As of this morning, there are currently seven big matches scheduled for tonight's 2014 WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. With the exception of WrestleMania 30 next month, Elimination Chamber has the potential to be the most important WWE pay-per-view event of 2014 for a number of reasons. For starters, WWE needs to bounce back from last month's Royal Rumble PPV, which was widely regarded as one of the worst pay-per-views in recent memory, and possibly one of the worst of all time. WWE owes it to their fans to put on a stellar performance tonight, and a good showing tonight can only help them build momentum heading into their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania.
With the scheduled lineup, there's no reason why Elimination Chamber can't be one of the biggest PPV events of this year, and as previously mentioned, it could go down as one of the most significant events of 2014. Each match could have huge ramifications heading into WrestleMania and could affect the landscape of WWE for the rest of 2014. Let us now take a look at each match individually.
1. Cody Rhodes & Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel
This tag team bout is scheduled to be the kick-off match for tonight's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. A win for either team would seemingly put them in line for a WWE Tag Team Championship match against the New Age Outlaws. The Rhodes Brothers held on to the WWE Tag Team Championships for a little over three months before losing them to the legendary duo of Billy Gunn & The Road Dogg. Ryback & Curtis Axel, collectively known as "Rybaxel", have proven to be a fairly cohesive unit as well. The biggest story heading into this match is the rumor that WWE might be looking to put The Rhodes Brothers against each other at WrestleMania. This is a match that has been talked about for several years now, really ever since Cody Rhodes won his first Intercontinental Championship back in the summer of 2011 and held onto it for nearly a year. Could tonight be the night that The Rhodes Brothers finally implode, leading up to a match between the two at WrestleMania? If so, who might be the babyface (good guy) and who would be the heel (bad guy)?
2. Darren Young vs. Titus O'Neil
The former Prime Time Players will square off tonight at Elimination Chamber. It will be interesting to see who ends up getting the victory tonight. It had been reported in the past that WWE officials were contemplating having the Prime Time Players split up and giving Titus O'Neil a bit of a push. Titus just recently turned his back on his longtime tag team partner Darren Young a few weeks ago and now WWE officials have two new singles competitors in their ranks. Which one of the former PTPs might have the brighter future in WWE? Are WWE officials still planning on giving Titus O'Neil a push as a singles star, or could they now be looking at Darren Young as being the proverbial diamond in the rough?
3. Jack Swagger vs. Big E. Langston
Former Money In The Bank winner, United States Champion, ECW Champion, and World Heavyweight Champion "The All-American American" Jack Swagger challenges Big E. Langston for the prestigious Intercontinental Championship tonight. Both of these young, talented Superstars are loaded with potential and both have seemingly just scratched the surface of what they're capable of doing.
The Intercontinental Championship is Big E. Langston's very first Championship on WWE's main roster, although he was a former NXT Champion as well. The former powerlifter originally made his WWE debut as the bodyguard for Dolph Ziggler, but has since established himself as a promising young blue-chipper in WWE. His sheer size and strength combined with his surprising athleticism in the ring has impressed many within the WWE Universe.
Jack Swagger is already an established Superstar in WWE. As previously listed, Swagger has held his share of Championships already in WWE, but the former two-time All-American from Perry, Oklahoma has never held the prestigious Intercontinental Championship. It's been right around two years since Swagger last held gold in WWE, as he was the United States Champion from January 16th until March 5th of 2012. Could tonight be Swagger's night? Will Swagger bring the I.C. Championship to Zeb Colter's Real Americans stable, or will Big E. Langston continue to be a dominant Intercontinental Champion?
4. The New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos
The legendary New Age Outlaws made history at last month's Royal Rumble pay-per-view, as the future Hall of Famers captured their sixth WWE Tag Team Championship. The veteran Superstars have kept themselves in tremendous physical condition and have barely aged since their glory days from WWE's Attitude Era in the late 1990s. However, Jimmy & Jey, the Uso Twins, are hungry for Championship gold. The sons of the legendary Rikishi have been waiting for an opportunity like this ever since they made their WWE debut back in May of 2010. This match will be a classic case of the Old Lions vs. the Young Lions. Can the Outlaws hold onto the straps, or will the younger duo of The Usos prove to be too much for the older, yet more experienced team of Billy Gunn & Road Dogg?
