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WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

MINNEAPOLIS – Four losses in three weeks, five opponents with one common goal, and no escape in sight in a match with zero wins to his name? Randy Orton’s got this.

Despite five Superstars looking to rearrange The Face of WWE into an unrecognizable mush, Orton retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber Sunday night – though he certainly has Kane and The Wyatt Family to thank, in part, for hand-delivering him a pair of get-out-of-jail-free cards inside Satan’s Prison.

Elimination Chamber insight with Triple H |  Photos of every Chamber competitor ever

The match started as a thuggish brawl between Sheamus and Cesaro, who wasted no time resuming their fisticuffs from their tag match two weeks earlier on Raw. In an opening sequence that channeled the ruthless spirit of the Elimination Chamber, a full two minutes of ground-and-pound uppercuts and shoulders passed before anyone attempted something resembling a wrestling move: a neckbreaker by The Celtic Warrior.

Photos:  The Champion of Champions survives Satan's Prison

The Chamber itself reared its head early on, when Cesaro’s first tumble over the ropes and onto the steel grate robbed him of his imperious swagger almost immediately. The former U.S. Champion slowed down The Celtic Warrior by targeting his surgically-repaired shoulder, then taking the wind out of him with a top-rope stomp to the ribcage. The Real American used his trademark uppercuts to their fullest advantage, backing Sheamus into a corner until the clock finally struck zero …

And that’s when – YES! – Daniel Bryan entered the fray.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

The Beard wasted no time in going to work, taking both Sheamus and Cesaro out with a double top-rope dropkick and picking the two apart with a barrage of kicks and clotheslines. The “Yes!” man made the first pinfall attempt of the match, hauling Cesaro into the air with a Northern Lights suplex while – yes, while – he had Sheamus’ beefy legs entwined in an impressive submission hold. The Über-American used his strength to cut Bryan short, flipping him into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and sending him shoulder-first through his own empty pod moments later.

With Bryan out of commission, Sheamus and Cesaro resumed their donnybrook, and The Celtic Warrior claimed the advantage by planting Cesaro with a rolling Senton onto the grate. Sheamus had just started to mix it up with a recovering Bryan again when the clock struck snake eyes for a second time, and Christian’s number was finally called.

Watch:  Christian finds his mean streak

Captain Charisma was full of grit and guts before the match even started, mean-mugging a pod-bound Cena during his entrance and daring his competitors to underrate him as a threat. He didn’t exactly shy from backing up his talk once he set foot into the Chamber for the first time. The former World Champion found Satan’s Prison entirely to his liking, banging on the walls of his pod to distract opponents and targeting Bryan the second he was released, slamming the “Yes!” man into the chain-link fence and tearing the bandages off his injured shoulder.

Christian’s time in the Chamber seemed to bring out the demon in him with each passing minute. He proved a strong challenge for Sheamus and Cesaro as well, reverse-DDT’ing the Irishman onto the grate and countering the Very European Uppercut by grabbing hold of the chain-link fence mid-flight. It took freight-train force to finally knock Christian down, courtesy of Cesaro driving him back-first through a Lexan glass wall.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

Cena – incorruptible but unstoppable – entered the match in typical dynamic fashion, Attitude Adjusting Christian on top of Cesaro, but Bryan cut that run short by dropkicking the Cenation leader straight in his jaw. Christian would not be denied, though, dropping Bryan with the Killswitch and kicking off a brawl of epic proportions: Sheamus flattened Cena with White Noise; Cesaro and Sheamus traded furious uppercuts, and Cena was jaw-jacked by a Very European Uppercut.

Odd alliances also started to form at this point: Bryan laid into Cena with body shots while Cesaro was hoisted for the Attitude Adjustment; Sheamus and Bryan joined forces to clobber Cesaro against the ropes. The effect was so catastrophic that, by the time Randy Orton was released, he had his pick of which Superstars to feast upon. He chose to attack everyone – emphatically, in fact – though he took too long to bask in his own splendor. As if the karma gods nodded in unison, all five of his opponents seemed to recover simultaneously, and the outnumbered Viper quickly slithered back into the confines of his pod.

Happily, Sheamus had a solution: He – to quote Michael Cole – "Brogue Kicked the hell out of the pod," reducing WWE’s Champion of Champions to a heap and instigating a six-way brawl for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And oh, what a brawl it was: Orton went for a 27-rotation Cesaro swing and Sheamus nearly axe-handled the beard off Bryan’s head. Christian escaped the High Cross by crawling on top of one of the empty pods and, with Sheamus in hot pursuit, Orton capitalized by superplexing the Irishman square in the middle of the ring.

Sensing opportunity, Captain Charisma took flight with a frog splash to the prone Sheamus and at last got his, eliminating the former World Champion to notch the first casualty of the match. His glory was short-lived, though, as a running knee from Bryan turned Christian’s face to mush and cut his chances at main-eventing WrestleMania to zero. And then, there were four.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

With four Superstars remaining and the supreme prize at stake, the remaining competitors quickly paired off into their respective rivalries: Bryan dispatched Orton, and Cena laid Cesaro low before the “Yes!” man and the Cenation leader found themselves face-to-face once again. With the “Yes!” movement erupting around them, the two threw civility out the window and brawled like it was SummerSlam all over again. If not for a timely belly-to-back suplex that sent Cena airborne (with Bryan over his shoulders – yes, this was awesome too), Bryan might have seen his WrestleMania dreams snuffed out with impunity.

Cena didn’t wait long to respond to the intruder. The 14-time World Champion hauled Cesaro over the ropes and onto a sheet of Lexan glass with an Attitude Adjustment before ending the Real American’s Herculean effort with an STF moments later. Orton was the next opponent ensnared in the hold, though Bray Wyatt saved the champion’s serpentine skin for the second consecutive defense of his title; he and his Family materialized inside Satan’s Prison and obliterated Cena, allowing Orton to pick the bones and secure his first, ill-gotten elimination of the night.

Full result: The Wyatts vs. The Shield |  Photos of their "war"

Here’s where things got complicated.

In the referees’ attempt to remove The Wyatts from the Chamber, Director of Operations Kane stomped down to restore order, successfully compelling the Family to leave … and eating a flying knee to the skull from Bryan for his troubles. Orton, ever the opportunist, struck immediately by throwing Bryan – again – through the wall of a pod, though his habitual underestimation of the submission master cost him dearly.

Bryan ensnared Orton in the Tree of Woe before blasting “The Face of WWE” with three running baseball slides. Fatigue seemed to finally be setting in for both Superstars, though the slightly fresher Orton still had enough wind in him to plant Byran with a second-rope hanging DDT. In a final burst, Bryan rallied for a running knee that laid Orton out for a would-be three count until – oh, hell no – Kane grabbed the official’s legs to break the count.

The distraction understandably preoccupied Bryan and Orton found his footing to, out of nowhere, strike with the RK – NO! Bryan kicked out of Orton’s finisher and The Apex Predator all but blew a gasket that he still,still, couldn’t get the job done. The “Yes!” man channeled his inner mad goat and clobbered The Viper with a kick to the head before setting up for the running knee, but Kane, still trapped in the Chamber, struck Bryan with a cheap shot straight to the bearded face. Bryan staggered back into the middle of the ring, where a final RKO brought his WrestleMania dream to its ruthless end.

So here we find ourselves, a controversial ending and the Champion of Champions’ run atop the mountain extended for another night. Was it fair? Hell, no. Best for business? Depends on whom you ask. Certainly best for Randy Orton. As for Orton himself, The Road to WrestleMania awaits. No more looking back, and, given what he had to go through to get there, who can blame him?

See The Apex Predator's first steps on The Road to WrestleMania tomorrow, and be sure to follow until Sunday, April 6, when WrestleMania 30 airs on WWE Network!

