John: This Sunday night February 23 it's the 5th annual Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event taking place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

What's interesting about Elimination Chamber is that WWE Network is debuting the next day in the United States (the rest of the world has to wait) and with the debut of WWE Network comes the end of the traditional PPV format. If you have WWE Network then you get all of the PPVs.

The good thing about Elimination Chamber is that WWE is actually advertising seven matches before the show. That's encouraging because sometimes they only advertise four or five matches and just add them on the show without any build. At least this has been a well built event.

Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling's Christian Michael and Andrew Johnson.  

(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.) 

 

Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel (Kickoff Match)

Christian: I’ve been sitting at my keyboard, looking at a blank white page for ten minutes trying to think of something to say about this match. I got nothing. I will say that a month or so ago this could have been a nice Tag Title feud now it’s just a match between two teams with nothing better to do. If they are going to do Cody vs. Goldust at WrestleMania then they have to pull the trigger here. It seems like to me that they have decided not to go in that direction because the two matches with the New Age Outlaws should’ve really started telling the story of the Rhodes’ breakup and they didn’t. I’ll take Rybaxel here since Curtis Axel is a hometown guy and should get a good reaction. That’s my reason for the pick. Nothing more, nothing less.

Prediction- Ryback and Curtis Axel

Andrew: I don't know what to think of this. I thought after the Rumble we were actually going to get somewhere with a Rhodes Boys implosion and WrestleMania feud, but that's been stalled all to hell.

Any other time I'd be totally down for this match, but being this close to WrestleMania and no real forward progression since the Rumble I'm not super encouraged that anything is going to come of it.

However there's a small chance that this could be the start of something beautiful. With a Rybaxel win it could further the tension between Goldust and Cody. I don't have much hope but I'd rather take the chance of a good thing happening.

Winners: Rybaxel

John: It's a thrown together match that is being put on the Kickoff show. It's not like there's anything wrong with the match, but it just seems pretty random. Last month at the Royal Rumble, Cody and Goldust lost the tag titles on the pre-show. The Rybaxel team is barely featured on TV these days. Due to that, it's hard to know where this one will go. Does it even matter? Not really. If Cody and Goldust are going to feud then it makes sense for them to lose. I think they're going to hold off on that story, put them in a multi-team tag title shot at WrestleMania and do the split in the spring or summer. I'll take Cody and Goldust for the win in a match that should get 7-10 minutes or so.

Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust

 

Titus O'Neil vs. Darren Young

Christian: This screamed of a TV feud and then they just kind of threw it on the PPV. The Primetime Players always seemed like Tag Team Champions but they never made it there. If you think this breakup will be good for them, it won’t. While Titus has potential, I see him ultimately getting lost in the shuffle. As for Darren Young, I hope he has JTG’s number so JTG can teach him the secrets to staying employed while never wrestling.

Prediction- Titus O’Neil

Andrew: It's kind of nice that these two are being given a PPV blow off instead of just regulating it to TV, but I've been having a problem hating Titus. I blame his interactions with Renee Young for making him so damn charming, and I want to root for Darren Young because the dude is as earnest as a puppy dog, but I can't bring myself to pick a side.

I think mostly I'm sad that their alliance has ended. I loved the Prime Time Players and never wanted to see them split in the first place. Oh well. We'll always have millions of dollars.

Winner: Darren Young

John: It feels like a Smackdown only feud since they've barely had any time on Raw since Titus went heel. I don't expect the crowd to be that interested in the match because it's been poorly built. They are missing something. Look for O'Neil to get the win. Management seems to like him for his personality, energetic promos and of course he's a bigger guy so that always helps in WWE. Breaking up the team may not have been the right move, but it's done now and I expect O'Neil to get a decent push as a heel.

