WWE Elimination Chamber: Assessing the women’s contenders

Alexa Bliss faces the most brutal of title defences on Sunday night as the WWE women stage their first Elimination Chamber match live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Bliss lines up against five Raw rivals in the steel structure as the red brand’s female division chart new water in Las Vegas.

Three former champions are among the challengers to the crown, with the hungry emerging talents of Absolution added to a combustible mix.

We’ve assessed the six Chamber competitors in what will be a unique and ground-breaking contest…

Alexa Bliss (c)

Alexa Bliss hit the nail on the head when she accused Raw general manager of treating her unfairly by giving her an Elimination Chamber title defence when Brock Lesnar does not have one.

Relive Alexa Bliss' Raw women's championship win over Sasha Banks last year

Because a Chamber match presents a challenge unlike any other, combining the threat of a punishing physical environment with multiple simultaneous opponents.

Bliss’ match skills, therefore, face a seriously stern examination. But an opportunity presents itself too. Little Miss Bliss has a great chance to showcase her abilities in a pioneering match to further her reputation as one of the great women’s champions.

Bayley

The ever-popular Bayley went into last year’s WrestleMania as the Raw women’s champion and came away as the Raw women’s champion in a moment which will stay with her forever.

The Hugger has had a tough time since dropping the title to Bliss shortly after that high point but has bounced back in recent weeks, notably putting in an excellent performance in a win over Sasha Banks on Raw a fortnight ago.

Bayley came close to a win over Asuka on Raw recently

Bayley and Banks are never far away from one another but strain is again beginning to show in their relationship, with the latter eliminating the former from the Royal Rumble last month to add another layer of complexity into the mix.

Their potential falling-out is one of the key storylines in the Chamber match, where the intense nature of the contest will put further pressure on one of the oldest friendships in the women’s locker room.

Sasha Banks

If the final Raw before a pay-per-view is a signpost – and Asuka’s very deliberate throwing over the top rope of her team-mates at Raw 25, six days before she won the Royal Rumble, absolutely was – then Sasha Banks should be the favourite to dethrone Bliss in the Chamber.

Sasha Banks became a four-time women's champion at SummerSlam last year

She might have lost to Asuka on the red show three weeks ago, but Banks secured a precious tap-out victory over the champion Bliss on Monday’s go-home episode, which could be either an indicator or a complete red herring.

The unexpected should always be expected in WWE and that could again be the case on Sunday night. With that in mind, could it actually be Bayley who costs Banks the title, paving the way for one of the most unlikely heel turns in WWE history?

Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose

The Absolution pair will form a ‘two for one’ proposition in the Chamber; even without the guiding hand of the sadly sidelined Paige it seems unlikely they will split up this early into their main roster run.

Paige's absence from Absolution has hurt the group's momentum

The loss of the group leader has unquestionably hurt both women but there are no signs of conflict between them and if they can work together then they could pick off their Elimination Chamber opponents and march to victory.

The only problem then would be working out what would happen should they comprise the final two. Paper, scissors, stone?

Mickie James

The slow extension of seven of Trish Stratus’ fingers during the Royal Rumble was one of the most vicious blows Mickie James took during that match.

James currently sits on five reigns but longs to regain a WWE championship she most recently held in 2010.

Mickie James and Alexa Bliss have formed a strange bond over the past few weeks

Since that time, the women’s division has undergone a full-blown revolution while James herself has married and become a mother.

Her legacy as one of the all-time greats is secure but she could move into the rarefied air reserved for female legends with a ‘post-revolution’ title win to bridge the two eras.

The champion, Alexa Bliss, has done her best to enlist James to her cause in recent weeks but James is wise enough to know enemies should be kept closer than friends. Which begs the question – who is duping who?

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