WWE Iron Will: The Anthology of WWE’s Toughest Match DVD Review

The Elimination Chamber, 16 tons of steel and glass and 2 miles of thick heavy chain, a structure designed for one purpose and one purpose only – to cause harm to the human body. Since it’s debut in 2002 (a debut that was brilliantly teased in the weeks leading to Survivor Series), the Elimination Chamber has had an aura, a certain mystique, that lasts to this day. Unlike Hell in a Cell, which has become diluted through illogical use in the last two years, the Chamber still fires the imagination and rarely fails to live up to expectations.

There have been eleven Elimination Chamber Matches, with the bout becoming exclusive to the February PPV since 2008 (going so far as to have the event changed from No Way Out to it’s current titular form – except in Germany, where Elimination Chamber has an entirely different and sinister connotation), and this collection is an anthology of them all in their entirety.

Strap yourself in and get ready for the most brutal ride WWE has to offer.

wwe-elimination-chamber-dvd-iron-will

Certificate: 18

Running Time: 509mins (8hrs 29mins)

Discs: 3

(Called WWE: Satan’s Prison – The Anthology of the Elimination Chamber in the USA)

Chapters – Disc 1

  • World’s Most Famous Chamber
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H v Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho v Booker T v Kane v Rob Van Dam – Survivor Series (November 17, 2002)
  • The Comeback Kid
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H v Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho v Goldberg v Randy Orton v Kevin Nash – SummerSlam (August 24, 2003)
  • Evolution of the Chamber
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H v Chris Jericho v Chris Benoit v Randy Orton v Batista v Edge – New Year’s Revolution (January 9, 2005)

Extras

  • 2006 New Year’s Revolution Story
  • A December to Dismember
  • The Chamber King
  • The Price of Immortality

Chapters – Disc 2

  • Rules of Engagement
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena v Carlito v Chris Masters v Kurt Angle v Shawn Michaels v Kane – New Year’s Revolution (January 8, 2006)
  • The Champ is Here
  • Extreme Elimination Chamber Match for the ECW Championship: Big Show v Hardcore Holly v CM Punk v Test v Rob Van Dam v Bobby Lashley – ECW December to Dismember (December 3, 2006)
  • Deadman’s Playground
  • Smackdown/ECW Elimination Chamber Match ~ Winner Faces The World Heavyweight Champion At WrestleMania XXIV: Undertaker v Batista v Finlay v MVP v Big Daddy V v Great Khali – No Way Out (February 17, 2008)
  • Double Feature
  • RAW Elimination Chamber Match ~ Winner Faces The WWE Champion At WrestleMania XXIV: Triple H v Shawn Michaels v Jeff Hardy v Chris Jericho v Umaga v JBL – No Way Out (February 17, 2008)

Chapters – Disc 3

  • Satan’s Structure
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: Edge v Triple H v Undertaker v Jeff Hardy v Vladimir Kozlov v Big Show – No Way Out (February 15, 2009)
  • Time to Play the Game
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena v Rey Mysterio v Kane v Mike Knox v Chris Jericho v Kofi Kingston – No Way Out (February 15, 2009)
  • Ultimate Opportunist
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: Sheamus vJohn Cena v Triple H v Randy Orton v Ted DiBiase v Kofi Kingston – Elimination Chamber (February 21, 2010)
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Undertaker v Chris Jericho v John Morrison v R-Truth v CM Punk v Rey Mysterio – Elimination Chamber (February 21, 2010)
  • Chamber of Horrors

The set is presented by Todd Grisham, but the links are, for the most part, tedious yet brief enough to not become annoying. He’s basically there simply to break up the run of matches, so skipping his segments means you’re not really missing much.

Rather than bore you with details of the matches themselves, what follows is a quick synopsis and a personal rating out of five stars for each one.

