After a shocking (!) three whole weeks between shows, we are back for Sunday’s Raw-exclusive Fastlane 2017 event, showcasing Goldberg in his first non-Big Four event against Kevin Owens for the Universal title.
The card is a solid mix of title and non-title action with some significant clashes between the behemoths of Monday Night Raw. While not nearly rivaling ‘Mania for the spotlight, this event does have significant potential to be a memorable evening. Should be a fun watch!
Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa vs.
The Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar
Straight outta Teddy Long’s playbook, circa 2009, they took a midcard feud with some mid-profile talents and slapped ‘em together into one tag team match, playa! Seriously, though, I do look forward to this quite a bit. The stories have been quite solid and all four men are extraordinarily talented. Low stakes, high ceiling – just how I like my undercard matches. Rich and Akira will take the win to amp up the Milwaukee crowd.
PICK: Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Now THIS is the match that has my full attention on Sunday evening. The Roman/Braun feud is seriously compelling and is (I can’t believe I’m saying this) actually not doing a terrible job portraying Roman as some sort of underdog. The booking of Strowman has been absolutely incredible and his feats of strength over the past few months have carved him into the single most intimidating force in the WWE.
I pray to all gods that we get to see a bit more of Braun’s technical prowess he so beautifully demonstrated against Big Show on Raw. This could very well be a match to remember, so I highly suggest tuning in. Braun’s direction for WrestleMania is quite unclear at the moment, so this match may end up going a number of directions. Unfortunately, I see Roman come out the winner whether he continues with a possible feud with Taker or follows up with this feud through April 2.
PICK: Roman Reigns
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
A match made to keep Sasha out of Bayley’s corner during the Women’s title match; I fully expect the fight to do just that. I anticipate another Triple Threat title match at ‘Mania, and I feel that would be best achieved through a Sasha victory over the conquering Nia Jax. If that does come to pass, it will have to be through a decidedly brutal encounter. I’m quite intrigued with the possibilities this contest presents and may end up being a bit of a dark horse for the night’s most memorable moment.
PICK: Sasha Banks
Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
What began as a very limp and unimpressive series of segments on Raw has transitioned into a healthy and quite strong division complete with a very dominant and intimidating champion and a fleshed out roster of diverse and interesting wrestlers. Jack Gallagher has been a star on the rise for some time and it is an absolute treat to watch him perform in any and all capacities. That said, Neville is still very much the King of the Crusierweights and it would be ABSURD to do anything to change that before the Showcase of the Immortals. I fully expect an excellent match and Neville to hit the Rings of Saturn to end the contest.
The Club (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
Enzo and Cass, while once a highlight of every segment they were involved in, have quickly become a tiresome distraction whenever they come across the screen and a heavy anchor to a litany of promos. This is very unfortunate, as the Club have finally gotten the lift they desperately need with the Tag Team titles. Unless the Club make quick work of the loquacious duo, this is a significant waste of time for all involved – the audience especially.
PICK: The Club
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Do you really think Charlotte’s first singles PPV loss is going to come on the show before WrestleMania?
Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
Outside of Strowman/Reigns, this is why I’ll be watching intently on Sunday night. Two of the most talented men in pro wrestling. Two former NXT Champions. One indomitable spirit. One unstoppable force of destruction. Samoa Joe will need the push for something at WrestleMania and a continuation of his momentum, but I do not expect Sami to go quietly or easily. This is going to be a fun watch, no matter what transpires.
PICK: Samoa Joe
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg
for the WWE Universal Championship
My feelings about this match are reflective of my feelings on this event as a whole. A lot of reason to be excited, but mostly in a vacuum. If this show were anywhere else in the year, I would be through the roof with energy and anticipation. Unfortunately, it’s the last show before WrestleMania. The creative staff could not have telegraphed the result of this match to a greater extent. Goldberg wins.
Chris Jericho will probably intervene. Brock and Goldberg at ‘Mania for the Universal title. I’d say you heard it here first, but you didn’t. It’s probably the 67th time you’ve heard it. I want to be excited for this match, as both participants are all-time favorites of mine; but, with such a predictable result, it feels like a chore.
Fastlane has a bit of a challenge being the last show before WrestleMania. It has to be a bit of a big draw in and of itself, while not hogging all the excitement from the Granddaddy of Them All. It has to develop the proper stories for April 2 in Orlando, without telegraphing everything. I am not extraordinarily excited for Sunday evening (especially not the main event), but I will be tuning in nonetheless. Make sure to stop back here next week for my review and analysis!
-by Scott Saffran