We are one day away from the second WWE pay per view of 2013, an event billed as being one of the most demonic and unrelenting structures ever constructed and conceived in the history of professional wrestling. The Elimination Chamber pay per view (also known as No Escape 2013 in Germany, and you only get one guess as to why) is the first stop on the highly romanticized and hyped Road to WrestleMania.
Expectations for this pay per view seem to be mild compared to that of previous events, particularly previous Elimination Chamber pay per views. Perhaps this is due to a build that makes the pay per view a means to an end, a show that in itself is a build to WrestleMania more so than anything else. That isn’t a “bad” thing, per se, but the show must deliver in order to convince us that another Rock/Cena match is worth paying for.
The other thing that sticks out to me about this pay per view is the fact that the Chamber match is honestly a shell of its former self. Many moons ago I wrote a piece on Bleacher Report about how the actual chamber was no where near as diabolical as its described to be or once was.
The “21st Century PG Era” (because there have been several “PG” eras in WWE history) pretty much neutered the chamber. This isn’t to say that the structure isn’t demanding or that it doesn’t pose threats to the athletes well-being and safety. What it is saying is that without the presence of blood at some point during the match, the fans have to really focus on the stories told by the facial expressions and body language of the athletes. The sight of blood only intensified the hype about the grueling structure; without it, the fans who’ve seen just how dangerous these types of matches are will have to use his/her imagination, and that’s kind of difficult for desensitized hardcore fans.
Nevertheless I think we’re all looking forward to the pay per view just to see if our predictions for WrestleMania 29 are right. The lineup consists of paper-great matches, and perhaps a slew of new stars will be groomed tonight for spectacular showings at “the Grandaddy of Them All.” Without further ado, here’s the lineup:
Color me simple, but I could’ve sworn that Team Rhodes Scholars broke up a few weeks ago. Then during a house show circuit and a few media appearances, they teamed back up for “one time only” or for “limited engagements.” Yet here they are curtain jerking for a pay per view together as a team. It would seem that the Historical Conservation Department at Titan Towers has snookered us again.
I’ve missed out on a lot of RAWs and WWE shows as of late, so it was really out of left field for me to hear that Tensai and Clay teamed up. I vaguely remember their interaction on the RAW from Vegas with Tensai wearing the dress and participating in the dance contest, but that’s about it. On the other hand I do recall that there are a number of fans, and even perhaps some wrestlers, who feel that a comedy schtick for Tensai is beneath a man of his Japanese honed talent and skills. I personally wouldn’t know what to do with Tensai at this moment in time in his career; be it far from me to suggest that the man should be happy he’s on the card and at least has a gimmick to work with (Hi, JTG!), but it is a good thing that he gets some sort of exposure as opposed to none at all.
I’m not expecting a Harley Race stature match from these four men and neither should the fans. The plus side is that two tag teams will get the chance to ply their craft on WWE television, and that’s a very good thing considering our collective love fest for all things tag team wrestling. I imagine that Team Rhodes Scholars will pull off the victory if Damien Sandow hits the Terminus on one an opponent…Brodus Clay perhaps.
Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars
Antonio Cesaro has held the United States Championship for an impressive 6-month reign, and The Miz looks to end that streak tonight at the Elimination Chamber pay per view.
As of late The Miz has been on a roll as a babyface, with some saying that his character feels more organic and natural as a good guy. While that perspective is arguable I’m just not convinced that this Whole Foods Miz can really dethrone the United States Champion. Miz will have to look for a way to counter Cesaro’s amazing strength and exceptional wrestling repertoire, and that is not a small feat.
Cesaro, on the other hand, will have to contend with the fact that he is wrestling a former WWE Champion. This gives a slight experiential edge to the Miz, but the only “edge” that could help the Miz in this situation retired back in April 2011; so much for that hope.
I expect Cesaro to retain in what will be a pretty straight forward match; Cesaro will beat the hell out of Miz, and Miz will try not to get hurt or hurt Cesaro while in the process of being beat silly and senseless.
