I’m finally recovered from the Royal Rumble.

I won’t spend too much time discussing it in length; just know that the newly-christened #30 entry in the 2017 Royal Rumble is still hated by this blogger. In retrospect, it was a brilliant piece of booking – first, it provided a guaranteed positive reaction for eventual Rumble winner Randall Orton. Secondly, it set up a program with WWE legend The Undertaker. I can’t say I believe that it will be a great match, given Taker’s age and the #30 entry’s penchant to have to be carried in a match (see Styles, AJ). However, it’s truly a match that will leave the audience guessing as to the result; the formerly undefeated Deadman against the individual who’s had a rocket strapped to his back since the breakup of the Shield.

Let’s take a quick look at your loyal blogger’s Rumble predictions before we get too far into this thing.

  • Cesaro/Sheamus vs. The Club – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
    • Well, this one was just wrong. The Club took the straps, after a Brogue Kick gone wrong by Sheamus knocked out one of the two referees. This was one of the reasons that the Club was disqualified in the match that set up this whole feud. Theoretically , this means Sheamus and the Swiss Superman should still be holding the belts, but I guess WWE is still expecting short memories of its fans. F**k continuity, right? (0-1)
  • Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
    • Jax won in a dominant match after preying on Sasha’s “hurt” knee. My first official correct prediction as a WinColumnSports blogger. It’s a milestone, guys! (1-1)
  • Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi
    • In my other possible conclusion, I had Naomi pinning bliss to earn a championship shot at Elimination Chamber. I got that one right, but the official prediction is still wrong. (1-2)
  • Rich Swan © vs. Neville – WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
    • Neville rightfully earned his belt, his first on the main roster. I can’t help but be sad about Rich Swan not being our champion anymore, but somehow, life goes on. (2-2)
  • Charlotte Flair © vs. Bayley – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
    • Could it have been a better match? Yes, yes it could have. However, I was bang on with the result, so I’ll take it. (3-2)
  • Kevin Owens © vs. The #30 Entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble – WWE Universal Championship Match
    • All I’ll say is thank god Owens won – regardless of my next prediction for him. IT’S OVER. (4-2)
  • AJ Styles © vs. Johnathan Cena
    • A definite contender of Match of the Year, and already being debated as so with the heralded Omega/Okada match from Wrestle Kingdom 11 – I said it before, and I’ll say it again; watch this match. (4-3)
  • Royal Rumble Match
    • No real surprises, no Angle, no Joe, but thank god we got (insert name here) as the #30! Damn it. Either way, I was wrong. (4-4)

All in all, I can’t say I’m upset with my 4-4 record; it was a fairly average PPV at the end of the day, with a Match of the Year candidate in Cena/Styles. Otherwise, I digress.  For the fourth straight year, it was a disappointing finish to the Rumble after so much hype, but in the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

Let’s get to the Chamber!

A recently revived PPV to be held exclusively on the Smackdown brand, Elimination Chamber is the blue brand’s final paid showing until WrestlemaniaTM. I’m going to go on record here and just state what a vastly superior show that Smackdown has become. The two-hour format has really forced the show to, essentially, cut the sh!t and truly allow the cream to rise to the top (shout out to Randy Savage).

In addition, it’s done a wonderful job of building its stars; while RAW can lay claim to building Braun Strowman into a legitimate monster, Smackdown has truly allowed its mid-card to flourish. Everyone from Dolph Ziggler to Bray Wyatt to Baron Corbin have grown vastly as performers and wrestlers, and each has become a star in their own right.

This year’s Elimination Chamber event takes place in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the first Chamber event after taking last year off for a quick February holiday. This year features seven matches on the card, including three women’s matches, all of which are main card worthy. Oddly enough, since the WWE stopped advertising their sputtering “Women’s Revolution,” they’ve done a terrific job of highlighting 90% of the women on their roster – especially in the case of Smackdown. Each match on the card also features excellent storyline development, which frankly has become a staple on the Smackdown cards. Let’s dig into each match on Sunday’s card and lay down some bold predictions. As DX used to say, are you ready?

Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins

I literally just found out this match existed through a :47 second video clip on the WWE Facebook page. Apparently they decided there weren’t enough matches on the card. Long story short, Mojo Rawley is a friend of GRONK, New England Patriots tight end. He was made fun of by Curt Hawkins, Rawley took exception and now they’re gonna wrassle about it.

This is the very definition of a throwaway match

Prediction: Rawley wins, because when doesn’t New England win

Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews and Kalisto

2-on-1 Handicap Match

The reinvention of Dolph continues, and it’s been delightful to see. As one of the many internet wrestling fans clamouring for Mr. Ziggles heel turn, I was thrilled when he finally took a chair to the back of Kalisto (who has earned my vote for the worst promo of the year for his atrocious brand-split promo. If you haven’t watched, check it out. It’s truly embarrassing.) It’s also been believable; Ziggler’s finally broken after years of never being able to stay on top, and is finally willing to do anything it takes to win. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now, for whatever reason, Apollo Crews decided to stick his nose into this whole issue, and also received a chair to the back for his kindness. This apparently hurt the feelings of Mr. Crews, who along with Kalisto, will now battle Ziggler in a handicap match on Sunday.

RANT: I don’t understand Apollo Crews. The guy is definitely a talented wrestler, and there’s no doubt about that, but what does he do? He smiles. That’s his whole gimmick. The guy walks out, smiles, does a couple flips, and usually loses. Vince, if you’re reading this, please, PLEASE, do something about him. I don’t hate him. I don’t love him. I. Simply. Don’t. Care. END RANT.

Either way, I think they’ll use this as a nice launching point for Crews (ugh) and give him the pin on El Ziggler – who then goes wild with the chair and giving everyone a reason to be happy.

Prediction: Crews pins Ziggler for the win.

Nikki Bella vs. Natalya

 So Nikki Bella got taken out of Survivor Series by an unknown assailant, who turned out to be Natalya, and they’ve been feuding ever since. I can’t help but be disappointed in this feud; both women are solid in the ring, but my God is Natty bad on the mic. She’s simply not a believable heel, regardless of what she’s been saying to Bella. Seriously, it’s just mean.

Sample quotes –

  1. “John is going to leave you, and you’ll die alone.”
  2. “my cats have more charisma than you.”

What a terrible human being, and yet, not believable.

Anyways; I can’t see this becoming a WrestleMania feud, as it’s simply not the scale that arguably the biggest female name on the roster deserves for Mania. I’ve got a feeling that Bella is going to lose, but it’s not going to be fair.

Prediction: Natalya wins dirty

American Alpha © vs The Usos vs The Ascension vs The Vaudevillains vs Beauty and the Man-Beast vs Breezango 

Tag Team Turmoil Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Well, at least they’re not lying to us.

The entire basis of this match is that ol’ A.A feels forgotten about; honestly, by this point, who’s to blame them? It’s been a sticking point of mine how poorly booked both tag team divisions have been. There’s simply too much talent on both sides to have this little investment in them. However, here we are, with only two teams really looking to be contenders here – American Alpha and the Uso’s. The Ascension and Vaudevillains have been booked into oblivion since they’ve come to the main roster, Beauty and the Man-Beast frankly should have broken up by this point, and as much as this faithful writer loves Breezango, there’s simply no chance they win. I’m going to call this one for the Uso’s, as it’ll kick off a Mania feud with AA to take back the belts at the Show of Shows.

Prediction: Usos win via pinfall to take the Smackdown Tag Team Championships

Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper

 In this guy’s opinion, the saga of the Wyatt Family since Randy Orton joined has been my contender for storyline of the year. Far, far too often the WWE succumbs to short-term gains over any sort of long term storytelling, which essentially is what draws the fans in. Without a compelling story, what’s the point? It’s been a beautiful thing to watch the interaction between Orton and long-time Family member Luke Harper; since Wyatt and Orton initially feuded after SummerSlam, Harper has remained untrustworthy of Orton, believing that he’s only in the family to destroy it. By this point, not only has Harper severed himself of his ties to Randall Orton, but also completely split from Bray Wyatt – something this writer simply didn’t expect to happen. For the past two weeks, Harper has sided with John Cena (?!?!) in two matches against the renewed Wyatt’s, and honestly I can’t say how cool it’s been to see a face Luke Harper.

While they may have just recently wrestled on Smackdown Live, I don’t believe that the result will be any different the second time around. I will, however, make my cheap plug for Harper right now. He could genuinely be one of the faces of Smackdown Live, right behind Dean Ambrose.

My expectation here is that Orton gets the win to continue his momentum into Mania, where the 2017 Royal Rumble winner will face the champion of the Elimination Chamber match later in the evening.

Prediction: Randy Orton wins via pinfall

Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James

Isn’t it great to have the Mickster back?!

It’s been three weeks since Mickie James came back to the WWE main roster after her outstanding match with Asuka at NXT Takeover, and this faithful blogger is stoked. (Can you guys tell how much I like Smackdown?)

Since returning to aid Alexa Bliss in her championship match against Lynch, she’s been nothing short of a wonder on the mic and great as usual in the ring. James is quickly working her way back up to the apex of the totem pole in the women’s division; if the rumours of her signing a two-year contract are true, it’s a huge boost for the WWE. It’s simply a better product with her in it, and I couldn’t be more excited for her first singles match back.

