Whatever illusions WWE creative had about making Fastlane an A-level PPV event, the end result is clearly left wanting. In the past, I’ve remarked how it must be hard for the May PPV (usually Extreme Rules) since it needs to follow Wrestlemania, however I feel that my sympathy may have been misappropriated since everyone seems to be looking right past Fastlane towards Wrestlemania. The main event seems like such a foregone conclusion that watching it in motion may be almost painful, and the rest of the card is filled with undue rematches. Even with all of the injuries plaguing the WWE roster, there should be enough talent on-hand that we shouldn’t have to recycle the same matches over and over. Yet, here we are. My assumption is that Fastlane is exactly as it appears to be: A mere placeholder show that, once completed, will mark the beginning of the real road to Wrestlemania with creative firing on all cylinders to sell out the AT&T Center come April.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler
This match will likely be the highlight of the night. Both Owens and Ziggler are capable of putting on five-star affairs and are both driven and motivated to break through the glass ceiling. Owen’s had a great first run with the IC championship, and will likely be looking to regain any momentum lost since he dropped the belt back in December. Of the two, however, Ziggler is really the guy under the microscope here. Dolph is over with the crowd and still supremely talented, but has been rudderless as he has been given few opportunities to develop his character. The best case scenario here is for this match to mark a heel-turn for Dolph, as he is not only in desperate need of a change but also is clearly much more comfortable playing a heel than a face.
What I think will happen: Owens will retain the IC championship heading into Wrestlemania.
What I hope happens: Ziggler turns heel following the match.
2-out-of-3-falls United States Championship Match: Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio
Please, please, please let this be the end. This has been, in my humble opinion, the most poorly booked and mismanaged feud of the year. Not only have Kalisto and Del Rio failed to deliver any kind of memorable matches in this stretched-out rivalry, but there really isn’t a reason to keep this going any further. We’ve already seen Kalisto overcome the odds, lose the belt, and overcome the odds again. What more is there to do? Have him beat Del Rio again? What does that prove? I get that creative is trying to appeal to the Spanish audience by showcasing some Latino talent, but this is a poor way to do it. Kalisto needs to be established as a viable champion by having him face fresh challenges and by putting on good matches. This, to me, just feels forced.
What I think will happen: Kalisto will retain his US title and, hopefully, will find a new partner to match up with at Mania.
What I hope happens: If we are to have even more Del Rio, I really hope he gets back to his early 2010’s era character. That Del Rio had charisma and drive.
Divas Championship Match: Charlotte vs. Brie Bella
Another awkward matchup, although one that is warranted if only due to the Bellas’ contribution to the business. With Brie announcing that her career will end at Fastlane or Wrestlemania, and with the obvious desire to put the finishing touches on the Divas Revolution at Mania, the outcome of this one is pretty well set in stone. While Charlotte will undoubtedly retain, this will likely be a showcase match for Brie to say goodbye to the WWE Universe. And there’s nothing wrong with that. While I don’t want to write at-length about Daniel Bryan’s decision to leave the world of wrestling as pretty much everything has been said already, I will say that I applaud him for leaving of his own accord, as well as Brie. Family is more important than money, fame, or fortune, and I commend the two of them for deciding what, to them, is most important.
What I think will happen: Charlotte will retain the Divas championship.
What I hope happens: The groundwork for Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch going into Mania together is established.
Divas Tag-Team Match: Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Naomi and Tamina
Again, the outcome of this one is pretty clear. The Four Horsewomen are going to meet at Mania, and the build to that requires that both Becky and Sasha look strong by the end of Fastlane. This is unfortunate for Naomi, who is definitely underappreciated and had her spotlight stolen by the Divas Revolution. Hopefully she will get a chance to shine in the near future, and with both Bellas out for one reason or another her chance may just come after Mania. However, for now this is the Horsewomen show, and the popularity of Banks and Lynch cannot be denied.
What I think will happen: Sasha and Becky will walk out as winners.
What I hope happens: Sasha’s heel nature comes through with another sneak-attack on Becky.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
There’s a certain kind of fan that believes anything short of a championship reign should be viewed as a disservice to a talent such as AJ Styles. This “everything or nothing” mentality has led to a number of out-of-the-gate title wins that have, in my opinion, damaged the validity of the Intercontinental and U.S. Titles. 2015 was a great year for both straps, with John Cena and Kevin Owens working overtime to make them matter again. As such, simply giving AJ a belt because he’s AJ isn’t good enough in my book. What is good, however, is having AJ’s first feud be with a bonafide hall of famer who understands exactly how to make him look great. AJ vs Jericho has been a premier feud on Smackdown, and while I’d be remised to argue that Jericho is putting on the best matches of his career he is by no means slacking. This will likely be the sleeper hit of the night and will afford AJ the chance to cement himself as a big-time player going into his first Wrestlemania.
What I think will happen: AJ Style will come out on top.
What I hope happens: Jericho doesn’t just disappear after Sunday night. He’s been great at everything lately and could definitely help show some of the younger talents how to put on a show.
The Wyatt Family vs. The Titans (Kane, Big Show and Ryback)
This is, without a doubt, the most Vince McMahon-y match I’ve seen in a long time. Six (seven?) big brawny dudes walking around slapping each other for who-knows-how-long. Well that’s not really fair: Harper and Kane can definitely go, however I worry that they are going to be pulled down by the other competitors. With Strauman supposedly chosen for a big-time push, this will likely be a Wyatt win. The real question, as least for me, is where does Bray factor in all of this? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Bray Wyatt is a magnetic one of a kind performer who really deserves to be in the big picture. With him seemingly sitting this one out, I worry that he will be overlooked come Mania. I hope this isn’t the case, as Bray is certainly deserving of a main-event push.
What I think will happen: The Wyatts will overthrow the Titans of the WWE.
What I hope happens: This will lead to the entire Wyatt family getting a big push, and not just the physically-impressive-but-otherwise-very-green Black Sheep.
Triple Threat Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
I wonder if “the winner goes to Wrestlemania” is going to be the new gimmick going forward for the Fastlane main event. This is the second year in a row for the show to pull this, and the show is in desperate need of something unique. We used to have the Elimination Chamber in this spot, after all. Like I said earlier, it’s pretty clear where some people (cough cough Vince cough) want this match to go: Roman Reigns goes to Mania. I think we can all agree that Reigns has improved a great deal over the course of 2015, but he is still the least-over portion of this match. He’s barely been involved in the storyline build to this match because of this, and has been completely overshadowed by both Lesnar and Ambrose whenever all three have been on stage together. Lesnar is the obvious choice on-paper, but likely will be derailed by the Wyatt Family. Finally, there’s Dean Ambrose. Let’s be clear: Ambrose is the most over babyface on the roster right now. A truly remarkable talent both on the mic and in the ring, Ambrose represents a strange mix of Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Those are some big names to be compared to, and Ambrose manages to hold his own in such esteemed company. Having Ambrose go over would lead to the biggest pop of the night and would leave the fans leaving happy, which is something that creative should definitely consider going into Mania.
What I think will happen: Roman Reigns will jump on a bullet-train to Mania, main eventing the grandest show of them all for a second year in a row.
What I hope happens: Creative will appreciate the goldmine they have in Ambrose and will give him the nod going into Mania.