On February 19, 2022, World Wrestling Entertainment will hold its first Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as part of WWE’s ten-year partnership with the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative. The event is named for the signature Elimination Chamber match held at the event. This year’s participants are to be Bobby Lashley, Brock Lesnar, Seth “Freakin’” Rollins, Austin Theory, Riddle, and A.J. Styles in a contest for the WWE Championship. The concept of the match is credited to Triple H and Eric Bischoff, and its inspirations and history span both WWE and other promotions.
Elimination Chamber – An Anatomy
Elimination Chamber matches, in which members of two opposing teams are released into the steel cage enclosed ring at intervals, takes inspiration from the WarGames match. The brainchild of Dusty Rhodes, WarGames matches were originally a National Wrestling Alliance specialty first staged at 1987’s Great American Bash. It later became a staple of World Championship Wrestling’s annual PPV series, Fall Brawl. The WarGames match also features ring enclosures and a staggered entry format in which members of two clashing teams enter the ring at intervals until all entrants are in the ring. Following WWE’s purchase of WCW, the WarGames concept lay moribund until being revived in 2017 for WWE’s NXT brand.
Royal Rumble, Survivor Series, and Hell in a Cell
As much as the Elimination Chamber took inspiration from a match format that began outside of WWE, the WarGames match, it also contains elements of the iconic WWE events Survivor Series, Hell in a Cell, and Royal Rumble. The timer counting down the entry of incoming participants hearkens to the Rumble, while the enclosed ring echoes Hell in a Cell. The process of elimination, leading to victory for the final remaining participant, is similar to the objective to be ‘lone survivor’ in Survivor Series’s signature elimination match.
Evolution of the Elimination Chamber
Bischoff announced the creation of the Elimination Chamber on October 21, 2002, to be rolled out at 2002’s Survivor Series. The participants in the first Elimination Chamber match were Booker T, Kane, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels, in a contest for the World Heavyweight Championship. Michaels’s victory culminated his onscreen rivalry with real-life best friend Triple H.
In 2006, an Elimination Chamber match was featured in WWE’s relaunch of Extreme Championship Wrestling. WWE’s pay-per-view under the ECW banner, December to Dismember, featured an Elimination Chamber match with staples of “hardcore” weaponry like steel chairs and crowbars, its participants Van Dam, Hardcore Holly, CM Punk, Test, Big Show, and Bobby Lashley. Lashley won the ECW Championship, becoming the first African American to do so.
WWE’s No Way Out series of pay-per-views grew out of the In Your House series, spinning out from an event called In Your House: No Way Out of Texas. It was shortened to No Way Out and became its own signature series. Elimination Chamber matches were featured at 2008 and 2009’s events, but in 2010, the PPV series was renamed for the eponymous match at its heart, rebranded as Elimination Chamber. The first event under the titular PPV banner, featured Chris Jericho, Undertaker, CM Punk, John Morrison, Rey Mysterio, and R-Truth, with victory going to Jericho. 2022’s event marks, roughly, almost twenty years of the Elimination Chamber concept in WWE.
Taking its inspiration from facets of pro wrestling history like the WarGames match, with allusions to other WWE events interwoven into its DNA, the Elimination Chamber match has grown over the last twenty years from a novelty to a pay per view event on the storied “Road to WrestleMania.”
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