John: Welcome to the Elimination Chamber Preview. There are six announced matches on this show plus one match on the pre-show to make it seven matches, which is more than WWE usually advertises for a pay-per-view.
The only surprising thing about the card is that Dolph Ziggler isn't in a match on the show. That's odd to me. He's a guy that many people consider to be one of the best all around performers in the company, he's carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase and he will likely be a World Champion in the near future. Does his absence mean that he could cash in the briefcase on Sunday night? Could happen. I'm not expecting it, though. Maybe that's why it's a good time to do it. We'll focus on the advertised matches. I doubt they will be adding any more.
Joining me for this preview is TJRWrestling's Christian Michael and Andrew Johnson. Christian covers Main Event for the site and Andrew writes his Smacking of Smackdown column every weekend. Let's get to it.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner featuring a mix of The Rock and CM Punk is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
Brodus Clay & Tensai vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Pre-Show)
Christian: Team Rhodes Scholars is having a reunion because Primo and Epico were unavailable for the job? I didn’t understand why they split in the first place. They were good together and haven’t even reached their peak as a team. This match is really about the dancing fat guys. Tensai needs to drop the whole Japanese aspect to his character and go back to the hip-hop hippo. I’m giving this way too much thought. It’s dancing fat guys. It’s not that hard.
Prediction- Tensai and Brodus Clay
Andrew: Hey it's that Team I Love that broke up, but not really and that other team that gives me mini-seizures when I watch them for too long! This'll be a gas.
If they're going to actually try and make the Dancing Fats a thing than they need to get the win here. Rhodes Scholars are only on this card because the tag team division is back to pre-summer of 2012 standards and there are no other credible heel pairings that deserve a YouTube spot, which is the saddest thing in the world I've ever typed.
The Prime Time Players aren't even a shadow of their former selves anymore. They're just two dudes that lifted their catchphrase from a woman in the projects who's building burned down, PrimEpico is so far down the ladder they're resting their feet on the ground, and I don't even know where the f**k the Usos went. Cody and Damien are the best they've got.
This begs the question as to why they had them break up in the first place and cause me so much emotional turmoil? Is my pain funny to you, you bastards?!
John: The best thing that can happen in this match is if Team Rhodes Scholars wins and then after the match they announce that their team isn't over. They can say they had a change of heart or they fooled us. I don't care what the reason is. Keep this team together. Put the tag titles on them soon. Build the tag division around them. Is that too much to ask?
All of that would be too good to be true, though. I'll pick the dancing fat guys to win because I've watched too much WWE in my life and I know that's just how it is. Sometimes you just shrug your shoulders for matches like this. I'm sure that somewhere Earthquake (RIP) and Tugboat are thinking at least Vince didn't make them dance.
Winners: Brodus Clay & Tensai
United States Championship: Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz
Christian: I have no idea why this match is even taking place. Cesaro won clean on the Royal Rumble pre-show and then literally destroyed Miz on RAW with that awesome swing into the guard barrier. Miz says he is awesome, but Cesaro really is.
Prediction- Antonio Cesaro retains
Andrew: In a perfect world this match will be given 10 minutes and this...
... will be 9 of them.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
John: Cesaro is such an awesome heel who gets better every time we see him. The Miz? His babyface turn isn't working that well. I'll admit that all of last year I thought he would go babyface and that it would work for him, but it's been tough to watch at times. The fans are getting behind him more for his matches, though, so that's a positive thing about it. Do people reading this actually think Miz will win the US Title here? It's not happening.
I feel like Cesaro's going to have a long run as US Champion while Miz is just there to lose just like he did last month. So tell me why does he get a title shot again? The only reason I can come up with is that WWE hasn't found anybody else to lose to the champ. I wish there was a better reason, but that's all I got. The champ keeps his title. Here's hoping he gets a meaningful feud heading into WrestleMania and that he doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Cesaro is too good.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
Divas Championship: Kaitlyn vs. Tamina Snuka
Christian: I wanted to write something snarky here but this doesn’t even warrant my literary genius.
