading up to this pay-per-view, the field of six teams coalesced with three teams each representing Raw and SmackDown.
A few of the teams were thrown together not long before the Chamber match. Nia and Tamina didn’t team together for the first time until two months prior. Carmella and Naomi joined forces just a couple of weeks before the Chamber match. The other four teams have more experience teaming together, or an established bond between them dating back quite some time, or both.
Another interesting note, that all 12 women in this match spent at least some time in the WWE Performance Center and half of the participants trained entirely under the WWE PC umbrella: Naomi, Carmella, Mandy, Sonya, Nia Jax, and Liv Morgan.
With two months of hype and build and the opening spot on the card of the last pay-per-view before WrestleMania, there’s an abundance of window dressing to make this match seem like a big deal. It’s the little things for me, like the gear choices we see through all six pairs. Even the new duo of Carmella and Naomi are decked out in matching outfits, which is always a winner for me when it comes to tag wrestling.
The new tag titles might be at stake but this entire match takes place under de facto tornado tag rules, with all four wrestlers from the first two teams in the match at the beginning, then each other team entering the match as a duo.
There’s a lot going on here, with a dozen wrestlers taking part in a match that is longer than 30 minutes from bell to bell, and well past 40 minutes counting entrances and post-match pomp and circumstance, so I’m just going to try to take a broad view.
This is the best I can remember seeing Mandy Rose look in a match. She takes some nasty bumps–note a reverse neckbreaker on the platform outside the ring, with one foot hung in the cage at the time. She also scores a very believable near-fall after hitting a beautiful Angel’s Wings on Sasha once it comes down to two teams. Deville first caught my eye when she had an outstanding match with Asuka at an NXT house show in Spartanburg, SC (one of the few times you’ll see an entire crowd react to something as “pedestrian” as a double-leg takedown). Sudden explosions of movement produce the biggest moments for Deville here, whether it be cutting off Sasha’s double-knees across the back with a modified spinebuster or unleashing to bisect Sarah Logan with a spear near the tail end of a series of big moves involving 10 of the wrestlers in the match.
The IIconics are fabulous here, and stand out with their character work. It starts from the moment they step out on the stage holding hands, and continues until Billie Kay says a distraught “I’m sorry” to her bestie — nice catch by Renee Young on commentary to identify and acknowledge this — before both IIconics get walloped with stereo Samoan drops to get eliminated by Nia and Tamina. Their antics get some of the bigger reactions from a crowd that is occasionally apathetic through the first half of the match.
I’ve long felt Liv Morgan is criminally underrated in WWE, and man does she have some great moments here. The Riott Squad might be heels on the booking sheet, but as one of the smallest wrestlers in the match, Liv also shows plenty of fire. There’s a fierce little exchange of slaps with Deville and she gets tossed around at the expense of her opponents throughout her time in the match. Little touches add a lot, such as Liv screaming “No!” repeatedly as Nia hoists her for a Samoan drop off the second rope.
Nia and Tamina are the final team in the match and serve the role they should, as the two monsters who wreak havoc but get ousted down the stretch. The production team does its best to ruin one of their most impressive spots, swinging both IIconics in tandem repeatedly into the cage, with the frequent camera cuts missing almost all of the impacts into the fence. As the two biggest people in the match, it takes two of the bigger spots to eliminate them. Nia charges at one pod and ends up eating shit through the wall, putting her down for the count while Sasha, Bayley, Rose, and Deville pool their efforts — literally — stacking up to pin Tamina after a Bayley flying elbow.
Any way you slice it, though, this is the Sasha and Bayley story and they are the MVPs of the match. It starts with Corey Graves sowing seeds of dissension by noticing past betrayals between the two in the other women’s Chamber match, but throughout the match Sasha and Bayley work as a seamless team, saving one another on multiple occasions. When Bayley gets sent crashing into one of the pod supports and knocked out, Sasha climbs down off the pod to check on her, getting jumped and leading to the finish.
Sasha does a spectacular job in particular. She gets sent careening shoulder-first into one of the pod structures and sells the arm injury consistently for the rest of the match. The babyface duo that could thinks they can… and thinks they can… outlasting all competitors to come back around against the same pair they faced at the start of the match, Rose and Deville. Sasha comes out on top, submitting Sonya with a modified Banks Statement, using her leg rather than her damaged left arm to cinch the hold. The variant looks even nastier than the standard hold.
–Four commentators for this match: Michael Cole, Beth Phoenix, Graves, and Young. That’s at least one too many voices for me, and reminded me of this:
–This had the most people in a single match in the project since the “New York Rumble” I watched as part of the January list.
–This match is just more than two years old, but one-fourth of the wrestlers are no longer with the company. In addition to The IIconics getting let go, Logan got released exactly a year before in April of 2020.
Final Rating: 6.8
This match has some rough spots but the intensity builds as things progress, and the crowd is highly engaged by the time we get to the finishing stretch. Plus, there are legitimate stakes, and historic value as both a rare women’s match and a rare tag match takes place inside the Chamber. The right team wins. There’s lately been some speculation on Twitter about what just kind of impact Sasha and Bayley have on future generations of women’s wrestlers. Performances like this can and should be cited as an example.
A look at one of the most talented, most underrated wrestlers to ever come out of the Southeast.
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