History was made inside the unforgiving confines of the Elimination Chamber Sunday night as the first women's tag team champions were crowned in one of two main events.
Three teams from Raw and three from SmackDown battled for the right to etch their names in the history books. Was it the irresistible force of Tamina Snuka and Nia Jax, the popular team of Bayley and Sasha Banks or the most experienced team in the match—The IIconics—that emerged with the titles, or was it one of the other three teams that picked up the coveted victory?
The WWE Championship was up for grabs in the other headliner, as Daniel Bryan defended against Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, AJ Styles and The New Day's Kofi Kingston.
Would The Planet's Champion continue his crusade to save Earth with a high-profile victory or would every expectation fans had heading toward WrestleMania 35 be turned sideways by an unexpected title switch?
Find out the answer to those questions, and which Superstars picked up key victories in title bouts, with this recap of the 2019 edition of the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa
As has become something of a tradition in recent years, the WWE Cruiserweight Championship kicked off the night's festivities on the Elimination Chamber Kickoff Show as Buddy Murphy defended against Akira Tozawa.
The challenger had the opportunity to make history as a win would make him the first two-time champion since the reintroduction of the title in 2016.
The first turning point of the match came early when Tozawa attempted a suicide dive but wound up in the grasp of his opponent, who took him over with a suplex on the arena floor. From there, Murphy targeted the lower back of his opponent.
The challenger fought from underneath and sent Murphy to the floor with a hiptoss. Back in the ring, a superkick stunned the Australian and allowed Tozawa to create further separation.
The Japanese competitor continued to utilize kicks and quick strikes to offset the size differential until catching Murphy up top. He tried for a superplex attempt, but the champion powered out. He attempted to deadlift Tozawa in the air, but the challenger caught him with a snap headscissors for a two-count.
A lightning-quick transition from Murphy, never giving the challenger a second to breathe, gave way to a pinfall that only netted him a two-count as the commentary team of Nigel McGuinness, Aiden English and Vic Joseph questioned what it would take for the Aussie to secure the win.
The action picked up and the challenger floored Murphy with two straight suicide dives. He scaled the ropes and delivered a falling senton across the back of his opponent. The crowd let out a cry of disbelief as Murphy shot his shoulder off the mat at two.
Tozawa followed up with an octopus submission, but the titleholder escaped and delivered his Murphy's Law finisher to successfully retain his belt.
Murphy defeated Tozawa
Murphy has been nothing short of spectacular since arriving to 205 Live. The guy has routinely produced some of the best matches on any show he appears on, including pay-per-view preshows.
Whether he is working a match in front of half-empty arenas an hour before PPVs or in front of thousands in his home country of Australia, the 30-year-old has been the epitome of consistency since hitting the main roster.
In the long run, this win means little to a 205 Live brand that will continue to chug along, producing quality professional wrestling regardless of who its champion is. For a guy like Murphy, who has made the most of his opportunity, this is another example of what has been quiet greatness.
Kudos also to Tozawa, who may be one of the most underappreciated members of the WWE roster.
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships
The Elimination Chamber match to determine the inaugural WWE women's tag team champions kicked off Sunday's pay-per-view spectacular.
As we found out over the course of this week's television, the teams of The Boss 'n' Hug Connection (Bayley and Sasha Banks) and Fire and Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) kicked off the match.
The babyfaces started hot, taking the fight to their less-experienced opposition. They overwhelmed them, leading to an assisted cross body block from Banks to Deville and Rose on the chamber floor.
The heels fought their way back into the match, sending the heroines face-first into the steel chain that made up the side of the structure.
Bayley and Banks neutralized Rose and Deville just in time to be met by the tenacious Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan of The Riott Squad. The heels took the fight to their longtime rivals before turning their attention to fellow NXT alumni.
A tower of doom spot saw Bayley superplexed to the mat below as the clock counted down and signaled the arrival of The IIconics' Billie Kay and Peyton Royce.
With the other heels down, the loudmouthed Aussies set their sights on Banks and Bayley, wearing them down and scoring more than one near-fall as frustration began to set in.
