WWE Elimination Chamber 2013: 10 Bold Predictions for the Upcoming PPV
There's one final stop on the road to WrestleMania 29: Elimination Chamber.
This Sunday, the WWE heads to New Orleans for the final pay-per-view before its biggest show of the year, and a lot will be determined that night.
The winners of the WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship and No. 1 contender's WHC Elimination Chamber matches will likely head to WrestleMania 29 for some of the biggest matches on the grandest stage of them all.
Of course, there are many possible scenarios that could play out at Elimination Chamber, each of which would have a huge effect on both the WWE's short- and long-term futures.
So, what will happen this Sunday in New Orleans?
Here are 10 bold predictions for the last PPV before WrestleMania 29, Elimination Chamber.
10. Alberto Del Rio Will Beat Big Show Without the Help of Ricardo Rodriguez
At last month's Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Alberto Del Rio successfully retained his World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show, but only did so after a major assist from Ricardo Rodriguez.
In what was a repeat of the finish we saw to Batista vs. John Cena back in 2010, Del Rio and Rodriguez worked together to duct-tape Big Show's feet to the ropes so he would be unable to answer the 10-count.
That was a clever way to both keep the title on Del Rio and keep Big Show looking strong, but because Sunday's rematch between the two is a standard singles match, something like that can't happen at Elimination Chamber.
Rodriguez could certainly get involved in the match somehow (and likely will it at some point), but since the WWE is clearly building up ADR as a top babyface, it makes sense to give him the clean win here.
Top babyfaces almost always win cleanly, and that should be no different for Del Rio, who needs to soundly defeat Big Show.
He will face Big Show for the third time at Elimination Chamber, he will beat him for the third time, and he will do so without the help of his ring announcer and best friend.
9. Randy Orton Will Be the First Person Eliminated from the Chamber Match
Randy Orton has been pegged by many as the favorite to win the No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match on Sunday.
But consider this: If he does win it, odds are that he'll go on to face Alberto Del Rio for the World title at WrestleMania 29.
Do we really need to see those two face each other again? Orton and Del Rio wrestled what seemed like a dozen times in 2012, and though their matches were always good, it's not like anyone is exactly begging to see those two compete against each other again.
Things would indeed be different if we got a heel Orton vs. a face Del Rio this time around, but not that different.
That's why we shouldn't expect to see Orton win the No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match, and in fact, shouldn't be surprised if he's the first person eliminated from the bout.
There has been all kinds of speculation about an Orton heel turn for the last six months or so, and the WWE might finally have the opportunity to pull the trigger on that turn at Elimination Chamber if Orton is the first man eliminated.
He could be eliminated by a fellow babyface and use that as the spark for his heel turn, which could, in turn, lead to a WrestleMania rivalry with another top face, perhaps the person who eliminated him from the Chamber.
Although Orton could very well win the Chamber on Sunday, I'm going with the exact opposite happening. He'll, in truly shocking fashion, be the first superstar eliminated.
8. The WWE Title Match Stipulation Will Be Removed
Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman called Vince McMahon together on this week's Raw and persuaded him to add a blockbuster stipulation to Sunday's WWE Championship match between The Rock and CM Punk: If The Rock is disqualified or counted out, the title will be awarded to Punk.
But that phone call seemed fishy. Very, very fishy.
After all, why on Earth would McMahon agree to that stipulation when it was just two weeks ago that he almost fired Heyman? Better yet, did anyone else think that the phone call sounded like a recording of McMahon rather than McMahon himself?
If the latter is true, this could easily play into the Heyman/McMahon storyline where Heyman claimed that it was someone impersonating him on the video with The Shield and Brad Maddox. The mastermind Heyman could very well have gotten someone to impersonate McMahon on that phone call, couldn't he have?
Unless some sort of major conspiracy is going on between Heyman and McMahon, it simply doesn't make sense for McMahon to do something that benefits Punk in a major way, which is exactly what he did when he supposedly added that stipulation to the match.
