While Fastlane remains the most pointless WWE pay-per-view of all time, this year it will play host to a match eagerly anticipated by fans. Following victory over Jey Uso on last week’s edition of Smackdown, Daniel Bryan earned the right to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at the forthcoming PPV.
Many fans, including myself, expected this match to be in contention for the main event spot at Wrestlemania 37. However, after Royal Rumble winner Edge decided he would challenge Reigns on “The Grandest Stage of Them All”, Bryan’s opportunity seemed to have gone. Fortunately, the result of WWE’s decision to hold monthly PPVs means title opportunities are a constant, and Bryan will get exactly that on March 21st.
The two will clash six years on from their match at the inaugural Fastlane PPV in February 2015. Though it is extremely unlikely that Reigns will drop the title so close to Mania, there are many who believe Bryan deserves one last title run before he bows out from the wrestling business for good.
Here’s why the leader of the Yes Movement should be the Universal Champion.
Full Time Performer
Bryan made the point on last week’s Smackdown that he has wrestled more matches in three weeks than Reigns and Edge combined over the past three months. He mounts the strong argument that the main event of Wrestlemania shouldn’t be contested by two wrestlers who don’t regularly compete in the ring. While it’s hard to agree with the criticism of Reigns, a man currently in the form of his life, you can fully understand Bryan’s frustration with the booking of the Rated R Superstar.
Since his return at the 2020 Royal Rumble, Edge has wrestled in only a handful of matches. Fast forward a year, and he will now compete in the main event of Wrestlemania 37. On the other hand, Bryan – who has competed week in and week out on Smackdown – may not even make the card for Mania next month.
Fans love a fighting champion, and they would get one in the form of Bryan. Given his constant presence on Smackdown, title opportunities for fellow superstars would be guaranteed. This isn’t the case with Reigns as champion, nor would it be if Edge were to be victorious next month.
Work with Fellow Talent
During the promo cut at the beginning of Smackdown last week, Bryan stated he was done putting another talent first. While there is no doubting this is needed if he is to become Universal Champion, it’s this work with other wrestlers on the roster which has increased support for Bryan amongst the WWE universe.
At the age of 39, it’s safe to say Bryan is entering the twilight years of his illustrious career. It’s this point in time where wrestlers begin to turn their attention to putting over another talent. Bryan has done a marvellous job of doing exactly that, most recently with fellow Smackdown locker room member Cesaro.
It was only a few months ago that Cesaro looked lost on the main roster, and in desperate need of some quality booking. After one match with Bryan, the Swiss Cyborg suddenly looked a million dollars, and now looks to be entering a vastly intriguing feud with the returning Seth Rollins.
Even after receiving significant praise for his work with other superstars, it seems Bryan is now solely focusing on himself. In all honesty, an opportunity at Reigns is the least he deserves after the focus he has placed on the individuals around him.
One Last Title Run
Despite winning practically everything there is to win in the WWE, fans still long for Bryan to experience one more lengthy title run. It’s coming up to two years now since he last held a singles championship – that being the WWE title before he was defeated at Wrestlemania 35 by Kofi Kingston. Bryan held the prestigious world championship for 145 days over the course of 2018/19. However, during this run Bryan worked as a heel instead of the babyface fans have become so accustomed to seeing.
Since once again turning face, Bryan has struggled in his pursuit of gold. He failed to capture the Universal Championship from The Fiend at Survivor Series in 2019, and then again at the 2020 Royal Rumble. He also lost to Sami Zayn at last year’s Wrestlemania in an Intercontinental Championship match.
After coming up short in this year’s Royal Rumble, it looked like Bryan would fail to get one last chance at proving he is indeed the “Best in the World”. However, as a testament to his grit and determination, at Fastlane, he will get that chance.
While it’s difficult to imagine Reigns not walking into Mania as champion, seeing Bryan with the Universal Championship around his waist would be a welcomed sight indeed.