Oh man, am I ever excited that the Elimination Chamber is back. If you’ve already read my Fastlane predictions from earlier this year, you’ll remember that the Chamber is one of my favourite events. In an industry that’s had a questionable ability to innovate over the last few years, the Elimination Chamber stands as one of the biggest and best ideas to ever be conceived. The fact that WWE is literally the only company with the budget and talent needed to pull off that monstrosity makes the event all the more unique. Finally, the Chamber is especially great this year because it is a: The last of three pay-per-view level events from this month (the return of the King of the Ring and last week’s Payback serving as one and two), b: is a network exclusive (which shows that the WWE is finally ready to put “stuff that matters” on their own network) and c: completely free this month (if you haven’t jumped on board already, Justin can set you up right here). With a fantastic amount of talent assembled, a guaranteed new Intercontinental champion to be decided, a big-time main roster début for NXT’s champion, a potentially-bonkers Tag-Team Chamber match and the always-incredible pairing of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, we’ve got ourselves one incredible card on the table. Can you tell that I’m excited or what?
Neville vs. Bo Dallas
Note: As this match was made almost a week after my initial post, I needed to come back to the article to put this one together. So, if you come back to check out this post right before the show, you’re in for a director’s cut version of Calling the Spots.
All you have to do is Bo-Lieve! Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to see more matches added to the Elimination Chamber docket. This is quickly becoming the PPV to beat, which is ironic because it’s not even available on PPV! Neville vs. Bo Dallas is a no-brainer opening (it’ll likely be the pre-show match), as these two had a tremendous rivalry at NXT and have a tendency to bring out the best in each other. Furthermore, this is exactly the kind of match that Bo Dallas needed, since he’s been largely forgotten by creative since his main roster début. Neville’s tagline as “the man that gravity forgot” is pretty apt in this case, as creative has been strapping the rockets on him ever since he showed up on Raw. Look for Neville to keep up his win streak on this one, but at least Bo won’t have to suffer another Ryback-squash match.
What I think will happen: Neville will get the win over Bo Dallas
What I hope happens: Bo Dallas gets the chance to rile up the crowd beforehand. He’s a great talker, especially when his heel-attitudes are on full display.
Tag-Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Los Matadors vs. The Ascension vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. The Prime Time Players vs. Cesaro and Kidd vs. The New Day
Dear god, what has science done?! This just sounds absolutely bananas. I remember how, just a short time ago, I was lamenting the lack of Tag-Team competition on the main roster, so you can imagine how excited I am to see the addition of a number of new teams to the division. Whether it’s from NXT recruits (The Luchas and the Ascension), the return of two crowd favorites to team competition (The Prime Time Players), or a chance for longtime workers to get into the PPV picture (Los Matadors and the always exciting Cesaro and Kidd), the Tag-Team bracket is set to steal the show at Elimination Chamber. Throw in all three members of the finally-hit-their-stride New Day, and this should be one to watch. There’s a lot of talent in the ring, but if I had to pick a winner I’m going to keep with The New Day. They’ve still got the momentum, and it’s hard to pick a contender to take it from them. As much as I appreciate Cesaro and Kidd for their athleticism, they haven’t really developed enough personality to merit getting the straps back, in my opinion.
What I think will happen: This will be an absolute show-stealer, and in the end the New Day will remain on-top of the division.
What I hope happens: No teams are eliminated before all of the chambers are opened, so that all six teams are competing at the same time.
Intercontinental Elimination Chamber Match: R-Truth vs. Sheamus vs. King Barrett vs. Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev
First of all, let’s all take a moment to mourn the loss of Daniel Bryan. It’s really too bad that he had to back out after getting a big Wrestlemania moment, again, as it was very clear that he was primed to make the Intercontinental Championship matter again. We all believed, and there’s no doubt that Bryan believed as well. It’s really too bad that his nagging injuries are keeping him out of the spotlight, but at this point all we can do it hope that he will be back in the near future. He is the epitome of a WWE Superstar, and he will be missed.
But, Bryan’s sabbatical does afford us a great match to see who will pick up the mantle of Intercontinental Champion. The WWE’s mid-card is clearly improving, since a number of the competitors are viable candidates for the role. So, lets process-of-elimination this sucker to figure out a potential winner. Starting at the bottom, R-Truth seems like the least likely candidate. Personally, I’m a big fan of R-Truth, but he’s just not on the same level as the rest of these guys. Next up would be Ryback, who just doesn’t really seem like the competitor they need to make the belt “matter” right now. He’s obviously a Big Guy, but that’s just not enough to be The Guy. Rusev is right in the middle for me. On the one hand, he’s been pretty well pushed down after losing three PPVs straight to the Corporate MaCena, so he could use the win to keep him in the big leagues. However, he’s over enough as a heel that he might not really need the strap to stay in the big picture. Plus, I’m still holding out hope that he’ll bring back the European Championship, although now that I think about it winning the Intercontinental belt could potentially be a stepping stone to doing just that, although an unlikely one. King Barrett makes for a fairly high-potential candidate, since he did have the title until Bryant won it at Wrestlemania. He could serve as the default setting in this equation. That being said, Barrett didn’t really do much to elevate the title when he held it, and I don’t know how it would factor into his King Barrett gimmick. Personally, it really comes down to Sheamus and Ziggler for me. They are the biggest heels and faces in the equation, and their feud is really picking up steam. Either competitor would make for a strong champion, however it serves to mention that Ziggler was the runner up at Wrestlemania. Honestly, this is one of those situations where I’m ok with pretty much anyone taking home the gold. With the exception of Ryback, I’m a fan of all of these guys, so I’m good either way.
