February 17, 2013
Countdown to WWE Elimination Chamber
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
While the rest of the wrestling world wants to focus on the WWE Championship Match between The Rock and CM Punk, I'm choosing to focus my preview of tonight's pay-per-view on the namesake match - The Elimination Chamber.
You see, the outcome of Rock/Punk doesn't hinge on either of those wrestlers - it's on The Undertaker. 'Taker has been speculated to be facing Punk at 'Mania. If he's good to go, then Punk loses; but if he's not good to go, then Punk wins and we get the suspected three-way dance between the two combatants and John Cena.
So instead, I'd rather focus on the top contender match for the World Heavyweight Championship, which just a month ago everyone thought for certain would not even be a contender's match and would instead be the actual title bout, giving Dolph Ziggler his cash-in opportunity and lead to Ziggler/Del Rio at 'Mania in their first true bout.
Instead, we're getting a scenario of a brilliantly put-together contest where there will emerge a number of scenarios. Let's break it down.
Let's first face facts - Daniel Bryan and Kane still have their gold and will go into 'Mania wearing said gold (or bronze as it were), in what will likely be a tag team gauntlet match to ensure as many personalities as possible get their 'Mania payday. We can also easily say that Randy Orton isn't winning, because a face vs. face bout against Alberto at 'Mania isn't going to happen. The speculated bout for him is actually with Sheamus.
That brings us down to three individuals - Chris Jericho, Mark Henry and Jack Swagger.
Jericho could easily go into 'Mania against Del Rio and with a well-played heel turn could put over ADR in a great bout; having said that though, there's a match of the year candidate in wait with Dolph Ziggler on the grandest stage of them all, so let's cut him out of the equation.
That puts us at Swagger, who re-debuted just a couple weeks back and, more importantly, re-invented himself this past Monday with Zeb Coulter in a gimmick that is time-tested, but young. Before we get the inevitable faceoff with Swagger and Del Rio, we need time to build. Look for that match in May or June.
That leaves Henry, who comes back to WWE as hot as when he was sidelined. Henry's House of Pain gimmick works, and to be quite honest he's a lot more the beast than Big Show is. Henry and ADR won't have a mat classic at 'Mania, but they will be strong.
Of course, this necessitates Del Rio defeating Big Show, and that's not a concern at all.
Next up is the six-man tag and this will be the true test for WWE to see if they, forgive me for saying it, believe in The Shield. The young upstarts need to go over, and go over strong. Maybe Heyman gets involved some way, but The Shield need the W and really, any of the three men involved on the face side could be pinned. Heck, let Cena take the fall and add a layer of doubt to his 'Mania bout - if he can get pinned by rookies, he can't possibly beat the champ, right?
Elsewhere, I expect, nay, implore Antonio Cesaro to defeat The Miz (and please pull out that wicked sideboard Giant Swing again) and Kaitlyn will probably beat Tamina.
Enjoy the show everyone!