On paper, Elimination Chamber had the potential to be one of the most exciting shows of the year, but the execution was super uneven. A strong main event and the amazing Owens/Cena match carried the show, but overall I felt really underwhelmed. With another short build-up for this event, how will Money in the Bank turn out? Hit the jump below to check out my picks and follow me on Twitter as I live-tweet the show!
Before we start off, I just want to talk briefly about the passing of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes had such a memorable career that covered literally every facet of professional wrestling. He wrestled, he booked, he commentated, he managed, he trained—he lived professional wrestling and gave so much of himself to his fans. No wrestler has ever so perfectly embodied “the common man” and that created a beautiful connection between Rhodes and his four decades of fans. From the memorable feuds throughout the country that made his career to his most recent endeavors as one of the driving forces in NXT, Rhodes has never stopped making an impact on the world of professional wrestling and it is likely that he never will. My condolences go out his family and his family of fans. Though Dusty may have passed on, the Dream will never die.
R-TRUTH vs KING BARRETT
Due to some family commitments, I won’t actually catch the pre-show, which is disappointing as I think this could be a really entertaining match. Both men are great competitors and despite my issues with how both of them are booked, they always put on entertaining matches. I’m disappointed that there has been so little build-up for this (of course, with the last show being just two weeks ago, the build-up has been minimal for EVERY match). I’d like to see this feud continue on a bit and think that the combo of R-Truth’s comedic antics with the more serious King Barrett could be really entertaining. Of course, I’d much rather see Barrett have a run at a major title, but the creative team and I apparently differ on that matter. Barrett definitely needs the win here, so I’m going to pick him to win what should be a rather absurd match.
Prediction: KING BARRETT
PRIME TIME PLAYERS vs THE NEW DAY ©
WWE Tag Team Championship
I am really glad to see all five men in this match (as we know Kofi won’t be sitting idly by) are tremendous talents that have floundered a bit in the past. The Prime Time Players have had a few stops and starts due to injuries, but now Titus and Darren are finally full steam ahead with some great promos over the last few weeks and some crazy in-ring performances from Titus who has solidified himself as one of the more exciting big men in the company. The New Day has finally found their niche with this gimmick and are perhaps the most entertaining heels on the roster. The problem with this match is that I really want to see the Prime Time Player finally get the titles they definitely deserve, but the New Day are so entertaining as champions that I want to see them hang on for a while longer. As with much of this card, the build-up hasn’t been the strongest, so I can’t really see this the end of the feud (especially with the two other top tag teams (the Usos and Cesaro/Kidd) facing injury issues). The New Day should pick up the win here by some nefarious deeds, leading to a rematch at the next pay per view, with hopefully stronger build leading up to the match.
PAIGE vs NIKKI BELLA ©
WWE Divas Championship
One match that has had more than enough time to build-up, as this feud has been a big part of the last several months, is the Divas Championship match between Paige and Nikki Bella. Unfortunately, that hasn’t done much to make me excited about the match. I don’t doubt the ability for Paige and Nikki to put on a great match—they can and hopefully they will—but the non-stop flip/flop booking for the Bella Twins has really struck my last nerve. Are they good? Are they bad? Will they stay that way for more than a week? Paige is amazing and can carry the division, but it’s unlikely that she’ll win as the booking committee clearly wants to center the division on the Bellas. The Divas are desperately in need of fresh blood, but behind the scenes and in the ring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll see that any time soon. Hopefully they’ll surprise me, but I see Nikki picking up another dirty win only to turn face again next week as the schizophrenic booking of the Divas continues.
