As SmackDown LIVE prepares for WWE Elimination Chamber 2017, new WWE Champion John Cena steps into the six-man steel structure for the sixth time in his career. On the first episode of SmackDown after WWE Royal Rumble 2017, Commissioner Shane McMahon announced that Cena would be defending his title against AJ Styles, The Miz, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose. While The Miz has competed in one Elimination Chamber Match in the past, the other four superstars will step into the ominous cage for the first time in their careers. John Cena’s experience in this particular match will be an important factor in how well the match does at this year’s event.
John Cena’s History In Elimination Chamber Matches
The first time Cena competed in an Elimination Chamber Match was at WWE New Year’s Revolution 2006 when he successfully defended the WWE Championship against Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Carlito and Chris Masters. In what was just the fourth Chamber Match in WWE history, Cena began the match with Shawn Michaels. Angle entered the match fourth and was eliminated first, in what should be considered the biggest upset of the match. Kane was eliminated next after being double-teamed by Carlito and Masters, and then Carlito eliminated Shawn Michaels. When it came down to just Cena, Masters and Carlito, it was no surprise that the leader of the Cenation walked out with his title reign intact. That is until Edge came out and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. Cena would go on to win the title back at Royal Rumble 2017, and successfully defend it against Triple H at WrestleMania 22.
John Cena’s sophomore Chamber appearance came at WWE No Way Out 2009 when he defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Kane and Mike Knox. The match was scheduled to feature Kofi Kingston, but Edge attacked Kingston before the match and assumed his place in the Chamber. Cena entered the match at No. 6 after Kane and Knox had already been eliminated. Cena was the next person eliminated. However, he received consecutive finishers from Mysterio, Jericho, and Edge. Ultimately, it would be Edge who won the match. Cena would win the title back at WrestleMania 25 in a Triple Threat Match against The Big Show and champion Edge.
Cena’s next appearance inside the Chamber was after the structure was given its own official PPV at Elimination Chamber 2010. Sheamus was the WWE Champion headed into the match, and he started the bout with Kofi Kingston. Locked in the pods along with John Cena were Triple H, Randy Orton and Ted Dibiase, Jr. Cena entered the match last, and no one had been eliminated when he came in, despite Orton and Dibiase double-teaming Triple H while Kingston and Sheamus remained mostly inactive. In the end, setting up his WWE Championship Match at WrestleMania 26, Cena forced Triple H to tap out to the STF. However, not unlike the first time Cena won an Elimination Chamber Match, Vince McMahon came out as soon as the cage was lifted and announced that he had to defend his title immediately. This time, rather than Edge cashing in a Money in the Bank contract, it was simply a title match without explanation that Batista won after a spear and a Batista bomb. Cena won the title back in a rematch against Batista at WrestleMania.
The following year, at WWE Elimination Chamber 2011, John Cena competed in a match with CM Punk, Randy Orton, Sheamus, John Morrison and R-Truth to determine who would challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 27. Cena, who entered at No. 4, only eliminated one other competitor, hitting Punk with the Attitude Adjustment when they were the only two left in the Chamber. Cena would go on to lose in the main event of WrestleMania when he challenged The Miz for the title.
John Cena’s most recent foray into the Elimination Chamber was the last time a world title was defended in such a match. At WWE Elimination Chamber 2014, Randy Orton defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Cena, Daniel Bryan, Christian, Sheamus, and Cesaro. Despite having the luxury of entering the match as late as fifth, Cena was attacked by The Wyatt Family and pinned by Orton before he could do more than force Cesaro to tap out to the STF. This would set up John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania XXX, where Cena would get his receipt. Could Randy Orton return the favor this year, sneaking into the cage as someone else leaves, and hitting John Cena with his patented RKO so that Bray can pin him and win the title before WrestleMania?
Predictions for WWE Elimination Chamber 2017
Despite only eliminating four men in five Elimination Chamber Matches, John Cena won three of those five. When defending a title at Elimination Chamber, he’s only been successful one time out of two — and the time he was successful, he lost the title minutes later. However, anytime someone has screwed Cena over during or immediately following an Elimination Chamber Match, Cena always gets his receipt at the next PPV.
This year, if anyone is seen as a likely candidate to take the title from Cena, it has to be AJ Styles or Bray Wyatt. The Miz is nowhere near the status he was six years ago when he headlined WrestleMania 27, and Baron Corbin is the token up-and-comer who is still paying his dues. While Dean Ambrose certainly isn’t out of the question, WWE doesn’t seem to think he’s quite ready to hold a world title again, and he should be focused on an epic Intercontinental Championship Match at WrestleMania 33.
While WWE could book John Cena vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania, it would seem strange for the brand striving to be the “land of opportunity” to give their biggest match of the year to the two most established men on their roster. While Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton might be interesting from a story line perspective, it’s not yet clear whether WWE wants to put Bray in such an elite position at WrestleMania.
However, when you consider his last two opponents at Mania were John Cena and The Undertaker, maybe the WWE’s decision-makers believe it’s time for Wyatt to take that next step. After being completely left out of last year’s WrestleMania (aside from an unadvertised appearance with The Wyatt Family to make The Rock look good), it would be a tremendous boost to Wyatt’s career. So, Bray Wyatt winning the title, especially with an assist from Randy Orton, doesn’t seem all that improbable.
One final note to make would be that some of the WWE’s brass would like WrestleMania 33 to feature a match that could outshine the recent Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada match from WrestleKingdom 11 in New Japan Pro Wrestling. With John Cena holding the WWE Championship, Randy Orton guaranteed a shot at WrestleMania 33 and AJ Styles promised a rematch for the title in addition to the Elimination Chamber, the SmackDown LIVE brand could put John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles at WrestleMania 33, a match that could easily steal the show and potentially rival Omega vs. Okada for match of the year.
However, with Cena having a history of losing his belt in or immediately after an Elimination Chamber Match, it seems likely that something similar will happen this year, with Bray Wyatt winning his first WWE Championship. And rather than simply having Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, John Cena’s rematch will be as part of a Triple Threat Match with both members of The Wyatt Family. Meanwhile, as AJ Styles continues to lose patience with Shane McMahon in regards to his one-on-one rematch for the WWE Championship, a match between Styles and McMahon will be booked for Mania, with Styles challenging whoever the champion is at WWE Payback 2017 at the end of April.
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Where to Watch WWE Elimination Chamber 2017
WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 airs live on Sunday, February 12 from the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The show can be streamed live via the WWE Network beginning at 8/7c. The Elimination Chamber 2017 Kickoff will be on the WWE Network and WWE’s other digital platforms beginning at 7/6c. For fans unable to watch WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 live, it will be available to stream immediately on-demand via the WWE Network.
[Featured Image by WWE]