“The Elimination Chamber is one of the most unforgiving structures in WWE history. Two Superstars start the match, while four others are held in chambers inside the structure. After a predetermined amount of time, one Superstar is released from his chamber and let out into the fray. This continues until all six Superstars have entered the action. A Superstar can only be eliminated when he is pinned or submits. The last man standing in this match is declared the winner.”
(WWE’s official description of The Elimination Chamber Match)
Tonight’s the night: ‘The Road To WrestleMania’ hits a turning point marked St. Louis for Elimination Chamber. Maybe it’s because I was on holiday the weekend of Royal Rumble or maybe it’s because I’ve found the build-up to WrestleMania so far to be underwhelming, but I’m quite interested to see what goes down tonight.
Elimination Chamber is, of course, the event previously known as No Way Out, WWE’s February pay-per-view which for the last two years played host to two Elimination Chamber matches: one from Raw, the other from SmackDown!. Yes, the show has been renamed in keeping with WWE’s current obsession with naming events after the matches they host (Hell In A Cell, TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, etc.) but how does tonight’s card stack up? Let’s take a look…
One Year Ago…
Time flies by when your having fun. Last year they used this event to reshuffle the deck, swapping both brand’s versions of the World Title and as a result the promotion did seem different the next night. Whilst many were expecting Triple H to win Edge’s title (which he did) so Orton could challenge him (although there were also rumours of Orton/Austin and Triple H/Edge at one point, I think by then it was more likely Hunter would get in on the Orton/McMahons storyline instead), I don’t think anyone was predicting Edge to insert himself in the Raw title match and win that. The whole Edge/Big Show/Cena deal only real came into play post-NWO.
This year whilst Sheamus and Jericho look like the obvious winners, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did something a little different.
Elimination Chamber match for WWE Championship:
Sheamus (Champion) vs. Triple H vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Kofi Kingston
Analysis: As far as the match itself goes there are a number of storylines that should cross over, set up feature matches on the WrestleMania XXVI card and provide some entertainment along the way.
I expect Batista to cost Cena the match be it directly (interfering in the Chamber itself) or indirectly (attacking him backstage or during his entrance) thus ‘protecting’ him in defeat.
I know a lot people assume Legacy will eventually turn face on Orton but based on recent booking where Cody has cost Orton matches with Sheamus, if they wanted to turn Orton babyface they could have Legacy turn on him and align themselves with Sheamus. Or maybe just have one of them turn, whilst the other remains loyal to ‘The Viper’.
Then there is the ‘forgotten man’ in all of this. In late December, Kofi Kingston looked set to break the glass ceiling but his push stalled and, as a result, so did his momentum. An impressive performance here could go some way towards getting him back in the limelight and the match itself is ideal for someone with his athletic attributes.
Workrate-wise this has potential. For as many times as we have seen them, I’ve liked the Triple H/Cena and Orton/Cena, and to a lesser extent Orton/DiBiase and Kingston/Orton, matches they’ve done in the past. I’m less keen on the inconsistent Orton/Triple H pairing and undecided about and Sheamus against any of them. Nonetheless it has the potential to be a good match.
Possible Outcomes: Sheamus is a champion in need of credibility. Based on the closing moments of Raw, Triple H challenging Sheamus at WrestleMania looks likely and a win here could make Sheamus look more credible. That would appear to be the obvious outcome and the safe money is on the Irishman retaining.
If they do decide to “shake things up” a bit I can see Randy Orton or Triple H regaining the belt with Sheamus getting his rematch at the Big Show (not Paul Wight).
A more surprising option would be to go for Batista (pulling an Edge by taking out Kofi for the second year in a row?) or John Cena to get the duke, making the inevitable Cena/Batista confrontation a WWE Title match. This would allow them to do something different with Triple H such as putting him in a Triple Threat match with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker for WrestleMania Taker’s streak, whilst Sheamus faces whoever eliminated him (Kingston or Orton) on the undercard.
