It may sound a bit cliche but this Sunday is WWE Fastlane has us on the road to WrestleMania. For a stop-gap pay per view between the Royal Rumble and Mania, Fastlane’s card and feuds are more than respectable. The WWE universe will have seven matches on the card for us to marinate on as we head towards WrestleMania. Here are some thoughts and predictions on this weekends matches.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
I’m a big believer that the WWE brass has plans for a women’s fatal four way match at WrestleMania and the fact that this match is on the card only adds weight to my thoughts. Sasha and Jax will be two of those four so it is only fitting that the two face off once again. WWE has done an excellent job with booking Nia Jax as she has looked strong without seeming overdone or stale. As previously mentioned, the booking makes sense if WWE plans to do a Mania fatal four-way but that aside, Jax couldn’t have a better opponent that Sasha right now. The WWE has seen many wrestlers in their day that know how to take a beating and make it look believable. Two that come to mind are Bret Hart and Dolph Ziggler but in regards to women, Sasha is the best in the company right now at taking a beating. Sasha is already cemented as one of the top females on the Raw brand so Jax needs this win more to remain relevant amongst the divsoi. Sasha will put up a fight but Jax will come out on top as the storyline for the Raw women at Mania will continue to develop.
Winner: Nia Jax
Raw Tag Team Championship
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
It was a bit concerning for this writer when the draft went down and AJ Styles ended up on the show opposite his bullet club boys from Japan. The tag team seemed to be in limbo as they bounced around through different feuds without winning the titles. Spoiler alert, they now have those tag team titles and will be going up against the fan favorites Enzo and Big Cass. The WWE hasn’t always booked Anderson and Gallows all that well so I’m fearful of their ability to hang on to the titles here. Sheamus and Cesaro are lurking in the back and will likely be next in line after whoever comes out on top this Sunday. I think the potential matchup of Enzo and Cass verse Sheamus and Cesaro will get a bigger pop and will also allow the latter mentioned tag team to take on a bit of a heel role which they could probably pull off pretty easily. I could see this match going either way but for now, I’ll say it will be Enzo and Cass finally adding some gold to their repertoire.
Winners: Enzo Amore and Big Cass
Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
With the exception of Neville, 205 Live and the cruiserweight division have had me thankful for my DVR. I will say though that I have warmed up to the character of Jack Gallagher. He has looked a bit silly with the mustache and umbrella while remaining a threat with his headbutt. If nothing else I have enjoyed the promos with the accents. The two brits will collide this Sunday and if given enough time could put on a surprisingly exciting match. Neville has played the heel role much better than expected and his ring work has always been strong. I do not believe that WWE is done milking this Neville heel run and will ultimately want him to drop the strap to a top cruiserweight baby face that I don’t think has been discovered just yet. Neville will hang on to the title but this match could one of the fun ones on Sunday night.
Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
Anybody that knew of Samoa Joe before he showed up on Raw knew exactly what we were getting. Joe has been ferocious, relentless, and unapologetic. Sami Zayn is like Steve Rogers before he became Captain America. He doesn’t like bullies and isn’t afraid to get slapped around while fighting for the greater good. It is logical that Zayn would want a piece of Joe and he will get it at Fastlane. I think this match has one of the more predictable outcomes than any of the other matches as Joe should come out on top here. You can always count on Zayn to put together a strong showing and he will make Joe look strong in this one. I think this match gets interesting though after the final bell rings. Samoa Joe doesn’t appear to have a legit WrestleMania opponent waiting in the wings and from the looks of social media, Finn Balor is ready to go. With Rollins being a face now and obviously busy with HHH, Finn will need a new feud. I could see a rundown to help out Zayn from a post match beatdown happening. His return would be just in time for WrestleMania and Vince McMahon has to be salivating over just how big of a spectacle Finn’s entrance would look in Orlando this April. I’m hoping it’s this Sunday or maybe they’ll hold it off till this Monday’s Raw but I have a gut feeling that Finn makes a return and will be looking to take on Joe on the grandest stage of them all.
Raw Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
The Queen is back on a pay per view and is ready to reclaim her throne! Personally, I’m not in love with how often the women’s title passes back and forth between competitors but Charlotte’s pay per view streak has been a fresh way of booking a superstar in dominant fashion. Eventually she will have to lose one of these matches but I think that pay off will ultimately come at WrestleMania this year. If not then, who knows! If my prediction is correct and we have a fatal four-way for the women’s championship at Mania, Charlotte could lose and still maintain that she’s never lost a singles competition at a pay per view. WWE seems to harp on that streak so all of that makes sense (sort of). As far as this Sunday is concerned I think we can expect another great women’s match that has thankfully become common place. Bayley’s feud with Charlotte has really given the universe a chance to feast their eyes on just how talented Bayley is beyond the hugs and charm. She can definitely hang with her fellow four horsewomen and will do so this Sunday. Don’t be shocked to see Dana Brooke get involved here and we could also see a scenario in which Sasha isn’t able to save the day due to a potential beat down from Nia Jax. This would play up the storyline of Bayley needing Sasha’s help and add an extra buzz to that potential fatal four-way I keep harping on. It won’t be clean, but the Queen will reign supreme.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
What you’re seeing from Strowman is what McMahon tried to endlessly do for Ryback a few years back. If at first you don’t succeed they say that you should try and try again. That’s exactly what McMahon has done. Love him or hate him Strowman has been impressively booked over the last few months. He and Reigns have really gone after each other over the last few weeks which led up to their showdown at the “contract signing” this past Monday. The match will most definitely be brutal and there is no doubt that there is a Spanish announce table somewhere with their names written all over it. This match will definitely live up to its expectations but according to this writer, Fastlane is going to be full of surprises. Rumors on the dirt sheets were that Reigns was headed to a WrestleMania date with the Undertaker. Those reports were given credence at the Royal Rumble when Reigns eliminated Taker and the two exchanged a lengthy stare down. Maybe I have a wild imagination but I could see Reigns about to go for a final spear until the lights suddenly go out. Once the lights come back on Reigns will have the Undertaker standing between him and Strowman. The Undertaker will hit a choke slam, give a shocked Strowman a look, and head to the ramp. The Reigns/Undertaker feud will be underway and Strowman will gain a pin fall victory and continue to look strong. I’m not entirely sure where this leaves Strowman on the WrestleMania card but I’m sure Vince will find something for him.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Bill Goldberg
I have to be honest here and say that I’m dreading the potential outcome of this match. My fear is that yet another part timer will be walking into WrestleMania as the champion. Never the less, my eyes as well as everyone else’s eyes will be concentrated on this match. This will not be the squash match that Goldberg is accustomed to. WWE will tease a hasty finish but Owens will hang around. I’m curious to see just how long this match goes on which will be predicated on what type of cardiovascular shape Goldberg is in. Both superstars will have their spots to shine but anyone who knows wrestling has to be aware that Chris Jericho is going to show up. He has been kept off of television since the festival of friendship so it makes sense that Fastlane is where he will exact his revenge. In a previous piece I wrote for Dynasty Sports Empire I had suggested that both Jericho and Brock would get involved in this match. As the pay per view draws closer I have a hard time thinking that we will get both guys showing up. Jericho is the more practical of the two and I think he will cost Owens the title. That is my official prediction. What I want to happen is for both Jericho and Lesnar show up and somehow Owens retains. I just think that a Owens and Jericho feud will do the title justice as opposed to two part-time powerhouses that can’t cut a promo. Either way I believe this will be a solid pay per view.