We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.
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We’ll have to see how Elimination Chamber plays out to know for sure, but, from where we stand on Wednesday morning, the SmackDown-exclusive appears to be doing a much better job of remembering WWE’s women’s division than the joint pay-per-view Royal Rumble did. Even though the Rumble was a six-hour affair and one of the most significant WWE shows of the year, it featured just one women’s match on the main card, and two on the pre-show — one of which occurred so early that calling the arena even half-full would be generous. Elimination Chamber, on the other hand, has three women’s matches scheduled, and, given the rest of the card, it seems like all of them will be on the main show.
Elimination Chamber has seven matches scheduled in total, and the safe pick for the kickoff match is likely the 2-on-1 Apollo Crews and Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler bout. That leaves Nikki Bella vs. Natalya, Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James, and Naomi vs. SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss as half of the event’s main card, with a WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match, Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper, and a Tag Turmoil title fight as the other three on the show. The go-home show for Elimination Chamber made sure to spotlight each of the women’s feuds before Sunday, too, giving Nikki and Natalya a segment on the show proper as well as one on after-show Talking Smack, and with a joint contract signing for the other two matches that showed just how interconnected those two feuds are — and it might have also been a preview of a four-way title tussle coming at WrestleMania.
The fact SmackDown managed to put this all together despite being the first show up after the Rumble — which went down less than a week-and-a-half ago — is a credit to the way they handled things before the Rumble. With little to do at the Rumble itself, SmackDown focused its show heavily on what would come after, so rather than slapped together stories or last-minute feuds to fill a card, we ended up with seven matches that, top to bottom, not only feature the vast majority of SmackDown’s roster, but also make logical, cohesive sense. The women’s matches are a significant part of that, and even though it seems like they’ll have to eek out some space on the WrestleMania card this year unlike their RAW counterparts, expect SmackDown to figure out a way to make that work for them, too.
- We should have a pretty good idea of what WWE is planning for its RAW women’s division at WrestleMania following next week’s title match between Charlotte Flair and Bayley.
- We’ve got the full recap and additional details of SmackDown’s go-home show for Elimination Chamber.
- Kurt Angle isn’t done wrestling just yet, and thinks he’ll get a chance to show as much while with WWE.
- Wednesday’s Rumor Roundup is heavily Fastlane-focused.
- Bad news: Nikki Bella is planning to take some time off after WrestleMania 33. The good news? She’s not leaving because she’s retiring, as it sounds like she just needs some time off to heal.
- Sami Zayn is a Canadian-born Muslim of Syrian heritage whose mission has been to “reestablish how Arabs were perceived in WWE and western media,” and recent events have only reminded us all of how important said mission is.
- Triple H spoke at length about Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks on the Gorilla Position podcast, which you can also read highlights of at Wrestling Inc.
- Neville will defend his Cruiserweight Championship against Jack Gallagher at Fastlane, and if WWE lets them do what they are capable of, this could be a fascinating clash of styles.
- The Rock has teamed up with Stephen Merchant to produce a film based on the life of Paige and her family. Yes, that sentence exists and is true. Get to know the actress who will portray Paige, as well as the plot synopsis.
- Rob Gronkowski pulled off a Steve Austin double-beer chug during the Patriots’ championship parade on Tuesday. When Gronk joins the WWE someday to tag with Mojo Rawley, this is going to feel even more like a link to a wrestling news post.
- Good news, everyone! WWE is reportedly expecting Seth Rollins to be healthy for WrestleMania 33.