We predict WWE Fastlane 2017 (and pray Kevin Owens doesn’t lose).

Well look at that, we’re only one more PPV / Special Event / 3-Hour Block of WWE Network programming away from WrestleMania. WWE Fastlane arrives tonight and the main event is probably a 2-minute match between the WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Doorberg, I mean Bill Goldberg. The rest of the card features title matches for the Raw Women’s Raw Tag Team & Cruiserweight Championships along with a Braun Strowman fight and … wait, am I reading this right? New Day hijinks? Great, sure, we can do that too.

A brief recap for anybody who hasn’t watched WWE programming in the last two months. I went to the Royal Rumble in January, crossing off the second of the WWE Big Four off my list. Smackdown is the far superior show as all of their storylines make sense, their performers are hot fire (except Randy Orton who literally sets things on fire) and everything feels interesting. Raw? Well, it seemed hot with Seth Rollins & Samoa Joe until Rollins tore his MCL and Kevin Owens really had to carry the show by his damn self. Oh, and Braun Strowman is legit. That about covers it. On to the WWE Fastlane 2017 card!

WWE Fastlane 2017 Card
01. Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg
02. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
03. Raw Women’s Championship Match: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
04. Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Club (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
05. Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
06. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
07. Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn
08. Kickoff Match: Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa vs. The Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar

Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa vs. The Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar

Since Rich Swann hasn’t gotten his rematch against Neville (probably setting up a multi-man match at Mania), he’s saddled to pre-show duty. Noam Dar is still jobber fodder who can’t do anything about jackets and the main story here is Tozawa making his PPV debut versus The Brian Kendrick. In other words, expect every single trope about the WWE Cruiserweights since the end of the Cruiserweight Classic. Headlocks, slow, plodding action as opposed to a ton of flips and major things. What do I want to have happen? I want Gran Metalik to pop up and wreck the heels to give the division one last chance at an actual spark. But it probably won’t happen though.

PREDICTION: Swann & Tozawa def. Kendrick & Dar

Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn

The moment Samoa Joe stepped on the main roster with a gimmick that mirrored Marlo Stansfield from The Wire, he was gold. Hell, Samoa Joe for the last year and some change has reverted back to his 2004-07 run as an absolute monster between ROH and TNA. With Seth Rollins on the shelf, Sami Zayn has stepped up as his first main roster feud and so far they’ve been kinetic. Since they’re opening Fastlane (presumably), they should probably and definitely steal the show from the moment the bell rings.

Look, two indy darlings doing things on the main roster has been something we’ve hyped forever. When it happens to be two guys who can go? You root for the absolute best to occur. And Zayn has emerged as the one act on the RAW roster that can literally take a beating, make it believable and still have you rooting for him because he can sell the absolute shit out of it (hi Roman Reigns). Joe isn’t losing his main roster PPV debut, so expect plenty of Samoan Violence from the Samoan Named Joe a lot of us actually appreciate.

PREDICTION: Joe def. Zayn

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

What was a pre-show match two months ago at the Rumble is now on the main card as … “[Insert Face Here] gets punished by Stephanie McMahon to assert Stephanie’s supreme dominance over the Women’s Division” or something. What has occurred with the Sasha Banks character since her Iron Woman Match loss at Roadblock in December? Pretty subpar.

And as much as we love Sasha Banks, she’s entering into “oft-injured” non-playable character territory. So in other words, either Sasha is going to surprise us and actually beat Nia or you’re going to keep building towards Nia Jax, former Modeling Destroyer of Worlds as your future RAW Women’s Champion. I mean, WWE will gush over the idea of 50/50 booking. And somehow, the power of 50/50 booking and probably a distraction roll up will give Sasha her revenge over Nia. Or crack her in the face with a crutch and let’s see how Jax no sells it.

