There has never been a more tumultuous ride for the Money in the Bank briefcase since the inception of the ladder match in 2005, After landing in the arms of Otis atop WWE headquarters in May 2020, The Miz won the men’s briefcase from him in October. A seemingly failed cash-in at the TLC pay-per-view in December was then invalidated because John Morrison cashed the briefcase in for The Miz.
Finally, in the closing moments of the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on Sunday, The Miz took advantage of Drew McIntyre enduring a Chamber match and a brutal blindside attack from Bobby Lashley by successfully cashing in that briefcase and the Money in the Bank contract to become a two-time WWE champion.
Ten years after he first won the Money in the Bank briefcase and successfully carried the WWE title into WrestleMania 27, The Miz appears poised to do the same thing heading into WrestleMania 37.
There’s still one pay-per-view left to go along the way, and the implications of Lashley’s involvement — likely stemming from a backstage conversation between Miz and MVP — remain to be seen. But for now, The Miz is back on top.
Before Miz made history, there was the matter of the Chamber match itself. Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton have plenty of history, including some particularly memorable brutality with pliers and ear gauges, and they carried on that story to kick off the WWE championship Elimination Chamber match.
Orton and Hardy established a slow, methodical pace, with Orton grabbing a slight edge as the first pod opened and inserted WWE champion McIntyre into the match. McIntyre unleashed considerable damage on both Orton and Hardy, eventually lawn-darting Hardy face-first into one of the pods. But that win was brief, as Orton took advantage and caught McIntyre in a Hangman’s DDT.
Kofi Kingston came into the match and immediately rolled up Randy Orton for a three-count, eliminating Orton from the match without so much as a hint of Alexa Bliss or Bray Wyatt. In retaliation, Orton hit Kingston, and then Hardy, with RKOs on his way out. Omos took advantage of the chaos and ripped AJ Styles’ pod open, allowing him to enter the match early. But pinfall attempts on both Kingston and Hardy were unsuccessful.
McIntyre regained control of the match, sending Kingston into the side of the cage by utilizing a particularly violent version of a vertical suplex, and then sending Styles and Hardy to similar fates.
After an extended stretch, Sheamus finally entered the match. The longtime friends — McIntyre and Sheamus — came to blows in the middle of the ring and battered each other senselessly until others tried to get involved. After a brief recess to dispatch Hardy and Kingston, the pair re-engaged and eventually clotheslined each other out of the ring.
Sheamus and Kingston battled to the top of a pod, with McIntyre entering the equation and knocking Sheamus’ legs out from underneath him on the top turnbuckle. McIntyre climbed up after him, but as McIntyre set up for a Superplex, Hardy and Styles crawled in and locked in a double Powerbomb, triggering a Tower of Doom as Sheamus and McIntyre took the full brunt of the attack.
— WWE (@WWE) February 22, 2021
Kingston took advantage of his positioning atop a pod and hit a trust fall on all four of his remaining competitors, but all of his pinfall attempts failed to yield an elimination.
Kingston went for a second trust fall on Sheamus, who caught him out of mid-air. Kingston flipped out of Sheamus’ grip, but his momentum carried Kingston straight into a Brogue Kick. Sheamus pinned Kingston, eliminating him from the match.
Hardy got back into the heart of the match with a trio of twists of fate on all of his opponents, and then landed a supersized Whisper in the Wind from the top of the pod to the outside onto Sheamus and McIntyre. Hardy landed a Swanton Bomb on Styles, but the moment he popped up McIntyre was there with a Claymore, which landed flush. McIntyre pinned Hardy, eliminating him.
McIntyre set up for another Claymore, but Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick instead. Styles immediately followed that up with a Phenomenal Forearm to Sheamus, pinning Sheamus to eliminate him. Styles lined up another Phenomenal Forearm for McIntyre, but McIntyre hit an impressive Claymore on Styles as he flew off the top rope, which allowed McIntyre to pin Styles and win the match.
As the cage was raised and McIntyre celebrated, Lashley crashed the party with a spear — the second time such a moment happened on this show. He then battered McIntyre around ringside, smashing his head into the commentary table a few times for good measure before throwing McIntyre back in the ring. That was followed by a Flatliner, a Hurt Lock and finally a suplex.
That’s when The Miz’s music hit. He ran to the ring with a referee in tow. McIntyre barely stumbled to his feet as the bell rang, and a low DDT by Miz only garnered a two-count. A Skull-Crushing Finale was enough to finish the job, though, and with a three-count Miz was the WWE champion.
