My Two Centsss - Elimination Chamber Predictions (Cena vs. Orton is the WM Main-Event We Don't Want, But Will Probably Get)
By Super Chrisss
Feb 11, 2017 - 12:42:05 PM
Tom Jenner rocks!
It’s that time of the year, folks. It’s February, which means WWE, fresh off tolling their fans for the fourth straight year at the Royal Rumble, is gearing up for a set of Pay-Per-Views which have WrestleMania ramifications on the line. At the Raw-exclusive Fast Lane, Goldberg will challenge Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship, and unless Brock has nowhere else to be that night, the chances of KO walking into WM33 as champion are as good as my chances of dating Emma Stone: it’s not gonna happen. For many fans, myself included, the only thing worse than Brock vs. Bill III at WrestleMania is if the Universal title will be contested during that match-up. No fucking thanks.
Elimination Chamber, sadly, has an opportunity to rival the apathy of a potential world title match between Goldberg and Lesnar that many fans are over-looking. When John Cena defeated AJ Styles to win his sixteenth WWE Championship two weeks ago at the Royal Rumble, and Randy Orton would later win the Rumble match, people understandably blew a gasket. The possibility of Cena vs. Orton in 2017 – in the main-event of WrestleMania, no less – is something just about no one reading this column wants to see. Therefore, a lot of people reassured themselves that with Cena set to defend his WWE Championship against five other superstars this Sunday, Cena vs. Orton is far from confirmed. After all, there is no champion’s advantage inside the Elimination Chamber. You’re only at an advantage if you’re one of the final two superstars to enter the match. Moreover, Cena isn’t defending his championship against any jabronis. Facing the likes of Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt is a lot more challenging than defending against The Great Khali, Chris Masters or Ted DiBiase. As a result, most people seem certain a new champion will be crowned on Sunday, with Bray Wyatt being the heavy favourite, mainly due to his storyline with Orton.
However, there are several things I mentioned in the above paragraph that some are over-looking. Notice how I mentioned Cena winning the championship merely two weeks ago? That seems like a rather brief reign for accomplishing such a historic milestone, does it not? Granted, for all we know, Cena may have beat Styles at the Rumble only to lose it at the Chamber and then win it back at WrestleMania 33, with Cena actually beating the record. Knowing WWE and their fascination with breaking records, that’s a serious possibility I wouldn’t pass them. So even if Cena loses on Sunday, he could very well end up in the WWE title match at WM regardless: maybe a triple-threat or Fatal-4-Way involving Bray Wyatt and/or AJ Styles?
I also stated that “just about no one” wants to see Cena vs. Orton at WM33. See, I think the IWC may be in the minority here. As my buddy Steve said in one of his dozen podcasts this week (I forget which one), it’s been over three years since Cena vs. Orton took place at a Pay-Per-View. If 365 days is a long time in the wrestling world, imagine how much the landscape changes over the course of THREE years. As a matter of fact, things are very different heading into a 2017 Elimination Chamber than they were at the 2014 Royal Rumble. If you recall, Cena vs. Orton was absolutely shat on by the fans in attendance. Despite both guys putting on a tremendous performance, the crowd booed both guys out of the building (and saved the rest of their anger for Batista winning the Rumble an hour later). January 2014 was the last time Cena and Orton main-evented a PPV against each other.
Like I said, three years is a long time. Believe It or not, there are plenty of fans who have never seen Cena vs. Orton live. People start watching wrestling all the time. It’s not the same three millions people tuning into Raw every week. You lose some fans but gain some more. That’s why the non-title match between Cena and Orton – which took place on this week’s SmackDown Live – received a completely different reaction than their 2014 Rumble outing did. To a lot of people in attendance, that match didn’t feel old. Granted, Seattle may not be the smarkiest wrestling city in America, but my point still stands. Cena vs. Orton actually feels fresher than its Raw counterpart of Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (a match-up we will see many more times over the years, trust me). If WWE was paying attention to the crowd’s reaction to Cena vs. Orton from this week’s SmackDown, then that crowd gave them no incentive to steer away from having those two main-event WrestleMania against each other.
Lastly, as much as I would LOVE to see Bray Wyatt win his first-ever WWE Championship this Sunday and go on to main-event WrestleMania, does it really make sense from a storyline perspective? Let’s say Bray does win on Sunday; then what? Do he and Orton come out together on next week’s SmackDown and announce the ‘family’ will be fighting for the WWE Championship in two months at WrestleMania? It just seems odd. I can’t see Wyatt vs. Orton happening at WM without a betrayal. Besides, even if Orton does find a way to enter the chamber on Sunday and ‘screw’ Wyatt, how the hell does that warrant Wyatt a title shot at ‘Mania, especially if someone else leaves the chamber as champion? I’m trying to envision a scenario where Wyatt winning on Sunday logically leads to Orton vs. Wyatt at WM33 for the title, but I just can’t.
That’s why I think either John Cena or AJ Styles leaves Phoenix as WWE Champion. Whichever of those winning could lead to the aforementioned multi-man match at ‘Mania because at least one of them will be guaranteed his rematch. However, something tells me WWE really wants to do Cena vs. Orton one-on-one at ‘Mania since it’s never been done before. They’ll give away Styles vs. Cena for free on SmackDown about a month before ‘Mania, with the winner facing Orton in Orlando, but the end-game will unfortunately be Cena vs. Orton (vs. Wyatt). Thus, Cena retains on Sunday.
