3 Questions That Save Elimination Chamber From Being a Suspense-less PPV
Looking for intriguing PPV matches with outcomes that are not foregone conclusions is a challenge heading into ‘Mania season. At the Royal Rumble, everyone and their uncle knew that Cena was walking out as Rumble winner and there was no way — and Angry Wrestling Guy means “No Way!” — that meta-fan favorite CM Punk was leaving US Airways Center as champion.
Similarly, the victor for the Elimination Chamber main event seems all but pre-determined. Cena vs. Rock II looms large over the horizon and not even the straight shooter, CM Punk, is in a position to disrupt the highly anticipated rematch. No, CM Punk is losing. You know it. I know it.
But, despite the foregone conclusion of the main event, the Elimination Chamber PPV is not devoid of suspense. Here are the top three questions that might keep you on the edge of your seat:
1. How will CM Punk lose?
The stipulation for the title match reads: “If The Rock gets himself disqualified or counted out, CM Punk wins the title.” It’s important to note that Vince McMahon himself approved this seemingly one-sided stipulation favoring CM Punk even though it was suggested by his new nemesis Paul Heyman. This might lead one to believe that Vince might have a few tricks up his sleeve for this match. If so, the stipulation itself must be a trap for CM Punk; it must backfire. But how?
One possibility the stipulation creates is self-sabotage. As every 7th grader realized the moment the stipulation was announced, CM Punk could jip The Rock out of the title simply by having a lacky interfere and faux attack him. I almost find this tactic being an option on the table unfortunate because CM Punk would be a complete idiot not to try it; therefore he MUST try it. But pulling off these shenanigans such that they not only backfire, but allow any kind of suspension of disbelief present a real challenge. Admittedly, however, the ironic visual of The Shield trying to attack Punk with The Rock defending him is surreal and I wouldn’t mind seeing it.
The worst thing the WWE can do, though, is pretend like this option doesn’t exist.
Coming at the match from another direction, Punk’s bout with The Rock seems like a prime opportunity to reintroduce The Undertaker. If the online reports are correct, Punk will be ‘Taker’s opponent at ‘Mania if ‘Taker is to compete at all. Will McMahon dispatch The Undertaker to prevent Punk from defeating The Rock? I can imagine a scenario in which the ref takes a bump, The Shield swarms over The Rock, but then suddenly — *GONG* — lights go out…
2. Who will deliver and who will receive the final pinfall of The Shield vs. Team Cena?
Spoiler: Cena won’t be taking the pinfall. From now until Wrestlemania Cena will be booked like a juggernaut.
But The Shield, Ryback, and Sheamus have also all benefited from protectionist booking, so expect them to look strong in this match as well. What we have here is an interesting predicament for WWE Creative. It’s as if all of their largest, new investments of the last 12 months are colliding and something has to give. Someone must be knocked down a peg…unless, the non-finish; DQ, a count out, a double DQ, it’s all on the table for this one. Interpret the non-finish ending as a non-commital move on WWE’s part; a disclosure that they are uncertain of the value of their assets.
But if someone does take a pinfall, remember who it is. WWE either believes that person has built up enough credit with The Universe to take a loss or the WWE places lower value on the long term profitability of their stock. This match, more than any other on the card, might tell us more about where WWE shot-callers see their talent in the future pecking order.
3. Who will win the WHC #1 Contender Elimination Chamber Match?
Personally, I love this match because I can see it going so many ways. With the way they’ve been booking Mark Henry and Jack Swagger either are legitimate threats; Randy Orton just seems due for a win; Jericho has been on fire since his return and seems to have the momentum going in ‘Mania; and, though they already hold the Tag Team Championship, at least one member of Team Hell No, Daniel Bryan, would set up a compelling narrative going into ‘Mania if he were to win.
Needless to say, this one is hard to call. Depending on where it sits on the card, the outcome of the WHC match might be the tell. If Ziggler cashes in tonight, my money is on Jericho. That way you have the possibility of a five star match for ‘Mania in Jericho vs. Ziggler for the title and you transition Del Rio into a feud with Swagger and his new racist gimmick — a perfect fit for both men. If ADR wins (I don’t see Big Show winning under any scenario), however, and Ziggy doesn’t cash in The Briefcase, I think Orton is the safe bet. If we are to believe the rumors, Orton has been itching to go heel for months and a program with an over babyface like Del Rio might be just what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate his ailing character.
Still, I can see this match going any number of ways. A match where the victor isn’t a foregone conclusion due to overtly obvious long term booking goals? How novel! Where do I sign up?