WWE Fastlane 2017 is fast approaching (ugh, I hate that I wrote that) so it’s time to start going through our predictions for the event. Plenty of others here will be chiming in with their full card rundown, so per usual, I’ll be putting out my thoughts on which superstars are going to stand out the most for the pay-per-view.
Keep in mind that this could be in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to winning a championship or a very important match, putting on the best performance, or even just being booked as someone with a lot of the spotlight even if they come up short. Essentially, these are the people I can expect to have the most amount of focus put on them come Monday Night Raw the following night.
This one is clear-cut and obvious. At this point, it’s a guarantee Goldberg will be squashing Kevin Owens to win the Universal Championship in the main event. The only way this doesn’t happen is if a series of events is set to occur wherein Brock Lesnar interferes here so Owens retains, then Chris Jericho somehow loses the United States Championship on Raw before WrestleMania.
It’s doubtful that will happen, so it’s much easier to just go with the simpler route, despite how it means Owens will be utterly destroyed and the Universal Championship will spend the next few months in limbo not being on WWE television.
Roman Reigns / Braun Strowman
If the dirt sheets are true, WWE’s creative team wasn’t even sure which one of these two men they wanted to go over as they’ve essentially booked themselves into a corner. How do you have Roman Reigns look strong for his match against The Undertaker if he loses, yet how do you keep Braun Strowman’s dominant streak in tact by having the most hated babyface in the company pin him? Maybe they should have thought of that before scheduling the match, which is a problem WWE seems to run into more often than they should, considering the amount of writers on staff.
That doesn’t mean they’re up shit creek without a paddle, though. There are plenty of ways to have your cake and eat it, too.
For one, Reigns certainly doesn’t need to be victorious here to keep his “top dog status” in check. WWE has gone through enough countermeasure efforts over the past few years to cement him as someone who can win theoretically any match. It’s doubtful a loss to Strowman—a guy who has decimated damn near everybody in his path for the entirety of his career—would make people suddenly think Reigns doesn’t pose a challenge to The Undertaker. If we suspended our disbelief for Shane McMahon, we certainly can do it in that scenario. Why not just have The Undertaker’s gong act as a distraction to allow Strowman to get the victory?
Still, if I had a gun to my head to pick which one of these two men would get the edge out on the other as far as importance in WWE’s mind, it would obviously be Roman Reigns. Despite Strowman being the one who is on shakier foundation and needs the victory more—particularly as he doesn’t have a set match already stewing for WrestleMania—WWE has shown time and time again that they are willing to push someone down just to make someone else look higher up in comparison, rather than trying to focus efforts in building both men up.
Come on, this is obvious. Samoa Joe probably would have won the match against Seth Rollins if it were able to take place, so when you put him up against someone like Sami Zayn, it’s even more of a guarantee. There’s no way Zayn comes out of this as the winner as he might not even be walking out of the match at all, considering the way Joe’s been booked as a hitman-esque bruiser who takes people out of commission.
The only real question is what WWE will do coming out of Fastlane with Joe. Just like Strowman, the creative team isn’t exactly letting the fans in on any solid ideas of how he’ll be used for WrestleMania. This could mean anything from good news that there’s a plan for something big they’re holding out on or it could be a horrible omen that they moved him up to the main roster without a game plan in mind and are completely winging it.
For both situations, Joe needs to be able to carry his momentum going forward, rather than hitting a brick wall. History has shown that NXT stars who come up to the main roster don’t fare so well if they are put on the backburner as WWE tends to quickly forget about making them a priority. While its doubtful that will happen to Joe, it’s better to be safe than sorry by making sure he looks very, very strong at Fastlane.
Oh God, I hope I’m wrong about this, but based off WWE’s track record with booking Charlotte on special events, it would be foolish of me not to lump her into the same category she’s always in: priority #1.
So far, she has a 100% success rate when it comes to losing the championship on Monday Night Raw only to win it back at the very next pay-per-view. Rumors and logistics pointed to Bayley winning the title at WrestleMania, yet for some reason, those plans changed and they put the title on her at Raw anyway. I’m hoping against hope that this doesn’t mean Charlotte will win the championship again at Fastlane, as we don’t need that storyline to be repeated for the fourth time in a row.
If WWE absolutely refuses to have anybody on top of Raw’s women’s division other than Charlotte, they should just keep the title on her and not have her drop it. That is, of course, unless they’re legitimately trying to fast-forward her to Ric Flair’s 16 world title wins that Big E joked about. In any scenario, I’m rooting for Bayley to retain, but my gut is telling me to not get my hopes up as this will either be a Charlotte victory or she’ll still be the one that has the most screen time dedicated to her come the following night on Raw as she’ll be complaining that she shouldn’t have lost.
Gentleman Jack Gallagher is quite popular, particularly when it comes to the cruiserweight division which doesn’t seem to have many supporters nowadays (side note: I thought you all loved these guys during the tournament. Why not watch 205 Live?) That being said, this just isn’t the right time for him to become the champion. It will happen somewhere down the line in 2017, but at the moment, Neville is the top dog and we already know the next person being set up to challenge him, which is Austin Aries.