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Who should win at Elimination Chamber?
Bleacher Report featured columnists Michael Cahill, Brandon Galvin, Mike Chiari and Donald Wood give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
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March 19 - Mark Madness
April 16 - nWo Era (1996-1997) Fantasy Draft
The Shield vs. Cena, Ryback & Sheamus Set For Elimination Chamber
The Elimination Chamber card has certainly started to take shape, particularly with a huge match being announced following the conclusion of Raw. John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus descended from the crowd and forced The Shield to vacate the ring. Cena then challenged The Shield to a six-man tag team match at Elimination Chamber with Ryback and Sheamus as his partners.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will the WWE Book This Match?
As exciting as it is to see The Shield feud with three legitimate main-eventers, the WWE has put itself in a tough predicament. The match itself should be great, but neither team can afford to lose.
The Shield has only wrestled one official match aside from constant attacks on the WWE's top stars. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns still have a lot of momentum, but fans are getting fidgety in the wake of it being revealed that Paul Heyman paid them to preserve CM Punk's WWE Championship reign.
With that in mind, it would be a major mistake to have The Shield lose this match cleanly. By the same token, Cena, Ryback and Sheamus need a win as well. Cena will challenge the WWE Champion in the main event at WrestleMania, so it wouldn't make sense for him to take a loss.
Ryback has lost at four consecutive pay-per-views and another defeat could be damaging. Sheamus doesn't necessarily need a win, but he's teaming with two guys who certainly do.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Although most wrestling fans prefer to see a decisive finish, this is a situation in which the WWE has to muddle things in order to protect all involved. With Cena coming off a Royal Rumble win and on the verge of facing The Rock for the WWE Championship, he's going to get his win.
That's fine, but it can't be via pinfall or submission. When Cena essentially buried Nexus, that group was never able to recover. I don't want to see the same thing happen to The Shield, so a Cena, Ryback and Sheamus win via disqualification unquestionably makes the most sense.
Such a scenario would allow the faces to win, but it wouldn't make The Shield look weak in the process. The Shield has never cared about winning or losing matches. That is evidenced by the fact that this is only their second match.
The Shield is all about causing destruction, so my preference is for Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns to turn the match into a brawl, incorporate weapons and get disqualified.
It would technically go down as a loss on The Shield's record, but if it wrestles a close match against Cena, Ryback and Sheamus and then stands tall by attacking them, it will be just as good as a win.
Rumor Mill: Six-Man Tag Confirmed for Elimination Chamber (via TWNPNews.com)
Mark Henry Returns to WWE Programming
After missing nearly 10 months due to injury, many WWE fans began to question whether Mark Henry would ever compete for the company again. Those questions were answered on Raw, however, as Henry attacked Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio following their match.
Sin Cara attempted to make the save, but Henry squashed him as well. After such a great run in late 2011 and early 2012, Henry's return was definitely a welcome sight.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will He Be Used Moving Forward?
The fact that Henry is back is fantastic for the WWE. Henry was easily one of the most entertaining superstars on the WWE roster when he turned heel in 2011 and eventually won the World Heavyweight Championship.
Henry had always been poorly utilized previously in his career and his World title run marked the first time he looked like a true main-eventer. Henry's title reign only lasted a couple months, though, and an injury knocked him out soon after, so many fans were left wanting more from the Hall of Pain.
In addition to that, SmackDown has been a bit stale over the past year. The presence of Henry often made SmackDown more entertaining than Raw during his last run, but that hasn't been the case in a while.
Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Big Show have basically been the only three men in the World Heavyweight Championship hunt since Sheamus' feud with Daniel Bryan ended shortly after WrestleMania. SmackDown could really use some fresh faces, and Henry is just what the doctor ordered in that regard.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
With WrestleMania approaching, the WWE will have to settle on a World title feud soon. That will likely be decided at Elimination Chamber as Del Rio is set to defend the belt against Big Show and a chamber match will also be held to determine the No. 1 contender.
Del Rio will almost certainly retain against Big Show, and while there is a chance that Dolph Ziggler could cash in his Money in the Bank contract, I anticipate Del Rio holding it until WrestleMania at least.
The biggest question pertains to who will earn the No. 1 contendership. Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan and Henry have been named participants, so there are still two spots open. Regardless of which two superstars enter the match (although Jack Swagger and Kane are likely), Orton is the favorite to win.
With that said, I believe that Henry will prevail. If Del Rio is champion, then Orton would have to turn heel to feud with him. I support an Orton heel turn, but we have already seen him feud with Del Rio. Henry vs. Del Rio would feel fresh and it is a rivalry that would help Del Rio get over even more as a face.
Rumor Mill: Henry's Contract Ends After WrestleMania XXIX (via WrestleNewz.com)
TNA Taking Impact on the Road Permanently
The past few months have certainly made TNA look like a bush-league wrestling company, but it appears as though it is finally trying to take steps that could change that.
Dixie Carter made a "groundbreaking" announcement on Impact last week when she announced that TNA would be leaving the Impact Zone and taking Impact on the road beginning in March.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is This a Smart Move by TNA?
One of my biggest criticisms of TNA has always been the company's marriage to the Impact Zone. I don't have an issue with it being utilized as a home base, but holding almost every single Impact and pay-per-view there is overkill.
The atmosphere is always flat on television and that probably has a lot to do with the fact that a portion of the crowd doesn't care too much about TNA or wrestling in general.
Going on the road ensures that those who attend the events will be there because they are fans of the product, so that alone will make the shows seem more important.
With that said, it doesn't guarantee anything in terms of TNA's product improving. TNA has to improve its writing and utilize its talent properly.
If it doesn't, then it would surprise me if the true fans that will be attending these shows make their displeasure apparent. TNA is really putting itself out there for everyone to judge now and it has to step up its game.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Ultimately, this is the right move for TNA. There is no reason why it should be in the Impact Zone every week aside from cutting costs. If TNA is that worried about money, though, it will never come close to being legitimate competition for WWE.
This is an obvious step in the right direction, but I also don't like the manner in which TNA hyped it. Fans were led to believe that it was truly an announcement that would change TNA, and while it is definitely significant, it is something that TNA should have been doing for the past five or more years.
It's the equivalent of someone today just discovering the concept of a cell phone and carrying around the one Zack Morris used on Saved By The Bell. TNA needs to get with the times, and while it can be argued that this move proves that it is, Dixie shouldn't be patting herself on the back for it.
I'll be impressed when TNA goes on the road and actually produces quality programming. Based on what I've seen for the past several months, TNA isn't any closer to being a quality company regardless of where the shows are held.
Rumor Mill: Impact to Take Place in Chicago on March 14 (via PWMania.com)
RRR Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 167.5
2. Brandon Galvin: 150
3. Michael Cahill: 17.5
4. Donald Wood: -15