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Elimination Chamber succeeding where Royal Rumble failed WWE’s women

Wednesday’s Rude Awakening looks at the upcoming Elimination Chamber, Sami Zayn’s mission, and good news on Seth Rollins.

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.

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