What’s next: What lies ahead at Fastlane is anyone’s guess. McIntyre has revenge to gain against the Hurt Business and The Miz alike, and whatever arrangement Miz and MVP made will likely further complicate matters. But an unclear WWE championship picture less than two months out from WrestleMania 37 now has a sudden infusion of excitement and uncertainty, which in generally good news in the world of WWE.
Elimination Chamber match to be No. 1 contender for the Universal championship: Daniel Bryan def. Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn and King Corbin
Universal championship: Roman Reigns (c) def. Daniel Bryan
The winner of the Elimination Chamber match to determine Roman Reigns’ Universal title challenger was always going to be about a diminished winner facing an impossible task. Daniel Bryan filled that role to a T.
After fighting through a bum knee that was tweaked early in the Chamber match, Bryan did the unlikely by scoring his only elimination of the match on Jey Uso to win the opportunity. The Universal championship match followed immediately, with Bryan struggling to do so much as stand.
But as Reigns charged forward for a seemingly inevitable spear, Bryan caught Reigns in a Yes Lock. After a few moments of potential doubt, an infuriated Reigns landed a flurry of punches and elbows on the ground, followed by a powerbomb. After a few more punches, Reigns choked out Bryan and retained his title.
Even given the anticlimactic nature of the ensuing title match, the Chamber match itself was very entertaining. Cesaro and Bryan started the match, renewing their recent tensions that have cycled from brutal competition and hard-earned respect. And while this clash between two of the all-time technical greats might not seem to be the right fit for a car crash-like match such as the Elimination Chamber, any opportunity to watch these two wrestle should not be taken for granted.
After they showed off strength and submission mastery, King Corbin’s pod was the first of the four other competitors to have their pod open. Corbin quickly made the match ugly, tossing Cesaro into his now unoccupied pod and raking Bryan’s face against the cage. Bryan’s knee started to have a target painted on it, with Corbin slamming the knee into a pod twice, before torquing Bryan’s knee around the ringpost and pulling.
Sami Zayn’s pod was next to open, but he refused to exit as Corbin tried to pull him out. When Bryan knocked Corbin silly, Cesaro walked up to the open end of the pod and started battering Zayn inside that enclosed space. Then Bryan took his shots by smashing Zayn face-first into the cage. All four participants seemed to be on level ground, until Zayn missed a Helluva Kick on Bryan and smashed his leg into the metal in front of Kevin Owens’ pod.
Cesaro essentially flung Zayn to the top of Jey Uso’s pod, where the two men proceeded to fight at high altitude. Then they climbed across the top panel of chain-link, with Cesaro battering Zayn’s face in to the fence, grabbing on the top of the Chamber, kicking Zayn to the ground and then doing pullups with ease for good measure.
Back on the ground, Cesaro nailed Corbin with a spinning uppercut from the top rope, spun Corbin around with a few rotations of a Cesaro Swing and then finished it off with a tribute to his former tag team partner Tyson Kidd that he has adopted into his arsenal of late — a sharpshooter. Corbin tapped out and was the first participant eliminated.
The buzzer sounded, and Owens was the next one to enter the match. Zayn tried to convince Owens to renew their friendship and partnership of yesteryear, and for a brief moment, it seemed as if Owens might even consider it. That lasted all of one second, as Owens tossed Zayn back and forth into pods on opposing corners.
Everyone was wiped out from a sequence that fed from a toss-up uppercut from Cesaro to Zayn, a running knee from Bryan to Cesaro and a pop-up powerbomb from Owens to Bryan. Owens kept all three of his opponents down long enough for Uso to become the final entrant in the match, which allowed the pair to renew their tensions.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) February 22, 2021
As everyone battled outside the ring, Owens grabbed the spotlight with a moonsault on all four of his competitors from the top of a pod. Cesaro and Bryan ate stunners on the outside, and after Zayn missed a helluva kick, Owens landed another stunner on him inside the ring and pinned Zayn, eliminating him.
As Zayn was being assisted out of the ring, Uso trapped Owens’ arm in the cage with full pressure exerted. Uso landed a half-dozen superkicks on Owens, both before and after the arm was trapped, rolled and ended it with a splash. Uso pinned Owens, eliminating him.
With the presumptive favorite eliminated from the match, the final three scrambled to the finish. Cesaro modified his swing to smash Uso back and forth into the side of the cage — and then flashed incredible strength to ragdoll Bryan back into the ring. Bryan kicked Cesaro in the chest as he flew off the top rope, and the first two participants in the match clashed once more.
Cesaro jumped off the top rope with Bryan on his shoulders to hit a gut buster and seemed to be setting Bryan up for another sharpshooter. But as Cesaro spun Bryan by his bad leg, Uso charged back into the match, landed a superkick and a splash and pinned Cesaro, eliminating him.
