John: The 2015 Fastlane PPV takes place this Sunday night in Memphis, Tennessee as the road to WrestleMania 31 truly rolls on. When WWE originally announced the PPV it seemed like they were going with Fast Lane as the spelling, but now they're going with Fastlane so we'll roll with that too.
There are seven matches advertised along with a Face to Face showdown with Triple H and Sting, which is the first time Sting is actually advertised for a WWE event. The WWE Title is not on the line since Brock Lesnar is not expected at the show.
The Kickoff Show has advertised a Miz TV segment with The Miz and Damien Mizdow interviewing Paul Heyman. There's a chance that some match could be on there, but nothing has been announced.
Joining me for the preview are Christian Michael and Justin Seagull. The match order isn't the order that we necessarily think will happen on the show. It's just a format to use for this preview. This is going up late, so my parts will be a lot shorter than usual.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
Intercontinental Title: Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose
Christian: Dean Ambrose is the man. I’ll lead with that. The way he tied up Bad News Barrett to get him to sign the Fast Lane contract was gold. It’s a shame he’s not featured as a main event performer right now, but this is a nice consolation prize feud for him. I loved how he put over how important the Intercontinental Championship was on RAW this week. More guys need to speak like that so fans can feel the passion these guys have for being champions and put over the titles as something important.
For that reason Dean Ambrose deserves to walk around with the Intercontinental Championship. If these guys get 12-15 minutes to have a match it could be one of the highlights of the night.
Prediction- Dean Ambrose wins the Intercontinental Championship
Seagull: The Intercontinental Title really bugs me. With the World and WWE titles merged, the IC title should reclaim the number two belt status that held throughout the 90s. Unfortunately, with hot-shot title changes over the past few months, and no real storyline for any of the matches, the belt hasn’t seen the elevation that it deserves (if John Cena should be challenging for any secondary title, this one would be it).
This storyline seems weak as well. Dean Ambrose’s sole motivation for being the Intercontinental Champion is so that his picture can go up on the wall at the old Titan Tower in Connecticut. Whatever. He’ll be a less boring champion than Barrett and maybe will have some honest-to-goodness storyline feuds for the belt.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
John: This title has become a curse more than a blessing, which is a damn shame. The good thing about it is that Ambrose sounds like he actually wants to win the IC Title, so maybe they can make him a fighting champ that has pride. The way the title is currently booked is pretty sad because it has lost a lot of value.
Since Barrett got pinned on Smackdown by R-Truth after some Ambrose interference, I think Barrett is going to get the win. They can keep the feud going to WrestleMania where Ambrose can win the title off him. I like both guys a lot, so I hope they get time. It will probably go 7-12 minutes with Barrett using some cheap tactic to retain the title.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. Paige
Christian: I wish I knew how to say “I Don’t Care” in another language just so this preview had some flavor to it, but I don’t and I don’t care about this match. In NXT the women are booked like serious competitors and on the main roster they are booked like they are attending Bayside High.
Prediction- Nikki Bella retains the Divas Championship
Seagull: We’ve been waiting with baited breath for the other shoe to drop with Nikki and Brie. It just makes no sense that Brie would play second fiddle to her inferior sister. As great as Paige is, Nikki vs. Brie for the Divas Championship at Wrestlemania would be the most “money” storyline that the Divas division has (which is quite pathetic if you think about it) due to the exposure of Total Divas. Paige will get another run with the belt, just not until post-Wrestlemania. I think the champ retains.
Winner: Nikki Bella
John: This feud has been weak. I like Paige a lot while Nikki has improved tremendously in the last year, but the writing is bad. They have an issue because the Bellas think that Paige is pale? It's brutal. It feels like the writers get their material from teenage comedy movies sometimes. Just give them a decent storyline for a change.
I have no idea what the WrestleMania pan is or if AJ Lee will be back for it, but I assume so. Maybe there will be some multi-diva match like most years. I think this will get about seven minutes like most diva PPV matches and Nikki will cheat to retain with the help of her sister Brie. Paige will still be in the title hunter after it's over.
Winner: Nikki Bella
Goldust vs. Stardust
Christian: The Rhodes Brothers match that has been rumored for much of the last two years is finally happening. I know Goldust would’ve preferred for their match to occur at WrestleMania, but he’s going to come up a month short. In a week WWE has done a pretty good job with making us care about this match with Stardust’s actions towards his father and brother on RAW and SmackDown.
The match won’t make much of an impact on the card though, which is sad if this is Goldust’s last hurrah. Stardust should just go away and Cody should come back. Cody Rhodes can still be a top guy in WWE. Stardust is just a sideshow attraction.
Seagull: This has been a decent-enough storyline, if a bit predictable and probably a year overdue. It’s strange to think that only a year and a half ago, Cody Rhodes was positioned for a main event program with the WWE Champion and had the crowd behind him. How the mighty have fallen. Still, at least this feud has some layers with Stardust refusing his previous life as Cody Rhodes.
