As of Monday, February 1st, there is currently only one match officially announced for the upcoming WWE Fastlane 2016 pay-per-view. The event is essentially the bump in the Road to WrestleMania where WWE’s creative team needs to end any feuds that won’t carry over to the April showcase while also making sure not to give away everything and forcing the next four weeks of Monday Night Raw to be barren.
It’s a tough task made even more difficult by an ever-growing list of injured superstars unable to perform, as Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio have joined those ranks. WWE is essentially down half their noteworthy names right now, so this is going to be a card that struggles to look important.
The downside to having so few big names left to choose from is that the perception of Fastlane is going to be poor. The more spots on the card that are taken up by people who haven’t been at the forefront of WWE programming for quite some time, the more it looks like it’s a B-level or C-level event that can be skipped. Really, WWE is going to be hoping to sell viewers mostly on what they hope is a strong enough main event to justify watching whatever else is attached to it that doesn’t mean anywhere near as much.
The upside to this situation, though, is that it forces WWE to do something different. If you’re the creative team, you can spin this in a lazy way and do nothing but rematches from Raw to eat up time, or you can use this as an excuse to tinker around with some equipment in the toolbox you don’t normally get to use. Experimentation at this time of the year is far from ideal, as that’s best saved for the early summer months, but this is also a lull period where having a change of pace could reinvigorate fans going into WrestleMania season.
That being said, when you look at what the roster has to offer, what are the other matches we could see added to the Fastlane card?
Divas Championship: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (vs. Becky Lynch)
One thing WWE has to be super happy about is that their Divas champion Charlotte is not on the injured list. No matter what happens with that title, it’s not going to be the bout that draws in all the viewers the equivalent of a John Cena appearance would, but it’s something that is an easy slot-filler.
Charlotte will definitely defend her championship against Sasha Banks in some capacity, and it’s only a matter of whether or not it will be a singles match or a triple threat that also includes Becky Lynch. I’m more inclined to believe the former, since Becky hasn’t been treated as a fired-up pistol who is rightfully going to receive another shot, as Sasha has stolen all the focus for herself. The bigger factor is what WWE plans to do come WrestleMania, and I’ve been thinking for quite some time that a Fatal 4-Way between these three women and Paige is their likely choice.
If that Fatal 4-Way takes place, this Fastlane match will definitely be a singles fight between Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Becky will just have to wait another month before she can try again to win the belt.
United States Championship: Kalisto vs. Rusev
If you’ve lost track of what’s happened with the United States Championship as of late, don’t feel bad, as I think WWE is even confused about their plans. Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the belt back on Monday Night Raw, dropped it the next night on SmackDown, then won the title back at the Royal Rumble. Those two have had more than enough matches together, but it was a possibility that Del Rio would get invoke his standard rematch clause at Fastlane, resulting in what would be their fourth or fifth match together in the span of a month.
However, Del Rio is currently suffering from a back injury, which should put a kibosh on those plans. Considering how Sheamus and King Barrett are also injured, The League of Nations only has one man left to fight in Del Rio’s stead: Rusev.
There’s no guarantee that WWE will want to have The Bulgarian Brute fight for the honor of his fallen friend, but it makes sense and most importantly for WWE’s philosophy, it’s an easy thing to set up. All it takes is one segment where Del Rio explains that Kalisto shouldn’t have won that title in the first place and that if he weren’t injured, he would take it back, so he’s enlisting Rusev’s help to bring it into The League of Nations where it belongs. Done.
Rusev doesn’t have any feuds set up right now that would get in the way, nor does Kalisto. Also, Rusev is not so high up on the card that Kalisto couldn’t defeat him without the fans calling bullshit. It will be booked as an old fashioned strength versus speed match where the little guy will prevail in the end.
Tag Team Championship
At face value, it seems as though WWE will be carbon copying the Royal Rumble by having The New Day defend their titles against The Usos, but I not only sincerely hope that isn’t the case, I also think there are other possibilities.
Don’t get me wrong—The New Day and The Usos are probably my two favorite teams on the main roster right now. However, there’s only a certain amount of times a match can be done before it loses all value, and these two teams have squared off enough recently where I doubt anyone would care to see it again.
It’s possible The New Day go up against the makeshift team of Mark Henry and Jack Swagger, who have been paired together a couple times as of late. The Dudley Boyz could always get another shot, although that’s also been done enough that I wouldn’t rule it as likely. Goldust has been trying to convince R-Truth to be his tag team partner and that is another duo who could get a title shot. There’s even a remote chance two members of the Social Outcasts are able to challenge for the belts, although I think it’s much more likely that they show up on the pre-show in some fashion instead.
Social Outcasts vs. Four Random People
As I just stated, don’t be surprised if you see Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel and Adam Rose in an eight-man tag team match against people like Neville, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Titus O’Neil just to eat up some time.