The first brand exclusive WWE pay-per-view of 2017 takes place this Sunday night as Smackdown Live presents Elimination Chamber. The event is headlined by John Cena defending the WWE Championship against AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt, The Miz and Dean Ambrose in a six-man elimination match contested in one of WWE’s most violent matches, the Elimination Chamber.
The Elimination Chamber is the most unique structure in WWE. When WWE promotes it, they mention that the structure is ten tons of steel and more than two miles of chain. The structure lowers on top of the ring with a roof on it. It’s a combination of a a steel cage match, a Hell in a Cell match and the old Wargames match that NWA/WCW used to. The first Elimination Chamber match took place at Survivor Series 2002 and was Triple H’s idea, but in storyline they said it was then Raw GM Eric Bischoff.
There are four individual pods where four wrestlers start the match in the four different corners. Two wrestlers “randomly” start the match in the ring and every five minutes they release another wrestler into the match. Wrestlers are eliminated by pinfall or submission and the winner is determined by who lasts until the end.
It should be noted that WWE has mentioned there’s some newer, sleeker Elimination Chamber structure this year although there haven’t been any pictures released yet. The reason for that is the original version was so big that they probably wanted to make it easier to load it into arenas.
The card looks pretty good with an Elimination Chamber match as the clear biggest match on the show. It’s also great to see that there are three women’s singles match on the card as well. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. If it has, I don’t remember it. Give credit to the creative team working on SD Live because they are giving their women performers a chance to prove how good they are and Sunday night will be big for the ladies.
Here’s a breakdown of the WWE Championship match, which will be contested inside the Elimination Chamber.
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: John Cena vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz
The match was announced prior to the Royal Rumble a few weeks ago with Smackdown’s Commissioner Shane McMahon informing the world that the WWE Champion will defend the gold in a six man Elimination Chamber match.
This past week’s Smackdown featured a fatal fourway match with Corbin winning against Styles, Miz and Ambrose. I thought it was an exciting match with Styles hitting a Phenomenal Forearm on Miz, he went for a pin and Maryse pulled Miz out of the ring to save him. That led to Corbin hitting Styles with the End of Days slam for the win. It was the right call to put Corbin over since the other three guys in the match were former WWE Champions while Corbin has never been “the man” before, so having Corbin win made sense.
It would have been better if WWE had more time to build the show up, but there was only two weeks between the Royal Rumble and this show. They did the best they could with the time given and the schedule they have.
The faces in the match are Cena and Ambrose while Styles, Wyatt, Corbin and Miz are heels. Styles gets cheered a lot, though, so if you pay attention to the crowd he’ll probably get cheered as much as anybody. Cena also gets booed by a lot of the crowd that’s sick of him being a top guy. Wyatt will probably get some cheers as well since she has one of the coolest entrances in WWE, but he still acts like a heel.
Elimination Chamber matches are usually very good. They are also very violent as the video above reminds us. They are unique because there are five eliminations that can happen in different ways. There have been some Elimination Chamber matches where a guy gets no eliminations until the final one to win the match. A popular sequence in EC matches has seen a wrestler take two or three finishers in a row from different wrestlers leading to a pin. It wouldn’t surprise me if they went that route to try to eliminate Cena.
AJ Styles is the best wrestler in WWE and any time he’s in a big match you know it’s going to be excellent. I think Styles will be one of the first two men to start the match and by the time it’s over he’s going to be the one that stands out the most.
In terms of match time, most Elimination Chamber matches go 25-30 minutes. It should be the match of the night and has the potential to be a match of the year contender although topping Cena vs. Styles from Royal Rumble will be tough. My expectations are high.
WrestleMania is less than two months away on April 2. The expectation is that the winner of this match will face the Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton in the “main event” of that show. Do I think it will really be the main event as the last match? Nope. I think Goldberg vs. Lesnar will be the last match.
It’s possible that the winner of this match loses the WWE Title to somebody else on Smackdown Live before WrestleMania, but I doubt that would happen.