In the end, look for it to be revealed that it was not, in fact, McMahon who added the stipulation to the match. As a result, the stipulation will be removed from the bout.
This, of course, will make Punk go crazy and completely change the course of the Punk/Rock match because, in all likelihood, Punk was planning on trying to get The Rock disqualified to win.
Now, he won't be able to do that, and he'll spend the match in full-on cowardly heel mode.
7. Mark Henry Will Eliminate Three Superstars from the Elimination Chamber Match
Mark Henry has returned with a vengeance, and it's clear that he's going to get another decent run as a main-eventer.
Since coming back on last week's Raw, he's destroyed Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio and Hornswoggle, and he's picked up victories over both The Great Khali and Randy Orton.
Henry is looking as dominant as ever, and judging simply by what we've seen from him so far, he might be the odds-on favorite to win the No. 1 Contender's Elimination Chamber on Sunday.
While I have my doubts that Henry will actually win it, no one would be surprised if he was the most dominant competitor in the match.
And that's exactly what will happen.
With five other participants inside the Elimination Chamber, look for Henry to eliminate three other participants in the match and stand out as its most impressive performer.
It's more than fitting for Henry's character for him to induct a few other superstars into his "Hall of Pain" and, win or lose, leave the match looking stronger than anyone else in it.
He will eliminate half the Elimination Chamber field, all courtesy of World's Strongest Slams.
6. The Final Two Chamber Match Participants Will Be Jericho and Bryan
The Elimination Chamber match features four really big dudes: Jack Swagger, Randy Orton, Kane and Mark Henry.
But size won't matter on Sunday, and it will be the two smallest competitors in the match, Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho, who make it to the end.
After the great match we saw between Bryan and Jericho on this week's Raw, look for the Elimination Chamber to come down to these two men as they have a mini-match of sorts at the end of the bout.
After winning last year's WHC Elimination Chamber match, Bryan is 1-for-1 in Elimination Chamber matches for his career. Meanwhile, Jericho has participated in more Chamber matches than any other superstar in history.
The WWE could easily play up their history of success in the Chamber match and use that to propel them to the final two.
Guys like Orton and Henry may stand out as the actual favorites in the Elimination Chamber, but when it's all said and done, look for the two small dark horses to outlast the four big men.
At the end of the Chamber match, it'll be Jericho vs. Bryan, with a trip to a World title match at WrestleMania on the line.
5. The Rock Will Make CM Punk Tap Out
The WWE Championship match between The Rock and CM Punk at the Royal Rumble ended in all sorts of controversy.
It initially looked like Punk had retained his title in shady fashion, but ultimately, the match was restarted and The Rock eventually was able to leave the PPV as the new WWE Champion.
Because the last Punk/Rock match ended in such controversial fashion, look for their Elimination Chamber one to end without any controversy whatsoever.
Punk has maintained that he was "screwed" out of the WWE Championship, and while there's certainly a case to be made for that, there won't be after Elimination Chamber.
If there's one way for The Rock to shut Punk up, it's for "The People's Champ" to beat him in a way that no one, not even Punk, can contest: The Rock will make Punk tap out.
It was a bit of a letdown to see The Rock defeat Punk with the People's Elbow at the Royal Rumble, so the WWE needs a definitive victory for The Rock with a better ending at Elimination Chamber.
That victory will come when Punk's quest to regain the WWE Championship ends after he taps out to the move that Bret Hart made famous, the Sharpshooter.
4. The Shield Will Defeat Ryback, Sheamus and John Cena
The widespread expectation is that Ryback, Sheamus and John Cena will defeat The Shield at Elimination Chamber.
After all, top babyfaces hardly ever lose. So when you put arguably the WWE's three top babyfaces on the same team, the odds of them actually losing are slim to none.
But if "Booking 101" holds true, then it won't be Ryback, Sheamus and Cena who win on Sunday. It will be The Shield.
The last two episodes of Raw have ended with the babyface trio looking strong and The Shield retreating, and if the old booking philosophy of "look strong on TV, lose on PPV" holds true, then the babyfaces will lose at Elimination Chamber.
