Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton on the mic. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
There are some wrestling fans who believe that a good show, particularly a pay-per-view event, has to be unpredictable. I’m not one of those fans, and this year’s WWE Elimination Chamber illustrates why.
The Elimination Chamber card, from top to bottom, looks very strong. Most of the matches have been built well and have some sort of backstory to them. And most of them look like they could be fairly decent matches. But very few of them leave much doubt as to who is going to win. The reason for that isn’t simply a matter of, “Oh, the WWE has gotten stale and predictable.” The main reason is that the WWE is trying to tell a coherent story, and the matches need to end a certain way to continue that story. Also, this pay-per-view serves, as much as anything, as a setup to Wrestlemania, so there are some logical conclusions to get to the Wrestlemania matches. Swerves are nice from time to time, but sometimes it’s just better to sit back and let the story play itself out.
With that said, there’s one X-factor that I haven’t been able to quite figure out yet, and that’s Brock Lesnar. He’s not on the card, and hasn’t even been on RAW for a few weeks, after making a lot of noise about being the best and No. 1 contender. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t show up at Elimination Chamber in some form, even if it’s just to do a promo. But he certainly could get involved in one of these matches.
With that said, here are my thoughts and predictions for Sunday’s pay-per-view event.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback
This is the preshow match before the pay-per-view portion starts. Cody and Goldust have been in a bit of a holding pattern since losing the titles to the New Age Outlaws. They had the one rematch, but after losing, have just seemed to be pushed down the tag team ladder as the Usos ascended to take their place as the top face tag team. This match was thrown together as the preshow, so it’s hard to get a true read on it. There are two possibilities in my mind. The first is that this match will serve to boost Cody and Goldust back up the ladder, and make sure they don’t drop down too far. Goldust is still immensely popular, and with no other place to really put these guys on the card, this was a logical match for them. The other possibility is that there’s a split between Cody and Goldust coming. A match between Cody and Goldust has been rumored for years now, with Goldust actively campaigning for the match at one point. If they lose, that could be the seed for the split. If this match were on the true pay-per-view, I’d be more convinced that one of the brothers was going to turn on the other. Now they simply could lose here and split later, of course, but it seems less likely. Plus, after just breaking up the Prime Time Players, and the New Age Outlaws presumably having only a short run, breaking up another tag team so quickly seems like it would be a mistake.
Winners: Cody and Goldust
Big E vs. Jack Swagger for the Intercontinental Championship
Jack Swagger has been on an interesting ride the past few weeks. He started to look like the weak link in the Real Americans, as he took the pin in several tag matches, and then lost his Chamber qualifying match while Cesaro won his. However, he picked up a little momentum in getting the No. 1 contendership to the IC title. It will be interesting to see what they do with Swagger from here. Cesaro seems to be the one to get the push if the two split up, but Cesaro is also getting the face reactions. So how do you split the two up and leave Swagger as the heel? That one is a question for another day. Big E started to get some momentum in January, only to cool off in the past month. I think this is the day that momentum picks back up.
Winner: Big E retains
Titus O’Neil vs. Darren Young
It was a bit of a surprise when O’Neil turned on Young on Smackdown a few weeks ago. While they weren’t doing much at the time, they were still a fairly popular tag team, and I don’t think it would have shocked anyone if they received a title shot somewhere down the line. But Titus O’Neil always has been a guy that people looked at and saw a future singles superstar in. Because of that, I think this match is fairly easy to predict. If this feud had a bit more to it, I could see them exchanging victories for another pay-per-view or two, but in this case, I think they just want to elevate Titus as quickly as possible.
Winner: Titus O’Neil
New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship