7 champions who went through hell on The Road to WrestleMania
Every Superstar dreams of entering WrestleMania with a championship around his or her waist, but with a Raw Women’s Championship Elimination Chamber Match this Sunday and a WWE Championship Fatal 5-Way at WWE Fastlane, Alexa Bliss and AJ Styles have learned that the Road to WrestleMania is never easy for a titleholder.
Bliss and Styles hope to follow in the footsteps of these seven champions, who had to suffer through hell to reach The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Randy Orton - WWE Elimination Chamber 2014
As the poster boy for The Authority, WWE Champion Randy Orton had no friends inside a brutal Elimination Chamber Match, but thankfully for The Viper, he got two huge assists from competitors who weren’t even competing in the structure.
With Orton locked in John Cena’s STF, The Wyatt Family somehow invaded the Chamber and took him out. Then, with Bryan about to pin Orton, Director of Operations Kane stopped the count. The interference gave the champion the opening for a ring-rattling RKO to save his title.
WrestleMania 30 outcome: Lost the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan in a Triple Threat Match.
Daniel Bryan - WWE Elimination Chamber 2012
World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan found a way to annoy everyone on SmackDown ahead of WrestleMania XXVIII, but even his staunchest critics couldn’t downgrade his victory at WWE Elimination Chamber 2012.
Bryan’s night started when Big Show literally ripped into the roof of his pod to beat him into the match. Big Show then threw him back into the pod, destroying the plexiglass. Despite that brutal beating, the match improbably came down to Bryan and Santino Marella, who nearly upset Bryan before the champion cinched in a decisive “Yes!” Lock.
WrestleMania XXVIII outcome: Lost the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds to Sheamus.
CM Punk - WWE Elimination Chamber 2012
CM Punk accomplished so much in his 435-day WWE Championship reign, but before he could bring the title to WrestleMania, he had to survive the Elimination Chamber Match.
From getting slammed into the metal grates around the ring to having his shoulder repeatedly smashed into a Chamber pod, Punk left the Elimination Chamber with his share of cuts and bruises. But after he kicked Chris Jericho out of the structure — and the match — and sent The Miz to sleep, Punk also left with the WWE Title.
WrestleMania XXVIII outcome: Retained the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho.
Edge - WWE Elimination Chamber 2011
Not only did Edge need to defend the World Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber, but he was also one of the first two entrants. Edge outlasted former World Champions (Big Show and Kane) and highly touted prospects (Drew McIntyre and Wade Barrett) to face Rey Mysterio in the final two.
The Superstars were beaten and war-torn, but that didn’t slow them from a fast-paced classic. Edge survived multiple 619s before intercepting a West Coast Pop with a thunderous Spear to escape with the title.
WrestleMania XXVII outcome: Defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship in his final match.
JBL - No Way Out 2005
After JBL’s Cabinet cost Big Show the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble, SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long revealed that JBL would have to defend the title against The World’s Largest Athlete in a Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match.
The razor-sharp wire prevented JBL from running from his giant challenger, allowing Big Show ample time to torment the champion. JBL was saved by Big Show’s sheer power, though. The 7-footer chokeslammed the Texan through the ring, allowing him to crawl out of the cage and retain the WWE Championship.
WrestleMania 21 outcome: Lost the WWE Championship to John Cena.
Triple H - No Way Out 2000
WWE Champion Triple H foolishly allowed Cactus Jack to name the stipulation for their showdown at No Way Out 2000, setting up the first WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match.
The Game withstood plenty of punishment, including a flaming barbed wire attack on the roof, before shockingly countering his rival with a back body drop that sent him crashing through ceiling of the cell and partway through the ring. Even Triple H was in awe of what he just did to a human being, but that didn’t stop him from hitting one more ruthless Pedigree to secure the victory.
WrestleMania 2000 outcome: Retained the WWE Championship in a Fatal 4-Way Match against Mick Foley, The Rock and Big Show.
Bret Hart - In Your House 6 (1996)
Before Bret Hart could battle Shawn Michaels in a dream showdown at WrestleMania XII, he had to make it through a wild Steel Cage Match against Diesel. As if the matchup wasn’t daunting enough, Big Daddy Cool sent a clear message before the bell rang by touching the top of the cage with his feet still planted on the mat.
The 6-foot-10 machine overpowered Hart, repeatedly tossing into the steel, and he was inches from exiting the cage before The Undertaker shockingly pulled him into the ring, allowing the “Hit Man” to escape the structure and leave with the title.
WrestleMania XII outcome: Lost the WWE Championship in an epic WWE Iron Man Match against Michaels.