The name may have changed, the WWE landscape may look a whole lot different than it did even twelve short months ago, but if there’s one thing as true now as it’s ever been, it’s that the final stop on the Road to Wrestlemania will likely raise just as many questions about what we’ll see at the company’s marquee event as it answers.
Will it be corporate golden boy, Roman Reigns or Man of the People, Daniel Bryan, who challenges The Beast Incarnate on March 29th? What, if anything, will The Icon Sting have to say when he comes face to face with COO Triple H? And what about Ziggler, Rollins and their contemporaries?
This Sunday, WWE emanates from FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, and looks set to answer all of these questions, and then some.
Here’s what’s in store.
The Divas match aside, this is perhaps the only match on this weekend’s show where the matter of who wins and who loses is largely irrelevant. We’ve seen some combination of this feud raging on since late 2014, and unless something huge happens in Tennessee, will likely continue to do so all the way up to March 29th.
Yet whilst the outcome may not be all that important, what happens from bell to bell will likely give us some idea as to how the six men at the heart of ‘The Authority vs. Everyone Else’ storyline plays out over the next couple of weeks.
Given recent events, it’s likely we can expect dissension between long-tenured veterans Kane and Big Show leading to a loss for the former camp, all of course leading to ‘Show’s nine millionth turn.
Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how the WWE presents rising star, Seth Rollins after the recent Twitter shenanigans. Undoubtedly one of the best all-rounders the company has right now, the company can ill-afford to mess things up like they have so many times in the past. Still, with a family friendly image to protect, can they really be seen to be shining a light on Mr. Money in the Bank?
Probably not, which of course leans heavily in the favour of a win for the good guys here. Not that it matters. Chances are we’ll have something very similar taking the place the following night on Raw which ultimately negates said victory.
As for what role these guys play at ‘Mania? This writer would love to see Ziggler and Rollins tear it up, whilst Ryback and Rowan possibly team up with a babyface Big Show for another six man against Kane and, well, whoever they can shoehorn in there.
Despite the best efforts of the likes of Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and even reigning champion, Mr. Barrett, its going to take nothing short of a miracle to ever restore the Intercontinental title to its former prestige.
Handled correctly however, and former Shield leader, Dean Ambrose, could well be the man to work that particular miracle.
In a time when professional wrestling is dominated by soap opera drama, the very concept of You have the title, I want it, let’s go to war makes a refreshing change, and let’s face it, this could well be a war.
Like others before him, Ambrose has flat out declared that the championship currently held by Bad News Barrett is something worth fighting for, so you can bet your last that when he steps through the ropes at the FedExForum, he’ll go all out to claim that title for himself.
On the other side of the ring, this writer feels like defending champion Barrett has never quite been given the opportunity to showcase what he’s capable of -even with the title around his waist- though to be fair, he’s never really come up against a challenger quite as hot as Ambrose appears to be.
If you’re looking for a prediction, expect the dastardly Bad News to some how worm his way to victory at Fast Lane, leading to another all-out war down the line, possibly at ‘Mania.
Few of the WWE’s current storylines have been talked about quite as much as the breakdown in communication between Dusty’s boys. Fan theories about exactly where the company will take this one are in abundance, though there’s certainly a lot of mileage to be gained from what is – beneath the surface at least – one of the more darker plots we’ve seen in recent years.
Sure, on the face of it, this is not much different than Matt vs. Jeff or Bret vs. Owen; two siblings have a falling out and, because this is wrestling, decide that the only way to settle their differences is to beat the hell out of each other in front of thousands of people.
Dig a little deeper however, and Goldust vs. Stardust is like something straight out of a psychological horror. It’s the younger brother, constantly reinventing himself in a search for acceptable, finally finding it by replicating his older sibling, and becoming so wrapped up in his new personality that he goes off at the deep end.
The older brother, wracked with guilt, feels obliged to destroy the monster he’s created in order to save his family, or something to that effect anyway.
Of course, having the destroying of said monster occurring in the first act would be the death knell for a psycho-horror film, much as it would be to this feud should The Golden One prevail come Sunday night.
Look for Cody to win the fight, but not necessarily the war.
