By Pat McNeill, PWTorch columnist
Wake the pets & call the neighbors, it’s time for our exclusive WWE Network pseudo-pay-per-view projections.
DISCLAIMER: Projections are based on what the columnist would do if he were booking this event, instead of Paul “NXT Fanservice” Levesque, Runjin Singh, “Road Dogg” Brian James and WWE President Charles Foster Kane. Projections are not predictions, because this is the column where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. This preview has been sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall’s porch since noon today. Some of our departing contestants will receive a supply of Schick Super II razor blades, the only twin blades with a Teflon coating, to get your face into Schick Shape. Pat McNeill’s wardrobe provided by Dillard’s of Haywood Mall. Pat McNeill would like to thank WhoGivesACrap for “Generic Music”, the official theme song of the 2017 Elimination Chamber Preview, available on iTunes & Spotify. Remember, this is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, please, no wagering. This lineup is based on the best available information as of this writing. These predictions are based on what the columnist would do if he had creative control over WWE, except for where he adds two dozen wrestlers to the current WWE roster. It’s a little thin.
By now, you have all heard the rumored finish for tonight’s main event. As of a week ago, the plan was allegedly for Bray Wyatt to win the WWE Title, to set up a Wyatt vs. Orton match for WrestleMania 33. What’s wrong with that idea? Well…
1) John Cena’s sweet sixteenth WWE title reign only lasts two weeks. That’s ridiculous.
2) After losing every feud he’s been in for three years, Bray Wyatt is a tough sell as WWE Champion. Remember, this is the belt held by Rock and Austin and Hogan & Lesnar. The legacy of Bruno, Backlund and Bray doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.`
3) It took a couple of months to get skeptical WWE fans to buy into Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton as blood brothers from different mothers. Now that WWE has convinced us they’re on the same page, the two guys who hear voices in their heads are going to split up. As Neil Diamond once sang, it’s being done too soon.
4) If Wyatt vs. Orton actually comes off at WrestleMania, the WWE World Title match gets positioned beneath Goldberg-Lesnar, Rollins-Triple H, Undertaker-Reigns and whatever John Cena ends up doing. That makes it the fifth most important deal on the show, and that’s a best case scenario.
Before we preview tonight’s show, let’s get to this month’s edition of the Wrestling History Lesson, because that’s why many of you clicked here in the first place.
Twenty years ago, on February 8th, 1997, the World Wrestling Federation presented an episode of “Shotgun Saturday Night” from Penn Station in New York City. As we all know, there’s no better way to kick off a live wrestling show than a big tag team bout. Faarooq & Crush took on Henry & Phinneas Goddwinn. Vince McMahon & Tammy Sytch had the call. (They talk a lot).
What was happening in World Wrestling Entertainment fifteen years ago? I’m glad you asked! On February 16, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation presented an episode of WWF Metal (pretaped) from Jonesboro, Arkansas. On this night, the late Big Bossman squared off with Perry Saturn. Kevin Kelly and Jonathan Coachman had the call.
Did you catch this week’s episode of “WWE Main Event”? Of course not. Nobody watches that show. But here it is (sort of). Watch the Social Outcasts explode as Bo Dallas wrestles Curtis Axel. Tom Phillips, Austin Aries & Byron Saxton have the call.
Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga and Tom Phillips will be announcing the show, with several other announcers on standby. Renee Young, Booker T & Sam Roberts will be doing the preshow, with Dasha Fuentes chilling in the Social Media Lounge. On with the program!
Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins (Preshow Pandemonium): Glad Hawkins is still employed. Projection? Rawley wins clean with a spinebuster. Figure it goes about two minutes.
Apollo Crews & Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler (Handicap Match): The dastardly heel is set to take on two wrestlers in a handicap match. Hooray for backwards booking! Projection? Crews & Kalisto catch Dolph with a high-low and Crews pins Ziggler. Ziggler beats up both good guys after the match to prevent anyone from accidentally getting over.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James (Grudge Match): Mickie James turned evil a few weeks ago to help Alexa Bliss. It was about time. Sure, the Steampunk Sister is going to get her revenge, but she has to conquer adversity first. Projection? Alexa distracts Becky, James hits the Mick Kick. You can’t have a WWE pay-per-view without using that finish at least once.
American Alpha vs. The Ascension vs. Breezango vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Usos vs. The Vaudevillians (Smackdown Tag Team Titles – Tag Team Turmoil Bout): We have a lot of teams in the Smackdown tag team division, but most of them aren’t over. Maybe that should be a project here in 2017. Projection? Alphas come into the match fourth and run the table, beating The Ascension, The Vaudevillians and The Usos to hang on to the championships.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya Kidd (Grudge Match): I have enjoyed the back and forth between Nikki and Natalya, and I am glad Nattie has had the chance to shine as a bad girl. But the possible future Mrs. Cena has important WrestleMania business to get to, and Natalya is not in that mix. Projection? Nattie works the neck. Nikki makes the big comeback and wins with the Rack Attack.
Luke Harper vs. Randall K. Orton (Family Feud): WWE is trying again to make Luke Harper into a fan favorite as a singles wrestler. As we saw (briefly) in Evolve, Luke can actually cut a promo. But this isn’t his night. Projection? Orton with the RKO. We didn’t come all this way with Randy to have him put over Luke Harper.
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi Uso (Smackdown Women’s Title): We are coming up on WrestleMania 33. The trick is to figure who will be wrestling for the Smackdown Women’s Title. Whatever answer you come up with, I’m pretty sure Alexa Bliss is involved. Projection? Bliss wins with a thumb to the eye followed by a DDT. Austin Aries approves.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Mike Mizanin (Elimination Chamber – WWE World Heavyweight Title): After giving this a lot of thought, the big mistake for WWE was taking the belt off of Styles in the first place. So let’s fix that. Projection? Corbin eliminates Ambrose. Bray Wyatt eliminates Corbin. Luke Harper comes out to distract Wyatt, allowing Cena to hit Attitude Adjustment on Bray and eliminate him. Cena pins Miz with a rollup. An angry Miz kicks Cena in the nuts, allowing Styles to win with the Styles Clash. And there it is. AJ Styles is your two-time WWE champion.
Aftermath: AJ Styles defends against Orton at WrestleMania. We get Cena vs. Miz, possibly in a mixed tag team match, and a Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Luke Harper three-way bout. I like it.
Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina has been a PWTorch Columnist since 2001. He’d take the San Antonio Spurs to defeat the New York Knicks in today’s big NBA game. You know, if gambling were legal.