With Elimination Chamber 2017 rapidly approaching on February 12th, WWE has virtually no time to set up what matches will be appearing on the card. This week’s episode of SmackDown will need to set up as much as possible as next week is already the go-home show, but at the moment, a full lineup has yet to be determined.
In many ways, this could be a one-match card with the titular cage match being the primary focal point, but we know that won’t take up the full four hours of content and there are still plenty of other things that can happen on SmackDown’s last pay-per-view before WrestleMania.
Which matches are most likely to be booked for the show and which ones are just shots in the dark we can hypothesize about, based on how WWE’s storylines have been leading? Let’s take a look…
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match
While we know this is a guarantee, we don’t quite know which competitors will make up the field. At the very least, John Cena will go in as the champion and it’s expected AJ Styles will be one of the five opponents, but the other four could be any combination of a number of people.
Baron Corbin seems to me to be a lock at this point. He was booked to eliminate Braun Strowman of all people in the Royal Rumble, so this should be an indication that he is to be taken seriously.
The Miz also seems like another great person to throw into the match, but that could depend on whether or not he fights for the Intercontinental Championship, as he and Dean Ambrose could either be among these competitors or off doing their own thing.
Bray Wyatt would be another that I would bank on being involved and I sincerely, sincerely hope he doesn’t win the title, but I have a feeling he will. Look forward to lots of complaining from me for the next few months if that’s the case.
If by chance our lineup is Cena, Styles, Corbin, Wyatt and two others while The Miz and Ambrose are in an IC match, this could be the place where Samoa Joe or The Undertaker try to earn their way into a title match at WrestleMania. At this point, anything is possible, as I thought it was a guarantee we’d see The Undertaker fighting either Styles or Cena and now, he might even be going up against Roman Reigns instead, which could throw all of my WrestleMania predictions out the window.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
After Naomi issued an open challenge to anybody on the roster and it was somewhat answered by Alexa Bliss, it became obvious these two would feud soon. This was further cemented by Naomi’s pin over Alexa at the Royal Rumble as that now gave her more than enough of a justification to challenge for the championship (per WWE’s mentality, at least).
I would be completely shocked if the title changed hands here as Naomi just doesn’t strike me as the next in line over Nikki Bella, who currently has her hands full with Natalya.
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
Sooner or later, these two have to have an actual match instead of just cutting promos, scoffing and frowning about the other one and attacking each other backstage, so since there’s no room for this to be a featured match at WrestleMania, they need to take care of it here and on the episodes of SmackDown to follow in February and March.
With their backstage brawls, I would love to see this turn into a Falls Count Anywhere Match just for something different. These past twelve months have had numerous “first time ever” scenarios for the women’s division and nothing is preventing Nikki and Natalya from being able to pull off something like that, so why not give them something to make the feud seem a little more heated?
Plus, if there are three women’s matches on the card, they’ll need to stand out from one another. The Naomi/Bliss match has the title and our next match is probably going to be a standard one, so this would feel more natural as the gimmicky one of the three.
Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch
Since it’s entirely within the realm of possibility to have all three women’s division feuds on the card, I’d have to imagine this is somewhere in the running to be included at Elimination Chamber even if it’s bumped to the pre-show.
While the Natalya and Nikki Bella feud has been going on longer, I’d personally rather see the Mickie James and Becky Lynch match and I doubt I’m the only one who thinks that.
The six-women’s tag team match at Royal Rumble existed as a means to highlight those three feuds and since Becky is out of the title hunt, she and Mickie are bound to lock up a few times over the course of the next few weeks leading up until WrestleMania. As this is SmackDown’s only even beforehand, it’s now or never, as they won’t be getting a singles match in Orlando.
Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
Orton won the Royal Rumble and won’t be competing in the Elimination Chamber match (unless WWE has some backwards ass plan that goes against their typical booking) so he’ll need something else to do. With he and Harper having been at odds for a little while and Harper sealing the deal and turning his back on Bray Wyatt during the Royal Rumble match, this is probably the option they’ll go with to feed someone to Orton so he doesn’t just sit this event out.
By no means do I expect Harper to have any chance at winning unless Bray Wyatt himself gets involved and somehow inadvertently or purposely screws over Orton, but since they’re still aligned with each other, that seems unlikely. There are still some possible twists and turns this story could take, though, as I honestly didn’t expect Orton to win the Royal Rumble and now, I’m at a loss for how WWE could theorize putting the WWE Championship on him or Wyatt at WrestleMania time would be their best bet. Maybe it’s a red herring and something crazier will be booked that involves Orton putting his title shot on the line? One could hope…
POTENTIAL OTHER MATCHES
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
American Alpha had no presence at the Royal Rumble, which is a shame. I assume most of the reason was that there just simply wasn’t enough time to dedicate any to them, but another factor might be that no contenders have been established. The Wyatt Family broke up, The Hype Bros have somewhat split as Zack Ryder is injured, Breezango and The Vaudevillains are jobbers and that only leaves The Usos and the barely still together Heath Slater and Rhyno.