The only way this will turn out awful is if Goldust manages to beat Stardust this Sunday. I won’t put it past the creative team to screw it up considering how much they’ve screwed…well…everything up. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here and say that Cody goes over.
John: If you're a fan of Goldust you need to enjoy this because the end is near for him. I know the obvious thing is that Stardust should win because he's the younger of the two brothers, but I don't think that's the right move. What they should do is have Goldust win. Then Stardust can attack him on Raw, say he wants one more match and go back to being Cody Rhodes for it. They can also add the stipulation that if Goldust loses at WrestleMania then he must retire. That's how it can end with Cody getting some momentum as a rising heel again.
There are a lot of ways this can go with both brothers performing on a high level of late. It probably won't get more than 7-10 minutes, but has sleeper potential to be really good.
Tag Team Titles: The Usos vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd
Christian: This match should open the PPV and if given the right amount of time might steal the show. I love both these teams both Cesaro is one of my favorites in WWE right now and I’d love to see him wearing gold (or copper which would be the case here) and since I predicted he would be a Tag Team Champion in 2015 I’ll go with him and Tyson Kidd here. I think they’ll win when Natalya turns heel by helping Tyson and Cesaro win. It’s better to have them all aligned then having Natalya treated like a dope by her husband.
I can’t stress enough how excited I am to see these guys go at it in this environment. I know the wives are going to get involved, but hopefully not too much to where it hurts the flow of the match.
Prediction- Tyson Kidd and Cesaro win the Tag Team Championship
Seagull: This has been my favorite storyline over the past month. It’s featured non-title matches, singles matches, divas matches, mixed tags, six-person tags, all leading up to the “mammoth” tag team title match this Sunday. Considering the slim pickings we’ve gotten from the tag division lately, I’ll take it. I don’t think we’ll see new champs, especially after the Cesaro Twitter hacking incident, but hopefully this will open the show and get some time.
Winners: The Usos
John: I love this match and I'm glad that Cesaro/Kidd have risen to the ranks of tag team title contenders. The setup of this match is pretty easy to understand: Four guys that are really good in the ring and they are actual teams that like each other, that work together and want to win because the titles are coveted. It's that simple. Now give them lots of time! I'm talking 12-15 minutes at least. More than that would be even better.
The Usos are probably going to retain. While I wouldn't mind a title change, it seems like WWE wants to put The Usos in a great match against a worthy team here and then keep the titles on them for a significant reign. With The Ascension looming on the horizon, it doesn't make much sense for the face team to lose. I think the champs retain. More importantly, I hope they get time to have a classic match.
Winners: The Usos
Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Kane & Big Show
Christian: Since Seth Rollins is awesome and should be on every PPV this is just a way to get him on the PPV. It’s also nice storyline continuity that the three guys fired by The Authority would want to fight some of The Authority’s goons.
I would have loved to see Rollins and Dolph Ziggler battle for 20 minutes on a PPV, but this should be a pretty good match too. I’ll take The Authority in this one just because Rollins is the biggest star of the six.
Prediction- Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show
Seagull: We still never got Erick Rowan’s motivation for joining Team Cena back at Survivor Series, right? It seems like he has paid a lot of dues (in kayfabe terms) for a motive that never really seemed clear. Oh well, that seems neither here nor there.
My prediction of Dolph Ziggler doing exactly diddly squat with his big Survivor Series win seems to have come true. Enjoy the Andre the Giant Battle Royal again this year, Dolph! Either Kane or Big Show (or both) has main evented pretty much every Raw and Smackdown since the Royal Rumble, which is a tremendous indictment against the WWE creative team. Seth Rollins is far and away the best wrestler in the company right now (that isn’t in NXT), so he should go over here. There is a possibility that Randy Orton chooses this match to make his return, setting up the Rollins vs. Orton match at Wrestlemania, but that could happen after the match. Just don’t let Ziggler take the pinfall here, please.
Winners: Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane
John: The faces should win. After the massive beatdown on Smackdown with the heels leaving the faces lying, a win for the good guys makes sense. I think WWE has failed big time with Rowan as a babyface because he has no momentum whatsoever. Ziggler or Ryback could use a big win. Rollins is protected if he loses because he's got the briefcase and he's paired with big men losers, so Rollins won't get hurt by a loss. They'll get about ten minutes with the good guys leaving victorious.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan
Face To Face: Triple H and Sting
Christian: I’d say this was a smart move by WWE making people pay for The Network if they want to see Sting but they are giving The Network away for free this month so that’s not the case. Sting still has this incredible mystique about him and he’s only been in a WWE ring once since debuting at Survivor Series. He only appeared on the ramp in his RAW appearance so seeing Sting in a WWE ring is something still very fresh and should have a lot of people interested in seeing him. I know I am.
I wonder what will happen here. Do they brawl? They could, but don’t you want to save their first actual fight for the match at WrestleMania? I’d expect Sting to talk here and explain why he is targeting Triple H. It'll be a historic moment for sure to hear Sting’s first words in a WWE ring. I’m not sure what will happen, but that’s what makes it fun and should lead to an entertaining segment.