PREDICTION: Banks def. Jax

Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Club (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass

I don’t know how the WWE booked the tag division into round peg fits square hole territory. Wait, I remember. When they fed the entire division to The New Day in order to have them be petty and break Demolition’s tag record. Now you have The Club, the two guys who should have been Tag Champs much sooner rather than now facing off against the guy who’d be rated the lowest on WWE ’18 and his tall New York friend. In this spot a year ago, Enzo & Cass had their best match against The Revival for the NXT Tag Titles. While it made both teams look strong and also desperate for a W, 365 days later there is no urgency here. The Club spent most of the month getting chumped out to Roman Reigns in order to make him look strong.

So here’s the question, are we going to rebuild The Club as people who murder-death-kill a guy that pitches KFC? Or are Enzo & Cass going to get their first taste of championship gold to have a pair of feel good champs going into Orlando and WrestleMania? I mean … let Gallows & company actually win their first PPV defense of these belts, shall we?

PREDICTION:The Club def. Enzo & Cass

Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher

The King of the Cruiserweights versus the only other guy in the division that has a discernible gimmick. Jack Gallagher won me over with his antics during the Cruiserweight Classic and his actual talents in-ring. But there is no way on God’s green Earth should he defeat a guy who literally eats weight benches, FIFA and should have starred in 300 for the strap. Easiest prediction of the night.

PREDICTION: Neville def. Gallagher

Raw Women’s Championship Match: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte

So, WWE took our pure, happy Bayley from NXT and turn her into the same sort of face they always create. And they’ve put her in a position — and the division in general to where only one person is supposed to win on PPVs and the rest of the meaningful title wins occur on RAW. When it should be the inverse, or something. Look, thanks to the damn Undertaker, WWE has gotten a hard-on for PPV streaks. Problem is, there was a natural growth and attraction with Taker’s PPV streak. Charlotte? It’s hot potato with a title in which none of her challengers can actually defend the thing to give it any actual prestige. Sasha Banks? 0 for 3 in her title defenses and she’s a 3X champ. Charlotte is looking for reign number 5 and the belt has only been in existence for a year.

See the problem here? You’ve built up a great heel in Charlotte and have reduced all of her challengers to Monday Night One-Hit Wonders. Good going WWE. Because Lord knows Bayley actually breaking The Streak* before Mania will give Charlotte extra motivation going into Mania. Which is probably where you can have the Mega Hug Life Boss Powers explode in a three-way match. Or even a four way with Nia Jax.

But nah, we know what the result will be. Because at this rate, Charlotte will be a 14X champion by the end of the year.

PREDICTION: Charlotte def. Bayley

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

Hoss Warfare that is going to be a no contest thanks to Taker-ference. I mean, both of these guys still have a bone to pick with The Deadman. Reigns, the guy who main evented the last two WrestleManias and found himself in the final four of the last three Royal Rumbles that immediately goes from 100% to 50% to 100% in the same match is going to need something important to do. That “important” is feuding with The Undertaker. But where does that leave Strowman? The 2017 Most Improved Player for RAW somehow got a great match out of Big Show a couple of weeks ago. Big. Show. He’s insanely fast and engaging and his entrance music has immediately replaced Three Minute Warning’s as the theme that tells you somebody is about to get wrecked something vicious.

I want Strowman to take the victory here. But I feel like the lasting theme of this match will involve a guy who still does a ton of Shield cosplay because it was the one time he was universally loved. Eh, we need Big Country to take the W.

PREDICTION: Strowman def. Reigns

Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg

Doorberg wins in less than three minutes because unlike every other part-timer that has been brought in for Mania season since 2012 (Rock, Sting, Lesnar), Doorberg can’t go more than three minutes. Even with a talent like Owens, he’s about to get CM Punk’d. Man delivers some of the best promo work of his life, effectively destroys Chris Jericho to bring back the Kevin Owens we all know and love only to get nerfed by Doorberg to set up Brock vs. Goldberg at Mania.

What do I want to happen? Anything other than what I just wrote in the last paragraph. What is going to happen? Everything I wrote in the last paragraph, unless Jericho rekindles his two decade long beef with Goldberg and costs him the match. Or Lesnar costs him. But no, it’s going to end with Doorberg and Lesnar having a staredown and a big red belt between the two of them.

PREDICTION: Goldberg def. Owens