The following is a piece from our resident non-wrestling fan David Smith. As usual, I sent him a YouTube video of a wrestling match, and he sent me his thoughts on it. I decided to show Dave the first ever Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series 2002, featuring the all star line-up of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Chris Jericho, Kane and Rob Van Dam. Every single one of those guys have been a World Champion either before or since then. They were all arguably in or around their prime at the time of this match. The stipulation was being experimented with for the very first time. Everything aligned to produce something very memorable. Let’s see what Neutral Dave thought. Craig [Editor]
Neutral Dave on Classic Wrestling
The Elimination Chamber Match – WWE Survivor Series 2002
From these selections I have been given, there is one thing that I particularly enjoy, and that is storylines. I love watching characters struggle in tough situations. I adore the action genre, and that comes from a connection with characters like John McClane. In this particular match, I did not feel that so much. However, I would like to reserve ,as it is very possible that watching this out of context is akin to watching the finale of a TV show without seeing any of the build-up. For that reason, I was not aware of the stakes this match held for the participants involved.
Another part that took me out of it a bit was the build-up. The music that was used was not particularly badass or intimidating. They are usually good at selecting music which can get you in the mood for a high stakes match. Also, the Elimination Chamber itself was given a particularly over-stylised introduction. While watching these sequences, the chamber seemed to be based on the fallacy that to be weighty the whole world needs to be threatened. The standard cage provides an imposing threat on its own, reminiscent of the Death Star, a lot down to its own build up. However, during the match itself you can see how cruel a chamber it really is.
The athleticism from the different wrestlers is what I have come to expect. Their physical abilities continue to impress and amaze me. This is where my love for story comes in. As I had, due to my own admitted lack of knowledge, no context in which to root for any particular characters, I was not emotionally connected. I do find this to be a harsh criticism though. In the more cold part of my brain, I do see these extremely good pyrotechnics, stunts and special effects being weakened by a poor script. Then a part of me believes that this is pretty unsympathetic considering that the stunts and pain cannot be called cut on. I still maintain my appreciation for the physical work involved. I still gasp and awe at particular moves.
I found the order in which people went out to be interesting. Triple H aside, they were eliminated close to the order in which they came out. Triple H staying until the very end was pretty cool and showed how much he can take, as befits a belt holder. Van Dam beat him up pretty early on, which made him less of a threat. The other wrestlers did do what I would have done: double up against the strongest and then take on someone who is hopefully more knackered than you are. While Triple H was not the most exciting to watch, you have to give him credit for surviving. The biggest proponent of the aforementioned strategy was Jericho. It shows that while it is an effective strategy, it does not get you much sympathy with the audience. I found Jericho to be someone who mostly took advantage of other people’s work, and with none of the grace or style of his rivals like Booker T or Shawn Michaels.
Apart from Jericho, I enjoyed each wrestler as they came out and in their own way seemed to dominate the match for a bit and then fall foul, perhaps of their own cockiness. This is most apparent from Van Dam who made a mistake when he jumped from that pop down onto Triple H. I was happy with Shawn Michaels’ victory, possibly due to him being the freshest in my mind. I did like his style and the contrasts between him and Triple H.
On the whole though, what seemed like a lack of context made it not the enjoyable experience that wrestling has become for me.
Thanks for reading
David “Neutral Dave” Smith