John: There’s another live WWE special this Sunday night from Corpus Christi, Texas and technically it’s not a pay-per-view. It’s a unique situation because Sunday’s show that is called Elimination Chamber with two EC matches set to take place is a three hour special that will only air on WWE Network in the United States as well as most other countries. It’s the first time WWE has done this where a “special event” is three hours long taking place only on WWE Network (NXT specials are two hours).
Since WWE Network is available in most of the world by now, it’s an interesting move by WWE since they just had the Payback PPV two weeks ago and two weeks from now they’ll have the Money in the Bank PPV as well. It’s a lot of shows for them and a lot of writing for us, but we’ve come back for more because that’s what we’re all about.
Joining me for the preview are Christian Michael, Matty J. Douglas and Heather Hickey. As always, the match order isn’t the order that we necessarily think will happen on the show. It’s just a format to use for this preview.
There are six advertised matches. Elimination Chamber matches usually get at least 25 minutes so when WWE timed out the card they probably figured with two EC matches plus two major singles matches they wouldn’t have time to add more to the lineup. They still could add something during the show. As for the Kickoff Show, all that’s been announced is a Miz TV segment with Daniel Bryan as the guest so he can plug his new DVD and book that are coming out soon. We miss Bryan, but there’s not much we can preview with that. Let’s get to it.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
Neville vs. Bo Dallas
Christian: On one hand I like that WWE isn’t ignoring the past. Neville was the one that defeated Bo Dallas for the NXT Championship. That alone should make Neville a target for Dallas. Bo should also be jealous of Neville because Dallas has been floundering since his call up from NXT and Neville has gotten a nice push and is the “new sensation”. It’s a battle of two guys with similar (in WWE) career paths but one guy took the fork in the road and the other went straight. It’s a simple story that works and one that WWE should tell more often.
On the other hand Neville needs to be in the Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber. I can’t imagine all of the ridiculous things he would do in that environment and I think WWE is missing a chance to give him a star making performance.
Matt: This might be the most pointless match we’ll see on a PPV or Special Event this year. I truly don’t care about this meaningless match, despite thinking Neville is a great talent and still seeing an upside to Bo Dallas as a performer. This match will not get the time to be great, this match doesn’t move the needle emotionally in the least, and that really sucks for these guys.
Winner: Neville (because it’s Bo Dallas)
Heather: When Bo was getting more ring time on the main roster, I saw in him the makings of a classic. Those of you who followed him in NXT can inform me otherwise, but Bo comes off to me as a prototypical pro wrestler. He’s no brawler, he’s no high flyer, but he knows how to arm drag and suplex and bulldog like it’s second nature. He is coordinated, and smart about it. And though his wrestling style doesn’t sizzle like Neville’s, Bo’s personality atones for it. Talk about turning a toxic “motivational speaker” gimmick into gold. It takes a unique talent to pull that off. I don’t think he and Neville will get much opportunity to tell a story in the ring this time; I suspect a more basic cat-and-mouse game will ensue.
Winner: Neville (I want to see Bo shine someday soon, but it won’t be here or now.)
John: I’m mildly excited for this just because I’m happy Bo Dallas finally has a legit feud even though it’s lasted for only two weeks and it sure seems like Neville will win this match as the blowoff. Since Dallas has had the advantage going into it with Neville selling the knee injury, it’s an easy story to tell where Neville makes the comeback despite the injury and hits the Red Arrow to win. It will probably get 7-10 minutes. It’s not a lock, but Neville winning makes more sense assuming they want him in a Money in the Bank match in two weeks to do some awesome aerial moves.
Elimination Chamber Match for the Tag Team Titles: The New Day vs. Kidd/Cesaro vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension vs. Los Matadores
Christian: I’m interested in this match just to see the logistics of how it’ll play out. You’d have to imagine there would be some quick eliminations because twelve guys in the ring at the same time might be a bit much to follow. I feel bad for the last team to enter the Chamber as they are stuck in a pod with another dude for over 20 minutes. Uncomfortable indeed.
There are three possible winners of this match in my mind. The Lucha Dragons who should really be featured more with the Usos on the sidelines as the high energy babyface team the crowd can get behind. Because of that I can see them winning.
