RondaRousey.com’s Classic Match series takes a closer look at significant and super cool matches from wrestling history.
The upcoming 2019 WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view will feature a historic event for women in the company when six female duos battle inside the Elimination Chamber for the right to be called the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. As that match approaches, we’re looking back at last year’s groundbreaking women’s match on the same pay-per-view, the first-ever women’s Elimination Chamber match, in which Alexa Bliss defended her RAW Women’s Championship.
When this match was announced for February 25, 2018, Bliss—having held her title since August 28, 2017—was already the longest reigning RAW Women’s Champion. She planned on keeping it a lot longer and protested having to defend in this historic Elimination Chamber match soon after it was announced, pointing out that the men’s Elimination Chamber match was for the chance to face Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, rather than for his title. But Bliss’ arguments were waved off by RAW General Manager Kurt Angle, and the match remained set as Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville vs. Mickie James vs. Sasha Banks vs. the defending Alexa Bliss.
As the hype video on the pay-per-view outlined, this Elimination Chamber match was all about alliances. Rose and Deville, still relative newcomers to the main roster, were confident their solidarity as members of Paige’s Absolution faction would lead one of them to victory. In contrast, on-again-off-again best friends Sasha Banks and Bayley seemed like they might hurt more than help each other. Mickie and Bliss had recently teamed up on RAW as well and would remain united a lot longer than anyone expected, but at this point, it was unclear if their alliance would last in the Chamber.
After the rules of the match were outlined, the women opened the show. As determined by bouts on RAW, Bayley
That third wrestler ended up being the absolute worst person possible for Bayley: Mandy Rose, Deville’s partner in Absolution. She managed to fight off both of them for a while, but Rose and Deville soon managed to team up and drive her into the Chamber’s cage wall. As what had essentially become a handicap match for Bayley continued, Absolution became increasingly frustrated when they couldn’t manage to put her away.
As Rose and Deville became more brutal, Bayley found a friend—at least for now—in the match’s fourth entrant, Sasha Banks. “The Boss” dealt some damage to her friend’s attackers with the high-speed offense of a fresh competitor and soon nearly pinned Deville after a double
Rose managed to score a dramatic wheelbarrow facebuster on Banks, but the more experienced wrestler was able to counter her next move with a backstabber and lock on the Banks Statement. Bayley protected the submission by tackling Deville, and Banks was able to tap out Rose for the match’s first elimination. As Cory Graves pointed out on commentary, this gave Rose “the dubious distinction of being the first woman eliminated from the first women’s Royal Rumble and the first woman eliminated from the Elimination Chamber.”
For a moment, it looked like the match could become Banks and Bayley against Deville, but then another countdown started and Mickie James entered the Chamber. The veteran competitor used her fresh energy to her advantage, delivering kicks and strikes to the other women in the ring. When Deville slammed her into the cage, the six-time Women’s Champion used the structure to assist a hurricanrana, and the impressive streak of Mickie James didn’t stop there!
She started to climb the cage and shoved Bayley to the crowd of competitors when she tried to follow. Soon Mickie was on top of one of the pods. She delivered an impressive seated senton to pin Deville, scoring the match’s second elimination. Mickie tried to keep her momentum going, but the team of Banks and Bayley was too much. A backstabber straight into a Bayley-to-Belly suplex put her away.
Now only the champion Alexa Bliss remained enclosed in a pod and was set to enter the match without an ally. Banks and Bayley waited for her door to open, intelligently using the time to recover. Rather than face the odds head-on, Bliss quickly closed her pod door right after it opened, then climbed out the other side. She started climbing the cage, seemingly trying to escape her opponents somehow, but found herself trapped between “The Boss” and “The Hugger.” Bliss finally managed to make it to the top of a pod, only to be met by Banks.
Things looked bleak for the champion, but she was saved by a strategic—or maybe just egotistical—decision by Banks. Reminding everyone that this match—despite all the relationships involved—was every woman for herself, Banks struck Bayley down from the pod. Just like in the first Women’s Royal Rumble, just like on NXT, as sure as the sun rises in the East, it seems like Sasha Banks will always betray Bayley.
Now the match began to play like a triple threat, all three women attacking each other without qualms. After a superplex from Bliss to Bayley and a frog splash from Banks, all the wrestlers were down and it looked like anyone’s match. Banks rose to her feet first to attack Bayley, but both women had a counter for nearly everything the other tried. Bayley was able to hit a Bayley-to-Belly off the top rope, but the opportunistic Bliss rolled her up before she could pin Banks.
Just like that, the match was down to the RAW Women’s Champion and the woman from whom she had won that title. After a quick nearfall, Bliss went high risk, climbing to the top of a pod for a Twisted Bliss rounding moonsault. But Banks was ready to block it with a lift of her knees, winding Bliss.
After use of the cage by both women that ended with Banks incapacitated, Bliss climbed to the pod roof again for a successful Twisted Bliss… but this time outside of the ring. Banks was able to counter into her signature submission, but Bliss escaped the Banks Statement when her opponent tried to move it into the ring. Both women were clearly desperate as well as ruthless when Banks started to make a climb of her own. But Bliss halted her ascent by shoving her face-first into a pod. A quick spike DDT won her the match and retained her RAW Women’s Championship.
Bliss had cleverly utilized being the last wrestler to enter the match and adapted to Banks turning on Bayley, and now she was set to go into WrestleMania as champion. After the match, she showed her conniving nature again when she faked out an audience that at first chanted “You deserve it!” with a post-match promo that took a drastic tonal shift:
“This victory means everything to me. But, you know, this victory isn’t just about me. This is about every little girl and woman at home in the audience who has ever dreamed big. This victory is for all of you. And this is just to prove you can be whatever you want to be, so dare to dream and dream big. And… I’m looking out here at every one of you, and the reality is that none of you will ever accomplish any of your dreams.”
So… the ending of the first women’s Elimination Chamber match wasn’t exactly a feel-good moment. But overall, the match was exciting and showcased veteran and up-and-coming female competitors, as well as those in their prime. It celebrated the past and future of women in WWE and had cool moments where people jumped off pods in a cage. What more could a wrestling fan ask for?
You can revisit this match and the rest of the 2018 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on the WWE Network.