What I think will happen: The match will come down to Sheamus and Ziggler for the belt, with Ziggler coming out on top.
What I hope happens: Whoever wins makes the title matter again.
Note: In an unfortunate twist of fate, Rusev’s impeccable momentum was cut short on the Smackdown taping just before the PPV. Injured during the match, Rusev will be unable to participate in the Elimination Chamber Match. While it has not been 100% confirmed (at least through my limited amount of research), the likely candidate to take his place is Bray Wyatt, which is actually pretty good. Either way, it is unlikely that this change will affect the matches’ outcome in terms of a new champion. While Bray Wyatt is undoubtedly the most talented guy in the match now, he likely will not get the belt because a: He’s so good he really doesn’t need it and b: Giving him the belt without a full-month promo buildup would be a wasted opportunity.
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
Now I’ve been pretty vocal in the past regarding my dislike for Cena’s matches, or just how much support he gets from the corporate machine, but as an individual it’s really hard to not like the guy. He’s at the top of the hill, but he’s humble enough to a: not have to be in the main event every night and b: help bring up the new guys. This is a perfect example of both of those contributions. Frankly, I’m more of a fan of Cena in this equation, as I haven’t really gotten Owens over at NXT just yet. I know that he was a big deal in the indies, but his gimmick just hasn’t caught on with me just yet. However, this could be a great opportunity for Owens to show off on arguably the biggest stage of his career, so maybe I’ll finally get it by the match’s end. But lets not kid ourselves, we all know Cena is walking out of this one on top. Despite how great NXT is, it is still considered as the developmental league and therefore, from a story standpoint, it would look really bad if a developmental talent beat a main roster champion, whether the belt is on the line or not.
What I think will happen: Cena will beat Owens.
What I hope happens: I finally get to see the Kevin Owens that everyone keeps going crazy over.
Divas Championship Triple Threat Match: Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. Naomi
Am I ever glad that Paige is back! She has been sorely missed over that last few weeks, and it’s good to see her back in the ring. I am unabashedly pulling for her to get the strap back at the end of this one. I’ve always been a Brie over Nikki kind of guy, and while Naomi is undoubtedly a superb athlete I’m really not buying her as a championship-caliber character just yet, especially as a heel. It’ll be interesting to see if Brie and Tamina somehow get involved in the match, but all things being equal this might be Paige’s moment to capitalize on a long-overdue title run.
What I think will happen: Paige will get the title run that she has been waiting for.
What I hope happens: This match can be even half as incredible as Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks’ match from NXT Unstoppable. That was, without a doubt, the gold standard for women’s wrestling. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you to get on the network (right here if you haven’t jumped on board yet) and check it out.
WWE Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
It’s really unfortunate for these guys that the rest of the card is so good, since without the Elimination Chamber matches to steal the spotlight, this would definitely be the match to watch. Rollins and Ambrose are living proof that the new generation of WWE talent has arrived, since they have made themselves into two of the biggest names in the industry over the last year. There was a time, when the Shield broke up, that we we’re all worried that the members would be lost in the shuffle and unable to stand on their own. While I would really really really love to see the Shield get back together, there is no denying that all three members have been able to stand on their own over the last year. I was fortunate enough to see Ambrose vs. Rollins live last summer and they absolutely stole the show, so I have high hopes for them to do the same here. Frequent readers of Chinlock will recall that I named Ambrose vs. Rollins as 2014’s feud of the year, so I’ll sign up to watch these two go at it every time. As for the outcome, while Ambrose getting the win would elicit a tremendous response from the audience, I still see Rollins retaining on this one. He’ll probably keep the belt until Summerslam when Lesnar makes one of his 3-match-a-year performances.
What I think will happen: Rollins will retain after a tremendous showing. Also, Kane might finally snap and return to his more demonic character.
What I hope happens: Kane and J&J Security, while undoubtedly present, will not take away from the match as they have in previous showings. Rollins is a great performer, and honestly I’m getting sick of him being relegated to a “sniveling cheater” kind of character.