The combination of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd who really should have had a longer run with the titles but The New Day got over and it was a good call to make the switch. Cesaro and Kidd have come up short in their rematches because The New Day has been able to cheat or get disqualified but that can’t happen here.
Then there are the reigning Champions, The New Day who haven’t reached their full potential as a team and taking the titles off them now could hurt their momentum.
I really want to see Tyson and Cesaro vs. The New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons in a TLC Match. Now that would be epic. This match will be fun though. It’s something different and I’m looking forward to it.
Prediction- Tyson Kidd and Cesaro win the Tag Team Championships
Matt: I’m fairly excited and nervous about this match. So many bodies in an Elimination Chamber can be a lot of fun, but also incredibly dangerous.
The only thing that bums me out is that Harper and Rowan aren’t in there. Their size and brutish offence would be a great contrast to the array of fliers that will be in there. Get them in there instead of the Matadores or The Ascension, and this match would really have me excited.
I’ve been trying to think of something fun The New Day could do in this match to escape with the titles. Short of locking all three in the Elimination Chamber Pod, without making clear which two are legal participants could be an entertaining way to go. Have the final team try to pin Xavier, only for the ref to tell them he’s not technically supposed to be in the match. Would be great!
I see this match coming down to The New Day and The Prime Time Players, setting up these two teams being rivals coming out of this show. Otherwise, what was the point of all those PTP vignettes for the last few months?
Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day! (because there’s so much more mileage in this trio)
Heather: This is going to be AWESOME. Seriously. Because I need to see The New Day squished together in one of the pods, jockeying for space, and ideally holding champagne flutes at the same time. They just might steal the show from whoever is unfortunate enough to be wrestling at the time (hopefully Los Matadores and The Ascension). I also look forward to The Lucha Dragons, but most of all, Kidd and Cesaro aiming to re-define tag team wrestling within the confines of the Chamber. This UNFORGIVING STRUCTURE will give Kidd/Cesaro an opportunity to innovate beyond what they’ve already done for tags. These guys are clearly driven by a need to constantly improve – and when those minds are controlling such skilled bodies, well yeah. AWESOME. But here’s the thing: I still don’t think The New Day is ready to relinquish those titles. They are fantastic champs, and I want to see them interact with more teams.
Winners: The New Day
John: I really like that they are trying something different in the Elimination Chamber with a tag team match. I assume they’ll probably get The Ascension and Los Matadores out first just because they just don’t have a lot going for them. This could be an opportunity to elevate the Prime Time Players or Lucha Dragons where one of those teams lasts until the end.
The smart way to book it is have Kidd/Cesaro start. They’re the best team and can carry anybody to a good match. Have them elimination the two weakest teams, then they can either make it all the way to the end or put over the PTPers or the Dragons just to make it seem like those teams are at their level. I want Kidd/Cesaro in there for 30 minutes, trust me on that. I just think booking wise it may be smarter to have one of the other teams get past them in this match.
In the end, I like The New Day to win. The trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have been really entertaining while continuing to get a lot of heat. If they lost the titles, then there aren’t enough teams for a face team to go against although Harper & Rowan are back together. If you have New Day as your champs, they can feud with Kidd/Cesaro, PTPers and the Dragons for months before dropping the gold at the right time.
Look for some awesome spots in this match from Kidd, Cesaro and Kalisto, who is like the new Rey Mysterio in terms of some of the crazy stuff he can do. I look forward to this match because it should get 25-30 minutes with a lot of creativity. My official pick is New Day wins with Lucha Dragons as the last team eliminated.
Winners: The New Day
(Question from John: Why wouldn’t Nikki have the Divas Title on in this picture? You should also put her in the middle since she’s the champion. Come on WWE.com graphic people!)
Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. Naomi
Christian: It amazes me how on one hand WWE can have these women’s matches that blow your mind and that you eagerly anticipate and then on the other hand you have this. A big pile of blah. I have nothing against any of the Divas in this match it’s just that I have no interest in another seven minute Divas match on PPV that we all know nobody will pay attention to. They should just show Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch in its place or I don’t know and think outside the box and let the ladies have 15 minutes and try and steal the show.
