Tonight, WWE presents one of the roughest and toughest roadblocks on the Road to Wrestlemania: Elimination Chamber. Below is my take on the ramifications of each and every match going into tonight’s event as well as a glimspe into where I see things going this point forward. Without further ado, the card begins with the Kickoff match:
Elimination Chamber Kickoff: The Brotherhood (Cody Rhodes & Goldust) vs. Rybaxel (Curtis Axel & Ryback)
This match follows a similar build as many other Kickoff matches in that there really is no build. This is simply a tag team clash to get the crowd into the show before business really starting to pick up, and I can’t think of a better contest to serve that purpose. Since Cody Rhodes and his half-brother Goldust joined forces back in October 2013, they have been virtually unstoppable. They took the tag team titles off of the equally unstoppable Shield, and it took a team the likes of the New Age Outlaws to end their reign as champions. With or without the WWE Tag Team Championships, Cody Rhodes and Goldust have been able to step into a ring and steal the show every single night. Rybaxel have tried their hands at single competition with Ryback challenging Cena earlier this year and Curtis Axel made his debut last May and went on to carry the Intercontinental Championship for 155 days until Big E snagged it in Nashvilel on Raw Country back in November.
For this meeting, I don’t see this ending any other way than it has in the past. WWE may be in Axel’s backyard of Minneapolis, MN, but the team of Cody Rhodes and Goldust will wow the crowd and walk away from the Target Center with a win LIVE and FREE on the Elimination Chamber Kickoff starting at 7:30pm eastern on YouTube, Facebook, and WWE.com among other online outlets.
WINNERS: CODY RHODES AND GOLDUST
Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio
I’m going to go ahead and get the easy one out of the way. Alberto Del Rio is an amazing bad guy, but let’s call a spade a spade. This is nothing more than something to show off the Rumble Winner’s strengths before he challenges the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania XXX. Del Rio has been talking down The Animal since Batista’s return was announced in early January. Batista then eliminated Del Rio from the Rumble match upon his entry and the two have continued to get under each other’s skin ever since. Del Rio may be good at bothering people and he may know is way around an armbar, but I doubt he will be any match for Batista in the Target Center.
Darren Young vs. Titus O’Neil
To me, this match is a byproduct of the title unification and an apparent push within the company to put more focus in the ring. This match is huge for both Titus and Darren. I hate seeing the Prime Time Players come to an end, but that has to happen for either character to be able to evolve at all. I just hope that these guys don’t end up like Cryme Tyme (which I am drawing quite the comparison as I watch this feud unfold). Cryme Tyme were a tag team who split up a few years ago. They had a match at the closest Pay-Per-View and soon thereafter, Shad (who played the bad guy in the story) was released from his contract and JTG (the good guy) has virtually vanished into a realm where release from his contract is expected, but it never seems to happen. With Darren Young’s personal life becoming a hot topic recently, I don’t believe that he would be put in a JTG position, and with Titus being as vocal as he is, this is the time to put up or shut up. These two guys were entertaining as a team when they bounced off each other and shared the spotlight. Tonight at Elimination Chamber, do they have what it takes to elevate their individual names and prove they can stand alone and deserve a second glance?
Each man has scored singles victories since the team disbanded, but the true testament of their solo careers begins when the two face off against each other for the first time. Titus and Darren have taken their fair share and getting in each other’s faces. Titus has the strength, but Darren can be quick. This match will be a real showcase for both men, and when the dust settles I think good will prevail off a costly mistake by Titus. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and Titus seems like the type of athlete who would like one moment of dominance go to his head. That’s when the quickness of Young will get the chance to capitalize.
WINNER: DARREN YOUNG
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Ever since the New Age Outlaws (or Old Age Outlaws as my brother likes to call them) became Tag Team Champions – and even further back to when the team walked out on CM Punk and cemented their turn as bad guys – my gut feeling has been that these guys are going to carry the tag team titles long enough to allow a blossoming team like The Usos the chance to challenge for them and eventually win them. While Road Dogg and Billy Gunn were pursuing the prestigious titles against Cody Rhodes and Goldust, The Usos were dealing with the Wyatt Family and then-member Daniel Bryan. After many exciting contests featuring Usos, Wyatts, and Bryan, the feud culminated in a Steel Cage match. With The Usos winning that cage match, that was enough for me to claim them as #1 Contenders for the Tag Team Championships right then and there. Now, Rikishi’s sons have officially challenged the champions to a match tonight with gold up for grabs.