Winner: Titus O'Neil

 

Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Jack Swagger

Christian: If this match gets ten minutes it could be really entertaining. I can see these two styles complimenting each other very well. Poor Swagger just seems to be stuck in the mud for his career. Push, depush, lose, lose, and lose, Intercontinental Title Match. It’s happened to him a few times already in his career. He’s a guy that’s a lot better than he’s ever gotten over. Big E is the guy on the rise and there’s no reason for him to lose here.

Prediction- Big E retains the Intercontinental Championship

Andrew: Oh poor Big Hoss. I'm digging the fact that he's making a run at the IC belt, but he's got two big downsides working against him:

1) It pales in comparison to the push his tag team partner is getting.

2) He's up against Big E Langston.

Yeah, I know what I'm supposed to call him. You can't tell me what to do, WWE!

Winner: Big E (Langston)

John: This should be a solid matchup that gets 7-10 minutes and is a decisive win for Big E (no longer Langston). I'm still going to accidentally call him Langston a lot out of habit. May be a few weeks until I remember not to do it. Swagger's been performing very well, but unlikely to win the title here. It seems like an obvious prediction to me that Big E will get the win. What will be interesting is if Swagger ends up splitting from Cesaro. If they do, Cesaro's likely the face in that scenario, but Zeb Colter's a heel manager. They've teased him being angry at Swagger a lot of late, so I'm not sure how it all fits. For this match, give Big E the win. Not sure where he goes after this. Hopefully they can get him a IC Title feud going into WrestleMania.

Winner: Big E

 

Tag Team Championships: The New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos

Christian: The New Age Outlaws are just keeping the titles warm until the Usos are ready to take them. I wish WWE would have held off on this match until WrestleMania. The Usos deserve that WrestleMania moment of winning the titles there. Having the match at Elimination Chamber leaves a sour taste in my mouth in regards to that moment. If the Usos win here that’s fine with me but you don’t usually see titles change hands at this PPV. I also can’t see a screwy finish because when do you ever see a rematch from a previous PPV at WrestleMania? I’ll take the Outlaws because, well I don’t know and I need to call somebody.

Prediction- The New Age Outlaws retain The Tag Team Championships

Andrew: I think it's a foregone conclusion that The Outlaws are dropping the belts here. Their little return run with the belts was stupid but mostly harmless, and it's time for the titles to go on a team that can actually use the bump and the story prospects that can come from being champions. It's that's simple really.

Winners: The Usos

John: There's no reason for the Outlaws to lose the tag team titles after a title win that was less than a month long. It's foolish to put the titles on the Usos here when they should get that big moment at WrestleMania. That's why I'm thinking a DQ ending makes the most sense here. Since the Outlaws aren't the kind of team that wrestles long matches (they are old), it'll probably get about ten minutes or so. Save the title change for WrestleMania. Include other teams to make it an elimination tag. That would be the right place for the tag title change.

Winners by DQ: The Usos (New Age Outlaws are still champions)

 

Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio

Christian: Ugh Batista. I don’t want to hate on the guy but he has just seemed so disinterested in the few times we’ve seen him on TV since his return. I can’t believe WWE thinks this is the right guy to main event WrestleMania.

As for this match, despite finding myself rooting for Del Rio because Batista is just so unlikable this one isn’t even going to be close. Think bug meeting windshield type of a one sided affair.

Prediction- Batista

Andrew: NOPE.

(Nudged by a pool cue)

NOT GONNA DO IT.

(Poked in ribs, hard)

FINE.

I hate this. I hate everything about Batista's return, but especially this. I despise the fact that Del Rio is being fed to a guy who is even worse and less ring ready than The Rock just to make him more likable to an audience that has every right to hate his fucking guts.

Del Rio as a character has never been embraced by the crowd as much as he deserves. Regardless of how apathetic you are to him I can't see how it's possible to prefer Drax the Destroyer over a legitimate athlete. It's one thing to get indignant over Batista getting the rub at the expense of Daniel Bryan (rightfully so I might add), but the fact that a guy as talented as Del Rio has to drag his dead ass through something watchable with nothing to gain is total bullshit.

