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It’s a long road to WrestleMania isn’t it? Be kind to WWE Elimination Chamber. Fast Lane, too. Both of those PPV events on WWE’s calendar are awkward in nature due to the fact that they’re filler shows, but also serve as storyline stops on the way to WrestleMania in April.
Drew McIntyre is defending the WWE Championship inside the chamber. His opponents? Former WWE Champions? I can buy that, though WWE needed to be consistent about that intricacy that obviously should have left out the likes of John Morrison. And sure, it would have been nice for McIntyre to frame up this title defense as something he wanted in order to build his legacy. That nuance would have provided cover on the detail that he was told to defend his title in the Elimination Chamber against five opponents when the other top men’s champion, Roman Reigns, got to dismiss that notion.
Speaking of Reigns, with only three weeks of build available to them, the potential challengers to his Universal Championship competing in the Elimination Chamber on the Smackdown side of the house each feel like relatively worthy opponents. Maybe not Corbin or Zayn, but any of the others winning makes enough sense to get everyone through the night. Elimination Chamber has a low bar to clear and “makes enough sense” is good enough for me.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Raw Elimination Chamber Match (Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Kofi Kingston vs. A.J. Styles vs. Drew McIntyre) – WWE Championship
The Raw Elimination Chamber Match is a two-man show. Drew McIntyre and Sheamus, you’re up. The rest of the field is just consumed with other material at the moment (Orton) or simply too far removed from McIntyre and the title scene to be logical fits (everyone else). Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus feels like the WrestleMania match for McIntyre at this point given the lack of other options. To that end, look for WWE to keep Drew strong in this match. Sheamus got the sneaky win over Drew on Raw, so there isn’t a need to play that story again in this match.
Asuka vs. Lacey Evans – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Well, the only prediction to make that’s viable is that this match isn’t going to happen. As of this writing, WWE is still promoting the match, but with Lacey’s pregnancy announcement on Raw it’s impossible to see WWE going through with it. Maybe Asuka issues and open challenge instead? Time will tell, but this won’t happen in the form in which it looks right now.
Riddle vs. Keith Lee vs. Bobby Lashley – WWE United States Championship
Just how protected does WWE wanted Bobby Lashley to be? That is the question. Is his recent booking protection an accident or a concerted effort to keep him strong? The outcome of this match will provide clues for those answers. Neither Lee or Riddle are ready for a mid-card championship run given the current spots they occupy on Raw. Both would be better served to get on a journey toward this title and win it at the culmination of said journey. For that reason, look for Lashley to retain. Even if he’s moving up to take on McIntyre at WrestleMania or another PPV event, holding the United States Championship doesn’t hurt him as it’s a showcase of his recent excellence.
Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair vs. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Ahh, the tried-and-true booking tool of putting two babyface stars together as a team ahead of them colliding head-on. Some strategies are evergreen in pro wrestling, aren’t they? Look, this isn’t a bad idea. If Belair and Banks are going to tangle at WrestleMania and with so much time on the calendar until the show, they need a secondary story like this to help build their rivalry. To that end, this works. Jax and Baszler are good foil for them, but look for dissension on the Banks/Belair team to give the victory to Jax and Baszler.
Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match (Jey Uso vs. Sami Zayn vs. King Corbin vs. Cesaro vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens – Universal Championship #1 Contender
Lots of talent in his match and my pick for match of the night. With the winner facing Roman Reigns on the Elimination Chamber show, I’m looking for WWE to push a new star out of this match. So, hello Cesaro. Since Cesaro signed a new WWE contract, he’s been presented in a fresh manner that showcases more of his credibility than ever before. Since Roman Reigns isn’t going to be dropping the Universal Championship before WrestleMania, the best-case scenario for the winner of this match is have a good showing that hooks fans. Cesaro’s physical tools are perfect to accomplish that goal.
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro – WWE Universal Championship
Roman Reigns all the way. Plainly put, it’s not time to take the championship off of him. Big business continues to loom and though I’m willing to bet Cesaro looks like star coming out of this, it’s the Reigns show until told otherwise.
NOW CHECK OUT HEYDORN’S PREVIOUS TAKE: HEYDORN’S TAKE: Don’t hold me to this – NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day