The Elimination Chamber match, a popular spin on a typical six-pack challenge, makes its return for the first time since 2015. The last singles Elimination Chamber match, featuring an Elimination Chamber bout between Dolph Ziggler, Bad News Barrett, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Sheamus and eventual Intercontinental Champion Ryback, was perhaps the worst Elimination Chamber match I ever saw, but this year’s field has room for much more potential. However, this also features one of the more weakest undercards that I’ve seen, highlighting the one issue that has plagued Smackdown thus far, depth. This Smackdown-exclusive PPV, on one bright side, is the first PPV in WWE history to feature not one, not two, but three women’s’ singles matches, showing that how far that division has come. With that said, let’s go match by match to know what to expect from each bout.
Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
This match is sort of ruined by the fact that these two had a solid bout a couple of weeks ago, which featured Randy Orton on the winning side. The feud between these two have been building up for some time, beginning when The Wyatt Family dropped the Smackdown Tag Titles to American Alpha, and dysfunction between the two brewed for about the next month. It came to a head when Randy Orton defeated Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt delivered a Sister Abagail after, a physical message essentially exiling him from The Wyatts. While Luke seemingly still showed devotion to his Wyatt Family captain, Bray Wyatt, it was clear that he still had intentions of turning on him, until the turn was complete this past Tuesday. I’m not sure how Luke Harper will adapt on a solo act, because while he did win the Intercontinental Championship during his last stint as a singles wrestler, but it didn’t amount to much. However, with Smackdown’s limited roster past the main eventers, there may be room for him to grow. Randy Orton won the 2017 Royal Rumble match, so it’s highly unlikely that he drops a singles bout here to Harper at an intermediary PPV between now and WrestleMania. While Orton doesn’t necessarily need a win, he certainly can’t afford a loss. With the weak undercard, I’m hoping this bout gets the time that it needs, because these two have shown great chemistry, and as mentioned before, they had a very solid bout before the Rumble, so with more time, they can do a lot of good. Expect The Viper to pick up the victory here.
Winner: Randy Orton
Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews and Kalisto – Two on One Handicap Match
Ziggler dropped a singles bout to Baron Corbin, and Dolph got frustrated that he required the much smaller Kalisto’s help to avoid a post-match beatdown. Now, he’s gone back to his heelish, egotistical ways. Because Kalisto and Apollo have shared some sort of bond, he got involved and came to his friend’s success. Both Kalisto and Apollo have picked up victories over The Show Off in very short order, while both Apollo and Kalisto have been the victim of chair attacks, with this past Tuesday, both men succumbing to the same fate at the same time. He also took out his frustrations on Jerry Lawler, so much as to break the boundaries of what is considered appropriate on WWE television when he threatened to “finish what he started” (referring to Jerry Lawler’s heart attack seemingly contributed by a tag team match that he had against Dolph four and a half years ago)I think it’s sort of telling, though, that Dolph Ziggler was not one of the six chosen to be in the Elimination Chamber. Despite having one of the best feuds of the year with The Miz last year, and despite his heel turn, he wasn’t considered one of the cream of the crop for the Smackdown roster. So him going from working to The Miz in a great program to working with two enhancement talents has been a microcosm of his career. I’ve always hated handicap matches because there’s no real benefit. It’s kind of worse here because the two men are faces. If the single person beats two people at the same time, it makes him look very strong, but it will be inconsistent with future losses he may take. If the two men win, they don’t really look all that tough because they have the numbers advantage, and if those two men lose, they’d look very weak. I suppose because Apollo and Kalisto don’t have any big plans for the foreseeable future, it’s not too bad, but the concept is all wrong. Because Dolph is the only one out of these three who holds true value to the roster, it only makes sense for him to go over. You’re going to have him turn heel, lose to Apollo Crews quickly, have him attack him and his partner at the same time and then have him lose? I don’t think so.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Mickie James made her Smackdown debut when he came to the aid of Smackdown Women’s Champion, Alexa Bliss, in a steel cage match (and eliminating the purpose of a steel cage match in the process). She made her WWE return back at Takeover: Toronto last year when she pushed NXT Women’s Champion, Asuka in a great title match. Her beef with Becky apparently stems from the fact that Becky was complicit in trying to erase Mickie James’ accomplishment and being a part of the Women’s Revolution when in fact there were more prominent women before Lynch rose to prominence. Becky’s beef with Mickie is obviously because Mickie cost her the Smackdown Women’s Championship on more than one occasion and now they have to naturally settle it. Becky is a great worker and Mickie James proved that she can still hang with some of the younger guns, so I certainly hope we get at the very least, a decent bout here. Becky has lost her feud with Alexa, and being the very first woman Smackdown LIVE chose in the draft last year, it’s hard to see her losing again to Mickie. Then again, Mickie James’ cause for returning is essentially destroyed if she can’t beat Becky, because then her claims may not be as valid. With Mickie making her first singles imprint on the Smackdown roster, I’m expecting that Mickie will pick up the win here and Becky will get revenge at a later date.