February’s WWE Pay-Per-View Event is the vaunted Elimination Chamber. The best thing to come out of the Eric Bischoff years, the Chamber pits six superstars in a chamber to duke it out for either the top belt or to be the No. 1 contender. Considering there is one top belt now, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and Batista is that No. 1 contender after his victory last night in the Royal Rumble, it is highly likely that the Elimination Chamber match this year will be for that title.
Besides the match itself, part of what makes the Elimination Chamber, and by association Money in the Bank, is twofold: it provides fans with two matches, and it opens up the title scene to six people per match (sometimes even more with MITB). With the recent unification of the WWE and World Heavyweight belts, it is likely safe to assume that both PPV’s will be cutting out one of each of those matches.
The title scene right now features quite a few participants. Within reason, one could include John Cena, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and now even Sheamus. With Cena and Wyatt likely headed for a feud on their own and Punk off to deal with the Authority, the pieces are in place for a tidy 6-person chamber match.
The problem here is that it leaves the upper mid-card in the dust. Superstars like Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Damian Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Ryback, Fandango, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Mark Henry aren’t given the opportunity to move up in the ranks. Typically, one or more of these stars are mixed in with the big boys, give the match some variety and levity, provide spots and give that superstar a chance to shine in the limelight. No longer will we have those chances to see said stars perform.
What about Alberto Del Rio as well? Or Rey Mysterio?
Similarly, that trend works its way down the card. Third-tier stars like Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, Tyson Kidd, Curtis Axel, Brodus Clay and the like are completely shut out and given no chance to even pretend to compete. We all saw two years ago when Tyson Kidd performed in Money in the Bank that there is a place for stars to shine and make their name known.
The utility of unifying the titles serves to streamline the WWE and take away a clearly secondary title that was masquerading as an equal title. While this may have made sense on some level, it was clear to all that it was just a ploy to get Cena and Orton together for yet another feud. Their lack of commitment to the storyline is illustrated by the lackluster title of the belt and the fact that Orton still saunters around with two belts! If it was truly unified, wouldn’t there be just one belt? The fact that he still has two begs the question of whether they will be separated yet again.
Fans frequently lament the fact that it takes mountains for lower-card superstars (Zach Ryder epitomizes this) to work their way to the top. The Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank were all checks against that reality. With the elimination of one of the top two belts, it has certainly unified the title scene. However, as we will see over the course of this Road to Wrestlemania, it will also result in many WWE Superstars being left in the dust with nothing to do at all.