On that note, they couldn’t have picked someone better to work with. Becky Lynch is hands down he most talented female wrestler on Smackdown. Saying that is nothing against the other ladies either; Becky just knows how to get the job done. I’m thrilled to watch her wrestle a veteran presence in what I will give the Spencer Love Quality Seal guaranteeing a solid match.

As far as the match goes, Becky simply doesn’t need the win to keep her momentum going – to steal her catchphrase, “she’s been straight fire” lately. It’d be a huge boost to the Mickster to pick up a victory here and get her some momentum going into Mania season.

Prediction: Mickie James wins via interference.

Alexa Bliss © vs. Naomi

Smackdown Women’s Championship Match

I mean, alright, I guess I can watch this match?

Alexa Bliss may be doing the best character work in the WWE today, regardless of gender. She’s genuinely been perfect in her role as the top heel and Smackdown Women’s Champion, and continues to get better and better in the ring, At only 25, she’s oozing with potential to be the top villainess in WWE for years to come.

Naomi…has a cool entrance? I mean, technically she’s pinned Bliss twice in the last two weeks (including on the Royal Rumble pre-show) but I just don’t buy it. Seriously, her finishing move is hitting people in the face with her ass.

I don’t think I need to explain much more about my dislike for her.

There’s absolutely, positively no way that the WWE is stupid enough to give Naomi the win here.

Prediction: Alexa Bliss retains, and so help me god if she doesn’t

John Cena © vs AJ Styles vs The Miz vs Baron Corbin vs Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt

Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship

Oh boy!

Firstly, I’ll say it again – watch Styles/Cena at the Royal Rumble. It’s a treat.

I can’t say I’m happy about Cena going in as champion; I’m on record as being part of the vocal contingent of fans chanting “Cena Sucks!” I just have to feel for the guy - his record tying 16th title reign should be one of epic proportions, but given the format of the Chamber, I don’t see if happening. Big Match John is destined to drop the belt, and I couldn’t be happier.

If the rumours and dirt sheets are to be trusted, Cena is destined to take on the Miz at WrestleMania as part of a mixed tag-team match with their respective significant others, Nikki Bella and Maryse. We’ll talk about that in the WrestleMania blog, but for now all I have to say is that match can’t happen with the WWE Championship involved. No, ol’ Johnny is going to drop the title tomorrow night. To whom, you may ask?

Obviously, given the scenario above, I feel like the Miz is taken out of the equation – a shame, really, as he’s been one of the MVP’s of the WWE for the last calendar year. He deserves another shot at the top prize in the company, but I don’t think it will happen on this night. As the last Smackdown PPV before Mania, I feel that the Chamber match is going to be all about setting up future feuds. I also can’t see Baron Corbin taking the title, as he’s simply still too Raw (pardon the pun) to be trusted with the championship. He’ll get there, but at this point, he’s not the guy to lead a brand into the Show of Shows.

I really haven’t given much thought to Dean Ambrose in the match; while a gifted talker and an above average wrestler, he had a disappointing title run at the start of the brand split with the belt; will Vince be willing to trust him going into the biggest event of the year? Remember, his title feud with the aforementioned Dolph Ziggler was one of the opening matches at SummerSlam this year, and easily one of the most disappointing. Besides, he’s in a perfect place on the totem pole as the current Intercontinental Championship.

Which leaves two real options – AJ Styles and contender for Spencer’s Favourite WresterTM Bray Wyatt.

To this blogger, I can’t fathom any reason that the WWE would take the belt off of AJ Styles in a high profile match only to gain it back two weeks later in what is essentially a B+ PPV. Styles is my MVP of wrestling for 2016, and I feel as though he’ll be placed in a marquee matchup at Mania, Shane McMahon rumours be damned. In addition, the winner of the match will be facing Randall Orton at WrestleMania, and I can’t see them going with a heel/heel dynamic at the Show of Shows.

Unless, of course, Randy Orton turns face….

Now, how does one turn Randy Orton face?

You put the title on the leader of his family, Bray Wyatt and let the two face each other at WrestleMania.

After almost five years with WWE and three years on the main roster, now is the perfect time to pull the trigger on a Bray Wyatt title run – concluding almost eight months of intricate storytelling at WrestleMania and wrestling Randy Orton sounds perfect.

WWE Universe – he’s here.

Prediction: Bray Wyatt wins the WWE Championship

There it is, fans! Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @SpennyLove to verbally harass me over my picks if I’m wrong, and you heard it here first if I’m right! Keep your stick on the ice and your shoulders off the mat!

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