We’ve almost made it to WrestleMania, but before we get there we have one more stop: Fastlane. This week’s episode of Raw set forth some interesting stipulations for the show, with huge implications for the show of shows. Who will be walking away with gold to defend in New Jersey next month? Will Becky Lynch be re-added to the Raw Women’s Championship match? Will The Shield remain a united front? We’ll find out this Sunday.
Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade (Kickoff)
Andrade and his manager Zelina Vega have been a thorn in Rey Mysterio’s side ever since he returned to WWE late last year. After their epic two out of three falls match on SmackDown Live a few weeks ago, the two lucha superstars clash in the Fastlane kickoff show. Who is the true el idolo?
Jason: Man, WWE loves to put their most exciting match on the pre-show. First off, I predict that this will be match of the night, with only the Becky/Charlotte match coming close in terms of quality. This could go either way, but my sincere hope is they go with Andrade. That guy is just too good not to be racking up wins left and right. Rey’s a legend who is putting in amazing work in the twilight of his career, but it’s time for El Idolo to put this rivalry to rest with a solid win over the king of lucha.
Winner: Andrade (something something)
Brian: Mysterio has really lit a fire under Andrade, getting the best performances out of him since his days in NXT. Hopefully, this continues past the feud and leads to some good mid-card title runs for El Idolo. Actually, what I really want is a hair vs mask match between the two or some other insane lucha match stuff at Mania. Can we get them into my fantasy ladder match for the IC title?
JJ: For the first time in a long time I have a reason to watch the pre-show. If these guys are given enough time, they very well good pull off the match of the night. Rey is the first person I’ve seen Andrade have real chemistry with on the main roster, and I hope they use this feud as a tool to push Andrade into the upper midcard. Andrade deserves a lot better than the kickoff show, and I’m willing to bet he’s going to use this match to show everyone just that.
The Revival (c) vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black for the Raw Tag Team Championships
The Revival have been trying to, well, revive the tag team division ever since winning the Raw Tag Team Championships, and they may have gotten their wish in the form of NXT standouts Ricochet and Aleister Black teaming up in an effort to earn some quick gold just a few weeks after debuting on the main roster. But they won’t succeed if former champs Bobby Roode and Chad Gable have anything to do with it.
Jason: I know that Blackochet are the new hotness and you don’t want to cool them off, but they’re also currently in the Dusty Classic down in NXT — most of which has already been filmed. So unless WWE plans to do reshoots to work around the untimely injury to Tommaso Ciampa (get well soon, champ!), or they want to Photoshop those belts onto Ric and Ale, I’m guessing they’re not going home with the titles. The only thing that makes sense, then, is to have the Revival retain over the (seemingly now heel) Roode Boys. Black and Ric may take the titles at Mania, but at Fastlane, expect the Top Guys to walk out of the Quicken Loans Arena still your Raw Tag Team Champs.
Winner: The Revival
Brian: There are some questions to be answered in the Raw tag team division, not the least of which is “How is this division so flaccid with such amazing teams?” Flippy Flippy Black Black have been amazing no matter who they’re in the ring with and adding Roode/Gable to The Revival should get us an amazing technical match. Considering that, as good as they are, Revival vs Glorious Ones isn’t the match with the most flashy moves or engaging personalities, getting Ricochet/Black in there will get the crowd involved much faster. I’m not sure what is next for The One and Evil, but I’ll happily add them to my fantasy IC title Ladder Match at Mania.
Winner: The Revival
JJ: This feud bums me out. The Revival never should have lost to Ricochet and Black. If anyone is else to take a pin to the new guys, it shouldn’t be your reigning champions. Roode and Gable should have eaten a pin on their quest to get back into a rematch with the champs. Everything about this has been backwards. The Revival are an incredibly talented tag team, but the writing during their reign has done nothing to help show that. I imagine they’ll sqeak out a win, only to lose the titles to Black and Ricochet at Mania.
Winners: The Revival
Asuka (c) vs. Mandy Rose for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
The SmackDown Women’s Championship has taken a back seat to Raw’s in the build up to WrestleMania, but Mandy Rose is looking to make it hers when she takes on the Empress of Tomorrow.
Jason: Man, I really thought WWE recognized what they had with Asuka over the past few months…but I don’t know. Vince loves to throw curve balls at the fans heading into big shows, and loves putting the title on pretty blonde women even more. Still, I chose to be optimistic and say that Asuka’s holding that thing till Mania at least. She’s definitely one of the top women’s prospects in the company and deserves to be treated as such. Mandy will have her time in the sun eventually, but I’m (ever so slightly) leaning toward a victory for the Empress of Tomorrow.
Brian: Unfortunately for Asuka, the Women’s Evolution seems to have gone from “we can only have one storyline at a time” to “we can only have multiple storylines if they all involve the Horsewomen or Ronda Rousey.” The spotlight that should be on Asuka on SDL is dimmed thanks to Becky/Charlotte appearing on both shows while vying for the chance to fight for the Raw title. Mandy/Sonya make perfect sense as her opponent(s) right now, but that doesn’t mean that it’s compelling. Mandy will be champ at some point, but I can’t imagine it will be at Fastlane over one of the most dangerous strikers in the entire WWE.