Carmella and Naomi entered the match next, delivering a flashy series of seated corner sentons. The Princess of Staten Island scaled the chamber but was caught by Kay. She shifted her weight and delivered a headscissors into the chain.
Back in the squared circle, the action broke down, with each woman delivering a signature maneuver.
After weeks of build, Naomi finally teed off on Rose. A Rear View to Rose, though, opened her up to a roll-up combo from Kay and Royce for the first elimination. Naomi and Carmella eliminated.
Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka entered the match last, obliterating anyone in their path as they emerged from their pods like caged beasts.
They eyed The IIconics, who had taken to hiding inside a pod. The powerhouses of the match, they pried open the pod, pulled the Aussies from their sanctuary and slung them like ragdolls into the cage.
A double Samoan Drop ended their suffering and championship aspirations. The IIconics eliminated.
Bayley and Banks recovered and momentarily disposed of Jax and Snuka before turning their attention to The Riott Squad. They wiped out Morgan and Logan but were unable to take advantage as Rose and Deville intervened.
Looking to fight their way back into the match, Logan and Morgan launched themselves off the top of one of the pods and delivered cross body blocks, wiping the opposition out. Their comeback attempt proved futile as Jax delivered a Samoan Drop to Morgan, and Snuka followed with a big splash for the elimination. The Riott Squad eliminated.
Banks and Bayley again tried to battle Jax and Snuka straight up and were overpowered and tossed around like nothing.
Jax tried to continue her assault by charging at Bayley, but the former Raw women's champion dodged the attack, sending The Irresistible Force crashing through the plexiglass of the pod.
Back in the squared circle, Bayley, Banks, Rose and Deville ganged up on Snuka and scored the pin that sent the most dangerous duo packing. Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka eliminated.
Down to the same two teams that started it, the match entered its home stretch.
Rose scaled the chamber but quickly found herself joined by Banks and Bayley on top of a pod. Deville tried to assist her partner but was knocked down, as was Bayley moments later.
Deville sent Bayley spine-first into the support beam of the pod. The Boss, devastated, checked on her partner. Taking advantage of her injured shoulder, Rose sent Banks into the pod.
Inside the squared circle, Rose delivered her finisher but could only keep the resilient competitor down for a count of two.
The babyfaces fought back, but Banks was unable to utilize the injured shoulder to apply the Bank Statement. Getting creative, she applied the hold and forced the tapout to become the first WWE women's tag team champions. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville eliminated.
After the match, Bayley and Banks cut a tearful promo celebrating their victory.
Bayley and Banks won the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships
This wasn't always a pretty bout, particularly early, but once it got down to the final four teams, it fleshed itself out and became a really fun chamber match.
The story of Jax and Snuka dominating the competition before their fury proved their own downfall was solid, and the near-fall Rose scored on Banks was a breathtaking moment. There were some spots that were clunky, others that were scary to watch, but all 12 women involved worked hard and delivered performances befitting a historic championship bout.
Bayley and Banks winning was the right move as they had championed the creation of the tag titles for years. Whether there is money in babyfaces carrying the gold and being chased by heels is another question.
Rose and Deville deserve major props for turning in what were defining performances of their young careers. A championship run for Fire and Desire should be considered if they can continue delivering displays such as this.
SmackDown Tag Team Title Match: Shane McMahon and The Miz vs. The Usos
Prior to teaming with Shane McMahon to defend the SmackDown Tag Team Championships against The Usos, The Miz brought out wife Maryse to announce the happy couple are expecting their second child.
The joy of that revelation gave way to The A-Lister nearly finding himself on the receiving end of a superkick early. The champions recovered, though, and demonstrated some solid tag team chemistry as they took the fight to Jimmy and Jey and sent them to the arena floor to groans and boos.
Eventually, the challengers isolated Miz, beating him down and cutting him off from Shane-O-Mac.
Miz finally created separation and tagged McMahon in. The prodigal son teed off on The Usos, using a pump kick and a twisting DDT to ground the decorated opposition. He eventually connected with Coast to Coast to Jimmy. He scaled the ropes for a second as the commentary team questioned whether he could deliver it.
As he soared through the air, he ran directly into the boot of Jey. Miz just barely broke up the pinfall and saved the match for his team. McMahon tagged The A-Lister in officially, and the former WWE champion delivered a springboard ax handle.