The rest of Sunday’s festivities look compelling from an entertainment point-of-view, but not so much from a WrestleMania standpoint. I am 100% certain that just like at the Royal Rumble, SmackDown will once again be getting the shaft to accommodate the part-timers and the Raw brand at WrestleMania. As a result, every Elimination Chamber match scheduled for Sunday – bar the main-event – will have little to no impact on the WM33 card but will at least contribute to the weekly television show. Tag team turmoil should be fun, even if the winners are pretty predictable. If the babyface team had emerged victorious at the end of the 12-man tag team match on Tuesday night, I would have predicted a win for The Usos who have surprisingly been lost in the shuffle in recent months. However, with WM coming up and so few spots on the card, I think WWE may do a Raw vs. SmackDown tag team match (maybe title unification, but I doubt it) and if so, I can’t see anyone other than American Alpha representing the blue brand in Orlando.
Kudos to both SmackDown and their women’s division for being strong enough to warrant having THREE women’s matches on the PPV this Sunday. While some would argue that it’s filler, it’s really not. If Raw books Charlotte vs. Bayley, Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox vs. Dana Brooke (remember her?) at Fast Lane, now THAT’S filler. The SmackDown six (featuring Carmella, who is wisely out of the spotlight for the moment, but still relevant) has done a nice job the past couple of months of making each of their respective feuds feel fresh and engaging. Although I would have loved to see a women’s Elimination Chamber match, I assume they’re saving it for next year, when Raw gets the PPV (eye roll). That being said, I’m invested in all three matches, although the one with the title up for grabs excites me the least of the bunch, truthfully. I’ve just never been a big fan of Naomi as I’ve yet to see her athleticism help her have a solid match. With WM33 being in her hometown of Orlando, I worry that WWE might put the belt on her for the hometown pop, but honestly, I wouldn’t mark for Naomi if she came from my hometown. Alexa Bliss retains.
Since I view Naomi as nothing more than a transitional opponent for Bliss, someone for Bliss to go over cleanly without La Luchadora/Mickie James no longer helping her out, I think the next logical step is for Nikki Bella to emerge as Little Miss Bliss’ next challenger. It’s actually surprising that Nikki has been so far removed from the title picture since joining the blue brand last SummerSlam, but in all fairness, I’ve enjoyed her feuds with Carmella and Natalya, the latter of which goes down on Sunday. Both women are modern-day veterans of their current generation of women, but despite the rumours of Nikki taking time off after WM33, she’s still the more marketable of the two, by far. In a match that should exceed many expectations, Nikki Bella wins and challenges Alexa at WM.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James is the dream match you won’t see on anyone’s list but should probably be included. I believe Becky is the best wrestler of the four horsewomen – second only to heel Sasha Banks – and Mickie proved at NXT TakeOver: Toronto she can still go. Despite this match having arguably the least hype compared to the other two women bouts, I fully expect Becky/Mickie to surpass the others in quality. In fact, while Orton vs. Harper has the potential to be great, don’t be surprised if this one steals the show from the men. Mickie James needs to win, or else she’s just another veteran who was brought back to job to the new stars all the time.
Speaking of Orton and Harper, I actually hope Harper feuding with the new Wyatt Family isn’t a swerve and that face Harper is here to stay. Unlike his Wyatt Family brethren Erick Rowan, Harper has all the tools to excel as a singles competitor, even as a face. I thought his Intercontinental title run/chase from a few years was highly underrated. It didn’t succeed because the writers couldn’t book him properly. Thankfully, Harper is a member of the SmackDown roster that is notorious for booking performers correctly. Harper should have a nice showing on Sunday, but there’s no way he goes over Orton. Randy Orton wins because a) he’s The Viper and b) he won the Rumble and is going to main-event WrestleMania, duh.
I understand the reasoning behind booking Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews & Kalisto in a handicap match on Sunday due to the events which have transpired on SmackDown since January but it just seems odd to put a new, darker Ziggler in a match where he’s at a disadvantage against two underdog babyfaces. Again, it makes sense story-wise but the heel is going to play the ‘face in peril’? Weird. The only reason why I think this match is on the main card opposed to the pre-show is because something of significance will happen. Either one of the two faces (Crews, in most likelihood) turns heel and betrays Kalisto OR WWE remembers they ‘stole’ Jack Swagger from Raw last summer and decides to reunite Ziggler with his tag team partner from years’ past. Swagger & Ziggler vs. American Alpha at some point? Sign me up! Either way, Ziggler win.
As for the pre-show, my first instinct is to write off Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins because who the fuck cares? But I would like to see a reshuffling of SmackDown’s tag team division between this Sunday and post-WrestleMania. In addition to either a Ziggler/Crews or Ziggler/Swagger tag team, I would pair up Crews & Rawley as the new ‘comedic’ tag team while finally splitting up Rhyno & Slater (which they have been teasing for a while now). I would also break up Breezango as I think Breeze is long overdue a singles push on the main roster. Finally, I would turn The Vaudevillains face as they have zero momentum as heels and I enjoyed their face run in NXT. SmackDown’s tag team division is a mess right now but a few changes could easily redeem it, no Revival call-up needed (I think Raw needs new tag teams way more than SmackDown does).
Mojo Rawley over Curt Hawkins
Dolph Ziggler over Kalisto & Apollo Crews
Randy Orton over Luke Harper
Mickie James over Becky Lynch
Nikki Bella over Natalya
Alexa Bliss over Naomi
American Alpha over Breezango, Slater & Rhyno, The Ascension, The Usos & The Vaudevillains
John Cena over The Miz, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt
YOUR Two Centsss: Do you see any titles changing hands this Sunday? If so, which ones?
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