WWE Elimination Chamber 2014 Card: Last-Minute Match Predictions for PPV Event
The final pay-per-view event before WrestleMania XXX is upon us, and by 11:00 p.m. ET Sunday night, wrestling fans across the globe will have an idea as to what to expect from World Wrestling Entertainment's biggest event.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be at stake as "The Viper" Randy Orton defends against John Cena, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Christian and Cesaro inside the unforgiving Elimination Chamber.
In one of the most anticipated matches in recent history, The Shield takes on the Wyatt Family in what Bray Wyatt has promised will be a war.
Batista competes in his first singles match since his return one month ago against Alberto Del Rio in a match that could prove to be interesting from a fan reaction standpoint.
Big E defends the intercontinental championship against Jack Swagger, tag champions the New Age Outlaws defend against the Usos, and Darren Young takes on Titus O'Neil in the battle of the former Prime Time Players.
Who will leave Minneapolis' Target Center with all the gold? Which competitors will ride a wave of momentum into the Showcase of the Immortals?
Which outcomes will stun the WWE Universe, if any?
Here are last-minute predictions to answer some of those questions.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel (WWE Kickoff Match)
Sunday's festivities kick off with former tag champions Rhodes and Goldust taking on former "Heyman Guys" Ryback and Axel.
The teams have had several interactions with each other in recent weeks, but there is no real story or reason for the match taking place. Imagine a scenario where WWE developed a secondary feud between the two teams and let it play out mainly on SmackDown.
At the very least, fans would then have a reason to care about this bout.
As it stands, the match will be a nice showcase for the Rhodes brothers as they try to regain some of the momentum they lost when they dropped the tag titles to the New Age Outlaws last month at Royal Rumble.
It can be argued that Ryback and Axel should be in a better position on the card than fodder for the former champions, but unfortunately for those two competitors, that is the role they find themselves in.
One thing to watch is whether or not any tension between the brothers is teased during Sunday's match. Fans have been anticipating a match between Cody and Goldust for nearly two years, and with the latter enjoying the most consistently great run of his career, 2014 may be the year to finally deliver the bout.
With no real tease or indication that the company may be building toward a clash between the Rhodes brothers, the match is much easier to predict.
Expect Cody and Goldust to kick off the evening's broadcast with a fairly convincing win that gets the audience hyped for the main card.
Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio
Prior to Batista's return, Alberto Del Rio led the charge when it came to criticizing The Animal's comeback to WWE. The two exchanged heated words on Twitter, and those words spilled over onto television, giving way to physical altercations.
The Animal has been dominant over his foe to this point, planting him with a spine buster, eliminating him from the Royal Rumble and destroying him with a Batista Bomb through the announcers' table.
Batista has been so dominant and has been booked so strongly, in fact, that no one has any reason to believe that Del Rio has any chance of defeating him.
Not once in promos or physical altercations has Del Rio been given the upper hand over his Elimination Chamber opponent to sell him as any sort of threat. He is simply an established star, a former WWE and world heavyweight champion being thrown into the ring with a bigger star and tasked with making Batista look good.
Whether Del Rio does that or not remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: His shoulders will be counted down for three Sunday night.
Batista easily dispatches Del Rio following the Batista Bomb in the most predictable match of the evening.
The Usos vs. The New Age Outlaws
The New Age Outlaws' return to full-time competition has been one of the more interesting stories of this young year.
The dominant team of WWE's Attitude Era, they had not competed as a duo for nearly 14 years before returning in January during a special episode of "Old School" Raw.
When they turned on CM Punk, commentary and the booking decisions that followed indicated that the team would be involved in the Authority angle. Their friendship with Triple H was even credited for their match against Cody Rhodes and Goldust, as well as the tag team title match prior to the Royal Rumble.
Since they captured the titles, however, their association with the powers-that-be has been downplayed and is rarely mentioned.
So why is the team still on television, let alone tag team champions?
Sure, the shtick remains over with the audience, but once the bell rings, the WWE Universe has a hard time investing themselves in champions who simply are not believable enough against today's quicker, more energetic Superstars.
Such as the Usos.
Jimmy and Jey, the twin sons of former star Rikishi, have made up one of the best tag teams in WWE for two years. Their match against The Shield at last July's Money in the Bank Kickoff Show opened the eyes of management and fans alike and led to a great deal of television exposure.
Despite their performances and crowd-pleasing move set, they have yet to be rewarded for their work with a tag team title reign.
Unfortunately, that will not change come Sunday.
WWE's 50/50 style of booking won't allow it.
After Jey's win over Billy Gunn on Monday and Jimmy's victory over Road Dogg on SmackDown, the likelihood of the Usos picking up a third consecutive win is greatly diminished.
Despite a performance from the challengers that is far and above that of the champions, fans will once again be left shaking their heads as the Usos fall short of championship glory.
The silver lining is that there is plenty of time to set up a tag title rematch, potentially involving other teams, for WrestleMania. Perhaps at the biggest stage of them all, the twins will finally capture the championship that has eluded them for so long.
Darren Young vs. Titus O'Neil
The breakup of the Prime Time Players culminates this Sunday with a match between Darren Young and Titus O'Neil.
Their rivalry has been exclusive to SmackDown, outside of a promo by O'Neil this past Monday on Raw, and has been a nice throwback to old-school wrestling booking.
O'Neil had grown tired and frustrated with the Players' losing streak and blamed it solely on Young. He assaulted his longtime friend, even drawing blood from his mouth.
The following week, Young gained a measure of revenge, attacking his bigger, stronger opponent backstage following a promo. So intense was Young that he had to be pulled off O'Neil by agents.
Last Friday, he got the best of O'Neil once more, thwarting a sneak attack and ripping his dress pants off of him. A week later, he cost the big man a huge match against former world heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler.
Sunday night, O'Neil will finally have the opportunity to get back at Young, who has had the upper hand in the rivalry over the last month.
A highly talented talker whose value as an entertainer means more to the company than Young's value as a worker, Titus O'Neil will win Sunday night and set off what could be a major singles push for the former Florida Gator throughout the rest of 2014.
Big E vs. Jack Swagger (Intercontinental Championship Match)
In recent weeks, Jack Swagger has gone from being the weak link of the Real Americans tag team to a legitimate challenger to the intercontinental championship that is held by breakout star Big E.
It appeared as though the former world heavyweight champion was on his way to splitting with manager Zeb Colter when he entered a Fatal 4-Way match against Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry and Kofi Kingston.
The only heel in the match, he escaped with his arm raised in victory despite the fact that his opponents were two former heavyweight champions and the most decorated midcard star on the roster.
This past Monday on Raw, he scored another win—this time over Kingston in singles competition.
Big E has been plugging along as the intercontinental champion, but his title defenses have been few and far between as of late. Luckily, the company did a great job Monday night of putting over the title and the program between champion and No. 1 contender ahead of this weekend's title bout.
A Swagger win would be a great way to capitalize on the momentum that he has built over the last two weeks. Unfortunately, he has been on the receiving end of pushes before and, for whatever reason, has failed to capitalize on them.
Big E, on the other hand, can be a legitimate breakout star for WWE and a pillar of the company as it moves into the future. A big man with a jacked physique that moves with the speed and agility of a much smaller competitor, he offers far more promise than Swagger at this point.
Expect to see the champion retain following a very physical, hard-hitting match.
The Shield vs. the Wyatt Family
Does it even matter who wins?
Both teams are awesome, the booking of the story leading into the match has been superb, and anticipation for the bout is at a high.
The company has reminded fans that—just when they think the creative team is at its worst and that management does not care what the people in the stands want or have to say—they can deliver the one match that fans have been pining for since late last year.
The program has been crafted through promos, staredowns and careful interactions that, until this past Monday, were not physical in nature.
Though they may be heavily scripted, the promos cut by Bray Wyatt have been nothing short of phenomenal, and the body language shown by The Shield during the confrontations with the cult-like Wyatt Family has positioned them as the babyfaces in the upcoming match.
The match has been built on a simple basis. The Wyatt Family's interference during a six-man tag match between The Shield and Sheamus, John Cena and Daniel Bryan cost Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins spots in the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE title. The Shield took exception and challenged them to a match.
This Sunday, in what may very well be the last stand of The Shield as a complete unit, the two teams wage war on each other in a rivalry that would have been as appropriate for the Attitude Era as it is today.
The Royal Rumble hinted at a rivalry between Bray Wyatt and John Cena for WrestleMania. With that said, he, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan could use a strong win to help them kick off the road to the biggest event of the year.
Conversely, the tension between Reigns and Ambrose has been mounting with each passing week and will eventually culminate in a huge blowup between them and bring upon the end of The Shield.
In what should be the hottest match of the night, the Wyatt Family will score a victory, while the dissension among their opponents reaches its boiling point.
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line Sunday night as champion Randy Orton defends against Sheamus, Cesaro, Christian, John Cena and Daniel Bryan inside the unforgiving Elimination Chamber.
It is the biggest threat to The Viper's title reign thus far, something that has been evident in recent weeks. Orton was tasked with competing against each of his challengers in singles competition on Raw and SmackDown over the last three weeks and managed a very poor 1-4 record against them.
Christian was the one Superstar to fall in defeat. Considering the fact that Captain Charisma has no shot of leaving Minneapolis with the gold, that is not such a bad thing.
Sheamus also failed to decisively defeat Orton, scoring a win via disqualification. The Celtic Warrior has been very good since returning from injury, but it is not his time.
Cesaro may be the second-hottest star in wrestling, thanks to tremendous performances in both victory (over Orton) and defeat (against Cena). He has been tremendous as of late and is riding a wave of momentum entering Sunday's Chamber match.
Cena is the unquestioned leader of everything World Wrestling Entertainment. He is the real face of the company and will always play a prominent role in major main event matches. He may not be a favorite to win on Sunday, but he brings star power and attention to the bout.
Bryan is the most popular wrestler in the company and has recently gained mainstream attention, including an article written by Daniel Uthman for USA Today, for the Yes! chants that fill arenas across the country. The fans will be on his side and will turn on the match if he is eliminated too early in the bout.
Although any of those Superstars could win the match and the title and still be considered legitimate champions, the man who will leave the steel confines of the Elimination Chamber with the championship is the man who will enter the match with it.
The entire story leading into the match has revolved around Orton and the perception fans and wrestlers have of him as champion. He has been booked to look vulnerable for the last month, creating questions about his odds on Sunday night.
In true Honky Tonk Man fashion, Orton will seize an opportunity, capitalize on an opening and retain his title in a way that continues to create doubt as to who the real, most deserving champion is.