Sunday night, February 25th, the RAW brand will deliver the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event. With Shinsuke Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble and opting to face WWE Champion AJ Styles (or whoever wins the Fatal Four-Way at next month’s Fastlane event) at WrestleMania, RAW’s Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is without a WrestleMania opponent. That is until Elimination Chamber at least.
Six RAW superstars will step into the Elimination Chamber. As of this column, five superstars have earned their way into the match: Braun Strowman, Elias, John Cena, Roman Reigns and The Miz. This coming Monday on RAW, a fatal four-way match will take place between Finn Balor, Apollo Crews, Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt and the winner will get the final spot inside the Chamber. The winner of the Elimination Chamber match will go on to WrestleMania to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship.
There are six people in this match, but there’s only two real possibilities to win it: Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman.
For a year, dating back to Lesnar winning the Universal Championship from Goldberg at WrestleMania 33, we’ve heard from the dirt sheets that Vince McMahon’s plan was to have Brock Lesnar defend the title against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34. That match, a WrestleMania 31 rematch (won by Seth Rollins with his great Money in the Bank cash-in), has been a foregone conclusion.
The only problem with that match is, who besides Vince McMahon and members of the Anoa’i family want to see it? I’d wager very few.
Mr. McMahon has been fixated on this match for quite some time. Yet something happened during the past year that McMahon probably didn’t account for; Braun Strowman has gotten hugely over with the WWE Universe. People love to see “the monster among men” absolutely destroy everyone and everything. Moreover, people want to see Braun Strowman take the title from Brock Lesnar. And the strange thing is, the booking/storytelling in WWE over the past several months has been building to that match and not to a Lesnar/Reigns match.
Of course WWE already delivered the big singles match between Lesnar and Strowman last September at No Mercy. At the time, Lesnar’s clean victory over Strowman in under 10 minutes seemed like the wrong decision and one that only cemented the belief that Lesnar would retain the title through WrestleMania where he’d face Roman Reigns. He was hot in September, but the defeat didn’t hurt Strowman and now he’s more over than ever. The time is right for Braun Strowman.
At Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar escaped Braun Strowman by defeating Kane in the Triple Threat Universal Championship match. That too seemed like Braun Strowman’s night. The next night, Strowman destroyed Kane to qualify for the Elimination Chamber. Last Monday, Strowman annihilated John Cena and Elias after losing a Triple Threat match due to John Cena being pinned by Elias.
The Elimination Chamber seems the perfect setting for Braun Strowman to let out some aggression and destroy everyone. It’s a match Strowman needs to win. If he’s not facing Lesnar at WrestleMania, what is there for Strowman to do at the “granddaddy of ’em all?”
Vince McMahon has a long history of failing to pull the trigger when a superstar is red hot, be it as a face or a heel. Two of the more recent ones being Ryback and Rusev during their undefeated streaks. Rusev is only now recovering, and Ryback fell off the cliff and is no longer with the company. Some would argue a case for Bray Wyatt here too, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that.
Roman Reigns is not “the guy” that McMahon wants him to be or sees him to be. He’s not the next John Cena for the company. I know McMahon’s thinking is that Roman has been out of the title picture for a year, there won’t be so much backlash to it when it happens at WrestleMania’s. He’s wrong, and the biggest reason for that is simply because it’s Braun Strowman’s time. Strowman is the logical choice from the past several months worth of booking.
Many people expected Roman to win the Royal Rumble to get to the Lesnar/Reigns match, and we thankfully dodged that bullet. Now we have the Elimination Chamber. Can we dodge that bullet again, or will the expected predictable outcome of a Roman Reigns victory take place? I see no logical reason for it too, after all nothing about Roman’s booking over the past several months has screamed momentum on the road to WrestleMania. He’s coming off of two losses to The Miz, regardless of outside interference.
Strowman needs this. The majority of the WWE Universe wants to see it. Can Vince McMahon make the right decision? Or will he be too stubborn and focused on Roman being “the guy.” If not Strowman, then I see nothing for him at WrestleMania that would even remotely matter. Meanwhile, Reigns has other options like teaming with Seth Rollins. It’s too bad Ambrose is injured and won’t be back until likely Summer Slam, otherwise a Shield vs. Balor Club six-man tag would’ve been a perfect fit for WrestleMania.