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro retains.
Big Show lost his title to Alberto Del Rio one month ago after a grueling and brutal feud with Sheamus. Since then Del Rio has managed to get over as a face, Big Show attempts to get under Del Rio’s skin have been fruitless, and Ricardo Rodriguez is still the most entertaining person in the entire rivalry. This rivalry between Del Rio and Show will more than likely culminate at Elimination Chamber, as there is speculation that returning superstar “The REAL American” Jack Swagger will enter into a feud with Del Rio over the championship.
Since returning Swagger has been “repackaged” as an American badass with a chip on his shoulder. Mic work has never been Swagger’s strongest suit, so legendary wrestling fixture Dutch Mantel has been given the daunting task of working the stick for him. Matel works as Zeb Colter, Swagger’s cantankerous manager with an ax to grind against a country filled with what he sees as “illegal immigrants.”
Atlee Greene just wrote an interesting piece about Swagger’s new gimmick and manager over on Gerweck.net. Check it out, as it’s worth the read and also worthy of some conversation among fans.
All that being said, I think a Swagger/Del Rio feud over the championship will provide for some interesting and colorful twists and turns in a controversial main event storyline for SmackDown. The only problem I see is that this storyline can’t happen or progress until Big Show is out of the picture…well, that’s not the only problem I see. I would’ve enjoyed seeing Swagger use this same storyline as a face against Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship, but perhaps a Swagger/Del Rio feud is best at this moment in time.
Del Rio will put Big Show down tomorrow at the pay per view and move forward to a program with a rejuvenated and pissed off Jack Swagger.
Prediction: Del Rio to retain.
This year’s actual Chamber match is the only one that will take place, and the stakes are high for the six individuals who will face each other within the confines of the massively intimidating steel structure. Also unique is the fact that three returning superstars—Chris Jericho, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry—will try to withstand the offense of their three seasoned and active opponents.
As mentioned in the previous blurb, it’s speculated that Jack Swagger will put World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio squarely in his sights. If this is the case, we can expect Swagger to storm into the match and walk out as the sole survivor of this year’s Chamber fracas.
We can also probably expect to see more dissension between Team Hell No, while Randy Orton and Chris Jericho will ultimately provide some memorable moments in the match. Mark Henry is the dark horse (no pun intended) in this match, but he and Kane will provide scores of wanton brutality that will make the match worth a damn. I’m particularly interested in seeing Swagger and Bryan provide some excellent moments of wrestling that hardcore fans mess themselves over.
Prediction: Jack Swagger with the win to become the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship
There’s not much to be said about this match other than the fact that once again the WWE is providing fans with something they’ve clamored to see for the longest. I’m expecting this match to deliver exactly what folks claim is absent from the Divas Division: a wrestling match between two women who are wrestlers and not models trained to be wrestlers. Kaitlyn has only held the belt for a month and her reign as champion hasn’t been solidified or heavily emphasized as much as it could have been; I see her retaining the belt against Tamina, perhaps beginning a lengthy program with her in the process.
While I have your attention, there are a few things to say about the Divas Division and women’s wrestling today:
- Women’s wrestling will never get the respect some fans (self included) feel it deserves unless we give it the respect it deserves. As long as we sit on our hands during Divas matches, as long as we don’t celebrate and appreciate the work these women put in to entertain us, and as long as we don’t expose ourselves to other companies that have outstanding women wrestlers on their rosters (SHIMMER, Shine, WSU, etc.), then the two major promotions in the U.S. will continue to push their respective women’s divisions as they do now.
- Fans claim that one major U.S. promotion treats its women’s division with way more respect than another particular major U.S. promotion. While that may have been true prior to 2010, it’s a very debatable point here in 2013. Bottom line is this: if any promotion was serious or “more serious” about their women’s division, then why haven’t we seen a women’s match main event a pay per view in one of the major promotions? I’m still waiting for that moment, and any excuse made to explain why this hasn’t happen only leads back to the reality that fans are not as serious about women’s wrestling as they imagine themselves to be.