5. Alberto Del Rio vs. "The Animal" Dave Batista
Two former WWE World Champions will clash at Elimination Chamber tonight, as four-time World Champion Alberto Del Rio takes on the legendary "Animal", six-time World Champion Dave Batista. Although Batista may be considered the odds-on favorite, Del Rio should not be considered an "easy" opponent for "The Animal". Batista just returned to WWE a number of weeks ago, while Del Rio has been actively competing on the roster since 2010, which was the year that Batista left WWE. Del Rio has proven to be a dangerous and very capable competitor who has sidelined various Superstars with his devastating Cross Armbreaker submission hold. Del Rio has competed against many of WWE's top Superstars, including John Cena, C.M. Punk, Rey Mysterio, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, The Big Show, and others.
However, Del Rio will be facing a Superstar who has already cemented his legacy as a future WWE Hall of Famer. Dave Batista has headlined WrestleMania and has picked up victories over countless WWE Superstars throughout his illustrious career, including Triple H, John Cena, Kane, Mark Henry, The Undertaker, and many others. Batista is a two-time Royal Rumble winner and is also a four-time Tag Team Champion with the likes of Ric Flair, John Cena, and Rey Mysterio.
Another element to this match-up will be the fighting backgrounds of both participants. Alberto Del Rio was a tremendous amateur wrestler and also enjoyed considerable success as a professional mixed martial arts fighter with a record of 9-5. Dave Batista also has a background in mixed martial arts and streetfighting, and won his first and only MMA fight in October of 2012 against a veteran fighter in Vince Lucero. Batista was also recently promoted to a Purple Belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Cesar Gracie of the legendary Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Family. This means that Batista excels in the art of submission grappling and could potentially out-grapple even a superb amateur wrestler such as Alberto Del Rio.
On paper, it appears as though their fighting backgrounds might be an even match, but again, Dave Batista is the veteran when it comes to WWE in-ring wars and is considered the favorite to pick up the win against Del Rio. Batista is also currently scheduled to challenge whoever is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion going into WrestleMania 30. However, a loss to Del Rio, or possibly even an injury in this match, could shatter Batista's hopes of once again headlining WrestleMania. As many fans are already well aware, Batista does have a history of being rather injury-prone. Batista can ill-afford a loss and especially an injury in this match against Del Rio at Elimination Chamber.
6. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
Perhaps no other match on the card tonight has been more anticipated and talked about by the WWE Universe than the war between The Shield and The Wyatt Family. The Shield is technically the more experienced team, and they have waged war and even picked up some impressive victories over most of WWE's current roster, including John Cena, Randy Orton, C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Mark Henry, The Undertaker, Ryback, and many others. Ever since their debut at the Survivor Series pay-per-view in November of 2012, the team of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns have established themselves as one of the most dominant and feared factions in WWE history.
At the Extreme Rules pay-per-view in May of 2013, Rollins & Reigns defeated Kane & Daniel Bryan for the WWE Tag Team Titles, while Dean Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship. Rollins & Reigns held the Tag Titles until October before losing the straps to The Rhodes Brothers, while the eccentric Dean Ambrose is still the United States Champion and currently the longest-reigning Champion on WWE's entire roster at the moment.
The Wyatt Family, consisting of Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and the hypnotizing leader of the faction, Bray Wyatt, have also established themselves as a fearsome faction in WWE. They made an immediate impact during their WWE debut in July of 2013 by attacking the legendary "Big Red Monster" Kane and have been on a path of destruction ever since. Although the team of Harper & Rowan may not have the best win/loss record in tag team competition, the ever-dangerous Bray Wyatt has proven to be an extremely capable in-ring competitor in one-on-one matches. Bray has picked up victories over Kane, Kofi Kingston, and Daniel Bryan.
On paper, one might argue that The Shield may have the advantage heading into this match. However, there have been rumors for months now that all may not be well within the camp of The Shield. It's been well-documented that WWE has high hopes for Roman Reigns as a singles competitor, and there are rumblings that The Shield as a unit may have run its course in WWE. If The Shield is indeed destined to implode, could it happen tonight at Elimination Chamber as they face their biggest challenge yet in The Wyatt Family?
7. WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
"The Viper" Randy Orton will defend his Unified WWE World Heavyweight Championship within the confines of the Elimination Chamber against five hungry challengers in John Cena, Daniel Bryan, "The Celtic Warrior" Sheamus, Antonio Cesaro, and Christian. To say that the odds are stacked against "The Viper" would be a huge understatement.
The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton is known as WWE's Apex Predator. The 12-time World Champion is a deadly competitor who can secure a victory at any moment with his RKO finishing maneuver. Many of WWE's top Superstars have fallen prey to "The Viper" over the years, including John Cena, C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, The Big Show, Kane, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, and scores of others.
John Cena's resume speaks for itself. Arguably one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time, Cena is a 14-time World Champion who has headlined WrestleMania on numerous occasions and has overcome every obstacle placed in front of him. The list of competitors that have tasted defeat at the hands of Cena is a who's-who of sports-entertainment Superstars, including Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Brock Lesnar, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Randy Orton, Dave Batista, Chris Jericho, Edge, Umaga, Kane, The Great Khali, Bobby Lashley, Ryback, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Rey Mysterio, and countless others. John Cena very well could be the odds-on favorite heading into this match.
Daniel Bryan is neck-and-neck with John Cena right now as WWE's most popular Superstar. The former WWE Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, United States Champion, Tag Team Champion, and Money In The Bank winner is considered to be red-hot at the moment and has truly been on a warpath over the past six months or so. The submission specialist from Aberdeen, Washington has proven himself to be a very dangerous and very capable in-ring competitor who can compete with anybody on WWE's roster, no matter how big, how strong, how fast, or how experienced they are. Simply put: Daniel Bryan can beat anybody on any given night, and this very well could happen tonight at Elimination Chamber.
"The Celtic Warrior" Sheamus is a two-time WWE Champion and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, making him a three-time World Champion overall. Sheamus is the first-ever Irish-born WWE World Champion, and is also a former United States Champion, 2010 King of the Ring, and 2012 Royal Rumble winner. Sheamus has gone to war against top WWE Superstars and has picked up victories over John Cena, Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry, The Big Show, Alberto Del Rio, and others. Sheamus can never be underestimated and could prove to be the proverbial X Factor in tonight's Elimination Chamber Match.
Christian has just about done it all in WWE. He has captured countless Championships, including the World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions. However, despite all of his success, Christian has also faced his fair share of adversity in WWE. For whatever reason, WWE officials just don't seem to view Christian as being a truly top-tier Superstar along with the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton. Christian has a dedicated fanbase that would very much like to see him capture WWE's ultimate prize before he eventually hangs up his boots. Although he doesn't seem like a heavy favorite to emerge victorious in this match, one has to wonder what would happen if Christian were to pull off the upset of his career tonight and capture the Unified WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The proverbial dark horse in tonight's main event match is the former WWE United States Champion from Lucerne, Switzerland, Antonio Cesaro. Widely considered to be one of WWE's best pure technically sound competitors, Cesaro has been impressing the WWE Universe over the past number of months with his superb in-ring abilities and his shocking feats of strength. It's been said that pound-for-pound, Antonio Cesaro may be the strongest Superstar on WWE's entire roster. A well-traveled competitor before ever stepping foot in a WWE ring, Cesaro has a wealth of wrestling knowledge at his disposal. However, Cesaro has never competed in WWE's Elimination Chamber Match before, which puts the Swiss Superstar at a significant disadvantage... at least on paper. Tonight will be the biggest match of Cesaro's entire career and he is fully expected to try to make the best of it. Even if Cesaro does not emerge victorious at the end of the match, this very well could be a history-making night for Cesaro and a turning point in his career.
Overall, tonight's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view can be considered a stacked card. Whatever transpires tonight could have a huge impact on WrestleMania 30 and very well could change the landscape of WWE for the rest of 2014 and even beyond the rest of the calendar year. Will tonight's show live up to its potential? Only time will tell.