SmackDown Elimination Chamber 2021 field set – so who will challenge Roman Reigns?
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
The stage has been set for a possible show-stealing match later this month after the field of competitors in the SmackDown Elimination Chamber was made official Friday.
Most of you reading this probably watched Friday Night SmackDown already, but for those who didn't, here’s what you missed.
WWE official Adam Pearce kicked things off by informing Roman Reigns that at Elimination Chamber, he’d defend the Universal Championship against five other opponents inside of the steel structure the show is named after.
Paul Heyman nipped that in the bud, however, and said Reigns was obligated to defend the title only at the event itself – not in the actual Chamber.
He then pitched the idea of the winner of the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match challenging his client for the Universal title after the match instead.
Pearce agreed and teased qualifying matches for later in the show but also confirmed the inclusion of two individuals who he believed were already deserving: Jey Uso and Kevin Owens.
Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn were next to earn spots in the Chamber match after defeating Rey and Dominik Mysterio in tag team competition.
Then, during the main event, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro earned spots in the match by defeating Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler.
Let me first expound upon the field of competitors who were chosen for the match: Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens and Jey Uso. You can’t ask for a better group of Superstars.
Not only does Daniel Bryan always deliver, but he’s also the clear favorite to win and challenge Roman for the title next.
Bryan is one of the best underdogs in the business, so this all plays to his strengths.
Running the gamut of those opponents and going on to face Reigns with all the odds against him is the perfect setup to let Daniel do what he does best: tell a compelling story in the ring.
Plus, a feud between these two Superstars has been slowly brewing for months. If it wasn’t to set up a WrestleMania match, it had to be for something, so I’ll accept a short feud in the months prior as a trade-off.
Cesaro is another possible favorite.
"The Swiss Cyborg" has been on a roll racking up wins on Friday nights as of late, including this week for his team against the SmackDown Tag Team champions.
Could this be the time WWE gives him an opportunity to make some magic with Roman Reigns in the main event?
The entire internet has been begging for Cesaro to get an opportunity such as this for years. With momentum behind him now, this wouldn’t be a bad time to roll the dice and see what happens.
These two would tear it up if given the chance.
Kevin Owens deserves to be in the Chamber match as well, given his recent standout matches against Roman Reigns, but I don’t think his chances of winning are high.
Same for Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin due to their being heels.
The allure of having Jey Uso win provides some interesting storyline options, but I think we’ve explored that story already, and Uso is better utilized as backup for Roman right now while waiting for his brother, Jimmy, to return.
My only disappointment with the field of competitors chosen was the glaring exclusion of Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura basically earned a title shot last month in storyline during that Gauntlet match, only to have it ripped away from him by Roman Reigns when he forced an unconscious Adam Pearce into winning the match.
Pearce handed that title shot to Kevin Owens, though, and since then, Nakamura’s impressive performance in the match has been made to feel like an afterthought.
Meanwhile, Shinsuke has been dropping fantastic promos on social media showcasing his unique abilities on the microphone, and they’re being ignored on TV in lieu of shuffling him back to the Intercontinental title hunt. This has left me scratching my head.
"The King of Strong Style" has proven there’s interest from fans in his being put in a title match with the right story.
I hope they haven’t forgotten that and moved on.
The decision to have Roman Reigns defend his title after the Elimination Chamber match, on the other hand, was a smart call in my opinion.
This allows the Raw Elimination Chamber to stand apart from the SmackDown version of the match in a way that enhances Roman and Drew McIntyre’s characters.
Drew looks like a fighting champion willing to defend his title against a field of former World Champions, while Roman wants the top competitors on SmackDown to wear themselves out so he can have an easy Road to WrestleMania.
It might sound simple, but these are things that help endear a babyface with the crowd or make them want to boo a heel.
Seeing as that’s the purpose at the end of the day, I’m all for this.
Hit me up on Twitter @RyanSatin, and tell me which Superstar you want to see win the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match for a title shot against Roman Reigns.