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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents: The Elimination Chamber - Could Braun Win? What's Next for Seth Rollins? Could there be 4 women's matches at Wrestlemania?
By Dave Fenichel
Feb 23, 2018 - 9:30:07 AM

Question of the Day: What is the one thing you’d like to see happen at The Elimination Chamber?

Hi kids.

We’re only a couple of days away from The Elimination Chamber PPV. I have heard some negativity from fellow columnists regarding their interest level in the event. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. All of the major matches are intriguing and the show will provide us with significant framework for how the lion’s share of the Wrestlemania card will look. I guess there’s a reason that I’m the Eternal Optimist and they are….well….not optimistic.

What If Braun Wins?

It has been a foregone conclusion that Roman Reigns is going to dethrone Brock Lesnar and end his reign of dominance in the Wrestlemania 34 main event. I am not convinced.

The logic for why Reigns v Lesnar is a sure thing is as follows:

1. A dirt sheet report that came out shortly after WM33;

2. Roman Reigns is #1 guy in the company and Brock Lesnar is only passing his heat to the top guy;

3. Reigns has main evented the last three Wrestlemania events despite what the fans supposedly wanted to see – thus leading one to believe that there’s no reason that will change this year.

I don’t disagree with any of the rationale behind why it’s going to be Roman v Lesnar, but let me ask you a different question: does any of the abovementioned logic tie into anything that has happened on TV?

Stop. The question was rhetorical. Please don’t start answering this in the comments. The answer is no. None of the logic mentioned above is based on ANYTHING that has happened on Raw since Wrestlemania 33. It’s all speculation. Here’s what has actually happened:

1. Braun Strowmann was the featured challenger and the primary focus of the Summerslam main event and build;

2. Braun Strowmann has been the featured focus on Raw, while Reigns has mainly been involved in secondary storylines.

3. Braun Strowmann’s matches and/or angles have been closing the show whereas Reigns’ matches and segments are usually occurring at the beginning of hour two or three.

4. Braun Strowmann has unfinished business with Brock Lesnar following the Triple Threat match with Kane at The Royal Rumble.

Forget about the year-old dirt sheets for a minute and tell me what your eyes and experience as a wrestling fan tell you. Every piece of reasonable evidence is SCREAMING that the Wrestlemania 34 Universal Title Match is going to be Brock Lesnar v Braun Strowmann.

Is it possible that the WWE is booking Roman in a weak manner to disguise the Wrestlemania Main Event? Sure, it’s possible. However, while the WWE has often done that with other main event situations, they haven’t done so with the Wrestlemania Main Event. Far more often than not, the Wrestlemania main event challenger has been someone that has been positioned in that manner for the majority of the year leading into it.

I truly do believe that the plan at some point was to have Brock transfer his heat to Roman. However, is it really that hard to believe that Vince and company no longer feel like Reigns needs the rub? There was a time where he absolutely needed that spark. That time came and went at Wrestlemania 31. Despite not pulling the trigger then, Reigns was the unquestioned top guy in the company by the time Wrestlemania 32 rolled around.

He’s a made-man and anyone who questions that should have their head examined. He’s main evented three straight Wrestlemania events, all of which have been resounding successes. Whether he wins or loses, regardless of the storyline that he’s presented with, he garners a main event level reaction. You can plug him into any main event at any time, including a Wrestlemania main event, and no one will bat an eyelash and question the legitimacy of the position. He simply doesn’t need Brock Lesnar anymore.

On the other hand, Braun Strowmann has been coming on like a freight train. He’s being positioned as the new monster, the next Brock Lesnar if you will. I’ll never understand the criticism of Vince McMahon. He took a regional “sport” and turned it into a billion-dollar international empire. I find it hard to believe that he no longer has his fingers on the pulse of what is and isn’t best for business. If he’s looking to make Braun Strowmann this generation’s “beast”, Strowmann the one that will benefit the most by going over Lesnar at Wrestlemania.

Sometimes, you need to close your ears and open your eyes to the obvious. Braun Strowmann v Brock Lesnar is staring us right in the face.

What To Do With Seth Rollins?

As much as I’d love to troll my loyal readers and take a giant dump on Seth Rollins’ performance on Raw last Monday, I just can’t do it. He was flat out spectacular.

Seth Rollins was perhaps the wrestler in the entire company that needed a performance like that the most. It is a secret to NO ONE that despite his phenomenal in-ring work, Seth Rollins hasn’t been able to recapture his main event level stature since the split from Triple H. He was in danger of becoming a permanent upper-mid carder – a guy that you could plug into a main event when needed but not someone that you should take seriously as a credible threat.

That all changed on Monday. An hour and five minutes and two decisively clean victories over Roman Reigns and John Cena later, Rollins managed to recapture all of the momentum he previously had lost.

