The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is rapidly approaching, and WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton is entering the February 23 pay-per-view reeling.
He has lost consecutive Raw main events to two of his top contenders in John Cena and Daniel Bryan and, as a result, has created doubt about whether he is really the guy to carry the company as the "face of the WWE."
This week on SmackDown, he takes on the surging Cesaro, who will be one of his five challengers inside the Chamber in just under two weeks. Will Orton get back on track, or will he suffer another loss, dropping his win-loss record against his Chamber opponents to 1-3?
Also on this week's show, Goldust, Cody Rhodes and the Usos team up to meet WWE tag team champions the New Age Outlaws, Ryback and Curtis Axel. Can the Usos continue building momentum for themselves as they jump into title contention, or will the Outlaws once again prove to be savvy veterans and down their top contenders with the help of Ryback and Axel?
A new No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship will be decided, and The Shield will be in six-man tag team action just days before their epic encounter with the Wyatt Family.
Can't wait to see what goes down this Friday on SmackDown?
Here's a look at the spoilers for this week's show, courtesy of our friends at ProWrestling.net.
Citizen's Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
Michael Cole and JBL
Quick Match Results
- The Shield defeated Sheamus, Christian and Daniel Bryan after an accidental Brogue Kick from Sheamus to Christian.
- Jack Swagger defeated Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio to become No. 1 contender to the intercontinental title when he forced Kingston to tap out to the Patriot Lock.
- Eva Marie pinned Alicia Fox.
- The Usos, Cody Rhodes and Goldust defeated the New Age Outlaws, Ryback and Curtis Axel when Jimmy Uso pinned Road Dogg.
- Darren Young defeated Damien Sandow. After the match, he brawled with former partner Titus O'Neil.
- The Miz defeated Fandango after Santino Marella and Emma distracted the latter.
- Cesaro pinned WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton in a non-title match.
Huge main event upset
Cesaro, no longer Antonio, scored the biggest win of his career at Tuesday night's SmackDown tapings when he cleanly defeated current WWE champion Randy Orton, pinning him in the center of the ring following the Neutralizer.
The win is a huge sign of the company's faith in Cesaro and indicates that the Swiss-born Superstar could be on the receiving end of a major push in the coming weeks.
With WrestleMania XXX only weeks away, it may be too late to really execute the push and put Cesaro in a high-profile marquee match, but do not be surprised if he is a major part of WWE's booking plans coming out of that show and for the remainder of 2014.
A huge career boost against one of the top stars of the last decade.
Good for Cesaro.
Tag team madness
Sure, the Usos pick up another win this Friday night as they begin to accumulate momentum, but do not be surprised if they receive their tag title shot in yet another multiteam match at Elimination Chamber.
Rhodes and Goldust and Ryback and Axel have had their fair share of matches in recent weeks. The fact that they were involved on SmackDown could be a hint that WWE wants all four of those Superstars on the Chamber card, and the only way to do that would be in a Fatal 4-Way match for the titles.
Regardless of whether that is the case or the Usos do finally receive a straight-up basic tag match for the belts, Jimmy and Jey deserve the opportunity to run with the gold. What better way for them to capture the titles than by defeating one of the best teams in WWE history in the Outlaws?
It is up to WWE to pull the proverbial trigger and finally crown one of its most exciting and deserving teams with the championships they so rightfully deserve.
Wait...Eva Marie pins Alicia Fox.
Can we get The Shield? I smell injustice!
Real American No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental title
There has been a great deal of tension between Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter over the last few weeks, and the sudden rise of Cesaro only highlights the recent disappointments of Swagger.
That momentarily changes this Friday night when Swagger defeats Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry in a Fatal 4-Way match to earn the right to challenge Intercontinental champion Big E Langston at Elimination Chamber.
Both Swagger and Langston are former amateur wrestlers with great speed and agility. If given enough time to actually deliver a match, it could turn out to be a very good midcard title bout.
It is more likely, however, that it will simply be the latest chapter in the eventual split between Swagger and Colter, perhaps leading to the first babyface push of his career.
The Shield continues to roll
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are preparing for what is easily the most anticipated six-man tag team match of their WWE careers at the Elimination Chamber show, where they'll meet the Wyatt Family. This Friday night, they continue to pick up momentum by defeating Sheamus, Christian and Daniel Bryan in what should be a pretty excellent match.
The babyfaces are three of the five challengers to Randy Orton's WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Based on the results of the match, it looks like tension could be mounting for them coming out of Friday night's show.
The Brogue Kick from Sheamus that accidentally catches Christian ultimately spells the team's downfall, and one has to wonder whether that will lead to some sort of match or angle involving those two former rivals as soon as Monday night's Raw.
It is interesting that there is no further interaction between the Shield and the Wyatt Family, especially given what took place on Raw.
It should be interesting to see whether WWE edits in a promo from Bray and Co.
The Prime Time Players explode!
The B-level SmackDown feud between Darren Young and Titus O'Neil has been very fun to watch in recent weeks, and it continues this Friday when Young picks up a big singles victory over Damien Sandow (That guy cannot catch a break.) before mixing it up with O'Neil for the second straight week.
It is a shame that the Players' rivalry has been relegated to SmackDown, because both men are so talented that they deserve the bright lights of Raw. At the same time, being tucked away on SmackDown is not necessarily a bad thing, as it allows the feud to develop organically without any interference and without being tossed aside and forgotten.
Ideally, both Superstars will come out of the story better off than they were before, but only time will tell if that's the case.