WWE Elimination Chamber 2011: Post-Show Analysis and a Look Ahead to Atlanta
The final pay-per-view stop on the Road to WrestleMania is in the books after a scintillating Elimination Chamber event Sunday night.
New champions were crowned, an injured superstar made his long-awaited return and a sure-fire WWE Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus, made her return to the WWE Universe after an absence of nearly five years.
The World Heavyweight Championship was on the line in the night's first Elimination Chamber Match and Jerry "The King" Lawler made his greatest attempt yet to punch his very first ticket to WrestleMania.
Who returned in Oakland? Did Lawler realize his dream by defeating The Miz to become WWE Champion and headline WrestleMania XXVII? What do Sunday night's events mean as we look forward to The Granddaddy of Them All?
Let's take a match-by-match look at the results of the evening and what it all may mean in the big picture.
U.S. Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) Defeats Ted DiBiase
This was the evening's dark match and for good reason.
Nobody would believe it were Ted DiBiase to take the title off Daniel Bryan. Not now, at least.
This may be the build to a feud for WrestleMania—which would be nice for Bryan fans, because he's been stuck in this throwaway story with Gail Kim and the Bellas for way too long—or may have just been WWE creative finally putting a U.S. title defense on the card.
DiBiase's future looked bright at this time last year. He was embroiled in a feud with Randy Orton and was looking to finally go out on his own during the summer of 2010.
Nothing came about DiBiase's split from Legacy and this may be his final chance for a relevant career in WWE.
Alberto Del Rio Defeats Kofi Kingston
This match was likely an effort to get Alberto Del Rio onto the card, in some sort of relevant way, before he enters his World Heavyweight Title match at WrestleMania XXVII. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the Intercontinental Champion, Kofi Kingston.
Del Rio has been on fire since the calendar turned to 2011 and he wasn't about to stop Sunday night. With a little outside aid from Ricardo Rodriguez, Del Rio found himself in position, once again, to lock on the cross arm breaker and add another victory to his impressive tally.
Handing Del Rio a loss in the final pay-per-view before WrestleMania would have made absolutely no sense. A loss would have killed most, if not all, of Del Rio's momentum heading into the big event.
With the win, Del Rio remains as hot as ever. He carries a ton of momentum into the build to WrestleMania. If the last six weeks or so have been any indication, the feud between Del Rio and the World Heavyweight Champion should be a very good one.
The challenge WWE faces is putting Del Rio in position to be a realistic threat to the championship. Del Rio can do a lot himself, but it's a two-way street. If recent booking is any indication, there will be plenty of momentum for Del Rio to carry into Atlanta in six weeks.
World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Edge Retains
Looking at the schematics of the match, only three men—Edge, Rey Mysterio, and Big Show (who replaced the "fired" Dolph Ziggler)—could win Sunday night's World Heavyweight Championship match. There was no way WWE would have a heel-versus-heel title match at WrestleMania.
It was the Rated R Superstar who walked out victorious, punching his ticket for a match with Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVII.
Edge's win confirms the long-standing rumors of an Edge/Del Rio feud leading to Atlanta and the Road To WrestleMania for the World Heavyweight Champion and the no. 1 contender should be an interesting one.
We all know Edge can do strong work in a feud. All outward appearances would indicate Del Rio is capable of the same, meaning the next six weeks should provide an entertaining ride for everyone in the WWE Universe.
Del Rio didn't wait long to kick off the world title feud, attacking Edge immediately after the champion retained his title in the Elimination Chamber Match.
The X-factor in this whole feud could be Christian, who made his return to WWE to save his former long-time tag-team partner, simultaneously achieving a measure of vengeance toward Del Rio, who put Christian on the shelf in September 2010.
WWE creative can do a lot if they choose to keep Christian in the fold heading into WrestleMania. They can play off the story of Del Rio injuring Christian, or possibly tease a rumored feud between Edge and Christian, the former seven-time WWE Tag Team champions.
The next couple of Friday nights will go a long way to determine just how complex the Edge/Del Rio feud can become. The return of Captain Charisma could potentially add a whole new level.
WWE Tag Team Title Match: The Corre Defeats Santino Marella/Vladimir Kozlov (c)
After weeks upon weeks of the comedy show that is Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov wearing the WWE Tag Team titles, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater took the belts from the European duo in a short match.
