The painful process of elimination

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April 24, 2009

Imagine that you're one of six WWE Superstars, battling inside a ring that's encircled by over 10 tons of soulless, structural grade steel. Then envision that the structure's girders are wrapped in more than two miles of chain, measuring 36 feet in diameter and 16 feet in height. And most important, understand that every ounce, every link and girder, every square inch of the structure has but one objective: To punish you.

You've just placed yourself inside the Elimination Chamber, WWE.com's No. 4 Most Extreme Match. Emerging from it unscathed, much less victorious … well, you probably have a better chance at withstanding a bolt of lightning — while holding a lightning rod and standing in a deep puddle, beneath a tree.

Two Superstars begin the extreme match-up, while four others are encased within individual, bulletproof-grade glass chambers behind each ring post. After a predetermined amount of time, each claustrophobic encasement opens randomly until all Superstars have been released. Grabbing a pinfall or submission early in the contest, however unlikely, is critical, especially when the six-man melee can just as easily turn into a three-, four-, even five-on-one situation. (Case in point: New Year's Revolution in January 2005, when then-Evolution member Batista played a key role in helping Triple H obtain his tenth World Championship.)

Since its hellacious debut at Survivor Series in November 2002, the Elimination Chamber Match has tightly secured itself among WWE's most remorseless specialty bouts. Until you're eliminated or victorious over all opponents, there is no escaping the chamber's confines, or its potential to cause grave injury. Superstars have spilled buckets of the red stuff upon being hurtled through a glass encasement, or nearly crippled by suplexes onto the unpadded steel floor constructed just outside the ring. In the first-ever contest, Rob Van Dam's Five-Star Frog Splash from the top of a glass enclosure would send then-World Heavyweight Champion Triple H to a medical facility, for treatment of a partially crushed larynx. (It should be noted, though, that despite his severe distress, The Game continued battling in the chamber for another half-hour before ultimately losing his title to Shawn Michaels.)

Because it is so punishing and severe, only nine Elimination Chamber Matches have been sanctioned up to this point. Of those nine, a new champion has been crowned on five occasions - most recently, at No Way Out in February 2009, when both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships changed hands in two separate Elimination Chamber Matches. Without question, there's almost no better way to devise a method that guarantees having 12 battered Superstars exit a ring in one evening.

Needless to say, those who win an Elimination Chamber Match deservedly earn a place in WWE history. The possibility of earning that place in a debilitated capacity is equally, and horrifyingly real.

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