Welcome back Batista! Please continue to selfishly take all you can from an industry you've done nothing to elevate beyond "steroid monster factory."

Winner: Batista

John: It hasn't been built well at all. Batista didn't even appear in front of the fans last week on Raw. Did they think he might get booed again? If so, turn the guy heel. I liked their segment a couple weeks back when Batista put him through the table with the Powerbomb. The problem is that's really all they've done in the past month. Del Rio's been a non-factor while he's talked trash and Batista hasn't had enough time in front of the crowd since he returned.

The prediction seems pretty easy. Batista should win. Last year's Rumble winner John Cena actually lost at Elimination Chamber (in a six man tag), but that was a different situation than this one. I expect a dominant win by Batista in a match that goes about 10 minutes and ends with a Batista Bomb. Biggest lock of the show, really.

Winner: Batista

 

The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield

Christian: I’ve previewed five matches on this PPV and finally we’ve reached one that I’m not completely apathetic towards. This is going to be a whole hell of a fun. WWE has mastered the art of the six man tag match this past year and it’s been centered by these two teams.

As we saw on RAW the last two weeks when the two teams have faced off, this is something the WWE Universe wants to see. The story behind the match is simple: The Shield wants at the Wyatts for costing them a chance to be in the Elimination Chamber. It works. This is a match that needed to be done before the Shield breaks up. The writing is one the wall for that to happen. Roman Reigns has separated himself from the pack and looks like he could be the next “guy” in WWE. Before he gets there though he and his Shield brethren are going to get in each other’s way leading to their demise in this match.

The outcome of this match isn’t what matters. As long as they tell a story that makes sense for both teams’ future and they get twenty minutes to beat the snot out of each other, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this match.

Prediction- The Wyatt Family

Andrew: Here's your match of the night, boys and girls. I've been seriously tempted to buy this PPV solely because of the build up of this match. It's been so well done I feel like I'm not watching WWE, because it's so unlike them to tell a story so well without fucking it up halfway.

The Shield's slow burn breakup has been nothing but awesome, with Dean Ambrose slowly becoming more and more unhinged due to the realization that Reigns and not he is the crowned prince and he's LOSING IT. For now Reigns is giving him "whatever bro" dust offs and wrecking fools like the future king he is, but it's got to come to a head soon. I think that time is while they battle cultist hillbillies.

Oh man, I'm so excited for this. You guys should totally feel my nipples.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

John: Like most wrestling fans, this is a match I'm excited about. It's been a long time since WWE built up two stables at the same time that were not only over, but able to put on good matches consistently as well. What's been great about the build is that they haven't done tag matches opposite each other or singles matches or anything like that. There was that brawling segment to end Raw, but it was only about 10 seconds and worked in the sense that it left us viewers wanting to see more.

What will likely happen is they'll probably get 15-20 minutes for it because other than the main event there's no other match on the card that is expected to go that long. If they get that much time this could be one of the better six man matches that The Shield has had. It's also likely going to be one of their last six man matches since the split is inevitable now.

Due to the split of The Shield happening at any moment, the smart pick is the Wyatt Family. Rumors have been out there for weeks that Bray Wyatt is facing John Cena at WrestleMania. Since they had Wyatt cost Cena at the Royal Rumble, it sure seems likely that's where they're going. It's simple booking to want to build up Bray for that match and have him get the pin here. In the case of The Shield, a loss could lead to their split. Maybe Reigns accidentally hits the Spear on Ambrose and they end up fighting after the match. It would set up a triple threat at WrestleMania most likely. There's a chance that Reigns may get the win here just because they're going to push him hard this year, but the Wyatt win makes more sense to me.

Enjoy this one. It might be the only time we see this match. It's going to be fun to watch.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

 

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Randy Orton vs. Cena vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Christian vs. Cesaro

Christian: The easiest way to preview this match is to look at each guy in it individually.

