This Sunday night February 23 it's the 5th annual Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event taking place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
What's interesting about Elimination Chamber is that WWE Network is debuting the next day in the United States (the rest of the world has to wait) and with the debut of WWE Network comes the end of the traditional PPV format. If you have WWE Network then you get all of the PPVs.
The good thing about Elimination Chamber is that WWE is actually advertising seven matches before the show. That's encouraging because sometimes they only advertise four or five matches and just add them on the show without any build. At least this has been a well built event.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of my friend Steve Melo.)
Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel (Kickoff Match)
It's a thrown together match that is being put on the Kickoff show. It's not like there's anything wrong with the match, but it just seems pretty random. Last month at the Royal Rumble, Cody and Goldust lost the tag titles on the pre-show. The Rybaxel team is barely featured on TV these days. Due to that, it's hard to know where this one will go. Does it even matter? Not really. If Cody and Goldust are going to feud then it makes sense for them to lose. I think they're going to hold off on that story, put them in a multi-team tag title match at WrestleMania and do the split in the spring or summer. I'll take Cody and Goldust for the win in a match that should get 7-10 minutes or so.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
Titus O'Neil vs. Darren Young
It feels like a Smackdown only feud since they've barely had any time on Raw since Titus went heel. I don't expect the crowd to be that interested in the match because it's been poorly built. They are missing something. Look for O'Neil to get the win. Management seems to like him for his personality, energetic promos and of course he's a bigger guy so that always helps in WWE. Breaking up the team may not have been the right move, but it's done now and I expect O'Neil to get a decent push as a heel.
Winner: Titus O'Neil
Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Jack Swagger
This should be a solid matchup that gets 7-10 minutes and is a decisive win for Big E (no longer Langston). I'm still going to accidentally call him Langston a lot out of habit. May be a few weeks until I remember not to do it. Swagger's been performing very well, but unlikely to win the title here. It seems like an obvious prediction to me that Big E will get the win. What will be interesting is if Swagger ends up splitting from Cesaro. If they do, Cesaro's likely the face in that scenario, but Zeb Colter's a heel manager. They've teased him being angry at Swagger a lot of late, so I'm not sure how it all fits. For this match, give Big E the win. Not sure where he goes after this. Hopefully they can get him a IC Title feud going into WrestleMania.
Winner: Big E
Tag Team Championships: The New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos
There's no reason for the Outlaws to lose the tag team titles after a title win that was less than a month long. It's foolish to put the titles on the Usos here when they should get that big moment at WrestleMania. That's why I'm thinking a DQ ending makes the most sense here. Since the Outlaws aren't the kind of team that wrestles long matches (they are old), it'll probably get about ten minutes or so. Save the title change for WrestleMania. Include other teams to make it an elimination tag. That would be the right place for the tag title change.
Winners by DQ: The Usos (New Age Outlaws are still champions)
Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio
It hasn't been built well at all. Batista didn't even appear in front of the fans last week on Raw. Did they think he might get booed again? If so, turn the guy heel. I liked their segment a couple weeks back when Batista put him through the table with the Powerbomb. The problem is that's really all they've done in the past month. Del Rio's been a non-factor while he's talked trash and Batista hasn't had enough time in front of the crowd since he returned.
The prediction seems pretty easy. Batista should win. Last year's Rumble winner John Cena actually lost at Elimination Chamber (in a six man tag), but that was a different situation than this one. I expect a dominant win by Batista in a match that goes about 10 minutes and ends with a Batista Bomb. Biggest lock of the show, really.
The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield
Like most wrestling fans, this is a match I'm excited about. It's been a long time since WWE built up two stables at the same time that were not only over, but able to put on good matches consistently as well. What's been great about the build is that they haven't done tag matches opposite each other or singles matches or anything like that. There was that brawling segment to end Raw, but it was only about 10 seconds and worked in the sense that it left us viewers wanting to see more.
What will likely happen is they'll probably get 15-20 minutes for it because other than the main event there's no other match on the card that is expected to go that long. If they get that much time this could be one of the better six man matches that The Shield has had. It's also likely going to be one of their last six man matches since the split is inevitable now.
