WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 will be a reminder of just how much the company has changed since the last pay-per-view built around the steel structure occurred.
The last Elimination Chamber event came back in 2015. SmackDown women's champ Alexa Bliss was a developmental prospect at the time. Tag team titleholders American Alpha had yet to officially form a duo. Bray Wyatt didn't even make the card that night.
On Sunday, he will enter the Elimination Chamber with the WWE Championship well within his reach.
The WWE will continue down the road to WrestleMania 33 at this SmackDown-exclusive event, setting up a rivalry and laying the foundation for that marquee event's card. Will that lead to a coronation for The Eater of Worlds? Will The Wyatt Family get a surprise assist? Will Randy Orton continue his dominance over Luke Harper?
Read on to find out, as we dive into the matches and stories of Elimination Chamber.
Despite the intensity of their rivalry, Nikki Bella's match against Natalya may not enter brutal territory. The former Divas champ is still dealing with lingering neck issues.
Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reported, "Sources with direct knowledge tell us Nikki had been trying her best to deal with the pain her neck has been feeling while also traveling a full-time schedule...however, it's become too much." Satin noted that Bella will be taking time off after WrestleMania and adjusting her schedule.
As for Sunday, the WWE may wish to hold back on the big spots during this bout if Bella isn't 100 percent.
A Superstar who has been on the disabled list for months may be poised to return. According to PWInsider (h/t Wrestling Inc's Marc Middleton), Erick Rowan was at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, earlier this week, looking to get cleared to return to action.
If healthy, Rowan's association with The Wyatt Family could lead to him getting involved in Orton vs. Harper or helping Wyatt get the win inside the Elimination Chamber.
That structure will reportedly look different come Sunday. Bryan Alvarez noted on Wrestling Observer Live (h/t Bill Pritchard of Wrestle Zone) the Elimination Chamber will be redesigned in some fashion.
- Curt Hawkins vs. Mojo Rawley
- Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto and Apollo Crews
- Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
- American Alpha vs. Breezango vs. The Ascension vs. The Vaudevillains vs. The Usos vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno (Tag Team Turmoil for SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
- Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper.
- Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi (SmackDown Women's Championship)
- John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt (Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship)
|Elimination Chamber 2017 PPV Betting Odds|
|Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto and Apollo Crews||Crews and Kalisto (even)||Ziggler (-138, 18-25)|
|Nikki Bella vs. Natalya||Natalya (+450, 9-2)||Bella (-800, 13-100)|
|Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James||Lynch (+175, 7-4)||James (-250, 2-5)|
|Tag Team Turmoil||The Vaudevillains (+1600, 16-1)||American Alpha (-500, 1-5)|
|Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper||Harper (+650, 13-2)||Orton (-1400, 7-100)|
|Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi||Naomi (+250, 5-2)||Bliss (-350, 29-100)|
|WWE Championship Elimination Chamber||The Miz/Dean Ambrose (+2500, 25-1)||Bray Wyatt (-1600, 3-50)|
It's no surprise Wyatt is the runaway favorite for the Elimination Chamber match. A match against Orton at WrestleMania makes the most sense. Their family drama will be the foundation of their title clash.
Per OddsShark, Cena is next behind Wyatt at +700 (bet $100 to win $700) and Styles sits behind him at +1000.
As for Orton, the man waiting to face one of those Superstars, he is a heavy favorite against ex-stablemate Harper. One look at The Viper's resume compared to the perennially underused Harper's makes it clear why.
Orton is headed for the WWE's biggest stage; Harper is merely a stepping stone.
- Rawley over Hawkins.
- Bella over Natalya.
- Ziggler over Kalisto and Crews.
- James over Lynch.
- American Alpha retains.
- Orton over Harper.
- Bliss over Naomi.
- Wyatt wins the WWE Championship.
Top Match Previews
James vs. Lynch
An old guard vs. new guard feud has been brewing on SmackDown ever since James re-signed with the WWE.
After leaving the company in 2010 to wrestle for TNA and elsewhere, James returned disguised as La Luchadora, the masked mystery woman who had been tormenting Lynch. The five-time women's champion later revealed that she is back to remind folks who started the women's revolution.
Lynch, one of SmackDown's best draft picks last year, is now ready to collide with her.
This should be excellent and the first of many clashes between them. Lynch has excelled against less experienced women like Bliss, but she will now get a chance to tango with a veteran.
Orton vs. Harper
Former brothers-in-arms will meet once more.
Harper never trusted Orton when he joined The Wyatt Family. And now the bearded bruiser is on the outside looking in with the group. After moving into a babyface role, Harper is out for revenge against a man he believes stole his family from him.
There's little reason to believe this won't be a victory for The Viper, though.
Orton is prepping for a marquee match at WrestleMania. Harper is destined to be his tune-up opponent.
Bliss vs. Naomi
Bliss has been a hot commodity since SmackDown drafted her in July. She has blossomed into a star heel. And her momentum isn't about to stop.
After surviving Lynch's recent challenges (with James' help), Bliss will now have to face a woman who has pinned her a number of times of late.
Naomi feels like a holdover challenger, however.
The WWE has invested in Bliss, building her up and elevating her since the brand split. Naomi will be a fun foil for the moment, an athletic opponent who will produce a fast-paced match with the champ. Bliss, with James' assistance or not, is destined for bigger things when WrestleMania rolls around.
Inside the Chamber
The WWE has a handful of chess pieces to maneuver on its board in this six-man match inside a steel enclosure.
Corbin has been on a tear of late, looking more and more like a star in the making. His issues with Ambrose should boil over here. Ambrose, who recently feuded with The Miz and has a history with Wyatt, will have to keep his head on a swivel.
Styles' first trip inside Satan's Prison will be something special, as his athleticism mixed with the unique nature of the structure should equal a breathtaking moment or two.
All the high spots and savagery will be fun, but this will ultimately be about who walks away as champion.
Wyatt is the runaway favorite to do so, a result that would set up his expected showdown with Orton.
This match could be a career-changer for a number of other stars, too. Corbin is poised to make an emphatic statement. Styles is bound to impress in the Elimination Chamber. The Miz has a shot here to prove that his breakout year in 2016 was no fluke.
And Wyatt is closing in on the biggest win of his career.