Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. The Ascension vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores vs. The Prime Time Players vs. The New Day (c)
Everyone, I think, is assuming that New Day and Kidd/Cesaro are the only ones who have a chance of leaving the chamber with the bronze belts. The only thing I'll say for certain is Los Matadores won't. As hot as New Day is right now, they've been able to achieve a lot of their success through unscrupulous means, and the chamber could potentially eliminate that, since one of the three members will most likely be locked outside. Of course, we've seen plenty of outsiders find their way into the chamber before too. If they win, it'll again be by cheating. If they lose, it'll be because the chamber eliminates their ability to do so.
WWE hasn't really done enough to build up any of the other tag teams to put the titles on them, although you could maybe make a case for the Lucha Dragons, whose style should lead to some memorable spots inside the chamber.
I'd like to see WWE treat the Ascension as something other than a joke. They can be over the top in impersonating 1980s power tag teams, but as long as they back it up with a punishing ring style and some actual victories, fans will start to take them seriously.
Finally, the Prime Time Players could use a little bit a shine here. They might be the best talkers in the tag team division and I think there's money (although maybe not "millions-a-dollas") in them as babyfaces. They are my dark horse team to win the titles tonight.
Regardless of who comes out on top, I'd really like to see WWE use this match to set up some undercard tag team feuds and transition New Day and Kidd/Cesaro away from each other, at least for the short term. To do that, I think someone -- The Ascension perhaps -- should eliminate Kidd and Cesaro, while New Day retains using nefarious means to defeat the Lucha Dragons.
WINNERS: And STILL WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day
Bo Dallas vs. Neville
I know there are some NXT fans who are going to be really into this. I can't get into any feud involving Bo Dallas because he just strikes me as a classic heel jobber. Unlike loveable loser Heath Slater, Dallas has no redeeming qualities. I guess they are trying to give him a vicious side, attacking the knee Neville "injured" at the last PPV event, but I suspect Neville will go over here to give him a needed PPV victory to keep him relevant.
Triple Threat Divas Championship
Naomi w/ Tamina vs. Paige vs. Nikki Bella (c) w/ Brie Bella (?)
Unlike in the singles match with Nikki on Raw a few weeks back, if Tamina interjects on Naomi's behalf, it won't be a disqualification because of the rules of a Triple Threat match. Keep that in mind as this unfolds. I'm not sure what the future holds for Nikki -- and I honestly can't recall if Brie has been around since Stephanie McMahon sent her to counseling -- but I think a Paige vs. Naomi feud over the title with the Bellas perhaps playing foils to some NXT call-ups ala Nikki's boyfriend John Cena and Kevin Owens would be a smart direction for the Divas division.
WINNER: And NEW Divas Champion, Naomi
Elimination Chamber for the vacant Intercontinental Championship
Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. King Barrett vs. R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. ???
Rusev's injury on Smackdown that will likely put him out of action for this match creates a lot of unpredictability. I've heard Bray Wyatt rumored as the man to replace him, but I just can't get behind that idea. For one, if you aren't putting the title on Wyatt, that means you have to find a way to eliminate him from the match. Wyatt is a guy who needs upward mobility at this point. However, that upward mobility, in my opinion, isn't winning a mid-card championship (and one that has quickly become the tertiary title because of what John Cena has done with the U.S. Championship over the past few months). Wyatt has never indicated in his nearly two years in WWE that championships are a motivating factor for him (in fact, I struggle at times with what exactly IS Wyatt's motivating factors in kayfabe, but that's a column for another day). So, here's hoping WWE puts a returning Big Show in this match instead. As a multi-time world champion and an intimidating presence, he adds credibility to the match, whether the so-called smart fans are sick of him or not.
Beyond that, this match is incredibly hard to predict. However, I'm going to say that R-Truth and King Barrett don't stand a chance. Truth, mainly, because he's literally had nothing going for him and just seems thrown into the match. Barrett because he's been there done that with the IC title several times already, and they would've made someone else "King" if they were going to put the IC title on him.
