As The Road to WrestleMania makes its last, most brutal pit stop, the WWE Universe is waiting with baited breath to see who will emerge from the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view with momentum on their side as they head to The Grandest Stage of Them All. And with both World Titles on the line, six possible No. 1 contenders to the World Heavyweight Championship and the Money in the Bank wrinkle still in play courtesy of Dolph Ziggler, the potential for a major shake-up in the WrestleMania picture has never been higher. In fact, the only ones more curious than the WWE Universe as to how it will play out are the Superstars themselves. Happily, the locker room had more than a few predictions to share.
“CM Punk will do everything and anything to regain the WWE Championship,” Zack Ryder said, surprisingly throwing his hat in favor of the increasingly despised Straight Edge Superstar as opposed to The People’s Champion.
Tyson Kidd echoed The Ultimate Broski’s sentiment, predicting Punk would exploit the match’s newly added stipulation — the title will change hands if Rock is counted out or disqualified — to become champion once again.
“Heyman is an evil genius [for adding that stipulation],” the “workhorse” told WWE.com by phone in between physical therapy sessions for his surgically repaired knee. “There’s probably something up [Punk’s] sleeve. By hook or by crook, I think there’s some way CM Punk gets that title back.”
Kofi Kingston went the other way, predicting that The Great One would survive Punk’s onslaught and remain the WWE Champion going into WrestleMania. “Rock seems to have the odds stacked against him, but this is usually when he’s at his best,” Kofi said. “[I’m going with] Rock.”
The Elimination Chamber Match to determine the World Heavyweight Championship’s No. 1 contender seemed to draw a more unanimous prediction from the various Superstars: Except for one outlier, everyone we interviewed picked Mark Henry.
“I watched what [Henry] did to The Great Khali firsthand,” said Natalya, who was ringside when The World’s Strongest Man felled her friend The Great Khali with a pair of World’s Strongest Slams on both Raw and SmackDown. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I know it’s going to sound crazy, but as close as I am to The Great Khali, watching Mark Henry is almost like a natural disaster. He’s like an earthquake or a typhoon or an avalanche. He’s not human. There is a fire and a monster inside of that man that’s like nature.”
Not that she was entirely thrilled about her prediction. “I’m a huge fan of Randy Orton — I think his talent is limitless — but I think Randy is gonna have his hands full with Mark Henry,” Natalya said.
Kofi was a bit blunter in his own assessment. “Mark Henry is looking unstoppable right now, and somebody’s gonna get their wig split,” he said.
But about that outlier: He was none other than Dolph Ziggler, who fell short at an attempt to snag a spot in the Chamber this past Monday, and he was, understandably, a tad on the bilious side. “I’m gonna say Jack Swagger, because he’s been gone for a long time, hanging out with some old guy — awesome — so he’s all rested up,” The Showoff snarked. “He’s got a really good chance in this, one, because he’s tall, and two, because I think his stamina will come into play. He was a collegiate All-American, which I can respect. I think he’s gonna be able to hold up against these other guys.”
As for the much-anticipated Six-Man Tag Team Match between The Shield and John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback, the Superstars were a bit more divided.
“[Cena, Sheamus & Ryback] are kind of like WWE all-stars, obviously,” Kidd said, “but when The Shield wrestled Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback, those were no slouches either and I thought for sure they would beat The Shield, but they didn’t. The Shield were impressive as hell, and I believe that’s the only match we’ve seen them in.”
Kidd also brought up an interesting question of the dynamics in that match, wondering just how well Cena, Sheamus and Ryback would work together in the face of The Shield. “As much as [Cena] doesn’t like The Shield, you gotta think hemightbe looking ahead to WrestleMania,” Kidd wondered. “Is he gonna be fully intothismatch, and is there some dissention over who’s the next in line between Ryback and Sheamus? I don’t know. The Shieldarea group together.”
In the end, the former WWE Tag Team Champion was torn between his head and his heart. “I guess I’m gonna have to go with Cena, Sheamus and Ryback, but my gut’s telling me The Shield somehow prevails.”
Ryder, who’s felt the wrath of The Shield before, however, emphatically voiced support in favor of their defeat. “I don’t believe in The Shield,” he said simply. “They’re going down.”
When it came to the World Title Match between Alberto Del Rio and Big Show, though, there was only one man whose opinion we sought: the Superstar who potentially has the most to gain, Dolph Ziggler. His analysis was interesting and, as always, teased the possibility of his long-awaited cash-in.
“Anytime you get through a match with Big Show, it’s hard enough just to survive that level and win,” Ziggler said of the bout’s potential aftermath. “So I’m not saying I’m cashing in my Money in the Bank contract because I’m looking for a great audience one way or another and a great time to do it. But should something happen, that’s good news for me no matter who wins.”
So for the record, who does he think will win? “I’m saying Del Rio wins and he wins it in a weakened state and gets lucky. And that could really open a door for me.”