Elimination Chamber
Elimination Chamber
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Elimination Chamber
Elimination Chamber
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WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

MINNEAPOLIS – Four losses in three weeks, five opponents with one common goal, and no escape in sight in a match with zero wins to his name? Randy Orton’s got this.

Despite five Superstars looking to rearrange The Face of WWE into an unrecognizable mush, Orton retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber Sunday night – though he certainly has Kane and The Wyatt Family to thank, in part, for hand-delivering him a pair of get-out-of-jail-free cards inside Satan’s Prison.

Elimination Chamber insight with Triple H |  Photos of every Chamber competitor ever

The match started as a thuggish brawl between Sheamus and Cesaro, who wasted no time resuming their fisticuffs from their tag match two weeks earlier on Raw. In an opening sequence that channeled the ruthless spirit of the Elimination Chamber, a full two minutes of ground-and-pound uppercuts and shoulders passed before anyone attempted something resembling a wrestling move: a neckbreaker by The Celtic Warrior.

Photos:  The Champion of Champions survives Satan's Prison

The Chamber itself reared its head early on, when Cesaro’s first tumble over the ropes and onto the steel grate robbed him of his imperious swagger almost immediately. The former U.S. Champion slowed down The Celtic Warrior by targeting his surgically-repaired shoulder, then taking the wind out of him with a top-rope stomp to the ribcage. The Real American used his trademark uppercuts to their fullest advantage, backing Sheamus into a corner until the clock finally struck zero …

And that’s when – YES! – Daniel Bryan entered the fray.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

The Beard wasted no time in going to work, taking both Sheamus and Cesaro out with a double top-rope dropkick and picking the two apart with a barrage of kicks and clotheslines. The “Yes!” man made the first pinfall attempt of the match, hauling Cesaro into the air with a Northern Lights suplex while – yes, while – he had Sheamus’ beefy legs entwined in an impressive submission hold. The Über-American used his strength to cut Bryan short, flipping him into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and sending him shoulder-first through his own empty pod moments later.

With Bryan out of commission, Sheamus and Cesaro resumed their donnybrook, and The Celtic Warrior claimed the advantage by planting Cesaro with a rolling Senton onto the grate. Sheamus had just started to mix it up with a recovering Bryan again when the clock struck snake eyes for a second time, and Christian’s number was finally called.

Watch:  Christian finds his mean streak

Captain Charisma was full of grit and guts before the match even started, mean-mugging a pod-bound Cena during his entrance and daring his competitors to underrate him as a threat. He didn’t exactly shy from backing up his talk once he set foot into the Chamber for the first time. The former World Champion found Satan’s Prison entirely to his liking, banging on the walls of his pod to distract opponents and targeting Bryan the second he was released, slamming the “Yes!” man into the chain-link fence and tearing the bandages off his injured shoulder.

Christian’s time in the Chamber seemed to bring out the demon in him with each passing minute. He proved a strong challenge for Sheamus and Cesaro as well, reverse-DDT’ing the Irishman onto the grate and countering the Very European Uppercut by grabbing hold of the chain-link fence mid-flight. It took freight-train force to finally knock Christian down, courtesy of Cesaro driving him back-first through a Lexan glass wall.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

Cena – incorruptible but unstoppable – entered the match in typical dynamic fashion, Attitude Adjusting Christian on top of Cesaro, but Bryan cut that run short by dropkicking the Cenation leader straight in his jaw. Christian would not be denied, though, dropping Bryan with the Killswitch and kicking off a brawl of epic proportions: Sheamus flattened Cena with White Noise; Cesaro and Sheamus traded furious uppercuts, and Cena was jaw-jacked by a Very European Uppercut.

Odd alliances also started to form at this point: Bryan laid into Cena with body shots while Cesaro was hoisted for the Attitude Adjustment; Sheamus and Bryan joined forces to clobber Cesaro against the ropes. The effect was so catastrophic that, by the time Randy Orton was released, he had his pick of which Superstars to feast upon. He chose to attack everyone – emphatically, in fact – though he took too long to bask in his own splendor. As if the karma gods nodded in unison, all five of his opponents seemed to recover simultaneously, and the outnumbered Viper quickly slithered back into the confines of his pod.

