WWE Elimination Chamber 2017
February 12, 2017
Talking Stick Resort Arena
Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

Apollo Crews & Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler

Rob McCarron: Dolph will win because that will be hilarious. Crews, one year ago, was Shane’s breath of fresh air for WWE. That fresh air was soiled quickly. Kalisto can’t become the next Rey Mysterio in this role, so a move to the cruiserweight division should be his in his future. All three have talent, all three are wasting it right now. Prediction: Dolph Ziggler

Sean Sedor: So this match seems…..really weird. Obviously Ziggler has had issues with both guys since his heel turn, but a handicap match with the babyface side having the numbers advantage just seems so backwards. I honestly have no idea how this one is going to go. Part of me is expecting someone to align himself with Ziggler either during or after the match, but that’s just a guess on my part. If it ends up just being these three with nobody else involved, a Ziggler victory would make both Apollo Crews & Kalisto look really bad. Then again, being a loser seems to be part of Ziggler’s shtik, so I could easily see him getting his comeuppance here. I’ll say Ziggler, but it’s honestly a tossup. Prediction: Dolph Ziggler

Barry Hess: Dolph Ziggler’s heel turn was well-timed and well-executed, and yet the most recent incarnation of the character feels like it’s lost an enormous amount of steam. The turn was initially received to overwhelming cheers; similar crowd reactions in the subsequent weeks have created a serious disconnect between what my eyes are seeing and my ears are hearing. I can’t get invested in rooting against a dastardly heel attacking two babyfaces with a chair as the crowd eggs him on to swing away. Booking the new heel into the sympathetic role of a handicap match should do wonders for that dynamic.Of course, if the crowd had more of a reason to feel sympathy for Apollo Crews and Kalisto beyond, well they’re good guys, the psychology of this angle may have developed differently. I was excited when Crews appeared to be in position to fill a significant babyface role with Ziggler firmly on the heel side of SmackDown Live’s ledger, but the lack of meaningful material provided to the character has been disheartening. Speaking of hollow characters, welcome to the threeway Kalisto. Ziggler’s gimmick is that he always loses. Crews and Kalisto share the ‘we don’t matter’ gimmick. Something has to give in this epic clash of mid-card titans. Prediction: Apollo Crews

Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton

Rob McCarron: This match is one reason why I’m really excited for the Chamber PPV. Harper is heading into his most important singles match ever, and he looks super motivated to wrestle Randy. Orton is heading into a main event slot at WrestleMania, and his change in character lately has rejuvenated his WWE life. This has potential to be the a great one. Prediction: Randy Orton

Sean Sedor: Can we just appreciate how well the breakup of this iteration of The Wyatt Family has been? Unlike a few years ago, when Bray Wyatt just randomly jettisoned Luke Harper & Erick Rowan into the wild without any explanation, this split has felt much more organic, and has put Luke Harper in a really interesting spot. I feel like most people thought that Randy Orton would split from the group first, but having Harper being the one to break away first was a nice surprise. This singles match with Orton is big opportunity for Harper, as a strong performance here could mean bigger things for him down the road as a singles guy. As for the result, although it might seem unlikely, I’m really pulling for Luke Harper to win this. I get that the direction for WrestleMania seems to be Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton, but I think throwing Harper into the mix and making it a triple threat match would be a lot more intriguing (plus, it would be a shame if Harper just got thrown into the Andre The Giant Battle Royal). Chances are that I’ll be wrong, but I don’t care! Prediction: Luke Harper

Barry Hess: While Luke Harper will likely be creatively connected to The Wyatt Family in some way through the WrestleMania season it’s very exciting to see the character finally allowed to branch out into a more individual role. Harper possesses an understated charisma that makes him difficult to ignore both in the ring and on the microphone. His most recent promo on SmackDown Live exhibited his ability to project a compelling personality, hopefully a trend that will continue. This is an intriguing clash of styles and one I’m genuinely excited to experience. Randy Orton’s association with Bray Wyatt has been much more fun than I ever thought it would be. I don’t see this angle as much more than a prologue to a larger story between Orton and Wyatt, but it’s also the possible first step in ultimately dissolving The Wyatt Family altogether, allowing all its members to become singles competitors on different trajectories. Sign me up. Prediction: Randy Orton