Since this is a Network exclusive PPV there might be more of an “NXT audience” watching so they might be more open to a longer Divas match. If it turns out great then you tout (not that Tout) the hell out of it on RAW and open up more possibilities for the Divas on the main roster. If it doesn’t turn out well then it is back to business as usual. There’s nothing to lose, but the live crowd and the Divas in this match will have a say in that.
Prediction- Naomi wins the Divas Championship
Matt: This should be about as good a Divas match as we can expect from the main roster. These ladies have something to prove since NXT has been blowing them out of the water with their Women’s Championship matches.
All three of these women bring something interesting to the table. Nikki Bella brings power, Naomi brings raw athleticism, and Paige is the grappler of the trio. Those things can combine nicely for a fun match, and given the limited number of matches on this show, hopefully they are given the time to do something special.
Do I think they can outclass the NXT Women’s matches we’ve seen from Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Sasha Banks? No. That said I hope the blow every main roster Divas match out of the water, it’s time to set a new standard.
Winner and New WWE Divas Champion: Naomi (because it’s overdue)
Heather: It’s time for a change, and I have a feeling that Paige is going to ride what little momentum can be built in the Divas division into a title win. I know the Bellas have been practically bullet proof, but here’s hoping WWE will see this as an opportunity for the increasingly-less-identical twins to chase the title for a change. I really don’t see how it could matter, since Nikki and Brie act the same regardless of whether they’re heels, faces, champs or challengers.
As for the match, I’m yet to see a main roster Divas Triple Threat this decade that does justice to the stipulation (yes I know that’s a lot of qualifiers, sorry). Nikki and Naomi don’t have the finesse for it, and for that reason, I hope Paige hulks up at the bell and somehow scorpion cross-locks the both of them.
John: It feels like the right time for a title change since Nikki’s held the gold for over six months. She’s really lost a lot of steam as champion because the face turn was done randomly without an angle. Naomi’s been close to winning the title before, but I think she’s at a point now where she’s ready for it because she’s got Tamina at ringside to help her cheat to win.
Story wise it makes more sense for the heel Naomi to have the gold and for Paige to chase her since it was Naomi that took out Paige last month to set up Naomi’s turn. While I’d love to see them get 10-15 minutes of in-ring time, the usual for divas on PPV like shows is about seven minutes. This is the kind of show where they could get a bit more time because there could be more time to have a longer match. I’m going with Naomi.
Winner and New Divas Champion: Naomi
Elimination Chamber Match for the vacant Intercontinental Title: King Barrett vs. R-Truth vs. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback vs. Rusev
(Note: Rusev has a legit ankle injury and is likely out of the match. Bray Wyatt is the rumored replacement.)
Christian: I guess this is the best that WWE could come up with. It’s just that 2015 was supposed to be the year the Intercontinental Championship rose back to prominence but then Daniel Bryan got hurt and now we are back to square one.
King Barrett should never be near a title again. He’s the only guy I’ve ever seen get booked like Iron Mike Sharpe when he holds a title and that crown isn’t doing him much better.
R-Truth is a guy that must have a clause in his contract to be included in every multi-man Intercontinental Championship Match on PPV and then have the rest of the time off. If he lasts more than five minutes in this match I will be shocked.
Sheamus is fit for the heel role his is in now and will thrive in a brutal environment like the Chamber.
As much as I love Dolph Ziggler, we have been there and done that with him as the Intercontinental Champion and I’m not sure much will change if he gets another run as champ.
I like Ryback and I think he can really benefit from holding a title. The crowd is into his big spots and he’s got an easy to chant catch phrase. Maybe now is the time to see what The Big Guy can do with some gold.
Rusev went from Ivan Drago to being a guy that belongs on an Oprah Network show. I love you Lana. Yawn. Not that I thought the segment was bad but it just didn’t seem to fit the Rusev character. He may not even be able to compete but it doesn’t matter because I didn’t think he was going to win anyway and it’s probably best for Ziggler that he isn’t in the match because I think Rusev had a legit chance at killing him in the Chamber. Rusev is a beast and Ziggler takes some sick bumps so to sell the story it might not have ended up well for Dolph. Not to mention Rusev and Lana are a couple in real life and acting or not Rusev might not like his girl kissing another guy so some of those shots might be a bit stiffer. I’m not saying Rusev would be unprofessional. I’m just saying that if I was wrestling a guy kissing my girlfriend on TV I’d kick him once or twice in the ribs for real. “Oops man, I’m sorry. Did I get you too hard? (Here’s another ya jerk.) My bad!”
Prediction- Sheamus wins the Intercontinental Championship
Matt: This field is less than impressive to me. All the guys are good enough performers, but I thought the goal was to elevate the Intercontinental Championship? These are all the usual suspects for that title from last year.
It’s fine if you want one of them to take the title, but it would have done this match wonders to have a guy that is viewed as a top level guy in there with them. Getting an Orton or a Reigns in there makes the prize feel more valuable.
As it stands, I see six guys that I have no desire to see be Intercontinental Champion right now. Ranking in order of who I’d least like to see win the title to who would be least boring: King Barrett, Sheamus, Ryback, Rusev, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler.
I’ve heard the rumours Rusev may be pulled from the match due to injury and replaced by Bray Wyatt… which unbelievably makes me less interested. I’d hope they’d have The Authority force Roman Reigns into Rusev’s slot, to occupy him before the WWE World Title Match. Or Jimmy Uso, or Tyler Breeze. Anybody I wouldn’t expect.
Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Sheamus (because the WWE doesn’t want me to be happy about this match)
Heather: Sadly, this is one of those matches where the process of elimination (pun kind of intended) is so obvious that there’s little sense of mystery. No way Barrett’s going to win: he sucked at having the title and is currently occupied with a crown gimmick. R-Truth will only hold the title if he thinks it’s the object of a party game. Rusev is too distracted by the Lana storyline, plus I’m informed that he might be out due to injury anyways. Ryback would be an unsuitable IC champ because it’s so hard to believe that his skills are at that level – the IC title is supposed to have cachet. That leaves Sheamus and Ziggler, who’ve been feuding anyways. And since Mr. Ziggles will likely end the night sucking face with the Ravishing Russian, I’m giving this one to Sheamus. It will be good for him.
John: It’s a unique mix of talent in this match. R-Truth is the guy that shouldn’t be in there yet he was on Smackdown beating Barrett in three minutes as if he was R-Lesnar or something. Barrett has lost so many times in the last month that I’ve lost track. What a horrible King of the Ring non-push. Since WWE’s booking is so weird maybe they will have him even after all those losses because that’s their backwards logic. Then again, Barrett’s had five IC Title reigns most of which were forgettable, so I hope it’s no him. Much like Barrett, Ziggler’s held this title a lot. He needs to move on from it.
That leaves three guys that have never been IC Champion: Sheamus, Ryback or Rusev although it’s probably Bray Wyatt. Sheamus is the most obvious choice as well as the one rumored to win when they announced the match. It’s not like Sheamus with a secondary title is that fresh since he was US Champion last year. They could put it on Wyatt just because of the story of the guy not in the match coming in to win as a surprise. However, I don’t think Wyatt should win this title.
After really thinking it about quite a bit, my pick is Ryback. The reason being is that this guy has been in WWE for over a decade and he’s never held a title. It would be a great story for him to win his first ever IC Title in the Chamber. Why not? It’s fresher than Sheamus and I think he deserves it based on his improvement in the ring as well as the crowd support he gets. I’ll go with Ryback for the win with the last pin on Sheamus. This has sleeper potential to be really good because it will be 25 minutes long, but I wonder if the crowd will be interested in it because the build has been below average.
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
Christian: I said earlier in the week on Facebook that imagine if this match became title for title and Cena won and became the NXT Champion. How angry would people be and would the internet actually break?