Ziggler almost falls into the same trap as Barrett, having been a multi-time IC titleholder and it never doing much for his career. Except its clear he's was going to be involved in an interesting storyline with Lana and Rusev. I think his role in the outcome is dependant upon where that story was going to go and the timetable for Rusev's return. If it's only a few months, then I'd consider putting the strap on Ziggler, with Lana as his "good luck charm" and giving him a few successful title defenses against guys like, well, Big Show for one, to make him and the title credible for when Rusev finally returns. At least, that's how I'd book it. In fact, I'd have the match come down to Ziggler, Big Show and Sheamus and have Ziggler defeat both to win the title. As long as Zigs gets successful run and not one where loses non-title matches all the time, I think he could do what they were hoping Daniel Bryan was going to do with the title.
But I'm not booking things. And I think it was pretty clear that before Bryan was hurt, they were building to a summertime feud between him and a heel Sheamus over the Intercontinental Championship. And you know what? I would've been totally on-board with that. (And, quite honestly, they could continue the Sheamus-Ziggler rivalry too as a placeholder until Rusev returns, with Ziggler playing the role of Bryan.) So I'd say the smart money is on Sheamus winning the title.
However, I can't help but notice how much the crowds are really into Ryback lately. You could make the argument that they are into the "Feed Me More" chants, but Daniel Bryan haters could say the same thing about the "Yes" chants. I think WWE has already missed the boat with The Big Guy several times, but he's truly connected with the audience right now and continues to improve in all facets of his game. He's yet to hold championship gold in WWE. I'd like to see a lot more of Ryback vs. Sheamus and some of the other guys in the IC mix. So I say, FEED HIM GOLD.
WINNER: And NEW Intercontinental Champion, Ryback
NXT Champion vs. U.S. Champion
Kevin Owens vs. John Cena
Although it's labeled as a champion vs. champion match, no titles are on the line here. And I think that's telling. Cena's U.S. Open Challenge has been one of the best parts of Raw, and occassionally Smackdown, since he won the championship at WrestleMania. So the good news is, win, lose or draw, Cena will still be United States Champion on Monday. Which means he can lose tonight.
With that said, I'm not one of those people who is going to think Owens is buried if he does the J-O-B to Cena. On the contrary, just working with Cena -- and especially if he's booked to look like a million bucks in defeat -- is going to raise his profile in the eyes of casual fans. However, I think the WWE roster is a little thin on top and a victory by Owens over the Face Who Runs The Place in his debut WWE match makes it known that he belongs and deserves to be fighting near the top of the card immediately.
Beyond that, it seems unlikely that this is a one-off match between these two, although I would hope WWE considers breaking up the pattern of three straight PPVs with the same two guys fighting (see Cena-Rusev from February to May) and gives us a couple shows off before these two collide again at, say, SummerSlam?
Either way, this match promises to be the one everyone is talking about after the show. And I think it'll be because its the NXT Champion who has his hand raised. (Side note: If Owens wins, I think he should also "hurt" Cena here, during and/or after the match. And that should be played up on Raw on Monday, when someone finally beats Cena for the U.S. title, setting up John's next program -- rematching whoever that person is to get the title back -- and allowing Owens to gloat about it while refusing to fight Cena again -- after all, he's proven what he needed to prove -- and moving on to his next program.)
WINNER: Kevin Owens
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (c) w/ J & J Security and Kane
I have no doubt these two will have an awesome match. The question is whether they can convince the educated fans that Ambrose has a snowball's chance of winning. These two are good enough they can get the crowd to get caught up in the emotion I think. And, if WWE really wanted to get crazy, they could even put the title on Ambrose for two weeks before having Rollins regain it at Money in the Bank in just two weeks. A shocking title change would certainly boost interest in WWE Network subscribers in sticking around for another month.
But I don't really see that happening. Instead, I suspect there will be a lot of interference in this one. Maybe even to the point that the Authority announces it's now a no disqualification match before it starts. We've seen New Day assist the Authority lately, and of course, J & J Security and Kane will be at ringside. I expect Ambrose to have Roman Reigns in his corner to counteract all the interference. One guy I think could play a role in the finish is Kevin Owens.
We've seen him be chummy with Triple H backstage and he's now down a couple of media appearances where he says he wants to make the Game proud. This is the reality era, so why not blend kayfabe and real life here, and have Owens assist the Authority's champion, as a thank you to the King of Kings for his new contract to come up to the main roster and to have his debut match against John Cena. Also, I can't help but think Owens glaring at Ambrose on Smackdown was foreshadowing, not a red herring.
WINNER: And STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins