WWE Elimination Chamber 2014: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Top Superstars
The WrestleMania main event, victory and resume-padding classics are all on the line for the Superstars battling at WWE Elimination Chamber 2014.
Fans of Daniel Bryan, Batista and The Shield are hoping for their favorites to maximize their opportunity, to achieve dream scenarios. Less favorable situations are just as possible, though.
Could Bryan be cheated out of championship glory once again? Could Batista flop so badly in his match that WWE regrets its choice to make him the Royal Rumble winner?
Elimination Chamber has the answers. The following is a look at the most likely peaks and valleys for the top Superstars entering the event.
Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio isn't going to defeat Batista. "The Animal" has a spot lined up on the WrestleMania XXX marquee. The last thing WWE is going to do with his last major match before that event is have him lose.
Del Rio instead has to aspire to have a classic.
His connection with the crowd has been inconsistent at best, and he's been labeled "boring" by many fans, but Del Rio has produced some excellent in-ring work throughout his WWE career.
Should his speed contrast well with Batista's power and should they display great chemistry, another masterpiece is possible.
Rather than battle hard against Batista and provide a grueling challenge for him, Del Rio may end up being just the salmon in the river while Batista plays the bear.
His worst-case scenario is being the victim of a squash. He wouldn't get to showcase his skills and would just be used to push Batista.
Del Rio is capable of far more than this role, but it's one of the plausible routes WWE may ask him to take at Elimination Chamber.
Batista won't just be battling against Alberto Del Rio—he'll be colliding with fans who resent seeing him assured a WrestleMania spot while Daniel Bryan has to win the Chamber match to get his.
The biggest victory he can hope for is to win over those fans. Should he and Del Rio impress the crowd to the point where Bryan chants die down in favor of "This is awesome!" chants, then he'll truly have reason to celebrate.
He's been the scapegoat of the frustration over Bryan's booking.
A great crowd-swaying performance would help move that attention elsewhere. Batista could then more easily head into WrestleMania knowing glory awaits him, not disapproval.
Aside from boos and Bryan chants taking over his match, the worst-case scenario for Batista would be to look terrible physically.
The Rock has looked winded and out of his element in some of his return matches. Batista showed signs of ring rust in the Royal Rumble.
Not being in wrestling condition come Elimination Chamber would be handing ammunition to his critics.
If "The Animal" produces a sloppy, stuttering match where he is gassed early on, he's not only going to receive a series of jeers, but he'll have WWE regret putting him in the position it did and perhaps look for loopholes to get him out of it.
Never count John Cena out of any match and never bet on him not headlining WrestleMania.
His best-case scenario at the Elimination Chamber is to win, become world champ and head for a showdown against Batista. That would mark his fourth straight WrestleMania as the headliner.
It would be the ultimate sign of confidence and dependence from WWE and another sign of his dominance.
He is one of the few foes in the Chamber with a legitimate shot of winning thanks to his WrestleMania pedigree. Although many expect Daniel Bryan to take his crown as WWE's top guy, it's possible the company hesitates to name a new king.
At the other end of the spectrum, Cena's nightmare scenario is that the Elimination Chamber injures him.
His health is really all he has to lose here. He's one of the few Superstars assured a spot at WrestleMania and a forgettable performance at this event won't change that. He doesn't need to be champion to remain relevant, as he's showing right now.
He could, however, succumb to the dangerous nature of the Chamber structure and miss out on WrestleMania altogether.
Beyond just winning and retaining his title, Randy Orton's ideal Elimination Chamber would see him put on a fantastic performance and guide the match close to five-star territory.
Forgotten in all the fans' complaints about Orton and John Cena dominating the main event scene for the last decade is that Orton delivers in the ring again and again. He's produced excellent work in taking on each of his Chamber opponents over the last few weeks.
Should he top those bouts with a tour de force inside "Satan's Prison," that would be worth celebrating just as much as remaining champion.
For both "The Apex Predator" and WWE, the worst-case scenario is for the fans to erupt in non-PG chants after Orton wins.
There is a certain amount of expected hate to be directed his way. After all, he's the company's top heel and has to best a number of fan favorites to stay champ. The reaction the company doesn't want is for the boos to come from a place of displeasure with WWE itself.
Royal Rumble ended this way, with Batista goaded into exchanging middle-finger salutes with fans.