Putting the belts back on Gabriel and Slater give some sort of relevance to the titles. Having Marella and Kozlov as champions pandered to the younger demographic the WWE is targeting, but their run had to end before WrestleMania. The two just weren't the type of champs you'd like to have heading into the biggest event of the year.
The win also sets up a potential Tag Team Championship feud with two members of The Nexus going forward.
The feud between The Corre and The Nexus has been teased multiple times and WWE creative should pull the trigger on the feud between the two factions.
Both factions could use the Freebird Rule, allowing any two members of the faction holding the belts to compete in a title bout.
Gabriel and Slater have worked together regularly as a team, meaning they would likely be the two men representing The Corre. Further, Wade Barrett has a higher-profile singles career to tend to and Ezekiel Jackson may be headed for a feud with Big Show.
The question surrounding The Nexus is with the newest member, Mason Ryan. As he has so painfully displayed in recent weeks, Ryan is very green in the ring. It remains to be seen whether or not WWE creative would put Ryan in any sort of match on the biggest stage in professional wrestling. This would be the type of match that would best cover Ryan's inexperience in the ring, where a strong in-ring worker like Michael McGillicutty could carry some of the weight for The Nexus.
WWE Championship: The Miz (c) Defeats Jerry "The King" Lawler
It came as little surprise that The Miz retained his WWE Championship Sunday night. What was more surprising was the fact that his win was, by and large, a clean victory.
The loss prevented Jerry Lawler from headlining WrestleMania, but his dream is far from over.
For weeks, reports from across the Internet have The King slated to make his WrestleMania debut after 18 years with WWE. His opponent?
While the reports don't state directly how the story would play out, it appears Lawler and Cole will be involved in a culmination of the tension the two have exhibited since Cole cost Lawler the WWE title in the TLC Match on Raw this past November.
Logic dictates any sort of wrestling match involving Cole would be a tag match or a gimmick match. Cole can not carry his own weight in a wrestling match, no matter who is across the ring from him.
Nonetheless, the match would be a payoff for the countless fans sick to death of Michael Cole's intimate involvement in the WWE Championship picture. And maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't have to hear, "Can I have your attention please?" anymore.
A guy can hope, can't he?
As for The Miz, he punched his ticket to headline WrestleMania for the first time in his career. His opponent?
Raw Elimination Chamber Match: John Cena Wins to Become No. 1 Contender
It just wouldn't be WrestleMania without a world title match featuring John Cena, would it?
For the seventh year in a row, Cena will compete in a world title match at WrestleMania. This time, his opponent is The Miz—making his first-ever appearance in the main event at The Granddaddy of Them All.
Cena and Miz are no strangers to each other. Their history began in earnest when The Miz began his ascent up the singles ranks on Raw. The Miz constantly called out an injured Cena, claiming to amass a number of wins over Cena.
The story concluded when Cena defeated The Miz at The Bash and again a few weeks later on Raw.
One could argue Cena and The Miz are the faces of Raw at this point. It only seems natural that the two meet for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXVII.
All signs point to Cena earning his 10th world title reign April 3.
First, it will have been more than a year since Cena's last world title reign, which is an eternity for SuperCena. Second, The Miz's title reign was initially slated to be a very short one, set to wrap around the Royal Rumble event. Obviously, plans have changed, but by the time WrestleMania XXVII arrives, The Miz will be the first man since Triple H in 2007-2008 to hold the WWE Championship for more than 100 days.
Finally, the night will likely end with the Cena/Miz WWE Championship match. It seems much more likely that the pay-per-view would go off the air with John Cena celebrating his WWE Championship victory, as opposed to The Miz celebrating after retaining his title.
Like it or not, John Cena is back in the WWE Championship picture. It should be, at least, an entertaining ride down the Road to WrestleMania...as long as Cena stops eating Fruity Pebbles before matches.
The Road to WrestleMania Starts Now!
Our main events for WrestleMania XXVII are set. There's a whole card to fill out for the big event and the build starts tomorrow night on Raw.
We have a big return on our hands tomorrow night, as The Undertaker makes his return to the WWE Universe. It's time for The Streak to be put on the line once again, but who will The Deadman set his sights on tomorrow night?
Will it be the hottest heel on Monday nights, CM Punk? Will The Deadman call out Wade Barrett in Fresno? Or will it be his brother, Kane, who will make the latest attempt to end The Streak?
The answer? None of those aforementioned men.
The Undertaker has been known for his mind games, especially around WrestleMania time. After 10 years, it will be time for The Undertaker to once again play The Game at WrestleMania.