His momentary burst of energy ended with a Samoan drop from Jey. An alert Miz recovered, though, and delivered a big DDT for another near-fall. At ringside, The A-Lister tore apart the announce table and dodged a flying attack that sent Jimmy into Jey.
McMahon climbed the ropes and delivered an elbow from the top, onto Jey and through the table.
Back inside the squared circle, Jimmy fell prey to the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz covered lazily, and Jimmy countered into a roll up for the win and titles.
The Usos defeated McMahon and Miz to win the titles
The match was what it was—another showcase for Shane McMahon's Greatest Hits with some solid action from The Miz and Usos mixed in.
The story helped elevate this slightly above average.
McMahon looked like a world-beater. He was the clear strength of the team, while Miz was presented as the weak link. He was the guy whose arrogance and lack of discipline cost them the title. That will ultimately spark a betrayal of McMahon and The Miz's desire to prove he is the better man ahead of a WrestleMania showdown between the two.
The Usos winning was a surprise given Jimmy's legal issues this past week, but they are, arguably, the best team on the roster and more than capable of carrying the division through WrestleMania season.
2-on-1 Handicap Match for the Intercontinental Championship
After weeks of frustration and sneak attacks, Finn Balor sought revenge and the Intercontinental Championship as he battled Bobby Lashley and his mouthpiece, Lio Rush, in a 2-on-1 Handicap match Sunday night.
Champion Lashley leaned on his strength advantage early, overpowering Balor. He capitalized on a momentary distraction from Rush to continue his assault on the challenger, ramming him back-first into the ring apron. With the Irishman down, the arrogant Rush unloaded with some strikes.
Lashley re-entered the match and grounded Balor with a Cobra Clutch. Rush tagged back into the bout, and Balor mounted a comeback, only to be brought crashing back to the mat at the hands of The Almighty.
Balor again battled back into the match, this time having much greater success as he took the fight to his opponents. He dove over the ropes and wiped out both before focusing primarily on Rush. With Lashley down at ringside, the Irishman delivered the Coup de Grace to The Man of the Hour to win the title.
After the match, Lashley obliterated Rush with a spinebuster, severing the relationship between him and his mouthpiece.
Balor defeated Lashley and Rush to win the Intercontinental Championship
The only person to benefit from the outcome of this match was Lashley.
The former champion dominated the action when he was involved and only lost his belt when Rush was pinned.
Balor, the new titleholder, could not overcome The Almighty so he had to take out Rush. That Corey Graves was quick to point out he beat the hype man only lessened the impact of the title win.
The post-match divorce between Lashley and Rush immediately took the focus off the new champion, proving the entire segment was more about building The Almighty than the coronation of Balor.
Hopefully, this does not set the tone of the Irishman's long-awaited high-profile championship win.
Raw Women's Championship Match: Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott
Before Ronda Rousey defended the Raw Women's Championship against Ruby Riott, Charlotte Flair joined Charly Caruso for a promo in which she recapped Becky Lynch's suspension and vowed to watch from ringside as her WrestleMania opponent was determined.
Rousey, dressed as Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat in a nod to her upcoming voice work for the video game, stared down Flair before coming face-to-face with her opponent.
The champion overpowered Riott early, tossing her around the squared circle as chants of "we want Becky" spilled from the stands. A focused, determined and aggressive Rousey squashed Riott, tapping her out to the armbar in something of a surprise.
Rousey stared down at Flair from the ring as the commentary team discussed their WrestleMania main event. The Queen joined Rowdy in the center of the squared circle, talking trash to the champion, until all eyes turned toward Lynch in the stands.
The Man limped to the ringside area on crutches and joined the competitors inside the squared circle amid chants of "Becky!" from the fans in Houston. Lynch, frustrated and furious, mercilessly attacked Flair with one of the crutches as Rousey watched from across the ring, her title draped over her shoulder.
Rousey grabbed the other walking aid and inched toward Flair before Lynch blasted her with the crutch. The Man continued to unload on both of her rivals, much to the delight of the WWE Universe, who greeted her triumphant appearance with cheers and chants of her first name.
