WWE Elimination Chamber 2019 took over Houston's Toyota Center. The seven-match show was anchored by a pair of Elimination Chamber matches with key titles on the line -- including Sasha Banks and Bayley being crowned new WWE women's tag team championships via a six-team Chamber match Sunday night.
The WWE championship Elimination Chamber match closed out the show -- and although Daniel Bryan retained his title, Kofi Kingston put on an unbelievable performance along the way.
The Raw women's championship match between Ronda Rousey and Ruby Riott saw Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch get involved, Finn Balor became Intercontinental champion, The Usos won back the SmackDown tag team titles and it was a chaotic night in general.
Sean Coyle and Tim Fiorvanti recap Sunday night's action from beginning to end.
This file was updated in real time. (c) - indicates defending champion
WWE championship Elimination Chamber match: Daniel Bryan (c), AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton and Samoa Joe
One of the key mysteries heading toward WrestleMania was the path of the WWE championship. While the "Planet's champion" Daniel Bryan headed into the Elimination Chamber with the title in hand and a lot of forward momentum, there was no clear-cut No. 1 contender to rival him. With five different superstars vying for the gold in the chamber Sunday, the outcome of the match might have shed some light on the title picture heading toward the biggest show of the year.
Daniel Bryan started the match, and ultimately walked out of the Elimination Chamber with his hemp WWE championship still in hand. But the man standing tallest at the end of the night was Kofi Kingston, who made it to the final two and had the crowd believing at several moments that he could've been champion
Bryan and Samoa Joe, who have had many battles in the past across multiple promotions before joining WWE, kicked things off. Bryan did his best to avoid Joe early on, got caught with a flurry of chops and beautifully transitioned submissions. The champ fought back, though, and the two longtime rivals continued to display the type of wonderful chemistry that has been a hallmark through the years.
After five minutes, Kingston entered the match to loud "Kofi" chants -- and he immediately made an impact. Kingston's aerial assaults included a splash from the top rope onto a hunched over Joe. As Joe and Kingston continued to square off, Bryan climbed to the top of a pod hoping to rest and stay out of the mix. The attempt was short-lived, however, and Kingston chased Bryan off before climbing near the top half of the chamber and hitting a reverse falling splash onto both Bryan and Joe.
AJ Styles was next to enter the match and took control. Shortly after Styles' arrival, Bryan began to ascend the chamber once again. Styles noticed, and connected with a springboard phenomenal forearm, knocking Joe to the ground.
It was the next phenomenal forearm that marked the first elimination. After Kingston fought his way out of Joe's Coquina Clutch, Styles caught Joe with a phenomenal forearm and eliminated him -- gaining a small measure of revenge on his bitter enemy.
Jeff Hardy entered the match next and attacked everyone in sight. It didn't take long for him to provide one of his innovative aerial attacks. As Hardy placed Styles stomach-first on the top turnbuckle, he climbed atop one of the pods and hit a swanton bomb onto the back of Styles. However, as soon as Hardy rose to his feet, Bryan nailed him with a running knee and Hardy became the second elimination after a short stretch in the match.
Randy Orton entered last, a right he earned by winning a gauntlet match on this past week's episode of SmackDown Live. He methodically attacked his three remaining, exhausted, opponents.
Styles exhausted the last of his energy as he springboarded to the top rope, but was caught with an RKO out of nowhere. Orton pinned Styles, eliminating him.
Just a couple of minutes later, however, Orton was through. After nailing a draping DDT from the top rope on Kingston, a flurry of action ended with Kingston nailing a Trouble in Paradise kick on Orton and sent Orton out as the third elimination of the night.
This left the champ, Bryan, and the heavy crowd favorite in Kingston. The crowd ate up every moment as the two put forth some incredible sequences -- including one where Kingston kicked out of Bryan's patented running knee and forced his way out of a LeBell lock. Bryan similarly avoided disaster from a Trouble in Paradise kick.
The closing sequence saw Kingston attempt a splash from the top of one of the pods to no avail, as Bryan moved out of the way. That set up the second running knee by Bryan, and this time Bryan recorded a three count and retained his title. The crowd chanted "Thank you Kofi" after the match, as Xavier Woods and Big E assisted him out of the ring, and returned to "Kofi"
One has to wonder if the brilliant performances by Kingston -- both in the gauntlet match in this past week's episode of SmackDown Live, and in Sunday's Elimination Chamber match -- coupled with the overwhelmingly positive reactions he has been receiving, could lead to a WWE championship rivalry with Bryan on the road to WrestleMania. We'll find out more in the coming weeks, but with little else to go on, it's as likely a scenario as any at this point.
