The 2013 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is in the books, and we had a number of surprises on a show that was expected to be very predictable. Many of the results will have big repercussions in the 49 days remaining until WrestleMania 29.
The Rock retains, but leaves the door cracked for Punk
Heading into Elimination Chamber, most knew that The Rock would retain his WWE Championship; the only question was how. Following John Cena's Royal Rumble victory, the writing was on the wall that we were heading for a rematch of WrestleMania 28's main event between The Rock and Cena. The Rock's pin of CM Punk shows that McMahon and the WWE are fully committed to a rematch and that we are on a crash course to, "Once in a Lifetime: Part II" come April 7.
The interesting angle in this match was the added stipulation that if The Rock were to either be counted out or disqualified, then CM Punk would win the WWE Championship. This did come into play a few times as Punk attempted to goad The Rock into doing something stupid by spitting spitting in his face. Punk also was hoping for a count out after giving the Rock Bottom to The Rock onto the Spanish announce table. Neither got the job done as The Rock was able to pull out the victory.
For CM Punk, this match leaves open a good opportunity for WWE to make the Main Event at WrestleMania into a Triple Threat match with Punk, Rock and Cena. Punk actually was able to kick out of a Rock Bottom and hit The Rock with the GTS. Punk would have easily won the match but the ref had been knocked out of the ring and was unable to count the "1, 2, 3" onto the champ.
All of CM Punk's plans for WrestleMania now rest on whether The Undertaker is healthy enough to challenge Punk in 49 days. If The Undertaker can't go, then the dominoes are in place for one hell of a Triple Threat match. I think we will learn a lot about the plans for Punk tomorrow on Raw.
The Shield brings the sword, and his name is Roman Reigns
This was one of the biggest surprises for me all night. The Shield got the pin on Ryback and in doing so, defeated the top-three faces in the company at once. This is a shock and a sign that the WWE is fully behind the trio.
The most impressive performer in the whole match has to be Roman Reigns. The monster Samoan, and the cousin of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, showed both his raw power and why he should be a superstar to watch in the future. His spear of Sheamus through the ringside barrier was one of the best moments of the night, and for an encore he hit another huge spear on Ryback to get the win over the All-Star squad of Cena, Ryback and Sheamus.
For Cena, the loss doesn't hurt him too badly. He was already the Royal Rumble winner and is guaranteed a shot at the WWE Championship. Sheamus loses a little steam, but he has been treading water without a real feud since losing the World Heavyweight Championship to the Big Show. I am interested to see where Sheamus goes heading into WrestleMania.
Will Dolph Ziggler cash in his Money in the Bank contract before Wrestlemania?
As for Ryback, his stock is falling faster than on Black Tuesday. He needs another win more than the Los Angeles Lakers. I don't even have a clue as to what Ryback could do heading to Mania. Possibly a Money in the Bank match, but that's a long shot. It will be interesting to see what happens to the lesser two on this squad in the next seven weeks.
For the Shield, this is a huge win. A win over these three should give them a huge boost going forward. This is the type of win that the WWE never gave to the Nexus when they were running hot in 2010. I seriously don't know what is in store for the NXT rookies, but I can't wait to see what is ahead for them. An awesome, career-defining win that could propel them to main event mainstays.
Jack Swagger receives another mega-push
Jack Swagger must have impressed someone important in the last few weeks leading up to Elimination Chamber. Following a shocking roll-up pin on Randy Orton, Swagger won the Elimination Chamber match to become the No. 1 contender for the WHC and is now guaranteed a Main Event match at WrestleMania 29. In a match with Kane, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Mark Henry and Chris Jericho, Swagger may have been an afterthought heading into the match but was able to defy the odds and pull out a huge victory.
Kane and Daniel Bryan accomplished what they needed to during their time in the Chamber and progressed their feud to a point that even Dr. Shelby won't be able to help them. Expect them to drop the Tag Team Championships soon, leading to a singles feud between the two.
Mark Henry looked very strong, even in defeat. The World's Strongest Man was able to show his dominance despite being eliminated following an onslaught of finishers in succession from Swagger, Jericho and Orton. Henry then came back to give the World's Strongest Slam to all three of them after being pinned. He has no clear feud at the moment, but Mark Henry is a threat to anyone at this point.
I still believe Chris Jericho will have a WHC match against Ziggler at WrestleMania, and here is how I see it happening: Mania will open with the match between Del Rio and Swagger; Ziggler will cash in following the match and then Ziggler's match with Jericho later in the evening will be the second WHC match on the card. That is how I would book it, and it could be awesome if done properly.
Randy Orton is the biggest loser tonight. He looked good and was in the final two competitors, but he has been floundering on Smackdown without a real feud for too long now. A win in the Chamber would have put him back into the Main Event level but that didn't happen. I, once again, have no clue what they will do with Orton going forward, but once again WrestleMania's Main Events will be Viper-less.
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