The Road to WrestleMania takes a detour on its second Pay-per-view event of three, the Elimination Chamber! This usually means one of my favorite WWE yearly events, but it most certainly means another issue of Wrestlezone's exclusive "Depth Chart" is on its way! Check for it Monday, before Raw goes on the air as we debut a brand new, painstakingly developed system, and if you'd still like to cast your vote you can do so HERE.
WWE Presents: The Elimination Chamber
WWE Divas Championship — Beth Phoenix (c) vs Tamina Snuka
As much as I don't want to "jinx" it, I've been really enjoying the use of WWE's Divas since the Royal Rumble. Kelly Kelly is rarely used, allowing newer (and technically better) contenders to prove their worth. Beth Phoenix has been picking up relatively clean wins and continues to be a dominant, fighting champion. Eve has been mixed up with the John Cena/Zack Ryder angle, taking her out of the title picture for the time being — personally I think she's doing a great job in that role. And finally, we have a legitimate challenger in Tamina Snuka. Will she take the gold tonight at the Elimination Chamber? Not likely, but Tamina has picked up some strong wins and looks better going into a Divas Championship match than all of Beth's other challengers in recent months. Take out this garbage with Natalya and it's almost like the WWE Divas have put together a watcheable division…
Prediction: Beth Phoenix retains. Kharma's a b****.
Ambulance Match — John Cena vs Kane
As much as Chris Cash seems to hate the Cena/Kane angle, I've really enjoyed it. It's cheezy as hell, but with the amount of "reality" in our current World title pictures, it's been nice to re-visit sports entertainment's more over-the-top roots. Kidnapping women, beating up crippled (over-rated) losers, and using them to breed hatred in WWE's resident Super Hero works for Kane, and it works for Cena too! It's classic comic book material actually: remember when Green Goblin kidnapped Mary Jane and a bus full of innocent strangers, forcing Spiderman to choose between the two? Parallels abound… In the film, our webbed wall-crawler was able to save both parties, but will Cena be able to do the same? More importantly, will Cena swing from the rafters and/or make out with Eve some more?
Prediction: John Cena beats Kane. John Cena doesn't turn heel. We start the build towards the Rock at WrestleMania and we're all a little disappointed at what "could have been".
World Heavyweight Championship — Elimination Chamber
Daniel Bryan (c) vs Wade Barrett, Khali, Santino, Cody Rhodes, and Big Show
Not exactly the most star-studded Chamber match we've ever seen, but these kind of gimmick-boxes have a tendency to surprise in quality. Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion either Khali or Santino (or both!) won't even step foot in the Chamber. Wrestlezone recently reported that both Rey Mysterio and Christian are in Milwaukee, the sight of tonight's PPV. It wouldn't be the first time WWE ran interference and made a last-minute substitution. Even though both men are technically "injured" there's still an outside chance we could see Randy Orton or Mark Henry as well.
But does it really matter? Santino won't win. Khali won't win. Cody Rhodes won't win. Big Show has been impressive so far in 2012, and if anybody is going to take the belt off of Bryan I think he has the best chance. Wade Barrett is also a good choice, but I think WWE will still try to play off the Orton/Barrett feud one last time. There's no real "smart money" for this match, but if I had to gamble I'd put it all on Bryan to retain, or Big Show to win. Bryan has been adequate in his part and Big Show has been showing signs of edge in his character – possibly a full heel turn if he doesn't get what he wants soon!
Prediction: As much as I think Bryan will retain, I'm going with the outside guess here and placing my prediction on Big Show to win. If they do "turn" him, he could be the best possible opponent for Sheamus at WrestleMania. I'm not a big fan of short-term, transitional champions, but I'm also not a fan of the idea of Big Show as World Champion for any significant period of time.
WWE Championship — Elimination Chamber
CM Punk (c) vs Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, the Miz, and R-Truth
Where Smackdown's title picture lacks, Raw's WWE championship scene is flourishing! If we didn't already know Jericho and Punk are facing off at WrestleMania, this really could be anybody's ball game, so to speak. Dolph Ziggler is coming off a big Championship match at the Rumble and a great end to 2011. The Miz is a former WWE Champion that main-evented WrestleMania 27, and could definitely use some help right now. R-Truth might be a "dark horse", but the audience LOVES him right now, and Kofi Kingston's proven intensity puts him at least near contention for the belt. Maybe not going into the biggest show of the year, but I would love to see a strong singles push for Mr. Boom Booms.
So does Punk retain, or becoming the challenger at WrestleMania? One option is to have Punk drop the belt tonight to Jericho, lose at WrestleMania, and take it back at Extreme Rules — conveniently being held in Chicago! The other option is to allow Punk to retain, beat Jericho at Mania, and go home with the belt… I don't see a world where WWE visits Chicago with Jericho as champion, not with Punk being one of their two top commodities. I hate to prediction PPV outcomes based on business decisions, but it is what it is…
Prediction: CM Punk retains. Hopefully this feud goes somewhere better than it has been…
Looking at this card you really wouldn't know we're on the Road to WrestleMania. Only the Triple H/Undertaker angle has really been progressing the "big fight" feel of 'Mania season, and we're not going to get any of that come tonight's Elimination Chamber event. Punk/Jericho is just beginning, but it's not exactly off to the best start off the heels of Jericho's loss at the Rumble and lackluster promo battle this past Monday. The World title picture WAS looking good, but too many injuries has crippled their entire brand.
Cena/Kane has the potential to take some interesting twists and turns tonight — you know, "TURNS"… It won't. I'd sell a kidney to see Cena leave the PPV with Eve after brutally destroying the Big Red Monster and ending it all with a long make-out session with Cena's stolen prize. You know it won't happen. Part of me is of course assuming that's exactly why it WILL happen, but that thought process has crossed my mind so many times in the past, only to fall flat. It's just not worth it to assume we'll see any sort of payoff anymore… Sometimes I feel like we're better off not caring, and being pleasantly surprised when anything interesting does rear its head.
Oh well, there's always the Rock to look forward to. I'm still waiting to find out if you can wrestle a match via satellite…
Follow me @MikeKillam for Live Tweeting of tonight's WWE Elimination Chamber event. Don't forget to check back for the Depth Chart tomorrow before Raw. Tune in to the Voice of Wrestling immediately after the PPV tonight for a live break-down of the event utilizing their new video format for the very first time!