Just two weeks after the madness at the Royal Rumble, SmackDown is back in a big way with the Elimination Chamber 2017. Raw thought they had the meanest steel structure in wrestling, but – as the Blue Brand has done every month since September – they’ve gone and one-upped them.
Sunday’s card is populated with a plethora of title matches, grudge matches, and Superstars from all over the card, which is sure to keep us fans on our toes until the final bell. A lot can change Sunday night, so make sure to tune in!
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
Shockingly enough, this does not feel like the ‘put upon’ grudge match that I thought it would. I’m actually a little bit invested in the outcome. Natalya, as a Hart, has always had my backing and likely will never lose it, but in setting up things for the festivities next month, I would be shocked to see her score the pinfall. Nothing on the line, save for their egos, this has turned in to a legitimately interesting feud that will likely produce a solid in-ring showing. Could be the dark horse of the night.
PICK: Nikki Bella
American Alpha (c) vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Breezango vs. The Usos vs. The Ascension vs. The Vaudevillains
for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Hey, did you know the Ascension scored a victory on this week’s SmackDown Live? Color me shocked. Anyway, here’s Tag Team Turmoil. Six teams enter, one American Alpha leaves. This is probably one of the most predictable matches on a very predictable night, but you don’t see me complaining. American Alpha as champions is a must, but their reign has been embarrassingly weak and valueless thus far. This is the perfect match to make them look dominant in the face of a barrage of teams, many of which also need to step their game up. For the bad rap the division gets, some of my favorite talents populate the SD tag roster and I am excited to see how this match comes together.
PICK: American Alpha
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Naomi
for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Two wonderfully skilled and charismatic talents, this is the perfect mini-feud to give Lynch/Bliss a rest for the time being. The match should certainly be a fun watch, but there is little doubt here: Alexa will walk away with her championship belt.
PICK: Alexa Bliss
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Though I can’t say the feud has moved me emotionally, the base intrigue as a wrestling fan to see these tremendously talented women go at it is more than enough to get me to watch intently. I couldn’t imagine it being any less than a fantastic confrontation. After the loss at Royal Rumble, Mickie could take the victory, however I don’t think the scales will tip too far in the balance of the Bliss-James alliance. As a seasoned talent with ‘permanently over’ status, James will likely end up on the wrong end of the three count when all is said and done.
PICK: Becky Lynch
Apollo Crews and Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
in a 2-on-1 handicap match
This is a no-win situation for the men involved in the match. On one side, you’ve got two ‘good guy’ talents who have struggled mightily to cement themselves as Superstars of significance in the SmackDown landscape. On the other, you’ve got a heel on the rise – something the SD roster lacks in a big way outside Miz and Corbin. I could see a traditional singles match working to benefit both parties, but in a handicap match either Crews and Kalisto look like garbage or Ziggler loses all semblance of momentum. There could be a surprise intervention, but I can’t see sabotage becoming the theme of the evening. If there is an end, it will come through dubious means at the hands of Ziggler.
PICK: Dolph Ziggler
Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
While it may be interesting to see the Royal Rumble winner drop down the card after successfully conquering the 30-man match, this storyline has been brewing for quite some time and makes up one half of the ‘grudge matches’ featured on this card. Randy Orton will come away with the victory, of that there is no doubt; however, this will be an excellent opportunity to continue to get Luke Harper over as a big-time face. I would not be surprised to see Bray Wyatt intervene on Orton’s behalf to secure the victory and set up another little twist in the feud to come later in the evening.
PICK: Randy Orton
John Cena (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin vs. Bray Wyatt
Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship
A lot of top tier talent is crammed into this match and it really speaks to the success the SmackDown team has had in forming a tremendous roster of talent and keeping a good few balls in the air simultaneously. I am very excited to see what this match ends up looking like, but I only see one winner walking out of the Chamber with his head held high: Bray Wyatt.
With Randy Orton looking to challenge for the championship at ‘Mania, WWE creative would be fools to keep the belt on Cena and make that matchup for the 3,504,545th time. Trust me. I counted all of them. But in all seriousness, SD has been devilishly unpredictable over the past months with title changes here and there on both event shows and weekly programming alike. Cena could retain and drop it to Bray the week before WrestleMania for all we know. All I can say for sure is that I am crazy excited for this one.
PICK: Bray Wyatt
I see a lot of fun in our future on Sunday night. SmackDown has yet to disappoint with their monthly events, and I can’t see this going any differently. Make sure to meet me back here for a breakdown and show grade next week! Stay safe, have fun, and remember…Roman won’t be anywhere near Phoenix, Arizona.
— Scott Saffran
Photo Credit: WWE.com