So I’ve been watching an awful lot of WWE over the last few weeks. In fact, as I’m writing this I’m watching the Big Show going ballistic on SmackDown.
While I’ve enjoyed wrestling since pretty much this point in 2000 when I used to watch WWE Heat on Channel 4 (those were the days), I have an on and off relationship with actually watching what’s going on. Mostly that’s because WWE’s product flips between being good and terrible from year to year, and right now it’s actually worth watching.
Anyway, this Sunday is WWE’s Elimination Chamber event and after talking to fellow wrestling fan Colin Barr on Twitter I decided it was probably worth writing out some longer form predictions for the Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.
The titlular match for Elimination Chamber is the one I’m pretty much the most excited for, although it’s pretty disappointing that there’s only one Elimination Chamber match this year. I remember the hype that Eric Bischoff built up for the very first Elimination Chamber, and ever since it’s lived up to that hype.
With Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Jack Swagger and Chris Jericho in the match it should be a good one, although I think it would have been better with Rey Mysterio in for Mark Henry, as the original line up was. I don’t think there’s really a high flyer in there now to give us some high spots, although Daniel Bryan’s probably got the chops to pull off something special.
I’m also not sold on having two big guys in the form of Mark Henry and Kane, it’s just obvious that we’ll see a side battle between the two of these and then probably see everyone else hit their finisher on Mark Henry to eliminate him. A combination of Jack Swagger’s Patriot Act (or ankle lock if you’re a normal person) and Daniel Bryan’s LeBell Lock/”No!” Lock would be a good way to end his time in the match and keep him locking strong, as WWE’s intention seems to be.
For me though the match comes down to Randy Orton facing off against Chris Jericho. I think we’ll see Chris Jericho come out with a clean pin here, giving him the title shot at WrestleMania. I mean honestly, why else do you bring him back? He’s going to have a big match at WrestleMania, and a World Heavyweight Championship shot would do that quite nicely.
The question then is who does he face? Personally I see Alberto Del Rio beating the Big Show to win the title, but he’s not walking out of there with the belt. It’s been made obvious that the match is going to be a war, and I think Del Rio’s win is going to be a slim one with him selling injuries like a trooper.
(Side note: I’m still watching SmackDown and I wish I could work out what the purpose of Fandango’s going to be. Is he going to get into a sweet dance feud with Brodus Clay? Because while that’d be awful I would watch the shit out of it)
With Del Rio likely in a weakened state after his match with the Big Show, it seems like the obvious time for Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank title shot. I mean it’s a pretty traditional time to activate the MITB clause, and they seem to be building Ziggler heavily for a WrestleMania appearance.
That sets up Ziggler/Jericho for WrestleMania, and personally I could see that being match of the night. Those two have got the talent to really go at it, and if they’re given thirty minutes at the biggest show of the year it’s going to be great.
Obviously the other side of things is the WWE Championship, and there it seem pretty much a lock that we’re going to get a rematch of last year’s WrestleMania, with The Rock taking on John Cena.
The only bump in the road that has the potential to make things interesting is the freshly added stipulation for Elimination Chamber that The Rock can lose the title to Punk if he’s counted out or disqualified. When that kind of stipulation turns up then you can be confident of a twist, although it’d be lovely if WWE have just thrown it in to make internet smarks crazy.
Regardless of the addition to the match I can’t see The Rock losing the match. Much like Jericho you have to question what The Rock is doing in WWE if he’s not going to be at WrestleMania. The only other option I can see is The Rock losing due to a DQ, setting up a Triple Threat at WrestleMania, with The Rock, CM Punk and John Cena facing off for the belt. That doesn’t seem likely though, and The Rock putting over John Cena at WrestleMania seems like the most obvious option, even if it probably isn’t the best one. I mean does Cena really need The Rock to put him over?
It’s much like the rumours of Punk getting the honour of wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania this year. Personally I believe the rumours that the Undertaker won’t be fit for WrestleMania this year, the guy’s banged up and he’s rapidly closing in on 50 - I don’t think you could blame him for missing a year.
However, even if he is there I’m not sure what’s to be gained by Taker taking on Punk. Punk has all the credibility he needs right now so there’s no point in him braking The Undertaker’s impressive streak, and I don’t know that Punk wrestling a likely injured Undertaker and losing does much for his career. Although I’m starting to buy into Punk’s statements that he’s the best in the world, I don’t know that even he could get a great match out of Undertaker at this point.
No, for me the obvious option is to give Randy Orton Taker’s yearly match. They’ve gone at it at WrestleMania in the past, and Orton’s enough of a blank slate right now that he can build character around a loss to Undertaker.
So what do you do with Punk then? I think you set him up against Brock Lesnar. Triple H-Lesnar take two is possibly the most boring match I can imagine with stars of that calibre, whereas Punk and Lesnar could do something wonderful. Set them up in a feud as to who’s Heyman’s favourite or something like that. I mean right now it doesn’t seem like Lesnar is necessarily under Heyman’s control, so I think there’s real scope there for something. Maybe have Heyman set Punk against Lesnar to prove that he didn’t condone the latter’s attack on Vince McMahon.
(Side note: Swagger’s just absolutely crushed Zack Ryder. Can WWE not do something with Ryder? He’s popular, got mic skills and is a solid wrestler. He’s even made an absolutely horrid gimmick work incredibly well. At least give him the US Title)
Finally, switching back from WrestleMania to Elimination Chamber there’s obviously the question of The SHIELD. I really can’t call this. WWE seem to have reverted to Super Cena mode though, so it seems like he’ll probably be the one to win it.
The bigger issue is whether or not the match will be in the Chamber. If it is then there’s more scope creative booking in my mind, and probably allows a way to end the match without The SHIELD or the faces (Ryback, Sheamus and Cena) looking weak. Perhaps the best outcome though would be for a character change. Maybe turn Sheamus heel again. Then again I worry that expanding The SHIELD will turn them into nWo version I’ve-lost-count-of-nWo-clones.
And that’s it. Maybe I’ll write more wrestling stuff if WWE can keep me invested in the product.