- Will there ever come a time when we’ll see an all Diva Elimination Chamber match, or Extreme Rules match, or Hell In a Cell Match…you get where I’m going with this…
Prediction: Kaitlyn to retain.
This match might be the most epic ass-whipping in WWE history since the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Three typical big and burly WWE superstars square off against the hyper-aggressive and relentless offense of The Shield. Damn a slobberknocker, this match is going to be flat out brutal!
Despite the incredible amount of talent present in the group, The Shield is starting to suffer from the Wild Bill Hickok Social Consortium Syndrome; this crippling disorder occurs when a poorly defined heel group becomes insignificant due to their poorly defined status. The remedy that WWE saw fit to give the group is to place them in a match with two of the most popular superstars in the company…and John Cena.
It’s not just that The Shield is a poorly defined group, but rather they represent a nebulous yet integral part of a much larger storyline. This form of storytelling, one that literally lasts an entire year, happens at a pace that is frustrating for most fans who have very short attention spans and poor long-term memory. However its necessary for the group to be mind-numbingly ambiguous right now for a major reveal to occur later down the line.
In order to keep the group fresh and relevant they’ve been placed with three of WWE’s heavy hitters, thus keeping their momentum at the forefront of fans’ minds. The real question is where do they go after their match Sunday night?
Essentially we’re staring at three bullish monsters facing three bonafide wrestlers. Seeing as their match is a six man tag team bout, it will be noteworthy to see just how Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose can handle superstars when they don’t have numbers to work in their advantage. Keep in mind we’ve yet to see any of the men in singles competition, which honestly brings up a lot of questions concerning their presence in the company and how they’re able to have and not have “contracts” at the same time.
The other thing we should pay close attention to is how the members of The Shield wrestle. Up to this point their wrestling style, collectively speaking, has not been any different that of their opponents, casting them as brawlers more so than technical wrestlers. I’m interested in seeing whether or not they keep this up as individuals when they face their opponents.
Unfortunately for The Shield, John Cena can’t possibly lose this match and will put an end to this Shield nonsense for the time being. That sounds super negative but it’s always the case when dealing with John Cena.
Prediction: John Cena to pick up the win for himself, Sheamus and Ryback
Last but not least is our WWE Championship Match, where The Rock will defend his recently acquired title against the disgruntled and disenfranchised former champion CM Punk. While a definite rehash of their match from last month’s Royal Rumble, this battle has an added stipulation: if The Rock gets counted out or disqualified, CM Punk will regain the title.
Fans expect Punk to lose this match, which will set up the second “Once In a Lifetime” match between The Rock and John Cena at WrestleMania 29. I can’t say that I’m thrilled at that prospect, but I’m definitely not totally against it either. The Rock defending the title against John Cena at WM is a money match all the way and it gives Rock the opportunity to put over Cena in the same way Hollywood Hulk Hogan put him over at WrestleMania X8…as if Cena needed any help getting over at this point in his career…
My particular perspective is this: there are several wrestlers who face each other countless times throughout their careers. Seeing Rock vs. Cena one more time at WrestleMania won’t do more harm than seem some other stars face each other over and over again. Also, Rock and Cena are far from being the only two wrestlers who’ve had “one time only” matches…so it’s useless to argue about whether or not the WWE is crossing some imaginary line of hypocrisy by having Cena and Rock face each other once more.
I expect Punk to do most of the heavy lifting during the match, as Rock is obviously not the same performer he was years ago when he moved on to other avenues in the entertainment industry. I’m not sure if or how interference in the match will play into the finish, but I’m definitely sure that Punk will not walk out of the match as the new WWE Champion. Anticipate the finish of the match to play an important role in the development of the storyline for the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania.
Prediction: The Rock retains.
So far on my scorecard I have all the titles being retained as we head into April’s WrestleMania 29 pay per view. Hopefully the show will deliver and whet our whistles for the biggest show in pro wrestling today. Thanks for the reading, and can’t wait to catch the pay per view tomorrow!