Though no titles changed hands at last night’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, the event still had a few surprised which could do quite a bit to change the landscape of Wrestlemania.
Elimination Chamber had its share of predictable outcomes. The Rock obviously retained his WWE Championship over CM Punk, confirming Rock vs Cena for the second Wrestlemania in a row. Kaitlyn retained her Divas Championship, Antonio Cesaro retained his US title, and Dolph Ziggler picked up a win over Kofi Kingston. Nothing surprising, nothing eye opening, there was a bit of drama to the conclusion of The Miz’s match but frankly, did you want to see him as the US champ anyway? Butchering the figure-four leglock week after week?
Of course you didn’t.
In spite of these predictable outcomes, the night was not without surprises.
In arguably the most shocking twist of the evening, recently-returned superstar Jack Swagger was given the win in the Elimination Chamber match to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. Swagger beat out Mark Henry, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Chris Jericho for the chance to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the belt.
Assuming, of course, that Money in the Bank holder Dolph Ziggler doesn’t cash in between now and ‘Mania.
Jack Swagger’s win was completely unexpected. Prior to his recent return, Swagger was seemingly drifting on the roster without purpose, tagging with Dolph Ziggler while the duo was managed by Vickie Guerrero. When the pair came to a violent split, Swagger disappeared for months. Now Jack Swagger seems poised to recapture the championship he once held, and to do so in grand fashion on the biggest stage in sports entertainment.
The second surprise of the evening came when The Shield defeated the main-event trio of John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback in a six man tag match. The presence of The Shield on WWE programming had seem to be declining of late, with the trio becoming more the victims of the aggression of Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback rather than the aggressors as is their usual role. With The Shield on the run and Cena in line to main event Wrestlemania, the idea of John Cena being on the losing team at this event seemed unlikely at best.
How will WWE address the conclusion of this match? Is this simply a one-and-done occurrence which will be buried and forgotten, or will Sheamus, Ryback, and John Cena continue to feud with The Shield through to Wrestlemania? And if so, how will that work with Cena’s title shot against The Rock? It would be a waste to cut The Shield’s momentum after a big victory, but it would seem difficult to stretch Cena between feuding with The Shield and establishing his “Twice in a Lifetime” rematch with The Rock. RAW tonight should be worth tuning in to if for no other reason than to see how these issues will be handled.
The fallout from Elimination Chamber and the buildup to Wrestlemania can be caught on RAW tonight at 8/7c on the USA Network.