Prediction- Kaitlyn retains
Andrew: It should be Tamina because she's a sexy Klingon warrior goddess of legend, but it's not going to be because I'm not sure WWE realized they booked this match and they'll just come up with something on Sunday around 8 like they usually do.
John: This is going to be tough for the girls because they have no feud. I remember they had that awful "match" on the Raw Roulette show from Las Vegas a few weeks ago and that's it. Kaitlyn's barely been on television since winning the Divas Title. Tamina is almost never on. The crowd is going to be dead for the match. They better hope they are only getting three minutes because if it goes longer the crowd will turn on them and that's not good for anybody.
Here's my point of contention. Raw is a three hour show. How is there no time to at least showcase the women for at least five minutes? A tag match? How about a promo? Even a poorly acted backstage skit ending in a brawl is better than nothing. Sticking them out there on PPV with no TV build is a bad move. As for the match, I'll take Kaitlyn to retain because there's no reason to do a switch. Good luck, ladies.
Elimination Chamber Match to determine the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry vs. Chris Jericho vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Jack Swagger
Christian: The way I like to preview these Elimination Chamber Matches is by looking at who is not going to win. The first two you knock off is the Tag Team Champions, Team Hell No. Bryan will be one of the workhorses in the match but I think his end game is to further the problems he is having with Kane.
The next man you knock off is Mark Henry. Even though he is being booked as an absolute beast, he vs. Del Rio is not a WrestleMania match. That’s my only reason for him not winning.
Next is Chris Jericho. Due to his talent and star power, he is a credible threat to win but he’s here to be the other workhorse and since the other title match at WrestleMania is going to be babyface vs. babyface, I doubt they make the World Heavyweight Championship one also.
Jack Swagger and his racist manager make a lot of sense but I don’t think you just throw him into a WrestleMania main event after being gone for five months.
That leaves Randy Orton. I think he wants to turn heel and I think that will occur on the road to WrestleMania as he feuds with Alberto Del Rio. We’ve seen that match to death last year, but it would be a different dynamic with Orton now the heel and ADR the babyface. Plus, Orton’s star power would help the title match.
In reality, it doesn’t matter who wins the Elimination Chamber Match because Dolph Ziggler is leaving WrestleMania the World Heavyweight Champion.
Prediction- Randy Orton
Andrew: Hoo boy. Lots of speculatin' goin' on here, I reckon.
I honestly can't tell you what WWE is thinking in regards to their WrestleMania plans. I'm so far away from their target audience that I can't comprehend the things that they do. I understand the big things like Rock and Cena because they make money and money is awesome, but stuff like Sheamus kicking Daniel Bryan's head off and pinning him in 18 seconds is beyond my scope of understanding. That's why I don't really like to do fantasy booking. I'm often wrong because I seem to think my ideas make sense, while WWE seems to think I'm a stupid asshole.
So I don't know. There are a lot of options. Jericho could win and Dolph could cash in during the World title match and they could go with that. Swagger could win and him and his racist uncle could take a run at the Mexican champion and do terrible things in the name of nationalism but at least it will be within the proper context (i.e. they're bad guys). It could be Mark Henry who WSS's all of them and sucks their abilities from their souls like Majin Buu. I don't know.
So since I can't decide, I'll just go with my stand-by winner for all matches.
Winner: John Cena
At this point, Canton emailed me back saying I had to pick somebody that was actually in the match to win. Can you believe that? Crazy!
Winner: Chris Jericho
John: I'm a fan of Elimination Chamber matches. I wish there were two of them on this card, but I'll still enjoy this one.
