"The Second Road was more brutal
then the opening road, more trying.
The giant coliseum of chains and steel
is unforgiving of mistakes and arrogance.
If the Devil's Playground had a throne,
Shaitan's Playpen would be the heir."
SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match as been the subject of controversy for a number of reasons.
Two men, Mark Henry and Randy Orton, were taken out of the match for different reasons.
Henry was written off TV to deal with injuries sustained over the past few months. After laying his hands on SmackDown general manager Teddy Long, he was suspended indefinitely. Orton was written off TV for a while thanks to a concussion sustained at the hands of Daniel Bryan. He'll be off TV for a few weeks.
There is some contention as to whether Orton's injury is legitimate or not. Regardless, the most important thing is he won't be in Elimination Chamber match for SmackDown.
The replacements for the men were a little surprising, but we'll get to that.
"The Dragon of the West was a conundrum.
He would not eat flesh, but had no qualms
about breaking it into pieces as it suited him.
A master of tortures both physical and mental
You couldn't touch, let alone break him.
An enigma wrapped in sheets of gold."
I will not lie when I say Daniel Bryan has won me over. Of course, this is simply preaching to the choir. The American Dragon made the turn from a babyface shy geek with skills to a massively intelligent heel bad ass with skills.
Simply put, he isn't the biggest man in the roster, but he makes up for it with a wicked determination and a surprising intelligence. He's retained his title through No Disqualification and Steel Cage matches. He's used every available resource at his disposal to keep his belt. He rarely runs unless it's part of some scheme.
He knows his opponents weaknesses and exploits them to winning effect. He's extremely effective on the microphone and packs a ton of talent into his frame. In short, he's been a dream come true for a roster that's been depleted in a number of ways.
The current collision course seems to be a date with Sheamus at WrestleMania 28. This is assuming that he survives the five other men who will be in the chamber with him. Long story short, nothing is certain.
With all that said, Bryan's chances improved tremendously with Orton sidelined for this Sunday's pay-per-view. Of all the talents, Orton stood the best chance of defeating the American Dragon.
Nothing is really certain save for Sheamus taking on a champion of his choosing at WrestleMania 28. We'll see what unfolds.
"A barrage of tears in his wake,
the Englishman feared no man.
While guile served him well,
simple strength of will and power
were the great weapons of the living
proof of the final argument of kings."
Wade Barrett is an impressive physical specimen. More than that, he has a plethora of skills and talents to back up his impressive physical form. Something to note was the WWE ran the Nexus stable into the ground with him at the head, and he's no stranger to main event situations.
Quite an honor for a young grappler.
In any case, Barrett's taken a bit of a slide in recent weeks. Though that doesn't subtract from the fact he beat Sheamus while the Celtic Warrior was on a six-month reign of terror, and he fought with John Cena tooth and nail for a long, long time.
One thing to note is Sheamus, who seems probable to choose the World Heavyweight Champion as his opponent at WrestleMania 28, has some fun history with the Englishman. Aside from regional plays off of one another, Barrett does hold victories over Sheamus, and both men are among the more agile brawlers on the WWE's roster.
A match between both men would satisfy a number of concerns. Aside from a good sell to the UK and Ireland markets, both men could use the exposure the bright lights of Miami would give them. The WWE would also stand to have them in the lime light while they rebuild a depleted roster.
On a personal note, I'm a big fan of both Barrett and Sheamus, and I've made the comment before I could watch them go for hours in the ring just beating the living daylights out of each other.
Personally speaking, if such a match were to come, I'd buy it. In a heartbeat.
"The Son of the Dream was a champion.
Holding his precious throne longer then
all others, he never knew defeat with
his prize in contention, as befitting the Martyr.
A powerful reminder of what was,
perhaps an example of what could be?"
A simple fact is that Cody Rhodes has just run out of competition. Rhodes defeated Ezekiel Jackson, cleanly, to win the Intercontinental Championship in August of last year. Yup, he's held that title for six months in a time when belts change hands about once a pay-per-view. While he sometimes takes a pin, he shows up strong when his title is on the line.
This is a testament to the effectiveness of Rhodes as a wrestler and as a talent. Rhodes' gimmick has taken more turns then me looking for a Subway restaurant, which helps to give the Martyred One a depth of character few WWE talents have.
Something to consider as well is that Rhodes has defeated Sheamus before (Battle Royal to retain his belt) and has proclaimed multiple times he will be the first dual champion in a long, long time. Rhodes is phenomenal in the ring and carries his own weight on the stick as well.
The burgeoning career of the son of the American Dream could break through the glass ceiling this year. Whether that starts now or bit later is the academic part of the debate, but the simple fact is he's due for a breakout soon.
"A Giant amongst all warriors
with the power to defeat monsters
that makes knights tremble within
their steel bastions and faux courage.
Shaitain's Playpen scares mortals.
But to him, it is simply Tuesday."
The Big Show is a veteran in every sense of the word. One of the last vestiges of the vaunted "Attitude Era," the big man seems to be approaching the limelight of his career. Oddly enough, for a man of his size, he doesn't have a lot of World Title reigns to his credit.