This is such an intriguing match because Kevin Owens has come in and in two consecutive weeks laid out John Cena so you would think that Cena is due his revenge and would be the favorite in this match. Cena’s role in WWE has changed. He’s not the top guy anymore. They gave him the United States Championship to build up that title and give a rub to young up and comers that show they can hang with a guy the likes of Cena. Even though Owens has been around a long time he is new to the WWE scene. A win over John Cena would do wonders for his career and really give a rub to the NXT brand.
I can see a Cena win and I can see an Owens win. I can also see this being a physical brawl that ends in a double DQ/count out because WWE doesn’t want either guy to lose. If the goal here is to have Owens become a monster heel then he wins. Coming close doesn’t work for the heel. It can for the babyface. There are no moral victories for Kevin Owens. Guys like Sami Zayn and Neville may hang their hat on them but not Kevin Owens.
This should be a fun match because their styles will mesh well together. Cena works best when he can brawl and that’s what this bout will be, a brawl. The way to kill two birds with one stone here is to have Cena win by disqualification. He doesn’t lose, which we know WWE hates booking him to do and Owens looks like a total killer when he destroys Cena with a chair and stands over him. He loses the battle but wins the war.
Prediction- John Cena wins via Disqualification
Matt: I truly can’t believe this match is happening. The presence of this match on this card is unbelievable. Owens is a hot commodity right now in the WWE and rightfully so. He’s nailing it in everything from his promo delivery to his vicious beat downs. He seems like a dangerous dude, with a bad attitude.
Conversely, John Cena is in the midst of his best babyface run in years. I like Cena and what he’s doing more now than I have in a while, all thanks to the John Cena U.S. Open Challenges every Monday on Raw (which is the reason we’re getting this match). It’s the best thing to happen for Cena’s career since he started rapping all those years ago.
I see the ending coming one of two ways. Cena Wins by pinfall after a distraction from Samoa Joe or Cena wins by DQ. I’m going to guess DQ, with Owens doing something truly dastardly to get disqualified when he’s on the ropes. He’ll probably beat up John after the match, and Cena will turn things around causing Owens to retreat. Neither man should outright lose this match, so DQ is the best way to go.
Winner by DQ: John Cena
Heather: I am intrigued enough by how this is going to shake out, in terms of Owens and Cena physically sharing a ring together. But then you add in the ego factor: Cena has branded himself the “defending champion” but tomorrow the title isn’t on the line, because Owens isn’t interested. That’s so badass, and against a personality like Cena, whoa.
How can you not adore Owens, a hairy-pitted Quebecois who [read this next part slowly] does-not-give-a-crap? And he does not give a crap in a completely different way that Triple H always says that he doesn’t give a crap. Owens has the cool hand of someone far scarier than the spitty sledgehammer type. And I’m totally on board with the title being removed from the equation. This is about the new guard, far more than anyone else Cena has faced in a long time. Do you agree?
I want to see something CRAZY happen, like a double count-out because they’re both lying prone in Section 318. Yes, I know that defies some other logistics of the match. DON’T GIVE A CRAP.
Winner: Kevin Owens (This makes for a wrestling future that I want to live in.)
John: Kevin Owens becoming a WWE main roster regular is my favorite thing in WWE so far this year. I’m so happy for the guy. He’s such a skilled performer and nobody deserves it more than him. This is the opportunity he’s been waiting for his whole career. It’s easy to root for a guy like him.
This is the match that most interests me from a booking perspective because I honestly don’t know what they are going to do. I can see Cena winning because that’s what he usually does, but I think if that were to happen then they would have made this a US Title match. Since they didn’t put the title on the line, it opens the door for an Owens win.
I’m also looking forward to seeing what kind of match they have. Owens has been booked like a dominant heel on NXT where he wins matches sometimes by knocking guy out. If they book him like that against Cena it will be Lesnar-like, but I don’t expect it to be the same as NXT. This is Cena we’re talking about. WWE isn’t going to book him to be weak.
I really thought about going with the Cena wins by disqualification choice because I don’t think it’s over after one match and it’s dumb to have Owens get pinned. However, I think WWE really values Owens as a potential top heel that they can push fairly well, so I believe Owens will get the win by doing some cheap move like a low blow that the ref doesn’t see or something like that. WWE doesn’t want to take the US Title off Cena, so they likely made it non-title for that reason. Owens for the “not so clean” win after 15 minutes.
