Just two weeks removed from the Royal Rumble, the WWE will run their first Smackdown brand pay-per view with the Elimination Chamber. The short turnaround time means that a lot of the storylines going into this Sunday’s PPV have been being built since before and/or during the Royal Rumble. As of right now there are 7 matches listed, at least 1-2 of these will probably be on the pre-show, but since I don’t know which is which I’ll preview all of them.
Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
This feud has been brewing since Randy Orton was brought into the Wyatt Family by Bray Wyatt back in October. Harper saw his role in the “family” become less and less as Orton and Wyatt grew closer. Harper and Orton were able to put aside their differences to win the tag team titles from Heath Slater and Rhyno back at TLC, but eventually dropped them to American Alpha in December when Orton hit Harper causing them to lose. We’ve seen these two square off at both the Rumble and on episodes of Smackdown over the past few weeks. Orton winning the Rumble and getting a championship match at Wrestlemania means that he wasn’t going to be involved in the Chamber match, so this is a nice way to continue on with this feud and potentially act as the blow off match between these two.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto and Apollo Crews
#Heel Ziggler has been back with a vengeance since losing finishing up his IC title feud with the Miz late last year. Apollo Crews and Kalisto have been the focus of his rage as he continues to win or lose against these two from week to week on Smackdown. Daniel Bryan made this match after Ziggler said that he was better than both Crews and Kalisto and could beat them both at the same time. Not really sure where they want to go with the story here. Kalisto seems to just jump from one feud to the next and none of them ever have any real sort of storyline behind them and Crews has yet to gain any real traction since moving up to the main roster.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Mickie James made her return to the WWE’s main roster when she was revealed as La Luchadora after helping Smackdown women’s champion Alexa Bliss retain her title against Becky Lynch. This was a great way to get Becky out of the title picture and give her a chance to work with a veteran female wrestler not named Natalya. The promos between these two on Smackdown has been good and they both have the skills to put on an amazing match. Of the three women’s matches on the card this is the one that I expect to be the most technically sound and depending on how much time they are given these two have real potential to overshadow the women’s championship match.
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi (Smackdown Women’s Championship)
Naomi returned from injury shorty before the Royal Rumble and was instantly placed into the title picture via her picking up the win for her team in the 3-on-3 match on the Royal Rumble pre-show. For her part, Alexa has been able to carry herself well since beating Becky Lynch for the title. She’s clearly the best talker in the Smackdown women’s division. This feud is just starting to get going and Naomi already holds two pin fall victories over Alexa in the past few weeks. I really wouldn’t be surprised if we see Naomi pick up the win here and have Alexa chase her for the title going into Mania.
American Alpha vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Breezango vs. The Usos vs. The Ascension vs. The Vaudevillains (Smackdown Tag Team Championship)
Jordan and Gable and the rest of the tag team division have been somewhat overlooked with all the other story lines going on. None of them were on the Royal Rumble PPV, not even the pre-show. WWE hasn’t been able to really build any storyline around the division despite the fact that there are potentially more tag teams on Smackdown than on Raw. I don’t see them taking the titles off of American Alpha right now, but the Ascension has looked good over the past few episodes of Smackdown. I wouldn’t be surprised if this match is used to set up a program between those two teams that they use for Mania.
Nikki Bella vs. Natayla
Good lord let this feud end. This has been going on for way too long now and everyone knows that Nikki is going to win in the end. These two feel like they’ve just been in a holding pattern while the rest of the division has been flourishing. Even Carmella, who’s been saddled with James Ellsworth is more entertaining than this feud. Do these two have the skills to put on a good match? Of course they do. Will they? That all depends on how much time they are given. No matter what Nikki is going over and hopefully this is the last time we see these two go at it for a long time.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles vs. Bra Wyatt vs. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE Championship)
It wouldn’t be the Elimination Chamber if we didn’t get at least one Chamber match. I’m honestly a bit surprised that the tag team match isn’t a chamber match, but that’s neither here nor there. Shane McMahon announced that the WWE Championship would be defended in the chamber before the Royal Rumble and we didn’t know exactly who would be included until the Smackdown after the Rumble. Randy Orton winning the Rumble has led to a lot of speculation regarding this match. As it stands now Randy Orton vs. John Cena is set for Wrestlemania, but no one really expects to see those two actually having that match. The odds on favorite to win this match is Bray Wyatt to set up the match with Orton at Mania. I would say that I’m surprised to see Ambrose in this match as I’m not a huge fan of champions not defending their titles at PPVs, but there isn’t a story line for the IC title at the moment. This is the WWE and anything can happen but I don’t expect to see Cena walking out of the chamber as the champ which would make this one of his shortest World Title reigns.
This is Smackdown’s only PPV before Mania so the story lines coming out of this will be what we have to go off for the blue brand as they head for Orlando.
That’s it from our side. You watching? Who do you think will walk away with the title? Let us know in the comments.
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