A bloodied Rousey and Flair watched on, anger painting their faces, as Lynch was escorted out of the arena.
Rousey defeated Riott
The Lynch beatdown was brutal, violent and totally fun to watch. It was everything you would expect from a badass rebel left angry and disenfranchised after the career-altering announcement from Raw and determined to raise hell.
The shots with the crutches were wicked, and the proof of their contact was all over the bodies of Flair and Rousey in the form of cuts and scratches. One of which, to the head of Rowdy, will likely require stitches.
The angle was red-hot and everything management could have hoped for.
With all of that said, this was a disappointing use of Riott. Arguably one of the most underrated in-ring workers on Raw, she was the sacrificial lamb Sunday night. She got no offense whatsoever in on Rousey, instead bumping for her and tapping out in a hurry.
Her credibility was damaged here, and WWE Creative will regret her use in this match the next time it tries to heat up The Riott Squad on TV.
No Disqualification Match: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
Braun Strowman laughed off early attempts by Baron Corbin to catch him off-guard in Sunday's No Disqualification match, but The Monster Among Men did momentarily find himself on the receiving end of a steel steps attack by The Lone Wolf.
Strowman, though, channeled his fury and swatted Corbin before introducing a table into the mix, much to the delight of the WWE faithful.
However, a rake to the eyes spared Corbin. He still found himself on the receiving end of a chokeslam and a powerslam through the table before Drew McIntyre's music played. The Scottish Psychopath provided a momentary distraction that allowed Bobby Lashley to come from nowhere to attack Strowman.
A three-on-one beatdown ensued, and despite efforts from The Monster Among Men to fend them off, he found himself down in the center of the ring following a McIntyre headbutt and a Lashley spear. The trio continued their beatdown of the big man, using the steps and their own physicality to punish him.
They stacked two tables on top of each other as the immediate future of the big man looked bleaker and bleaker. Perched atop the steps, they powerbombed Strowman through the table a la The Shield and scored the pinfall victory.
Corbin defeated Strowman
This would have graded out higher if I had not watched almost the exact same angle play out just a month or two ago.
This entire storyline is the epitome of treadmill booking as nothing has been accomplished, no one is really better off for being involved, and the story itself has not been advanced in any meaningful way.
Corbin, McIntyre and Lashley feel like that trio of guys with nothing in common who band together and fight the babyface in an old SmackDown vs. Raw video game. With The Lone Wolf no longer possessing any real power, why are McIntyre and Lashley at all invested in helping him?
That question should be No. 1 on WWE Creative's list to address, followed swiftly by "why is this still a thing?"
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship
WWE champion Daniel Bryan's path to WrestleMania 35 would roll through Sunday's Elimination Chamber match, in which he defended his title against Kofi Kingston, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe and former champion AJ Styles.
Bryan and Joe started the match, renewing a competitive rivalry that stretched back to their days in Ring of Honor. Before the bell, referees ushered Erick Rowan to the back, ensuring he would not have an impact on the outcome.
Bryan tried to avoid locking up with Joe, but to no avail. When he did, he threw a nasty chop at the chest of The Samoan Submission Machine and paid dearly for it, enduring chops of his own.
Joe grounded Bryan and trapped him in a submission, only for the champion to escape and deliver a dropkick to the knee. He followed up, sending his opponent shoulder-first into the edge of a pod.
Bryan repeatedly thwarted Joe's offense as Kingston entered the fray at No. 3. The champion treated him similarly, dropping a knee across the back of his head. Meanwhile, Joe blasted him with another sickeningly loud chop to the chest.
The champion sought sanctuary at the top of a pod, but Kingston leaped to the top and pounded away. With Bryan and Joe down below, The New Day member threw himself off the cage with falling senton, wiping both opponents out and doing damage to his own back in the process.
Styles entered the match fourth and wasted little time unloading on longtime rivals Joe and Bryan, including a nasty open-hand slap to the champion.
As Bryan scaled the cage, trying to escape the onslaught from the former champion, Styles delivered a Phenomenal Forearm that knocked him to the floor.
