Inside the Elimination Chamber with Triple H
There are a number of stipulation matches in WWE designed to intimidate, threaten and menace the athletes chosen to compete in them, but there’s only one that inspires actual terror. The Elimination Chamber, now more than a decade old, is famously known for its ability to turn the stomachs of even the most stalwart Superstars.
"That's real,” said Triple H, a battle-hardened veteran of six bouts inside the Prison. “It’s not something we hype up. The concern is legit. They couldn't have made it any more difficult for us to work in if they tried.”
Sitting in his stately offices inside Titan Tower, the WWE COO cut the same imposing figure now as the man who won a record four Chamber bouts in the past.
“What people don’t understand is that the metal grating outside the ring is the same grating they make the stage with,” he explained. “It’s designed to support thousands of pounds, so there’s no give to it all. Then there are the walls themselves, which are made of thick metal chain. And at first you think, ‘Oh, well, the chain moves a bit.’ But it’s actually worse, because the chain shifts about an inch and a half, even though it’s all connected, so it’s like you’re hitting a steel wall. And it’s a bumpy steel wall that digs into you everywhere.”
Triple H has a long history with the structure, having been in the first-ever Elimination Chamber Match at 2002’s Survivor Series. But his connection with Satan’s Prison runs even deeper, as he revealed to WWE Magazine.
"I'm the one who invented it," he said.
“I drew a square cage and put four other squares in the corners,” Triple H recalled. “And I said, ‘It’s six guys. Two start and every few minutes, another cage opens and one more guys enters the fight, and everyone fights until there’s one guy left.' I thought it could be interesting because, if the Superstars involved have issues, then there’s intrigue.”Indeed, WWE’s most hated and feared stipulation match spawned from the mind of The Cerebral Assassin a decade ago. The company was looking for concepts for matches that might spin off into yearly events similar to Royal Rumble, and The Game was ready with a winning idea.
The ambitious concept was well received, and the creative team set about turning Triple H’s vision into reality. Of course, when he saw it, he realized he’d gotten far more than he’d bargained for.
“In typical WWE form, it was twice as big as I envisioned it and twice as elaborate,” he remembered. “We don’t do anything small, so I should have known better. When I stood in it for the first time, I thought, ‘Jeez. Please don’t tell anybody this was my idea!’”
“One of the things I find funny is watching the guys who haven’t been in it yet,” Triple H said. “They’re talking about all these crazy things they’re going to do in the Chamber. And then they go sailing over the rope for the first time and hit the floor, and their whole demeanor changes. Every bit of bravado goes out the window and they think, ‘Oh man, I’ve got another 30 minutes in here?’”Once his creation was brought to life, it quickly caught fire with the crowds and viewers, becoming one of the company’s most popular stips and eventually launching its own annual event. But as beloved as the Elimination Chamber is amongst the WWE Universe, it’s equally feared by the Superstars who have to compete in it.
Inside the Chamber, it’s essentially a full-on melee, but The Game said that being in the pod is actually worse than mixing it up in the match itself.
“If you’re one of the guys who comes out third or fourth,” he said, “you’ve been in that pod for 15 or 20 minutes cold. Then, all of a sudden, you have to charge out at a thousand miles per hour and get creamed.”
That’s the reason, he said, when the clock runs down and another pod is about to open, you’ll see the Superstars start to psyche themselves up.
At some point, you’re going to eat that steel."Because you know what’s coming,” he explained, “at some point, you’re going to eat that steel, and if you don’t psyche yourself up it’s going to be like getting run over by a train.”
On Feb. 23, six Superstars will step inside the Chamber for another dose of punishment. Some will experience it for the first time, while others will return with the scars from beatings past. But each will leave having been changed by the event.
“The Elimination Chamber stands by itself,” The Game said. “We tout Hell in a Cell Matches as being brutal, and over the years they certainly have been. But Hell in a Cell is brutal because of what the guys who are in it do to each other. The Elimination Chamber is brutal because the Chamber itself is brutal. There are six guys in the ring, but it’s almost like there’s a seventh opponent in there with you, and he’s the one you have to really look out for.”