The next pay-per-view on the WWE calendar is called Fastlane, which features the WWE Raw brand. It takes place next Sunday, March 5 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
This is a column idea that I did a few years ago for a few PPVs. I really liked it at the time and it always got me some interesting feedback. It ended because I was writing at some other sites so much that I had difficulty finding time to get this type of column done. Now that things have settled for me, I wanted to bring it back as something of a PPV preview one week before the actual PPV takes place.
How it works is simple: I ask the questions that I feel that most WWE fans are thinking about the show and I answer the questions as well. Pretty easy, right? First, here’s a look at the lineup for Fastlane.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Bill Goldberg
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Raw Tag Team Championships: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn – It’s not official, but seems very likely.
There could be more, but for now that’s what we know.
Why did I choose 15 questions? Because I didn’t think ten questions were enough and twenty would have been too much, so fifteen is the right amount. The last five questions are five general questions I can use for any PPV while the first ten questions are specific to this event.
That’s enough rambling from me, so let’s get to it.
1. Would it be a surprise if Kevin Owens left as Universal Champion?
Yes. Owens is my favorite guy on the Raw brand and I would love to see him walk into WrestleMania as the Universal Champion. However, I don’t see that happening because of the rumored plans to make Goldberg the Universal Champ heading into his big WrestleMania showdown with Brock Lesnar.
There’s no reason for WWE to go against those plans that have been in place for months now. When Goldberg beat Lesnar in under two minutes at Survivor Series it was done to set up the rematch at WrestleMania. In order to make the WrestleMania match seem like a bigger deal, they want the Universal Title to be a part of the story. You might say that Goldberg vs. Lesnar doesn’t “need” it and I would agree. Another point I would make for having the title in that match is that it would appeal to casual fans who may only watch WrestleMania and would be interested in Goldberg vs. Lesnar more than anything else.
At least Owens can crush Goldberg on Twitter. There have been a few great tweets, but this was my favorite.
I’m not that mad about Owens walking into WrestleMania without the Universal Title. His match with Chris Jericho for the US Title should be pretty good. That matters more than anything else.
2. Is there a good chance Brock Lesnar will be at Fastlane?
Lesnar is not booked to appear at Fastlane, but he is going to be on Raw the next night because he’s scheduled for every Raw between now and WrestleMania. I don’t think Lesnar will be at Fastlane, but I do have a fantasy booking idea.
I think it would be a great idea to have Goldberg celebrate with the Universal Title, hug his wife and son at ringside and then Lesnar’s music hits. Have Lesnar go to the ring, start a huge brawl with Goldberg and the show goes off with the locker room emptying to break them up. The announcers can end it by yelling about how they will both be on Raw the next night.
When Raw starts the next night, mention that Goldberg will be there to celebrate the Universal Championship. As soon as Goldberg gets in the ring, do another brawl, this time one that lasts up to ten minutes similar to the awesome Undertaker/Lesnar brawl in summer of 2015. If you really want fans to care about their WrestleMania match, having Lesnar spoil the party at Fastlane and then have another brawl on Raw would really sell the match.
To answer the actual question, I would say it’s unlikely that Lesnar will be at Fastlane. I would have done it, but I don’t think WWE is that creative anymore. The show will probably end with Goldberg celebrating his newly won title.
3. What is the best finish for Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman?
This is a tough match to book. The WrestleMania plan for Reigns is apparently a match against The Undertaker, which was teased at the Royal Rumble when Reigns eliminated Undertaker from that match. If that’s the case then the no brainer decision is for Reigns to get the clean win here to set him up for one of WrestleMania’s biggest matches.
The problem with the “easy win for Reigns” scenario is that Strowman has been booked stronger than anybody on Raw since last July when the brand split took place. Strowman hasn’t lost on Raw since the brand split. When he lost to Sami Zayn at Roadblock two months ago it was only because Zayn survived ten minutes.
It’s possible they might do a DQ ending with Reigns getting his heat back after it’s over. I don’t think it would be a smart move to have Strowman getting pinned, but if I had to pick anything I think it will be Reigns winning by pinfall.
