Tonight’s Elimination Chamber is set to be a #1 Contenders Match to determine who faces Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34 for the Universal Championship.
January 29 – On the post Royal Rumble edition of Monday Night Raw, General Manager Kurt Angle announced for the Elimination Chamber pay per view/WWE Network special, six men will compete inside the Elimination Chamber and the winner would face the WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. In order to fill those spots, qualifying matches would happen through the course of a few weeks to determine the participants. Later in that very same episode, Braun Strowman would defeat Kane in a last man standing match, Elias would defeat “Woken” Matt Hardy and John Cena would defeat Finn Bálor in a solid outing.
The following week would see Roman Reigns qualify by defeating Bray Wyatt and Intercontinental Champion, The Miz defeat Apollo (then Crews) in their respected qualifying matches. The remaining qualified wrestlers would compete in a triple threat match to determine who would enter last in the Chamber match. Elias would pull the upset victory pinning the 16x Champion Cena earning the right to enter last in the Elimination Chamber in a match also involving Braun Strowman.
The following week, John Cena and The Miz would renew their rivalry against each other to determine who would start the Elimination Chamber match (since in all actuality, there’s no significant difference in who enters 1 and/or 2). Cena would win the highly competitive match finishing Miz off with an Avalanche Attitude Adjustment, thus sealing the fate that Miz would enter #1. In addition to the prior match, the men who failed to qualify in their respected matches to compete in the Chamber match was given one last chance to earn the final spot of the Elimination Chamber in what was going to be a fatal 4 way match between Bálor, Apollo, Wyatt and Hardy; then, enter Seth Rollins.
After GM Angle told the audience the status on his “son,” Jason Jordan’s neck injury, which would prevent him from competing at WrestleMania, Rollins would plead to Angle about having a chance at the last chance match later that night. Originally, Angle was hesitant but in true Angle fashion, he let the audience decide, which was a generally favorable response. With that, Seth Rollins was entered into the match and it became a fatal 5 way. However, the match would end in controversy. Both Rollins and Finn Bàlor would pin Bray Wyatt simultaneously leaving the 12 of February edition of Raw on a cliffhanger that would be immediately answered as Angle deciding Rollins and Bálor to be in the Chamber match having seven men in it and three of those seven starting the match.
On the 19th of February edition of Monday Night Raw, the Phoenix crowd (coincidentally the city/arena of the 2017 Elimination Chamber event) would get a unique Gauntlet match involving all the Chamber participants. Seth Rollins would start the match with Roman Reigns and would eventually defeat Reigns with a surprise rollup. Rollins would defeat Cena by hitting the Blackout (aka Curbstomp) as he would eventually lose to Elias in what would be an Ironman performance by Rollins. Elias would lose to Finn Bálor, Bálor would lose to The Miz and Strowman would finish off Miz establishing himself as the man with the clear advantage.
The Elimination Chamber pay per view will feature the 21st and 22nd Chamber matches in WWE history. In six appearances, John Cena holds the 2nd most wins all time with three (behind Triple H’s four) and the 2nd most eliminations all time with seven (behind Chris Jericho’s ten). Cena has also won back to back appearances in Chamber matches (2010 & 2011) which Triple H (2003 & 2005 as well as 2008 & 2009) is the other one to do that same feat and “The Game” has done it twice. The only other competitor that has been in this match is the Miz who would be making his third appearance in the match. That leaves Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, Elias and Braun Strowman entering the Chamber for the 1st time, similar to last year where majority of the chamber participants are 1st time participants and with the “main event” spot being on the line, the stakes are as high as possible.
On paper, John Cena would have the advantage due to experience and winning the titled match multiple times. However, with the performances of Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman as of late, it does indeed add a bit of intrigue. Then you have Elias who has a pinball victory over John Cena, Finn Bálor re entering into the main event picture after being considered an afterthought throughout 2017, The Miz who’s Intercontinental Champion and has everything to gain and nothing to lose and last but not least Roman Reigns, the perennial favorite to leave the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as #1 Contender.
With the way that the storylines are right now, the Raw writers doing their best to add a bit of unpredictability despite the majority of fans having their reservations on the potential Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar match that seems inevitable. However, it’s not that black and white. The writing has done a great job at this point establishing an even playing field and it truly adds intrigue to the main event match.
Prediction: Roman Reigns wins by pinning Seth Rollins
If we think about WWE’s booking, Reigns winning by pinning Rollins would get his victory back (I.e 50-50 booking) seems the most logical seems the most logical way to end the match. The key with this match is giving the audience stories that would continue until WrestleMania similar to the way Smackdown Live did last year. Another pivotal aspect heading into the match is how to make the losers of the match look strong in defeat. Cena and Miz by losing are the only ones that aren’t hurt due to their current positions heading into Mania. Miz is Intercontinental Champion, so he has nothing to lose. Cena has won this match multiple times and is an established name and pinning Cena would do the person pinning Cena a load of favors. Which leaves Elias, Strowman and Bálor with the question marks. Overall, all of these men are immensely talented and the contrasting of styles would make this match exciting to watch. Storyline wise, the winner of the match would truly be the one ready to face Lesnar at Mania despite the consensus being a bit, hesitant.