My pick for this match has been Randy Orton for several weeks now. On the last two weeks of Smackdown there were a couple of things that happened to make me really like that prediction. Two weeks ago Mark Henry beat Orton clean in a match that got about seven minutes. When was the last time Orton lost a match that quickly? Doesn't happen. Then there was this week on Smackdown when they had another match. This time Orton attacked Henry with a steel chair to get himself intentionally disqualified. Henry attacked Orton after the beating and laid him out with the World's Strongest Slam again. That would mean my theory of "get beat up on TV, win on PPV" is in play for Orton. Also in WWE they tend to put somebody over on pay-per-view after clean television losses.
The other five guys in the match are all very good performers too. I don't think Daniel Bryan or Kane are going to win because they're the tag team champs that will likely argue to cost them the match. It's an obvious story. It makes sense, though. I'd expect Bryan to be one of the first two men in the match so that he can carry the action as one of the elite workers in the match (along with Jericho). It wouldn't surprise me if Bryan pinned Kane or if Kane pinned Bryan as a way to get over their story as the tag team champs that have issues.
I think there are scenarios that make sense for Henry or Swagger. They're both heels while Del Rio is the babyface champion (I'm assuming he retains on Sunday). For Henry it's a case of a former World Champion returning from injury, looking as dominant as he's ever been and running through everybody in this match.
When it comes to Swagger, now that he's got his evil manager in Zeb Colter by his side it makes sense to put him against Del Rio since Zeb is spouting off at the mouth about foreigners in America. Del Rio's a Mexican, so it makes sense in that way. I think that's a feud for down the road, though. It might be too early to push Swagger that far although I'm a Swagger so if it happened I'd have no problem with it.
As for Jericho, there's a scenario that makes sense. He can win this match to earn the World Title shot at WrestleMania. Who would his opponent be? Dolph Ziggler. They could have Ziggler cash in on Del Rio during this show somewhere and that would set up a Jericho/Ziggler match since they have a strong feud. A lot of people have shared that idea with me, so it's not like I'm taking credit for it should it happen. I'm just saying that's a possibility. Personally I doubt Jericho will be in another major championship when he's a part-timer and they already have a part-timer holding the WWE Title. You never know, though.
I realize they had Orton vs. Del Rio plenty of times towards the end of last year, but now that Del Rio is in the babyface role it's a different scenario. Orton can definitely turn heel on the road to WrestleMania. My scenario that I wrote about in my ideal WrestleMania 29 lineup a few weeks ago was that Del Rio would beat Orton clean at WrestleMania and then Orton would turn heel after the match by punting Del Rio in the head. That would open up the door for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania to become World Champion.
Do I think it's possible that Jericho, Swagger or Henry can win? Absolutely. Since I can only pick one guy I'm going with Orton because I think he's a guy that really needs to turn heel and wants to, so a win here would be a nice way to set that up. Of course it also makes sense for him to turn after losing the match since he would be angry.
There are plenty of possible scenarios in play for this match. That's why I enjoy Elimination Chamber matches so much. I really don't know who is going to win, nor would I consider anybody a favorite. I think if you eliminate the tag champs you can make a legit claim for any of the other four guys to win this match and become the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Title. I love not knowing. Surprises are fun in wrestling. Just look at Jericho's return at the Royal Rumble as an example of that. I'll pick Orton, but I'm not that sure about it.
Winner: Randy Orton
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show
Christian: Their first two matches were Last Man Standing Matches and now this one has no stipulation. That doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense but I’m not really sure what stipulation they could have added here. Del Rio needs a clean win here to build momentum for WrestleMania. A tap out would really put him over well. I’m just ready for this feud to be over. I’ve really lost a lot of interest in it since Royal Rumble.
Prediction- Alberto Del Rio Retains
Andrew: Yeah... it's not going to be Big Show.
I'm sorry Show. I'll never forget you!
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
John: It's weird that they had two Last Man Standing matches that Del Rio won and now they're having a…wait for it…regular match. Huh? It doesn't seem right. At least they did the smart thing on television by putting over the idea that even though Del Rio beat Big Show twice he has yet to pin him in a World Title match. I guess that's why they are just having a regular match, but it would have made more sense to do some kind of "pinfalls only" stipulation or something along those lines.