Having been all but completely outshone by the girls of NXT at the recent Rivals show, you’d like to think Paige and Nikki would at least try to up the ante a little when they meet over the butterfly belt, yet all signals point to this being nothing more than another throw-away divas match few fans will remember for more than five minutes, which is probably about all the Divas will get to do their thing.
Of course, it makes sense that the buxom Bella will emerge victorious here. With Wrestlemania just around the corner, the company can get more out of Nikki walking into Tennessee with the title, if not necessarily walking out of it again. Yet even if she loses, few fans are likely to care all that much.
A shame really, because as Charlotte, Sasha Banks and their peers have proven, it’s entirely possible to get excited about women’s wrestling in 2015.
A potential show stealer waiting to happen, Usos vs. Kidd & Cesaro could well be the best thing we see all night if all four men are given the green light to simply hit the ring and tear it up.
Not that the WWE drama machine is likely to let that happen.
On the face of it, this shouldn’t be an all dissimilar premise to the aforementioned Barrett/Ambrose clash. Jimmy and Jey have proven themselves to be the best team in the game by holding on to the titles and putting on a slew of memorable performances in the process. Tyson and Cesaro, themselves capable of making magic between the ropes, now want to prove their the best, and thus we have a match.
Instead, we get the completely unnecessarily side-plot involving Nattie Neidhart and Naomi, something which is likely to dilute the ending of this one if nothing else.
Prediction wise, let’s say The Usos retain and get a big, elaborate entrance at Mania, where they’ll defend in some multi-team spotfest against every other team in the company.
On the one hand, dumping Cena with the mostly redundant US title at this stage of his career would be something akin to landing a certain mustachioed muscleman with the King of the Ring crown at the height of Hulkamania. That’s to say, it would be completely pointless and liable to do more harm to the man in question than it would benefit the aura of the prize at stake.
On the other hand, Cena reclaiming the belt that first catapulted him to stardom and being inspired to go back to his smart-mouthed, street-wise roots could well do a lot to reignite interest in an act which even the most optimistic of fans must surely admit has grown incredibly stale.
Still, don’t expect any concrete decisions to be made at Fast Lane.
For all intents and purposes, we’re looking at a mere plot point here, a match which, whilst it could turn out to be very good, seems designed purely for the purpose of setting up a big moment at Wrestlemania 31.
A logical conclusion here would be subtly replicate Owens/Zayn, albeit with the evil Russian earning himself a DQ loss rather than the NXT championship. That’s the ideal way to make Rusev look like a complete bad ass whilst still giving Cena a perfectly valid excuse for challenging his nemesis to a ‘Mania rematch.
Whether that’s likely to happen or not remains anyone’s guess.
That Sting will make his WWE in-ring debut against the company’s COO at Wrestlemania 31 is about as obvious as the outcome of any given Zack Ryder match.
With the dream match of Sting vs. Undertaker inexplicably off the cards, we’ve all pretty much known that The Icon vs. The Game is what we’re going to get come March 29th. Not that this means the two legends aren’t going to give us something to talk about when they meet face to face.
Providing both men are on form, this could well be riveting stuff, even if the end result is a foregone conclusion. One challenges the other to a match, the other accepts, and off we go to ‘Mania.
And so we come to our main event, the company’s top two babyfaces (behind Mr. Cena of course) duking it out for the opportunity to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Much like Rhodes vs. Rhodes, there’s any number of possibilities here, but all signs point to Reigns picking up the pinfall and getting back on course for his date with the champion, something which by all rights should already be his after the 2015 Royal Rumble.
Before he does, the ex-Shield man is likely to have his hands full with perennial underdog Bryan. What’s more, should this outcome actually transpire Sunday night, it’s hardly going to matter.
The leader of the Yes Movement certainly has it within his power to make Reigns look like a million dollars and send him to ‘Mania with a few less critics on his back, and if Vince McMahon is adamant that Reigns vs. Lesnar is our star attraction this year, then that’s exactly how the Fast Lane event should transpire.
Still, even coming away from a loss, Bryan will head to Raw the following evening and remain just as popular as he’s even been. The only question then is, once he’s officially out of the title picture, who does the WWE’s biggest star face at Wrestlemania 31?
There’s a whole wealth of possibilities out there, but that’s a whole other article for a whole other time. Til then, it’s time to buckle up for Fast Lane.
all images via WWE.com