WWE Elimination Chamber Analysis and Predictions

In the old WWE special television event offering model, they charged between $60 and $75 per monthly pay-per-view.  When they offered the WWE Network at $10 per month and it included all pay-per-views, 24-hour-a-day content, and access to an on-demand back catalog going back 40 years, you didn’t exactly need to draw up a spreadsheet to determine that this was a pretty good deal.  In somewhat of a surprise move, the WWE has added a bonus live event in between the normal PPV cycle in the form of The Elimination Chamber this Sunday.  This network deal keeps getting better and better.

Additionally, the WWE has combined synergies between its developmental promotion, NXT, with the network to deliver an enhanced product to its customers.  The NXT live events have really taken off with the fans since they began airing weekly on the network, and it has begun to stand on its own as a quasi-independent group from the main WWE content.  Additionally, NXT has proven to be a solid feeder system of new talent to the main roster. We are in the midst of the biggest roster overhaul since the days when the blue-chip class of Batista, Randy Orton, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar trained together in Ohio Valley Wrestling in the early 2000’s and were all called up at around the same time.

The Elimination Chamber card from bottom to top is full of talents that were called up from NXT within the last two years.  WWE programming feels much different than it did three years ago (anybody remember when Orton and Cena wrestled 5-6 PPVs a year?) with a new set of faces in the ring.

Let’s take a look at what to expect on this Sunday’s card.  I need to improve my pick percentage after the debacle that was my pick set at WWE Extreme Rules in April.  I have decided to challenge myself to at least do better than this jabroni who writes about WWE for the International Business Times.

Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler in an Elimination Chamber match for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship

Wow, there is a lot going on here.  Sheamus is back after a hiatus with a new look and a bad attitude, and has looked strong in his program with Dolph Ziggler.  Ryback continues to play up his “hero to the children” role and at the very least has the crowd with him when he starts his “FEED ME MORE!” chant.  King Barrett is back on a roller coaster ride, having lost almost every match he competed in on his way to a defeat for the IC title at WrestleMania 31, only to come back out on top by winning the prestigious King of the Ring Tournament last month.  Rusev is back to being Bulgarian and recently broke up with Lana, forcing her into the arms of Ziggler.  Ziggler has heat with at least three other guys in this match.  Finally, there’s R-Truth.  Ok, I have no idea why he’s in this match.  It all takes place inside of the unforgiving Elimination Chamber.

Unfortunately, it appears that Rusev has suffered a legitimate injury at Smackdown this week and his status for the match is uncertain.  He’s been pulled from the live shows this weekend and replaced with Kane.  Rumor has it that Bray Wyatt is on standby if Rusev can’t go on Sunday.

This should be a standard-fare fast-paced and brutal chamber match with a lot of high spots.  I’d also expect a lot of emotion, especially with some twists and turns involving the budding love triangle of Rusev, Ziggler, and Lana.  In particular, if he competes, I have my eye on Rusev in this match.  He’s coming off of three straight losses to John Cena, he lost his mouthpiece in Lana, and he’s not even Russian anymore.  This look and his subtleties in the way he works in the ring make him a standout talent and I hope that he re-gains some of the momentum he lost beginning at WrestleMania.

Prediction: Winner and new Intercontinental Champion, Rusev.  If Rusev pulls out of the match, I predict Ryback will win and take the title.

The New Day (c) vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. The Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension vs. Los Matadores in a Tag Team Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Wow, there’s a lot going on here, too.  For the first time in history, we are going to get a tag team match inside of an Elimination Chamber.  The rules were clarified on Raw this past Monday in that two teams will start out in the match with the other four each crammed into a pod.  When one member of a team is eliminated, that team is out of the match and must exit.  Much like the IC chamber match, this should be a fast and furious match with several teams showing off their agility, speed, and strength.

The New Day turned their fortunes around in a big hurry.  Just three months ago, they were an awful babyface faction that couldn’t get over with a catapult.  Since their heel turn and Tag Team Championship victory using the Freebird Rule, they have new life and have surprised many with how well they now come off.  On a recent podcast, Lance Storm theorized that The New Day was supposed to be a heel faction all along but were brought in as awful babyfaces in order to get them over as heels.  If that’s the case, it sure worked because they were awful until the heel turn.

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, as always is the case with them as singles or tag team competitors, can’t seem to get over the hump.  The fans want to love them but they really don’t have anything interesting going on for themselves other than a unique finishing move, a variant of the popular “Cesaro Swing”.

The other teams in this match are a mishmash of performers at various stages of their careers.  The Prime Time Players are in their second go-around after having not found much success as a team several years ago.  The Ascension is an NXT call-up that has thus far missed the mark and has not connected with the fans of the main WWE roster.  Los Matadores and the Ascension are WWE’s answer to Lucha Libre-style masked tag teams and have very little character.  They seem to be popular with children, but ultimately don’t say much on the microphone and work more like stunt men than wrestlers.