No disqualification: Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman
Baron Corbin defeated Braun Strowman in their no disqualification match at Elimination Chamber, thanks to major assists from Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre. Corbin made some waves early, but Strowman had the match in hand. McIntyre's music hit and he emerged with a steel chair in hand, but it was Lashley attacking from behind that changed the equation. A spear and a claymore kick set up a triple power bomb from atop steel steps through two stacked tables. This has the makings of a story on the way to WrestleMania, but from being on the precipice of the Universal championship, this feels like a major step backwards for Strowman. With nothing else lined up, though, we'll have to wait and see how this plays out.
Raw women's championship: Ronda Rousey (c) def. Ruby Riott
Ronda Rousey is heading to WrestleMania 35 as Raw women's champion. We knew that before her match with Ruby Riott, and it didn't take long for that to become set in stone. The point of the Raw women's championship match at Elimination Chamber was simply a way to get Rousey on the show and increase the friction between her and her WrestleMania opponent Charlotte Flair, who sat ringside.
- WWE (@WWE) February 18, 2019
The match was nothing more than an outright squash. Riott played the cat-and-mouse game for a bit before Rousey caught her with her signature Piper's Pit maneuver. She then slapped on an armbar and Riott tapped without much in the way of friction.
After the match, Flair entered the ring -- but both were quickly distracted as they watched Becky Lynch emerge through the crowd on crutches and enter the ring as the crowd chanted "Becky" and "She's the man." Lynch unleashed a vicious assault on Flair with one of her crutches while Rousey stood by and watched. As Flair writhed in pain on the ground, Rousey approached with the other crutch in hand -- but when Rousey turned her back, Lynch then began to rain down strikes on Rousey too, as the repeated crutch shots brought the crowd into a frenzy.
The postmatch segment was entertaining and the crowd ate it up. We're clearly on a path toward a triple-threat Raw women's championship main event at WrestleMania. However, the match itself was incredibly disappointing. The talented Riott deserves much better.
Handicap match for the Intercontinental championship: Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley (c) & Lio Rush
While Finn Balor was unsuccessful in capturing the Universal championship at the Royal Rumble last month, he put on quite a performance opposite Brock Lesnar. The Elimination Chamber offered Balor another chance at gold -- Intercontinental championship gold -- and the prospect of adding a third career title loomed large.
Lio Rush wasn't put into what became a handicap match for no reason, and ultimately the loud-mouthed cruiserweight cost his client the title -- and paid the price after the match was said and done.
The match itself told a Balor comeback story, which required multiple comeback attempts as Balor tried to overcome the odds of competing against both Lashley and Rush. After some success early on by Balor, Lashley and Rush dominated much of the match.
The tides began to turn when Rush tagged himself in, much to Lashley's dismay. Rush attempted a frog splash, but Balor moved out of the way. That allowed Balor to take control, and with Rush reeling, Balor nailed a somersault plancha to the outside of the ring onto both of his opponents.
Balor quickly tossed Rush back into the ring, rolled back in and caught Rush with the Coup de Grace. For the third time in three matches Sunday night, we had a new champion.
Afterward, Lashley took out his frustrations on Rush and slammed the smaller man to the mat. Where does Balor go from here? There are plenty of options, but the thought of a substantial Intercontinental championship run by Balor is enticing. As for Lashley, the direction of a post-Lio direction is anyone's guess.
SmackDown tag team championships: The Usos def. The Miz & Shane McMahon (c)
The Miz and Shane McMahon were SmackDown tag team champions for less than a month. While the endeavor has been exciting, many anticipated this unexpected partnership to unravel at some point on the road toward WrestleMania. The Miz vs. Shane McMahon sounds like a WrestleMania match, but there would have to be some tension to split them apart to make that happen.
We got that on Sunday night, in spades. After a prematch announcement that Maryse was pregnant with her and The Miz's second child, there was a joyous energy in the air for the champions at the start. McMahon was his usual, daredevil self, and when a particularly crazy move to the outside took McMahon out of commission, The Miz was left to fend for himself. Jimmy Uso pulled off a quick roll-up victory, and as The Usos walked out of Elimination Chamber six-time tag team champions, The Miz and Shane McMahon had some serious stressed introduced into their partnership.
The Miz and McMahon worked well as a team throughout much of the match up to that point, though. But so did The Usos. The match followed a standard, but entertaining, back-and-forth tag team formula, complete with solid ring psychology and hot tags.
