WWE Elimination Chamber 2013: Match-by-Match Breakdown
WrestleMania 29 is on the horizon, but we have to go through Elimination Chamber to get there.
In just two days, the WWE invades New Orleans for its final stop on the road to WrestleMania, and this one is shaping up to be a dandy.
Elimination Chamber features four huge matches (and a Divas match), the outcomes of which will have monumental ramifications on the WWE's biggest pay-per-view of the year.
Who will leave New Orleans as WWE Champion? Who will emerge as World Heavyweight Champion and the new No. 1 contender? Can The Shield win its second match?
If you want the answers to those questions, you're in the right place.
I present to you my match-by-match breakdown for the one of the most important PPVs of 2013, Elimination Chamber.
Pre-Show YouTube Match: Tensai and Brodus Clay vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
You wanna know how to tell that the creative team is having regrets about splitting up a tag team? That team "reunites" a couple of weeks after splitting up.
Yes, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow will team up again as Team Rhodes Scholars for the Elimination Chamber pre-show match when they take on the newly formed duo of Tensai and Brodus Clay.
After what transpired between Clay and Tensai on Raw a couple of weeks ago, the WWE appears to be moving full steam ahead with the two behemoths as a comedic babyface tag team.
I'm not crazy about either guy as a babyface, but am willing to see where these two could be headed as a duo. Unfortunately, it looks like Rhodes and Sandow will be the ones who suffer from their pairing.
Rhodes and Sandow have both been booked like absolute crap since splitting up, causing many to wonder why their went their separate ways in the first place, and now, it looks like they're going to have to put Tensai and Clay over.
The result of a pre-show YouTube match really doesn't mean much, but in a WWE world where babyfaces almost always win, it's extremely unlike that Tensai and Clay will lose their first PPV (pre-show) match when they're trying to be established as a team.
It seems like the WWE is going to push Clay/Tensai as a top tag team going forward, and as sad as this may seem, that spells doom for Team Rhodes Scholars.
Their "reunion" likely won't go very well.
The Pick: Tensai and Clay
Divas Championship: Kaitlyn (c) vs. Tamina Snuka
Talk about a match with absolutely no buildup whatsoever.
I genuinely don't remember any recent interaction between Kaitlyn and Tamina Snuka, nor do I remember Tamina ever becoming No. 1 contender for the Divas Championship. But hey, I guess it really doesn't matter.
It feels like we've been saying this for a year now, but the Divas division is at an all-time low. In the grand scheme of things, this match means absolutely nothing.
That being said, Kaitlyn is 26 years old and the only babyface Diva who's gotten any type of a push as a wrestler recently. Tamina, on the other hand, is 35 and only shows up here and there.
Who do you think is going to win this match? The one who has her entire future ahead of her.
Because so many top Divas have left the WWE over the last year or so, Kaitlyn has become the WWE's new No. 1 Diva by default, and there's no real reason to take the title off of her not long after she won it.
There's no heat to this "rivalry" between Kaitlyn and Tamina, and until there is (if that ever happens), a title switch should be totally out of the question.
The Pick: Kaitlyn via spear
United States Championship: The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (c)
Antonio Cesaro soundly defeated The Miz to retain his United States Championship at the Royal Rumble, but in true WWE fashion, this feud has continued.
Although rivalries in which the challenger loses a title match cleanly but inexplicably gets another title shot don't make make much sense to me, I suppose that neither Cesaro nor The Miz has anything better to do right now.
These two have put on a solid midcard rivalry in which Cesaro has truly shown that he has a ton of potential and will likely develop into a top star one day. The Miz, on the other hand, continues to struggle mightily as a babyface.
The Miz isn't terrible in that role, but he seems awkward and forced as a good guy, and the WWE isn't really giving him much of a chance to change that by constantly putting him in weird MizTV segments.
He needs some signature victories to get over as a babyface. Unfortunately, this isn't the right time for him to get one.
Cesaro is in the midst of a lengthy reign as US Champion, and as someone who is deemed by many as a future main-eventer, I wouldn't expect to see him lose the title just yet.
Odds are that Cesaro will have a very long title reign that establishes him as the WWE's elite upper midcarder and propels him to the World title picture. That means he'll hold onto the belt for a bit longer.
The Miz doesn't need the US title, but Cesaro does because it fits his gimmick so well. That'll be enough to keep the title where it belongs.
The Pick: Cesaro with The Neutralizer
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Big Show
One thing that is really annoying about the WWE is that if often drags out rivalries longer than it should.
While the feud between Big Show and Alberto Del Rio has been pretty good, Del Rio beat Show in their rematch at the Royal Rumble, so there isn't a ton of logic behind Show getting yet another title match at Elimination Chamber.
That's a minor gripe, though, because Show is probably only getting another shot at ADR because there is only three weeks between Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, which isn't enough time to build up a new feud.
So, just like he's done in their first two World Heavyweight Championship matches, the newly babyface Del Rio is widely expected to win on Sunday.
He will do just that because it doesn't make much sense to put the belt back on Big Show again, and I'm not sure there are a lot of people clamoring for Show to be in a World title match at WrestleMania.
The smart move here is to keep the belt on ADR, who is doing a fantastic job as a babyface and could use another big victory to keep his momentum going.
After using a bit of trickery to beat Big Show at the Royal Rumble, Del Rio is going to have to do things by the book at Elimination Chamber because this is his first standard singles match (for the title) against Show.
The WWE needs to give Del Rio the clean win, and that means that he is going to have to win without the help of Ricardo Rodriguez. Multiple enzuigiris will do the job for Del Rio on Sunday, and he will end his feud with Show once and for all.
The Pick: Del Rio with multiple enzuigiris
Del Rio may end his match with Big Show as World Heavyweight Champion, but he won't leave the PPV with the title.
We've been anxiously awaiting Dolph Ziggler's Money in the Bank cash-in, and since he'll otherwise be left off the Elimination Chamber card, expect him to make his presence felt by finally cashing in and becoming World champion.
Post-match, a furious Big Show will knock out ADR, Ziggler will cash in, nail ADR with a superkick and leave Elimination Chamber as the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Bonus Pick: Dolph Ziggler cashes in to become World Heavyweight Champion
Elimination Chamber Match (Winner Faces World Champion at WrestleMania 29)
The great thing about the No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match is that it's very unpredictable.
While Swagger and Kane don't seem to have much of a chance to win, there are realistic situations where either Jericho, Bryan, Henry or Orton could win the match and go on to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 29.
Still, Bryan probably won't win it because he's still a tag team champion. Meanwhile, I'm not sure the WWE is willing to put Henry in a World title bout at 'Mania because it likely wouldn't be a great match.
That narrows this match down to Orton and Jericho. Orton is viewed by many as the odds-on favorite, while Jericho is a surprising late addition to the match.
Orton could win it, but he's rumored to turn heel soon. That would suggest that Alberto Del Rio would leave the pay-per-view as World champion and that we'd get Orton/Del Rio at WrestleMania, a match/feud that was done to death in 2012.
That's why I'm going with Jericho.
It's seemed rather odd that the Jericho/Ziggler feud has kind of just fizzled out over the last couple of weeks, but Jericho's late addition to the card is a good indication that their rivalry probably isn't over.
Ziggler alluded to Jericho on this week's Raw and wanted in this Elimination Chamber match because Jericho was in it. Obviously, Ziggler won't be participating in it now, which I think is the main reason why he'll cash in instead.
It's a very simple story to write: Ziggler cashes in, Jericho wins the Elimination Chamber and we get Jericho vs. Ziggler for the World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania 29, where Y2J puts "The Showoff" over.
Again, there are a lot of different ways this Elimination Chamber match could go, but a Jericho victory seems to make the most sense.
The Pick: Jericho wins by last eliminating Bryan
The Shield vs. John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus
Look at this match on paper, and everything about it tells you that the babyface trio will defeat the heel one.
But just examine what's happened on TV recently: Two straight Raw episodes have ended with Ryback, Sheamus and John Cena standing tall and The Shield retreating through the crowd.
"Booking 101" tells us that whoever looks strong on TV usually loses on pay-per-view, which would suggest that The Shield is going to shock the world and beat the holy trinity of babyfaces at Elimination Chamber.
Every fiber of my being is telling me that there's no way the the WWE's three top babyfaces will lose to three up-and-coming heels who've only been around for a few months. But the optimistic side of me hopes that the WWE has learned from the past and won't make the same mistake twice.
It was at SummerSlam in 2010 that Team WWE (or Team Cena) beat a rising heel group known as The Nexus, and that group was never the same after that loss. If The Shield loses to Cena, Ryback and Sheamus on Sunday, it's very likely that the exact same thing will happen.
The WWE loves to push its top babyfaces at all costs, but this is a situation where the creative team has to do the right thing and have the heels emerge victorious.
After all, the babyfaces can lose here and still look strong. Brad Maddox has played a key role in this angle, and he could be the WWE's out on Sunday.
Maddox was attacked by The Shield on Raw last week, but that certainly doesn't mean that he's a babyface now, nor does it mean that he's not working with The Shield in some way, shape or form.
Because the WWE is not going to put The Shield over cleanly but can't afford to have the babyfaces win, I think Maddox will be the one who ultimately costs the faces the match here.
He will either try to help the babyfaces and screw up or reveal that he was in cahoots with The Shield all along and help them win.
The finish of the match won't be clean, but if the WWE knows what's good for its long-term future, it will end with Ryback, Sheamus or Cena getting pinned.
The Pick: The Shield pins Sheamus after interference from Maddox
WWE Championship: The Rock (c) vs. CM Punk
The biggest match on the Elimination Chamber card also happens to be the most predictable.
For what seems like forever now, we've heard that the WWE planned on having The Rock beat CM Punk to win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, retain his title at Elimination Chamber and then face Royal Rumble winner John Cena at WrestleMania 29.
This was confirmed for us at the Royal Rumble when both Cena and The Rock won and Punk's historic 434-day reign came to an end.
Punk's title run did conclude in controversial fashion, though, after it initially looked like he retained his title against The Rock, and since the PPV, Punk has gone crazy as he feels he is still the true WWE Champion.
He'll get a shot to win back his title at Elimination Chamber, but just about everyone can see that he has virtually no chance of actually doing so.
It's going to be The Rock vs. Cena for the WWE title at WrestleMania 29, and that, of course, means that Punk is going to have to lose to The Rock on Sunday.
Punk will indeed lose to The Rock again, but after the way the last match between these two ended, look for their Elimination Chamber match to end without any controversy whatosever.
Punk has maintained that he didn't lose his WWE Championship to The Rock, but it's going to be much harder for him to do that if he taps out to The Rock at Elimination Chamber.
While Punk had a great run as the centerpiece of the WWE title scene over the last year and a half, his time in the championship picture will unfortunately come to an end this Sunday.
The Pick: The Rock via the Sharpshooter
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!