It’s time to dot our final I’s and cross our final T’s as we make our final stop before WrestleMania at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for FastLane!
Last month I went a very nice 5-2 for my predictions of Elimination Chamber, bringing my total for the Wrestling Year in at 63.5%.
Before we dive in, I think I should go over the WrestleMania card in terms of what matches we already know are taking place along with the ones that are all but locked in. This will make for a nice reference with some of my predictions tonight. We’ll start with the three matches we know for sure are happening at MetLife on the grandest stage of them all:
1. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins
2. Ronda Rousey defending her Raw Women’s Championship
3. Buddy Murphy defending his Cruiserweight Championship
And now for the ones that aren’t confirmed, but we “know” will be there and can pencil in:
4. Triple H vs. Batista
5. WWE Championship Match (KofiMania?)
6. The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
7. The Not-Moolah Battle Royal
The rest is anyone’s guess, although I would be surprised if we don’t get:
8. Women’s Tag Title Match.
9. Either a US or IC title match, if not both at least one or the other.
10. Either a Raw or SD tag title match, if not both at least one or the other.
11. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles. They’ve been planting seeds, but they could always balk on it.
12. A Roman Reigns match. They could put him in the Battle Royal and win, but I doubt it.
13. Something with Miz and Shane. I have no idea at this point.
14. A Smackdown Women’s title match. This title has been so neglected that when I first made this list, I forgot it. I wouldn’t even be that surprised if they put this title on the line in the Not-Moolah Battle Royal. I’ll talk more about it in the Asuka/Mandy match prediction.
That’s a possible 14 match card for this year’s Mania (last year’s Mania also had 14), which could balloon to 16 if we have both tag titles defended and both the US and IC title defended (and the SD Women’s title isn’t put up in the battle royal). Regardless, I think we’ve got the basic template to WrestleMania set, it’s just a matter of placing a few people here and there. FastLane will help put some of those people where they need to be. Let’s get into it!
The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev
I find it odd that WWE added this match just two days before the PPV. It could be that they suddenly had an idea for one (or both) of the teams involved and needed this match to get things rolling. Or, maybe they just randomly wanted to see another tag match on a show that now has 5 on the card.
Either way, my prediction is the same. Barring some last minute plan WWE had for the duo of Nakamura and Rusev moving forward, this seems like a slam dunk win for New Day who might be in for a big night come WrestleMania (more on that later).
As for the other guys, it’s just downright depressing to see how far each have fallen since last year’s Mania. Nakamura was the number one contender for the WWE Title and Rusev Day was as hot as anything WWE had at the time. Don’t let this company fool you, they don’t always listen to the crowd. Not by a long shot.
Winners: The New Day
Rey Mysterio vs Andrade
This is a surprising match to see on the pre-show for me. Maybe we’re to the point now where I’m supposed to stop making a distinction between pre-show and main card matches, but it still feels like a spot for less important matches. Which is a shame, since these two have had some phenomenal matches on SmackDown over the past few weeks. So, I’ll try to work on my pre-show biases and enjoy what I’m sure will be a hot match to warm up the crowd in Cleveland.
Part of the reason for this PPV’s existence is to get things in the right (and final) direction for WrestleMania, which will follow just 28 days after FastLane. That helps me in some of these predictions but hinders me in others. This match falls into the latter category. I’m unsure what these two men will be doing at Mania so I can’t use that as a barometer for which way this match will go. Although, I have a thought.
I’d like to see these two in a US Title match fatal four-way, with Samoa Joe defending against these two and John Cena. In my above Mania template, I list a potential US or IC title match. If we only get one (I think we’ll get both), it’s probably going to be the US Title match as seeds have been planted for Cena to be in the mix for that title. Why not insert Mysterio and Andrade there as well and let all four men tear it up? I guess it’s equally possible these two end up in the Andre, but where’s the fun in that?
As for the here and now with this match, I’ll go with Andrade to get the win, since Rey won the 2 out of 3 falls match on SmackDown in January. I guess Rey could win to blowoff the feud, which would probably end any chance of a US Title match, but I hope that doesn’t happen.
The Shield vs Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley
I still feel strongly that Dean Ambrose isn’t really leaving the WWE, despite what dirt sheets may be observing. WWE has never commented about active wrestlers’ contracts and they’ve definitely never advertised to the world that a wrestler is choosing to not re-sign with the company without it being a storyline (see: CM Punk 2011). I’m not sure what that has to do with this prediction, but I want to throw that out there.
In my Mania template, I mention a possible Roman Reigns match. I think that match could end up being a multi-person tag match. The reason I lean towards that is the fact that two of his three opponents in this match don’t really have any direction in terms of where they go for Mania. Lashley could be put in an IC title match with Finn, but McIntyre and Corbin are left in the breeze. I could see a potential Reigns/Ambrose/Strowman combo facing Corbin/McIntyre/Elias at WrestleMania.
Regardless of what happens at Mania, I don’t think there’s much chance Reigns loses his return match. I say “much chance” instead of “any chance” because I guess they could have Ambrose turn on his pals again to set up a Reigns/Ambrose match at Mania, but I don’t see that happening at this point.
Winners: The Shield
RAW Tag Team Championships – The Revival (C) VS. Aleister Black & Ricochet VS. Chad Gable & Bobby Roode
This one is difficult to pick because you never know how seriously WWE is taking the tag division (especially on Raw) on a show to show basis. On any given week it could be cared about or ignored. I thought the match Revival had with Gable/Roode to win the titles was one of the best tag matches Raw has seen in quite some time. I like the idea of the two teams squaring off again and the addition of Black and Ricochet could bring the match up to another level.
I know some people were scratching their heads at the Black/Ricochet combo on the main brand, but I like the juxtaposing styles of both men and think they’ve meshed fairly well during their time together. My only complaint, which extends to all the NXT call ups, is that they haven’t been assigned a brand yet. I hope that happens at the annual “shake-up” because the longer these folks from the yellow brand float around the more it makes me nervous that WWE could start to end the brand split (which would be terrible for so many undercard wrestlers).
The hard part with picking this match goes back to how WWE treats this division. If they’re committed to building a strong division, they’ll have Revival beat Gable/Roode to retain and then build to a match at Mania with Black/Ricochet. If they don’t care, they’ll put the titles on the NXT call ups just to pop the crowd in Cleveland.
I’m going to go ahead and pick The Revival to win here. I think the addition of Gable/Roode to the match was done to allow The Revival to retain without having Black/Ricochet take a loss. I hope we get that aforementioned tag match at Mania. It would not only make for a cool moment to see Black and Ricochet win the titles (in front of a crowd that will love both them and Revival), but it would help make The Revival look strong retaining here since they haven’t been booked well since winning the titles.
Winners: The Revival
SmackDown Tag Team Championship – The Uso’s (C) vs The Miz and Shane McMahon
I have no idea what the plan is at this point with Miz and Shane, but I have an idea that makes sense if you think about
So what does that mean for this match? Well, I guess it could go either way. It’s weird because I originally assumed we’d get a Miz vs. Shane match at Mania that would be set up here in Miz’ hometown. But at this point, after mapping out the potential Mania card, I don’t see where it can be put. So if they’re not facing each other, then they won’t break up. If they don’t split, then there’s no clear-cut choice for who wins this match.
The Usos could retain and then Shane could make the TLC match and put himself and Miz in it and continue there “are they heel or face?” routine that’s been going on for too long. Or, Miz snd Shane could regain the titles and The Usos rematch (I know, I know, no one gets rematches now for some asinine reason) would then come in the form of this TLC match. Of course there’s also the very real possibility that I’m wrong and there will be no TLC match at Mania, which would give this prediction a whole new layer of difficulty.
I’m going to go with The Usos here, just because it covers me in case I’m wrong about the TLC match and thusly most likely wrong about Miz and Shane not breaking up. I’m all about keeping my percentage high!
Winners: The Usos
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships – Bayley and Sasha Banks (C) vs Tamina and Nia Jax
Still not using that Connection name… Anyway, Bayley and Sasha won the titles at Elimination Chamber, which was a nice moment, but then nothing really meaningful happened. So now we’re getting this match with no real storyline behind it besides Nia and Tamina being bigger than Bayley and Sasha. So, I don’t really know what to go on here.
I’m picking Bayley and Sasha to win simply because I think it would be weird to have them lose their very first title defense. It would be equally weird for them not to have a title defense at Mania after the creation of the title being championed (rightfully so) as a big moment in wrestling. Here’s hoping someone like the Riott Squad get a shot at the titles at Mania.
