As the world was on the verge of turning over to the new millennium the wrestling world was introduced to a new creation entitled the Hell In a Cell. What followed inside of that cell were nothing short of some of the greatest professional wrestling matches to have ever taken place. 5 years after the Hell In a Cell was introduced to the WWE Universe, it was time for a new match, a new stipulation, a new cage for the performers to tear into each other. What we were treated to at the 2002 Survivor Series was the very first ever Elimination Chamber, which was won by the same guy who won the first Hell In a Cell, Shawn Michaels. Both of these two new varieties of cage matches provided opportunities for moments and memories that we had never seen before, but where the Hell In a Cell offered a serious, often terrifying presence, the Elimination Chamber to me seems more like a sideshow attraction and is truly outrageous.
Don’t get me wrong, the Elimination Chamber can be gruesome and I’m sure it has to be one of the worst matches to perform in as the whole things is steel. But the idea of professional wrestling let’s remember is to make this contest between these two men look as real as possible, as if it were a real fight. Cage matches and even the Hell In a Cell work because, while ridiculous if you over analyze it, they are still firmly based in reality. Two men who could not settle their differences in regular matches so they caged together with no where to run and no where to hide, leaving both men to battle and try to destroy the other one. The problem with the Elimination Chamber is that you have 6 guys battle in this dome, people being brought in and eliminated regularly and the whole thing takes place in something that resembles Thunderdome way too much.
But let’s move past the fact that this match destroys the realism of a situation, let’s look at this match from the competitors persepctive. Not in the sense of “How could a champion be expected to defend his title in one of those?” But instead I’m talking about the real people, with real bodies who actually have to perform in this huge chain structure. The huge cage is entirely made of steel, which obviously will not be helping any of the competitors in the match out. Anything that the wrestlers do that would excite a fan will immediately hurt because it’s being done on steel, if the match is in an Elimination Chamber we don’t care how good the wrestling is, the match is in the gimmick, so we want to see the gimmick used. I was a fan of the recent ambulance match at Payback because they used the gimmick in ways we’ve never seen before.
There are the apparently “bullet-proof” glass that are used to house each competitor as he waits in his isolation pod before being released into the chamber. Regardless of the legitimacy of this glass, the fact is that it allows 4 big sheets of glass (one for each pod) logically be allowed to be stationed around the ring. Again this can be cool from a fan’s point of view, as occasionally we get to see people get thrown through and totally explode those tiny glass pods. But similarly for the competitors this has to be just a huge hazard sitting in the way, making the Elimination Chamber that much harder to navigate. I also like the chain crossing for the roof of each mini pod as it allows enough space for a wrestler’s hand or foot to fit in, allowing for more drama and more segments and moments that we as wrestling fans have never seen before.
The final problem I see with the Elimination Chamber from a competitors perspective is again in the actual design of the structure and not the rules. My problem is with the steel flooring that lines directly up with the height of the ring mat, thus successfully extending the space of the mat, but making it turn into metal. This to me strikes me as a horrible idea for the wrestlers who are unlucky enough to be involved with one of these matches. This floor succeeds in being both awkward from what wrestlers are used to, while also being unbelievably painful as the floor is steel. It also seems, strictly on sight, that the flooring is grated, almost to the point of being a dang cheese grater. The chamber is one giant metal premedevail torture device, but f that wasn’t bad enough, they made the floor hard, solid and sharp. Again don’t get me wrong, when done right Elimination Chambers can be the most exciting matches ever, but that doesn’t change the fact that the match is goofy and presents a large amount of danger to the participants.