Thought I’m not a fan of the overuse of gimmick matches and the overexertion of superstars right before WrestleMania, Elimination Chamber is tonight, and the outcome will give us a good indication of what the card will look like on the grandest stage of them all. The last man standing in the Smackdown exclusive structure will win the WWE Championship. Since Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble, he will presumably go on to face the winner of the Chamber match at WrestleMania. And there are some interesting directions for this story to lead us. It’s a russian roulette of wrestlers. Six Smackdown stars enter the Elimination Chamber tonight, some more likely to win than others. WWE Champ, John Cena. AJ Styles. Dean Ambrose. Bray Wyatt. The Miz. Baron Corbin.
This savage six could each slightly alter the WrestleMania card in their own unique ways. So let’s speculate on what kind of alternate timeline each character might lead us down this “choose your own adventure” title picture.
If Baron Corbin wins
Certainly, the least likely scenario. Although Corbin has gotten a huge push (evident of him being in this match to begin with), he hasn’t fully hit that next level status that some of the other participants have reached. His badass appeal might be a little more believable if his body language during his entrance wasn’t so awkward. And you don’t need to give him a wolf t-shirt to show he’s a “lone wolf.” Really, a wolf shirt? Does he have dinosaurs on his socks, too?
But IF Corbin were to win the title and face Randy Orton at WrestleMania, that would leave a lot of people free to face The Undertaker. Cena or Styles could both be contenders for the deadman, as Bray already had his shot and is currently embroiled in a Wyatt family feud. Dean Ambrose would face either Miz or Dolph Ziggler (or both) for the Intercontinental Championship. Even if it’s been done already, there isn’t much alternative.That would leave Bray Wyatt to face his former brother, Luke Harper, and potentially get involved in Orton’s title match. But once again, this is all the least likely and worst option.
If The Miz wins
Did I say that was the worst option? Well, Miz as champion going into Mania could, potentially, be worse. Two heels battling for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania isn’t a great sell in general.Although this is all Smackdown roster speculation, it’s still a Heavyweight title match. The Miz has come a long way since his last WrestleMania main event, and has legitimately become one of the best bad guys in the company. But no one wants to see or cares about Miz/Orton. This would similarly leave Cena vs. Styles once again; or having one of them face Taker. Though we could see Baron Corbin challenge Ambrose for his IC title, which might be decent. But still...not all that riveting of a story.
If Dean Ambrose wins
This might not be too awful. Ambrose is at least a face, but has already had his feud with the Wyatt family. He hasn’t, however, had a good run against Randy Orton-Wyatt. Since Dean is now a main event status superstar, it’s not impossible. This would also give him double-gold. But because Ambrose has that IC title, the likelihood of him winning this match drops significantly. This would mean that Ambrose would probably drop his Intercontinental Championship on Smackdown in coming weeks, so it can be defended at WrestleMania. Since he is a face and has history with The Miz, I would assume the Lunatic Fringe would drop the belt to him. And if Luke Harper is turning face, which seems to be the case, the former Wyatt family member might challenge Miz for that IC title. In this scenario, I can see some kind of ladder match with multiple people fighting for that belt. Some combination of Miz, Harper, Ziggler, Corbin, and maybe Kalisto and Apollo Crews.
If Cena wins
We riot...well, maybe not this time. But one thing is for sure; we have seen a whole lot of Orton/Cena over the years, including last week on Smackdown. This makes me think that Cena will not retain the title. This would likely leave Styles to face The Undertaker, which would be iconic. This time, it would essentially be Cena vs. Orton with Bray Wyatt in his corner, unless of course, Harper takes out Bray in an earlier match. It would also leave Ambrose to defend his IC title, either one-on-one, or in a multi-man brawl of some kind as mentioned.
If A.J. Styles wins
Since we have yet to see a good Orton/Styles story arc, this match would be undoubtedly great. Orton is a fantastic worker and could hang with the in-ring savant that is Styles. This might mean that Styles would have to have a quick face turn to make the match dynamic make sense. It would also leave Cena to face Undertaker, which has been a long time coming. Before Undertaker retires, he MUST face Cena at WrestleMania. This could happen in a few different scenarios, but if Styles’ dance card is full, this is much more likely. Once again, this would probably result in a big IC Title ladder match.
If Bray Wyatt wins
This, to me, is the most likely outcome. It only makes sense to the Randy Orton story arc. The only reason I doubt this is because they already feuded, which made Orton turn to the dark side in the first place. Between all of their mind games in an attempt to thwart each other (many of which didn’t make much sense), Orton finally gave in and joined what he couldn’t beat. But the underlying catch is that Randy Orton most likely joined the Wyatt family in one last elaborate mind game. Yes, “mind games” is an abused term in wrestling, but it would be fitting here. Randy Orton knew he couldn’t beat Bray Wyatt with Luke Harper. But he has since joined them to infiltrate and drive a wedge between the two. This leaves Wyatt all alone for Orton to pick apart at WrestleMania. It’s a pretty well executed angle, actually. And it would be great to see Bray Wyatt finally, and deservedly, get the strap.
This could also mean that Harper would interfere against Bray at some point. Or Harper could face Baron Corbin in a stiff slugfest. Cena or Styles would face Undertaker, and the other could be left to face another legend.
If Kurt Angle returns
I couldn’t resist. Yes, if the Olympic Hero finally makes his return to Smackdown between now and Mania, we could see both Cena/Taker and Styles/Angle. I say Styles/Angle because they’re so familiar with each other, having delivered epic matches for years in TNA. But if we switch that up, and in the universe where Bray Wyatt battles Orton in the Smackdown main event, we could also see Styles vs. Taker. Which would leave Cena vs. Angle; a nostalgic matchup. Cena debuted to face Angle, and if Angle returned to face Cena, wrestling history would come full circle.
In this Russian roulette of the multiverse, Elimination Chamber will have significant results. We won’t know until tonight, but as the final stop for Smackdown on the road to WrestleMania commences, we have some good educated guesses. But you never know when WWE Creative will tear a page from Robert Frost and take the road less traveled.