There are some wrestling fans who believe that a good show, particularly a pay-per-view event, has to be unpredictable. I’m not one of those fans, and this year’s WWE Elimination Chamber illustrates why.
The Elimination Chamber card, from top to bottom, looks very strong. Most of the matches have been built well and have some sort of backstory to them. And most of them look like they could be fairly decent matches. But very few of them leave much doubt as to who is going to win. The reason for that isn’t simply a matter of, “Oh, the WWE has gotten stale and predictable.” The main reason is that the WWE is trying to tell a coherent story, and the matches need to end a certain way to continue that story. Also, this pay-per-view serves, as much as anything, as a setup to Wrestlemania, so there are some logical conclusions to get to the Wrestlemania matches. Swerves are nice from time to time, but sometimes it’s just better to sit back and let the story play itself out.
With that said, there’s one X-factor that I haven’t been able to quite figure out yet, and that’s Brock Lesnar. He’s not on the card, and hasn’t even been on RAW for a few weeks, after making a lot of noise about being the best and No. 1 contender. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t show up at Elimination Chamber in some form, even if it’s just to do a promo. But he certainly could get involved in one of these matches.
With that said, here are my thoughts and predictions for Sunday’s pay-per-view event.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback
This is the preshow match before the pay-per-view portion starts. Cody and Goldust have been in a bit of a holding pattern since losing the titles to the New Age Outlaws. They had the one rematch, but after losing, have just seemed to be pushed down the tag team ladder as the Usos ascended to take their place as the top face tag team. This match was thrown together as the preshow, so it’s hard to get a true read on it. There are two possibilities in my mind. The first is that this match will serve to boost Cody and Goldust back up the ladder, and make sure they don’t drop down too far. Goldust is still immensely popular, and with no other place to really put these guys on the card, this was a logical match for them. The other possibility is that there’s a split between Cody and Goldust coming. A match between Cody and Goldust has been rumored for years now, with Goldust actively campaigning for the match at one point. If they lose, that could be the seed for the split. If this match were on the true pay-per-view, I’d be more convinced that one of the brothers was going to turn on the other. Now they simply could lose here and split later, of course, but it seems less likely. Plus, after just breaking up the Prime Time Players, and the New Age Outlaws presumably having only a short run, breaking up another tag team so quickly seems like it would be a mistake.
Winners: Cody and Goldust
Big E vs. Jack Swagger for the Intercontinental Championship
Jack Swagger has been on an interesting ride the past few weeks. He started to look like the weak link in the Real Americans, as he took the pin in several tag matches, and then lost his Chamber qualifying match while Cesaro won his. However, he picked up a little momentum in getting the No. 1 contendership to the IC title. It will be interesting to see what they do with Swagger from here. Cesaro seems to be the one to get the push if the two split up, but Cesaro is also getting the face reactions. So how do you split the two up and leave Swagger as the heel? That one is a question for another day. Big E started to get some momentum in January, only to cool off in the past month. I think this is the day that momentum picks back up.
Winner: Big E retains
Titus O’Neil vs. Darren Young
It was a bit of a surprise when O’Neil turned on Young on Smackdown a few weeks ago. While they weren’t doing much at the time, they were still a fairly popular tag team, and I don’t think it would have shocked anyone if they received a title shot somewhere down the line. But Titus O’Neil always has been a guy that people looked at and saw a future singles superstar in. Because of that, I think this match is fairly easy to predict. If this feud had a bit more to it, I could see them exchanging victories for another pay-per-view or two, but in this case, I think they just want to elevate Titus as quickly as possible.
Winner: Titus O’Neil
New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship
I’ve been writing for weeks now that The Usos were due for a title reign in the near future. After the Outlaws won at Royal Rumble, I even pegged the win as a transitional reign, to get the belts on the Usos. But now that we’re here at this match, I’m actually unsure that this is the time for the Usos to take the gold. If you’re going to do a title switch at this point in WWE’s season, it’s more worthwhile to wait until Wrestlemania. Sure, the Usos could defend the title at Mania, but that’s not nearly as memorable as them beating the famous New Age Outlaws in New Orleans. Also, if you go by standard wrestling logic, the Usos beat the Outlaws in singles matches this week, which is usually followed by the losers getting the win at the pay-per-view. For those reasons, I think the Outlaws retain, probably because of some trickery — or even because they get themselves disqualified — and the Usos win at Wrestlemania.
Winners: New Age Outlaws retain
Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio
Batista is going to win this match. As the Royal Rumble winner, he is not going to lose heading into Wrestlemania. The only question here is how long the match is going to last, and how much offense Del Rio gets in. This is one match I could see Lesnar getting involved in, if he does end up getting involved at all, but I couldn’t see it swaying the eventual result.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
As I’ve been writing for the past few weeks, this has been by far my favorite build to the pay-per-view. In fact, this had been one of my favorite builds for a match in a while. Everything these teams have done has worked perfectly to get a reaction from the crowd. The fans were dying for some sort of physical encounter by the time the two actually tangled at the end of RAW. And if given time, this should be a fantastic match from two teams that really have mastered how to work in the ring as a three-man unit. But, as I said above, while I can’t wait for this match, I also don’t see the match result as being in doubt. On the one hand, you have the Wyatts, who are on the rise and seem to have a date with John Cena coming up based on the Royal Rumble and how Bray Wyatt has alluded to the team moving on to something else after this match. On the other hand, you have The Shield, which has been slowly falling apart — a perfect use, by the way, of the slow burn by WWE. Regardless of whether the explosion of The Shield happens here, or if this simply becomes just another factor in the inevitable rift between the group, I just can’t see them winning.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
Elimination Chamber for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Cesaro vs. Christian
This match is interesting, not necessarily for the end result, which I don’t think is in much doubt, but for how they get there. I think most people realize that the odds of Christian, Sheamus or Cesaro winning are slim, even with as good as Cesaro has looked lately. And I expect Cesaro’s recent surge to continue in the Chamber match, at least to the point where he is made to look very good. Christian has seemed to officially turn heel this week, which makes his role interesting, if not necessarily putting him anywhere near the title. I could see Christian and Sheamus absolutely going after each other after their encounter on Smackdown, potentially taking each other out and continuing that feud until Wrestlemania. I think that while you can never completely write off Cena, as I mentioned before, I think he is going to be involved with the Wyatts in the near-future. Could they get involved in this match? It would be tricky to get in the Chamber, but not impossible. This leaves us with two people: Orton and Bryan.
In my mind, it would be foolish to take the title from Randy Orton here. Going back to the Tag Titles match, if you want to have the titles change hands, why do it here, instead of Wrestlemania? The only real reason I could see them doing it would be because of how easy it would be to turn the title match at Wrestlemania into a triple-threat match. Now I certainly could see them adding Daniel Bryan to the slated main event, but not by winning the title here. As much as fans want to see him win, I think that even many Bryan fans would be disappointed if he finally reached the top of the mountain at Elimination Chamber instead of Wrestlemania. It would be tricky to put Bryan into the title match if he loses here, but not impossible, especially if Kane somehow gets involved, costing him his shot at the title. Bryan could somehow get inserted into the main event if he beats Kane in the upcoming weeks or overcomes some other obstacle. But either way, the logical outcome here is that Orton retains. With these six men, though, I’m sure that before he gets the final pin, they will put on a show.
Winner: Randy Orton retains
Agree? Disagree? Have other wrestling questions? Leave them in the comment section here or find me on twitter: @TheAOster