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Textual Chocolate: An Elimination Chamber Preview

WWE is truly amazing, isn’t it?

I mean, what other wrestling company can put on not just one, not even two, but three big wrestling events in the span of only two weeks? No one else, you’ll say, because no one else in this business has the resources of Titan Sports.

If it feels like overkill, that’s because Elimination Chamber is; but to be completely fair to it, if the shows from the past couple of weeks, including Payback and Takeover: Unstoppable, were one big story in search of a culmination, then there is no fitting climax than Elimination Chamber. It’s overkill, yes, but it’s overkill with sense—and finally, some appropriate style.

Let’s take a look at the two Chamber matches.

The First-Ever Tag Team Chamber

Beyond the frenetic mess this is sure to be, I think this match begs an existential question: is the recent resurgence of the tag team division on the main roster to set up for a huge Chamber match, or is this Chamber match merely a happy byproduct of a burgeoning division? A lot of the teams, like Los Matadores and the Ascension, were called up from oblivion (but probably not the same oblivion Kevin Owens was talking about) just for this match, and I have a feeling they’ll be discarded again after the event. If that happens, then which is true?

Hint: I think both are true, unfortunately. There’s just no political will to organize the division, so all that talent will be wasted as afterthoughts. As much as I want Tyson Kidd and Cesaro to regain the championships, I wouldn’t be surprised if the New Day retained in order to keep their hot momentum hot.

The Vacant Intercontinental Championship

One of the brilliant uses for an exclusive on the WWE Network is that there is now enough airtime to hold any kind of show for any purpose, especially if you need it. I’d like to think that the vacuum in the Intercontinental Championship scene is the exact reason why they thought of bringing this event back, and capping May off with it as a last-minute shot to entice Network subscribers is only icing on the cake.

The beauty of not holding an Elimination Chamber match just to hold an Elimination Chamber match, as was the case in the past few years, is that it allows different story threads to weave together inside the Chamber instead of dropping everyone inside it and making them fight. Though this is still the case for both Chamber matches this year, it’s a lot less pronounced for the Intercontinental Championship. These are guys who have been fighting each other in the same level for quite a while now, whether it was during WrestleMania or the King of the Ring tournament (another idea revived just for the Network) so it’s not totally random for them to be plopped down together.

I don’t know; this match just feels a little more organic than most Chamber matches have been in years. Isn’t this how it began, anyway? They took a bunch of guys who could theoretically be World Heavyweight Champion and made them fight each other. And because this is for the Intercontinental Championship, which a shot for doesn’t need as much achievement, it feels okay. And it’s even better than okay, because the title is getting a rub.

If Rusev isn’t replaced due to injury, he’ll be taking the title. He has lost so much to Cena (while still being remarkable as a heel) that he needs to recoup some of his losses immediately. If he doesn’t get Lana back yet, then he wins the title and locks himself in what should be a classic feud against Dolph Ziggler.

But if Rusev is out, then either King Barrett or Sheamus is taking this. Both men are suited for the title, but I feel like Barrett needs the validation more. His momentum has been hijacked so many times by various circumstances that he needs a big win to re-establish himself, and fast.

The NXT Effect

Two of the matchups here deal with the Yellow Brand, and it’s possible that we’re getting closer to establishing NXT as a brand no longer in service to RAW, but one that is surely equal to it.

First, Neville and Bo Dallas have been thrown together in what is essentially the sequel to their NXT Championship feud. It might seem like a throwaway win for the Man That Gravity Forgot, but if anything, it’s subtle validation that NXT is a thing that holds weight in main roster conversations, and that you should be paying attention to it because those guys are pretty big in their own way.

And what better way to underscore this point than to have Kevin Owens debut against John Cena, of all wrestlers? It’s an interesting callback to Cena’s own WWE debut, to which John has come full circle. Now he’s getting the hungry challengers kicking down his door, and again, we shouldn’t take NXT guys lightly. Cena won’t put over a lot of guys, but I have a feeling he’ll lay down for Kevin Owens the same way he laid down for Daniel Bryan nearly two years ago.

Perfunctory Title Matches

I don’t mean to save the best for last, because that’s not entirely true. I wish they were the best, but in an event called Elimination Chamber, if you're not in the Chamber then you've got a pretty high bar to clear. And I don't like their chances.

The writing with the Divas has been so muddled and plodding that even a concerted effort to get them more in-ring minutes (which has been paying off for the most part) doesn’t make me care all that much for their title match. The Divas Championship will need a shake-up in the status quo, and fast, so I feel like it’s finally Naomi’s time here. The inclusion of Paige back in the title match could be the way to get Naomi the title while protecting Nikki Bella at the same time.

And while Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose should be a pretty hot rivalry considering their history, two weeks and a somewhat-rushed Ambrose “main event” push does not do enough justice to both men. If anything, the reason why we’ll be remembering this main event is because I’m sure Roman Reigns is finally turning heel, costing Ambrose the match. Roman is a living Chekhov’s gun, and Rollins will be pulling the trigger.

That does it for my preview. What do you think? Who are you picking for tomorrow’s matches? In the Chamber matches? Let me know in the comments below! And follow along on our Elimination Chamber Live Blog tomorrow at 8 a.m. Manila time!

Photos from WWE


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