Christian- I’m a peep but he’s got no shot here. He had a pseudo heel turn on RAW, which a full turn would be good thing for him since he can have a higher spot on the card there. There are way too many babyfaces and not enough heels.

Sheamus- I would have thought that he would be destined to face Christian at WrestleMania after their miscommunication on SmackDown two weeks ago but they just did the match a couple days ago. I don’t know if that’s something they would want to go back to at WrestleMania. As for this match, Fella Boy just here to smash some skulls before getting eliminated.

Cesaro- A week ago I would have pegged him as the first guy to be eliminated but after his victory over Randy Orton and awesome match against John Cena, I think WWE is ready to get behind him. Michael Cole keeps calling him a dark horse for a reason. It’s because they’re telling you to keep an eye on him. Cesaro could have a real memorable night but it won’t end with gold around his waist.

John Cena- When do you ever pick against John Cena in a match? At this PPV is when. Cena doesn’t seem to be in the title picture right now and it looks like Bray Wyatt will be his WrestleMania opponent. The Wyatts have already cost Cena the title once and they’ll do it again. It’ll be cool to see how the Wyatts creep their way into the match to cost Cena.

Daniel Bryan- The real people’s champion. That’s no knock on The Rock it’s just a statement of how over this guy is. Of course D-Bry should be champ but the question is whether WWE wants him to be. Of course there is a scenario where he wins here and it keeps Orton and Batista in the main event at WrestleMania since Orton can get his rematch. I just think if they haven’t pulled the trigger yet that they aren’t going to do it a month before WrestleMania. The Authority will play a role in getting Bryan out of the Chamber which will lead to whatever Bryan is doing at WrestleMania.

Randy Orton- It doesn’t make sense to have Orton lose the title in this match after the recent lack of success he’s had against his Chamber opponents. He’s the “face of WWE” and needs to come out of this match looking strong, even though he won’t. I say that because two of the guys in the match are likely to get tossed by outside interference.

The Elimination Chamber is one of my favorite matches of the year. It has a special feel to it because you know you’re getting one and that’s it for the whole year. I have to say from 1-6, this is one of the most well rounded Chamber matches WWE has done and it could be a really special match.

Prediction- Randy Orton retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Andrew: Let's go through this by discussing each of the participants in the order of their likelihood of success:

Randy Orton- The clear favorite going in. Everything is pointing toward Orton defending versus Batista at Mania, and even though a lot of things can happen between now and then but the safe bet is with the Viper.

John Cena- He's always a lock to win. Even if he's not wrestling in the match Cena is usually a safe bet. Hell, when I make TNA predictions I often pick Cena because you never know. I think his Mania future lies with Bray Wyatt (which is admittedly an interesting story that I'm looking forward to) but never count this guy out, or you'll look like a fool.

Daniel Bryan- WWE could shock us all by giving Bryan his much deserved reward but I don't see it happening. Bryan is beyond the point where a title win would be a satisfying conclusion. He doesn't need a belt; he needs a reckoning. And the only way to get that would be to spend the post WrestleMania party scraping pieces of Triple H's nose off of his kneepad.

Sheamus- Not likely, but it could happen. Both of his WWE title wins were a bit out of left field, and it would certainly be a surprise.

Cesaro- Also not likely, but it would make for an interesting build up to Mania. He's there to prove himself by hanging with the top dogs, plain and simple.

Christian- HAHAHA NOPE.

All said and done I'm going with Orton, but I'd love to be thrown a curve ball.

Winner: Randy Orton

John: You know I'm going to put "Winner: Randy Orton" if you've been reading my Raw Deal column regularly because that's been the prediction since the match was announced. Do I like that decision? No, not really. I think it sucks if they are going to go ahead with the Batista vs. Randy Orton match with the idea that Batista is some beloved babyface that fans want to cheer for when they have booed the guy repeatedly. Listen to your fans, WWE!

