If there’s one thing wrestling fans have to come to terms with, it’s that not everything goes the way we want it to. Sure, WWE will throw us a bone in the form of AJ Styles being the Champion, or letting Shinsuke Nakamura win the Royal Rumble every now and again, but Vince McMahon still rules his company with an iron fist.
With the Elimination Chamber event days away, it’s time to look back at all the times the Chairman crowned the wrong winners inside the sadistic structure, and the effect his decisions had on the rest of the WWE Universe.
Triple H – SummerSlam 2003
Triple H winning the second Elimination Chamber match in history stands as one of the most mind-boggling decisions ever in WWE. Goldberg was undefeated in the company by the time SummerSlam rolled around, and was very popular with the audience. Instead of capitalising on one of their hottest commodities, the win went to Triple H, much to everyone’s disappointment.
During the build-up to SummerSlam, Triple H was working with a groin injury. Whilst his commitment to wrestling with a medical condition is somewhat admirable, it resulted in a lot of God-awful matches. He even went as far as spending most of the Elimination Chamber bout in his pod to hide the fact he couldn’t compete at the top of his game. Never before had we seen a World Champion so heavily protected despite not being able to put on a decent match.
Perhaps the most annoying thing about the outcome of the Chamber match was that it was the first time Vince McMahon had booked Goldberg properly. Within minutes of exiting his pod, the former WCW Champion smashed his way through the opposition, getting rid of Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho in quick succession. Goldberg’s original appeal came from the fact he was essentially a cannon ball of a man, hitting wrestlers hard and fast. It didn’t seem fair that the WWE Universe had to watch as “The Cerebral Assassin” struck Goldberg with a single sledgehammer shot to pick up the cheap victory.
Bobby Lashley – December To Dismember 2006
When Vince McMahon has an idea, he goes with it, even when it’s painfully obvious he’s in the wrong. ECW’s December To Dismember is often remembered as a complete debacle, and was even dubbed “the worst major wrestling show of the year” by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The biggest reason it’s looked upon so unfavourably is because of the “Extreme” Elimination Chamber match main event.
There was a lot of conflict between McMahon and Paul Heyman before the show started. McMahon’s decision to push his pet project Bobby Lashley to the moon wasn’t up for discussion, but the mastermind behind ECW wanted the win to go to the rising star he saw greatness in, CM Punk.
The match went as bad as Heyman predicted. The crowd were unhappy that ECW Original Sabu was replaced with Hardcore Holly, they were upset that CM Punk was the first man eliminated, and they were outraged that Lashley was leaving with the ECW Championship slung over his shoulder.
In the end, Heyman left WWE over the tension the event caused between him and McMahon, and ECW was left to die an agonisingly slow death. If Vince hadn’t been so stubborn about giving Lashley the win, Paul might’ve stuck around, and ECW may have flourished as WWE’s hardcore brand.
Jack Swagger – Elimination Chamber 2013
Following a newly found revival of confidence in Jack Swagger, WWE felt it was time to push “The All American-American” back into the main event spotlight. He had a better gimmick, a manager to handle his promos, and a chance to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 29. Things were really looking up for the young superstar… for a while at least.
A couple of days after winning the Elimination Chamber match, Swagger was arrested for driving under the influence and being in possession of drugs. Whilst all he received was a $500 fine and six months probation from the courts, the real cost of his error was soon to be realised.
Instead of pushing Swagger as WWE’s next biggest star, Vince McMahon had the former World Champion lose to Del Rio at Mania, and Swagger eventually faded back into the shadows of the midcard before finally leaving the company in early 2017.
The idea of putting “The All American-American” over battle-tested veterans such as Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and Kane was commendable given that WWE was in dire need of building new, young talent. The only problem was that they put their confidence in the wrong superstar.
Randy Orton – Elimination Chamber 2014
If there were ever two superstars that could be described as the polar opposite of each other, it would be Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. From their appearance, persona, outlook on wrestling, and even their fans, everything about these two is different. That said, Randy is the epitome of WWE’s ideal superstar, so when the time came for Vince McMahon to pick his Champion for WrestleMania XXX, he went with the obvious choice.
“The Viper” (with a lot of help from Corporate Kane) defeated Bryan inside the Chamber to end the match and the “Bearded One’s” hopes of becoming World Champion again. Not happy with the way the match went down, the fans voiced their anger at the way Bryan was screwed out of regaining the Title. With the support for the former Champion growing stronger every week, WWE had no choice but to find a way of putting the “Yes! Man” into the Championship match at Mania.
In hindsight, Vince’s lack of faith in Daniel Bryan, and the WWE Universe’s resentment of the Chairman’s decisions made Bryan’s win at WrestleMania XXX all the more sweeter, but if WWE had wanted a less bumpy Road to WrestleMania, they should have listened to the fans from the beginning.
John Cena – Elimination Chamber 2010
Throughout 2009 and 2010, Vince McMahon went overboard circulating the WWE Championship among his favourite competitors. The title scene was dominated by John Cena and Randy Orton, with Batista and Sheamus getting the occasional look-in as well. The one superstar that had the potential to break the monotonous cycle was Kofi Kingston.
Towards the end of 2009, Kingston was feuding with Orton, but to cut a long story short, Orton was unhappy with the way Kofi botched the ending to a match, and he managed to convince McMahon that the midcarder wasn’t ready for the big leagues.
At the Elimination Chamber PPV a few months later, Cena won the WWE Championship only to immediately lose it to Batista to set up a generic feud for Mania. Batista wasn’t even a Raw superstar at the time, so the reason to push him over the others on the roster wasn’t even justified.
WWE had invested time and effort in building Kofi up to be a main eventer and with Randy Orton also competing in the Elimination Chamber, there was a great opportunity to reignite the rivalry with the Championship at stake. All Vince needed was to have a little more faith in Kingston, and less of Randy whispering in his ear.
Ryback – Elimination Chamber 2015
The winner of the IC Elimination Chamber match was always going to be lambasted considering the much-loved Daniel Bryan had to vacate the Title and retire. Bryan was meant to elevate the strap to a more prestigious position, but the white belt fell further from grace after it settled around Ryback’s waist.
The Chamber match itself was a farce with Mark Henry joining the fray early. His pod legitimately broke open, and his pre-emptive inclusion threw a lot of the planned spots out of order. Furthermore, the Chamber was too big of a stipulation for a midcard championship full of wrestlers no one cared about.
Originally, Rusev was meant to be a part of the Chamber match, but he was replaced by Mark Henry due to a foot injury brought on a few days prior to the PPV. The Bulgarian Brute had proven to be a solid midcard Champion with his United States Title run and feud with John Cena as all the precedence needed. If he was in fighting condition, Rusev would definitely have been the best man to raise the profile of the Title.
It wasn’t enough that there were no wrestlers involved worthy of winning the Championship; there was no need for the title to be contested in the Chamber at all. The fans hated the match, and the only reason the crowd popped was because Daniel Bryan had entered the ring to personally hand Ryback the IC Title.
There’s now less than a week before Elimination Chamber 2018, and everyone and their mums seem to have Roman Reigns and Alexa Bliss as the winners of their respective Chamber bouts. But who knows, maybe we’ll update the list in time for next year, and Mandy Rose will be sitting pretty at the top spot. No matter who wins, we’re still in store for a couple of great matches.