Elimination Chamber #1 (39mins 20secs) – With this being the first match of its kind, expectations were high, but we didn’t really know what to expect, so when the structure was finally revealed (WWE had been teasing it with promo vids and subliminal looks at the blueprints), a sense of awe was palpable among the fans in the crowd. The concept had elements of other stipulation bouts (War Games, Cage Match, Elimination Match), but melded them together into a wonderful idea that still has the power to excite today.

Going into this match, the recently returned Shawn Michaels was legitimately wowing us with his comeback and his performance here goes a long way to show why he is so revered by fans and peers alike. The fans in MSG were hot for everyone involved and all six guys put on a great effort. Triple H deserves a ton of credit for even finishing the match when he had his throat accidentally crushed by Rob Van Dam only half-way through. To then go on and take bumps, thumps and finishers for the remainder of the contest was unbelievable. A heart-thumping bout that set the standard very high for those that would follow.

*****

Elimination Chamber #2 (19mins 22secs) –  Summerslam 2003 was the venue for the second EC and also the one night WWE “got” Bill Goldberg and booked him to be the monster he should’ve been the day he walked through the doors of the company.  With three of the six wrestlers from the first match returning, there was a little story in as much they had experience on their side. The main story surrounded Evolution having two members in the bout (Orton and HHH) and their efforts, along with Flair on the outside, to keep the World Heavyweight Championship around the waist of Triple H and protect “The Game” from Goldberg.

For me, this isn’t as good as the first one, but Triple H’s entrance into the match is brilliant and from the moment Goldberg makes his appearance, business picks up and doesn’t let up until the final three count, with a press-slam-into-a-spear on Orton being a particular highlight.

****

Elimination Chamber #3 (34mins 55secs)– New Year’s Revolution was a short-lived PPV event that featured Elimination Chamber Matches as their main-events. The first was in 2005 and had a similar storyline to the last EC Match – two members of Evolution trying to keep the title around the waist of Triple H. This time, however, Batista replaces Orton as Randy was ousted from the group the day after Summerslam 2004. This was also one of only a handful of WWE PPVs that occurred outside the United States.

Possibly the biggest focus of interest for myself is the fact Chris Benoit is one of the six wrestlers fighting for the title and, unlike previous WWE releases, his appearance is uncut. Full entrance music, full introduction and complete coverage of his actions inside the structure. Could this be the first major step in re-introducing Benoit (the wrestler) to a WWE audience?

Triple H and Jericho return for their third EC appearance (as does Michaels, except he’s here as the referee), while Orton is here for the second time of asking. And Batista, Edge and Benoit make their Chamber debuts. Unlike the previous years, the last man in was already known as Batista won a match prior to the PPV to earn the last entry slot.

Benoit’s diving headbutt from the top of the pod is still an amazing visual, but the enjoyment is somewhat tainted knowing what we know now about the effects these moves had on his head. That being said, having Benoit (the wrestler) featured at all was a nice surprise.

This match was also in the middle of the uber-effective slow-burn face turn of Batista and WWE used it perfectly to gauge the audience’s reaction to the switch. A few weeks later, at Royal Rumble, Batista would win the event and complete his turn, going on to win the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21.

****

Elimination Chamber #4 (28mins 23secs)– Possibly the weakest match on the DVDs, with regards to the line-up if nothing else, this match is infinitely more famous due to what happens after the final three count. Kane and HBK return from the first event, while Cena, Angle, Carlito and Masters all break their EC virginity in brutal fashion.

Carlito put on a great showing, as did Chris Masters, while the first elimination is a work of genius. All in all, this is the perfect example of something being greater than the sum of its parts. The storyline going in (Masters and Carlito claiming that the current top-tier talent would take them out, so they need to work together) was unfolded amazingly well. It’s a shame WWE can’t seem to do this on a consistent basis anymore. And in case you’re wondering, the true finish to the PPV is included. Edge cashing in MitB was a shocker that took everyone by surprise and his reaction at winning the title was brilliant to see. Oh, and on a side note, Lita looks amazingly hot.