It's hard to picture such a dominant trio of babyfaces losing, especially when Cena's involved. But I think that the WWE has learned from the mistake it made with The Nexus, and as a result, it won't have The Shield lose on Sunday.
If The Shield were to lose, it would be a big blow to the group's momentum and force the WWE into a difficult booking situation with the faction going forward.
But the babyfaces can afford the loss (because they almost always win), and the long-term success of The Shield depends on whether or not they win this Sunday.
Look for The Shield to surprise us all on Sunday and beat the seemingly unbeatable group of Ryback, Sheamus and Cena. It's the best move for business.
3. Sheamus Will Get Pinned After Brad Maddox Interferes
If The Shield does indeed lose on Sunday, then one of the WWE's top babyfaces will have to take a rare pin.
It won't be John Cena because he's about to headline WrestleMania 29, and it won't be Ryback because he's lost far too many big matches recently. It'll be Sheamus.
Sheamus hardly ever loses, and perhaps more so than any other star on the WWE roster, he can afford a loss here, especially if it happens in cheap fashion. And a cheap victory is what The Shield will get on Sunday.
The creative team likely doesn't have the grapefruits to put The Shield over clean, so expect some sort of shenanigans to happen that will help the trio get the victory.
In all likelihood, those shenanigans will involve Brad Maddox.
Maddox continues to be a big player in the WWE's main-event story lines, and even though he was attacked by The Shield on Raw two weeks ago, that doesn't mean that he's a babyface now or even that he's an enemy of The Shield.
Expect one of two things to happen at Elimination Chamber: Maddox tries to help the babyface trio but accidentally costs them the match, or it's revealed that Maddox has been in cahoots with The Shield the whole time.
Either way, Maddox will make his presence felt in this huge six-man match, and he will do something that allows a member of The Shield to pin Sheamus for the victory.
2. Dolph Ziggler Will Cash in and Become World Heavyweight Champion
We've been waiting and waiting and waiting for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become World Heavyweight Champion.
And it's finally time for him to do that.
Alberto Del Rio has done really well as the babyface World champion, but Ziggler has patiently bided his time to make it to the top of the WWE where he belongs. "The Showoff" is left without an Elimination Chamber match, and that's a borderline travesty.
But it may actually be a way to set up for the biggest moment of his career.
With Ziggler left out of the Elimination Chamber match and left off of the card altogether, there's no doubt that he's going to want to make his presence felt on the show in some way, shape or form. There's no better way for him to do that than by finally cashing in.
ADR will successfully retain his World title against Big Show, but an enraged Show will destroy him with the KO Punch after the match is over. Ziggler's music will hit, he will make his way down to the ring, nail ADR with a superkick and pin him to win the title.
Ziggler will end ADR's short title reign, become World Heavyweight Champion and head to WrestleMania 29, where he will face the winner of the No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match.
And who will that be?
1. Chris Jericho Will Win the No. 1 Contender's Elimination Chamber Match
Most fans fully expected Chris Jericho to face Dolph Ziggler in a singles match at Elimination Chamber.
But the WWE threw a huge curveball at us on Monday's Raw when Jericho earned a spot inside the No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match. Jericho is now one win away from competing for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 29.
Coincidence? I think not.
Ziggler cut a promo referencing Jericho on Monday's Raw, which tells me that, despite the way things may appear, the feud between the two isn't over yet.
So, picture this scenario: Ziggler cashes in on ADR to become World Heavyweight Champion, Jericho wins the Elimination Chamber match, and we get Jericho vs. Ziggler for the World title at WrestleMania 29.
Jericho and Ziggler's feud began way back in the summer of 2012, and it could be really fun to see their rivalry come full circle with a World title match on the grandest stage of them all.
That's exactly what will happen.
This Sunday, Ziggler becomes World champion, and Jericho becomes No. 1 contender. It's an easy story to write, and one that the fans would love to see.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!