The result for this one is a toss-up. I never saw The Usos winning the titles outside of Wrestlemania, but with everything exactly where it needs to be, I could see Jimmy and Jey taking the titles and facing the Outlaws at Wrestlemania in a rematch. Each champion is entitled to a rematch for the gold in the event of a loss. I could see Wrestlemania as the stage for the rematch and if that were the case I could see Jimmy and Jey taking the titles on the Show of Shows. Another way this match could go down is that the Outlaws could weasel a way out of the match or a happy accident could befall the Usos in the form of a DQ against Road Dogg or Billy Gunn. If the Usos win by DQ, they won’t win the gold but nine times out of ten, that leads to a second chance later either on Raw or at the following pay-per-view. With all the talk about facing against someone who has beaten their father or who their father has had the chance to defeat. I believe that the torch will be passed in Minnesota on February 23 as Jimmy and Jey Uso achieve their dream of becoming WWE Tag Team Champions and they will carry those straps across the Grandest Stage of Them All on April 6, where I would love to see the New Age Outlaws/Usos rematch take place.
WINNERS and NEW WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: JIMMY AND JEY, THE USOS
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Big E vs. Jack Swagger
This contest has me confused and concerned. This match could be pivotal in a number of different ways. The feud hasn’t had the greatest chance to create a lot of buzz, nor do the players involved give me an accurate reading of the potential result.
First of all, I am a BIG fan of the Intercontinental Championship. I’ve loved that championship since I first started watching WWE back in 2004 and Randy Orton carried it representing Evolution on Raw. The Intercontinental Championship was built on establishing stardom. Lengthy reigns are also a big thing these days. Hot Potato is not as prevalent as it was over the last three years or so. On one hand, I could see Jack Swagger taking this championship away from Big E who has held it since November, but on the other hand, I don’t think Big E is done carrying the white strap just yet. Regardless of the outcome tonight, I see Cesaro becoming Intercontinental Champion by the end of Wrestlemania. The more I look at Jack Swagger, the less I see someone who could be seen on WWE TV as Intercontinental Champion – even if it’s only to turn Cesaro toward fan-favorite. I could easily see Swagger winning tonight only to lose to Cesaro tomorrow night, but that just seems stupid with the way the titles are starting to mean something again in WWE. With that said, I see Big E winning this one, only to lose the championship to Cesaro tomorrow night on what could be building up to be the best Raw in a long time.
WINNER and STILL WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: BIG E
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, & Erick Rowan) vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, & Roman Reigns)
Few words can adequately describe this match-up. Armageddon has been one of those words, This is the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. This is a Wrestlemania quality meeting, but if what we’ve seen at the Rumble has anything to say about what Wrestlemania will have in store, getting this match at Elimination Chamber is good enough for me. I’m just glad we get to see it. Time after time, WWE misses the ball on dream matches. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels wouldn’t have even happened if Triple H had not had gotten injured. It sucks that an injury led to one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches and one of the greatest Raw rematches in the history of WWE, but if that’s what it took to get a match of that caliber, then so be it. This contest looks like something right out of WWE Magazine’s Fantasy Warfare,but as far as we know it is happening tonight in the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. The two teams have drawn major support from the crowds all over the world, and finally they will meet in the ring. Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns are the two I’ve wanted to see in singles action through the entire feud. They are the future of the company. They could put on a great match, but with their teams in the background, the clash has been building. The hatred and animosity has been boiling for weeks until tonight. #BelieveintheShield vs. #FollowtheBuzzards. The battle lines have been drawn and only time will tell who the true winner will be. The Shield has been showing some cracks in their stability and nothing expresses this more than seeing Roman dump both Seth and Dean out of the Royal Rumble a month ago and going on to finish runner-up in that match. In the end, I think the pride of the Shield will be their fall. Rarely have we seen a team as focused and unified as the Wyatt Family. The bond of that team doesn’t seem to be able to break. Bray Wyatt has yet to lose on WWE TV if I’m not mistaken and tonight will be no different. I think Roman Reigns will step out of the Shield and possibly spear Dean tonight setting up for a United States title defense possibly tomorrow, but definitely at Wrestlemania. Roman Reigns is on the rise, but first he has to drop a little weight, specifically Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, but it wouldn’t hurt if he could take that United States Championship with him when he leaves.
