Ranking All 6 Men's Chances of Winning 2019 WWE Elimination Chamber Match
As soon as five Superstars came out on SmackDown Live to stake their claim to Daniel Bryan's WWE Championship, it became clear those six men would be competing against each other at WWE Elimination Chamber 2019.
It's a good group of people, featuring AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Mustafa Ali Randy Orton and Samoa Joe—easily the biggest names that could have been in the match.
Considering Rey Mysterio is busy with Andrade and there appears to be a Triple Threat looming between Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev and R-Truth, there really weren't any other suitable options who could take any spots in the grueling title bout.
But while these six men are the top of the food chain that SmackDown has to offer right now, there's still a pecking order even in that upper echelon of talent.
Only one man can stand tall at the end of the match as champion, so let's take a look at the contestants and rank their chances from worst to best to see how this is all going to play out on February 17.
6. Mustafa Ali
If this were a comparison of who is the most athletic or ranking each wrestler's potential for having a breakout year in 2019, Mustafa Ali would certainly be at the top of the list, rather than dead last.
However, if we're being realistic, there's almost no chance Ali will walk out of Elimination Chamber with the WWE Championship in his possession.
Even as The Heart of 205 Live—a much smaller pond for him to be a bigger fish in—he was never chosen to be cruiserweight champion, which is nowhere near as demanding of a responsibility as holding the WWE Championship.
Ali has just as much talent as the rest of the competitors, but he has the stigma of being a smaller guy working against him, as well as not having too many months experience as an official SmackDown roster member.
This is WrestleMania season. It's the most important stretch of time of the year for WWE. Unless the goal is to do something shocking and fresh to prove a commitment to change and the future, there's no way WWE trusts someone like Ali to be the frontman of one of the top title matches of the biggest event of the year.
He's just not tested enough to take the risk when he can be given another high-profile spot competing for the United States Championship instead, with less potential for things to fall apart.
2019 will be kind to Ali, but this isn't his match to win.
5. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy edges out Ali for few reasons, but the biggest of all is that he's already a former world champion.
Once someone wins a title, it becomes easier for them to win more, just the same as it's easier to obtain money if you happen to already be rich.
Subconsciously, both the WWE Universe and the writers in WWE themselves look at former champions as having ascended the throne in the past for a reason, making them more reliable to put a title on than someone new, as they've already been put on that pedestal and must have been worthy in the past.
Being a more established star, he's a fallback option for a transitional reign, just like R-Truth winning the United States Championship might turn out to be.
Daniel Bryan could take inspiration from The Straight Edge Society's feud with Hardy, discussing the differences of treating your body like a temple versus ruining it with substance abuse. Rowan would even effectively fill the same shoes Luke Gallows did in CM Punk's stable.
But this is all still highly unlikely, which is why Hardy is so low on this list.
In fact, don't be shocked if The Charismatic Enigma actually walks away with the worst showing in this match, being eliminated first even before Ali.
WWE might want to give Ali some spotlight to keep his momentum going, while Hardy could be there simply for name recognition and not much else.
4. Samoa Joe
It's no question Samoa Joe has the tools necessary to be a world champion. The only question is why WWE has refused to give him a chance in that role so far.
He's trustworthy for good matches and he has stepped up his game on the mic recently to a point where he's one of the more entertaining people to listen to, since everything he says comes off with such passion behind it.
Joe has just barely a better chance to win this match than Hardy because WWE could be building to something between he and Randy Orton.
Those two seem poised to feud one way or another. Perhaps the WWE Championship is on the line in their feud and Daniel Bryan is meant to have some kind of tag team match with Rowan against AJ Styles and a partner?
It's a stretch, but it would be great to see Joe finally win a championship on the main roster, as that's still yet to happen.
History has shown that it's not smart to bet on Joe winning a big match like this, though, so while he's third on this list, he's still someone that is pretty much guaranteed not to be victorious.
3. Randy Orton
Randy Orton has won 12 world titles in WWE, making him one of the most prolific champions in the company's history.
Even if it doesn't seem like he's the hottest thing going at the moment, he can never be counted out for another title run, as he can always win a championship out of nowhere, just like how he hits his RKOs.
Orton seems to be in the midst of a character change of sorts, which could coincide with a push for him in some fashion.
Given the circumstances of his impending feud with Samoa Joe, if WWE were to consider putting the WWE Championship between the two, The Viper has more of a chance of winning it than Joe just by their track records alone.
But even if a feud with Joe over the title isn't in the works, he has plenty of history with Daniel Bryan as their rivalry several years back headlined WrestleMania 30.
Orton's no-nonsense attitude could make him a great counterpart to offset Bryan's holier than thou behavior as of late, as The Apex Predator would be the type of person to straight up tell him to shut his mouth and leave it at that.
2. AJ Styles
Another notch above Orton is AJ Styles, who is actually the only person with much of a shot at winning this match other than the top pick.
The biggest reason why The Phenomenal One is near the top of this list is that his contract is supposedly ending soon and WWE might want to appease him to re-sign by giving him another title reign.
Championships aren't the one and only important thing in WWE, but there's no debate being the top guy on a brand comes with an increase in money and pride, so it's a nice bargaining chip to offer.
Styles is a popular Superstar who WWE knows won't come off like an underwhelming name on the marquee for WrestleMania, nor will he put on a bad match.
He's had a top spot at every WrestleMania he's competed in, so unless his contract situation is cloudy, we can assume he'll be given something decent this year, too.
Even still, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be holding the WWE Championship, as there is still one more person in this match who stands a better chance at winning than even The Phenomenal One.
1. Daniel Bryan
Above and beyond all other options, the idea of Daniel Bryan retaining the title is easily the most likely scenario and it isn't even a close race.
WWE just created an entirely new belt to go along with his character change, replacing the leather version with one made out of oak and hemp.
If the plan was to have him drop the championship in two weeks, WWE wouldn't have wasted the money to get that belt in production.
While it's true that swerves are a thing and WWE could, theoretically, be hoping that everyone is thinking that just so it's a bigger surprise when he does lose the title, it's a rarity something along those lines takes place.
Bryan is a top name in the company and someone that will have a featured role at WrestleMania. Given the dynamics of his character, heels have more heat when they're on top than when they're the underdog.
If he's the champion who looks down on everyone else, that's more interesting than if he's just complaining in a non-title feud.
Plus, Bryan has Rowan by his side now to help with any outside interference they can pull off. That gives him an edge above the rest of the competition.
Bryan will retain the title and potentially take Fastlane off as that event will feature some kind of No. 1 contender's match to determine who fights him at WrestleMania.
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.