Carroll County Times

Chair Shots: Analyzing the WWE Elimination Chamber participants and their chances

We know the six participants in each of the Elimination Chamber matches at WWE's next pay-per-view, aptly named Elimination Chamber. But which of them have a chance of surviving and emerging as their brand's champion heading into WrestleMania? The Raw match seems a little more cut-and-dry, with either CM Punk or Chris Jericho the likely victors. Meanwhile, I can make a case for four participants in the Smackdown chamber match, and could even see that winner dropping the title a few days later on the live edition of Smackdown to a returning Mark Henry.

With a little less than two weeks to go before Elimination Chamber, here's a quick look at the participants in each brand's match.

Raw Elimination Chamber

Kofi Kingston -- This will be Kofi's second Elimination Chamber match, although the third he was scheduled for. You may recall an angle at the last No Way Out PPV in 2009 (before it gave way to the less creatively named Elimination Chamber) when Kofi was attacked by Edge, who had lost the Smackdown chamber match earlier in the night, and replaced him in the Raw chamber, which he eventually won. He was a participant in the Raw chamber in 2010, and lasted 25 minutes before being eliminated by Sheamus. At that juncture, Kofi seemed like he belonged in this match. He was coming off a high-profile feud with Randy Orton. Two years later, he's spent the last six months in an on-again-off-again tag team with Evan Bourne, thanks to Bourne's suspensions, and hasn't been much more than an afterthought since he dropped the U.S. title to Dolph Ziggler in the summer. He beat the Miz on Raw, which is a step in the right direction, still I can't see him not being one of the first two eliminated in the chamber. He's there to provide a spectacular spot because of his athleticism similiar to the handstand he did at the Royal Rumble.

R-Truth -- Last year, it was Truth who didn't seem like he belonged in the Elimination Chamber match. In actuality, that was a springboard to a series of main event appearances including headlining Capital Punishment against John Cena and co-headlining Survivor Series with the Miz against Cena and the Rock. Still, since his return from a suspension and subsequent babyface turn, he's not really a candidate to win the WWE Championship, especially not heading into WrestleMania. He's in the match to further his feud with The Miz.

The Miz -- Believe it or not, he's never been a participant in an Elimination Chamber match. A year ago, as WWE Champion, he wrestled Jerry Lawler in a singles match for the title on the PPV while six other Raw competitors fought to challenge him at WrestleMania. He went on to WrestleMania and not only headlined, but beat John Cena there. Miz's character is on an extended losing streak on television, showing just how far he's fallen. Yet, I think he has a very slim chance to walk out of the chamber with the title, if only because WWE might want to change course entirely and have him face Sheamus at WrestleMania.

Dolph Ziggler -- Ziggler's best opportunity to win the WWE Championship before WrestleMania was at the Royal Rumble. He's in this match until WWE Creative can think of something better for him at 'Mania. However, expect him to be the star of the match, bumping all over the place for the rest of the competitors.

Chris Jericho -- Far be it for me to figure out how WWE is going to book this thing, but I can't see it coming down to anyone else except Jericho and CM Punk. Which, honestly, makes things kind of tricky and anti-climatic. If these two are indeed on a collision course for WrestleMania, I would have preferred they not cross paths in an actual match prior to that. That could've been achieved had Jericho won the Royal Rumble. Instead, I think Jericho is going to be booked to walk out of the chamber with the title and set-up a one-on-one match with CM Punk at WrestleMania.

WWE Champion CM Punk -- Had Jericho not been in this match, it would be money in the bank that Punk would retain. But I just can't come up with a compelling scenario where Jericho loses in the Chamber -- either to Punk or someone else -- and doesn't lose all of the shine that came with his return heading into a match with Punk at WrestleMania to determine the "Best in the World."


Smackdown Elimination Chamber

Cody Rhodes -- The Intercontinental Champion wants to become a dual champion, and maybe he'll get his chance after WrestleMania. He's not winning the World title here, however, especially since he was just fed to Sheamus, the likely challenger for the World Championship at WrestleMania. I would expect him to have a nice showing here, continuing his strong performances on his way up the card.

The Great Khali -- Khali's a former World Champion and let's hope it stays that way. Khali certainly isn't my favorite wrestler in the world, but his size makes him quite a spectacle and when it's time to put over someone, he will. That's his job in this match, to dominate for a little while but ultimately put someone else over.

Wade Barrett -- Like the Miz on Raw, it's hard to tell what you are going to get with Barrett sometimes. Over the past few months since he announced the "Barrett barrage," he had been on quite a roll. He even put Orton off TV for a few weeks. However, since the Viper's return, it's pretty much been downhill for Barrett, culminating in a decisive loss to Orton in a no DQ match on Smackdown. Prior to Orton's return, he had a budding feud with Sheamus that never really got going. Assuming Sheamus challenges the winner of this match, Barrett would make a lot of sense.

Big Show -- He's been chasing the World Championship since October, but keeps coming up short with the exception of the 46 seconds he held the title at TLC in Baltimore before Daniel Bryan cashed in. Ultimately, I think he has to win this feud with Daniel Bryan, so I wouldn't be shocked to at least see him eliminate the World Champion, only to come up short in winning the match altogether. It's also possible he wins the title, then loses to a returning Mark Henry a few days later. Bottom line, he's not going to WrestleMania as the World Champ.

Randy Orton -- Maybe it's just me, but the last thing I want to see is another championship reign for Randy Orton. Since he dropped the title to Mark Henry in September, I've really enjoyed Orton's role on Smackdown having great matches with up-and-comers like Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett and -- seemingly every time the Viper is on Raw -- Dolph Ziggler. Generally, Orton has come out ahead in all of these matches, but makes his opponent look great in the process. Again assuming Sheamus as the challenger, I don't want to see that feud rekindled, especially not a face vs. face version. It's hard to envision him losing clean in the chamber, however. I do ultimately think he'll be facing Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, so this could be a vehicle to get there.

World Champion Daniel Bryan -- For the record, I wasn't a Daniel Bryan fan prior to him winning the World Championship and when he did, I thought it was a monumental mistake. It wasn't, and he's far exceeded my expectations as World Champion, thanks mainly to his excellent mic work as a heel. With that said, I don't think he'll go into WrestleMania as the World Champion unless there is some major swerve planned -- such as a Punk-Bryan-Jericho Triple Threat Unification match (which I'd love to see, by the way, I just don't see how they would get there right now). Bryan vs. Orton should satisfy the wrestling purists appetite at 'Mania, similiar to Orton-Punk last year.