How ironic is it for the IOC to try and put the kibosh on one of the very sports that helped solidify the Olympics as the pinnacle of athletic competition? To make your voice heard, head over to this link and sign the petition.
With that bit of grandstanding out of the way, let’s talk briefly about this Sunday’s upcoming PPV (which I will have the misfortune of being unable to see, along with this Friday’s Smackdown) and the implications the Elimination Chamber match has on an uncertain Wrestlemania XXIX main event. I think it’s pretty much safe to say that the World Heavyweight Championship match will open ‘Mania again this year, having done so for the last two. The question isn’t really when the match will take place but rather who will be participating in it.
Alberto del Rio’s face turn and subsequent victory over the Big Show a few weeks ago changed the very dynamic of the Wrestlemania card, because up until that time it was expected that we’d have Randy Orton face Sheamus for the Big Gold Belt in April. With Sheamus’s de-push a few months ago and Randy’s “one more strike and you’re out” still hovering over his head, the switch to a fresh face like del Rio was ultimately a good move.
Once this abysmal, soul-sucking feud with Big Show ends, where does del Rio go from here? There are six options, if one is to believe the WWE hype machine, and they all exist courtesy of the Elimination Chamber.
1. Jack Swagger: While Swagger has enjoyed a reinvigorated push since his return two weeks ago, he didn’t exactly take a sabbatical while in a prime position. When Swagger left, he had just lost the services of Vickie Guerrero and was on a losing streak; definitely a Miz-like step down from his botched run as World Heavyweight Champion a few years ago. As it stands, Swagger is a midcard heel, utilizing the services of Dutch Mantell as his racist mouthpiece. His timing’s a bit off for a mega push, so I seriously doubt the company will give him another shot at the top so soon, especially at Wrestlemania.
2. Kane: The least likely of all possibilities, his main event run is over as far as I’m concerned. Kane’s turn as Bud Abbott to Daniel Bryan’s bumbling Lou Costello pretty much took nearly all the threatening qualities of his character and threw them out the window. Besides, he’s still one half of the Tag Team Champions and is either going to defend the gold at ‘Mania or face his partner at said show.
3. Mark Henry: Another big comeback for a returning superstar; yet I don’t see money in putting him in a title shot against del Rio at Wrestlemania. Of the two heels in the Chamber, he’s the only one with a clear shot at the WHC. It’s more than likely he’ll be put over a guy like Big Show on the “Grandest Stage of Them All” to set him up as number one contender in the ensuing weeks.
4. Chris Jericho: I could envision a fabulous match-up between the versatile Jericho and del Rio at Wrestlemania…but alas, it’s not up to me, is it? Other than a match with Dolph Ziggler at ‘Mania, this seems like the only other option for Jericho. I’m heavily in favor of a Y2J victory here.
5. Randy Orton: Besides Jericho, all signs seem to point to the Viper earning a title shot against del Rio. However, he does have a huge problem in the aforementioned reliability aspect these days. If the WWE were to give him a real opportunity here and trust Randy to stay healthy, there’s no reason why Orton would not be the obvious choice for winner of the Chamber.
6. Daniel Bryan: A del Rio battle with Daniel Bryan could definitely be a marquee match-up. They have a bit of history, with del Rio scoring multiple submission victories over Bryan in the past, but none of those matches were ever for the World Heavyweight Championship. The only problem I foresee with this way of thinking is that DB is still one half of the Tag Team Champions, and therefore this scenario has an extremely slim chance of playing out.
I won’t be here this weekend to recap Smackdown, so hopefully one of my contemporaries (read: Blair) can fill in for me in my absence. I’m off to my first-ever skiing trip!
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Tags: alberto del rio, big show, chris jericho, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dutch Mantell, Elimination Chamber, jack swagger, kane, Mark Henry, Mike Gojira, randy orton, sheamus, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania XXIX, WWE, WWE Tag Team Championship