By Jeremy Snodgrass - February 12, 2019
Mustafa Ali was set to be the lovable underdog at Elimination Chamber, but a tailbone injury is said to keep him on the sideline. But with Ali out, WWE has just five days to replace him, and apparently, they have a short list of candidates.
If Ali does indeed miss Elimination Chamber, that knocks to field down to WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, and Jeff Hardy. However, Wrestling Observer Radio has a scoop on the sixth entrant WWE is reportedly decided between Andrade and Rey Mysterio. Per The Observer, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev are also under consideration.
It's worth noting that WWE has yet to make Ali's injury official, but that is expected to change on SmackDown according to Fightful.
The WWE Universe would be happy to accept any of those potential names. However, regardless of who it is between Andrade, Mysterio, Rusev, and Nakamura, the outcome will likely involve Bryan retaining his WWE Championship.
WWE looks to be fairly invested in Daniel Bryan's heel run as champion. Having given him his own unique title, and Erik Rowan as muscle, all signs point to Bryan carrying the WWE Championship to WrestleMania 35. While the ultimate plan may be for Bryan to drop the title, Sunday would be a premature execution of that blueprint.
While Bryan is expected to leave Elimination Chamber with his hemp belt, he may leave with a WrestleMania opponent in mind, too. For several months, he and AJ Styles have feuded over SmackDown's top prize, but that battle likely won't be carrying into WM35. However if not Styles, there's not an obvious candidate for Bryan's WrestleMania dancing partner.
Since Bryan returned to WWE last year, fans have been anticipating a mega 'Mania match with The Miz, but it looks like The A-Lister may be working with Shane McMahon on April 7. This means that whoever gets Bryan will do so after a big promotion to SmackDown's main event—like Andrade—or Bryan's challenger is still not on the show—like Bray Wyatt.
Regardless, Sunday should prove to be a pivotal night in terms of WrestleMania implications. But if we were forced to bet on it, Bryan will meet Wyatt in New York.
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