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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Magnificent Seven 2.15.14: 7 Ways Elimination Chamber Could Be a Surprising Success
Posted by Mike Chin on 02.15.2014

The Elimination Chamber PPV falls in the unenviable spot of following what's traditionally the most fun show of the year, The Royal Rumble, and preceding the biggest show of the year, Wrestlemania. Over time, WWE has found ways of making the show important, including surprise title changes or shifts in main event status. That said, with the Chamber PPV happening the day before the launch of the WWE Network, and featuring only the one Chamber match, there are some pretty fair questions about whether this show will be all that relevant—much less a worthy buy in the final days of the current PPV model.

There is potential, though. WWE has planted some interesting seeds this year, and there are quite a few options for the trajectory of several major stars heading into ‘Mania. So, this week I explore seven ways in which The Elimination Chamber may be surprisingly successful.

#7. The Divas Get Their Due

OK, OK, I can hear the cynics already. Much of AJ Lee's luster as an Internet darling has worn away over the past few months, and folks seem predisposed to hate on any women's wrestling WWE has to offer. If you actually watched some of the performances from Lee and Naomi in recent months, though, the surprising thing was that they each proved themselves as effective workers and had good chemistry with each other.

Thus, it's pretty damaging to the division that Naomi got legit injured in her Raw match with Aksana. It looks like the less-talented Cameron may be filling Naomi's spot, and is the most likely challenger for Lee at Elimination Chamber. I can't say I'm overly excited for the match itself, but do have hopes WWE might use this platform to set up something better down the road—perhaps Lee destroys and kayfabe injures Cameron to set up Naomi coming back for revenge when she returns to the ring; or maybe Trish Stratus returns as the savior of the Divas division in time for a one-off bout with Lee at ‘Mania.

#6. A Surprise Return/Debut

From Hulk Hogan to Roddy Piper to Sting to RVD to Chris Jericho to Evan Bourne, there's no shortage of talents suspected of returning to (or debuting in) a WWE ring leading up to ‘Mania. Whether it's a main eventer, nostalgia act, or mid-carder who is fun to watch, Elimination Chamber has plenty of potential to be a launching pad for a familiar face to get a kick start to new run in the mainstream.

#5. Batista Builds Some Cred

Batista is challenging for the world title at Wrestlemania. I don't like it any more than most of you, but that's the hand we've been dealt. I feel the best case scenario at this point is for Batista to get a legit shot at winning over the skeptics. I'm not necessarily talking about a dominant victory—if anything, a quick squash reinforces perceptions that all The Animal is good for are a few power spots and some posing. If Batista can pull off with Alberto Del Rio the sort of match he achieved with the newly arrived Dolph Ziggler back in 2008, it will help re-establish a bit of Del Rio's cred and more importantly communicate that Batista can have good matches. Who knows? Maybe some of his MMA training from the past few years could even bleed into his wrestling move set and make him a more interesting performer to watch. The bottom line is, as much as I'm not much of a Batista fan, that does not mean I don't want to be. Convince me.

#4. An Epic Chamber Match

This may be the most obvious item on the list. Like The Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank, The Elimination Chamber has evolved into a match that is, at minimum, fun and reasonably entertaining. While it's arguable that the original iteration in which Shawn Michaels won the strap was an excellent match, by and large, Chamber bouts have been solid three-star-ish outings. It would be an awesome, surprising change of pace to see WWE do something really different with the match this time around. Possible fantasy booking ideas include narrowing the field to two or three guys and using that as a gateway to a fully realized bout between the final competitors (sort of a spiritual successor to Michaels and Undertaker battling as the last two men in the 2007 Royal Rumble, or Sheamus and Chris Jerich in the 2012 Rumble). Otherwise, perhaps we can get a true break out performance from Cesaro that might elevate him in a long-term and meaningful way. In any event, it would be nice to get a Chamber match that holds its own as top-tier match and has an impact beyond determining who Batista challenges at ‘Mania.

#3. Six-Man War

If The Shield vs. Wyatts match were to go down, I had expected WWE to hold it for ‘Mania. As such, it's entirely possible this will be The Shield's last ride, poetically enough at the same PPV at which they picked up their first big win a year ago.

If The Shield is going to fracture, though, as so many on-air signs and IWC rumors suggest, I'd love to see them go down in a blaze of glory. The Wyatts aren't at their level, but they are a cohesive enough unit to hold up their end of the bargain in a very good six-man tag. I'd love to see a lengthy back and forth war between these teams that celebrates The Shield's legacy up to this point and ultimately puts over The Wyatts huge.

#2. Daniel Bryan Gets His Moment

I've liked Bryan since he showed up on NXT and have been a big proponent of his main event-ish run from the summer up to now. As such, I'm on the fence about whether I'd rather see him go all the way at The Elimination Chamber or at Wrestlemania. The romantic in me says we should wait the extra month and a half get a proper coronation on the grandest stage of them all. The pragmatist in me says I'm tired of waiting for an outcome that may never come. Bryan walking into ‘Mania with the strap is a bit less satisfying than seeing him win it there, but it would be a hell of a lot more fun to watch than Bryan vs. Triple H, Sheamus, Kane or whomever else (with the possible exception of Shawn Michaels) with no title implications.

#1. CM Punk Returns

Rest assured, I am not in the camp that believes the whole CM Punk situation is a work. But if it is, or if WWE and Punk already have or can massage the situation into a work before Elimination Chamber, this could be just the forum for Punk to make a red hot return on the road to Wrestlemania. Does Cesaro feel like an awkward fit for the Chamber to anyone else? Not that I want to see one of WWE's most entertaining in-ring workers lose the spotlight, but he'd be a natural to play Kofi Kingston to Punk's Edge when The Best in the World makes a shocking return and takes him out, claims his pod, and goes on to win The Elimination Chamber. Am I fantasy booking? Of course! Do I think it will happen? No, I don't. But if we're talking about ways this show could conceivably surprise and please the masses, I can think of few better outcomes.

Read stories and miscellaneous criticism from Mike Chin at his website and his thoughts on a cappella music at The A Cappella Blog. Follow him on Twitter @miketchin.


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