Winner: Kevin Owens
WWE World Heavyweight Title: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Christian: We all know the story between these guys so there is no sense is going into it. When they wrestled at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell they were fun matches but short of being classics. Elimination Chamber is time for a classic.
They had a four star match on RAW before Payback which Ambrose won and got himself inserted into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match at Payback. Let’s have a match at least that good on Sunday. Rollins has been holding onto the title because of Kane. Let’s keep Kane out of this and let Seth and Dean battle for twenty minutes.
This is a good match for Seth Rollins to have a clean win as Champion. Ambrose is a guy that won’t get hurt by losing clean to the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in a PPV main event and whatever harm it may do to Ambrose will be outweighed by the good it’ll do for Rollins and his title reign.
All that said expect a heaping dose of J&J Security and Kane on Sunday.
Prediction- Seth Rollins retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Matt: I wish I had a lot to say about this match but I don’t. It will be incredible. It will be fun. These guys will work well together and likely have one of the best matches of their series of matches together… and Seth will win.
The finish will be full of shenanigans. Expect to see J&J Security, and Kane, and Roman Reigns play a role in how the match ends. Don’t be surprised if Roman ends up inadvertently costing his pal Dean the match, to manufacture a rift between them heading into Money In The Bank, and hopefully Wrestlemania 32.
As I said, the match will be a lot of fun. I’m just bummed that I’m fairly certain how it will end.
Winner and Still WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins
Heather: How could I go from feeling so excited and so satisfied by the Payback match with Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose, to feeling completely apathetic to a match with just Rollins and Ambrose? It’s not like I’m one-third less excited because Reigns isn’t in the equation. It’s a much bigger percentage, because I’m sick of The Authority’s approach to getting heat. Lance Storm calls it “change the channel heat” versus the kind that makes you want to see them get their comeuppance. It’s annoying, not engaging.
The spotlight should be on the emotions between Seth and Dean. Their history. Ambrose will come so close to winning, he may even have the pin, but the ref will be distracted or a member of The Authority will make the save. And we won’t feel any emotions because none of it will have any meaning.
Winner: Seth Rollins, who can you believe just turned 29? Amazing.
John: They had the best TV match of the year in a non-title match that Ambrose won with a rollup on May 4. Now they’re in a WWE Title match that could be the main event of this show and they might get even more time this time around, so I have really high expectations for this one.
Roman Reigns will probably show up to try to help Ambrose, but I don’t see a heel turn from him. What I think might happen is that Reigns will try to help Ambrose by taking out Kane and J&J Security. Instead of successfully helping him, Reigns nails Ambrose with a Spear by accident. That leads to Rollins getting the cheap win to escape with the title. Perhaps that leads to Ambrose going heel later in the year. I think Reigns will be locked into the babyface role going into WrestleMania next year. Then you can put Reigns and Ambrose in Money in the Bank next month to see if they have issues as they battle it out in that highly competitive match.
Another option for the finish is for Big Show to come back after being out for the last month, so just when it looks like Ambrose is about to win, there’s Show with the big return to knock him out leading to the Rollins win.
I think it’s fairly easy to project Rollins as the winner because we have to assume WWE wants to do Rollins vs. Lesnar for the WWE Title either at Battleground or more likely SummerSlam. It also would be foolish to get the WWE Title off Rollins after two months. He deserves a longer reign than that.
Give them 20-25 minutes, let them have a great match like we expect them to and hopefully the interference filled ending doesn’t diminish the quality of the work in the match.
Winner: Seth Rollins
John: I think the match quality should be excellent for this show since Ambrose/Rollins is always awesome, Cena/Owens has a chance to be amazing and both Elimination Chamber matches excite me too. If they’re going to give us great matches like this then I’m not going to complain about having more PPV style shows that don’t cost us more money. I’m looking forward to it even though I don’t think there will be anything that surprising in terms of storylines. Wrestling wise, it should be an above average show.
I’ll be writing about Elimination Chamber live on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night, so check out the live review or read it after the show is over.
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