Posted March 10th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team


By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

We are firmly on the road to WrestleMania 34, taking place on Sunday, April 8th in New Orleans, Louisiana.  While the card has yet to be fully set, several matches have already been announced and we’re getting a strong sense of what some of the other matches may be.  Along those lines, Sunday night’s Fastlane show, presented by the Smackdown brand and emanating from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, the town where Rowdy Roddy Piper never lost a match (younger fans can look that one up), will undoubtedly give us some more clues as to what we’ll likely see at the big show. While the card itself is fairly straightforward, in terms of how the outcomes will likely play out, I’ll be interested to see how the creative team looks to preserve some of the second-tier talent coming out of this show, particularly as they’ll be needed to fill more prominent spots on the card after WrestleMania.  Smackdown needs a talent boost and I’m hoping once Mania is over, the Superstar Shakeup will infuse some much-needed life into the show.  But, that’s for a later time.  Let’s run down Sunday night’s card!

Main Event/Six-Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship Featuring: Al Styles (WWE Champion), John Cena, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin

*The winner will face Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34 for the WWE Championship*

Topline Thoughts: While I think there are too many unnecessary competitors in this match, namely Corbin and Ziggler, I like that they are working to make fans a little nervous, particularly the ones pining to see Styles face Nakamura at Mania.  John Cena did a nice job casting doubt on the match by outlining a scenario where Styles, Cena and Nakamura would meet in a triple threat match for the title.  While I don’t think that has any chance of happening, it does create a nice “what if” scenario.  I do think the creative team dropped the ball with the Sami Zayn-Kevin Owen storyline.  Logically, it would have made more sense for Sami to keep up the charade of helping Owens win, saving the turn for the match at Fastlane, instead of tipping his hand this past Tuesday night.  The bright side is that we’ll get some good action between the two, leading to a possible match next month.  For Ziggler and Corbin, both continue to be in dire need of a reset and are merely in this match for filler.

“The Predictor” Predicts: AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair defends the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship against Ruby Riott

Topline Thoughts: I’ve always been high on Ruby Riott, dating back to her NXT days and I liked the initial presentation of the Riott Squad.  Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan are still green, but I felt they were a nice addition to a roster that needed new blood.  So, while this should be a fine match, I’m concerned about Riott’s path after Fastlane.  Currently, both Raw and Smackdown aren’t doing much with talent not involved in the title picture.  As this match is clearly a bridge to get Charlotte to a high-profile match at WrestleMania, I’m hoping that Riott is booked strong so that she can have some upside when the Mania dust settles.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Charlotte Flair retains the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship

Singles Match: Shinsuke Nakamura meets Rusev

Topline Thoughts: This match puzzles me.  I realize that it’s meant to give Nakamura a warm-up match prior to WrestleMania, but I might have picked a different opponent at this stage.  Rusev has been gaining traction and the “Rusev Day” chant continues to be over with the live crowd.  So, I’m curious to see if the audience will be receptive to AJ Styles’ Mania opponent having what should be a strong showing against a popular mid-card heel.  For Rusev, for some reason, the creative team is holding back on the babyface turn that the fans seem to want.  His situation is another one that I’d like to see improve after WrestleMania is said and done.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Rusev

WWE United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode defends the WWE United States Championship against Randy Orton

Topline Thoughts: This should be a fine match but is really set up as a placeholder to get to a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania. I like the hook of Randy Orton becoming a Grand Slam champion, but there really is no credible story to be told here.  Roode doesn’t perform well as a babyface and I’m hoping for a post-Mania reset.  In any case, I’m predicting Jinder Mahal interference that brings us to a WrestleMania Triple Threat match for the title.

“The Predictor” Predicts: No contest due to interference from Jinder Mahal

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos defend the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship against The New Day

Topline Thoughts: This should be one of the better matches on the show, as both teams have great chemistry together.  I’m hoping that this program gets the closure it deserves with a fantastic closing chapter.  I know there have been rumors of a Triple Threat Title match at WrestleMania with the Bludgeon Brothers and with all of the other multi-person matches on the show, I am hoping this one features two teams.  As for what lies ahead, I think the shelf life on the New Day in particular is coming to a close and I’d be interested in seeing some form of re-packaging or perhaps a split.

“The Predictor” Predicts: The Usos retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Women’s Tag Team Match: Becky Lynch and Naomi meet Carmella and Natalya

Topline Thoughts: The sole purpose of this match will be to serve as a buffer for the more high-profile matches.  I’m actually surprised this hasn’t been booked for the pre-show.  It’s a shame because Natalya and Becky deserve better and I’m hoping that there are better paths ahead.  Perhaps a change in shows would be a good course of action.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Becky Lynch and Naomi defeat Carmella and Natalya

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

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