Happily, Sheamus had a solution: He – to quote Michael Cole – "Brogue Kicked the hell out of the pod," reducing WWE’s Champion of Champions to a heap and instigating a six-way brawl for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And oh, what a brawl it was: Orton went for a 27-rotation Cesaro swing and Sheamus nearly axe-handled the beard off Bryan’s head. Christian escaped the High Cross by crawling on top of one of the empty pods and, with Sheamus in hot pursuit, Orton capitalized by superplexing the Irishman square in the middle of the ring.

Sensing opportunity, Captain Charisma took flight with a frog splash to the prone Sheamus and at last got his, eliminating the former World Champion to notch the first casualty of the match. His glory was short-lived, though, as a running knee from Bryan turned Christian’s face to mush and cut his chances at main-eventing WrestleMania to zero. And then, there were four.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus, Cesaro & Christian in an Elimination Chamber Match

With four Superstars remaining and the supreme prize at stake, the remaining competitors quickly paired off into their respective rivalries: Bryan dispatched Orton, and Cena laid Cesaro low before the “Yes!” man and the Cenation leader found themselves face-to-face once again. With the “Yes!” movement erupting around them, the two threw civility out the window and brawled like it was SummerSlam all over again. If not for a timely belly-to-back suplex that sent Cena airborne (with Bryan over his shoulders – yes, this was awesome too), Bryan might have seen his WrestleMania dreams snuffed out with impunity.

Cena didn’t wait long to respond to the intruder. The 14-time World Champion hauled Cesaro over the ropes and onto a sheet of Lexan glass with an Attitude Adjustment before ending the Real American’s Herculean effort with an STF moments later. Orton was the next opponent ensnared in the hold, though Bray Wyatt saved the champion’s serpentine skin for the second consecutive defense of his title; he and his Family materialized inside Satan’s Prison and obliterated Cena, allowing Orton to pick the bones and secure his first, ill-gotten elimination of the night.

Full result: The Wyatts vs. The Shield |  Photos of their "war"

Here’s where things got complicated.

In the referees’ attempt to remove The Wyatts from the Chamber, Director of Operations Kane stomped down to restore order, successfully compelling the Family to leave … and eating a flying knee to the skull from Bryan for his troubles. Orton, ever the opportunist, struck immediately by throwing Bryan – again – through the wall of a pod, though his habitual underestimation of the submission master cost him dearly.

Bryan ensnared Orton in the Tree of Woe before blasting “The Face of WWE” with three running baseball slides. Fatigue seemed to finally be setting in for both Superstars, though the slightly fresher Orton still had enough wind in him to plant Byran with a second-rope hanging DDT. In a final burst, Bryan rallied for a running knee that laid Orton out for a would-be three count until – oh, hell no – Kane grabbed the official’s legs to break the count.

The distraction understandably preoccupied Bryan and Orton found his footing to, out of nowhere, strike with the RK – NO! Bryan kicked out of Orton’s finisher and The Apex Predator all but blew a gasket that he still,still, couldn’t get the job done. The “Yes!” man channeled his inner mad goat and clobbered The Viper with a kick to the head before setting up for the running knee, but Kane, still trapped in the Chamber, struck Bryan with a cheap shot straight to the bearded face. Bryan staggered back into the middle of the ring, where a final RKO brought his WrestleMania dream to its ruthless end.

So here we find ourselves, a controversial ending and the Champion of Champions’ run atop the mountain extended for another night. Was it fair? Hell, no. Best for business? Depends on whom you ask. Certainly best for Randy Orton. As for Orton himself, The Road to WrestleMania awaits. No more looking back, and, given what he had to go through to get there, who can blame him?

See The Apex Predator's first steps on The Road to WrestleMania tomorrow, and be sure to follow until Sunday, April 6, when WrestleMania 30 airs on WWE Network!