Due to the split of The Shield happening at any moment, the smart pick is the Wyatt Family. Rumors have been out there for weeks that Bray Wyatt is facing John Cena at WrestleMania. Since they had Wyatt cost Cena at the Royal Rumble, it sure seems likely that's where they're going. It's simple booking to want to build up Bray for that match and have him get the pin here. In the case of The Shield, a loss could lead to their split. Maybe Reigns accidentally hits the Spear on Ambrose and they end up fighting after the match. It would set up a triple threat at WrestleMania most likely. There's a chance that Reigns may get the win here just because they're going to push him hard this year, but the Wyatt win makes more sense to me.
Enjoy this one. It might be the only time we see this match. It's going to be fun to watch.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Randy Orton vs. Cena vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Christian vs. Cesaro
You know I'm going to put "Winner: Randy Orton" if you've been reading my Raw Deal column regularly because that's been the prediction since the match was announced. Do I like that decision? No, not really. I think it sucks if they are going to go ahead with the Batista vs. Randy Orton match with the idea that Batista is some beloved babyface that fans want to cheer for when they have booed the guy repeatedly. Listen to your fans, WWE!
What WWE needs to do is have some kind of disputed finish that allows Daniel Bryan to be added to the WrestleMania 30 main event. He deserves it and the fans want it. The current story with Bryan is that he's fighting an uphill battle against Kane, who is basically doing the dirty work of Triple H. This is the angle they were doing with CM Punk when he left (remember Kane took him out of the Rumble match) and just replaced him with Bryan. Because of that, it seems like they're going in the direction of Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania. I don't hate that match. I just think the WWE Title match is going to get booed at WrestleMania and that's not something WWE should do.
John Cena will likely get taken out by the Wyatt Family. Since it's a Chamber match, it's hard to do it directly although remember that the doors open when somebody is eliminated, so that's the opening to do it. Cena can be in the final three, the Wyatt Family can attack, beat the hell out of him, somebody can pin Cena and he's out of the match. Then he goes on to get revenge against Bray at WrestleMania.
It will be interesting to see how Cesaro is booked. He's looked great in the buildup to the match and I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the first two guys in there because they tend to put the better workers early in the match. Fans are starting to cheer him a lot because they can see how great he is. That Cesaro Swing is also a babyface spot at this point too. I don't see him making it to the final two or three, but he should have plenty of chances to shine.
Sheamus and Christian aren't going to factor into the finish most likely. Sheamus is a good worker that has so many familiar moves that fans react to. He deserves to be in a match like this. Christian's looked very good since coming back from injury. I'm glad he's in this match too. He'll likely be the first one pinned, though.
The final three will likely be Bryan, Cena and Orton. That's where I would have the Wyatt Family interfere. I don't like the idea of Bryan losing clean to Orton, but they might have Kane beat up Bryan some more before the match so the idea would be that he was unable to overcome all the outside forces to get the win.
In terms of match quality, it should be one of the best Elimination Chamber matches ever. Bryan's the best worker in the company while Cesaro is probably in the top five. Add in Cena, Orton, Christian and Sheamus, all of whom are very capable of having great matches and you have a wonderful mix of talent in there. It should be an awesome match that gets 30-40 minutes and hopefully provides some memorable moments along the way.
My hope is that Daniel Bryan wins. You could still do the triple threat at WrestleMania 30 with Orton getting his rematch and Batista getting his title shot. As much as I'd love that, I don't think it's going to happen. I'm picking Orton.
Winner: Randy Orton
The quality of the show depends on how good the two big matches are (Elimination Chamber and Shield/Wyatt Family). I don't expect any of the matches to be given that much time or to really stand out. None of them appear to be that bad, but they're also going to be shorter matches too. If the main event as well as the six man tag are excellent then the show will be too. Those matches will carry it.
I'd also love to be surprised. It feels like a predictable show that will be used to build into Monday's Raw, which will likely be heavily pushed due to the return of Hulk Hogan among others.
I'll be writing about Elimination live on Sunday night on TJRWrestling.com, so join me for that live on Sunday or check it out after the show is over. I'll also write about Raw live on Monday and Tuesday night will do TJR Radio too. This is in addition to my 10+ articles/news stories on WhatCulture during the week too. With the WWE Network launching on Monday, it should be an eventful couple of days for those of us in the WWE Universe.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org