WWE Elimination Chamber 2014: Biggest X-Factors That Will Impact PPV
On February 23, World Wrestling Entertainment will make the final pay-per-view stop on the road to WrestleMania as it presents its Elimination Chamber event.
With a huge main event pitting WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton against challengers John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Antonio Cesaro and Christian inside the Chamber and a major six-man tag match featuring The Shield taking on the Wyatt Family, the show is shaping up to be the best since SummerSlam last August.
As is the case with every pay-per-view presentation, there are certain performers and elements of the show that will have a major impact on its overall quality and effectiveness.
These elements are referred to as X-factors.
What are the X-factors surrounding the Elimination Chamber event, the last show available exclusively on a pay-per-view basis?
Let's take a look.
The departure of CM Punk from WWE meant that Director of Operations for the Authority, Kane, was suddenly left without much to do here early in 2014. It also meant a dramatic change in booking as the entire feud meant for Punk, leading to a match with Triple H at WrestleMania, has shifted to Daniel Bryan.
And it may be for the best.
Bryan and the Big Red Monster have a long and storied history with one another.
They captured the WWE Tag Team Championship in September of 2012 and held it until May of 2013. During that time, they became one of the most over acts in wrestling as Team Hell No. They were comedic and fun but when the bell rang, they could deliver the goods.
Now, with Kane working for The Authority and Triple H and Stephanie McMahon regularly doing whatever they can to keep Bryan from the top spot on the roster, there are tons of storyline possibilities surrounding the two.
At Elimination Chamber, Bryan will compete for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. With all plans pointing to a Randy Orton-Batista showdown for that title, barring any kind of total creative shakeup, it is highly unlikely that Bryan leaves with the title.
That means one of two things: He is either defeated cleanly and the crowd turns on the match, or Kane gets involved, further progressing a TV feud for the two of them that will ultimately set up Bryan versus Triple H on April 6 in New Orleans.
While there is no guarantee that the Big Red Monster will be involved in the WWE title match come February 23, his potential appearance in the bout is one of the show's biggest X-factors.
While we know the two biggest matches on the Elimination Chamber card (WWE title Chamber match, The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family), there is still time and space to fill and only so many matches to do so.
One of those matches seems destined to be Batista and Alberto Del Rio as WWE continues to try to persuade its audience to accept Batista back into the fold. The match, should it happen, would be a great way to see just how ready The Animal is for a high-profile match on the WrestleMania card.
If he is still not in ring shape, a match against a veteran worker such as Del Rio will completely expose him and create further doubt and hostility in the minds of the WWE faithful.
After that match, what else takes place on the show is a mystery.
Could AJ Lee defend her Divas title against Naomi? Sure. The history is there, and Naomi has a couple of non-title wins over the champion to help strengthen her claim to a title shot.
Perhaps Darren Young versus Titus O'Neil is added, following the Prime Time Players' breakup. Maybe fans are "treated" to another rematch between tag champions the New Age Outlaws and Goldust and Cody Rhodes.
While the main event matches will be the ones that ultimately convince audiences to buy the show or not, the undercard that WWE puts together will determine the overall quality of the show.
At last month's Royal Rumble, the fans in Pittsburgh proved the power an audience can have by vocally expressing its support for Daniel Bryan and proceeding to turn on everything not involving the goat-faced Superstar.
Bored with the same two stars fighting over the top prize in the sport, the fans unleashed their venom on Randy Orton and John Cena, who worked hard in their match but could not capture the attention of an audience that had no plans on allowing itself to be captivated.
When Rey Mysterio was revealed as the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble match instead of Bryan, the audience reacted as if the Iron Sheik had just defeated Bob Backlund for the WWE title, raining down on him with a chorus of boos.
It was worse for Batista, who made what should have been a triumphant return to WWE and won the Rumble match. Instead of being greeted with a hero's welcome, he was on the receiving end of a loud, negative response from the fans.
It was an embarrassing night for WWE because it indicated that it had no idea what its fans wanted. Either that or it did know and simply chose not to give it to them, which is even worse.
If the company does not take its audience's opinion into consideration when booking the Elimination Chamber show, it could very well alienate or enrage a large portion of its crowd.
Can the company really justify another pay-per-view event that is taken over by rabid fans with very vocal opinions?
An X-factor of any pay-per-view event is the booking of the matches and angles that occur within it.
This month's Elimination Chamber is no different. The booking, however, is magnified thanks to the fact that WrestleMania XXX follows the show. The 30th Showcase of the Immortals should be one of the biggest extravaganzas in WWE history and will likely be promoted as such.
With that type of pressure, every little creative decision made on February 23 will be analyzed and scrutinized by every fan with a computer screen and keyboard at his disposal.
How the company books the Elimination Chamber match and more specifically, Daniel Bryan, will determine the crowd reaction to the bout, but for the sake of the WrestleMania card itself, strongly booking Randy Orton to look like a legitimate champion should be priority number one.
Fans are already finding it difficult to buy into The Viper as champion, and if they want to produce a title match that fans have any interest in at all, he needs to look strong heading into the biggest show of the year.
The Shield versus the Wyatt Family match is the most anticipated match on the card but also one of the trickiest to book.
The former is headed toward a split, and highlighting the dissension within the group will be of the utmost importance. The latter is preparing for a feud with John Cena that will lead to a marquee match at 'Mania. Thus, the Wyatts have to look strong to remain legitimate threats. If they beat The Shield in a fluky manner or simply pin Reigns or Ambrose after a betrayal by a partner, it will be much more difficult to convince fans that they are any real challenge for Cena to overcome.
The creative team has a great deal of work in front of it. Over the last six months, it has a very unimpressive track record to say the least.
With WrestleMania approaching, the pressure is on it to deliver its best storytelling.
Whether the creative team is up to the challenge or not remains to be seen.