The two stand out teams in this match are The New Day and Tyson Kidd and Cesaro.  This match will likely come down to the two of them as the last teams standing and I’d expect to see some sort of interference from the third member of The New Day who does not compete in the match.

Prediction: Winner and still WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day

Neville vs. Bo Dallas

This is going to be a classic squash match, designed to make one superstar look good by beating up a jobber.  Bo Dallas, of course, is the jobber in this match.  Both of these NXT-groomed competitors have exhibited different levels of success thus far in their WWE runs.  Bo Dallas can’t seem to get the fans committed to his villainous “positive thinking” gimmick.  Neville has been riding a hot streak since his post-WrestleMania call up to the main roster.  He’s been presented well with is “Man Who Gravity Got” tagline and his acrobatic skills in the ring.  He’s won some and lost some and has the look of someone the WWE wants to give a big push to see what he’s capable of.

The only thing to really expect in this match is an offensive explosion for Neville, most likely showcasing his acrobatic skills in a series of high spots throughout the contest.

Prediction: Winner, Neville

Nikki Bella (c) vs. Paige vs. Naomi in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Divas Championship

I only suggest watching this match if you are really, really bored and have absolutely nothing else to do.  It may be more rewarding to stare at the wall than to watch this match.  If you do happen to watch, you can laugh at how little the crowd cares about it.

Prediction: This match is going to suck and you shouldn’t care who wins.

John Cena vs. Kevin Owens

This match is another nod to the aforementioned youth movement underway in the WWE, as NXT champion Kevin Owens takes on the United States Champion, John Cena.  In somewhat of a surprising move, Kevin Owens was called up to the main roster only a few months after he made his NXT television debut in December and established himself as a heel right out of the gate.  He’s been on a hot streak in NXT, playing the role of a self-absorbed jerk who turns his back on his friends and takes whatever dubious means necessary to capture championships.  He’s a main attraction at NXT right now and it’s somewhat unprecedented to have a current NXT champion competing on the main roster.  It just goes to show the confidence the WWE has in him and he look to me a like a can’t-miss talent.

John Cena continues to be an integral part of getting the younger talents over in the past 14 months in programs with Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Sami Zyan, Neville, and now Kevin Owens.  It seems like that is a rite of passage for any NXT call-up to have at least one televised match with John Cena.  Cena is doing well in his recent mid-card run, and is coming off of a wildly entertaining and emotional four-month feud with Rusev.  He is the perfect foil for the disrespectful rookie, Kevin Owens.

During their interactions on Raw, the crowd has steadfastly stood with the heel Kevin Owens and is firmly against the babyface Cena.  It seems as though the fans are begging for someone different to come along and beat Cena up for a change.  It could happen this Sunday.

Prediction: Winner, Kevin Owens

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Another special event, another main event featuring former members of The Shield.  Interestingly enough, this one features the two that were seemingly the most likely to get left behind after the faction broke up in 2014, but that has not been the case.  These two are top-level performers and deserve the push that they’ve been given.

Seth Rollins looks like he’s studied years and years of footage of classic wrestling villains and how they conduct themselves as champion.  He is the total package, he’s devious, disloyal, cowardly, dishonest, arrogant, and an all-around-jerk.  He is also one of the best in-ring performers on the roster today and has adjusted his style to work as a heel.  He is poised to have a long run as champion, possibly hanging on the title even until WrestleMania 32 in Dallas next year.

As always, there are a lot of factors that come in to play when Rollins is in a match.  The Authority is a great heel faction and its members have the most character depth of anybody on the roster.  The hilarious and yet sometimes ironically effective J&J Security team always get involved in his matches.  Of course, Corporate Kane, with whom Rollins has an adversarial relationship, can also be a factor in this match, and it would be interesting to see what side he chooses.

Dean Ambrose was put back in the main event slot for this event after he spent the better part of 2015 on the mid-card.  There are unsubstantiated rumors that Ambrose was given this opportunity because someone behind the scenes made a case that they were “missing the boat with Dean Ambrose”.  His humorous and unpredictable style have connected with the fan base in a way that very few anti-heroes have in the past.  He has a little bit of CM Punk and Stone Cold Steve Austin in him, yet he is very unique on his own.

These two are still feuding from their breakup as Shield brethren last year.   They were in a middle of an emotional program that ended abruptly at Hell in a Cell with outside interference from Bray Wyatt during their match.  This time, I’d expect them to pick up right where they left off with an all-out brawl in a contest in which the odds are stacked against Dean Ambrose.

Prediction: Winer and still WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins

Additionally, I’d keep an eye out for Kane, The Big Show, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Harper and Rowan, and Bray Wyatt.  All of these competitors are not scheduled for a match (although Wyatt may be called in to action) and could possibly get involved in one way or another.