WWE Elimination Chamber 2014: Title Challengers Who Will Shine in Defeat
This Sunday night, World Wrestling Entertainment presents its annual February pay-per-view extravaganza Elimination Chamber.
The main event of the evening features Randy Orton defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Christian, Cesaro and John Cena inside the unforgiving steel structure that shares the name of the event.
While there are very few competitors in the match with a legitimate shot at leaving Minneapolis with the title, that does not mean the others will not deliver performances capable of capturing the attention of the WWE Universe and earning themselves the spotlight.
Elsewhere on the card, Jack Swagger challenges Big E for the Intercontinental Championship as he attempts to regain singles gold, and momentum, following a lengthy tag team run with Cesaro.
Speaking of tag team wrestling, one of its best duos will have a shot to shine as The Usos challenge veteran champions the New Age Outlaws for the titles.
While champions will ultimately be the most talked and debated about Superstars coming out of Sunday's pay-per-view, there are a great deal of performers who will shine under the bright lights despite a crushing defeat.
Who are they?
Let's take a look.
Swiss Superstar Cesaro has delivered two straight breakout performances against two of WWE's top competitors in John Cena, whom he lost to, and Randy Orton, whom he cleanly defeated.
Expect that trend of breakout performances to continue Sunday night as he enters his first Elimination Chamber match, which is his first pay-per-view main event and his first major WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
Cesaro will not win the title at this Sunday's show.
He's not even a dark-horse candidate to do so, despite the sizable push the former Ring of Honor star has received over the last month.
With that said, expect Cesaro to continue gaining momentum by lasting longer in the match than some of his opponents and scoring an elimination or two to solidify his latest push.
The leader of the Cenation is in a spot he is unfamiliar with heading into Sunday's event.
As he prepares for what many assume will be a big match against Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania, based on their interaction back at the Royal Rumble, he enters the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE championship as a largely insignificant challenger.
He is still the top star in professional wrestling and will play a big role in the actual in-ring action that takes place during this weekend's event, but the likelihood that he leaves with the championship is nearly nonexistent.
One of the hardest workers in wrestling history, both in front of and behind the camera, Cena will deliver a pay-per-view quality performance inside one of WWE's trademark gimmick matches.
That he is the most polarizing star in the history of professional wrestling will only help intensify the response of the crowd for everything that he does, especially when he breaks out his signature comeback spots.
He will shine thanks to his spot in the company, thanks to the drive and determination he brings to his performances and thanks to the crowd heat surrounding his matches.
The Usos have been one of the best tag teams in World Wrestling Entertainment for the better part of two-and-a-half years but have never been properly rewarded with a tag team championship reign.
That is unlikely to happen Sunday, unfortunately.
Twin brothers Jimmy and Jey have picked up several wins over champions the New Age Outlaws over the last two weeks, and while that has catapulted them into title contention it has also left them open to the dreaded 50-50 booking style that WWE uses on their shows.
Jey Uso's win over Billy Gunn on Raw only hurts the brothers' chances of leaving Minneapolis with the WWE Tag Team Championship.
But that will not dampen the spirits of the challengers. The Usos have been big-game performers on WWE pay-per-view over the last year, regularly delivering outstanding matches when given the opportunity. The Outlaws are not the easiest opponents to do so with, but if there is any team that can combine old-school style with the flash and high-flying that they have become known for, it is the Usos.
This Sunday will be another example of the Usos performing up to the spot they are in, despite not receiving the reward they have rightfully earned.
The former World Heavyweight champion has had several opportunities throughout his career to move up the card, but for whatever reason he has been unable to really capitalize on those chances.
With that said, Swagger has been a valuable part of the WWE midcard and he will prove why when he challenges Big E for the Intercontinental Championship this Sunday night.
Swagger, for his faults, is a very good worker whose arsenal lends itself to matches against stars of varying styles. He can be a very physical competitor and will mesh with Big E, who has busted open his fair share of opponents hard way thanks to his high-impact offense.
The Perry, Okla., native is a veteran of high-profile matches and he will be relied upon to carry the majority of Sunday's match, dictating the pace. A great deal of the success of the match will be credited to him if it exceeds expectations while he will be blamed for the failure of the bout if that is the case.
One way or the other, Swagger will be the talk of the match, shining brighter than his fairly protected opponent.
For his sake, let's hope it is for the right reason.
The Celtic Warrior returned to the ring at last month's Royal Rumble and, unlike some of his co-workers, did so without any recognizable ring rust.
Prior to the injury that sidelined him, Sheamus was one of the most underrated, underappreciated workers on the WWE roster. His terrible, smiling babyface promos earned him the scorn of older fans and, at the same time, overshadowed the tremendous strides he was making between the ropes.
Now back and as good as he was before the injury, Sheamus is poised to shine at this weekend's Elimination Chamber event.
He has stepped inside the unforgiving structure before but has never achieved the success he was hoping to, losing his WWE title in 2010 and falling the following year in an attempt to earn a shot at the same title.
Unfortunately, the odds that he reverses the trend is unlikely as there are too many competitors in the match with potentially bigger and better WrestleMania plans than the Irishman.
He will standout because of his tremendous workrate and will be booked strongly because of his stature within the company.
It will be in a loss, however, and the direction he heads in going into WrestleMania remains a mystery.