It’s time for the final pit stop on the Road to Wrestlemania because “Monday Night Raw” has to have its own pay per view because “Smackdown Live” did as well. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have little interest in seeing this show and I’m worried about how the main event is going to go. There’s some interesting stuff on the card though so hopefully that outweighs the bad. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: Akira Tozawa/Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick/Noam Dar
It’s a double feud match and there’s nothing wrong with that. The “205 Live” crew has taken a hit in recent weeks as there just isn’t much going on aside from whatever Neville is doing that week. However, there’s some hope in the Tozawa vs. Kendrick feud and Swann is still one of the most entertaining people on the roster so maybe he and Dar/Alicia Fox can do something entertaining soon enough.
As for the winners, I’ll take Swann pinning Dar but this isn’t a case where the winners really matter that much. This match is about getting the crowd ready for the show and the cruiserweights are some of the best possible options to do just that. It probably won’t be a classic or anything but it really doesn’t need to be, which is perfectly fine.
Cruiserweight Title: Neville vs. Jack Gallagher
We’ll stick with the cruiserweight them as Neville defends against his fellow countryman. Neville has turned into one of the best performers on the roster with this new King of the Cruiserweights character as he’s just channeling the hatred and anger so well. Gallagher is a scrappy guy who has looked very solid in the ring at times, though he’s much more over for his character and abilities with an umbrella.
That being said, I don’t buy Gallagher as having a chance in this one. Neville is just on a different level than anyone else in the division and Gallagher is only a step above a comedy character. In theory we’ll be seeing Austin Aries making his cruiserweight division debut and facing Neville for the title at “Wrestlemania XXXIII”, making this match little more than just a warmup for Neville.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
This one depends on what you think they’re going to be doing later on in the show with Bayley vs. Charlotte. On paper, this seems to be a way to set up Banks’ heel turn on Bayley later in the night, which would suggest that Jax beats her and Banks gets upset that Bayley wasn’t there in her corner. This would certainly follow the theory that if you’re about to turn heel, you must lose every match beforehand.
Yeah Banks loses here and WWE continues to sit around wondering why the pops get weaker every time. In theory this helps to set up the four way at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” for the title but that means we have three heels and Bayley for the title. Banks seems primed for a heel turn and since WWE is rather odd at times (read as almost all the time), she’s likely to lose in a huge way on pay per view.
Tag Team Titles: Enzo Amore/Big Cass vs. Gallows and Anderson
Is anyone else starting to get a little tired of Amore’s schtick? He’s described himself as a heel character and it’s starting to show more and more. Unfortunately along with that goes a lot of the spark the team has to offer, which means there’s less and less value in them winning the belts. It seems that we’re getting ready for a Big Cass singles push and that might be better for everyone.
Considering that, PLEASE LET ANDERSON AND GALLOWS LOSE THE BELTS. They’re one of the least interesting teams I’ve seen in a long time as they’re really just there every week and offer almost nothing. The entire division is a mess right now and that makes for some very agonizing segments. As annoyed as I’m getting of Amore and Big Cass, they would be WAY better as champions than more of the Anderson and Gallows mess.
Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
Now this has potential. If you have a need for a new monster (or any monster for that matter) to destroy someone and make it look good, you call on Zayn. These two have been feuding for a bit over the last few weeks and there’s a good chance that this match is going to steal the show. There isn’t much doubt on the ending but there’s some serious potential.
In case it’s not clear, Samoa Joe is going to wreck Zayn here and that’s exactly what should happen. Zayn is the kind of guy who can put up a great fight and come this close before falling victim to one heck of a Rock Bottom and maybe the Koquina Clutch. It’s what Zayn does and he does it as well as almost anyone ever has. Samoa Joe should be coming up on a major match at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” but he has to smash Zayn first.
Women’s Title: Bayley vs. Charlotte
As mentioned earlier, this one is going to be dependent on the Banks match, which I think goes to Jax to set up Banks costing Bayley the title here. If that’s not the case, I still don’t think Charlotte gets the belt back here but I do think she wins. The big sales pitch is that Charlotte has never lost a title match on pay per view and there’s a chance that they could avoid taking the title off of Bayley just yet while keeping the streak alive.
Or, since this is WWE, we’ll go with the reality that is Charlotte becoming six time Women’s Champion because WWE wants to recreate Ric Flair’s record in female form. I have no idea why I should care about Charlotte winning the title again but it seems that we’re heading in that direction. Then, once we’ve gotten the worthless first title reign out of the way, Bayley can start the REAL title reign because that’s how WWE logic goes. Charlotte wins though, no matter how little sense it makes.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
This is a weird one as there isn’t really a good option for the ending. First of all, there’s absolutely no logical reason to have Strowman lose to Reigns via pin. He’s been treated as an unstoppable monster and there’s no reason for Reigns (or anyone) to beat him this soon. Unfortunately, that’s where WWE manages to screw up more often than not. Reigns winning would be the WWE answer and that’s the last thing that needs to happen.
Or there’s option C: Undertaker interferes and costs Reigns the match in retaliation for Reigns eliminating him from the Royal Rumble. That would set up one heck of a showdown at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” and Strowman goes on to do…..well probably to win the battle royal because that’s the best they can think of him for now. I can live with that as long as Strowman doesn’t get pinned by Reigns, who really doesn’t need to get this win.
Universal Title: Kevin Owens vs. Goldberg
This match terrifies me. Owens has recently rediscovered what made him great in the first place but there’s a buzzsaw called Goldberg waiting on him. I know there’s the option of Chris Jericho interfering to cost Owens the title and while that would make things MUCH better than Goldberg just hitting his finishers to win, Goldberg and Goldberg vs. Lesnar DOES NOT NEED to be for the title. The idea of Jericho taking the title from Owens in Orlando is great but Lesnar vs. Goldberg being for the title? Not so much.
Of course Goldberg wins the title here though because WWE has decided that Goldberg vs. Lesnar MUST be for the title for reasons I don’t even want to comprehend. Like I said, if Jericho interferes and costs Owens the match it’s much better, but words cannot describe how mad I’ll be if it’s “Survivor Series 2016” all over again with a match that lasts less than five minutes because Goldberg can’t do anything longer than that again.
Overall, “Fastlane 2017” just doesn’t need to exist. Other than the main event, you could easily see a lot of this show taking place on a few episodes of “Monday Night Raw” and that’s not good for a pay per view. The show has some potentially excellent matches but there are some that are likely to feel like they’re going to drag like a Stephanie McMahon promo marathon. Just please don’t squash Owens. It doesn’t help anyone but Goldberg and I could easily see WWE doing just that.
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