Tonight, WWE presents the Fastlane card from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s their final pay-per-view before WrestleMania with the major programs taking focus and the big push beginning after Sunday.
It’s always been challenging for the bridge pay-per-view between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania and since the brand split of 2016, there have been two shows in between. This year, it’s further hampered by the split between brands nearly non-existent so there isn’t a Raw and SmackDown focus to the shows.
The show is built around Roman Reigns’ first match back and the outcome between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch.
Wai Ting and I will have a Fastlane POST Show up late tonight for everyone. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp, or Espresso member of the Café, you can watch or listen live immediately after Fastlane ends. This also allows you to call in with your reaction to the show. A link will be posted on the Patreon site during Fastlane that provides access to the live feed of the POST Show.
Here is a preview of the show:
CHARLOTTE FLAIR VS BECKY LYNCH
I am expecting this to go on last because it seems like the match to end the show with on a high note of Becky getting her shot at WrestleMania, after I assume her Royal Rumble win was negated (which is not a pattern they should be introducing where the Rumble match is forgotten and doesn’t mean anything).
The storyline injuries to Lynch are tough to work a match around. She has a bad knee, bad ribs, and a bad arm, that it makes it seem silly to have her be competitive with Flair, much less beat her. The story they are pushing is Lynch keeps coming back despite her beatings.
You would think Ronda Rousey has to be involved and the audience will be waiting for her to arrive.
On its own, this is a fantastic match and they two have had extraordinary matches over the past year, the highlight being at Evolution. This feels like more of a “story match” based around Lynch’s injuries and potential involvement from Rousey.
It’s a tough match to book but I feel Lynch needs the win and we have the match set for WrestleMania. To continue the story of Becky fighting to get into the match feels past due and Charlotte winning only hinders the story, with another loss for Lynch that she doesn’t need.
THE SHIELD VS DREW McINTYRE, BOBBY LASHLEY & BARON CORBIN
It sounds self-explanatory to have Roman Reigns win his comeback match and provide the happy moment everyone wants. The other priority is setting up Reigns’ WrestleMania program and you would consider the people involved in the match to be candidates, including teammate Dean Ambrose.
Reigns taking on McInytre, Lashley, or Corbin in a singles match isn’t lighting the world on fire and would require a major angle to capture that interest. Of the three, McIntyre would be the most viable and has been protected since his return. Honestly, this Shield reunion match feels way bigger than Reigns in a singles match with any of those guys, today.
The other option is Ambrose, which could be set up with a turn in the match, Ambrose attacking a victorious Reigns after Reigns gets the fall and takes the glory spot or do an angle on Monday. This pairing was the original idea for WrestleMania but the Ambrose turn fell flat. Of course, if Ambrose is leaving, do you want to give him a big spot at WrestleMania rather than someone that is staying and could make their career with a Reigns program at ‘Mania?
There are lots of ways to go and that’s the crux of the interest in this match with the booking of Reigns for WrestleMania. I would have The Shield win and go from there.
DANIEL BRYAN VS KEVIN OWENS FOR THE WWE TITLE
Kevin Owens was put into a tough spot. He was re-introduced in complete heel fashion as Vince McMahon’s “chosen one” to replace the popular Kofi Kingston. Owens had one promo on SmackDown this week to transform into a babyface and be a “man of the people”. I hope he has a great idea set for WrestleMania because it feels like he could be cast aside in favor of Kingston and just become another guy on the card in April.
It will be Owens’ first televised match since double knee surgery and it’s a big match. Bryan has been having great matches of late, although the Rumble match with Styles was a disappointment.
The tough part is the crowd as I don’t feel anyone believes Bryan can lose the title. Kofi Kingston getting involved is possible after the New Day promised to be at the show.
Bryan vs. Kingston at WrestleMania is the right choice. but I hope they justify inserting Owens into this spot as opposed to another babyface on the roster. It would be unfortunate to waste Owens’ comeback for a two-week story and then he fades into a lower spot.
THE USOS VS SHANE McMAHON AND THE MIZ FOR THE SMACKDOWN TAG TITLES
It seems tailor-made for The Miz to lose in front of his hometown and his father and hit his breaking point with Shane McMahon.
The pairing of Miz and Shane has been one of the better things on SmackDown this year. They have chemistry and both have made the most of their segments to become an entertaining duo that the audience genuinely likes.
My assumption is that The Usos will have a multi-team match at WrestleMania with The Hardys, Aleister Black & Ricochet, and perhaps Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev. It seems like Miz and Shane McMahon in a singles match would be the direction.
Miz taking the fall and blaming Shane would be my preference unless Shane has a desire to be a heel, which honestly, the audience loves this guy and I wouldn’t turn him. There are legs to these two as a team, though.
ASUKA VS MANDY ROSE FOR THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE
This is a big match for Rose on a pay-per-view and she’s been improving a lot.
I see this as the type of match that is way more competitive than people anticipate with the story that Rose brought the fight to Asuka and overachieves, loses but gets over in defeat.
Rose and Sonya Deville should be one of the big teams in the tag division and they seem better as a team than singles at this point in their careers.
SASHA BANKS AND BAYLEY VS TAMINA AND NIA JAX FOR THE WWE WOMEN’S TAG TITLES
This will probably be alright with Banks and Bayley dealing with the size discrepancy. I wouldn’t flip the titles, yet as you’re still establishing the division and I like Banks and Bayley with them for a prolonged period.
THE REVIVAL VS CHAD GABLE & BOBBY ROODE VS RICOCHET & ALEISTER BLACK FOR THE RAW TAG TITLES
This could steal the show if they receive 16-18 minutes as this is a solid grouping of three strong teams.
The Revival and Gable & Roode are receiving the best reviews in years for a WWE house show program with the consensus match-of-the-night at every show they’re on. When you add Ricochet and Black to the mix, it’s only that much stronger.
I see The Revival retaining the titles and beating Roode or Gable while they protect Ricochet and Black. I’d love to see them unify the tag titles. These three teams are the Raw tag division and when you combine them with the top teams on SmackDown, it’s a very solid unified division. Teams are already appearing on both shows, so what does it matter? The champions should be able to float back-and-forth to be special from everyone else.
REY MYSTERIO VS ANDRADE
It doesn’t seem like the place to have a blow-off to this great program with the placement on the kickoff. It’s unlike the WWE to put a match on a big show and then come back with it at WrestleMania. These two could easily be put into a multi-person match at WrestleMania or be given partners if not going all the way with a Hair vs. Mask stipulation to make WrestleMania special.
This is hampered by being on the kickoff, so no matter how good the match is, it won’t feel important by the end of the show. Hopefully, this has a finish that is designed to extend the feud such as Andrade tearing off the mask and Rey hiding his face.
XAVIER WOODS AND BIG E. VS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA AND RUSEV
It’s just a match. I see Nakamura and Rusev winning as they heat them up for a tag program going into WrestleMania in a multi-person match as I outlined above.
Sunday, March 11th, 2018
*Fandango, Tyler Breeze and Tye Dillinger over Shelton Benjamin, Chad Gable and Mojo Rawley
*Shinsuke Nakamura over Rusev
*Randy Orton over Bobby Roode to win the United States title
*Natalya and Carmella over Becky Lynch and Naomi
*The Usos vs. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods went to a no contest
*Charlotte Flair over Ruby Riott to retain the SmackDown women’s title
*AJ Styles over John Cena, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE title