Elimination Chamber 2017 was a big night for the Smackdown brand. We saw American Alpha assert their dominance over the Smackdown Tag Team division after retaining their titles in Tag Team Turmoil. We saw a good handful of hot feuds (Harper/Orton, Lynch/James, Bella/Natalya) come to a boiling head. Most importantly, we saw two big championship wins for Naomi and Bray Wyatt with both capturing, respectively, the Smackdown Women's Championship and the WWE Championship. Above all else, we saw some major implications for the WrestleMania picture. With just 7 weeks remaining until WrestleMania 33 dawns upon us, the card is shaping up quite nicely and for the Smackdown brand, that is a big deal right now.
So far, no Smackdown matches have been booked to represent the brand at WrestleMania. The only matches to be officially announced for Mania thus far are Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg and Big Show vs Shaquille O'Neal. Both are more or less Raw matches. As of last night's pay-per-view, booking for the Smackdown side of things has finally kicked into high gear. If we are to go off of the matches and segments that we saw last night, here's what matches we've learned may take place this year on the Grandest Stage of All.
It is official: American Alpha have beaten every tag team that Smackdown has to offer. This attests more to Smackdown's thin tag division more so than the team's dominance, but both last night and in previous defenses, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions have successfully defended their belts against all of Smackdown's tag teams. Now what? After defeating everyone, who could they possibly defend their belts against at WrestleMania? They could very well revisit their ongoing feud with The Usos, but Alpha have beaten the Samoan twins so many times already that it won't mean much for a Mania match. The Ascension is one possibility given how Smackdown has been quietly pushing Konnor and Viktor as a genuine threat, but they looked like goofballs who couldn't capitalize on a ready-made win. They won't pose a serious threat in time for WrestleMania. The only option now would be for Gable and Jordan to defend their titles against some mystery team to be introduced in the coming weeks. Perhaps a legendary tag team who could put over the athletes big time at on a big stage. Maybe even an NXT tag team call-up or two? It'll be a better option than leaving the duo off the card entirely. After already missing out on a spot at the Royal Rumble, it'll be a shame for the two to miss out on Mania just because there aren't any more teams for them.
4. Naomi vs Alexa Bliss vs Mickie James vs Becky Lynch
It seems like more or less of a lock that Naomi will be able to hold on to her newly won Women's Championship in time for WrestleMania. Mania will be in her hometown after all so why not let her go into The Show of Shows with the title? If that is the case, that almost guarantees that her feud with the former champ, Alexa Bliss, is far from over. The same can be said for Becky Lynch and Mickie James after The Lass Kicker beat the latter with a rollup win. Both Bliss and James have something to prove against their rivals. Naturally, as a heel, James will express that the roll-up victory was a fluke while Bliss, after being pinned 3 consecutive times by the Empress of EDM, wants to prove that she can beat Naomi and reclaim her title. These four have all crossed paths in some way or another as their feuds have intersected in the last few weeks. Perhaps we'll see things escalate even further between this foursome for a Fatal Four Way match at WrestleMania 33 for the SD Women's Championship. It's been rumored lately that Raw will have their own Women's Championship in store for WrestleMania, but that doesn't mean that Smackdown won't try to up the ante with a better Fatal Four Way.
3. Baron Corbin vs Dean Ambrose
Everyone was shocked to see Baron Corbin be the first one eliminated from the Elimination Chamber last night. Many predicted for Corbin to showcase a breakout performance worthy of the main event scene. Instead, after wrecking some havoc for just a few minutes, he was distracted by The Miz, which allowed Dean Ambrose to sneak up on him with a rollup. Corbin refused to leave in vain though as The Lone Wolf decimated The Lunatic Fringe and allowed Miz to pin Ambrose in turn. After costing each other their last shots at grasping the main event spot of WrestleMania, surely there will be more of the feud to come. It remains to be seen if the feud boils high enough to warrant a WrestleMania match, but considering the stakes and implications from last night, it isn't completely out of the realms of impossibility to imagine these two brawlers tearing into each other on the biggest stage possible.
2. The Miz and Maryse vs John Cena and Nikki Bella
This match has been rumored to take place for quite some time now and after last night, the building blocks of the feud have been made. First, halfway through the show, Nikki Bella and Natalya continued their brawl backstage where Bella bumped into Maryse, causing the starlet to spill powder all over herself. It was a rather subtle moment as the commentators didn't even draw attention to Maryse's presence during the segment. It wouldn't be out of Maryse's character to let such a petty thing push her into a full blown grudge against Bella. Later on in the main event, the beaus of both women duked it out in the Eliminated Chamber where John Cena eliminated The Miz. Miz could easily use his elimination to catapult himself into a Mania match against Cena. With or without their lovers by their side, Cena vs Miz has a ready-made story with Miz still holding a WrestleMania main event win against Cena to boast about. Both of these instances share such a strong connection which heightens the foreshadowing for a mixed tag at WrestleMania. Or, in a swerve of events, Maryse has Natalya do her dirty work seeing as Nattie's feud with Nikki Bella failed to reach a definitive conclusion last night.
1. Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton (vs Luke Harper?)
Ever since the character debuted on WWE television 4 years ago, the WWE Championship has long alluded the career of Bray Wyatt. That all changed last night when The Eater of Worlds captured his first World Title. After scoring two huge eliminations over John Cena and AJ Styles, The New Face of Fear is now the new face of the WWE. He celebrated with title in hand as his prodigal son of sorts, Randy Orton, stood atop the ramp to remind everyone who the Royal Rumble winner is. It seems like after seeing several months worth of storytelling between the two Wyatt Family members, things will finally come to a head when they lock horns in the main event of WrestleMania 33. It is almost guaranteed that is our match for WrestleMania, but perhaps a third Wyatt could intervene and make it a Triple Threat: Luke Harper. Though Orton decisively defeated The Wyatt Family's former Face of Desolation, it cannot be denied that Harper had his own coming out party last night. He is a made man after last night as his breakout performance saw him act as if he belonged in the main event picture. Perhaps he'll be featured as one of WrestleMania's main event attractions. After all, though Orton and Harper's business seems finished, Harper still has unfinished business with his former master. The two have yet to even have a match together, yet alone a WWE Title bout. Whether the WWE Championship match is a Triple Threat or a traditional singles match, it looks like Orton and Bray Wyatt are locked to be involved with each other in some way at Mania.
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