Prediction: NIKKI BELLA
JOHN CENA vs KEVIN OWENS
Two weeks ago, John Cena and Kevin Owens put on an instantly classic with one a 19-minute masterpiece that is easily one of the top matches of the year—if not one of the best WWE matches in several years. They told an incredible story in the ring with Cena falling to the upstart (but much more seasoned) Owens. It is going to be really hard for them to top that match, but I am crazy excited to see them try. Owens has a lot more left in the tank that WWE fans have never seen—we’ll see a lot of that in this match. He had an incredible “debut,” but the showing that they put on in this match will truly set the tone for Owens’s career as a WWE superstar. I don’t see Cena losing two big matches in a row and I don’t think that he needs to lose this match to put Owens over, but Owens has to take him to a limit, setting up a big gimmick match to end the feud. Personally, I’d love to see Owens either lose this because of shenanigans from Samoa Joe (one of multiple people he is feuding with in NXT) or to lose by disqualification. However, I think a clean loss will be fine so long as he wins the payoff match. My only problem with him losing here is that I fully expect Owens to lose the NXT Championship at the WWE Live in Tokyo special on July 4th and he cannot afford to lose two big matches in a row. So, this could go either way, but I’m going to pick Cena (with a brutal Owens beat down after the match).
Prediction: JOHN CENA
BIG SHOW vs RYBACK ©
So, uh…this is going to be a match. Ryback has fit nicely as the Intercontinental Championship even though I really didn’t expect him to win at the Elimination Chamber. I’m happy with that aspect of this match. I’ve been really rough on Big Show lately and I don’t want to say that he isn’t talented, but his best days are certainly coming to a close. Ryback has done a good job of carrying matches with less stellar opponents in the past year, but I’m not sure that he can really push this match to where it needs to be. There were rumors that the Miz would be added to this match, but that is apparently not to be, though I do feel it would help take this match to a higher level to have a smaller, faster man fighting it out with these giants. I suspect this match will be relatively short, with Big Show throwing the new champion around before Ryback mounts a big comeback and uses this match to show just how strong he is before picking up the win with a massive Shellshock. Then hopefully he’ll move on to something more interesting.
REIGNS vs SHEAMUS vs ZIGGLER vs ORTON vs KOFI vs NEVILLE vs KANE
Money in the Bank
I’ve gone back and forth on this match a lot. Of the seven men in this match, five of them could easily win the match without it feeling like a total surprise. Kofi and Neville are there essentially for high spots (even if Neville ended up as the last man standing on Smackdown this week), but stealing the show with cool moments will give them the rub they need. Sheamus has a lot of momentum behind him, but has not resurfaced in the main event picture over the last few years as he has battled with injuries; a big win here puts him right back to where he was a three years ago. Randy Orton is extremely over, has never faded from the title picture, and works seamlessly with any champion—he is an easy choice. Dolph Ziggler, much like Sheamus, hasn’t legitimately been back on the World Championship level in some time but is so popular that he just needs the right win to be back there. Roman Reigns has been groomed for the title for well over a year now, battled back from a negative fan reaction at Royal Rumble, and is finally getting to the place where they wanted him to be six months ago. Reigns is the obvious choice in this match. My pick, however, is Kane. I think that they have done an awesome job building his feud with Seth Rollins without really putting them in the ring together. With Kane having the Money in the Bank contract to hang over Seth’s head, the feud kicks into high gear. I really like that storytelling wise and, let’s face it, Kane isn’t getting any younger but deserves one more big storyline before his career starts to dwindle down.
DEAN AMBROSE vs SETH ROLLINS ©
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
This is going to be an absolute blast--Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are both on fire lately both in and out of the ring. This match is perfectly suited for both the high-flying work of Rollins and the brawling style of Ambrose; both men will have a chance to shine here. With last month's surprise finish and Rollins turning his back on the Authority this past week on Raw, anything could happen here. I see Rollins as a long term champion, especially with his perfect weasel persona, but Ambrose could pull this one out. I've flipped back and forth on my prediction for this one, but I think I'm going to stick with my fellow Iowan to retain his title with some shenanigans. Ambrose definitely has the goods to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion and I definitely see him as champion somewhere down the road, but I don't think it is his time yet.
Prediction: SETH ROLLINS
What are your thoughts? And follow me on Twitter as I live-tweet the show!