Generic Pre-Review Wrestling Disclaimer: Long before my affinity for globetrotting documentaries, Martin Scorsese films and The Criterion Collection, I found a soft spot for professional wrestling. Don't ask me how this happened; it just did. Despite this declaration, I shower daily, all my teeth are accounted for, I have a college degree...and, most importantly, I have a wife with the same merits. I'm not alone, of course. The wrestling fans I know aren't slack-jawed yokels; they simply appreciate the spectacle and illusion that this genuine sport creates, in the same way movie lovers enjoy fast-paced fights and thrilling chase sequences. Long story short: we know this stuff is "fake", but we like it anyway. Give us a break.
WWE has employed plenty of "gimmick matches" during the last few decades; in fact, it's rare that any pay-per-view card employs standard rules from top to bottom. Whether it's a Steel Cage match, No Disqualification, Ladder Match or even a Royal Rumble, these alternate stipulations often spice up an otherwise by-the-numbers affair. One of WWE's most ambitious gimmick matches in recent years is the Elimination Chamber, an enclosed structure with no exterior doors (unlike, say, a traditional Steel Cage). Up to four WWE superstars are enclosed at each corner, and a countdown timer separates their random entrances. In most cases, two wrestlers lead things off before any of the corner chambers open---so in essence, it's a hybrid of a Hell in A Cell, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series match. This gimmick was first employed during Survivor Series 2002 (and roughly once a year since then on different occasions), but February's Elimination Chamber 2010 doesn't devote itself completely to the gimmick. No Way Out, the previous February WWE pay-per-view, also included two of these particular matches on the card, so this event offers little more than a name change.
Both Elimination Chamber matches bookend this three-hour event, appropriately enough: at the very least, it promises a spectacle during the opening and closing stretches. Unfortunately, what's between these matches also counts towards the final grade---and to put it bluntly, that's where Elimination Chamber 2010 falls drastically, dreadfully short. WWE pay-per-views have been largely hit-or-miss, especially since their increased frequency during the past 15 years, and most of what's here falls squarely in the latter category. Held on February 21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, this three-hour event includes the following matches:
Complete Match Listing
(5 matches on 1 single-sided DVD)
Seamus vs. John Cena vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs.
Triple H vs. Ted DiBiase [Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship]
Drew McIntrye vs. Kane [Intercontinental Championship Match]
Gail Kim vs. Maryse [Divas Championship Tournament Match Finals]
Gail Kim & Maryse vs. Michelle McCool & Layla [Tag Team Match]
The Miz vs. MVP [United States Championship Match]
The Undertaker vs. John Morrison vs. Chris Jericho vs. R-Truth vs.
Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. CM Punk [Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship]
As mentioned earlier, the two Elimination Chamber matches are easily the highlights of this event. Both run at least 30 minutes, providing ample time to build momentum, tease the crowd and offer a few surprises along the way. Seamus vs. John Cena vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs.
Triple H vs. Ted DiBiase leads things off in grand fashion, though it's weakened slightly by some post-match shenanigans that cheapen the match itself. If nothing else, this curtain-jerker mixes a strong level of old and new talent without obviously favoring one over the other; in short, everyone gets a little time to shine. The Undertaker vs. John Morrison vs. Chris Jericho vs. R-Truth vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. CM Punk follows suit perfectly by closing the show on another high note; though another circumstance somewhat cheapens the finish, it's still a solid moment in another match full of surprises.
Also mentioned earlier, the four (or three, really) matches between our main events are nowhere near as captivating. Drew McIntrye vs. Kane and The Miz vs. MVP are fairly vanilla for title matches and wouldn't be out of place on Raw or Smackdown; neither of these crack the 15-minute mark and the crowd responds accordingly. At the bottom, not surprisingly, is Gail Kim & Maryse vs. Michelle McCool & Layla: this bout serves as another round of shrieks and hair-pulling, made worse by the ridiculous booking that led to its creation. Add in a handful of behind-the scenes clips, interviews and other filler, and you've got a solid 90 minutes of boredom in-between two above-average matches. Unfortunately, that just ain't enough to justify a purchase, whether it's on pay-per-view or DVD.
On the technical side of things, this DVD is on par with recent WWE releases: production values are decent enough and all matches are apparently free from edits (with the exception of a pyrotechnic slip-up during The Undertaker's entrance). Three minor bonus feature has been included, and only one is exclusive to this release. This is bad news for those who already spent $40+ on this PPV the first time around, though new viewers probably won't mind as much.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays, Elimination Chamber 2010 looks to be on par with most current WWE releases...but that's not necessarily a free pass. Notable amounts of pixellation, edge enhancement and compression artifacts can be seen during many entrances and fast-moving sequences, which has been a long-standing problem we've undoubtedly become accustomed to. Colors are generally bold and bright, though reds and purples pop out almost unnaturally at times. It's not a five-star presentation overall, but this is probably about as good as we'll get from WWE for now.
The audio is presented in a robust Dolby 5.1 Surround mix, which does a fine job of recreating the WWE live experience. Crowd noise and play-by-play commentary come through loud and clear, creating a satisfying soundstage overall. A Spanish 2.0 play-by-play track is also available, though it's not quite as dynamic overall. As expected, optional subtitles and Closed Captions have not been provided.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the plain-wrap menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. The 160-minute event has been divided into just 9 chapters (one per match and significant filler event), while no obvious layer change was detected during playback. Several WWE-related trailers and promos play before the main menu can be accessed; annoyingly enough, some of them are not skippable. This one-disc release is housed in a standard black keepcase and includes a promotional insert.
Not much here, but at least everything is related to the main feature. The lone exclusive is "Josh Matthews Interviews the Winner of the Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship" (1:40, whew!), a short clip that I might as well keep spoiler-free. The other two brief segments are taken from the following night's Raw (2/22), which include "Edge Makes His WrestleMania Announcement" (4:51) and "Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker" (3:58). Both appear to be identical to their broadcast counterparts and offer a bit of follow-up to the events of Elimination Chamber 2010.
Like the rest of the show, these segments are presented in 16x9 format and do not include optional Closed Captions or subtitles. Unfortunately, the pre-show dark match between Christian and the recently-sidelined Ezekiel Jackson has not been included on this release. Why does WWE continue to overlook these?
Many "lower-tier" WWE pay-per-views are tough to recommend in hindsight, and Elimnation Chamber 2010 is no different. This three-hour event is bookended by two strong matches that run over 30 minutes apiece, but just about everything else grinds the show's momentum to a screeching halt. WWE's one-disc package is a better value than the original PPV at roughly half the price, but most fans have already seen the worthy bits and pieces by now---and, as expected, the bonus features are lightweight and forgettable. Unless you're a rabid rasslin' collector, Elimnation Chamber 2010 is worth a weekend look at the very most. Rent It.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.