The road to WrestleMania 26 became much clearer tonight after the WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. There were three major world title changes, which completely changes the landscape for the World Wrestling Entertainment’s biggest show of the year. The big WWE news is that Sheamus and the Undertaker are out while Chris Jericho and Batista will enter WrestleMania as new WWE champions.
The shocker of the night came in the first Elimination Chamber match for the WWE championship featuring the WWE RAW brand. It appeared as if Sheamus had made the cut from transition champion to the real deal coming into the event. Unfortunately for Sheamus fans, it was not meant to be. John Cena won the Elimination Chamber match and reclaimed his WWE championship. Sheamus was eliminated by Triple H, who subsequently was eliminated by Cena for the win. But the night didn’t end there for the Marine.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]It has become routine for some kind of twist to arise at these Elimination Chamber shows from the WWE. Last year it was Edge entering the WWE RAW brand Elimination Chamber match and winning the title. This year it was an unscheduled Batista vs. John Cena match. Following Cena’s win, Vince McMahon came out to announce an immediate Batista vs. Cena match for the title. Batista defeated an exhausted Cena in 31 seconds and won the WWE championship. A WWE SmackDown superstar leaves with the WWE RAW brand’s title also like last year.
In a more predictable title change, Chris Jericho defeated The Undertaker in the WWE world heavyweight title which represents the SmackDown brand. Most blogs and websites predicted a Jericho win. Most blogs and websites also correctly predicted that it would be Shawn Michaels’ interference which would cost The Undertaker the match. Michaels came from underneath the steel part of the cage and nailed Taker with Sweet Chin Music. A surprised Jericho quickly covered The Undertaker for the win and the WWE world heavyweight title. This was quite a bit of irony here in Michaels helping Jericho after their lengthy feud in 2008.
I spent a lot of talking on my radio show last Monday night about the fact that I just never thought Edge vs. Sheamus was going down at WrestleMania. In my mind, the match made very little sense while the WWE had a ready-made match set up with Chris Jericho vs. Edge. On the other hand, I feel that Sheamus was just starting to get taken seriously as a champion and a run into WrestleMania with the title could have cemented him as a main-event WWE star for the next year. The Jericho-Edge match on the other hand will be much better, and gives Jericho his first WrestleMania main-event since WrestleMania 18, freshening up the top of the WrestleMania card.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]The Batista title switch is a real curious one to me. Batista’s last WWE championship reign lasted less than 24 hours. Batista tore his left bicep during the match at Extreme Rules last year when he defeated Randy Orton for the title. Batista had to vacate the title the next night and missed several months before returning to action. At the time I and others here questioned whether the WWE would ever have the faith in Batista for another title run. Apparently they do and the vote of confidence doesn’t get much better than a title run during WrestleMania season. It will be interesting to see how much ring time Batista gets before WrestleMania or will the WWE drastically limit his schedule to give him the best chance at staying injury-free before WrestleMania 26.
Looking at the results and how things went down tonight, the rough lineup for WrestleMania 26 looks something like this…
Edge vs. Chris Jericho for the WWE world heavyweight title
John Cena vs. Batista for the WWE championship
Sheamus vs. Triple H
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Ted DiBiase Jr. vs. Randy Orton
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon
At first glance, it looks on paper like a stronger lineup than last year. Edge and Jericho are likely to tear the house down and maybe even top Taker vs. HBK. I have no reason to think that Michaels vs. Undertaker won’t live up to expectations. Sheamus vs. Triple H has potential, although it is not anything I see that is going to steal the show. Cena vs. Batista is a real wild card in my opinion. Batista really prides himself on having great WrestleMania matches, and had two show-stealers in his last three vs. Edge and Taker. Batista is going to have his work cut out for him that night. I have very little interest in seeing Orton vs. DiBiase, but I may be in the minority there. If given time, Punk vs. Mysterio could give the upper card a run for their money but I don’t see them given that opportunity. Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon is a match I am really looking forward to, as much as it will probably disappoint.
Headlocks and Eye Gouges – I will be back on Pro Wrestling Radio this Monday night February 23 at 8 PM/EST live. I will recap the Elimination Chamber show and talk WrestleMania 26. Call in with a question or comment at 1-877-800-8834. Listen live at http://www.tinyurl.com/PWradio at 8 PM/EST this and every Monday night.
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