The Smackdown roster will get ready to pull out all the stops on the road to WrestleMania and they’ll do it inside the Elimination Chamber this Sunday. Since the debut in 2002, the Elimination Chamber has been as fun for the fans as it’s been brutal for the participants. Here are just some of my thoughts and predictions for this Sunday.
2 on 1 Handicap Match
Apollo Crews & Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
The hope was that a Ziggler heel turn would revive the stale face run that he was having. This writers personal opinion is that this feud in particular has lasted long enough. Never the less, Ziggler and his new love for the steel chair will take on both Apollo Crews and Kalisto. The match was set up on this week’s Smackdown after Ziggler was confronted by Daniel Bryan backstage. This match has the potential to make Ziggler look strong as a heel as it’s not everyday a superstar defeats two other superstars in a pay per view. Ziggler will be able to run and jump with Kalisto and will also take a beating like the best of them from Crews. My prediction is also what I feel is the right move and that is Ziggler coming out on top. Smackdown’s big heel at the moment is the Miz, but they could still use another. A Ziggler loss will make him as irrelevant as he was when he was a face.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler
Tag Team Championship Turmoil Match
American Alpha (C) vs. The Usos vs. The Ascension vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Breezango vs. The Vaudevillians
I hate to come off as a pessimist here but the tag team division is most definitely the worst of what Smackdown has to offer. Never the less the show must go on and the Smackdown tag teams will all do battle this weekend. One way of assessing the pay per view before WrestleMania is trying to guess just who Vince McMahon wants as a Champion in the showcase of the immortals. That line of thinking immediately takes Breezango, Ascension, and the Vaudevillians out of the picture. American Alpha will again get a good spot to show off just good they really are. The highlights of the match will likely be from American Alpha and Usos and I like the Usos to win the tag team titles here. This could lead to an Usos/American Alpha WrestleMania feud which could help the crowd get more behind American Alpha as the underdogs. The Usos heel turn hasn’t been what WWE was hoping for but their talent is undeniable.
Prediction: The Usos
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
The return of Mickie James hasn’t really gotten the crowd reaction that was expected but I think a one on one match is just what her character needs. This match could ultimately end up overshadowing the Women’s title match. Becky Lynch cut a great promo during the contract signing on this weeks Smackdown but I think she may fall short in this one. The attempt here will be to make Mickie James look stronger and she needs the win more than Becky does.
Prediction: Mickie James
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
It isn’t every pay per view that the WWE puts up three Women’s matches but here we are. Nikki Bella is seen as more of just a piece of eye candy but throughout the years but her ring work has gotten significantly better. Her promo work unfortunately hasn’t followed suit and I think that is why this much has gotten a significant amount of buzz. Natalya has always been a bright spot among the female wrestlers so this should match should leave fans pleasantly surprised. With rumors swirling of a potential mixed tag match at Mania for Cena and Bella, this will likely be the end of this feud and I think Bella pulls out a win. Sidebar, I think the best decisions for this Smackdown’s Women division are to have Nikki Bella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss in a Triple Threat match at Mania. I don’t think we will get that though.
Prediction: Nikki Bella
Women’s Title Match – Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Naomi
Alexa Bliss has really made leaps and bounds since before her feud with Becky Lynch. Her promo work has made her a legitimate heel that is able to generate heat from the WWE universe. This is a nice spot for Naomi who is deserving of the spot but I think WWE could really build on Bliss as Champion headed into Mania. With the exception of the Chamber match itself the Women’s matches will really be the highlights of the night. Naomi has a real opportunity to show off her skill set in a match that is more than five minutes and I think she will do exactly that. Again though, I think WWE can still get more juice out of Bliss being Champ so I think she will ultimately come out on top in this one. Don’t be surprised to see an appearance by Mickie James and or Becky Lynch.
Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
The Royal Rumble will need something to do while he waits for his WrestleMania opponent so in steps Luke Harper. The Wyatt Family has really garnered a lot of Smackdown time so this match will still manage to have a big fight feel. Harper is an underrated athlete and will really be able to put up a strong showing against Orton. There Smackdown match a few weeks ago was solid and I expect them to pick things up a notch with this being a pay per view and all. Wrestling 101 says that the Rumble winner will need to look strong heading into Mania so the obvious pick here is for Orton to come out on top over Harper. My prediction is that you’ll see Wyatt give Orton the assist here for the win.
Prediction: Randy Orton
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship
John Cena (C) vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin
Here is the match that we are all really waiting for. Just who will Randy Orton face off against at WrestleMania. This match may not have the multiple legends like past chamber matches but the talent is still off the charts. This match will continue to make Baron Corbin look strong but a pre WrestleMania pay per view is not the time for an unproven guy like Corbin to win the title. AJ Styles deserves to be the one to win this match. He has proved to be best worker in the company during 2016 and deserves more with the title than a feud with James Ellsworth. Another deserving guy here is the Miz as he has really revolutionized his character and regained that top heel spot. Dean Ambrose will be one of the fan favorites that the crowd will be behind the most but ultimately I think this one goes to Bray Wyatt. WWE programming has devoted too much time to Wyatt Family to not give it a proper ending. It just makes sense. Bray Wyatt will finally get to showcase his above average promo skills in a WrestleMania Championship program. I would expect the seeds to a Miz and Cena feud to start here and this writer is cautiously optimistic that an Ambrose and Corbin feud will begin to take shape here as well. Regardless of the matches conclusion, Smackdown has given Raw a run for its money since the brand split and I think you’ll see that this Sunday.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt