Classic Match: WWE Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber, 2015

Kimberly Schueler
Kalisto (source: WWE)
Kalisto climbs the Elimination Chamber.’s Classic Match series takes a closer look at significant and super cool matches from wrestling history.

The Elimination Chamber match to crown the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions on the 2019 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view was a first-ever match with two direct ancestors, 2018’s Elimination Chamber match for the RAW Women’s Championship and 2015’s for the WWE Tag Team Championship. While the former just proved to any doubters that female performers could deliver inside the intimidating structure, the latter was the first and only previous time this exact type of match format had ever been used.

The first tag team Elimination Chamber match was announced after The New Day won the WWE Tag Team Championship from Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a two-out-of-three-falls match at Payback 2015. On the May 18 episode of RAW, just under two weeks before the pay-per-view, their challengers were revealed: Los Matadores (Fernando and Diego, usually accompanied by mini wrestler El Torito), The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), the Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara), the Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil), along with former champs Kidd and Cesaro.

The rules were set to be almost the same as a regular Elimination Chamber match and notably different from traditional tag team bouts: Two teams would begin in the ring, with the four other teams locked in their respective pods. Once a team was in the chamber, all members would be legally in the match, with no need to tag in and out of the ring. Every five minutes, another team would be released from their pod. If a wrestler was pinned or submitted, their team would be eliminated from the match and have to exit the Chamber.

The week before the match though, The Authority added one twist: Since The New Day attacked Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns on their behalf, they were allowed to have all three members in the match, giving them at an obvious advantage over the other teams.

After a video package that put over the unique intensity of the Elimination Chamber (“The torture, the anguish, and the despair return…”), the tag team match opened the show. The second team’s entrance yielded its first surprise—Los Matadores brought El Torito with them and he was somehow also allowed to enter the Chamber, perched on top of their pod.

The match started with the hyped-up Ascension vs. the Lucha Dragons, who had already done battle several times at this point in NXT and on the WWE main roster. The Ascension clearly had the size advantage, but the Dragons were able to make up for that with their high-flying offense. Their momentum was thwarted, though, by Kalisto picking the exact wrong place to get even more creative. When thrown against a pod, but he was able to climb to its top—but the pod belonged to The New Day, who had no qualms about grabbing his legs through the chain roof.

The Lucha Dragons managed to stay in the game, even with Kalisto still unable to get back in the ring, until the next team—Cesaro and Kidd—entered the match. The crowd was on the side of the former champions, who soon impressed them with an incredible springboard uppercut from Cesaro to Kalisto on top of the pod followed by a superplex to the luchador, followed by an elbow drop from Kidd. Sin Cara broke the subsequent pin and prevented an elimination. But still, with the combination of athleticism, intensity, and creative use of the Chamber, the match had now really picked up.

All three teams continued to fight and break each other’s pins, and Kalisto started to climb the cage (“He looks like a spider up there!”) as the door to Los Matadores’ pod opened. El Torito delivered their first offensive blow, an impressive hurricanrana from the top of the pod to Cesaro in the ring. But the Matadores lost their edge quickly.

Soon after, Kalisto couldn’t capitalize with a pin after dropping from the Chamber ceiling to plancha multiple other wrestlers, though he earned a “This is awesome!” chant. A plancha from the ceiling by El Torito was even less effective; the tiny bull was caught by The Ascension and thrown on one of his teammates.

Despite all this creativity, it was plain, old brute force that finally brought about an elimination. The Ascension hit a Matadore with the Fall of Man, and, after eating double missile dropkicks from the Lucha Dragons, soon scored another after a Fall of Man to Kalisto.

Before The Ascension could really turn their apocalyptic attention to Cesaro and Kidd, the Prime Time Players entered to throw hands. The fresh O’Neil and Young struck hard and fast, used the cage wall as a weapon, and a Gut Check from Young to Viktor put the Ascension away. A combination of power and strategy by the Prime Time Players had now turned this into a two-on-two match. The Players moved straight from their elimination to Cesaro and Kidd. A flurry of high-impact offense left all four men down, but not out, as another countdown ended and all three of the WWE Tag Team Champions entered the ring.

Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods quickly dominated the match, stomping on everyone for their signature Unicorn Stampede. When they started to triple team Cesaro, a “New Day sucks!” chant went up but was soon ended when the Prime Time Players and Cesaro and Kidd all briefly united to triple suplex The New Day.

Kidd and Cesaro kept their momentum going by whipping Woods into a pod and locking the door, then transitioning Kingston from a powerbomb into the always-popular Big Swing. It looked like the former champs might get their revenge on the cheating trio, but Darren Young took advantage of Cesaro being slightly off balance and distracted from the Swing to roll him up and eliminate his team.

The match had boiled down to two teams, but Big E got Woods out of his pod just off-camera, so it was essentially a three-on-two handicap match. While Young was down, The New Day triple teamed O’Neil, including shoving his head through the cage wall and brutally kicking him. Young, then O’Neil, managed to fight back, focusing on E, and stopped Kingston mid-Trouble in Paradise. But Young delayed before pining Kingston after a Gut Check, and his opponent was able to kick out. It looked like the determined O’Neil might pick up the W over E, but he kicked out as well.

In the end, the numbers game was what puts the Prime Time Players away. O’Neil managed to catch a crossbody from Woods but ate a Trouble in Paradise from Kingston, and The New Day all pinned him at the same time to retain their tag team championship. Kingston yelled, “The power of positivity! Now you believe!” but the crowd clearly did not feel positive about watching three guys beat two guys.

Some of the most memorable stories in pro wrestling are of heroes beating the odds, but in the first-ever WWE tag team Elimination Chamber match, the odds beat the heroes. Still, this feel-bad story was well-told and featured cool moments of creative athleticism from multiple wrestlers that make it fun to go back and re-watch, as well as historically significant.

You can revisit this match and the rest of the 2015 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on the WWE Network.

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