Posted February 24th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team

By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

In the past, pay-per-view events between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania have been “filler shows.” They’re always solid but didn’t really do much to enhance the build toward the big show in April. That’s definitely not the case with this year’s Elimination Chamber, emanating from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Across the board, I have thoroughly enjoyed the stories told heading into this event, and anyone who has read one of my columns before knows how much I value a good story. Past readers will also know that I’m typically not a fan of multi-person matches, but in this case, the legwork done here to give meaning to each Chamber match has been so stellar, that I find myself looking forward to both. While I have a pretty good idea where we’ll net out at the end of the night, there’s so much potential for some compelling stories, aside from the match outcomes, which will help fill out the rest of the Mania card from the Raw side. Let’s run down the card!

The Men’s Elimination Chamber Match Featuring: John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, The Miz, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Elias

*The winner will face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34 for the WWE Universal Championship*

Topline Thoughts: Last week at this time, I was expecting a solid match, with the foregone conclusion that Roman Reigns would win to go on to Mania to face Brock Lesnar. While I am still predicting a Reigns win, last week’s Gauntlet Match on Raw went a long way to tell the stories of the other participants. Can Seth Rollins repeat his amazing performance from Monday night? What will John Cena’s WrestleMania path be if he doesn’t win? Will we see strong showings from Elias and Finn Balor, who are relative newcomers to the main roster? If Reigns is to win, how does Braun Strowman get eliminated and who eliminates him? How do all of the above scenarios impact the WrestleMania card? So, what started out as anti-climactic has turned into a really compelling match, all through effective story-telling in the week’s leading up to the show, capped off by an outstanding Gauntlet Match last week.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Roman Reigns wins the Men’s Elimination Chamber Match

The Women’s Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship Featuring: Alexa Bliss (WWE Raw Women’s Champion), Mickie James, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville

*The winner will face Asuka (and potentially Nia Jax) at WrestleMania 34 for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship*

Topline Thoughts: This is another match that I felt was just “there” until this past Monday night. Again, I expect Bliss to retain, but I like the creative team trying to build some interest through simple storytelling. In this case, there are three alliances in the match. You know that one, if not more alliances, will break up during the match….it’s just a question of who. The one to watch is Sasha Banks and Bayley, as they’ve been teasing a breakup for some time. Truth be told, there is still a story to be told with a frustrated Banks turning heel and playing the antagonist to the babyface Bayley. It was a marquee matchup several years ago and despite both characters being damaged on the main roster, I think they can get there again. Rose and Deville are still learning, but this match should give them much needed experience. Combine all of that with James, the veteran, and Bliss, the manipulative heel champion, you have all of the ingredients for a decent match.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Alexa Bliss retains the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Singles Match: Asuka meets Nia Jax

*If Nia Jax wins, she will be added the WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match with Asuka and the winner of the Women’s Elimination Chamber Match*

Topline Thoughts: While a good match, I think it’s being done too soon. Nia Jax should have been saved for Asuka once she wins the title, not as a stepping stone to the title. I don’t expect them to end Asuka’s undefeated streak now, which means that Jax will take a loss here. The question becomes, what do you do with Jax at WrestleMania? I think she’s has too much of an upside to be added to some multi-woman tag match at Mania, so I’m trying to think of a creative way to get Jax into the title match, without Asuka actually being defeated; however, I just can’t see it, so will go with Asuka getting the win straight-up.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Asuka defeats Nia Jax

Segment: Rhonda Rousey signs her WWE contract

Topline Thoughts: OK, so this isn’t a match per se, but it’s important enough that it deserves a comment or two. Given that this is taking place on Raw show, it’s looking like they’re saving top-level matches with Asuka and Charlotte, which is a smart move. Instead, it looks like we’ll be getting the payoff to the angle started a few years ago, when Rousey had a run-in at Mania with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. So, I think we’ll be seeing a storyline set into motion, leading to a mixed tag team match at the big show in April. As for Rousey’s partner, I’m thinking Braun Strowman, as they’ve already established an issue between him and Triple H back at Survivor Series. Plus, it puts Strowman into a semi-important match with some big players, which will serve to continue to build his momentum.

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Sheamus and Cesaro defend the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship against Apollo and Titus O’Neil

Topline Thoughts: Sheamus and Cesaro are an underrated team, currently in a holding pattern, as there really are no tag teams on the Raw side to speak of. I’m hoping that the creative team course corrects this during the Superstar Shakeup after WrestleMania, as they still have a good upside as a team. Giving Titus and Apollo a win on Raw was a nice hook going into the show, and this should be a decent effort, but will ultimately serve as the buffer match between the bigger matches on the card.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Sheamus and Cesaro retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

Singles Match: Matt Hardy meets Bray Wyatt

Topline Thoughts: This program has completely fallen flat and I am looking forward to both moving on to something else. For Wyatt, some time away and a repackaging is in order, because each of his programs include the same promos and almost always the same payoff. For Hardy, I’m really hoping they’re not giving up on the gimmick or that they simply don’t know how to book him. I’m holding out hope that we’ll eventually see the return of all of our familiar favorites that made the act so popular in Impact Wrestling.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Matt Hardy defeats Bray Wyatt

Pre-Show/Tag Team Match: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson meet Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas

Topline Thoughts: If this is meant to springboard us toward a Miz-Finn Balor IC Title Match at Mania, I’m all for it. What I’m afraid of is more parity booking where one team will win Sunday night, only to have the other team get their win back on Monday – basically spinning wheels and going nowhere. I’m also looking for Gallows and Anderson to become a bit more serious. Dropping the “nerd” bit would be a good start.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeat Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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