WWE Elimination Chamber 2013: Bold Predictions for New Orleans
We are mere minutes away from WWE's annual Elimination Chamber unfolding live from New Orleans.
While the show's gimmick match namesake won't play as key a role in the proceedings as in previous years, and the WWE Championship main event promises to be more predictable than a 2012 match between Ryback and two local enhancement talents, the evening is not utterly without potential.
For one, there's the slight chance WWE launches a groundbreaking "Competent Booking" initiative right before the show starts, enabling CM Punk to be plugged into the WrestleMania headliner with Cena and Rock.
The fact that Chris Jericho has a place in the Chamber but Dolph Ziggler does not is extremely curious. Will Ziggler cash in on Alberto Del Rio or Big Show, or will he simply try to cost Jericho a title shot?
Big Show and Alberto may not put on a great match, but it could be satisfying to see Big Show finally (and rightfully) thrust out of the World Championship picture (and a fairly lackluster, orange paint-coated feud).
The Shield could shock the world tonight if a fourth member or some other masterful plan allows them to beat Cena, Sheamus and Ryback, or Team Mainstream as I like to call them.
This could be a deceivingly thrilling stop on the road to WrestleMania. However, if it's anything like the Royal Rumble, it'll be the sports entertainment equivalent of beans on toast.
Pre-Show: Brodus Clay and Tensai vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
On a human level, I'm glad the handlers of the Brodus Clay and Tensai characters are finally winning matches again.
On a business level, I can't fathom how these two unsightly ogre-blimps merit walking over Rhodes and Sandow.
But they will.
Rhodes and Sandow have each got the look, in-ring goods, and personality to excel in professional wrestling. With that in mind, let's get this match over with, establish Clay and Tensai as a semi-viable part of the tag division, and bump Rhodes and Sandow up the singles ladder.
Oh, and please God: Keep the dancing to a minimum.
Prediction: Tensai ends a decent (but decidedly not good) match with his sloppy hippo centon splash.
Antonio Cesaro vs. the Miz (United States Championship)
I'm so over this feud.
I bet the Miz and Cesaro feel the same way.
Over the last few weeks the casual fan could easily have thought Cesaro was in a program with Ryback or Randy Orton, while Miz was fighting Brock Lesnar, the proper application of the Figure-Four Leg Lock, and his natural lack of likability.
The sensible ending for this one? Miz gives the champ an even harder time than he did at the Royal Rumble, but Cesaro still flattens him with the Neutralizer, the most devastating form of sexual harassment in WWE today (with the exception of VInce McMahon, of course).
It would be "vintage" WWE to have Miz win via confused and unconvincing submission, but even they know it's best to keep title changes to a minimum heading into WrestleMania.
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro by pinfall after his perverse but effective finisher.
Kaitlyn vs. Tamina Snuka (Divas Championship)
Imagine caring at this point.
Book Kaitlyn vs. AJ as soon as possible, or close the division out for a few years until the company decides it's willing to get behind female wrestling again.
Prediction: Kaitlyn retains via her wimpy spear.
No. 1 Contender's Elimination Chamber Match for the World
This is an easy pick for match of the night.
I'll be honest: I feel cheated that there's only one Elimination Chamber match on the card. It's tradition to have two.
Don't get me wrong, I think having one for the World Championship and one for the WWE Championship is foolish overkill. It tarnishes the "randomness" and importance of the Royal Rumble, and it has led to far too many major title changes shortly before WrestleMania (which is where such crucial moments should happen).
I think the perfect recipe for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is to have one Chamber match contested for a "big two" belt, and the other for a title opportunity at WrestleMania.
Regardless, this year's sole Chamber match is plenty intriguing.
Bryan and Kane will almost certainly cost each other the match, like last month's Rumble.
Jack Swagger has a new jingoistic manager, so it's easy to imagine the former Jack Jobber feuding with the generic Mexican gentleman incarnation of Alberto Del Rio. That said, gifting Swagger a World Championship match at WrestleMania this soon feels more than a little rushed.
Everyone on the internet seems to be waiting for Randy Orton to turn heel or at any rate inject his venom back into the world title. Uh, keep waiting.