Natalya vs. Nikki Bella

Rob McCarron: Nikki Bella is going to wrestle at WrestleMania in a much more important program, so this should send Natalya away for good. Prediction: Nikki Bella

Sean Sedor: It’s incredible to think that this show has three women’s matches on it. While that’s an awesome accomplishment in and of itself, what’s even better is that fact that all three matches have stories behind them that have been building to matches for some time, and aren’t just thrown on the card with no explanation. I think that just speaks to how good the women’s division on SmackDown has been since the brand split. The issues between these two date back to Survivor Series, when Natalya attacked Nikki Bella and took her spot on Team SmackDown. This has the chance to be pretty solid, though I think the result really isn’t in question here, as (if what’s being rumored does come to pass) there are bigger plans for Nikki Bella at WrestleMania. Prediction: Nikki Bella

Barry Hess: This story that has managed to maintain my interest as it’s progressed; something I wouldn’t have thought to be true all that long ago. It’s been edgy, but not over-the-top; it’s steadily progressed without becoming watered down or overly complex; it’s been a fundamentally sound mid-card story. Natalya is clearly having fun experimenting with her heel persona, something I find enjoyable as a viewer. Prediction: Nikki Bella

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Title Tag Team Turmoil Match
American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) (c) vs. Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch)

Rob McCarron: So many dudes, and two of them will walk away with two of the many, many belts in WWE. Alpha should retain, but it is WrestleMania season so belts tend to fly away easily. Prediction: American Alpha

Sean Sedor: Tag Team Turmoil is a match that really takes me back to the days when I first started watching WWE back in heyday of the original brand split. This might be the hardest match to predict on the entire card, because while American Alpha could easily retain, I could just as easily see them losing the titles here. Now there are some teams who have better chances than others (The Ascension, The Vaudevillains, and Health Slater/Rhyno pretty much have a zero percent chance of winning), but I think you could feasibly go a couple of different ways here. The Usos would be the obvious choice, and I could even see Breezango winning the titles (their “fashion police” gimmick has become so entertaining that I would say their chances of winning are definitely more than zero). For now, I’ll stick with American Alpha, but you could feasibly go a number of different directions here, and a title chance isn’t out of the question Prediction: American Alpha

Barry Hess: Holy tag teams, Batman. I expect the structure of this match to make for a fun experience, but this is lazy booking at its finest ladies and gentlemen. I suppose there’s an argument to be made that surviving this ordeal would make American Alpha look super strong and plant the seed for a new team to burst onto the scene for a WrestleMania altercation, but there are plenty of more compelling ways to skin that proverbial cat. Storytelling infractions notwithstanding, this match should be given decent time to breathe, which will likely result in some fun spots and exciting action. There’s no shortage of talent within this group so I’m interested to see what they can collectively bring to the table. Prediction: American Alpha



WWE SmackDown Women’s Title Match
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Naomi

Rob McCarron: Alexa is really coming on as the star of the division, while Naomi has consistently been the one who never quite could reach the top of the ladder. Is this Naomi’s chance? It’s now or never, so I’m going with never. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Sean Sedor: While the other two women’s matches on the card have longer storylines behind them, the setup for this match is straight out of New Japan. Naomi pinned Alexa Bliss in a multi-person tag, and thus, we have a title match! Her work between the bells hasn’t always been the best, but from a personality standpoint, Alexa Bliss has easily been the standout of the entire division. As for Naomi, I’ve been enjoying her a lot more since she created this “Feel The Glow” character at the start of the brand split. It’ll be interesting to see how the match itself goes, because it could be good, but I could also see this being really bad (Hopefully it’s more of the former). With regards to the result, I see Alexa Bliss retaining here. She’s been great in her role as the heel champion, and I don’t think it’s quite the right time for her to lose the title, even though a title change here wouldn’t totally shock me. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Barry Hess: I want to say, Alexa Bliss has hit her stride as a performer, but I feel as though that would take away from her under-appreciated talent that I have enjoyed since her NXT days. Instead I’ll say she’s running on all cylinders heading into this title defense. Contrarily, Naomi does nothing for me. Who is she, I mean on a personal level? What are her motivations and aspirations other than being a wrestler employed by WWE? What does she stand for? Her ring entrance is fun, so there’s that. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Becky Lynch vs Mickie James

