The Elimination Chamber stands as the last major milestone before Raw hits full throttle on the road to WrestleMania. By the end of the action on Sunday, at least two more matches on the WrestleMania 34 will be set in stone, and between the rest of the action in the two Elimination Chamber matches and elsewhere on the card, there should be strong indicators on which direction much of the card on the Raw side will go.
It's also one final chance to state definitively whether it'll be about following the status quo and moving forward with it, or taking a turn and altering the direction that everyone is heading on the way to New Orleans.
Each match that's been announced so far has two (or more) opposing possibilities, and Sunday night represents the moment in which those choices will be made. For those who don't win, even in defeat there can be a moment -- a faceoff, a betrayal or even a look -- that will telegraph where their fates will take them in the weeks to come.
That goes for Ronda Rousey as well, as she'll make her second appearance in as many months for WWE to "sign" her contract to become a member of the Monday Night Raw roster. No matter who she gets into it with, be it an active superstar or Stephanie McMahon herself, Rousey's plan for WrestleMania should become clear by the time the ink is dry.
The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view will shine a lot of light on what is still an unclear picture. It's time for big choices to be made.
Universal championship No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match: Braun Strowman vs. Elias vs. Finn Balor vs. John Cena vs. The Miz vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
Status quo: Roman Reigns
From the moment Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase during the main event of WrestleMania 31, there's been unfinished business between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Quarrel with it all you like, but when two of the biggest names of the past decade in WWE are set to face off in the main event of a WrestleMania and they don't get a decisive finish between the two of them -- and then don't go one-on-one once over the next three years -- there's still a story to be told.
The WWE has seemingly telegraphed Reigns' ascension back into the Universal championship picture for at least a year, if not longer, by keeping him away from either of the world titles since June 2016, outside of a few key moments. Reigns held onto the United States championship and Intercontinental championship, quarreled with Strowman and potentially ended The Undertaker's career -- all key pieces to the puzzle -- but even when Reigns competed for the Universal or WWE championships, it never felt like it was his time to step back into that role.
Even in working so hard to keep Reigns from feeling like "the chosen one," which was what got Reigns such strong mixed reactions in the first place, there have been a few too many not-so-subtle hints that Reigns vs. Lesnar II is an inevitability. Outside of Royal Rumble matches they were both in where they never crossed paths, Reigns and Lesnar have been in the ring just twice since their WrestleMania 31 encounter gone awry. In February 2016 at Fastlane, Reigns beat Lesnar and Dean Ambrose to earn a shot at Triple H and the WWE title. Then, in August 2017 at SummerSlam, they were both part of a memorable Fatal 4-Way at SummerSlam for Lesnar's Universal championship.
Paul Heyman all but telegraphed it the night after WrestleMania 33, when he said, "It's time to talk about the two in 23-2," referencing Reigns as the only person other than Lesnar to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The live crowd didn't love it then, and they may not like it in New Orleans, but sometimes inevitability is that way for a reason.
Shaking things up: Braun Strowman
On the other hand, the man who ultimately interrupted Lesnar on that night wasn't Reigns -- it was Braun Strowman. He was the standout superstar of 2017, and even though we've seen the one-on-one match once before, there's no denying the spectacle of Lesnar versus Strowman feels like a WrestleMania match.
Even though it still doesn't feel like Strowman needs a title to justify his destruction of all things, at a certain point you have to justify the feeling that Strowman could will his way into a world title if it was what he truly desired. If he can destroy massive objects at his will, but can't overcome an opponent, how effective a "monster" is he, really? And if Lesnar isn't Strowman's destiny for WrestleMania 34, who else really feels like a worthy reward for everything he's done over the past year?
In need of a path: Finn Balor, The Miz, Seth Rollins, Elias, John Cena
The men's Elimination Chamber match feels like a two-horse race (albeit one with Reigns well out in front), but the other five guys in this match are certainly worthy of a WrestleMania match of their own. Just as the Royal Rumble match has been an ignition point for rivalries in the past, moments in this Elimination Chamber could prove to be the perfect launching pad for what any (or all) of these five men ultimately go on to do at WrestleMania 34.
With Miz holding the Intercontinental championship, he appears to be the most logical lightning rod for the rest of the field. Any of the other four men could be worthy foils -- Balor and Rollins most logically -- or the Intercontinental title could come to be one way for multiple challengers to get their WrestleMania moment on a night with expansive, yet crowded, real estate. Seth Rollins reminded us all how good he was on Monday with an iron man performance for the ages, lasting more than an hour in a gauntlet match, but everything that builds off of that night will be just as important as the feat itself.
