Many fans are still buzzing after WWE Royal Rumble, where Bianca Belair and Edge punched their tickets to WrestleMania. It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for another pay-per-view, but Elimination Chamber is upon us. Through no fault of its own, this show doesn’t feel as exciting as its predecessor.
Predictable matches are the main issue, as it’s hard to see any of WWE’s top champions dropping their titles on the road to WrestleMania. There’s room for some unexpected swerves. But this pit stop on the road to WrestleMania has the makings of a solid, unspectacular show that will entertain the fans without blowing them away.
Starting with the newest addition to the card, Sasha Banks’ gradually forming feud with Belair could reach a new level on Sunday night. “The Boss” and “The EST” are set to challenge Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. Many fans have pointed out that WWE likes to rely on the “Can they coexist?” trope, but Banks and Belair have more than enough charisma and star power to make it work. Banks is slowly reverting to her heelish ways, and WWE is sitting on a potential gold mine with a potentially explosive team of Banks and Belair. “The EST’ hasn’t officially picked “The Boss” as her WrestleMania opponent yet, but the writing is on the wall.
Banks vs. Belair is a feud that’s meant for the WrestleMania stage, and this story should unofficially begin with a win for the two popular stars on Sunday. Jax has been the butt of many jokes recently, and it’s past time to have her and Baszler go their separate ways.
Lashley’s Reign Is In Danger (…If Keith Lee Competes On Sunday)
On paper, a Triple Threat Match between Keith Lee, Bobby Lashley and Riddle has the potential to steal the show. Having Lashley defend the WWE United States Championship in this star-studded pay-per-view match is a great way to make the title feel more relevant than it has in quite some time. Sure, the rivalry between Lashley and Riddle hasn’t quite lived up to the fans’ expectations. But Lashley remains one of the most dominant competitors in WWE, and he has brought some legitimacy to a title that has desperately needed it.
That being said, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding this match. Throughout the past week, some rumors have suggested that Lee might not be medically cleared for this match. In the event that he’s removed from the bout, another contest between Riddle and Lashley would be far less exciting than the advertised Triple Threat. Fans have already seen Lashley face Riddle a few times in recent weeks on WWE RAW. While these stars could deliver a remarkable pay-per-view match, it would feel like a let-down after the initial promise of the three-way clash.
McIntyre Must Run The Gauntlet
The WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match has a lot of star power. In fact, most of these stars were with WWE in 2011. On that note, the consensus about this match focuses on its lack of rising young stars. It’s fair to make this criticism. RAW, and WWE in general, needs to infuse the main event scene with some fresh blood. In some ways, having this Chamber match exclusively feature former WWE Champions makes it difficult to achieve that goal. In theory, stars like Lee or Riddle would benefit from getting the chance to compete with five main event Superstars on this stage.
Regardless, for all intents and purposes, this match should deliver for the exact reason it’s being criticized. These six men are proven competitors who are incredibly talented in distinct ways. There’s also a good amount of intrigue within the match itself; from the feud between Sheamus and McIntyre to the realistic, albeit small, chance that Orton or Styles could win the bout, this Chamber Match is more exciting than it gets credit for. Plus, there’s a Braun Strowman-sized chance that fans could see one of these competitors get taken out before the match to add even more unpredictability to the situation. WWE could go any number of ways with this one, and the match is fascinating because it could have some major replications on RAW’s supposedly wide-open road to WrestleMania.
Is it Cesaro’s time to shine?
From an in-ring perspective, the SmackDown Elimination Chamber Match should be even better than its counterpart on RAW. The blue brand can be viewed as WWE’s workhorse show. It’s a program that prides itself on featuring solid matches at every level of the card. Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens are some of the best wrestlers in the company. King Corbin has come a very long way as a worker, and Jey Uso has thrived throughout this solo run. By matching these six talented Superstars against one another, SmackDown could offer the match of the night.
There’s just one glaring problem with this match — it doesn’t matter who wins. Call it an oversimplification or call it a hot take, but the winner of this match is all but guaranteed to get fed to Roman Reigns. The victor will face “The Tribal Chief” at the same show, and they will lose. Even if WWE doesn’t plan on having Roman Reigns face Edge at WrestleMania, “The Head of the Table” will enter the show as the Universal Champion. He has been on fire for several months now, and frankly, it would be appalling if he lost the title at any point before WrestleMania.
To be fair, practically all six men in the Chamber would be an intriguing opponent for Reigns, even if their match is just a pothole on Reigns’ unstoppable road to WrestleMania. Cesaro is the presumed favorite because he’d be a fresh challenger and he’s riding a lot of momentum. Bryan vs. Reigns is a WrestleMania-worthy match. A clash between Uso and Reigns could be dynamic, given Uso’s role as the champion’s henchman. Zayn and Corbin would be unusual opponents for Reigns, and few fans would want to see another round of the Reigns/Corbin rivalry. Likewise, as we’ve written several times before, the feud between Reigns and Owens is well past its expiration date. But for the most part, several of these potential title matches could add some excitement to a card that needs it.
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