By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
These predictions were made with no help from the betting lines because I’m not a dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking, cheater. In other words, I’m guessing just like you are. Join me for live coverage of the WWE Elimination Chamber event beginning with the Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET. Dot Net Members will have exclusive access to the audio review that Jake Barnett and I will record after the show. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and ten years of audio content by signing up today via PWMembership.net.
WWE Elimination Chamber may turn out to have the most predictable main event of the year. The WWE Universal Championship match at WrestleMania has felt like it’s been set in stone for a year now and I have accepted it (more on that later). The good news is that Vince McMahon and the Raw creative team did a terrific job of setting up the Elimination Chamber main event. I don’t give a damn about the match being the biggest Elimination Chamber ever with seven men, but they did a great job of making Strowman look unstoppable while also breathing some life into Rollins as a singles wrestler via the gauntlet match on Raw.
As much the outcome of the match is highly predictable to some fans, there is also a large number of fans who will convince themselves of the unlikely becoming the likely outcome. For instance, there was no doubt in my mind that Seth Rollins would retain the WWE Championship when he faced Sting at Night of Champions 2015, but that didn’t stop countless callers on live audio shows from stating their firm belief that Sting was going to win the championship that night. If some fans are given reasons to believe then they usually do regardless of all of the signs pointing in a different direction. WWE gave those fans hope with multiple wrestlers. Of course, if the expected outcome plays out then everyone will claim afterward that they were not the least bit surprised.
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena vs. The Miz vs. Elias vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor in an Elimination Chamber match: Vince McMahon has spent the year building to the Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns rematch. As much as I think Strowman is the hottest act the company has, I don’t think he would have been booked to lose clean to Lesnar once and then lose again in the Triple Threat at the Rumble if the plan changed and the new main event was going to be Lesnar vs. Strowman. I mentioned that I’ve accepted that the likely outcome of Reigns going over. It’s not my first choice, but Reigns and Lesnar should have a hell of a match, and at least McMahon didn’t ruin the Royal Rumble in order to get to his big showdown. And even if the outcome feels predictable, I’m still looking forward to seeing how they get there. How will Strowman be eliminated? How do they follow up with Rollins after his big gauntlet match performance? How will Cena possibly make it to WrestleMania if he can’t win this match? Okay, scratch that last one, but I am curious to see what comes next for Cena.
Roman Reigns wins the Elimination Chamber match.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Sonya Deville vs. Sasha Banks in an Elimination Chamber match for the Raw Women’s Championship: In this case, I hope this match is predictable. I am not a fan of WWE booking title changes so close to WrestleMania. I want long reigning champions defending their titles against the strongest challengers at the biggest show of the year. I concede that if they go with Bliss vs. Asuka, there’s no way the match will be as good as some of the other scenarios involving Asuka challenging for the title. It’s not all about match quality, folks. I would have no problem with Asuka buzzsawing her way through Bliss in a brief WrestleMania match and saving some of the bigger Asuka matches for somewhere down the road. Of course, WWE has given away most of Asuka’s big potential Raw matches already, so it will be interesting to see what happens with her coming out of WrestleMania. This pick is more of my personal hope than a strong prediction. I just hope they don’t make James look like too much of a moron for being manipulated by Bliss again. I also hope we get a Banks heel turn soon.
Alexa Bliss retains the Raw Women’s Championship.
Asuka vs. Nia Jax. The stipulation is that if Jax wins, she will join Asuka in challenging for the Raw Women’s Championship in a Triple Threat at WrestleMania. It’s worth noting that we never actually heard Asuka announce that she’s going to challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship. Stephanie McMahon suggested on Raw that she wait until after the Elimination Chamber to decide, then the next week Kurt Angle acted like it was common knowledge that Asuka was going for the Raw strap. While this is probably just sloppy writing, it’s still possible that the plan his for her to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Either way, it’s hard to see them ending Asuka’s unbeaten streak heading into her title match.
Ronda Rousey contract signing: I have enjoyed our time away from Triple H and Stephanie McMahon dominating television time and giving long speeches while the Raw roster stands on the stage while being addressed like children. If the rumors of a mixed tag match at WrestleMania are accurate then we’re about to see a lot more of Hunter and Steph. Hell, it’s WrestleMania season, so we’re about to see more of them either way. There’s no real prediction to make. I just hope they do something to get people fired up about Rousey in WWE.
Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt: A match that should have been filmed in Cameron, North Carolina at the Hardy Compound. This feud is ice cold. The live crowd sat in near silence after their latest back and forth video aired on Monday. They desperately need to do something to breathe some life into this program and there’s no sign that it’s a real priority for Vince McMahon. I don’t have a strong feeling about the outcome. I believe Wyatt won their last televised match, so let’s go with Hardy this time around.
Matt Hardy wins.
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo for the Raw Tag Titles: The Raw tag division has two babyface tag teams at the moment. One is Titus and Apollo, and the other is Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Jeff Hardy can’t return soon enough as Brother Nero. Could they surprise us with a quickie title change with the goal of giving some credibility to Titus and Apollo? Yes, and if they are not going with a women’s title change then the odds of a title change here increase in my mind. I wouldn’t do it simply because we’ve already seen Sheamus and Cesaro lose too many times lately. WWE creative may see it differently.
Sheamus and Cesaro retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (Kickoff Show): Dallas and Axel get to be called nerds on this month’s pre-show. This is better than watching the poor Revival continue their parity booking program with Gallows and Anderson, especially since it was The Revival’s turn to lose.
Gallows and Anderson win.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...