The Cashbox: Elimination Chamber Preview & Predictions
History has proven that Vince doesn't disregard the Elimination Chamber event simply because it's the ppv before WrestleMania. In fact, there's a better chance that something newsworthy WILL take place this Sunday than not. Six weeks is a long time in pro wrestling these days and a major title changing hands at this event doesn't influence or effect Vince's plans for 'Mania at all.
Therefore, I'm expecting one or both of the top titles to Elimination Chamber with someone new.
Let's break down the card…
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
With Orton now out, I'm not really changing my prediction. I said on the Voice of Wrestling radio show Monday — now available for download on VOWLive.com — that my pick for this match is Wade Barrett. He's not the guy I "want" to win, but he is the one I believe will. My reasons are simple:
Barrett winning gives Vince the options he might feel he needs for the Smackdown main event at 'Mania. Assuming Orton's concussion won't make him miss the big event, I think Vince wants him in that match. And Orton vs Daniel Bryan doesn't have a lot behind it as it stands. I think Sheamus will challenge for the Smackdown title as well, so that makes him a given. Plus, Sheamus and Barrett have recent history. I believe the bout at 'Mania will be a multi-person match, so that opens it up to Barrett and maybe a fourth person. The obvious choice would be Daniel Bryan, but even though I feel he's done great with his heel turn and as Champion, I have no clue whether Vince agrees.
I would be pleasantly surprised if Daniel Bryan retains this Sunday, but I don't think he does.
Cody Rhodes and Khali have no shot. Sorry, Rhodes' fans.
I think Vince has other plans for Big Show at WrestleMania.
Orton's replacement that you'll find out about on Smackdown this Friday (or via spoilers on WZ) won't have a shot either.
MY PREDICTION: Wade Barrett
KANE vs JOHN CENA
So, John Cena DID embrace the hate? Kane said he did on Raw. How? By "almost" hitting Ryder after making out with his girlfriend? What a load. This is what I was afraid might happen. WWE teases a new John Cena — not necessarily a heel, just NEW — and cops out at the last minute.
I guess it's better that they revealed the payoff as NOTHING on Monday rather than at the Elimination Chamber pay per view, but I now have less interest in this match. The weeks and weeks worth of program between Cena and Kane will now likely accomplish nothing. If it wasn't meant to transition Cena into some sort of new, fresh character before WrestleMania, what was the point?
It hasn't helped Cena yet. It has probably hurt Kane more than anything.
I hope I'm wrong. WWE still has a chance on Sunday to complete this story in a meaningful fashion. John Cena showing an aggressive side again isn't enough. He needs to go into a full-blown rage against Kane and feed off of the boos with more rage. I'd be okay with a Jekyll and Hyde bit, where he displays two different personalities even.
I don't care what they do as long as they do SOMETHING. He doesn't have to turn heel officially. He practically is one now. But we need to see something different from John Cena. Anything.
It will only add to his match with Rock on April 1st.
MY PREDICTION: John Cena
I'll keep this short and sweet. I think Beth wins and we see Kharma return (again). The best option for WrestleMania is Beth and Kharma and I don't think that has changed, nor will it between now and then.
MY PREDICTION: Beth Phoenix
I haven't loved the start to Punk/Jericho, but I still expect it to get better before WrestleMania. Much better. Their interaction on Monday was kept short, but effective. They both have great facial expressions when reacting during promos and those subtleties make a difference. I think CM Punk retains, but I guess they could go with Jericho if they feel he needs the added heat and Punk is better off chasing the title heading into WrestleMania. I think we'll have a better indication before the match begins on Sunday. If Bryan loses his title, Punk likely retains. And vice versa.
If there was anything close to a dark horse in this match — and I really don't think there is — Dolph Ziggler would probably be the one. However, he's been an afterthought since challenging Punk twice and while I still think 2012 will be a great year for Dolph, I doubt it starts before Miami. Miz, Truth and Kofi are just there.
MY PREDICTION: CM Punk
Leave your comment and predictions in the comment section below. Be sure to look out for my review of WWE's Elimination Chamber event, exclusively on WrestleZone.com, to be posted Monday.
Chris Cash can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @RealityofChris.