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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Roman Reigns on course to match Hulk Hogan, John Cena v Undertaker and Ronda Rousey set for first showdown with Stephanie McMahon: WWE talking points

Ahead of Elimination Chamber on February 25 some analysis on the main areas of interest ahead of the show as the title matches for WrestleMania 34 start to take shape.

Ronda Rousey, left, will make her first WWE appearance since the Royal Rumble at Elimination Chamber on February 25 when the make-up of the women's title matches at WrestleMania 34 and who will be facing who should become a lot clearer. Image courtesy of WWE.
Ronda Rousey, left, will make her first WWE appearance since the Royal Rumble at Elimination Chamber on February 25 when the make-up of the women's title matches at WrestleMania 34 and who will be facing who should become a lot clearer. Image courtesy of WWE.

We are just over a week away from Elimination Chamber, a WWE Network special that should tell us a lot more about where the company is heading ahead of WrestleMania 34.

Here are some of the talking points going into the show.

Hard to look beyond Roman Reigns

We are a week away from Elimination Chamber and it is hard to see anyone other than Roman Reigns coming out of the chamber on Sunday as the man set-up to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal title at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans on April 8.

It feels like a match that has been on the horizon pretty much since WrestleMania 33 when Lesnar won his fifth WWE world title by pinning Bill Goldberg.

There is nothing wrong with predictability, when it is executed well, and the Elimination Chamber has the set up of a strong match.

All seven guys can go well in the ring and the late addition of Seth Rollins and Finn Balor only supports that view further.

How WWE book the match will be interesting as it is important Reigns is seen to earn the title shot rather than just be one of the last guys to enter the match and win quickly after a flurry of spears.

Lesnar v Reigns II, a re-match of WrestleMania 31, has a lot going for it. We never got a winner then as Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase during the match and claimed the victory.

Lesnar has been booked as a dominant champion over the past 12 months and has clean wins of Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and AJ Styles.

A big performance from Reigns at the Elimination Chamber in triumphing will set up the momentum of this inevitable showdown, with the WWE again looking to establish Reigns at the top of the card.

If Reigns does main event WrestleMania with Lesnar he will be only the second man, after Hulk Hogan, to be on the final match at the WWE's biggest show for four successive years.

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John Cena v The Undertaker

Cena's involvement in the Elimination Chamber is largely designed to get Reigns over, with the 16-time champion likely to be pinned by the Shield man during the match.

Speculation has linked Cena with a match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania and that would make a lot of sense for both men.

Cena has arguably not had a big WrestleMania match since 2013 when he beat the Rock. Neither singles win over Bray Wyatt (2014) and Rusev (2015), or the mixed tag win over the Miz and Maryse last year with Nikki Bella likely to make it into the highlights reel of his career, at least for in-ring action.

The WWE have played the Undertaker story well over the past year. The symbolic way he left his hat and jacket in the ring after losing to Reigns last April in Orlando meant if he chose not to come back then he had retired, without ever saying so at the time.

But, if he is physically up to it, as he never verbally retired, then a comeback is completely on and Cena makes for a good foil.

Both men have points to prove. Cena has not had a big WrestleMania moment for a while and Undertaker wants to prove he can still go.

Amazingly you have to go back to July 2003 for their lone singles match on PPV, which Undertaker won.

The ball will start rolling on this from Sunday onwards once Cena has done his business by fighting gallantly, in a losing effort, in the Elimination Chamber.

Alexa Bliss to win the first women's Elimination Chamber

History will be made on February 25 with the first women's Elimination Chamber, more than 15 years after Shawn Michaels won the first men's one at Survivor Series in November 2002.

It is hard to see anyone other than Bliss winning to retain the WWE Raw Women's title. She has dominated the division since joining the red brand last April and having her not in the title picture at WrestleMania is a shocker.

I see her pinning Mickie James to retain the title. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose have no chance of winning, while the other intrigue is with Bayley and Sasha Banks.

Banks will be eliminated by Bayley, but will then turn on her on-screen friend and beat her down. This will set up their feud and a potential match at WrestleMania.

The Asuka and Nia Jax conundrum

WWE may have booked themselves in a corner here. Asuka has been on superb form in 2018 in winning the Royal Rumble and having great matches with Banks and Bayley.

She should not be losing before WrestleMania. Full stop. Her winning streak is huge and it should not be thrown away and definitely not at this stage.

But if WWE want Nia Jax kept strong they ideally do not want her losing. Plus there is the stipulation that if Jax wins she gets added to the Raw women's title match at WrestleMania.

Asuka is winning. That much I am confident of at this stage. There are reports she will target the SmackDown title rather than Bliss's Raw title so that could explain why she has run through so much of the Raw roster of late.

An early prediction is that Bliss, in fear of Asuka, comes out to try and help Jax, thinking she can manipulate Jax into being her friend. But, instead she will end up inadvertently helping Asuka win the match and set an angry Jax on her tail, setting up a WrestleMania match between the two as Asuka goes for Charlotte Flair.

Ronda Rousey's contract signing

One thing learnt about WWE from regular viewing is that a contract situation is never a case of signing on the dotted line.

This will be Rousey's first appearance in a WWE ring that will involve more than just pointing at a sign and it is likely she will speak as well.

This will be setting up her WrestleMania programme and will like see her cross paths with Stephanie McMahon, who will be overseeing the signing, and possibly Triple H.

Rousey will stand tall on Sunday week, but the seeds will be set for her facing McMahon, possibly in a mixed tag match, in New Orleans.