SmackDown! Elimination Chamber match for World Heavyweight Championship:
Undertaker (Champion) vs. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio vs. John Morrison vs. R-Truth
Analysis: On paper, this looks like an early Match Of The Year Contender if everyone in there is allowed to shine. There are several existing stories which should be built upon here.
Coming two weeks after his singles non-title win over ‘The Phenom’, I foresee Undertaker getting some revenge on Jericho by bouncing him around the 16 ton steel structure.
In recent weeks we have seen some quality interaction between Rey Mysterio and C.M. Punk and I expect to see more of that tonight. Mysterio’s performance in last year’s Raw Chamber was one of my highlights of the year and I expect another stellar performance on tonight’s show.
I am also intrigued at what spots the athletic John Morrison can pull off in this, his first Chamber experience. I can certainly see them working Morrison’s ankle injury into this, leading to a heel turn which he can blame on Truth (his opponent when he injured himself and tag team partner when he re-injured it last week).
Finally, I expect Shawn Michaels to find a way to get himself involved either officially (replacing Morrison) or illegally (finding a way to get inside and cost Undertaker his World Title).
Possible Outcomes: Given his obsession with getting a WrestleMania rematch against ‘The Dead Man’, I can definitely see Michaels somehow getting involved in the SmackDown! Chamber and costing Undertaker the match. By default that means we get a title change.
Presuming this happens, then Chirs Jericho or C.M. Punk would be the best choices to win so a heel gets to capitalise on Taker’s misfortune. They’ve teased Jericho/Edge every week since Edge has been back so that looks like the plan right now.
Of course, they could always go for Punk instead then run Edge/Jericho and Punk/Mysterio as the feuds throughout the Spring. Whoever wins the match looks set to be used as a short-term Champion (a role both Jericho and Punk have played before) simply to job to Edge at ‘Mania.
Drew McIntyre (Champion) vs. Kane
Analysis: Meh. Their match on SmackDown! a couple of weeks back wasn’t too bad I suppose. McIntyre retains.
Possible Outcomes: McIntyre is like the Intercontinental ‘Division’s’ version of Sheamus in terms of having received and early push but still feeling in need of credibility. I don’t mind either Sheamus or McIntyre but at this stage they both need some convincing wins over established opponents.
With Money In The Bank allegedly being dropped from this year’s ‘Mania, I can see the Intercontinental Title being defended for the second consecutive year. If that happens I could see McIntyre vs. Christian.
Kane doesn’t need the Title and seems comfortable in his role as the monster that guys beat when they are on the up. I can’t see anything beyond a safe win for the Scotsman over an established opponent.
Divas Championship Tournament Final:
Maryse vs. Gail Kim
Analysis: This is the Final of the tournament for the Divas Title which was vacated when Melina suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the 29th December, 2009. I will be looking at said tournament in a future issue of NTWICW so stay tuned.
As for the match, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been praising Maryse’s character work since she started wrestling on SmackDown! in 2008 and she’s still an entertaining heel. I’ve been getting more into Kim in her recent matches as well. She proved in TNA that she can play a decent babyface opposite the right heel and she’s got one here.
Not expecting this to be Match Of The Night or anything but I can see them putting together something short and sweet.
Possible Outcomes: Maryse was apparently set to win the Divas Title from Melina before she went down with injury, so I expect they’ll go with ‘The Sexiest Of The Sexy’ here.
The alternative is to put the belt on Kim and then have her drop it to Maryse at a later date but I can’t see much benefit in that.
Conclusion: On the one hand, I’m not a big fan of overdoing gimmicks, and having two Elimination Chamber matches on one show is just that. On the other, the last two No Way Out events hosting the exact same gimmick were two of the better cards of their respective years and they were able to differentiate the Chamber matches enough that it didn’t feel like overkill (even when it was). Can they pull it off for the third year in a row?
At the very least this is a chance for the McMahons to inject some much-needed excitement into ‘The Road To WrestleMania’. With WWE entering what has historically been there most interesting quarter and TNA moving to Mondays, lets hope they make the most of it – Now That’s What I Call Wrestling.
Carl ‘TheBigBoot’ Robinson