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May 29, 2015

Your SmackDown rundown: Rusev’s injury leaves big question mark in Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber match

Wrestling WWE
052915_smackdown_WWE WWE/Twitter

SmackDown came to us this week from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.

Thursday night on SmackDown, we had the privilege of once again seeing WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, team up with Kane to face Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns for the second time in three days in the SmackDown main event.

If that match sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’ve seen it 702 times in 2015 alone. I get this was a way to further build towards the championship match between Rollins and Ambrose this Sunday at Elimination Chamber, but a thought occurred to me late last night, and I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised if WWE goes this route Sunday night.

WWE has certainly played up the friendship aspect of the relationship between Ambrose and Reigns, especially during their time as teammates with The Shield. Having Reigns save Ambrose the last few weeks, and also having nothing planned at this point for Elimination Chamber, I could absolutely see WWE pulling the trigger on a heel turn for Reigns.

He’s lost his some momentum as a fan-favorite (though he’s still getting big pops at arenas each week), and fans will likely buy him more as a heel than a babyface. I believe that’ll give them more power on the heel side where Reigns can feud with the likes of Ambrose, John Cena, Daniel Bryan (if he returns to the ring), Dolph Ziggler and more. Sure, Reigns can enter into new feuds with heels such as Bray Wyatt and Sheamus, but I think WWE is concerned with making him a huge star, and that’s something that propelled The Rock into superstardom back in 1998 when they pulled the trigger on his heel turn.

Just something to think about.

Speaking of Elimination Chamber, I made my predictions for the event yesterday morning right here. I think I’m going 100% this time. Because damn it, I deserve it. Maybe.

Here are some of the main stories coming out of SmackDown:

Dean Ambrose opened the show with a fantastic promo building towards his championship shot at Seth Rollins. There was no Authority, no Reigns, and no nonsense – Ambrose made the segment. There’s legitimate reason to think Ambrose can walk out of Elimination Chamber with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, especially since he pinned Rollins on Monday Night Raw. But SmackDown would be different, as Rollins and The Authority stood tall in the ring over Ambrose and Reigns at the end of the show.

Predictable WWE booking would then tell us that Ambrose comes away with the victory Sunday night, but I don’t think Rollins will be losing his championship. In fact, news broke yesterday that Brock Lesnar will return to WWE television on June 22nd for Monday Night Raw, and is also scheduled for WWE Battleground on July 19th. Many think he’ll be challenging Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and given how he was unceremoniously suspended by Stephanie McMahon, that makes sense.

And using The New Day in the last segment to attack Ambrose and Reigns was a pleasant surprise, as well. They’re absolutely making the most of their opportunity. If The Authority wants to expand, the Tag Team Champions are a solid choice with which to start. Even though they eventually were taken out by Ambrose and Reigns, but I’ll take it. And seeing Rollins leave Ambrose laying compliments of the Pedigree was pretty awesome. I’d rather him just use that as his finisher for good.

In what was a great move by the WWE creative team, NXT Champion, Kevin Owens, got his own spotlight Thursday night to hype his match against United States Champion, John Cena, at Elimination Chamber. When youth talent invades the WWE roster, it’s almost unanimous that the younger talent has to prove something to the upper echelon of stars in WWE, and that includes the front office. In a fantastic line by Owens, he said Cena actually has something to prove to him. He then showed a clip of him destroying the beloved Sami Zayn, who he called his best friend. His lasting words: “If I do that to somebody I care about, imagine what I’ll do to John Cena.” This may be the best use of NXT on the main roster that I’ve seen other than Nexus from the summer of 2010.

Paige finally got some revenge on the woman who put her out of action for a month and defeated Naomi in a one-on-one match. With the two vying for the WWE Divas Championship on Sunday, I think either one of these ladies can walk out of Sunday night with the title. I predicted that Naomi would win, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Paige regain the championship she’s held twice before. There’s always a chance we see a call up from NXT debut here to make a statement, so I’m keeping my eyes peeled for Charlotte.

The Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber match has lost some luster as of late, and doesn’t feel nearly as important and some of the other matches on the card. I guess having nobody really new in the title picture can do that to an audience. As I predicted, I think Sheamus walks away Sunday with the gold, but all he did Thursday night on SmackDown was attack R-Truth and King Barrett. Nothing came of the Ryback-Rusev encounter, and Dolph Ziggler is kind of doing nothing really. Let’s hope they all bring their A game on Sunday night.

Speaking of Rusev, his ankle injury is believed to have occurred around the 1:47 mark in the above video during his match with Ryback. As I said in my Elimination Chamber preview post, the idea is to have Bray Wyatt replace Rusev in the match if he cannot medically compete. Will that change the outcome of who walks out of Corpus Christi with the gold?

Don’t forget! Daniel Bryan appears on the Elimination Chamber Kickoff Show on the WWE Network as a guest on Miz TV. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the Network, I know I just convinced you to, so you can click here to sign up for free! Just make sure you cancel the subscription at 11pm Sunday night, or else you’ll be billed $9.99 Monday morning. You’re welcome.

Match rundown

     • Lumberjack Match: Lucha Dragons d. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd by pinfall after Kalisto hit Kidd with the Salida del Sol. Xavier Woods distracted Kidd, allowing Kalisto to get the win. The tag teams competing in the Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match acted as the lumberjacks for this contest.

     • R-Truth d. King Barrett by pinfall via his What’s Up? finisher. Sheamus attacked R-Truth and Barrett after the match.

     • Ryback d. Rusev by disqualification after Rusev threw Ryback into the outside ring post twice. Rusev apparently suffered a legitimate injury to his right ankle during the match.

     • Paige d. Naomi by pinfall via the Ram-Paige.

     • Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns d. Seth Rollins and Kane by disqualification after J & J Security interfered. Surprisingly, The New Day ran down to help The Authority in the attack on Ambrose and Reigns.