WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 Matches: Full Predictions for Champions at PPV
The last big stop on the Road to WrestleMania 33 for the SmackDown brand is Sunday's Elimination Chamber event, so all attention should be on the four champions heading into the pay-per-view.
While the Intercontinental Championship won't be defended, the other three will, and the way WWE books the champions for this event will create immense waves that will ripple for the rest of the year.
Since title changes on the regular television shows this late in the game always scream of desperation, this is effectively the final chance to pull an emergency switch on which titleholders will be defending their belts at the biggest show of the year.
John Cena steps into the Elimination Chamber with intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose and four other top contenders, Alexa Bliss has her work cut out for her against Naomi and American Alpha are up against all odds in a special Tag Team Turmoil contest.
Will new champions be crowned or will the status quo remain?
SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable have been poised for success pretty much since they first started teaming up in NXT, and now that they have reached the peak of their division on SmackDown, they're hungry for competition.
Be careful what you ask for, though, as putting out the challenge led to the creation of this Tag Team Turmoil title defense that will see them go up against every single team on the blue brand save for the two remaining members of The Wyatt Family who are busy elsewhere on the card.
Fortunately, when you look at the list of teams in the match, there aren't any that pose American Alpha too much of a threat.
The Usos are an accomplished tag team with multiple title reigns, but while they've seemed to be ready for another championship run since July's brand split, it has yet to happen, and their momentum has gradually slowed.
The Ascension have been a joke almost from the get-go of moving up to the main roster in late 2014, as have The Vaudevillains and Breezango. All three of those duos will undoubtedly be used as fodder.
When it comes to Heath Slater and Rhyno, despite being former champions, their time has come and gone. The past few weeks, it has even been teased they might split. If that is in the cards, either here or anytime soon, they definitely won't be champions while they break up.
Although facing five other tag teams seems like a tall task, American Alpha is more than up to the challenge and will more than likely walk away with the SmackDown Tag Team Championships in tow.
SmackDown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss
For someone who was never given the opportunity to hold the NXT Women's Championship, Alexa Bliss has done a fantastic job in her time with the SmackDown Women's Championship—a much more valuable position to be in.
This title reign may be in jeopardy around WrestleMania, as she has held the belt for over 60 days, which is roughly around the time when it's no longer considered to be too soon to drop the belt.
When it comes to Elimination Chamber, though, Bliss should be fine, as her opponent has a track record of failure in title matches.
Despite being immensely talented and a company girl who has assuredly reached a level of tenure and respect for doing everything from Total Divas to being a Funkadactyl, Naomi has never won a championship in WWE.
It's amazing to think a title has eluded her for so long considering how skilled she was when she first came into the mix on NXT.
One would imagine she would have built up enough good faith to justify giving her at least a transitional reign just to reward her for her efforts.
Here's hoping it happens somewhere along the line, but sadly for Naomi and her fans, it's not likely to happen here. She can feel the glow all she wants, but she's not taking priority over Bliss.
In a short amount of time, Alexa has skyrocketed to being one of the best heels not just on SmackDown but in the whole WWE women's division. Yours truly would argue she's much better on a character level than Charlotte Flair, who is touted as the women's heel.
Bliss is doing too good a job to drop the title to Naomi before WrestleMania. If the match were against Nikki Bella, it would be a different story, as she's further up the hierarchy and will pose a big threat whenever she next gets a championship shot.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose
Just because the Intercontinental Championship is not being defended at this event doesn't mean the fact Dean Ambrose is wearing the title won't have great ramifications for how things pan out at Elimination Chamber.
More often than not, if you're a midcard champion participating in the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, King of the Ring, Money in the Bank or any kind of scenario where you can lose without dropping your title, history has shown that you are going to do just that.
Although it's been done every once in a while, WWE rarely stacks accolades on top of people unless it has booked itself into a corner that means it almost has to do it.
Sure, there have been surprises from time to time, such as Ultimate Warrior defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship while still holding the intercontinental title or most recently when Seth Rollins was simultaneously holding the United States and WWE world heavyweight titles, but it's a rarity.
Outside of the shock factor, Ambrose isn't in a position to win the Elimination Chamber match this year.
Instead of having a belt on both shoulders, he'll be booked somewhat decently but as a sacrificial lamb to either Bray Wyatt or Baron Corbin, depending on whether WWE wishes to have Corbin involved in the title hunt for WrestleMania.
Considering the tendency to do a multi-man ladder match for this particular title over the past few years, it can be assumed Ambrose will walk into Orlando with just the Intercontinental Championship in hand.
There, he will defend against Corbin and possibly a laundry list of others who have nothing else to do like Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews and Kalisto, so he has to come up short in the Elimination Chamber.
It's an odd set of circumstances when success guarantees your failure, but at least The Lunatic Fringe will still have his Intercontinental Championship to make up for this loss.
The next time that title is on the line, however, might not play out as well for Ambrose, so he should cherish it before he sets foot in the Camping World Stadium on April 2.
WWE Champion John Cena
John Cena just recorded his historic 16th world title win, but it isn't going to be a reign that will go down as anything memorable, as it's about to end just two weeks after he obtained the belt.
Randy Orton's Royal Rumble win essentially sets up a match against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, as that is the most interesting feud for him to have going into the big show since it depends on him betraying someone he pledged allegiance to several months ago.
For that to happen, Cena has to drop the championship either in the Elimination Chamber match or sometime on SmackDown following this event, but given the two options, it's a safe bet it won't happen on television.
Not only do championships tend to change hands more often on pay-per-views than on television, but this is also Cena we're talking about. If he's going to lose, more often than not, it will be in a situation like this.
Wrestling in a cage with five other competitors puts him at a disadvantage that means he won't look too weak if he loses. Then, for the next few weeks, he'll have his rematch against Wyatt on SmackDown, come up short and start building toward the match he'll have at WrestleMania.
Although Orton teased the idea that Cena could win the Elimination Chamber bout, retain the title and face him at WrestleMania and that it would be a match fans would want to see "whether [they] know it or not," it is safe to assume that was a red herring.
After watching those two wrestle on the most recent edition of SmackDown, it would deflate all impact of an announcement to then have them face off again at WrestleMania. Fans will complain that they just saw the match for free on television too.
While you can never guarantee a loss for Cena, this set of circumstances seems to point in that direction, so we should at least get one new champion crowned at Elimination Chamber, and it just so happens to be the most important of them all.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.