By Jason Powell
The Prowrestling.net Live audio show returns Monday at 3CT/4ET. Will Pruett and I will be taking your phone calls Elimination Chamber while heading into WWE Raw. Listen live at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship: The cat is out of the bag. It escaped prior to WrestleMania and it’s never coming back. Barring a change in plans, it appears Bray Wyatt will win the Chamber match and then go on to WrestleMania to defend the championship against Randy Orton. And while I’m going with that as my official prediction, we can’t rule out a day of the show change. After all, this is the last Smackdown pay-per-view before WrestleMania, giving the brand plenty of time to have have Wyatt win the championship on television. I’d actually prefer to see it happen that way since the outcome of this match feels like a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, my guess is they want to get the title off Cena without having Wyatt beat him. Either way, it will be an interesting match in terms of the eliminations and their order. If Cena is dropping the title, then I’m definitely curious to see how they go about getting him out of the match and whether it involves his rumored WrestleMania opponents The Miz and Maryse. Is it an early elimination for shock value or does he stick around until the end?
Bray Wyatt wins the WWE Championship.
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Telling the story of Naomi wanting to win the championship heading into WrestleMania being held in her hometown was a nice touch. I still view Bliss as the favorite to retain, but that hook brought the odds a little closer in my mind because I could see that being a story that WWE wants to tell. That said, I hope they stick with Bliss. She has been a pleasant surprise in terms of just how good her mic work is, and I’m not crazy about the idea of having her drop the title so soon. After all, there are six regular wrestlers in the Smackdown women’s division, and if Naomi wins the title then half of them will have had a run with it.
Alexa Bliss retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
American Alpha vs. The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Ascension in a turmoil match for the Smackdown Tag Titles: This is a nice teaser for WrestleMania’s “get everyone on the show” matches. Clearly, that’s the purpose of the latest turmoil tag match (along with eating up a lot of time), but WWE has to know that this approach is damaging the tag division. For all the positives of the Smackdown creative direction since the draft, the misuse of Alpha has been borderline criminal. For that matter, the failure to take advantage of the strong Usos heel act is baffling. How did they not have the Usos win the tag titles and then put Alpha into chase mode?
American Alpha retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya: John Cena’s Girlfriend faces the Crazy Cat Lady. With all the bickering and brawling that led up to the match, those are the descriptions that stand out the most. This feud just hasn’t hooked me. Nikki being pulled into the table on Talking Smack looked great and there have been some physical brawls, but there’s something off about this feud. Perhaps it’s that we just saw Nikki have the same type of bickering and brawling feud with Camrella. Maybe it’s that it’s so tough to buy Natalya’s heel persona. Or maybe it’s that Nikki never has good verbal comebacks and therefore the fans are left to wonder if the heels are right about her. Hopefully this clicks once the bell rings. As for the prediction, if Nikki is going to team with Cena at WrestleMania, then it seems like she can wrap up this feud before moving on.
Nikki Bella wins.
Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper: Royal Rumble winner Orton just put over John Cena in the Smackdown main event. He tapped to him when the ref was bumped and then was pinned by him a short time later. He already lacks momentum going into his WrestleMania title match, so I can’t imagine they would have him lose again. A big brawl into a double DQ finish is possible, especially if there’s any thought of going with a Wyatt Family Triple Threat match at WrestleMania. I’ll play it safe.
Randy Orton wins.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James: Three women’s matches on one show. I remember the days when WWE would not have had enough female wrestlers on the roster to have three matches let alone have enough to do this one multiple brands. This is the women’s match that I’m looking forward to most even though it’s received the least attention. It has the potential to be a good, long feud. They need to reestablish James, and Lynch can absorb yet another cheap loss.
Mickie James wins.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews and Kalisto in a handicap match: Who cares? Seriously, could they make the babyfaces look worse? Well, actually, they could by having them lose this match. Flip a coin and wait for the chair shots.
Crews and Kalisto win, Dolph swings a chair.