RAW’s Gauntlet Match Killed It, But Lacked Stakes

This week, WWE essentially bet all of RAW on the strength of one match: a gauntlet featuring all seven of this week’s Elimination Chamber participants.

A gauntlet match is always fun – I have especially fond memories of Bryan/Reigns’ tag team turmoil gauntlet in early 2015 for whatever reason – and one with pretty much the entire main event scene of RAW is guaranteed to be awesome. But it didn’t become obvious that this was something special until it became obvious that it was on pace to run almost two hours, making it the longest match in RAW history and giving Seth Rollins the record for the longest time in a RAW match (65 minutes.)

Everybody had great showings, with special attention paid to Rollins/Cena, Rollins/Reigns, and of course Braun’s match-ending rampage to pin the Miz. Even Elias swooping in to steal the pin on an exhausted Rollins was the perfect dick heel way to go.

The only problem with this match was that it didn’t have any stakes at all. This is far from a rare problem in WWE, but as a big event for a weekly show, it felt especially strange here. With some foresight, they could’ve written the build to Elimination Chamber in such a way that this match would somehow decide the order of the participants. (Unfortunately, you almost certainly couldn’t have Elias enter last in this scenario, and having Braun come out last would make it almost impossible not to book him to win.)

Instead, the match is just a showcase. It’s an incredible showcase, absolutely, but just a showcase. Even Seth’s promo later in the night asserted that, despite his star-making pins on Cena and Reigns, “none of it matters” if he doesn’t then go on to win the Chamber match. And I love that for his character, but it does highlight the match’s flaw: none of it matters.

But hey, it was a lot of fun, it was an ambitious play, and Seth Rollins had his Jericho moment, so in the wash, it was great.

Bobby Murphy (@RobertJMurph)

Image courtesy WWE

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