****

Elimination Chamber #5 (24mins 37secs)– The added twist in this one was that each pod had a weapon in it for the wrestlers to use. In reality, this didn’t actually add anything worth noting to the match with the exception of Test’s awesome elbow from the top of the pod to RVD’s face which was under a steel chair.

Van Dam was the only one in the match who had competed in a Chamber before, but the added wrinkle of weapons allowed everyone to appear to be on a level playing field. Some of you may know that Heyman’s original plan (he had booked the show, but Vince overrode pretty much everything he booked) was that CM Punk would start with Big Show and eliminate him with the Anaconda Vice within the first five minutes, allowing a new champion to be guaranteed and to open up the match to everyone else involved. Unfortunately, McMahon went with the most obvious route of all and the fans hated him (and the show) for it.

The bout itself is decent enough, but the sour note left by the event as a whole and the “wrong guy winning” syndrome drop it down a notch. In its defence, there are some great spots (the aforementioned Test elbow, CM Punk’s use of the chair around Van Dam’s head, etc), so it is worth sitting through. Also, it was nice to see another innovation in regards to how Lashley escapes his pod.

The pre-match promo from Paul Heyman makes me sad that we’re likely never going to hear him in pro-wrestling every again. The guy could sell anything as the greatest event in the world.

***

Elimination Chamber #6 (29mins 28secs)–  The beginning of an annual tradition is our next match. The first Elimination Chamber to take place at No Way Out, this bout heralded the arrival of February’s PPV being dominated by the two Elimination Chamber Matches. In 2008, the matches were to decide who would go on to WrestleMania and face the WWE and World Heavyweight Champions. Every other EC contest was for a title, so this was a bit of a departure for the gimmick.

Batista is the only competitor making a return to Satan’s Structure, with the remaining field being made up of three giants in Undertaker, Big Daddy V and The Great Khail alongside MVP and Finlay. Undertaker and Batista start the match (after MVP sells the atmosphere of ‘Taker’s entrance). By having two huge stars (literally) starting out, the pace is set from the off. Big Daddy V was, for me, the incarnation of Nelson Frazier, Jr. that had the most potential and it’s a shame he wasn’t pushed as the dominant monster the gimmick portrayed.

An interesting twist in the match is that falls counted on the steel floor outside the ring for the first time. This tied into the eliminations of both Big Daddy V and Finlay and is a decision I think added another dimension to an already impressive stipulation. It’s just a pity it was only used in 2008. This is a fantastic match, while the last five-minutes (the finish in particular) are, frankly, awesome.

****

Elimination Chamber #7 (23mins 54secs)-  Taking place on the same night as the previous bout, this was the first in the now-annual tradition of having a second Elimination Chamber match, one for each brand. As you have read above, the RAW guys had a big act to follow. Chris Jericho, Triple H and Shawn Michaels return to the Chamber (HHH and Jericho for the fourth time and HBK for the fifth time – admittedly once as a referee), while Jeff Hardy, Umaga and JBL were competing for the first time.

Jeff Hardy was being built up as the next big main-eventer and this match went a long way in achieving that goal, JBL was in the midst of a push, Umaga had dropped from his position opposite Cena in 2006, but was still an awesome worker, Jericho was floundering since his return and Triple H was looking to reclaim his spot at the top of the mountain, so there was a lot going on heading into this bout.

The match itself is even better than the Smackdown one that took place only an hour or so before, with Umaga’s double-Samoan Drop to Michaels and Jericho being an early highlight. Other moments to watch are the elimination of Umaga, the obligatory crashing through the pod spot and the closing five minutes are even more awesome that the last bout’s closing moments. The perfect example of someone being put over despite losing.

