Ahead of WWE WrestleMania, we have the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view to get through, as well as this Sunday's WWE NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day. Meanwhile, AEW is building for its next big event, Revolution, and the indie scene is ready to pick up buisness again.
Here is The 10 Count for February 12, 2021, presented by SK Wrestling Senior Editor Andrea Hangst, featuring all the biggest, need-to-know news in the world of pro wrestling.
1. Elimination Chamber Men’s WWE Championship match
WWE Elimination Chamber remains a pre-WrestleMania pay-per-view event, despite there being very little chances for surprise title changes ahead of WWE’s biggest event of the year. But more confounding than just the timing of the event is who will be challenging for Drew McIntyre’s WWE Championship in the Chamber.
McIntyre will be joined by Sheamus (McIntyre’s former “best friend” who turned on the champ on WWE RAW a few weeks back), AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton and The Miz (who, it should be noted already holds the Money In The Bank briefcase) in his bid to again successfully defend his championship.
2. WrestleMania week indie shows return
WrestleMania week isn’t just about WWE; with so many fans from around the world typically drawn to the spectacle, numerous smaller and independent promotions have put on shows in nearby venues in order to increase visibility and for talent to get some of their biggest paydays of the year.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic severely altered these plans a year ago. With WrestleMania going crowd-free there was little incentive for indie talents to amass in Florida for crowds that wouldn’t be there. This year, though, WWE wants fans in the stands in some capacity at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for WrestleMania 37 and indie promotions are ready to make their returns as well.
GCW will present a truncated version of The Collective, The Collective Remix. WrestleCon will resume operations. IWTV has put together its Showcase of the Independents.
So far, large-scale independent events haven’t result in widespread spread of COVID-19, thanks to most companies requiring at least one negative test ahead of performers’ arrival to venues, outdoor shows, limited ticket sales and mandatory masks. But one has to wonder if this push to go back to “normal” is premature, even if it is the logical response to WWE allowing (limited) fans for this one big show.
3. WWE's Lacey Evans-Charlotte Flair-Asuka-Ric Flair saga continues
Lacey Evans managed to defeat Charlotte Flair on WWE Monday Night RAW, earning her a shot at Askua’s WWE RAW Women’s Championship at Elimination Chamber and it’s hard to see how Ric Flair’s interference won’t result in Evans becoming champion en route to facing Charlotte at WrestleMania.
This begs the question: Will we see the return of the custody match? A Ric Flair on a pole match? Is there anything strange enough that WWE can do to redeem this cringeworthy storyline?
4, My HOLE!
Speaking of WWE Monday Night RAW:
There’s no way that this wasn’t some kind of backstage bet that Nia Jax, apparently, won.
5. Sammy quits The Inner Circle on AEW Dynamite
After months of being at odds with newest Inner Circle member MJF, Sammy Guevara officially quit The Inner Circle on Wednesday’s edition of AEW Dynamite. After confronting MJF one-on-one backstage about his manipulation of the faction, and Chris Jericho in particular, Guevara punched MJF in the midsection damaging his ribs.
Still, MJF and Jericho came out on top in their match against The Acclaimed, after which Guevara made it clear that he’s through with MJF’s influence on The Inner Circle and quit the group — much to Jericho’s disappointment.
The slow-burning story has finally reached one of its key moments. Let’s see how long it takes to get to the inevitable Guevara-MJF matchup (and how many it will take before Jericho sees the light about Maxwell’s intentions).
6. Darby Allin defends the AEW TNT Championship against Joey Janela
Also on AEW Dynamite, Darby Allin gave a TNT Championship shot to hand-picked opponent, Joey Janela. Allin and Janela have met numerous times before when both were strictly indie performers, and the two have built respective reputations as risk-takers and rule-breakers. It is also why Wednesday’s matchup was such an interesting choice.
Instead of getting wlld, Allin and Janela had a real-deal pro wrestling match, potentially the best that Janela has had in an AEW ring. Now, those who have followed him his entire career are well aware that he’s not just stunts and viral moments; he can go — and has gone — 60 minutes against talented technical wrestlers and ultimately cannot be shoehorned into being just one kind of performer.
And it’s good to see that fact being put on display on Dynamite this week. While Alllin retained his title, there’s no doubt the match has helped Janela’s stock among the AEW fanbase.
7. Team Taz isn't done with Darby
If there’s one thing AEW loves, it’s tag team wrestling. If there’s another, it’s the classic pro wrestling trope of the kidnapping. Allin was the latest victim; while there was no interference by Team Taz (or Sting) during Wednesday’s TNT Championship match, Team Taz eventually interrupted Sting’s scheduled appearance to reveal they had Allin secured in a body bag.
They then dragged the Allin-bag behind their vehicle, taking him … well, we don’t know where. Sting is on the case, but granted that he was on foot and Team Taz were in an SUV and it might be some time until that mystery gets solved. They may not be as kind as FTR, who only temporarily detained Marko Stunt last week before letting him go after sending him and Jurassic Express a message of sorts.
8. WWE NXT gets timely and topical with Cameron Grimes
After rehabbing a Timothy Thatcher-caused knee injury, Cameron Grimes returned to WWE NXT programming this week with a revamped gimmick ripped from the headlines. Grimes spent part of his rehab playing video games, which got the whole GameStop stock phenomenon on his radar. A few quick, wise investments later (including, also, Dogecoin) and Grimes is now wealthy (and arrogant; there is no “wealthy” pro wrestling character without “arrogant”).
Yes, yes, “to the moon,” indeed.
9. Free, must-watch match of the weekend: The Iron Match
Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Beyond Wrestling are teaming up on Sunday, Feb. 14 for The Iron Match, a 60-minute battle between indie greats Tony Deppen (just off of his 120-minute match with Jordan Oliver) and Trish Adora, the reigning Pan-Afrikan Diaspora Champion. Money, via t-shirt sales, will also be donated to charities of Deppen’s and Adora’s choosing.
The non-title match will stream live on Beyond Wrestling’s YouTube page at 2PM Eastern time. Don’t miss it.
10. WWE NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day card set
Also on Valentine’s Day, WWE NXT presents TakeOver: Vengeance Day, from the Capitol Wrestling Center. The card features the finals for both the Men’s and Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournaments; on the men’s side are Grizzled Young Veterans vs. MSK (the former Rascalz) and on the women’s, Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon vs. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai (the women’s winners get a shot against the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler).
Additionally, a not-actually-injured Johnny Gargano defends his NXT North American Championship against KUSHIDA, Tony Storm and Mercedes Martinez take part in a triple-threat match against Io Shirai for her NXT Women’s Championship, and Finn Balor defends his NXT Championship against Pete Dunne.