There is a pay-per-view (if you can still call it that) this weekend. SmackDown Live! has its final PPV before WrestleMania 33. As always, I'm bringing in the WWE insider crew to make some picks.
Everyone's records were reset with the new year. Aaron is relegated to Chris Jericho's shark cage and will pick last after neglecting to pick the Royal Rumble.
Elimination Chamber WWE Championship Match
AJ Styles vs. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Baron Corbin vs. John Cena
Scott: I think there aren't many that think John Cena is walking out of the Elimination Chamber the WWE world champion. It's unfortunate that his 16th reign would end so quickly, but it looks more like Bray Wyatt is walking out Sunday with the gold. This would set up a Randy Orton versus "Eater of Worlds" showdown at WrestleMania. PICK: BRAY WYATT
Chuck: There are a lot of people picking against John Cena in this one and I completely understand why. However, I'm of the belief John Cena is going into WrestleMania with gold around his waist. I just can't see such a short title run after tying Ric Flair's record. That would cheapen the whole thing. Hustle, loyalty, respect all day. PICK: JOHN CENA
Aaron: Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble makes no sense if Bray Wyatt doesn't have the title. We just saw Cena vs. Orton on SmackDown, so clearly there's no intention of doing that match at Mania. AJ Styles? You could make the argument, but it doesn't quite fit. Orton vs. Baron Corbin, The Miz or Dean Ambrose? While I like all three of those guys, none of them really make sense here. Orton and Wyatt have to face each other at Mania, it's what they've been building to since the brand split. Could there be a swerve to force a four-way with Orton, Wyatt, Cena and Styles? Maybe. But if that's the case, the best way to build it is to have Wyatt win here. So Bray Wyatt finally gets singles gold. PICK: BRAY WYATT
SmackDown Women's Championship Match
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi
Scott: As much as I want to see Naomi win the women's title, I don't see Alexa Bliss losing with a new alliance with Mickie James developing. There is potential of Bliss vs. Bella in the near future. That said, I wouldn't mind being wrong with Naomi giving that women's championship some glow. Not to mention the fact that WrestleMania Is taking place in Naomi's hometown of Orlando. PICK: ALEXA BLISS
Chuck: I want so badly for Naomi to have her moment. I can't see her getting it at WrestleMania, but then again I didn't see Zac Ryder winning the Intercontinental Title last year either. So fingers crossed her day will come in a few more weeks, but Sunday won't be it. PICK: ALEXA BLISS
Aaron: The contract signing almost made me think it would be Naomi. Alexa Bliss basically said that Naomi doesn't matter. If Alexa now wins, doesn't that make her right? It would be a terrible look for Naomi. At the same time, I have a hard time seeing Naomi carrying the belt into WrestleMania, as much as I enjoy her as a wrestler. I'm glad she's getting the spotlight, and I think her time will come soon, but it's not here. PICK: ALEXA BLISS
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Turmoil Match
American Alpha vs. The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Breezango vs. The Ascension vs. The Vaudevillains
Scott: I really want American Alpha to build a nice run as tag team champions, so I hope WWE lets that happen with a successful title defense here. Although I think there is a lot of potential with Breezango. They definitely deserve more opportunities and TV time. PICK: AMERICAN ALPHA
Chuck: I will state unequivocally that The Usos need to go back to being babyfaces. This whole heel thing isn't working and for a long while the WWE Universe liked to play in the paint. I need their Samoan chant and "Uuu-sooo" mantra. If they still had those along with some fancy colors, I'd say they have a shot. Instead the champions will retain. PICK: AMERICAN ALPHA
Aaron: The odd thing about this match is that it seems like it would have made sense at Mania on the pre-show. That means one of two things. Either they have something in mind for a tag match at Mania, or all 12 of these guys are going into the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Either way, they didn't put the titles on American Alpha just to take them off this quickly, and most likely if something big is at Mania, it involves American Alpha. Thus, they retain here. PICK: AMERICAN ALPHA
Kalisto and Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler
Scott: Dolph Ziggler has been given new life with this recent heel turn, so I don't see him losing, even if it's a two-on-one setting. This makes me wonder if someone will step in to even the odds in Ziggler's favor. PICK: DOLPH ZIGGLER
Chuck: Apollo Crews could use a signature win, but going over in a handicap match when you have a partner isn't going to provide that. PICK: DOLPH ZIGGLER
Aaron: So here we have the underdog face Dolph Ziggler needing to overcome the odds to beat the two guys who have been bullying him... wait, that's not the setup of this match? This match makes no sense. The only thing that I can come up with is that they want Dolph to lose for some reason, but felt a singles loss to Apollo and Kalisto would be a bad look. Otherwise, why wouldn't they just put Dolph and Apollo against each other and have Dolph win? So I'll go with the faces using their unfair advantage to win. PICK: KALISTO AND APOLLO CREWS
Randy Orton (Photo Credit: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
Scott: I'm going to go on the limb and say Luke Harper gets the upset win over Randy Orton. Maybe Bray Wyatt inadvertently cost Orton the match to set up some potential dissension perhaps or some other type of shenanigans. A Harper victory also gives him a good start to his post-Wyatt run… however short it may be. PICK: LUKE HARPER
Chuck: I can see Bray Wyatt turning on Randy Orton and aiding Luke Harper in this one. The writing is on the wall for a Wyatt-Orton match at WrestleMania, and this is the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling. PICK: LUKE HARPER
Aaron: So they're going to have someone win the Royal Rumble, and then have him lose right away in the next PPV? No. That being said, I do wonder if it's a bit of a cheap victory. Luke Harper still has a role to play with Orton and Bray Wyatt. After SmackDown this week, for the first time, I started to wonder if Harper would find his way into the title match at Mania. Do I see it happening? No. But the possibility is there. Either way, Orton wins. The question is simply how cleanly. PICK: RANDY ORTON
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
Scott: This one can go either way for me, but I'm going to go with Nikki Bella defeating Natalya here to put her in contention for the women's championship. PICK: NIKKI BELLA
Chuck: Like Naomi, Natalya is a superb talent who has been overlooked and underutilized for years. The problem for her is that I think WWE is pushing Nikki Bella toward WrestleMania redemption after overcoming a career-threatening injury. PICK: NIKKI BELLA
Aaron: This comes down to a single question. Who is more likely to be involved in a major match at WrestleMania? Whether it's for the title, or involved in another high-profile match, the answer is Nikki Bella. It's really hard to see Natalya in that position in Orlando. Thus, Nikki should win this match. PICK: NIKKI BELLA
Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch
Scott: There is the potential to continue the rivalry with Mickie James and Becky Lynch. That is why I see the reinvention of Mickie James defeating Lynch by hook or by crook this time around. PICK: MICKIE JAMES
Chuck: Mickie James is due for a win. She needs it to legitimize her status as a threat after being gone for so many years. PICK: MICKIE JAMES
Aaron: This might be the trickiest match on the card. Both of these women could use a win, and it wouldn't surprise me to see both of these women end up in the title match at WrestleMania. The only reason that I'm leaning Mickie here is that she needs a win. She returned and it was a big deal that she returned, but she hasn't done much since. Plus, if, like I think, both of them make the title match, a cheap win would fit, and a cheap win works better with a heel. PICK: MICKIE JAMES
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.
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