*****

Elimination Chamber #8 (35mins 55secs)-  The eight Elimination Chamber bout is an interesting one because it features a total of five wrestlers who have competed in the gimmick before (Triple H for the FIFTH time); only Vladimir Koslov was new to the structure.

It starts off with one of the most unexpected moments in EC history, but slows down as Koslov and Big Show enter as 3rd and  4th respectively. But once Triple H and then Undertaker make their appearances, things kick into a high gear. A superplex from Undertaker to Show is an impressive highlight, while the repeat of how Umaga was eliminated the year before gets in the standard leap-from-the-top-of-a-pod moment and the finish, from the elimination of Hardy, is a work of art.

****

Elimination Chamber #9 (29mins 46secs)-  Now, as you will have read above, the Smackdown Elimination Chamber from the 2009 PPV started with the most unexpected moment in the match’s history. Unfortunately for the bout, that accolade lasted less than two hours as the start of this Elimination Chamber caught us off guard even more. Kofi Kingston, making his EC debut, got as far as the steps leading into the Chamber before Edge blindsided him and beat the crap out of him.

Due to being unable to compete, Kingston’s spot had to go to someone else on the roster and, as luck would have it, Edge had a friend in high places, meaning he got the nod, continuing a show-long storyline we didn’t know was a show-long storyline until this point. Mike Knox and Rey Mysterio were the débutantes this time out, with Kane, Edge, Cena and Jericho all returning one more time.

The action is great for the most part and Rey’s elimination of Kane is something to behold. Mike Knox (w/Beard) had potential to be a Bruiser Brody-esque brawler, but as with many WWE pushes of the last few years, the company lost interest and the character ended up doing nothing of note. The elimination of Cena awoke the crowd and left everyone in shock as it left Edge, Rey and Jericho, meaning that, like before, we were guaranteed a new champion.

The final ten minutes are as intense as you could hope for and the live crowd really get into it. The last five minutes are just amazing.

*****

Elimination Chamber #10 (30mins 22secs)-   The matches from Elimination Chamber 2010 had a lot to live up to after 2009’s events, but they gave it a damn good try. Returnees for the RAW match were John Cena (third appearance), Randy Orton (third appearance) and Triple H (sixth appearance), while Ted DiBiase, Sheamus and Kofi Kingston (finally) made their first appearances inside the pinnacle of WWE structures.

Before the match began, in a brilliant show of continuity, Kofi kept checking behind him to make sure no-one attacked him during his entrance. It’s little touches like this that WWE need to do more of as they add so much to a situation and show the wrestlers as humans and not idiots.

The early going is decent enough, but the highlight is when Triple H is chosen to be the first one out of the pods. The reason for this is that the camera angle coupled with the spotlight reflecting in the glass make him look like he has a bushy white beard and eyebrows. It’s genuinely hilarious.

Back to the match, Orton’s elimination is fantastically played out (and the fans loved it), the action flows well and the finish is great.

****

Elimination Chamber #11 (35mins 36secs)– The last match in the set gained a measure of infamy for being the match where Undertaker was accidentally set on fire during his entrance due a pyro malfunction. Ever the professional, Undertaker completely no-sold the incident and continued with the task at hand. During the match, as he awaits in his pod, you can see the discolouration on his body, so it’s a testament to him and his genuinely high threshold for pain that the match went off without a hitch.

R-Truth and John Morrison make their debuts as CM Punk, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho return to the scene of the crime once more. Punk was on a roll with his Straight Edge Messiah persona and followed up his turn preaching during the Royal Rumble Match by doing the same here.

Starting out with Truth, the pace was quick from the off and the action heavy, hard and brutal once the other wrestlers started to make their way into the match. A top-rope hurricanrana to the steel floor on Punk from Rey is an early highlight, while the period between Punk’s elimination and Undertaker’s arrival (he enters last) is filled with fast-paced action as Morrison, Rey and Jericho take advantage of their surroundings and put on a great show of athleticism.