The booking of Rollins on Monday Night lends even more credence to my theory that Braun Strowmann is going to emerge as the victor at the Elimination Chamber. If Roman Reigns faces Brock Lesnar in the main event, Rollins it on the outside of the major matches looking in.

Finn Balor v The Miz looks like it’s happening. Samoa Joe is hurt. Cena v Rollins has been done to death and it wouldn’t make sense for Strowmann and Rollins to face each other at this stage in their progressions. Don’t even talk to me about a match between Rollins and Angle. I think Kurt needs to stay as far away from a wrestling ring as possible given his last two outings and everything that we know about his medical history.

Seth Rollins didn’t go over both Roman Reigns and John Cena in the same night to be discarded, and that’s exactly what will happen should Reigns face Lesnar. However, a match between Braun Strowmann and Brock Lesnar frees up the one man that is the OBVIOUS choice to be Seth’s dance partner for a blockbuster Wrestlemania match.


The WWE has been hinting at this one and we’ve largely ignored the possibility simply because Reigns v Lesnar seemed like the foregone conclusion. Roman eliminated Rollins at the Royal Rumble in questionable fashion. Seth beat Roman on Raw. They have a tremendous amount of history to fall back on from a storyline standpoint and although they have had superb 1 on 1 PPV matches in the past, none have taken place at any of the major PPV events.

The timing is perfect. If Reigns and/or Rollins costs the other their shot at the Universal Title this Sunday, everything falls into place. Strowmann takes on Lesnar, Reigns squares off with Rollins, Finn Balor goes after The Miz and the IC title, and John Cena’s “no path to Wrestlemania” storyline likely leads to The Undertaker or a match involving Ronda Rousey. I can get on board with that Wrestlemania line up. Can you?

Could We See 4 Women’s Matches at Wrestlemania?

I’m being forced to give the WWE credit. I have NEVER cared about Women’s wrestling as much as I do right now. I don’t know if it’s the arrival of Ronda Rousey, the newfound depth of the division, the increased focus being put on the women or a combination of the three. Regardless of the cause, I find myself invested in what happens on a weekly basis with the women’s divisions far more than I ever have before.

While there is SOME uncertainty surrounding how The Elimination Chamber event will shape the Wrestlemania card for the men, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding how EC shapes the card for the women.

Here’s what I think I know:

1. Ronda Rousey will sign her contract. Her Wrestlemania storyline will be revealed at the EC, mostly likely in the form of Rousey/Male Wrestler X v Stephanie/Triple H;

2. Alexa Bliss is going to retain at EC;

3. Asuka will beat Nia Jax and challenge Charlotte instead of Bliss;

4. Nia Jax is booked strongly in defeat and still ends up as Alexa’s Wrestlemania opponent.

I could get into the weeds on why I think each of the above will happen, but the rationale behind the top three women’s matches is another column for another day. I’m more interested in what I believe will be the FOURTH women’s match at Wrestlemania, and why I think this is the match that is the real key to the growth of women’s wrestling.

I think the WWE is finally going to pull the trigger on a full-fledged Sasha Banks heel turn, leading to Sasha v Bayley at Wrestlemania 34.

The WWE views both women as important pieces to the future of women’s wrestling. Neither had been doing all that much up until the Royal Rumble. The Rumble was the first time that Sasha was allowed to showcase her killer heel personality in a WWE ring. She’s been saddled in an underdog face role that simply doesn’t suit her. With Wrestlemania 34 on the horizon, I think it’s a LOCK that she finally turns on Bayley during the Elimination Chamber match.

I will be very surprised if Alexa, Sasha and Bayley aren’t the final three women in the match. The story writes itself easily. Bayley gets the pin on Sasha, Sasha snaps and destroys her, and Alexa picks up the pieces like a cowardly heel should. I think that with this being the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber match, the WWE will want something to happen that makes this match feel impactful. With the other three wrestlers involved, such an impact would have to come from Alexa, Sasha or Bayley.

Sasha v Bayley is important for the growth of women’s wrestling not for the match itself but for what the match represents. If the WWE goes down this path, it will be the first time that they’ve put a mid-card female storyline that didn’t revolve around a title on one of the major PPVs.

The key to the women being on par with the men is NOT how many PPVs they can headline. That’s a dog and pony show – something that is done because it’s great for PR. The key to elevating women’s wrestling is to provide DEPTH of storylines. Women’s wrestling will be on par with men’s wrestling when the WWE can fill a PPV event strictly on meaningful women’s matches without the support of their male counterparts. A match like Sasha v Bayley at Wrestlemania 34 is the first step in that direction.

That’s a wrap kids. I’m far more interested in The Elimination Chamber than most of my counter-parts. I truly believe that it will provide an exciting look into not only the plan for Wrestlemania 34, but also the long-term course for both the male and female divisions. Thank you for reading. Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel
Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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