Styles and Kingston paired off before Joe reinserted himself into the fray. It would be a short-lived burst for The Samoan Submission Specialist, who fell prey to the Phenomenal Forearm and was dispatched. Samoa Joe eliminated.
Jeff Hardy entered the match next and unloaded on Styles with a flurry of rights and the double legdrop to the midsection of The Phenomenal One. Hardy launched himself over the top rope and onto Bryan, who immediately clutched his knee.
Hardy and Styles paired off for an ugly, botched spot, while Bryan worked over the arm of Kingston across the ring. The Charismatic Enigma returned to the top of a pod and delivered a Swanton onto Styles, who was laying across the top rope. As he recovered, Hardy was met by the running knee from Bryan, who sent him packing. Jeff Hardy eliminated.
Orton entered the match, stalking his prey like the Apex Predator he prides himself on being.
At one point, Styles tried for the Phenomenal Forearm, but The Viper caught him on the top rope and drove him to the mat with an RKO for an elimination. AJ Styles eliminated.
Orton set Kingston up for the RKO but caught a charging Bryan with a powerslam. Kingston answered with Trouble in Paradise to The Viper and eliminated him. Randy Orton eliminated.
The match came down to Kingston and Bryan as the crowd came alive, firmly behind the 11-year veteran.
The competitors traded kicks before The New Day man delivered SOS for a quality near-fall. Chants of "Kofi" erupted throughout the arena.
Bryan got a momentary reprieve, sending Kingston face-first into the steel post. The titleholder unloaded with a series of corner dropkicks, but a last-gasp effort from Kingston nearly earned him the championship following yet another dramatic two-count.
Outside the ring, Kingston tried for a bulldog into one of the pods, but Bryan sent him crashing into it. Back inside the squared circle, The Beard delivered a running knee that turned his opponent inside out. Still, it was not enough to keep his opponent down.
Doubt painted the face of Bryan as the crowd erupted in support of the babyface. Frustrated, he stomped the face of Kingston but could only keep him down for two. A series of roll ups ensued, but neither could score the win. Bryan tried to apply the LeBell Lock, but Kingston tried desperately to fight it off. He did.
The Superstars teased a superplex from the top of the pod, interrupting each other periodically to bash the other's head into the plexiglass side of the structure. A big kick from Kingston finally sent the champion to the mat.
Kingston missed a cross body block from the top, and Bryan delivered another running knee to win the match and retain his title. Kofi Kingston eliminated.
"The air has been completely sucked out of the Toyota Center," Corey Graves stated in the most accurate declaration of the night. Bryan celebrated his title defense having entered at No. 1.
Kingston was left in the ring after the match and was immediately joined by Big E and Xavier Woods. Chants of "thank you, Kofi" poured from the stands as his teammates helped him to the back. The New Day stood tall at the top of the ramp to close out the show.
Bryan retained his title over Orton, Hardy, Styles, Joe and Kingston
This was already a strong match before Bryan and Kingston squared off as the final two competitors. Once that happened and the drama reached a fever pitch, it approached Match of the Year level.
Kingston capped off the greatest week of his career from an in-ring perspective with a performance that had the WWE Universe ready to accept him as their champion. He easily could have won this match—and the title—and the booking decision would have been accepted with open arms.
Not because Bryan is not an effective champion. Nah, the decision would have been embraced because fans have a strong connection to The New Day, respect Kingston and appreciate the unexpected.
The outcome was the right one, especially if the creative team already has WrestleMania plans for Bryan. How WWE management can look at Tuesday's SmackDown Live and Sunday night's show and not recognize the raw, emotional connection fans have with someone like Kingston is inconceivable.
The question is what the company does about it now.
If Kingston slinks back into the midcard as one-third of an incredibly over tag team that has kind of achieved everything there is to achieve in that division, all of this is for naught.
WWE Creative should, for once, strike while the iron is hot and give the veteran Superstar something significant to do. Let him and his New Day mates prove they can succeed in singles competition while not diminishing or decimating their team.
Let New Day exist while giving its individual stars the chance to shine, beginning with Kingston.
He has earned it, fans are ready to get behind him, and with no other obvious contender for the top prize in WWE on the horizon, now is the time to go all-in with a guy who has earned the push.