WWE Fastlane Build Grades and Predictions
It’s Wrestlemania season which means, as all wrestling fans know, that WWE is finalizing the storylines leading into their biggest show of the year. Airing Sunday night on the WWE Network (I’ll take my payment in cash, Mr. McMahon), Fastlane is the final pay-per-view before WWE heads to Dallas for Wrestlemania. This makes Fastlane an important event because it helps fans to get an idea about what the card will look like in April, and what to expect on a weekly basis as WWE inches closer to the big event. Here, I’m going to list the card for Fastlane, grade the build for each match high-school style, and give my prediction for how each match will shake out.
Kalisto (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio – Two-out-of-three falls match for the WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (Pre-Show Match)
The state of the United States Championship is pretty much summarized by the fact that this match is taking place on the pre-show (there is literally a talk-show segment planned for the main show that was considered more important than this, and I agree). Gone are the days of John Cena’s open challenges bringing prestige back to this title, as it is now mired in useless feuds that we know are going nowhere. Kalisto is a fantastic talent and Del Rio is a great veteran capable of putting on a convincing match, but nothing of consequence has been built between the two of them. They should be able to put on an entertaining match, but the bus stops here with the feud, and the United States Championship will probably be contested in some multi-man match in Wrestlemania that’ll be fun to watch but means very little.
Build Grade: F
Prediction: Who cares? (Kalisto wins).
Ryback, Big Show and Kane vs. The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman) – Six-man tag team match
Boy, this card really filled with some stinkers. In recent weeks, Bray Wyatt and his Wyatt Family have been targeting “The Titans of the WWE.” Many believe this is a not-so-subtle attack directed at Brock Lesnar, who the Wyatts screwed out of the Royal Rumble and will likely face off against at Wrestlemania (more on that later). It’s highly unlikely that any of the other three contenders in this match will be a part of any major matches at ‘Mania, so WWE seems to be putting them in something of relative importance at this event. This one won’t last all that long, and will set things up for the Wyatts to appear again later in the night.
Build Grade: D
Prediction: Wyatt Family wins in a squash match.
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks vs. Team B.A.D. (Naomi and Tamina) – Tag team match
I like the fact that WWE has put two Divas matches on the card for this event, its just unfortunate that only one team actually matters. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks are two of the three most talented Divas in all of WWE at this point and likely have their sights on a big match at Wrestlemania. In the weeks leading up to Fastlane, Becky and Sasha have found common ground in their mutual hate for Team B.A.D. who have been attacking both women. Side note: nothing could have been better for Sasha Banks than to break her away from Naomi and Tamina. Her character doesn’t make sense as someone to share the spotlight with other wrestlers, and she has looked much more comfortable since going off on her own. There is no doubt that Sasha and Becky win this one, and these ladies will likely put on a decent show. The most important thing, however, will be what happens after the match.
Build Grade: C
Prediction: Becky Lynch and Sasha win. After the match, Sasha attacks Becky, establishing herself as a lone wolf and a legit contender for the Divas Championship.
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler – Singles match for the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
This match could EASILY steal the show on Sunday, as Owens and Ziggler are two of the best workers in the WWE, and will likely try to make the most out of a feud that is extremely new. This past week on RAW, former champion Dean Ambrose lost his championship in a Fatal-5-way match to Kevin Owens, who pinned one of the other competitors in the battle. Owens deserves the championship, and it makes more sense being on him than anyone else going into Wrestlemania season. Prior to regaining his championship, however, Owens had lost a few times to Ziggler, giving Ziggler a legitimate claim to being the Number One Contender for the belt. The result for this match is a little bit up in the air, but I’d like to think that the WWE cares enough about this championship to give it some importance going into April.
Build Grade: C-
Prediction: Kevin Owens wins, as usual, through some nefarious means.
Charlotte (c) vs Brie Bella – Singles match for the WWE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP
My entire outlook on this feud flipped after this past week on RAW, when champion Charlotte delivered one of the best promos of her career. Clearly a one-off feud, this felt clearly like a holdover going into Wrestlemania, as there was no chance for Bella to be competing for the championship in Dallas. However, the recent retirement of Brie’s real life husband Daniel Bryan (an absolute favorite who fans, including myself, were devastated to see retire due to countless concussions), added a whole new layer to this feud. In her promo, Charlotte dug into Brie and Daniel, accusing Brie of competing because her and Daniel “needed the money” now that Bryan no longer had a job. Brie was always going to get fan support due to her relationship with Bryan, but now you sincerely want her to win from a storyline perspective. She won’t though, which will end up being the right choice.
Build Grade: B-
Prediction: Charlotte wins clean, establishing her as a legit champion.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho – Singles match
The build for this match has been criticized by some, but its something that I’ve really enjoyed. Signing AJ Styles was one of the biggest coups in the history of WWE, and he has made an immediate impact on the main roster as someone who the fans love to cheer for. This left Jericho, one of the most pliable superstars on the roster, to fill in the roll of the heelish veteran looking to “show the new kid the ropes.” It has been strange hearing Jericho reference Styles as a rookie, as Styles is one of the most seasoned wrestlers in the world. However, this makes a lot of sense from a storyline perspective, as Jericho comes across as the senile vet clinging to the past. These guys have split their two previous encounters in the past couple of weeks, so this ends up being the “rubber match” for the feud. I expect The Miz, whose been involved lately, to show up, but I like Styles’ chances here.
Buil Grade: B+
Prediction: AJ Styles wins after fending off both Jericho and The Miz.
Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – Triple Threat Match to determine the #1 contender for the WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP at WRESTLEMANIA 32
Here it is, the main event of the show and the match of the most importance. For weeks, this match seemed to be predetermined, a veritable coronation for Roman Reigns leading into a match against veteran Triple H (who won the title in the Royal Rumble after a surprise entrance). In fact, during those weeks, WWE focused on Dean Ambrose trying to test Brock Lesnar, pushing Reigns to the side in what seemed like an attempt to divert fans’ attention from the guy most likely to win. However, this all changed in my mind after Ambrose lost his Intercontinental Championship on RAW this past week. Now, Ambrose has nothing left to fight for than this opportunity for the most important title in the company, something that has eluded him for his entire career. Plus, Ambrose recently teased a turn on his “brother” Roman Reigns, looking to hit him with his finishing move before the two fist-bumped tentatively. The stuff involving Lesnar has been good, as he’s looked just as dominating as ever, destroying both men at every opportunity. However, I see the WWE continuing his feud with the Wyatt Family here, as they will get involved towards the end of the match, taking Lesnar out. Since the Rumble, Reigns has regressed back to getting mixed responses from the crowd, who desperately don’t want to see him win a predictable match against Triple H at ‘Mania. However, you can’t keep Reigns out of that match either, as everything they’ve done with him all year has been in pursuit of the championship and taking down the Authority. This is why I think we have a controversial ending to the match, one in which both Reigns and Ambrose (who is beloved by the crowd) win. I have no idea how this happens, but it is the only way for WWE to keep their storyline consistent and not have the fans mutiny the main event of Wrestlemania.
Build Grade: A-
Prediction: Lesnar is taken out by the Wyatt Family, with Reigns and Ambrose simultaneously pinning him.
Kyle Kirby covers Wrestling for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @couch_qb