Rob McCarron: I imagine this will be the best singles match on the show, competing with Orton/Harper for the spot. Becky will win, if only for the fact she seems more likely to play a prominent role in WrestleMania. A Mickie win tells me she isn’t long as a heel, unless Naomi somehow wins the title from Alexa. Prediction: Becky Lynch

Sean Sedor: I think it’s hilarious that this whole “La Luchadora” storyline was essentially borrowed from a similar storyline from 2004 involving Eddie Guerrero & Kurt Angle (also on SmackDown). Out of the three women’s matches on this card, this easily has the potential to be the best. Becky Lynch is easily the best in-ring performer in the division, and Mickie James has always been great, so this could end up being one of the better matches on the entire show. I’m going to say that Becky Lynch gets the win here, as it seems like Mickie James was mainly brought back to help get over this new generation of women’s wrestlers. Prediction: Becky Lynch

Barry Hess: Becky Lynch continues to be a mystery to me. She’s a fiery babyface and plays the role well, but I have been unable to connect with her character in any meaningful way since the brand split. On the other hand, Mickie James was always one of my favorite female performers and I’m excited to see her back in a regular role. The work rate in this match should be the best of the three women’s matches on the card. Prediction: Mickie James





WWE Title Elimination Chamber Match
John Cena (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz

Rob McCarron: Cena seems the most unlikely to win, based solely on Cena vs Orton already happening and the rumors of Cena taking part in a multi-person match with Nikki Bella at Mania. Wyatt vs Orton fits the bill, although Orton vs Styles is a dream Match of mine. The story works perfectly for Wyatt vs Orton, though. Prediction: Bray Wyatt

Sean Sedor: I love the Elimination Chamber. It’s probably my favorite WWE gimmick match, and it’s awesome to see it back in such a prominent position after a less-than-stellar showing in 2015. Nine times out of ten, the Elimination Chamber produces great matches, and given the participants in this particular match, I expect that this could easily be the match of the night. I’m especially excited to see what AJ Styles does inside this massive structure. Yes, he’s closing in on forty years old, but given some of the crazy things he’s done in TNA in matches like Ultimate X and Six Sides of Steel, I would expect that Styles will thrive in this environment. What I find so fascinating about this main event is that while the winner really isn’t in question (unless plans radically change), the way they get to that point is going to be interesting to follow, especially given so of the rumored matches for WrestleMania. Does The Miz eliminate John Cena? If he’s not in the title picture going forward, how does AJ Styles get eliminated? Who will Bray Wyatt go up against when it comes down to the final two? This might be the most predictable match on the entire card, but how they get from Point A to Point B, and what (if anything) gets set up in between, are the things you’re really going to be watching out for. Prediction: Bray Wyatt

Barry Hess: The Elimination Chamber gimmick has always been hot and cold with me; it’s a creative idea and often produces great matches, however like Hell in a Cell matches of recent years, it also has the tendency to get watered down as the match progresses from high spot to high spot with lulls in action filling the gaps. I wish WWE would just bring back the War Games concept, which is probably my biggest hurdle in fully investing in the gimmick. That said, this has potential to be one of the best Chamber matches to ever take place. All of the participants make sense and I could make a case for each one of them winning without too much of a stretch. I was convinced John Cena was winning the title last month so he could lose it this month before breaking Ric Flair’s record at WrestleMania, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least right now. Conventional wisdom says Bray Wyatt wins this thing to set up the program between he and Orton at WrestleMania; a logical and somewhat compelling path forward. I’m just not convinced it will be that cut and dry, especially after the surprising booking that saw Orton win the Rumble in the first place. I don’t think the winner of this match will still have the WWE title at WrestleMania. Prediction: AJ Styles