Highlight of the latter portion is Jo-Mo’s counter to the Snake Eyes/Big Boot combo. The timing and precision needs to be seen to be believed. The last third of the bout is frantic and the finish sets up the greatest rematch in WWE history; Undertaker v Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXVI.

*****

Extras

There are four extras on the disc, the first of which is the pre-show hype video for the Elimination Chamber that took place at New Year’s Revolution 2006. This does a brilliant job of pushing everyone going in (no mean feat when you have Carlito and Chris Masters making up the numbers) and features an awesome shot of Cena recreating the “Austin bleeding in the Sharpshooter” spot as blood covers his face while Angle locks him in the ankle lock.

The second extra is also a pre-show hype video, this time for the Extreme Elimination Chamber at what is widely considered the worst PPV in WWE history; December to Dismember 2006. The match itself was alright, but this video is actually better than the bout itself, pushing the concept and the wrestlers very well and making us believe we were in for something special. Watching these two videos, it reminds you of how fantastic the WWE production staff are and also reminds you how great WWE can be at branding something and making it memorable when they want to.

Next up is a one-minute promo video for Triple H which is alright, but nothing you haven’t really seen before and lastly, to close out the extras, is a final pre-show hype video for the Elimination Chamber matches at Elimination Chamber 2010.

The soundbites are as effective as ever and the content itself is sublime, but as extras, these are a bit of a waste. Where are the comments from those who have taken part in these matches? These would have been much more appreciated, that’s for sure.

Overview

Normally with a set like this, it doesn’t matter how much of a fan you are of the subject (be it match stipulation or performer), you struggle to sit through the entire thing as the action tends to get a bit samey. With this collection, however, that doesn’t really happen.

Sure, there are repeated spots and certain wrestlers do appear often (Triple H is in six of the bouts, while many others make multiple appearances), the way the matches are structured, the way the talents involved evolve, the differing commentators and the genius of the gimmick itself means that you don’t get bored as you sit through the eleven matches.

The only thing missing is the chance to hear from those who took part in the bouts (you do get brief comments from Edge, Cena and Morrison during Todd’s links).

A mild distraction during the earlier bouts (before WWE went HD/widescreen) is that there are horrible Elimination Chamber banners on the left and right side of the screen to compensate for the 4:3 ratio image. This is a minor thing, but something I thought I should mention.

All in all, this is a fantastic set with 11good-to-great-to-stunning matches featuring a plethora of WWE wrestlers across the eight-years since the structure’s debut and one that needs to be in your collection.

Points: 9/10 (would have been higher if there had been some “talking-heads” sections)

Buy It:

UK: DVD

USA: DVD

Tags

Latest Articles

NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III Results

NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III Results

Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE SummerSlam 2017, brought to you by Game of Thrones!

Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE SummerSlam 2017, brought to you by Game of Thrones!

WWE Spoilers: Final card for NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III

WWE Spoilers: Final card for NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III

REMEMBER NXT? Preview of NXT TAKEOVER BROOKLYN III

REMEMBER NXT? Preview of NXT TAKEOVER BROOKLYN III

WWE Spoilers: Final card for SummerSlam 2017

WWE Spoilers: Final card for SummerSlam 2017

WWE SmackDown LIVE Results: August 15, 2017

WWE SmackDown LIVE Results: August 15, 2017

WWE RAW Results: August 14, 2017

WWE RAW Results: August 14, 2017

Twin Peaks 2017 Review: Part 14 – Okay, so last week was gently numbing us to prepare for this week!

Twin Peaks 2017 Review: Part 14 – Okay, so last week was gently numbing us to prepare for this week!

Interview: Jay Lethal

Interview: Jay Lethal

Review: ANABELLE CREATION proves the Conjuring universe still has life

Review: ANABELLE CREATION proves the Conjuring universe still has life

WWE SmackDown LIVE Results: August 8, 2017

WWE SmackDown LIVE Results: August 8, 2017