I'd mark out for a Jericho victory here even harder than I did for his surprise return at the Rumble. But I don't think Jericho's here to steal opportunities from year-round workers. I see him blowing off his feud with Ziggler at WrestleMania in a non-title match or participating in a multi-man disaster carnival along the lines of a Money in the Bank ladder match.
Mark Henry will win this match and go on to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the gold in the opening match at WrestleMania. I have a disturbing feeling WWE has fallen in love with the Latino David vs. overweight Goliath formula they've been working for over two months now.
Prediction: Mark Henry pins Chris Jericho following the World's Strongest Slam (which, by the way, is just a basic falling slam).
Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show (World Heavyweight Championship)
No matter the outcome, it's clearly time to take this feud out back of J.R.'s shed and put it out of its meandering misery.
I suspect the match itself will be solid, if unspectacular. That seems to be the pay-per-view calling card of both men over the last year or so. It's generating interesting TV on a weekly basis that they struggle, particularly the sweaty, overgrown teenager in the camoflauge and togue.
What's really scary is that WWE might try to stretch this feud out for another month, only with Mark Henry added. Great, even more bulky limitations for the kindest Mexican on earth to deal with.
Many expect Alberto to win impressively, only for my boy Dolph Ziggler to finally cash in the Money in the Bank contract and steal the belt.
I don't see that miraculous last part happening. This is WWE, so Ziggler's activity tonight will consist of cutting a promo backstage with his horror show girlfriend and out-of-place bodyguard.
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio wins by more I'm-the-face-yet-I'm-sneaky, Eddie Guerrero-derived hijinks.
John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus vs. the Shield
Does anyone understand Brad Maddox's role in WWE right now? If I did, I might suggest he could get involved here.
But he won't. Sadly, no one will.
The Shield will undoubtedly eat an ugly loss here.
I've read countless articles this week by wrestle-writers trying to seem business-minded and devoid of internet darling fever. They claim Team Mainstream needs the win so John Cena has momentum going into his rematch with Rock at WrestleMania.
That's bananas. And my apologies to Guy Fieri and Gorilla Monsoon, but in this case, bananas is so bad.
Cena, Ryback and Sheamus are constantly pushed as unstoppable forces. In fact, the last time Ryback or Sheamus looked mortal was when they were tossed over the top rope en route to Cena needlessly claiming his second victory in the Rumble match.
The muscle-hampered buffoons win more or less every night. This is the second time the Shield members have wrestled in WWE. It's too early for them to be choking on pay-per-view.
This is so simple, even Kevin Nash could book it: The Shield wins courtesy of some fun interference by one or more NXT blokes.
But hey, John Cena can't afford this loss right now! Remember: he had a really rough 2012, main-eventing against Kane, Big Show and John Laurinaitis in pay-per-views not even John Cena, Sr. was willing to buy.
Prediction: John Cena pins Seth Rollins following an Attitude Adjustment. However, don't be surprised if Ryback, Sheamus and Cena each score the pin at the same time in a booking move I refer to as "The Day the Hope Died, and was Buried."
The Rock vs. CM Punk (WWE Championship)
The stipulation wherein Rock loses the strap if he is disqualified or counted out is obviously a lazy attempt at a red herring.
I have my fingers and toes crossed that Punk walks away from Elimination Chamber with either a) the WWE Championship, or b) a legitimate claim to the belt.
This way, Punk can save the intelligent world from Cena vs. Rock II.
I think Punk vs. Undertaker could potentially steal any show, and I relish the idea of Punk going on before Cena vs. Rock II and blowing both overrated catchphrase phonies out of the water at the biggest event in wrestling.
However, I have little interest in seeing Punk wrestle a crippled post-surgery Undertaker who's forced to go through the motions.
Punk vs. Cena vs. Rock is what WrestleMania needs right now. Not only is it a fresh matchup, it's also what WWE owes CM Punk for carrying their product on his tattooed shoulders since that classic worked shoot promo on June 27, 2011.
It's not cool, but it goes down like this:
Prediction: The Rock pins Punk after scoring with the Rock Bottom (the name of which also happens to describe WWE's current creative direction).