The WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view takes place this Sunday night in Las Vegas. It’s the last Raw exclusive PPV of 2018 because WWE announced that all PPVs starting with WrestleMania (April 8) going forward will feature both Raw and Smackdown talent.
There are two big matches on this show centering around the Elimination Chamber with the first ever 7-Man Chamber match and the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber match featuring six women.
The WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is not going to wrestle at the show, but he should be back on WWE TV for Monday’s Raw to start the build to WrestleMania. With no Lesnar on the card, the men’s Chamber match features seven guys who will battle for a shot at challenging for the Universal Title at WrestleMania.
Here’s the advertised lineup as of Friday morning:
** Men’s Elimination Chamber Match for a Universal Championship Match vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania: The Miz (first man to enter the match) vs. Braun Strowman vs. John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins vs. Elias (last man to enter the match)
** Women’s Elimination Chamber Match for the Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville vs. Mickie James vs. Sasha Banks
** Ronda Rousey’s WWE Monday Night Raw contract signing
** Nia Jax vs. Asuka (If Nia Jax wins, she will be added to a Championship match at WrestleMania.)
** Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy
** Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Apollo & Titus O’Neil – This match isn’t officially on the show yet, but it’s expected to be a part of the card.
There will probably be another match or two added, including matches for the Kickoff Show. But it’s time for some predictions.
10. Sheamus and Cesaro will retain their Tag Team Titles
Sheamus and Cesaro have faced Apollo (no more Crews) and O’Neil several times in the past few months. Prior to Sheamus and Cesaro winning back the titles from Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan at Royal Rumble, WWE tried to get Apollo and O’Neil some momentum by beating Sheamus and Cesaro. That led to a Tag Title match post-Rumble, which Sheamus and Cesaro won. This past week on Raw, Apollo and O’Neil won non-title, which likely means another title match at Elimination Chamber.
I like both teams and I’m all for building up midcarders like Apollo and Titus into a tag team, but it’s not that compelling. The Smackdown Tag Team division is by far the stronger of the two brands right now. Anyway, this match should be a win for Sheamus and Cesaro.
There could be a multi-team tag team title match at WrestleMania with The Revival and Gallows/Anderson getting involved. Jeff Hardy may be back in time from his injury, so he could reunite with brother Matt as well.
9. Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt will be a disappointment
The feud between the laughing men Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt has gone on for a few months with very few highlights. There have been a few moments where they got physical in the ring, but for the most part they have exchanged promos that often ended with each guy laughing hysterically. Wyatt represents the darkness while “Woken” Matt represents the light.
My issue with the feud is that once the bell rings, the crowd is going to be dead other than when Matt urges them on with “delete” chants. When Matt started doing this character in WWE (a character he used in TNA in 2016), I thought he would thrive and the creative team would come up with some cool ideas for him. Nope. It’s been disappointing to see how basic the character is. Instead of trying different things and thinking out of the box, Hardy has been doing the same kind of wrestling promos in front of a green screen like everybody else. Why not film him in a field or a forest or something to make him look different?
I think Wyatt should win to try to prolong the feud and add more of a story before Matt wins the feud. If Matt wins, then it just dies and there’s not much to it. There’s a small part of me that thinks this feud has a chance to be good because I like performers. I just wish the creative team did more to make us care.
8. Asuka will beat Nia Jax
The stipulation for this match is if Jax wins, then she will be added to the championship match that Asuka gets at WrestleMania. It’s a way to build interest for the match, but I doubt many people are going to pick Jax to win this.
I think the build for Asuka vs. Nia Jax has been poor. They need more of a story than Kurt Angle announcing the match and a few cheap attacks from Jax. It’s just not that interesting. I’m not saying the match will be bad because I’ve seen them wrestle in NXT a few times. They have chemistry. It’s an easy story to tell with Jax as the power wrestler while Asuka will make the big comeback to find a way to win.
The rumor is that Asuka is going to choose to face Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Title at WrestleMania, rather than whomever the Raw Women’s Champion is. I like that idea because Asuka vs. Charlotte will be an awesome match. It also keeps Asuka away from Rousey, which is something WWE can build to over the next year. Why give it away quickly? That would be dumb. It’s the money match and should be built up to be a big deal.
7. Ronda Rousey will have a confrontation with Stephanie McMahon to tease a WrestleMania match
Ronda Rousey is going to “sign her WWE contract” at the Elimination Chamber event on Monday. It was reported by PWInsider that Rousey spent most of the week in Orlando at WWE’s Performance Center and also was at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. The expected plan for Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania is to have a tag match with a male wrestler against the heel team of Stephanie McMahon (the Raw Commissioner) and her husband Triple H.
