The road to WWE's last traditional pay-per-view event, Elimination Chamber 2014, started last night on Raw. In a weird way, WWE has to promote this show harder than they usually do.
Being the last PPV event before WWE Network launches on Feb. 24, fans are going to be confronted with paying $44.95 to $54.95 right before they commit to paying $10/month for six months to get every PPV during that period. It's an odd value proposition, especially since some fans may be under the impression that the show will be in the WWE Network Vault at launch. WWE needs to make it perfectly clear that this isn't the case.
The key to the success of Elimination Chamber is to get the vibe going that we are in WrestleMania season and everything is important. Get fans interested enough that money isn't on their minds when the cost and value of WWE events is going to be sticking with them more than ever.
Right now, we know that the namesake Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will feature Randy Orton, John Cena, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, and two other wrestlers. Cena, Sheamus, and Bryan earned their spots by defeating The Shield last night on Raw. As for the empty spots, right now I'd guess that Brock Lesnar and CM Punk will fill them, as they seem like the obvious picks.
If the card reported by PWInsider is locked in, Orton is retaining the title to defend it against Batista at WrestleMania. So how does he do it? It could be a big, clustery, storyline-heavy match with a lot of...well, not interference, since they're in the Chamber. Maybe some distractions from prospective WrestleMania opponents. But that sounds a bit too overbooked. I also question how Lesnar would be eliminated unless The Undertaker returns to use magic powers to interfere.
There is a potential alternative scenario using the same matches: Batista loses his title shot somehow in a singles match at the PPV. From there, someone could also win the title from Orton in the Chamber match to set up WrestleMania. Unless Daniel Bryan is winning the title, the best way to do this would probably be to do a Lesnar vs. Undertaker title match at WrestleMania to make it seem more like the Undertaker's streak could end.
Meanwhile, if Cena is still on a collision course with Bray Wyatt, culminating in a match at WrestleMania, then the Wyatt Family vs. The Shield match that was teased last night kind of has to happen at Elimination Chamber—especially if Roman Reigns is turning babyface before WrestleMania. There's no other opening for it to happen.
It has the potential to be a great, wild match, and if it happens at Elimination Chamber, there's obviously going to be a lot of speculation that they'll make it some kind of first-ever Elimination Chamber tag team match. This is the closest thing to a WCW-style Wargames match we can ever expect from WWE, and it makes sense, given the timing and number of wrestlers involved.
It's a little disappointing that the story is seemingly being rushed because of Reigns' turn, though. It's the type of feud that's tailor-made for WrestleMania season—a sort of dream match (even with the Wyatts only around for less than six months and The Shield having debuted just 13 months ago). If they can make it a Chamber match, that will make it special in a way that makes up for it not being on WrestleMania.
As for the rest of the card, I'm not sure yet, to be honest. Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio was teased for weeks, but then Batista unceremoniously eliminated Del Rio from the Royal Rumble match without the announcers dwelling on it, so I'm not so sure that will happen. Christian's back, so I guess he could be in the mix, too, or even take one of the Elimination Chamber spots.
What do you think? Will the Elimination Chamber be too wacky? Will Wyatt Family vs. Shield be in the Chamber? Let us know in the comments.
David Bixenspan has been Bleacher Report's WWE Team Leader and a contracted columnist since 2011. His article about WWE's 1984 expansion from regional powerhouse to national juggernaut is featured in the newly released issue #102 of Fighting Spirit Magazine, available worldwide online and in print in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @davidbix and check out his wrestling podcasts at LLTPod.com.