What WWE needs to do is have some kind of disputed finish that allows Daniel Bryan to be added to the WrestleMania 30 main event. He deserves it and the fans want it. The current story with Bryan is that he's fighting an uphill battle against Kane, who is basically doing the dirty work of Triple H. This is the angle they were doing with CM Punk when he left (remember Kane took him out of the Rumble match) and just replaced him with Bryan. Because of that, it seems like they're going in the direction of Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania. I don't hate that match. I just think the WWE Title match is going to get booed at WrestleMania and that's not something WWE should do.

John Cena will likely get taken out by the Wyatt Family. Since it's a Chamber match, it's hard to do it directly although remember that the doors open when somebody is eliminated, so that's the opening to do it. Cena can be in the final three, the Wyatt Family can attack, beat the hell out of him, somebody can pin Cena and he's out of the match. Then he goes on to get revenge against Bray at WrestleMania.

It will be interesting to see how Cesaro is booked. He's looked great in the buildup to the match and I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the first two guys in there because they tend to put the better workers early in the match. Fans are starting to cheer him a lot because they can see how great he is. That Cesaro Swing is also a babyface spot at this point too. I don't see him making it to the final two or three, but he should have plenty of chances to shine.

Sheamus and Christian aren't going to factor into the finish most likely. Sheamus is a good worker that has so many familiar moves that fans react to. He deserves to be in a match like this. Christian's looked very good since coming back from injury. I'm glad he's in this match too. He'll likely be the first one pinned, though.

The final three will likely be Bryan, Cena and Orton. That's where I would have the Wyatt Family interfere. I don't like the idea of Bryan losing clean to Orton, but they might have Kane beat up Bryan some more before the match so the idea would be that he was unable to overcome all the outside forces to get the win.

In terms of match quality, it should be one of the best Elimination Chamber matches ever. Bryan's the best worker in the company while Cesaro is probably in the top five. Add in Cena, Orton, Christian and Sheamus, all of whom are very capable of having great matches and you have a wonderful mix of talent in there. It should be an awesome match that gets 30-40 minutes and hopefully provides some memorable moments along the way.

My hope is that Daniel Bryan wins. You could still do the triple threat at WrestleMania 30 with Orton getting his rematch and Batista getting his title shot. As much as I'd love that, I don't think it's going to happen. I'm picking Orton.

Winner: Randy Orton

 

Final Thoughts

Christian: This card is littered with matches that just don’t do much for me. If things break right some of them can be good but I’m not expecting much. If the two big matches on the show, the six man tag and the Elimination Chamber Match deliver then this PPV will have earned the money I’ll pay for it.

This is the last PPV stop on the Road to WrestleMania so we could see some things fall into place for the big show. It should be an interesting event. As always, I’ll be a Twitter during the show so be sure to hit me hit there if you want to discuss the show.

John: The quality of the show depends on how good the two big matches are (Elimination Chamber and Shield/Wyatt Family). I don't expect any of the matches to be given that much time or to really stand out. None of them appear to be that bad, but they're also going to be shorter matches too. If the main event as well as the six man tag are excellent then the show will be too. Those matches will carry it.

I'd also love to be surprised. It feels like a predictable show that will be used to build into Monday's Raw, which will likely be heavily pushed due to the return of Hulk Hogan among others.

I'll be writing about Elimination live on Sunday night on TJRWrestling.com, so join me for that live on Sunday or check it out after the show is over. I'll also write about Raw live on Monday and Tuesday night will do TJR Radio too. This is in addition to my 10+ articles/news stories on WhatCulture during the week too. With the WWE Network launching on Monday, it should be an eventful couple of days for those of us in the WWE Universe.

Follow us on Twitter at the following places.

Christian - @Christian_973

Andrew - @TheAEJohnson

John - @johnreport

If you want to send an email, send it to me at mrjohncanton@gmail.com as well. Thanks for reading.