As for The Undertaker, I don’t think it makes sense for him to be involved in this match even if it’s him vs. Roman at WrestleMania. The way they can set that up is Reigns does a promo on Raw after Fastlane, the lights go out, the gong hits and Undertaker steps up to challenge him. Simple as that.
I’m intrigued by how they are going to book this match because the finish of Reigns vs. Strowman is the biggest question mark on the whole show to me.
4. Will Bayley’s run as Women’s Champion come to an end?
I think it will. The much talked about “streak” that Charlotte is on will continue because she has yet to lose in a singles title match during a PPV event. If WWE is going to continue to push that streak then why would they end it at a show like Fastlane, which does not seem like a big deal?
The way I see things playing out is that Charlotte will try to cheat to win, Sasha Banks will show up to try to help Bayley and Banks will accidentally cost Bayley. That will give the title back to Charlotte while possibly turning Banks heel soon after or at least having her lean in that direction. From there they can do the rumored four women match for the Women’s Title at WrestleMania (Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Banks vs. Jax) with Bayley getting the win. The PPV after that (for the Raw brand) is Payback in Bayley’s hometown of San Jose. That’s where Bayley should also win to end Charlotte’s streak of winning every singles match at a PPV. Does that make sense booking wise? I think so.
It’s possible that Bayley will retain the title here by disqualification because of Banks or something of that nature. My feeling is that WWE really wants that Charlotte streak to continue and they’ll do that by having her get the Women’s Title back at Fastlane.
5. Will United States Champion Chris Jericho be in a match? If not, will he even be at the event?
That’s a tough one to answer because if it was up to me I’d keep Jericho out of the ring to sell the attack given to him by Kevin Owens. However, I can see WWE wanting to give him a match at Fastlane simply because the show could use another match or two and Jericho’s star power would help.
On Saturday afternoon, WWE posted this video on Instagram that shows Jericho getting attacked by Owens at a live event in Germany.
As of this writing, Jericho is advertised to be at Raw this week. It doesn’t mean he has to be on the show and if he is, they could opt for just an interview or something else while mentioning he is not cleared to compete.
My official prediction is no for a match and maybe he’ll be at the event, but I would keep him off TV until after Fastlane. Bring him back to TV on the Raw after Fastlane to start the WrestleMania build vs. Owens.
6. Do you think Triple H or Seth Rollins will appear on the show?
I’m 50/50 on this question. I’m sorry to do that, but it’s hard to pick one way or another. The reason I’m torn is because Rollins is advertised for some sort of interview segment on Raw this week.
I think that Raw interview could lead to a situation where Rollins says that he’s going to be at Fastlane and he wants Triple H to show up for an important announcement. At Fastlane, Rollins can inform Triple H that his knee is getting better and he’ll be ready for WrestleMania, so he wants to know if Triple H will accept his challenge for a WrestleMania. Triple H, as the heel, would easily say yes since Rollins is hurt and that makes Hunter think he is going to win.
If you’ll recall, two years ago they used the PPV before WrestleMania (also called Fastlane) to set up Triple H vs. Sting at WrestleMania. I can see them doing that again with Fastlane, this time for Triple H vs. Rollins.
7. Is this the right time for Enzo & Cass to win the Tag Team Titles?
Nope. Not yet. Timing for title changes is important. Last week I wrote about how Bayley’s title win took place too soon. The story was good with the title win on Raw, but it would have been even better at WrestleMania. The same applies to Enzo & Cass.
If WWE does it right, they can talk about how Enzo & Cass have been one of WWE’s most popular for a few years if you count their NXT days. During their NXT days as well as their run on Raw, they haven’t held the Tag Team Titles at all. Saving it for WrestleMania would be the best thing they can do from a creative standpoint.
Also, the booking of Gallows & Anderson in the last two weeks has been awful. They have beaten up by Roman Reigns rather easily. It has not made them look good as champions. There’s also going to be very little in the way of a story for this tag title match since there’s only one more week of Raw to build it up.
8. Any hope for a Sami Zayn win against Samoa Joe?
Zayn is a favorite of mine on the Raw brand, but this is not the time where WWE is going to give him a much needed win. It is Samoa Joe’s first PPV match on the main roster. Joe has been booked like a monster heel that is a bully that has attacked Zayn from behind multiple times.
