Daniel Bryan will walk into WrestleMania as the World Heavyweight Champion.
That was a statement that would have seemed crazy to some just a few months ago. Now, it is all but a certainty. As Bryan will defend his World Heavyweight Championship in his first-ever Elimination Chamber match this Sunday, it will be Bryan's final hurdle to living his dream of holding the championship at the Showcase of the Immortals.
In what was bumped to a dark match last year at WrestleMania, the World Heavyweight Championship will be decided between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus, this year's Royal Rumble winner.
Speaking of last year's WrestleMania, the United States Championship match was bumped off the card and used as the dark match of the night. It led to a no contest that turned into a battle royal. That battle royal was won by The Great Khali. That was the closest that Khali came to a pay-per-view appearance until his return at the Royal Rumble.
Despite losing, Khali now stands as one of five challengers for the World Heavyweight Championship this Sunday.
The only other ex-World Heavyweight Champion in the current group is Big Show, who held the championship for moments, only to have Bryan cash in Money in the Bank and win the title. Big Show has attempted to win the title back on multiple occasions since that fateful day, but to no avail.
Why would Sunday be any different as Big Show enters the chamber for the fourth time?
Another veteran of the match is Wade Barrett, who first experienced the structure during last year's Elimination Chamber match. Despite entering third into the match, Barrett did not survive 20 minutes and was the first man eliminated from the Smackdown chamber match.
Barrett will need to do a lot better if he wishes to win his first world championship on Sunday. However, it simply feels like he will only be waiting for Randy Orton to return to the ring and end that long feud with The Viper at WrestleMania.
Orton was supposed to be in the Elimination Chamber, but suffered a concussion Monday night in a match against Big Show. While it isn't clear, the shot that may have done the damage in the end was the hit from Daniel Bryan with the World Heavyweight Championship belt. Because of that, Orton is out for Sunday and his spot will be filled during tonight's Smackdown episode.
At the risk of talking about spoilers that are overly talked about, Santino Marella, of all people, currently holds that spot.
For the life of me, I don't think Santino will be in there at all. Bless his little heart, but a situation similar to Kofi Kingston getting ambushed and replaced by Edge could be in Santino's future. It's too bad he doesn't still have that crystal ball from the Royal Rumble poster.
My money, as well as many others', is the return of a suspended Mark Henry into the fray.
For now, Santino is still in, looking for his first singles belt since the Intercontinental Championship, currently held by Cody Rhodes, the last participant. Rhodes will try to do the impossible by going into the chamber with a mid-card championship and walking out with a world championship as well.
In fact, champions of any kind never fare well in the structure. Of the 10 previous chamber matches where the world championship was on the line, only three champions have walked out with the championship still on them.
Those stats may also apply to Bryan, but there is just too much going on. Big Show can't win the match time and time again, The Great Khali isn't so great, Barrett isn't in a place to win it, Santino doesn't have the chance at it and Cody Rhodes is too occupied with his own title.
Needless to say, the one with the least on their plate is Bryan. There is already the history with Sheamus, the heat from the crowd, as well as his inability to latch onto another storyline so soon that all make Bryan the superstar to beat.
Barrett is waiting for Orton, while Cody Rhodes waits for another Intercontinental Championship challenger. Big Show is waiting until he retires, while Khali is waiting for his next plane back to India. As for Santino, he is waiting to get taken down and have this golden opportunity taken away from him.
As for me, I am waiting until Sunday to watch Daniel Bryan in his greatest title defense yet, setting up a clash between champion and Royal Rumble winner at WrestleMania.
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