By Jason Powell
The Fastlane event looks more attractive on paper than WWE made it appear throughout the build to the event. It never felt like there was a sense of urgency to make this show seem important (see the Big Show vs. Braun Strowman main event on the Raw go-home show). Most of the matches received fair to good storyline support, yet WWE failed to make this feel like a must-see show heading into WrestleMania. It doesn’t help that the prize at the end of the main event rainbow is a date with Triple H in the title match at WrestleMania. In 2016. Yes, really. In fairness, I’m okay with Hunter in the title match if WWE has another match or ideally two matches that are bigger than the title match. Maybe it’s Undertaker’s Last Ride? Maybe The Rock is actually wrestling? Triple H belongs in a meaningful WrestleMania match, but he doesn’t belong in the most meaningful WrestleMania match. In 2016. All of that said, Fastlane has the potential to be a very good show. Here’s hoping the WWE hype machine works out the kinks leading into the biggest event of the year.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship shot at WrestleMania 32: Let’s start with the obvious. Roman Reigns vs. Triple H has been the story they have been setting up for months. Now that we’ve established this, let’s start overthinking things, shall we? The match is being held in Ambrose country. Triple H defending the title against anyone in a singles match leads to a highly predictable outcome given that he’s not a full-time wrestler. So perhaps Ambrose gets the win here and then Roman eventually triggers the rematch clause he never used after losing the title at the Royal Rumble to make the WrestleMania main event a Triple Threat. Let’s take it one step further. Maybe there’s a double pin or a double submission finish just as we’ve seen on NXT television lately. Outside interference leads to Lesnar and Ambrose both pinning or submitting Reigns, who later uses that rematch clause to make the WrestleMania main event a four-way. I’m a big believer in most WrestleMania main events being singles matches, but this year is an exception due to the predictability of Hunter dropping the title at WrestleMania and the thought of a WrestleMania ending with babyface Reigns being heavily booed even as The Rock once again tries to give him some post-match rub. When in doubt, keep it simple and go with the obvious.
Roman Reigns wins.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Title: We were all scratching our heads when Ziggler pinned Owens in two television matches. It made sense once Owens captured the Intercontinental Title. So why bring Ziggler’s first momentum in years to a screeching halt by having him lose on Smackdown? Sure, it was an Owens’ distraction that led to the finish, but why have Ziggler lose again when there were three other wrestlers in the six-man tag match who are not even advertised for Fastlane? Anyway, these two work well together and the Ziggler wins combined with the IC Title now being in play should make this match even more entertaining. By the way, here’s hoping the Money in the Bank ladder match style train wreck is for the U.S. Title and we get Owens defending in a singles match against AJ Styles.
Kevin Owens retains the Intercontinental Title.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella for the Divas Championship: I thought we might see Ric Flair cost Brie the match to set up a rematch only with Daniel Bryan in his wife’s corner at WrestleMania. It would have been a cool moment, but Smackdown left me assuming that they are sticking with the original plan of having Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch in the title match with Charlotte. After all, Lynch was already talking about her WrestleMania moment, and I don’t think she was foreshadowing a role as a lumberjill or whatever they come up with this time to get all the Divas on the biggest show of the year.
Charlotte retains the Divas Championship.
Kane, Big Show, and Ryback vs. Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman: I don’t know what this is leading to at WrestleMania, but I sure hope they don’t think there’s still enough time to get Bray Wyatt over enough for a showdown match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. They are building up the Wyatt Family for something, but I’m not sure what. I’m all for Goldberg or another returning star joining the “Titans of WWE” in a big eight-man tag match at WrestleMania. I just hope that slot doesn’t belong to Undertaker because seeing him work an eight-man tag match at WrestleMania in his home state would be a big letdown.
The Wyatt Family win.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Naomi and Tamina: If Sasha and Becky are going to be in the title match at WrestleMania, then they likely win this match. The outcome may be predictable, but I hope the women get some time. I like how aggressive Naomi has been and I hope there is some storytelling involving reluctant tag partners Banks and Lynch.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch defeat Naomi and Tamina.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho: I’m a little torn on this one. If the feud ends here, then Styles will go over clean and move on. If the feud continues and concludes with a WrestleMania match, then it’s possible that Jericho wins this match. It’s also possible that Styles could win the match and then Jericho could snap afterward and turn full fledged heel creating the need for another match. I am looking forward to this match as much as anything on the show. The problem is that I don’t think Styles is as hot as he was coming out of the Royal Rumble match. Fans were ready to see him featured as a star. Instead, WWE is presenting him as an undersized underdog pit bull. This company needs stars. Styles is a star. It’s time to treat him like one.
AJ Styles wins.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio in a best of three falls match for the U.S. Championship: It would be clever if WWE would deliver the first fall or even the first two falls on the Kickoff show and have the rest of the match carry over to the actual pay-per-view. Sure, the freeloaders would piss and moan, but the goal of the free pre-show is to sell viewers on the pay-per-view and this could be a nice hook for impulse buys if the match is hot enough. As for the outcome, I don’t know and I don’t think most people really care. The game of U.S. Title hot potato backfired. It also doesn’t help that WWE has shown they are so serious about Kalisto as a singles wrestler that they’ve had him working more tag matches with Sin Cara on television than anything. Flip a coin.
Tails: Alberto Del Rio wins.
Powell’s Bold Predictions for WWE Fastlane
-Johnny Manziel won’t show his Idiot Face at this WWE event or anywhere else in Cleveland for a long time.
-The best broadcast team in WWE will be relegated to retweeting fan praise on Twitter while Michael Cole and JBL join Byron Saxton’s smile on commentary. Okay, it’s not a bold prediction, but I’m going to keep bitching about this until Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn wake up and realize that they should have their best big match play-by-play voice calling their biggest matches. It’s common sense. Of course, WWE has a history of not using common sense when it comes to using their best voices (see Jim Ross).
-John Cena will not drive his Daytona 500 pace car to Cleveland in time for WWE Fastlane, but we will see at least one video package of his big afternoon. If you’re not rubbing, you’re not racing. The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car, it’s the one who refuses to lose. If you’re not first, you’re last. Dick Trickle.
-Bubba Ray Dudley will break his “no tables” rule when a Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame employee informs him that Motley Crue has yet to be inducted.
-Big Show and Braun Strowman will deliver a dramatic reenactment of the Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000 classic from Friday’s Bellator 149 freak show. Oh, and Kimbo will finally catch his breath at some point during the Fastlane main event.