Uso hit another splash on a prone Bryan, but Bryan kicked out. Undeterred, Uso climbed to the top of a pod to try another splash, but Bryan got his knees up. A running knee allowed Bryan to pin Uso and earn himself a shot at Reigns’ Universal championship.
What’s next: There couldn’t have been a clearer pathway for Reigns to face Edge at WrestleMania. After the pair collided on SmackDown Friday and Reigns landed a spear on the 2021 Royal Rumble winner, Edge showed up postmatch and returned the favor. Edge pointed at the WrestleMania sign, the universal signal of declaration, and so the match was made.
Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks weren’t expected to leave the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view as women’s tag team champions, and in general, that makes sense. Too many times in that title’s short history has it been spent entwined with either the Raw or SmackDown women’s champion, and Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler already have plans for another match to come.
But the ending to an otherwise fun match was another stark reminder that the women’s division and the way that it’s playing out on both shows needs a considerable overhaul.
Banks and Belair are a team that showed off some potential as a future pairing, hitting a few nice combinations including a double armbar Facebuster and a splash, although that only earned a two-count. Belair had one of the best opportunities for victory for the team when she connected on a KOD on Baszler, but Jax pulled Belair out of the ring as she went for the pin.
Baszler briefly locked in a Kirofuda Clutch on Belair at one point, but the defending champs saved most of their offense until the very end. When Banks was forced out of a Banks statement on Jax by a rope break, Carmella’s sommelier Reginald came out with a bottle in hand and presented to Banks to use as a weapon. Banks refused, but that distraction allowed Jax to hit a Samoan Drop for the win.
What’s next: Hopefully, fewer instances of men getting involved and distracting from what the best women’s wrestlers can do in the ring. The Lacey Evans/Ric Flair entanglement on Raw was reprehensible, but this isn’t much better. Carmella might yet get a shot at Banks at Fastlane or on some Friday night to come, given the outcome on Sunday. But when Belair makes the likelier choice and challenges Banks, hopefully it can mean a turn away from awful, dated writing and back to what these women do best on a week-to-week basis.
No matter how strong a run of momentum that wrestlers have as Intercontinental or United States champion, they are always one night away from that status changing in a flash.
That’s what happened on Sunday as Riddle dethroned Lashley to become the new U.S. champion by pinning John Morrison in their triple threat match.
Lashley made the first major impact of the match by turning a torture rack into a device to slam Morrison ribs-first into the ringpost. Then he flipped Riddle around ringside effortlessly, and continued the battering inside the ropes. Morrison and Riddle tried multiple times to team up to slow Lashley down, and it worked very briefly until Lashley hit a one-handed Spinebuster on Morrison and a Dominator to Riddle.
The pair continued to try to gain the edge as Riddle head-scissored Lashley out of the ring and Morrison leapt over the top rope to take Lashley out of action. Riddle flipped onto Lashley, as well, for good measure. But that’s as far as the alliance went as Morrison took advantage of Riddle being distracted to smash him into the ringpost.
The pair battled briefly, but Lashley didn’t stay down for long. Upon his reentry, however, Riddle landed a Final Flash Ripcord knee to and a floating Bro Flip off the top rope on Lashley. Morrison interrupted the pinfall attempt by kicking Riddle and landed Starship Pain, only for Lashley to kick out at 2.
MVP distracted Morrison, and Morrison stole his crutch for good measure. Morrison swung at Lashley and missed, then got trapped into a Hurt Lock by Lashley. But as Lashley appeared to be seconds away from victory, Riddle picked up the crutch and smashed Lashley multiple times, sending him out of the ring. A still stunned Morrison was prone, and Riddle hit Morrison with Bro Derek to earn the pinfall and his first singles title in WWE.
What’s next: It’s unlikely Lashley goes away quietly, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lashley challenge for or even regain the belt on Monday night. But for now, Riddle’s WrestleMania outlook improves.
United States championship qualifier: John Morrison def. Ali, Ricochet and Elias
There are some occasions in which WWE strains suspension of disbelief to its breaking point. This match was one of them.
In a Fatal 4-Way match in which there are no disqualifications or countouts, instead of actively getting involved in the match — which they could’ve done at any time — Ali’s trio of Retribution allies only interfered twice to break up pinfalls and to powerbomb Ricochet into the turnbuckle pole. As the entire faction was distracted with beating up Ricochet, their woes of trying to establish relevancy continued as Morrison rolled up Ali to earn the pinfall and the title shot.
What’s next: Morrison takes Keith Lee’s spot in the United States championship match against Riddle and Bobby Lashley. While anything is possible in a United States or Intercontinental championship match, it’s likely that Lashley continues to run roughshod for some time to come.