Virtually everybody on the SmackDown roster was announced for the 2017 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on the episode following the Royal Rumble, but oddly enough, in a sea of a six-man cage match, a tag team turmoil match and more room for other filler content, there are still a few stragglers who haven’t been scheduled for the card.
For whatever reason, WWE must not have considered them important enough to even take up the gaps of time that would be used for bathroom breaks and breathers between the bigger matches, which is just awful when you think of how they’ll be overlooked even more while heading into WrestleMania.
Since WWE isn’t giving them any of the spotlight, that’s what we’re going to do here. Without further ado, let’s take a look at which SmackDown superstars are sitting this event out.
James Ellsworth / Carmella
Shacking up with Carmella is likely the best thing James Ellsworth will ever do in his life, but it’s certainly not the best thing to happen to his career. For months, he was a major focal point of SmackDown and once they paired them up, they fell so far down the list of priorities they don’t even have people they’re feuding with right now. Both of them have nothing to do and haven’t had anything meaningful happening with them for weeks.
Since it’s a comedy gimmick, there aren’t any women available for Carmella to start a program with (as Eva Marie is still MIA and her character wouldn’t work well for a feud against Carmella) and it’s hard to imagine people getting invested in a match between Ellsworth and anybody else on this list, it makes sense for them to not have anything to do.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say The Big Red Machine is starting to break down, so why toss him out to the curb? He still has some gas left in the tank, so his absence is very suspicious.
Is he secretly injured and it’s being kept hush? Is he contemplating retirement and they’re giving him time off so he can clear his head? Did Donald Trump put him in his cabinet and the big reveal of this wall construction is that it will be called The Gates of Hell and Kane is getting ready for guard duty?
Not seeing Kane compete in the Royal Rumble felt strange to me, as I’ve gotten so used to him being a staple of the match. If he doesn’t make an appearance at this year’s WrestleMania, that will be even weirder, as he should at least be thrown into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match, and if that’s the only thing going for him, WWE should try to bring him back into the fold sooner than later so we think he actually has a chance at winning it instead of being a guaranteed fall-guy for someone else (Strowman? Joe?)
Poor Jack Swagger. You know things are bad when you’re not on the card, but The Ascension are.
Where’s this guy been? Do they really have nothing for him to do even though they’ve basically never had anything for him to do since going out of their way to move him to SmackDown because they had nothing for him to do on Raw?
If that’s the case, The All American American American American Ameri–has a rough road ahead of him, as it means WWE puts such little value in him that he can go months without making a peep and they won’t poke him with a stick to see if he’s still alive.
Move him down to NXT if you have nothing for him. Let him work with some of the guys down there so he can teach them some of the basics. I’d rather see Swagger fighting Andrade “Cien” Almas or Elias Samson than to just not see him at all and watch Almas and Samson fight some local guy we know is going to lose. Hell, I would have been game for a mini-feud with Bobby Roode while they play up the Shinsuke Nakamura injury angle. At least the matches would be good and it would give Roode someone noteworthy to defeat for the next few weeks. That’s clearly not happening and instead, Swagger’s just waiting on his Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal loss as being the next time we’ll see him.
Mojo Rawley / Curt Hawkins
I’ll be grouping these two together as I still think there’s at least something to be gained out of setting up a feud between the two spawned from Zack Ryder’s injury.
It’s no secret Hawkins and Ryder used to be tag team partners and that Hawkins has cracked some jokes about Rawley, so it wouldn’t be hard to make a feud out of this. All it takes is one promo where Hawkins complains that Mojo held Zack down and if he were still tagging with Ryder instead, they wouldn’t have lost their tag team title shot. Book them in one match on SmackDown that Hawkins cheats to win and suddenly, you’ve got a reason to have them fight during the pre-show of Elimination Chamber. If nobody cares about it, they can skip the pre-show (like most people do anyway) and if anybody is interested, they’ll watch it. No harm, no foul.
Would it be the most entertaining thing in the world? Doubtful. Would it be better for both of those guys than sitting at home or hanging out backstage and watching everybody else get better paychecks and upgrade their notoriety because they’re actually on the screen? Definitely.
Does he count as a SmackDown star? He did root for the blue brand when it came to Survivor Series, but then again, he shows up on Monday Night Raw and basically said “screw it, I’m anywhere I want to be” and subsequently was found…nowhere.
This is particularly frustrating after he specifically stated that it wasn’t going to be a case where WrestleMania was the only thing that defined him. I’ve been harping on this for months and I’ll continue to do it as it bugs me so much that WWE would go out of their way to have someone cut a promo about sticking around only to follow it up with the complete opposite. That kind of booking is why we see countless reports on dirt sheets about how The Undertaker isn’t going to wrestle anymore after WrestleMania every year—because we see nothing that points in a different direction.
It would have been not only fun to see The Undertaker appear in some fashion, but it would have also helped dispel the talk of his imminent retirement.