One of the premier moments of the match saw McMahon attempt consecutive coast-to-coast dropkicks. He connected with one, but on the second try got caught by a Jimmy Uso superkick midflight. But that wasn't the moment of the match. That occurred when McMahon caught Jey Uso with his patented leap of faith elbow drop through the announcers' table.
The finish of the match saw Miz execute his skull crushing finale finisher onto Jimmy Uso, but as he went for pin, Jimmy rolled Miz over and snuck in a three count and a championship victory. With the win, the Usos became the fifth team in WWE history to win tag team gold on six different occasions (credit: Joey Koontz of ESPN Stats & Information).
After the match, Miz and McMahon left ringside united, but this could well be the moment that causes a schism. Time will tell.
Women's tag team championship Elimination Chamber match: Bayley & Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax & Tamina, The Riott Squad, The IIconics, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville and Carmella & Naomi
Last year's Elimination Chamber event featured the first women's chamber match as one of its major highlights -- and that match established a strong baseline for what expectations for what could follow.
On Sunday, the 2019 WWE Elimination Chamber event brought a second, even more historic moment in time, as the official launching point of a women's tag team division. Six teams vied to become WWE women's tag team champions, and when all was said and done, Sasha Banks and Bayley -- two women who have done a great deal to help push forward the momentum of the women's evolution in WWE -- held the gold.
"This is just the beginning of more change to come," Banks stated in a post-match interview. "Because we are here for a purpose and we are going to continue to do what we love and continue to do what we do best and that's why we are the Boss and Hug Connection, your new WWE tag team women's champions."
Due to losses suffered on their respective shows this past week, the duos of Bayley and Banks started the match with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville -- and they'd end the same way. The first impressive spot of the match saw Banks use Bayley's arm for balance as she executed a springboard cross-body block to the outside portion of the chamber, onto both Rose and Deville. Bayley followed that up with a beautiful neck breaker on the outside platform to Rose while Rose's foot was caught in the steel chains attached to the chamber
The second team to enter the fray was the Riott Squad. Minutes later, another highlight-worthy moment took place as the Riott Squad and Rose and Deville executed an avalanche suplex that planted Bayley as she flew off the top rope.
The IIconics were next and they immediately attempted multiple pinfall attempts on the superstars lying prone around the ring, but to no avail. However, they maintained control of the match all the way up until the next team entered the match, which was the duo of Carmella and Naomi.
At that point, each team got their licks in, with an entertaining array of offensive assaults by each member of each of the five teams in the match. Finally, the fist elimination was recorded. Both members of the IIconics double-teamed Naomi with a sunset flip/roll-up combo to pin Carmella and eliminate her and Naomi.
Nia Jax and Tamina entered the match and began to wreak havoc, including swinging both members of the IIconics side to side against the steel chains of the chamber. That was the beginning of the end for the IIconics, as Jax and Tamina brought them into the ring, nailed stereo Samoan Drops and eliminated Royce and Kay.
One of the finest moments of the match saw Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan leap off the top of one of the entrance pods simultaneously in opposite directions and connect with cross-body blocks -- but their moment of glory was short; Jax and Tamina eliminated them after a Jax Samoan Drop and a Tamina top rope Samoan splash.
Jax was taken out of commission shortly thereafter, after charging and missing at Bayley on the outside, which sent her through the plexiglass attached to the entrance pod. That allowed Banks hit Tamina with a meteora, followed by a Bayley elbow drop. They, along with Rose and Deville then covered Tamina, eliminating the physically imposing duo.
After a sequence atop one of the pods left Banks and Bayley reeling, Rose almost finished Banks off in the middle of the ring -- only for Banks to kick out at the last possible second. After dealing with shoulder injuries for weeks, Banks lock in a modified version of her Banks Statement submission. She used her leg for leverage to account for her shoulder, and Deville tapped out.
Banks and Bayley become the inaugural women's tag team champions in an excellent effort for all involved -- especially from an endurance standpoint, as the match took almost the entire first hour of the show.
With that, a new WWE women's tag team division is officially born.
Kickoff Show: Cruiserweight championship: Buddy Murphy (c) def. Akira Tozawa
Buddy Murphy retained his cruiserweight championship against Akira Tozawa in a thrilling match on the Elimination Chamber Kickoff show. From Murphy catching Tozawa in mid-air on a long suicide dive, to some shocking aerial attacks from both men, it's a match that should absolutely be watched if missed the first time around.