Winner: Asuka despite/because of interference from Sonya Deville
JJ: Mandy Rose destroying Naomi on SmackDown certainly came out of nowhere, but WWE’s bungling of Asuka was something I saw coming the moment she got called up. We all know Sonya Deville will attempt shenanigans, but Asuka is going to make it out of this. It’s what comes after the match that I’m sort of looking forward to, the moment Lacy Evans music hits and she finally makes a move — against Asuka. You heard it here first: Evans vs. Asuka at Mania, and this is the setup.
The Boss ‘N Hug Connection (c) vs. Nia Jax and Tamina for the Women’s Tag Team Championships
Sasha Banks and Bayley are the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, but their first title defense is going to be a doozy: the Samoan Slaughterhouse, Nia Jax and Tamina, look to make quick work of the Boss ‘N Hug Connection and make the titles their own.
Jason: Let’s see, we’re heading to the biggest show of the year…would now be an opportune time to put a title around the waist of one TA-MI-NA Snuka? Yeah, I don’t think so either. Expect Sasha and Bayley to head into Mania as the champs. Probably leave as champs too. Gotta do something with your two biggest female babyfaces not vying for top title, after all.
Winner: Boss and Hug Connection.
Brian: I really thought before Elimination Chamber that having the Samoan Slaughterhouse win the titles and keep them until Boss ‘N Hug could get them at Mania would be the obvious play. After, it was pointed out that all four of the Horsewomen have now been the first to hold the current versions of all the WWE Women’s titles. That feels right, even though it muffs the story a bit. Forever, Becky, Charlotte, Sasha, and Bayley will be part of the history they helped begin. Now, while it would be a quick turnaround, the only opponents currently worth fighting for Boss ‘N Hug are Tamina and Nia Jax. I think the Slaugherhouse takes the titles now and then loses them back to Bayley and Sasha in an early match on the grandest stage.
Winner: The Samoan Slaughterhouse
JJ: Tamina Snuka as one of your champions at WrestleMania? Yeah no. That’s not going to make anyone money. I can barely tolerate Nia as a heel, and short of blackmail, I cannot think of a single reason why they keep Tamina on payroll, let alone on TV.
Winner: Boss ‘N Hug Connection
The Usos (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The Usos scored a surprise victory on the Best Team in the World on SmackDown to kick off their eye-popping sixth tag team championship reign, but The Miz is determined to prove that he and Shane still have what it takes, and their loss was just a fluke. Can The Miz make his dad proud one more time?
Jason: Jesus, will Miz turn on Shane already? I’m long since tired of this feud and want something better for everyone involved. The Usos should be defending those belts against a real team, Miz should be circling the WWE title scene and Shane should…I dunno, be spending time with his kids? Dropping a stupid amount of money on sneakers? Spray tanning? Whatever, the point is, Jimmy and Jey should roll through this little diversion like a stoplight in a bad neighborhood — carefully, but quickly.
Winners: The Usos
Brian: With all the talent in the actual tag team divisions in WWE, why is the travesty that is BTTITW still competing in-ring? They’re entertaining, sure, but come on. I’ll agree that there needs to be a shake-up just to keep the Usos/Bar/New Day revolving door from continuing, but this has to end. Miz turns on Shane because no one will ever boo Shane O’Mac and we get another Shane match at Mania which I’m sure someone thinks is money.
Brian: The Usos
JJ: My only question here is does Shane turn on Miz, during or after the match? They’ve been building to a feud between these for so long and it’s very clear that that’s the plan for Mania. Ok I do have one more question, does the Miz’s Dad help Miz or Shane?
Winners: The Usos
The Shield vs. Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin
The Big Dog is back, and his first order of business, in light of his new lease on life and Dean Ambrose’s expiring contract, is to get the band back together one more time. Rollins and Ambrose agreed, however reluctantly in Ambrose’s case, and now they have their sights set on Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin — three men who have made all of their lives hell as of late.
Jason: If there’s somewhere where WWE could easily subvert expectations without really damaging anyone involved, it’s here. Yeah we all probably expect the Shield to stomp out Corbin’s Crazy Crew like the Thetas in Heritage Hall (no other Stomp the Yard fans out there? Oh ok, my bad), but I don’t see that happening. You see, the Big Dog needs a match at Mania, and looking at the upper midcard heels on the Raw brand (basically the three guys in this match and a dude who will likely spend Mania singing about how the Jets suck), you need to setup something more interesting for that card. The obvious answer here is to put him against the outgoing Dean Ambrose, a guy with whom Ro’s got enough history to craft a compelling story in under a month, and what better way to set that up than with (yet another) failed Shield reunion? Baron, Bobbo and Big Mac are taking this one followed by an Ambrose assault on the Big Dog.