WINNERS: THE WYATT FAMILY
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Randy Orton vs. Christian vs. Sheamus vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Daniel Bryan (Elimination Chamber match)
There are so many elements in this match that I don’t even really know where to start. I love how they’ve been able to build a mini feud around Sheamus’ errant kick to Christian. Christian has developed a mean streak following that moment and taking advantage of Daniel Bryan being distracted by Kane last Monday and again when he faced Sheamus on Smackdown. I don’t see Christian winning this match, but Christian’s new approach certainly balances the field. Orton, Cesaro, and Christian carry a win-at-any-cost mentally using any and every advantage they can get while Cena, Bryan, and Sheamus are the one who play more by the rules out of the 6 combatants. Like I said, I don’t see Christian winning this match, but I don’t see Sheamus winning either. John Cena’s chance of winning this contest will depend on whether or not the Wyatt Family decide to pick up where they left off at the Rumble once they do away with the Shield earlier in the night. Cesaro is a dark horse and he will go a long way. I’d love to see it come down to Bryan and Cesaro for the simple fact that it would be great for both characters, plus with the veterans out of the way, the two newer names would get a chance to shine and really tear the house (and the chamber structure) down once and for all.
The Daniel Bryan story has been one of triumph and pitfall. I know many fans have been rather vocal about not watching WWE ever again if Bryan doesn’t get the title he “deserves”. I agree that Daniel Bryan has done far and above enough to be considered the Face of the WWE, but it all comes down to tonight. If Daniel Bryan does win tonight, he’ll have Batista at Wrestlemania and likely Randy Orton as well. I would love to see that, but if the Shield have a Triple Threat match at Wrestlemania, I wouldn’t want to see the same type of match at one event, even if it’s the 4 hour extravaganza of Wrestlemania.
One man has been claiming that he is the #1 Contender since he returned. This man wasn’t interested in being a part of the Royal Rumble. This man was more concerned with asserting dominance even if that meant injuring the World’s Strongest Man or the World’s Largest Athlete. This man hasn’t shown interest in stepping into the Elimination Chamber. This man is Brock Lesnar and I firmly believe that on the highly anticipated February 24 edition of Monday Night Raw, we will see Brock Lesnar take advantage of the brutal Elimination Chamber. Brock Lesnar will challenge for the WWE World Heavywight Championship.
I predict that the man I believe will win inside the chamber will not start in a pod. I predict that the man I believe will win inside the chamber has already won once inside the chamber. I predict that Daniel Bryan will become WWE World Heavyweight Champion LIVE in the Target Center. I also predict that Triple H will accept Lesnar’s challenge on Bryan’s behalf. Brock Lesnar could easily become WWE World Heavyweight Champion over a weak and beaten Bryan 24 hours removed from surviving the obstacle of Elimination Chamber. If Brock Lesnar defeats Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, I predict that Wrestlemania host, Hulk Hogan, will emerge and declare that the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match will not be a triple threat match, but the main event of Wrestlemania XXX will be a Fatal 4 way featuring Brock Lesnar vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan.
WINNER and NEW WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: DANIEL BRYAN
I’d pay more to see that match than I would to see Lesnar vs. Undertaker like some of the online rumors are saying. A Fatal 4 Way with 4 names that have built the last 14 years. Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and Batista graduated from OVW around the same time. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan was taking international and Ring of Honor crowds by storm. For The American Dragon to overcome Orton, Batista, AND Lesnar at Wrestlemania would prove to be one of the greatest stories in wrestling history with a Superdome full of easily-exasperated fans who persevered the less than stellar moments and denials of Daniel Bryan as the top guy to experience the chance to join in one of the loudest and most profound “YES!” chants ever heard.
The Road to Wrestlemania is wide open, but the final Pay-Per-View pit stop is TONIGHT in Minneapolis, Minnesota as WWE presents Elimination Chamber LIVE from the Target Center beginning with the Kickoff show at 7:30pm eastern time.
***If a Divas Championship match is added. It will likely be AJ Lee vs. Cameron. Naomi is the original #1 Contender, but in the wake of her injury, it seems fitting that her tag partner take her place. In any case, if that match takes place at Elimination Chamber, my pick is AJ LEE