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Gauntlet Match Announced for SmackDown Live

WWE announced on Sunday afternoon that all six of the wrestlers in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match will take part in a six-man gauntlet match on this week's episode of SmackDown Live.

The winner of the match will get an advantage heading into the Feb. 17 event, as they'll get to wait to enter the match until the final pod has been opened.

WWE previously used the gauntlet match to award the same stipulation before the 2018 edition of Elimination Chamber on an episode of Monday Night Raw. That match famously lasted nearly two hours and saw Seth Rollins last for one hour and five minutes by beating both Roman Reigns and John Cena. Rollins wound up setting a record for longest time spent in a single match on Raw, but wound up getting eliminated by eventual-winner Elias.

Daniel Bryan, wielding his newly-designed WWE Championship hemp belt, will defend the title against AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Mustafa Ali, Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy. Days before the Survivor Series event in November, AJ Styles put his title up once again against Bryan shortly after celebrating his year-long run as world champion. Late in the match Styles inadvertently hit the referee, allowing Bryan to hit him with a low blow and a Running Knee to win the match and turn heel in the process.

Over the coming weeks Bryan explained it was his "Dreams" that drove him to do whatever it took to become world champion again. He then became obsessed with ecological preservation, calling himself the "Planet's Champion" and began berating the fans for being "fickle" and trying to fill a void in their lives with things like processed meat.

He successfully retained the title in a rematch with Styles at TLC in December, then beat him again at the Royal Rumble thanks to some interference from his "intellectual peer" Rowan.

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In a recent interview with Newsweek, Bryan set some lofty goals for his current heel run.

"I want to be the most hated guy in the company," Bryan said. I want to be more hated than Brock Lesnar. Some people want to cheer for the bad guy. I don't want them to cheer, I want to be hated. So far I've had two jumpers at live events [laughs] and that's an old school kind of mentality. You don't want those guys to jump but you want them to hate you. You want them to pay to see you get beat. Or pay to see you get beat up or at the very least enjoy seeing you get beat up. That's my thing."