By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
These predictions were made with no help from the betting lines because I’m not a dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking, cheater. In other words, I’m guessing just like you are. Join me for live coverage of the WWE Fastlane event beginning with the Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET. Dot Net Members will have exclusive access to the audio review that Jake Barnett and I will record after the show. Join us on the ad-free version of Prowrestling.net and access a decade of content and audio shows via PWMembership.net.
OJ or AJ? That’s the decision that some wrestling fans face tonight with WWE’s new BFFs at Fox airing the “If I Did It” special. Normally, this wouldn’t be a tough call for pro wrestling fans, but even a decade old hypothetical confessional/cash grab feels slightly more compelling than the least necessary pay-per-view of 2018. For those who choose AJ over OJ, the good news is that this has the potential to be one of those sleeper shows with the work of the talent making up for the creative team’s failures.
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena in a six-way for the WWE Championship: The addition of Cena at least made this a little more interesting. There was no doubt pre Cena that Styles was going to retain and go on to face Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. And while I still believe that will happen, Cena has been wisely cast as a believable threat to deprive the diehard fans of their dream match. I still believe that it’s only a matter of time before the gong sounds for Cena and they set up his match with Undertaker for April 8. Everyone else in this match feels like a pretender. Owens and Zayn were defined down when they failed to beat Styles in a handicap match. WWE can’t wait to tell viewers that Corbin squanders his opportunities. And Ziggler continues to be a creative disaster. It’s a two-man match in terms of the outcome with the only other thing that feels significant is the interaction of Zayn and Owens. Ultimately, though, this should be a very good match if the five-way teaser on Smackdown is any indication.
AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship.
The Usos vs. New Day for the Smackdown Tag Titles: The latest chapter of a good, long term rivalry. The Bludgeon Brothers have stared down both teams. They even interrupted the Usos and New Day verbal confrontation and scared off both teams. It seems like they are building toward a Triple Threat match between the three teams for WrestleMania. Thus, I expect another good match with an interference finish.
The Usos retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Charlotte Flair vs. Ruby Riott for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Congratulations to Riott for seemingly having her name drawn out of a hat and being named Charlotte’s throwaway challenger of the month. Seriously, when is the last time that crown jewel of the WWE women’s division had a match that felt like it actually mattered? I assume that will change once Charlotte gets through this match and goes on to face Asuka at WrestleMania. There has to be a reason that they haven’t made Asuka’s title match official, and it’s not like any of the Smackdown women are being groomed for the role of challenger at WrestleMania. Still, I am genuinely looking forward to seeing what type of match these two can produce. Is Carmella ever going to cash in her Money in the Bank contract? Please tell me that she is not going to do so during the Charlotte vs. Asuka WrestleMania match to give creative an easy way out of booking a clean finish to the singles match.
Charlotte Flair retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton for the U.S. Championship: WWE has yet to add Jinder Mahal to the match despite the fact that Daniel Bryan originally named him as the challenger and then Mahal beat Orton on Smackdown this week. If Mahal isn’t added to this match then it feels safe to assume they are building toward a Triple Threat at WrestleMania. If there’s a title change on this show then this would seem to be the most likely place to do it with either Orton or late addition Mahal taking the title. I say save it for WrestleMania.
Bobby Roode retains the U.S. Title.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev: Creative clearly wants to send Nakamura into WrestleMania with some momentum. The outcome of this match is the easy part. The tricky part is making sure that the Rusev Day loving fans in the building don’t make Rusev feel like the bigger star. Free advice: Book a competitive Nakamura vs. Zayn on Smackdown before WrestleMania to show the television viewers who didn’t see their classic NXT Takeover match just how good a Nakamura match can be.
Shinsuke Nakamura wins.
Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Natalya and Carmella: Will this be a feel good win for the babyface duo or parity booking with the heels getting a win here that the babyfaces get back on Tuesday’s Smackdown? Flip a coin. Heads.
Becky Lynch and Naomi win.
NEW: Help support Prowrestling.net when you shop Amazon by starting your online Amazon shopping at Prowrestling.net/amazon. You are not charged extra, but we receive a small and very helpful commission on everything you purchase. Thanks for thinking of us every time you shop at Amazon.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...