You could make a case for Zayn coming back as the fighting babyface that finds a way to win. I just doubt that would happen. It makes more sense for Joe to get the victory here. The longer it goes, the more it hurts Joe too, so it will probably be in the 10-12 minute range with Joe winning by submission with the Coquina Clutch. This will not come close to their awesome 40+ minute match in NXT.
9. Will Neville continue his reign as a dominant Cruiserweight Champion?
Absolutely. There’s no reason to take the title off him right now. Neville has been booked so well for the past few months. I don’t think he’s been beaten since the heel turn either, so kudos to WWE for booking somebody strong. Jack Gallagher is an entertaining character, but I don’t see any reason to put the title on him.
Neville is a current champion in WWE that I feel confident in saying that he will have a long title reign that might last six months or so. At least that’s what I would do with him as champion.
10. Any more matches added to the card?
I think so. There might be one or two matches because there will be time for that. I think it’s possible they do Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks again just because Banks is back in action after the worked knee injury, so maybe it’s a way to try to put her over Jax to give Banks some momentum. Then again, that may be a bad move because WWE wants Jax looking strong at all times.
Other Raw performers like New Day and Rusev could have a role on the show. It depends on how they are booked this Monday.
Perhaps New Day will waste more time with a promo about ice cream again. It’s hard to predict what kind of silliness the Raw “creative” team might do.
11. What match has been built up the best?
This is tough because none of them have been built up that well. Reigns vs. Strowman is probably the best just because Strowman has been booked as an unstoppable monster that hasn’t tasted defeat since the brand split last July. Reigns is always booked strong, so there will be some fans wondering who might be the victor in that match.
There hasn’t been much interaction between Kevin Owens and Goldberg other than when they set it up a few weeks ago. I assume this week’s Raw will feature a lot of them hyping up that match a lot.
Bayley vs. Charlotte has been built up okay, but they did it at the Royal Rumble as well as Raw two weeks ago when Bayley won the title. It’s not that fresh anymore.
I like the way Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn has been set up in the last couple of weeks as well.
12. What will be the longest and shortest matches?
My first pick for longest match would be Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair. They should get something in the range of 15-20 minute on a show like this. My second pick would be Reigns vs. Strowman because they have had long matches at live events for a couple of weeks, so the company likely has faith in them.
As for the shortest match, I’m going with Goldberg vs. Owens. I doubt it’s going past ten minutes. It may be over in just five minutes.
13. What will be the best match?
I don’t think this show will have a classic match that really stands out, but the last Bayley vs. Charlotte match was great. If they get that much time again then they should come close to that although the story won’t be the same since Bayley is the champion instead of a challenger.
This may sound crazy to some, but I think Reigns vs. Strowman could be better than most people think and perhaps even the best of the night. Reigns isn’t as bad as his haters think while Strowman had a pretty good match with Big Show last week. If he can do that with Show then I believe the match with Reigns could be best of the show if everything goes well.
If Joe vs. Zayn was booked in a way where they had a classic match with a lot of nearfalls and they got 20 minutes then I would pick them. I don’t think it will be like that, though.
14. Will there be any title changes?
I’m predicting two with Goldberg winning the Universal Title and Charlotte Flair winning back the Women’s Title.
The Tag Titles could change hands too, but I think that would too many title changes in one show. Save it until WrestleMania. Does WWE know how to save things until WrestleMania? I’m not sure anymore.
Neville is not going to drop the Cruiserweight Title to Jack Gallagher. I feel confident in saying that.
15. How excited are you about Fastlane on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being low, 10 being high)?
It’s about a 5 right now since it comes across as a weak card without enough fresh matches. Some of the match finishes come off as predictable as well. I could bump the score up from a 5 if they do a good job of promoting it on Raw this week.
For comparison sake, I would have said 8 or 9 for Elimination Chamber a few weeks ago, which had a much better lineup. Same for Royal Rumble.
That’s all for now. Let me know what you think of the column. I might do this two times before WrestleMania and one time for other PPVs the rest of the year.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org