Winners: Bayley and Sasha Banks
SmackDown Women’s Championship – Asuka (C) vs Mandy Rose
This title is basically meaningless now. Asuka won the title in a TLC match from Becky Lynch with Charlotte also in the match. That should’ve been a big deal, but it was really just a plot point for Rousey, Lynch, and Charlotte. Asuka seemingly disappeared from SmackDown before facing Becky at the Rumble and, oh, just making her TAP OUT! That was such a big moment that Asuka again disappeared from the show for a bit before losing a non-title to match to Mandy Rose.
So I have no freaking idea what to make of this title picture. I originally thought this was just a holding place match before Asuka got to Mania, but then Mandy squashed her rival Naomi in a short match on SmackDown and now I’m not sure. The safe bet is to go with a retention here, so I guess that’s what I’ll do. I have no idea how a SmackDown Women’s title match can fit into Mania (especially if we get Joe and Finn each defending their respective titles) unless Asuka, claiming no one is ready for her, defends her title against all the competitors in the Not-Moolah battle royal. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the battle royal will be dropped so who knows?
WWE Championship – Daniel Bryan (C) vs Kevin Owens
The New Daniel Bryan has been an absolute pleasure to watch on SmackDown this year. The idea of him going into WrestleMania as WWE Champion is incredible when you consider where he was this time last year. It’s also crazy to think that Kofi Kingston could be just a few weeks away from being the WWE Champion! Imagine traveling back to 2014, just before WrestleMania XXX and telling a wrestling fan that in five years Daniel Bryan would be poised to lose the WWE Title to Kofi Kingston, and that the 2019 crowd was absolutely ravenous to see it happen.
So how does Kevin Owens fit into all of this? Well, if rum0rz are to be believed, Owens was originally set to face D-Bry at WrestleMania and this match was actually going to be Mustafa Ali vs. Bryan for the title. Things obviously changed with Kofi replacing Ali in the Chamber match, but things apparently changed even more with Kofi being taken out of this match and replaced by Owens. I would be shocked beyond belief if this doesn’t lead to Kofi getting the title shot (and the actual title) at Mania. So it looks like what was allegedly planned for Ali at FastLane is now going to Owens. But does that mean he’s out of the title picture come Mania?
I’m about 50/50 on that as I could see the WWE Title match being a triple threat just as much as I could see it being one-on-one, Bryan vs. Kofi. Either way, I see Bryan defending in the match so I’m going with him retaining here. It might come via DQ or countout, but I see him walking out still champion. Next stop, KofiMania, Bay-Beeeeeee!
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair – If Becky wins, the WrestleMania main event is made into a triple threat match.
Becky is clearly winning this, so much so that I’m not even sure if this match will be the main event at the Quicken Loans Arena. I could just end my prediction at that (since I just gave you my actual prediction) but I don’t want to pass up this opportunity to give out about how WWE has handled this storyline. it’s pretty similar to this:
Anyway, that’s how I feel this storyline has been mapped out. Instead of just having Becky win the Rumble, have Charlotte complain about Becky not being in the Rumble, have Charlotte weasel herself into the Mania match, and just let Lynch cut promos leading to the event, WWE desided to go the Pepe Silviaroute instead. I mean in this angle we’ve seen Becky be deemed medically uncleared, Becky medically cleared, Becky suspended, Becky arrested, Ronda complain about wanting to face Becky, Ronda seemingly forfeit the title, Becky inexplicably unsuspended but not to face Ronda but instead to face Charlotte, Ronda un-forfeit her title, turn heel, complain about Becky being in the match, and then Becky having to beat Charlotte to get a title shot even though she won the Rumble and was granted a title shot against Charlotte when it was thought that Rousey had given up the title. You follow all that?
I’m right there with ya, Charlie. Why did WWE do all of that dancing around for what is sure to be their historic main event for WrestleMania 35? Maybe they didn’t want to drop the ball like they did with the non-build of the AJ Styles/Nakamura match last year. Maybe they felt the triple threat match wouldn’t have enough heat for some strange reason? Maybe the writers are as illiterate as Charlie who doesn’t realize that Pepe Silvia is actually the word Pennsylvania and therefore can’t write coherent wrestling storylines? I’m unsure, but I hope these nonsensical “twists and turns” are over with so we can just get to Mania and have Becky beat the world.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Okay, we’re now set for our final show before Mania. Let me know what you think on the world wide web and of course, until next time, make good decisions.