The Miz headlined WrestleMania 27 as WWE Champion. Ten years later, he is poised to do it again.
Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase at Elimination Chamber, defeating Drew McIntyre and starting his first reign with the WWE Championship since 2011. This occurred moments after McIntyre won the Raw Elimination Chamber match, then took a beating from Bobby Lashley. This sets up McIntyre-Lashley for WrestleMania 37, as well as opens a new possibility with Miz as champ. Whether it will help boost Raw ratings is yet to be determined, but at least for the short-term, Vince McMahon has once again made The Miz his signature performer.
Less than two months away, the card for WrestleMania is actively taking shape. Daniel Bryan opened the show by winning the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match, only to immediately lose in 92 seconds to Roman Reigns in a Universal Championship match. Reigns’s post-match celebration was interrupted by Edge, who will be challenging Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania.
Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair also continued their story, losing in a tag team title match to Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. Since they are no longer pursuing the tag titles, the Belair-Banks program should take its direction this Friday on SmackDown, with Belair challenging Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. As for Raw Women’s Champion Asuka, she was left off the card. Her original opponent, Lacey Evans, is pregnant and taking time off from an active schedule, but it was a missed opportunity not to include Asuka, especially with a division full of emerging stars like Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose and Nikki Cross.
Here are the results from Elimination Chamber:
—John Morrison defeated Mustafa Ali, Ricochet, and Elias on the preshow, which placed him in the United States Championship triple threat match
—Daniel Bryan won the SmackDown Elimination Chamber for a title shot against Universal Champion Roman Reigns
—WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan by submission
—Matt Riddle defeated Bobby Lashley and John Morrison in a triple threat match to become the new United States Champion
—Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to retain the Women’s Tag Team Championship
—Drew McIntyre defended the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber, defeating Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, and Jeff Hardy
—The Miz defeated Drew McIntyre to become the new WWE Champion
The Miz is likely only a transitional champion, but he deserves credit for reclaiming the company’s most prestigious title. He has been in peripheral stories for the past couple of years and was never a true threat when challenging for the Universal Championship against Braun Strowman, so getting the title and reattaining a spot atop the card is a big opportunity for him.
In addition to crowning a new WWE Champion, Matt Riddle also won the United States Championship. This is Riddle’s first championship on the main roster, as well as his first singles title with the company. Riddle is one of the most unique talents in all of the industry, bringing a unique blend of athleticism and authenticity from his time in the UFC. He also has been a considerable source of controversy since his arrival last spring on SmackDown, stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct from a female wrestler from their time together on the independents. Keith Lee would have made the perfect choice to take the title, but since he was unavailable at Elimination Chamber, WWE made the decision to put the belt on Riddle.
Riddle scored the victory against John Morrison, who replaced Lee. This allowed Lashley to remain protected, which is especially smart considering his jump back to the world title picture. Tying back to last June’s Backlash pay per view, Lashley and McIntyre have unfinished business—and Lashley has certainly earned an opportunity to represent the company as WWE Champion.
Elimination Chamber helped set the table for WrestleMania, and it was also a solid pay per view. Both Elimination Chamber matches were outstanding. WWE kept Reigns and Kevin Owens separated, which was a smart choice, and the Raw chamber match did a particularly good job of re-establishing Sheamus, AJ Styles, and Kofi Kingston as contenders for the WWE Championship. The SmackDown Elimination Chamber saw Daniel Bryan win an extremely compelling opener, and the story was that he was too beat up to pose any real threat to Reigns. Edge then emerged as the one to stand up to Reigns, though it may make more sense if Reigns finds a way to retain that title in the WrestleMania main event.
Since WrestleMania 37 will take place over two nights, there will be a main event each night. One of those spots should belong to Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair, who will be wrestling for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Belair is set to become one of wrestling’s premier talents, and she has the benefit of working with a bona fide superstar in Banks at the most important show of the year. It was frustrating to see Banks pinned in the tag match at Elimination Chamber, even if it can be chalked up to a distraction from Reginald. That finish took the steam away from a good match, and the focus needs to be returned to Banks and Belair—and no one else.
There is still a considerable amount of story left to be told in the Banks-Belair program, and an incredible amount of potential. This has the chance to be the most memorable match at WrestleMania, so it is pivotal that proper time is given to Banks and Belair to craft a story.
WWE has found success with the quicker pay per view model. That is likely to be altered at WrestleMania, but it is a formula that was again successful at Elimination Chamber. The show was far from perfect, as missing out on having a women’s Elimination Chamber match was a massive whiff. Overall, the show was solid, but a widely criticized product is going to be even more closely scrutinized with The Miz as the new champion.