WWE wants Orton to garner jeers, but not for the audience to throw up its hands, exasperated at the thought of an Orton vs. Batista WrestleMania showdown.
The world title and WrestleMania main event aren't impossible goals, but few expect Sheamus to earn those two triumphs at Elimination Chamber. They rank as his best-case scenarios, although they aren't safe bets to happen.
A goal he's more likely to achieve is to serve as the Chamber match's wrecking ball.
As the biggest man in the match, he could easily be the wrestler who tosses his foes through the pods and rattles the steel apron with power moves. Even if he loses, it's easy to imagine Sheamus leaving a lasting impression as a beast inside the structure.
Instead of being the match's monster, he could potentially be its punching bag.
With WWE likely looking to make Cesaro appear strong in this bout and please Daniel Bryan fans, the company could sacrifice Sheamus to either one of them. Eliminating Sheamus is a significant feat. In order to boost other stars, that feat may happen early.
For Sheamus to not only miss out on WrestleMania but to leave the Chamber first are among the least optimal scenarios for him at the upcoming pay-per-view.
The Shield is set to implode. WWE reminds fans of that every week as Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins grow increasingly tired of Dean Ambrose. Whether that breakup happens at Elimination Chamber or later, one of the main goals needs to be to make each member a major singles star.
Against The Wyatt Family, it doesn't matter that much if The Shield wins; it's important that each member of the black-clad trio shines.
Reigns has had a plethora of memorable moments as of late, including breaking Kane's Royal Rumble elimination record. This match and the inevitable split is a chance to give both Rollins and Ambrose their resume-building performances as well.
The ideal situation for The Shield is for the audience to buy each member as a headliner once the event is over.
With as much time as WWE has put into the buildup of The Shield's dissolution, the worst thing that can happen is that the company flubs the breakup.
Overbooking or mishandling the situation would be a waste of a potentially huge moment. Fans will be expecting greatness, both in the match itself and the story of The Shield's demise.
If the latter comes off as silly and produces more groans than applause, then the stench of the Elimination Chamber will linger for months to come.
The Wyatt Family
The prize of destroying The Shield is a possibility here, as is WWE paving The Wyatt Family's path to WrestleMania XXX.
Even if Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are asked to remain at ringside while Bray Wyatt clashes with John Cena at the huge event, it's a win for the clan. It will be the biggest spotlight they have stood in.
What happens at Elimination Chamber could cement the expected Wyatt vs. Cena clash and assure "The Eater of Worlds" and his crew another resume highlight.
In terms of The Wyatt Family's more immediate foes, should the three bruisers not only defeat The Shield but be the ones to force the group apart, it would make them the most dominant force in WWE today.
Wyatt would have plenty to brag about going forward, and WWE history would forever remember that his family was the group capable of doing something that some of the biggest stars couldn't.
As great as fans are expecting The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family to be, the fear remains that it looks a lot more like Wyatt vs. Kane at SummerSlam than Wyatt vs. Bryan at Royal Rumble.
If the two groups' chemistry stutters and the pressure proves to be too heavy, an awkward match awaits.
This is potentially a look at a number of future headliners, but a putrid performance will likely slow a number of pushes. The Wyatt Family and "The Hounds of Justice" have such an impressive history, though, that this is among the least likely of scenarios to play out.
Cesaro and Christian fans will just be looking for those Superstars to put on good performances. The Daniel Bryan fanbase has far higher hopes for its bearded hero.
Bryan's ideal Elimination Chamber will end with him wearing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and heading to WrestleMania XXX to face Batista.
He may get to that spot eventually by way of a Triple Threat match, but a momentous victory is possible on Feb. 23, assuring him the WrestleMania main event. He has a chance to tear apart foes, old and new.
Should he kick and dive his way to besting all five of his opponents, Bryan will achieve his career apex so far.
Bryan's issues with Kane and The Authority suggest that a less celebratory night awaits him.
Kane's recent attacks have not only left Bryan's arm in pain but have kept The Director of Operations in Bryan's narrative. That likely means that he'll play a part in the Chamber match.
If Bryan is only seconds away from his third WWE title and Kane interferes to prevent this, it will be the latest heartbreak in the Bryan saga. Should this hint at a Kane vs. Bryan WrestleMania match, it would be an even bigger loss than watching Randy Orton walk away with the gold again.