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WWE Elimination Chamber is live from the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas.
The main focus is on the “new” Women’s Tag Team titles (well, new if you forget the Women’s Tag titles that were around 30 years ago), which I’m all for. It wouldn’t surprise me if that match main-evented this show. By adding those titles, it means there are nine titles on Raw and Smackdown. It’s going to be very difficult to get every title on every PPV going forward, which is why I wish they stuck with the brand exclusive PPVs. Instead, we have to deal with periods where titles and great champions are ignored. This brings me onto the other thing that stands out about this show is the absence of some big names that aren’t wrestling. Rollins has a minor back injury, Becky Lynch has a knee injury, and the likes of Charlotte, Asuka, Lesnar, McIntyre are all absent.
A positive thing about this show is that it looks like the WWE Championship will headline a WWE PPV for the first time since Fastlane last March, which was the last brand exclusive PPV. At least the most coveted championship in the company is back where it belongs in the main event.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Buddy Murphy © vs. Akira Tozawa
I don’t go out of my way to watch 205 Live. I’ve seen the odd show and I like the good matches, but I don’t think they do well in terms of attracting new viewers. There just isn’t anything that screams “must watch” to me. I really enjoyed the Nese vs. Dar match last week, though, so at least we get some great matches occasionally. Murphy is doing well as champion and I’m not sure who the guy is that will take the title off him. I doubt it’s Tozawa. I think they’ll probably save the title change until WrestleMania, so this is really just a competitive match with Murphy retaining.
Prediction: Buddy Murphy
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bobby Lashley © and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor
I’m not a fan of handicap matches for a singles title, but it’s a way to set up a singles rematch. They can do something where Lashley wins because of the numbers game or Lashley loses because his partner Rush is the one that is beaten. Balor’s great at selling, his comebacks are very good and the fans love him, so it should be an entertaining match.
Lashley just won the title recently, so I think it would be foolish to take the title off him so soon. Let’s give him a run for a few months. Put the Intercontinental Title on Balor at WrestleMania where it might mean more. If they do it now then that’s fine too, but I would wait two months.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush
Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey © vs. Ruby Riott
I know Rousey has had several competitive matches of late where she was taken to the limit by Sasha Banks at the Royal Rumble and then Bayley on Raw. If you go back to Christmas, she had a long match where she beat Natalya too. I get why WWE is doing that to try to show that other women can hang with her, but with WrestleMania less than two months away, it’s time to make Rousey a killer again. She easily beat Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan on Raw. I think Rousey should beat Riott quickly too. If Rousey is booked in a way where she wins this match easily in five minutes or less then that’s going to help her credibility as a dominant champion. It will also make it mean more at WrestleMania when Becky Lynch taps her out (yes, Becky will be added to Rousey vs. Flair). If Rousey takes something like 12-15 minutes to finish off Riot, it doesn’t make Rousey look as good as possible. I’d book Rousey to win this in five minutes. They will also have Charlotte Flair at ringside for the match, so doing a post match angle where Flair and Rousey brawl at ringside is a good idea too. It’s a Rousey match, so it’s a predictable outcome. I’ll pick Rousey to lose at WrestleMania, but not before that.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
Smackdown Women’s Championship
The Miz & Shane McMahon © vs. The Usos
Since Shane and Miz just won the titles at Royal Rumble, I expect them to have at least one successful title defense before the split-up story starts. I feel like they’ll lose the titles within a month or so, Miz will blame Shane, Miz will attack Shane and that sets up Miz vs. Shane at WrestleMania. That’s where this feels like it is going. Miz is likely going back to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup in April since he’s got the Miz & Mrs. reality TV show on USA Network while Smackdown is going to Fox in October, so it makes sense that he’ll be on the USA show Raw. The heels will work on Miz most of the match, Shane gets the hot tag, The Usos screw up somehow and Shane/Miz get a fluky win with Jimmy taking the fall because of the minor arrest he had this week.
Prediction: The Miz & Shane McMahon
No Disqualification Match
Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
Ugh. I couldn’t care less about this match. I know there will be interference by McIntyre and Angle and that the No DQ stipulation will lead to a messy finish. None of it matters that much. The feuds coming out of this will be Drew/Braun and Angle/Corbin.
Prediction: Braun Strowman
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Elimination Chamber Match
Nia Jax & Tamina vs. The IIconics vs. Carmella & Naomi vs. Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley
I find this match and the introduction of these titles to be highly interesting, mainly because I’m not sure the talent level even with both brands together is enough to support constant championship defenses. Don’t get me wrong, the reintroduction (and it is most definitely a reintroduction, don’t let the WWE’s revisionist historians fool you) of tag belts for the women’s side is overdue, but the title scene is already crowded and the difficult part comes next. WWE will have to work hard to make sure these don’t become largely symbolic belts, and they don’t have the best track record when it comes to such things. Here’s hoping.
In terms of picking the winner, there are two ways this can go. I think the smart way is to put it on the babyface duo of Sasha Banks and Bayley in this match. They’ll be the most popular team in the match by far, so it’s what the fans will want. However, the other story is to put it on a heel team (probably the sleep-inducing duo of Nia and Tamina) and then have Sasha/Bayley get their crowning moment in two months at WrestleMania. Either way is fine I guess, but I think putting the titles on the face team of Banks/Bayley is the smart thing to do. They are my pick although I would say I’m about 55% on Banks/Bayley, 35% on Jax/Tamina and 10% on Royce/Kay as the winners.
Predictions: Sasha Banks & Bayley
Daniel Bryan © vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe
Let’s start with the good: this match will be the best of the night, in my view, and the way WWE built up Kofi Kingston as a viable challenger after his unreal performance on this week’s Smackdown (seriously, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it…I’ll wait!) was not only effective but kind of inspiring. If WWE had the gonads to turn that into a title change here, it would make their product far more watchable. Since they don’t, let’s just appreciate that they made the best out of an unfortunate situation with Ali and allowed a guy who can shine in these type of showboat matches to get an opportunity.
Here’s what I would love to see happen; Bryan wins in the end with help from Rowan and a returning Harper. Kofi is the last man eliminated from the match when he can’t overcome Bryan and his two behemoths. This sets up a match for Fastlane where it’ll be Daniel Bryan, Harper and Rowan vs. The New Day where if The New Day win, Kofi gets a WWE Championship opportunity at Wrestlemania. New Day win at Fastlane and Mania it’ll be The Planet’s Champions Daniel Bryan with Harper and Rowan in his corner vs. Kofi Kingston with Big E and Xavier Woods in his corner. Will it happen? I have doubts, but I do believe that Daniel Bryan will win and Kofi will be the runner up.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
That’s my predictions for Elimination Chamber. Join me on Tuesday for my random thoughts on this show.