That might change this Sunday. Storyline-wise, this match is right up Big Show's alley. He can cause a lot of damage quickly while being something of a glacier himself. Bryan always has a hard time submitting the big man, and he's otherwise difficult to put down.
Simply put, he would be a kayfabe favorite going into this Sunday. However, the stars are hardly ever in alignment for the one the fans dub "Big Slow."
Rumors currently place him in a match with Shaquille O'Neal at WrestleMania 28. As such, he's will not likely win this one. A good showing should be in order though.
Big Show has had plenty of indignant moments at various WrestleManias, including the infamous Sumo Match against Akebono. This just seems to be Show's lot in life, but he takes it in stride just like everything else.
A probable future WWE Hall of Famer, Show has done everything ever asked of him. Here's to you, big guy.
"The Nightmare or the Playboy?
Who he was depended on the one
speaking of the legend of the man from
beyond the mountains, beyond the sea.
Of similar ilk as the current Giant,
he was just legend. Or was he?"
Great Khali is a former World Heavyweight Champion. That's pretty much about it.
The big man from India remains a storyline-potent threat in any match thanks to his strength, but he's been something of an also-ran character in the WWE.
Written off TV for nearly six months at the hands of Mark Henry, the Punjabi Playboy recently returned as a surprise entrant at the Royal Rumble match.
Khali doesn't move with much grace, but he makes up for it in sheer physical prowess. It's difficult to see him winning this match regardless. As a replacement for the injured Henry, it's understandable to see him in the ring given his domination as of late against SmackDown's mid-card rabble.
One thing to note is that Khali came as bit of a surprise for the replacement of Henry. How he does in the Elimination Chamber remains to be seen, but I'll be frank when I say I don't expect the results to be promising for the Punjabi Playboy.
"The Cobra was a question mark.
A master of multiple arts, including
skills enough to make Norris proud,
he was often overlooked and
disrespected. Good. If you don't see
the snake, it will kill you before long."
Santino Marella is an odd choice as a replacement for Orton. Going from The Viper to The Cobra isn't exactly a great marketing ploy at first glance but consider a few things with Marella before writing him off.
Marella has been in the WWE for a long while now. As a comedy act, he's used in situations where a chuckle will gain more mileage then intensity or if a heel needs to gain some heat by squashing a sympathetic guy.
But he's also a two-time Intercontinental Champion and had a Tag Team Title reign with Koslov. The Milan Miracle has some hardware to backup his run in the WWE.
Still, his inclusion is an odd choice, but the WWE could be of a few thoughts about this. The automatic assumption is, to me, a swerve of some sort. There are a few wrestlers such as Del Rio and Christian who are back from injury. Both men are heels, so it's plausible to see Santino get a beat down from either man to force their inclusion into the match.
The second one is we could be seeing a bit of a push for the WWE's resident funny man. Santino is over with the younger demographics and has some sympathy from the older fans. They know him, know the crap his character gets put through and the fact he was in a nasty car wreck that sidelined him for a while doesn't hurt in that regard.
As you might recall last year, Marella was injured in shoulder in a car accident that sidelined him for a month. There was some fear that Santino would be released as a result, but the WWE posted a story on their website about it. To me, that screams "Nope. Not happening."
The other option to consider, and this isn't outside the realm of possibility, is Santino could win this.
Put the pitchforks away! I'm just hypothesizing.
In any case, WrestleMania 28 promises to be a heavily dramatic affair at the top of the card.
The Rock vs. John Cena match could become heavily emotional for a number of reasons. Jericho vs. Punk, assuming it happens, is liable be a heavily cerebral build and match. Triple H vs. Undertaker will have a combination of both.
The WWE could use a break from top of the card. Sheamus needs a match. A feud between the two could be relatively fresh. Santino tends to be a bit underrated in the ring. The match would be a hit with the kiddies.
Just saying that anything is possible. I have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning, but it's possible.
Put the torches away. Please?
"The lives of the twelve were a mixed bag.
Some were winning while other keep falling.
The structure of Shaitan's dreams offered
them all a chance at redemption for a price.
Chains are unforgiving of mistakes, but bruises
heal given time. Mental scars don't."
This Sunday in Milwaukee promises to be a fairly interesting affair. Ten men take on two champions for the right to headline the biggest show of them all in five weeks time. Steel and chains promise a fairly brutal affair regardless of who wins.
Whether they come out with all their limbs intact is by no means certain.
Beyond that, the bright lights of Miami provide a fantastic backdrop to the darkness that will surround the city by Lake Michigan. While the city that once was the brewing capital of America will recover with nary a scratch, whether the same will be said of those men braving the confines of the Chamber depends on a lot more.
The call to the Showcase of the Immortals remains a potent addiction however, as does the right to sit on the throne as a champion.
All things being equal, the darkness and the light will collide this Sunday.
Thanks for reading! As always, leave your comments below. You can also follow more of my insane ramblings on twitter.