I think Del Rio will retain his title because it doesn't make sense to put it back onto Big Show. How often does a guy win back a major championship in a second rematch? There's no need for Big Show to carry the title into WrestleMania. They are clearly investing a lot in Del Rio as a babyface champion, so it's important that he walks into the WrestleMania with that title around his waist. I'm expecting they'll get 15 minutes or so, Big Show will dominate the majority of the match and Del Rio will avoid the KO Punch. For the finish I do expect a Del Rio pinfall victory rather than a submission because they pushed the idea of a pinfall on television so hard. Usually if they do that they are basically telling you what to look for.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)
Christian: This match should be taking place inside the Elimination Chamber. You don’t need to have five guys get beat to get to the victor. Have the match be War Games style where members of each team are released every four minutes from their pods until all six men are in the match. Then the first pin/submission wins the match. I think WWE is robbing the fans of something unique and that would be very entertaining.
This is an interesting match to predict because these six men are very well protected so it’ll be interesting to see who takes the fall. John Cena is going to come out of this match looking like gold to set up for his match with The Rock at WrestleMania. I can’t see anyone on the babyface team being beaten and for that reason alone I see Cena pinning Dean Ambrose after 10-15 minutes of what will be nothing more than a crazy brawl.
Prediction- John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus
Andrew: Is this an Elimination Chamber match or not? And by that I mean match not PPV title.
Whatever. This isn't going to end well.
Winners: Super WWE All-Stars
John: This match isn't a six man Elimination Chamber tag match, so I'm hoping they give it street fight rules or something to differentiate it from a regular match. There's still time. I think fans want to see a lot of physical action with these guys rather than watching them stand on the apron waiting for a tag. It looks like it will be regular tag match, though, so that's what I'll base my prediction on.
I can see a case made for either side to win this match because they've been built up very well. On the babyface side you have three of the top "good guys" in the company. Cena won the Royal Rumble and is likely going to win the WWE Title at the main event of WrestleMania, so should you book him to lose a tag match? Of course you can do that without him getting pinned since it's a tag match. I doubt most remember, but Cena did lose at both Survivor Series and TLC. Ryback has pay-per-view losses at both of those events plus Hell in a Cell. Isn't he due a pay-per-view win? They could save it for WrestleMania. As for Sheamus, he also lost two of his last three singles pay-per-view matches (Survivor Series was a DQ win) all to Big Show. Why do I bring up the losses? Because even though they lose they are still three of the strongest characters in WWE.
I don't want The Shield to lose. They've only had one official match on the main roster and that was a TLC match win in December. It was an outstanding match too. They impressed a lot of people. I'm surprised they haven't had more matches, but that's part of their appeal. They show up when they want, how they want and they don't let anybody dictate anything to them. Of course we could ask why none of the GMs ever book them in a match, but this is wrestling and it's best we don't use logical questions like that. I think a guy like Rollins can shine in a match like this because he's the most athletic performer in the trio, so if they're going to get their ass kicked he'll do a good job of making the others look good. I like Ambrose a lot on the microphone and I know he's very skilled in the ring. I just want to see more. I've seen less of Reigns than the other two over the years, but he impressed me at TLC so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do.
If the babyface team loses it won't be clean. There could be a scenario where a fourth member of The Shield shows up (Kassius Ohno would be perfect) to cost the three good guys the match. Or perhaps there will be a disqualification ending. That would be a bit of a downer. It's also a possibility because if they wanted a definitive ending they would have put a stipulation on it.
In the end I think Cena's team will win. I realize his team could lose without him getting pinned, but if he's going to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania like I expect then it makes sense to see him on the winning side in this match. I don't think it will hurt The Shield too much. They could always win the tag titles on Raw or in a WrestleMania match as a way to keep them strong. The story heading into the match is good with both sides coming in with momentum, so I'd expect an entertaining 15 minute tag match with John Cena ultimately getting the victory for his team.
