Held on February 20, 2011 in the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California the WWE Elimination Chamber 2011 pay-per-view event, the second in hopefully a long run of Elimination Chamber events, was one of the better WWE specials to air in the last year. As a precursor to storylines that were to be highlights of April's Wrestlemania, it sets the stage for that massive annual event and manages to deliver a good bit of top tier sports entertainment at the same time. Here's a look at the five matches that make up the whole:
The event starts off with a non-title match with Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston but even if there's no belt on the line, it's a great way to start things off. Alberto Del Rio is really climbing his way up the ladder and this match is a great example of why. Not to be outdone, the always energetic Kingston gives as good as he gets and the crowd gets into this one with some pretty serious enthusiasm.
The second match, Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Wade Barrett vs. The Big Show vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre In The World Heavyweight Championship Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match is a good mix of long time WWE superstars and a few up and coming contenders. With this many guys in and around the ring you know there's going to be some pretty serious action afoot and we aren't disappointed in that regard. Mysterio is his usual high flying self and the crowd loves him, while Edge and Drew McIntyre have that arrogance you expect from them. Big Show and Kane, strong silent types, offer their inimitable presence as well. The ending of this one might just come as a bit of a surprise to some and the whole 'Elimination Chamber' aspect of this match is used very well. All in all, this is a tense, exciting and violent match, the kind that we need more of in the PPV's.
The third match of the night was Santino Marella And Vladimir Kozlov vs. Heath Slater And Justin Gabriel For The World Tag Team Championship and while it's the weakest match of the evening it's still better than average. Santino is always amusing to watch and this match is no exception. He and Kozlov make for an entertaining team and do a good job of working the crowd up.
The most interesting match of the night had to be The Miz with Alex Riley vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler For The WWE Championship. Seeing The Miz get into the ring to defend his title against a legend like Lawler was a whole lot of fun and it's awesome to see the living legend in action. Of course, The Miz is The Miz and so his ego is big enough to fill the entire arena but he does handle himself well here. The crowd was stoked for this bout and you can't blame them. This is also a very suspenseful match in that you don't really get a feel for who is going to take the belt home until the very end. The only drawback of this match? Since Lawler is in the ring he's not on the mic and his commentary is sorely missed.
Last but not least was John Cena vs. John Morrison vs. R-Truth vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. CM Punk in the Raw Chamber Match which was to determine the Number One Contender Spot for WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXVII. Like the first Elimination Chamber match of the night, this one is also pretty chaotic and intense. The performers manage to keep the audience's attention throughout, however, the big finish and combatant who emerges the victor doesn't come as all that much of a surprise. With that said, getting there is fun and all involved deliver plenty of high flying moves. Morrison continues to impress in that department and Orton's presence in the ring is always welcome. Sheamus and CM Punk are as obnoxious as ever and make for good foils, while R-Truth is a pro through and through even if he isn't as flash as some of the others.
This pay-per-view event was broadcast in anamorphic 1.78.1 widescreen and that's how it's presented on this DVD, even if the picture is interlaced. The quality is pretty decent, not showing any annoying compression artifacts e during any of the matches and only showing some minor shimmering in some scenes. Color reproduction looks alright and skin tones are fine but the black levels can sometimes be a little less than perfectly defined. If you've seen any of the recent WWE DVD releases, you'll know what to expect here - it's on par with those presentations.
WWE Elimination Chamber 2011 has a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. There are no alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captioning options. The audio here is fine, there aren't any obvious problems to report. The dialogue is always easy enough to understand and there are no issues with hiss or distortion worth complaining about. The 5.1 track sounds nice and full, with some nice crowd noise coming from the rear channels but it remains front heavy for the most part. There's nothing reference quality here, but the sound is good. An alternate Spanish language dub is also included.
Aside from menus and match selection, there's a promo spot featuring The Rock and John Cena from the 2/21/2011 episode or WWE RAW - it's pretty great, but it's very short.
WWE Elimination Chamber 2011 is pretty entertaining stuff and a start to what could and should be a good year for the WWE. As far as the presentation goes, the DVD looks and sounds as good as any of the other recent PPV releases and if it's light on extras, it makes up for that with five solid matches. Recommended for wrestling fans.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.