The way I think this segment may go is that Raw GM Kurt Angle and Stephanie will be in the ring with a contract. They’ll introduce Rousey. Stephanie can say something about how she didn’t like that Angle signed Rousey without consulting her first. Angle can put over Rousey saying she’s a huge star who wants to be a part of the women’s division. Triple H can come out, stand up for his wife and say something critical of Rousey. Angle can step up for Rousey, get in Triple H’s face and the fans will likely get into it.
I know that the rumors are that The Rock and Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie is what WWE wants to do, but they may not be able to get Rock due to his movie career. Rock hasn’t wrestled a legit match (the WM32 squash over Erick Rowan in 2016 was not much of a match) in five years, in part because of concerns by Hollywood insurance agencies that he might get hurt. I think Angle teaming with Rousey makes a lot of sense. Another name that would fit is Seth Rollins since he has the history with Triple H and it would be a high-profile match for Rollins at WrestleMania.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Rousey gets booed by the fans in Vegas. She might get booed because a lot of fans don’t like when a perceived “outsider” like Rousey gets pushed so much. That’s why Stephanie and Triple H are there to try to get her cheered. As much as I am interested in where the story is going, I think I’m more interested in the reaction to her.
I like Rousey a lot and think she’ll fit in very well in WWE, as she’s been training to be in the company since last summer.
6. Bayley will likely do something to cause Sasha Banks to be eliminated
At the Royal Rumble last month, Bayley entered 29th out of the 30 women in the match and was eliminated by her “best friend” Sasha Banks after just 5:04 in the match. Banks started the match, lasted 54:46, and was eliminated by the Bella Twins near the end of the match. Since then, there hasn’t been much talk about Banks eliminating Bayley in the match other than in a quick backstage segment where Banks said it was every woman for herself.
Where is this story going? I think Banks is more likely to turn heel because Bayley’s more of a pure face. Banks was an incredible heel in NXT in 2014-15, so much so that I think she’s the best heel of any woman in the company right now. The heel act that Bliss does is fine, but Banks was way better at it and her matches were a lot more impressive too. The timing is right for Banks to turn heel leading to a feud with Bayley on the main roster.
The reason I say “Bayley will likely do something” instead of something more direct like Bayley pinning her is because I think they may do a spot where Bayley accident hits Banks with a clothesline (or some other move) leading to another woman pinning Banks. That can lead to Banks blaming Bayley for being eliminated.
If the heel turn by Banks happens, save it for Monday’s Raw. I think it would lead to a big reaction.
5. Mickie James will regret trusting Alexa Bliss
— Alexa Bliss (@AlexaBliss_WWE) February 21, 2018
One of the main stories going into the women’s Chamber match is about Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss working with Mickie James. The two women had an alliance last year when James returned to the company on Smackdown as an ally of Bliss (with James dressing up as La Luchadora). The friendship fizzled out within a few months, they both moved to Raw, had a pretty good feud in the fall and now they appear to be on the same page.
A few weeks ago, Bliss helped James from an attack by the Absolution group (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville with Paige), so this past week James helped Bliss from an attack. The question is, can they trust each other?
I think there will be a moment in the Rumble where they work together to eliminate one of the Absolution girls. After they pin one of them (let’s say it’s Deville), I expect Bliss to deck James with a forearm and hit a DDT to eliminate her. It might even be when they are the final two women in the match. Bliss is the conniving heel champion that shouldn’t be trusted.
That’s not what I want to see happen. I think Mickie should have beat Bliss for the title when they feuded last fall (the Bliss title reign has been largely forgettable) and I’d love to see James win her seventh Women’s Title. However, I believe WWE wants Bliss to go into WrestleMania as the champion, so I’m picking her to retain the title.
The rumor is Bliss vs. her buddy Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Title at WrestleMania. I think a multi-woman match is more likely. I guess we’ll find out soon.
4. A frustrated John Cena will come up short
For the last month, WWE has been pushing the story that Cena “needs” to win the Elimination Chamber in order to get him a spot in a big match at WrestleMania. It’s a ridiculous story to tell, with Cena mentioning it every week while Michael Cole is pushing it hard on commentary as well. Of course, we know that’s bullshit and he’s going to be in a big match, but WWE isn’t going to reveal what Cena is doing yet.
Cena’s 40 years old, he’s a part-timer and we don’t know how many shows he’s going to wrestle at this year. What we do know, or at least think we know, is that Cena is likely going to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania this year. When I did this predictions column for the Royal Rumble, I thought Undertaker would get involved and eliminate Cena. That didn’t happen. I’m not going to predict Undertaker making an appearance here, though.