I feel like the winner of this match is obvious because we know he is going to face Randy Orton. They just did Cena vs. Orton on Smackdown last week with the announcers pushing the idea that it could be WrestleMania main event. In other words, they did the match because it isn’t going to be a WrestleMania match, nor should it be.
I’ll break it down by listing the names of the six men in the match in order of who is least likely to win leading up to who I think will win.
Dean Ambrose – The current Intercontinental Champion should be in the match since he was the WWE Champion last summer. I think it’s very possible that he starts the match and has a good showing, but there’s very little chance that he’ll win. His WrestleMania match will likely be a ladder match for the IC Title since that is what WWE has done the last two years with the IC Title.
The Miz – I’ve been impressed by The Miz since the brand split last July. He has raised his game to another level as a true heel that is arguably the best heel in the entire company. Is that enough to put him over the top as the WWE Champion after this match? Nope. It wouldn’t shock me if he’s holding the WWE or Universal Title at some point later in 2017, though.
There’s a rumor that he may team up with his lovely wife Maryse against John Cena and Nikki Bella at WrestleMania. Perhaps he’ll get pinned by Cena and instead of leaving the ring, he’ll attack Cena after that (leading to Cena getting pinned by another guy) to plant the seeds for their mixed tag match.
Baron Corbin – As I mentioned earlier, Corbin got the big win on Smackdown this week to show that he belongs in a match like this. He’s a star on the rise that will probably eliminate one or two guys in the match to make him look strong. The announcers will likely put over the fact that he has a lot of momentum. Even when he loses, they’ll mention how he had a good showing since he has the potential to be a future main event star.
John Cena – It’s weird that Cena’s historic 16th WWE (World) Title reign will only last two weeks, but that’s what will happen. There isn’t an obvious WrestleMania match for him other than the rumored mix tag with Nikki Bella against Miz and Maryse. A lot of fans wanted to see Cena vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania. It’s not happening since Undertaker is penciled in for a match with Roman Reigns at that show.
Cena could start the match to stack the odds against him. If he takes a beating for most of the match, lasts near the end and loses by a cheap shot from Miz (like I suggested earlier) or something like that then it would protect him. This is WWE, of course. They are always going to protect Cena even as a 40-year-old part timer.
AJ Styles – I think Styles should have held the WWE Title going into WrestleMania. He was the best performer in WWE last year and I think he should be rewarded for that. There’s still a chance he might get the title back, but he’s not my pick. His rumored WrestleMania match is against Shane McMahon since Vince wants to have his son on the card and Styles is the best wrestler, so it could turn out to be a good match.
I’m not a huge fan of the AJ vs. Shane idea. I’d rather see Styles in a Raw vs. Smackdown match against Finn Balor or maybe they can finally put Shinsuke Nakamura on the main roster to give us Styles vs. Nakamura. Either one of those matches sounds better to me.
Bray Wyatt – The winner of this match will be a first time WWE Champion, Bray Wyatt. There was a report prior to the Royal Rumble that Randy Orton would win that match and he did. The reason for that is because WWE wanted to set up Wyatt as WWE Champion versus his ally Randy Orton. To do that, it makes sense for Wyatt to win this match. After Wyatt gets the title, they can do the Orton split with Harper siding with Wyatt against Orton and the crowd wants to cheer for Orton anyway since they chant “RKO” all the time. Erick Rowan is due back very soon from injury, so it would make Orton look like an underdog against a united Wyatt Family.
I’m happy that Wyatt is going to be the WWE Champion. He deserves it after performing at a high level for about four years now and never making it to that level before. While he’s feuded with the likes of John Cena, Roman Reigns and The Undertaker, he lost to them more than he won. His character hasn’t been booked strong enough, so perhaps this will get him going in the right direction.
He’s a main event level caliber performer that still has his best years ahead of him because he’s going to turn 30 years old later this year. Sometimes WWE relies on the older wrestlers too much, but in putting the WWE Title on Wyatt they are investing in the future and that’s something I think most WWE fans should get behind.
Will the match quality be hurt by the obvious choice of a winner? I don’t think so because the performers are very good. I expect them to have a very entertaining match.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt Wins The WWE Championship