Cena may go on to face a returning Undertaker, or some yet-to-be-determined foil. Guys like Dean Ambrose, Samoa Joe and Big Cass could come into the equation if they get medically cleared in time. But this match, more than any other, features a very liquid set of circumstances for a handful of Raw's top talents that eventually has to be hammered down.
WWE Raw women's championship Elimination Chamber match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Sasha Banks vs. Sonya Deville
Status quo: Alexa Bliss
The past few weeks of Raw have made it a point of pairing off the six competitors in this match -- Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose of Absolution, Bayley and Sasha Banks, and most recently Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. That can't be an accident. If the intention is to provide a plausible way in which Bliss can escape such long odds, they've pulled it off.
After not offering Bliss a straight-up rivalry for months, it feels like a strange time to pull the title from her. Between her sharp promos of late and the setup of Asuka beating her prior to the Royal Rumble, having Bliss lose the Raw women's championship here would be a dramatic departure. Whether it's a one-on-one match against Asuka or a multiwoman match with some combination of Bayley, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax, Bliss feels like the perfect foil for whoever may challenge for the Raw women's championship.
Shaking things up: Sasha Banks or Bayley
Both Banks and Bayley put together impressive performances against Asuka, and their slowly bubbling rivalry-turned-friendship, which is now turning back to rivalry, seems to be rising to a boil just in time for WrestleMania. This match seems to be a likely ignition point for deeper tensions, and while their history and story doesn't feel like it needs a title involved, there's only so much real estate. One or the other winning the title here seems as though it would draw in Asuka if she challenges for the Raw women's title, or Bliss if Asuka heads towards Charlotte Flair and SmackDown.
In need of a path: Mickie James, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose
With two women's title matches, a Ronda Rousey match and the potential for Bayley vs. Banks one-on-one, it's hard to tell where women like James, Deville and Rose could end up at WrestleMania. Will they be on the outside looking in? Or will there be a way to incorporate the underutilized women of Raw and SmackDown on the card?
Asuka vs. Nia Jax
(If Jax wins, she clinches a spot in the Raw women's championship match at WrestleMania 34)
Status quo: Asuka
If Bliss losing the title feels weird, Asuka's streak ending just shy of her first WrestleMania would be all but unheard of. Jax is the last pillar of Raw's women's division left to fall to Asuka, and whether that leads the first ever women's Royal Rumble winner towards the Raw or SmackDown women's championship, not having the streak as part of the buildup to WrestleMania could be a major blow to Asuka's credibility after such a long stretch of invincibility.
Shaking things up: Nia Jax
On the other hand, Nia Jax has been perpetually built up as the most dominant physical force in the Raw women's division, only to fall to the champion or rising challenger of the moment. What better way to make Jax every bit the monstrous force she's been billed as than to derail Asuka's wave of momentum and insert herself into the WrestleMania title picture?
Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy
Status quo: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has won almost all of the early battles in the "Great War" thus far, and pushing Matt Hardy further towards the edge would open up some crazy possibilities on the way to WrestleMania. If we are headed toward the culmination of said "Great War" from the Hardy compound during WrestleMania 34, it would help Wyatt to get a couple more small victories on his way to "deletion".
Shaking things up: Matt Hardy
With all the craziness yet to come, this is one rivalry where it's easy not to get too far bogged down in wins and losses. Crazy begets crazy, and if Hardy pulls off his first big win in this rivalry, they'll continue to drive each other further down into their collective well of madness.
Raw tag team championships: The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (c) vs. Titus Worldwide (Titus O'Neil & Apollo)
Status quo: The Bar
The recently re-crowned Raw tag team champions are the perfect anchor for Raw's tag team division. After regaining the titles at the Royal Rumble, it would seem a rather abrupt moment to disrupt Sheamus & Cesaro's momentum so close to WrestleMania. The Raw tag team titles seem like another potential landing pad for a multiway match, and a loss for Titus Worldwide wouldn't eliminate them from contention from such a match -- especially considering their multiple wins over the current tag champs.
Shaking things up: Titus Worldwide
If a multiway match is on the horizon anyway, it doesn't particularly matter who walks in as champions, and Titus Worldwide could continue its upward trajectory with some gold around their waists. Apollo is in the midst of a career renaissance, and this could be another boost to his status in the Raw ecosystem.