Seagull: Obviously the match at Wrestlemania is going to be made official during this segment, but I really want some clarity from Sting on why he targeted Triple H at Survivor Series and on Raw, because as of now it still remains vague and random. It should get a good reaction from the live crowd, though.
John: This will be interesting. We know they're going to have that WrestleMania match, so we have to see how they get there.
I think the segment will go like this. Hunter will be frustrated that Sting won't talk to him, so when Hunter asks why Sting is there it will lead to Sting taking his bat and pointing at the WrestleMania sign. That will be Sting's way of saying he wants a WrestleMania match against Hunter.
The crowd should be hot for it. That's always a plus.
United States Title: Rusev vs. John Cena
Christian: Does anyone really think John Cena is going to win the United States Championship? It is so beneath him. It would be like Derek Jeter going from playing for the New York Yankees to playing for the Fozzberry Floaters on the International League.
I haven’t said this much if ever, but I loved Cena on RAW. His promo and beating of Rusev was fantastic. If Cena was booked like that more often he would get booed out of half the arenas he enters. This will probably be a physical brawl for about ten minutes and then Rusev gets disqualified because he’s frustrated with not being able to beat Cena setting up the bigger match at WrestleMania.
Prediction- John Cena wins via Disqualification
Seagull: As hokey as it is that Cena is challenging for a secondary title, the mere fact that the belt is on the line can only bump up the prestige of the United States title and its champion. This match should have been saved for Wrestlemania, but with the free month and no champion appearing on the show, I can understand WWE’s need to pull the trigger on this match early. Therefore, I’m not expecting to see a winner. They’re going to save a decisive finish for Wrestlemania. This should do a lot to elevate Rusev’s profile in the company though.
Winner: No Contest
John: I liked the build up to it. The only thing surprising about it is that WWE hasn't pushed harder on the angle that Cena is this American hero that the people idolize. He hasn't brought out an American flag. I figured they would drive that point. Perhaps they can do that in the next monh.
There won't be a clean finish and they will have another match at WrestleMania. It's an obvious prediction. If there's a winner then I think maybe Rusev wins by cheating (perhaps a poke to Cena's injured eye when the ref isn't looking to set up the finish), but mostly likely Rusev will get disqualified, attack Cena after the match and then Cena will challenge him at WrestleMania.
Winner by DQ: John Cena
#1 Contender to WWE Title Match: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
Christian: I covered every aspect of this match in my column The Curious Case of Daniel Bryan so I won’t go into much detail here so I don’t rehash what I said there. Their brawl on RAW was friggin' fantastic and I wish WWE would do more things like that to show these wrestlers care about what they are fighting over. It’s a chance to headline WrestleMania and tensions should be running high. That’s why the brawl was so good.
I fully expect a garbage ending so they can get to a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania. Maybe a scenario where Bryan hits the knee and gets Speared (if it’s even possible) at the same time so they are both knocked out and the match ends in a draw.
I can’t see either man winning cleanly because Reigns needs to be in the WrestleMania main event because he won the Royal Rumble. Winning the Rumble has to mean something. I can’t see WWE having Reigns beat Bryan. That’s just asking for trouble. They have to be smarter than that. At least you’d hope so anyway.
Prediction- Match ends in a Draw
Seagull: This is easily the most intriguing match of the night in terms of winner, because the real story of the match is just how spooked Vince and the creative team were by the reaction to Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble.
Will they stay the course with the Reigns vs. Lesnar match at Wrestlemania, add Bryan to make it a three-way, or scrap Reigns entirely and have it be Bryan vs. Lesnar? Unlike last year, I think it’s a huge mistake to change course again, because it will set a terrible precedent that the crowd can control the Wrestlemania direction if they just completely shit on the Royal Rumble.
The flip side of that coin is that the creative team could present a better product that wouldn’t allow the crowd to react negatively, but here we are. I’m going to play it safe and say that this match was a vehicle to make Roman’s Wrestlemania main event claim seem more legitimate. I think Sheamus will turn heel and face Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania, but they’ll do that storyline on Raw, not here.
Winner: Roman Reigns
John: It's the main event as well as the potential match of the night because Daniel Bryan is involved. It might be the biggest match of Roman's career to this point if you don't count the Royal Rumble. He has to be able to hang with the best in the world on a big stage in 20-25 minute match while also trying to keep the crowd from hating him. Good luck.
I think Reigns is going to win. I know there are all these rumors about there being a triple threat mach, but I don't think WWE is going down that road again. Bryan's going to be the guy that makes Reigns look like a super-duper-star and there's no person that can do that better than him.
Reigns will go on to WrestleMania to beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title while Bryan will sadly be stuck in the midcard against Sheamus or maybe Ziggler. If it is a triple threat at WrestleMania then Reigns will still be the winner.
Winner: Roman Reigns
John: It's not a must see show by any means, but I think there are some potentially great like Bryan vs. Reigns and Usos vs. Kidd/Cesaro that will be worth checking out if you choose not to see it live. Some of these matches will be done at WrestleMania too, so that's where there might be some non-finishes.
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