Winners: The Legion of Doom
Brian: We just aren’t going to get a feel-good moment here, are we? Something has to go so catastrophically wrong here to cause Dean to turn believably and then he has a month to introduce the world to his Jon Moxley side before meeting Roman at Mania. We might not get the Shield triple threat that has always been somewhere in the future, but this is a good start. Despite their general blandness, Lashley and Corbin will be buoyed by Lio Rush and Drew McIntyre to a win, provided Bobby doesn’t forget how to throw someone into the stairs again.
Winners: The Bod Squad
JJ: The Lunatic is leaving and The Big Dog needs a match for WrestleMania. Guess that’s that then, huh? Roman and Dean have yet to have their falling out, and as much as it would be nice for fans to get that feel good Shield moment, I don’t see it happening. How this falls apart is anyone’s guess, but Dean Ambrose will definitely be at the center of it.
Winners: Random assortment of upper midcard guys
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch (If Becky wins, she gets added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania)
Becky Lynch needs to win this match to be added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania. Problem is, she’s hobbling along on one good leg, and she’s incensed Ronda Rousey, who will assuredly be lurking around ringside at some point in this match. Can The Man regain her championship opportunity?
Jason: It’s been said by many people more eloquently than I can, but this storyline makes zeo sense. Becky won the Royal Rumble which ensured her a spot in the title match at Mania, but then was suspended because she was injured but refused medical attention. So the bosses decided to sub Charlotte Flair in her place, only for Ronda to surrender the title in protest, Becky to be reinstated, Ronda to call take-backsies and then this match to be made so that Becky could be added to a match she already won the right to participate in…like what? Why wouldn’t this match be to add Charlotte to the match she wasn’t supposed to be in and is (almost universally) unwelcome in? Regardless, these two are great. Should be a good match. There’s no outcome that makes any sense other than Becky being in the main event at Mania, so….LOL Becky Wins.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Brian: This should have been a LOT simpler, but, hey, whatever. Becky vs. Charlotte can be on my TV any day of the week. No analysis needed here, Becky goes over, maybe due to Ronda interfering, almost certainly not completely cleanly, and makes it to WrestleMANia.
Winner: The Man
JJ: Becky Lynch is going to win this match to earn a spot in the main event of the match that she won a spot in, by winning the Royal Rumble that she wasn’t in. Everyone still with me? This story is a complete mess, but whatever, it’s the match we’ve all been looking forward to for months. Charlotte doesn’t belong here, but she’s done a fantastic job, so I can’t complain too much. With Ronda reportedly leaving after Mania, turning her heel was the best possible thing the brass could have done. I look forward to her interference and distribution of armbars.
Winner: The Man
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE Championship
Fans may be clamoring for KofiMania, but WWE chairman Mr. McMahon had other plans when he brought back a returning Kevin Owens to replace the venerable New Day member in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane. Owens has a new outlook and a new target in “The New” Daniel Bryan, but he won’t only have to beat Bryan, he’ll have to find a way to deal with Bryan’s big red insurance policy as well.
Jason: I’m not quite sure what to make of the re-emergence of Kevin Owens at the expense of #KofiMania. Like, he’s come back as a relatable everyman babyface…but he did so by being placed in the role by a heel authority figure who benched a beloved fan favorite the crowd was eager to see succeed to do so. I get the logic that if most people were in KO’s shoes, they’d take the opportunity handed to them even if it did kinda screw over a decent guy in the process, but that feels like a negative character trait about people’s selfishness that they don’t like to admit, not a relatable flaw that people rally around. Still, it’s KO vs. Daniel Bryan, so I imagine it’ll be good to great, but Bryan is wearing that oversized friendship bracelet to Mania where he’ll be dropping it to Kofi Kingston if WWE has any sense.
Winner: The New Daniel Bryan
Brian: Another match suffering from the existence of Fastlane in the first place, this is the only way to get a top title defended on PPV without giving away what will be one of the marquee matchups at Mania. There is just no way that we don’t get #KofiMania and no way that D-Bry doesn’t walk out as champ. How he does it, whether it be through Rowan’s interference or a return by Sami Zayn (please?), Bryan leaves with the crunchy granola belt and fights Kofi at Mania.
Brian: Captain Planet
JJ: I’ve been a fan of KO since his ROH days, and while I’m stoked to see him back and looking healthier than ever, I just don’t dig face Kevin Owens. It’s sort of like the Miz — some guys are just meant to be heels, and Kevin Owens is undoubtedly one of them. But that’s ok, because ultimately this feud isn’t about him, it’s about Kofi Kingston. I’m hoping we see The New Day interfere and beat up everyone — not to go heel, but to server out well deserved justice. We know Kofi and D-Bry will be facing off against one another for the title at Mania, KO coming out of this as a heel would be a nice little bonus.
Winner: “The New” Daniel Bryan