Tom Jenner rocks!
Tomorrow night, at the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View, wrestling fans will find out if the company has truly decided to start listening to their fans. Don’t get me wrong – last month’s Royal Rumble was a fantastic start. WWE could have easily trolled the fans for the seventh year in a row by letting Shane McMahon or John Cena or even Roman Reigns win the Rumble. Instead, in a sign of good faith and actually giving the fans what they desperately wanted, they pulled the trigger on a Shinsuke Nakamura victory, which not only repaired most of the damage done by the Jinder burial last summer, but they basically booked Nakamura vs. AJ Styles months in advance. As a result of WWE’s uncharacteristic decision to give the loyal fanbase what they were asking for – rather than catering to the casuals – even the most jaded of die-hard fans were left with something to smile about following Rumble weekend.
However, a dark cloud still looms over the Road to WrestleMania 34 – a cloud the size of The Roman Empire. While many wrestling fans are hungry to witness Nakamura vs. Styles at WrestleMania, they have no appetite for Roman Reigns making history by main-eventing his fourth ‘Mania in a row (with an extremely predictable outcome, to make things worse).
All of you Roman marks and apologists won’t like hearing this, but Reigns has absolutely nothing to gain by defeating The Beast at WM34. Absolutely nothing. He’s already main-evented more WrestleManias than 95% of his peers ever will (and ever have). He’s already referred to on commentary as “one of the two biggest stars of the century” (lol). Defeating Brock Lesnar won’t turn Reigns heel. Defeating Lesnar won’t get more fans to cheer for Roman. Reigns vs. Lesnar is a complete waste of time.
I’ve seen some people argue that at least we’ll have a full-time Universal Champion following WM34. Wait a second…you’re telling me Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, The Miz, Seth Rollins and Elias aren’t full-time??? I must have missed that change in their schedules. Furthermore, while I do question the match quality of Lesnar vs. Miz or Lesnar vs. Elias, you’re telling me that none of those other guys (as well as John Cena) can’t have a great match with Lesnar in New Orleans? That’s bullshit. Hell, had Strowman and Lesnar been given at least ten minutes more to work with at No Mercy, I guarantee they would have given us a Match of the Year candidate.
This might sound farfetched, but the Phoenix crowd in attendance from last Monday’s Raw may have played a factor in Reigns’ Road to WrestleMania plans possibly being changed. Obviously, WWE booked the gauntlet match with three major goals:
1. Drastically re-elevate Seth Rollins’ stock
2. Make Braun seem like the kayfabe favourite on Sunday
3. Eliminate Reigns first so his Chamber victory seems ‘unlikely’
WWE succeeded with their first two goals but I do think the script will be flipped on Sunday. I just couldn’t get over how the fans chanted “Goodbye” to Reigns after his elimination while fully supporting Rollins and Braun throughout the night. In my eyes, that was a non-smark crowd telling WWE they embrace Rollins and Strowman as ‘their guys’ while simultaneously rejecting Roman. Phoenix sent a message, loud and clear, but whether WWE decides to listen and stray course remains to be seen.
In a perfectly logical world, either Braun or Seth wins the elimination Chamber and challenges Brock at WrestleMania. Roman, meanwhile, gets to have a rematch with John Cena in New Orleans. Yes, I’m aware that would potentially give us two No Mercy rematches as WM main-events, but so what? Both matches under-delivered the first time – why not give all four men a chance to redeem their previous efforts? They still feel like WrestleMania-caliber matches, and pretty much anything would be better than Reigns vs. Lesnar, anyway.
You might think I’m crazy or extremely optimistic for making a “Roman loses on Sunday” prediction, but the truth is, WWE would be knowingly throwing away the chance to create another top star by giving the Universal title shot and WM main-event spot to Roman again. The Roman Experiment has failed; he’s a top guy but he will likely never be THE guy. Even if Strowman or Rollins or even Balor doesn’t reach that level of stardom, there’s no point not trying to create another top-tier guy. The way I see it, WWE has a golden opportunity to welcome fans to one of the most exciting Roads to WrestleMania in a long time.
As for the rest of the card…
I’m really hoping WWE doesn’t put the “first-ever women’s something-something” in the main-event again just because it’s the first-time ever. The first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell match main-evented HIAC because the feud between Charlotte and Sasha Banks was worthy of going on last. The first-ever IronWoman match in NXT (Bayley vs. Banks) went on last because their feud deserved it. Since the goal of the women’s (r)evolution is for the women to be treated on par with the men, then the same rules should apply. Give them the main-event spot only if the hype and feud is worthy of it. This Sunday’s Elimination Chamber match is absolutely not main-event worthy, regardless of the winner, and that winner should be/will be Alexa Bliss.
I find it hard to believe that some people are more dubious about Asuka keeping her undefeated streak alive on Sunday than they are about Roman’s chances of losing. Really? I know WWE is no stranger to making random, dumbass decisions – such as Charlotte’s undefeated-on-PPV streak ending a month before last year’s WrestleMania – but you have to be on heavy drugs if you think Nia Jax is beating Asuka on Sunday. While a wonky finish like a double count-out is certainly plausible, I have a better shot of getting a date with Zalina Vega this weekend than Asuka does of being pinned or tapping out. Asuka wins on Sunday, and I’m assuming she jumps brand to face Charlotte at ‘Mania.
I don’t give a shit about Ronda Rousey showing up to sign her WWE/Raw contract on Sunday. I assume shenanigans will occur and we’ll get the beginning of her feud with Steph and Triple H towards WrestleMania, but I couldn’t care less. Get ready to hear those boos, Ronda…
Titus Worldwide challenging The Bar for the Raw tag team championship is a perfect example of lazy booking. Since the writers are incapable of creating feuds between wrestlers without having them tarde wins and losses on TV, this is how and why we’re getting Sunday’s match. Sheamus & Cesaro will retain, and move onto WrestleMania 34 to defend their titles in a multi-team match (again).
I’m actually looking forward to seeing ‘Woken’ Matt Hardy battle Bray Wyatt on Sunday. I love how some people are complaining about seeing this match ‘again’, even though they’ve only had two one-on-one matches (and one of them took place before Matt was Woken). I assume Bray Wyatt will get the win, leading to Hardy bringing in the reinforcements (Senor Benjamin, Vanguard 1, King Maxel, etc.) in a pre-taped match/segment at WrestleMania.
No offense to the women, but Elimination Chamber is more-or-less a one-match show with the result of the men’s chamber match being the deciding factor for whether it was a success or not. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Fast Lane card is more appealing to me, as the Fatal-5-Way, Orton vs. Roode and Charlotte vs. Riott all look like a lot more fun than what we have in store for tomorrow. We’ll see what happens, though.
YOUR Two Centsss: Are you looking forward to Elimination Chamber overall? Why or why not?
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