Winners: John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus
WWE Championship: The Rock vs. CM Punk (If Rock is counted out or disqualified, Punk wins the WWE Title)
Christian: I love The Rock. I’m glad he’s back for this run. I’m a big fan of CM Punk but there’s just been something missing from their feud. Those epic promos haven’t been as prevalent as I thought they would be from these two. It’s almost like WWE put as little effort into the build as possible because they know it’s going to sell because it is The Rock and Punk.
The fact that they took Rock’s Championship advantage away baffles me. Why would Rock try and get himself disqualified or counted out? That’s what a heel Punk would do. Maybe Punk will try and pull an Eddie Guerrero? Who knows? What I do know is that CM Punk is not leaving NOLA as the WWE Champion.
Prediction- The Rock Retains
Andrew: I don't know if you can tell, but I ran out of patience with this card about three matches ago. I'm just going to pick the obvious winner and call it a night.
Winner: The Rock
John: I think The Rock will win this match to remain the WWE Champion. Before I get to the "how" part of the prediction, I hope you watched his promo on Smackdown. It was intense, serious and a money maker in the sense that it helped build up to the match. Meanwhile on Raw he did that promo about buying a car from a crackhead that didn't really help the match at all. I'm a Rock fan. I like his comedy. However, his serious promos are as good as anybody in wrestling and I wish he did them more often especially on Raw when there are more people watching.
As far as this match goes, could they go out there, have a 20 minute match that is entertaining and with a clean finish? Absolutely they could. I just don't think it's the most likely scenario.
Here's my idea. Lights go out. The Shield, who lost their match earlier in the show, attacks Rock. Before the ref can even signal for a bell for disqualification ending the lights go out...GONG….GONG. Undertaker. He shows up at ringside and destroys all three Shield guys. You could even do something where he gives Roman Reigns a Last Ride powerbomb through a table. The Shield retreats. Punk is furious and shocked that Undertaker is there. With no outside distractions, Rock finishes off Punk to win the match.
Then on Raw the next night they can say Vince McMahon sent Undertaker there to prevent Heyman and Punk from stealing the WWE Title. McMahon doesn't like Heyman, but he can't physically go after him because he hurt his hip in the storyline. It would obviously set up Undertaker vs. Punk at WrestleMania. Add that to the likely Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H match at WrestleMania. What do you get from all that? A scenario at WrestleMania where two singles matches will see two of McMahon's guys (Undertaker and Triple H) take on two of Heyman's guys (Punk and Lesnar) in big singles matches.
If Undertaker isn't wrestling at WrestleMania (I think he is) then it makes sense to put the WWE Title back on CM Punk. That would then lead to a triple threat match at WrestleMania with CM Punk as the WWE Champion, The Rock getting his rematch at that event and John Cena also getting a shot because he won the Royal Rumble. But I don't think that's going to happen.
I think it will be an entertaining matchup. I liked their Royal Rumble match quite a bit. Now that they have a match to build off their chemistry should be even better this time around. I would expect a slow pace early on because they're likely going twenty minutes, but once it hits the homestretch it will become a very exciting match. Whether there's interference or not I fully expect The Rock to win this match to head into WrestleMania as the WWE Champion.
Winner: The Rock
John: I think it's a good card. I love Elimination Chamber matches, so I'm a bit disappointed that there is only one of those matches rather than two. I still think it will be an entertaining show, though. The main event has the potential to be excellent, the six man tag should be a lot of fun and the Chamber match will deliver in terms of giving the fans a physical match to watch. It will be a fun show to watch.
I'll be writing about Elimination Chamber live this Sunday on TJRWrestling.com, so join me there if you want to read along with me. You can always check it out after the event if you're watching it with friends. I'll post it at other sites after the show too, but it will only be live at TJR.
On behalf of Andrew and Christian, thanks for reading.
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