I think Monday’s Raw will have a segment with Cena doing a promo saying he doesn’t know what he might do at WrestleMania this year. Cue The Undertaker’s music and entrance. The Undertaker will walk out, say that it’s still his yard (wink wink to Roman Reigns) and that he’s got at least one more match left in him because he wants to wrestle John Cena at WrestleMania. The two men haven’t had a profile match in WWE on a PPV since Cena became a top guy in 2005, so it’s smart to do it this year if Taker is healthy enough.
Cena might come close to winning this match, but I’d be shocked if he left the Elimination Chamber as the winner.
3. The Miz will cause Braun Strowman to lose
There’s been an issue between Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Braun Strowman going back to October’s TLC event. That was when they were on the same team in a 5-on-3 TLC match that saw Strowman fighting his own teammate Kane, leading to Strowman being put in a garbage truck. It was an elaborate way of turning Strowman face. Since then, they have gone on to do some other things, but their issues remain.
This past week on Raw during the Gauntlet Match, Strowman was the last of the seven men involved in that and he beat The Miz. The rumor is that Strowman will face The Miz at WrestleMania. That’s far from a lock because a guy like Finn Balor could easily be put in that slot instead and Balor beating Miz for the IC Title at WrestleMania sounds good to me. Strowman vs. Miz is fine as well.
The best way to have Miz cause Strowman to lose is having Miztourage members Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas do something where they hand a lead pipe to Miz or a crowbar or something like that. You can hand it to him through the cage that surrounds the structure. It’s been done in the past in Chamber matches. When Strowman turns around, Miz can hit him with an object and pin him in cheap fashion. That sets up Miz vs. Strowman at WrestleMania while also keeping Strowman strong by not having him lose clean.
2. Seth Rollins will start the match and end it, but he won’t win
Seth Rollins had an incredible performance on Monday’s edition of Raw. There was a Gauntlet Match that he started with Roman Reigns. After about 20 minutes, Rollins beat Reigns clean. John Cena was up next, Rollins battled him for about 35 minutes and Rollins beat Cena clean as well. It was Cena’s first clean loss on Raw in nearly a decade. Rollins wrestled for 65 minutes (a record on Raw) before Elias was able to beat him with the Drift Away. It was an incredible performance that put over Rollins for being an outstanding worker who is capable of being “the man” in WWE again.
(As a side note, the timing of my Rollins article last Monday was perfect. I hope you enjoyed the column!)
It’s nights like these when I remember why I fell in love with professional wrestling. Thank you to the men I shared the ring with this evening. It was truly special. I’ve drawn a line in the sand… #MONDAYNIGHTROLLINS #WrestleMania
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) February 20, 2018
I think Rollins will be one of the three men who starts the match (we already know Miz is one of them), he will likely beat one or two guys and the announcers will put him over strongly because of the durability he showed on Monday’s Raw. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had Rollins beat Cena again just like he did on Raw, although they may opt for Elias as the one to eliminate Cena.
The final two will be Rollins and Reigns. Once again, the announcers can reference the Gauntlet Match on Raw when Rollins pinned Reigns, so the story can be about if Reigns can find a way to beat Rollins. Those guys know how to put on an entertaining match together. Have them do a bunch of exciting near-falls and Reigns ends up hitting a Spear for a second or third time to finally put Rollins away. The fans won’t like it, but I doubt Rollins is going to win.
1. Roman Reigns will win to set up the WrestleMania match against Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship
This has been WWE’s plan since March 2017, according to the Wrestling Observer. They wanted to keep Reigns and Lesnar apart for a year to have Reigns be the guy who ends Lesnar’s one-year reign as Universal Champion. They have been kept apart aside from SummerSlam 2017, which featured a great 4-Way match that saw Lesnar pin Reigns (Strowman and Samoa Joe were also in it). Following that match, Reigns and Lesnar haven’t interacted much at all. That was clearly on purpose because WWE didn’t want people thinking about it.
Do I want Reigns to win? No. I’d rather see Strowman or Rollins as the guy who beats Lesnar. It’s not up to me, though. It’s a Vince McMahon decision and he’s going to do what he wants. We all know that.
I think the match will be great, by the way. Elimination Chamber matches usually are.
I think the two Chamber matches will be great, but the rest of the card is underwhelming. The Rousey signing segment should get a lot of mainstream media attention because WWE will push it heavily to try to get ESPN to plug them like they did at the Royal Rumble. The Chamber matches and Rousey’s segment are what people will be talking about the most, so as long as they are good the show will be a success. The rest of the matches don’t matter that much.
You can watch Elimination Chamber on WWE Network this Sunday, February 25. It starts at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT with the Kickoff Show beginning at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT. The expected run time for the main show is three hours, but it could go a bit longer than that. I’ll be back on Monday with a review of the show.