brock lesnar dean ambrose roman reigns fastlane

WWE Fastlane Preview: Who Will Challenge For The WWE Title At WrestleMania?

The main event of Sunday’s WWE Fastlane pay-per-view will feature a triple threat match between Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. The three men will battle to earn the right to see who will face Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania on April 3.

It’s the second year in a row where WWE is using the Fastlane name for their February PPV event. They used to call it No Way Out and then it became the Elimination Chamber event, but now it’s more of a regular show with the Fastlane name. The idea is that this show puts us in the “fast lane” on the road to WrestleMania.

Even though he’s the WWE Champion, Triple H will not have a match at the show. They used to mention the “30-day rule” all the time by noting that a champion had to defend a title within 30 days, but it’s not a real thing. It’s only legit when WWE wants it to be.

All triple threat matches in WWE have no countout or disqualification, so the expectation is there will be some sort of interference. The first guy to win by pinfall or disqualification wins the match. Here’s a closer look at the three competitors in the main event, all of whom are considered babyfaces, even though one of them isn’t as loved by the crowd as much as WWE wishes he was.

 

Brock Lesnar

In terms of star power, Lesnar is the biggest name in the match just based on his history in the business and the fact that WWE books him like a star attraction. A few weeks ago I wrote about how WWE was wasting Lesnar. While it’s a good thing that he’s in the main event of Fastlane, that doesn’t mean he is going to win.

During the Royal Rumble match last month, Lesnar was dominant in eliminating Wyatt Family members Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman. Then Bray Wyatt showed up in the match, so the other three guys went in the ring, beat up Lesnar and tossed him out. It was a cheap way to eliminate Lesnar without making him look weak.

What’s interesting about that segment was they really didn’t capitalize on it much in the weeks that followed. There’s been no interaction between Lesnar and the Wyatt Family since the Rumble. That’s odd, right? Actually, it’s a way for WWE to treat it as a surprise when something happens at Fastlane.

Lesnar will likely dominate much of the match. Towards the end of the match, there may be a sequence where he hits his F5 finishing move on both guys, then the lights go out, the Wyatt Family logo appears and all four Wyatt Family guys are there. They’ll take out Lesnar, which would lead to Reigns battling it out with Ambrose.

This Lesnar/Wyatt build is similar to Wyatt vs. Cena from two years ago. Wyatt cost Cena the win in the WWE Title match against Randy Orton at the 2014 Royal Rumble and then cost Cena again in an Elimination Chamber match one month later. That led to Cena beating Wyatt at WrestleMania 30. Assuming Lesnar faces Wyatt in a singles match at WrestleMania 32, Lesnar should get the win there.

Instead of the WrestleMania main event, Lesnar will be in the second or third biggest match of the night at the most important show of the year. It’s a waste of his star power and talent.

 

Roman Reigns

The favorite in the match is Roman Reigns because he is the “chosen one” by WWE management. That’s been obvious for over a year now. Ever since he won the 2015 Royal Rumble and main evented last year’s WrestleMania with Lesnar, he’s been pushed stronger than anybody. Reigns won the WWE Title for the first time at Survivor Series last year, lost it that same night and got it back on Raw about a month later. That reign lasted only one month because Triple H won the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble last month.

While WWE wants to make Reigns their next “face of the company” and are well on their way to doing that, it’s not working as well as they would have liked. Some fans boo him. They are pretty vocal about it too, yet WWE wants the fans to be really sympathetic for this guy even though he’s had the WWE Title twice and has received numerous title shots along the way. If he wins this match, then goes on to WrestleMania to win the WWE Title for the third time, is it that big of a deal? It would be his third WWE Title reign in about five months.

Is Reigns a bad performer? Not at all. He’s proven he can have good matches in big situations and has done well to improve in the ring as well. His promos are below average and WWE knows that, which is why he really hasn’t talked that much in the last month. The problem with him more than anything is he’s not booked in a consistent manner. That’s a WWE Creative issue.

What WWE should have done was hold off on giving him the WWE Title at Survivor Series or that December Raw because it will make his next WWE Title win less impressive.

As mentioned earlier, Lesnar will likely be out of the picture leaving it down to Reigns and his best friend that he calls a brother, Dean Ambrose. Reigns beat him for the vacant WWE Title at Survivor Series. Can he beat him again? Probably.

 

Dean Ambrose

If you only watched WWE programming without reading it online and judged it only by crowd reactions then the logical choice as the winner of this match is Dean Ambrose. He gets the biggest crowd reactions, he’s the best talker out of this group, his work in the ring is above average and most importantly the story makes a lot of sense.

Unlike Reigns and Lesnar, Ambrose has never been WWE Champion. It’s easier to support the underdog, which is what he is in this match. Ambrose has also done a fantastic job in telling a story with Lesnar where he has shown that he’s not afraid of “The Beast” at all. Instead of backing down, Ambrose has called him out, brought the fight to him and taken the best that Lesnar has to offer. Even though Lesnar has put him down on several occasions, Ambrose keeps fighting back. That’s the “never say die” attitude good guy that fans want to root for.

This past week on Raw, Ambrose lost the Intercontinental Title in a Fatal 5-Way match. Kevin Owens won the title by pinning Tyler Breeze. While losing a title may seem like a bad thing, that may have been a good thing because now there’s a possibility that WWE has seen the light and will put Ambrose over on Sunday.

Ambrose is the smallest guy in the match and the underdog. Two weeks ago, Daniel Bryan retired from active competition as one of the best underdogs ever. While Ambrose isn’t getting the reactions that Bryan received at his peak, he’s pretty close to being at that level. It would be nice if WWE truly acknowledged that by putting him over in this match. Sadly, it’s not what I think they will do.

My pick for the winner of the Fastlane main event is Roman Reigns. If it was up to me, though, Ambrose would get the win because he deserves it more, and leading in to Wrestlemania it’s the best fresh story they could do. Too bad it’s not what is likely to happen. WWE is going to go with the guy that they want to be their next franchise star and that is clearly Reigns.

 

Predicting The Other Matches At Fastlane

There are six other matches that will take place on Sunday on WWE Network. The first one will take place on the Kickoff Show prior to the 8pmET hour.

Kickoff Match for the United States Title: Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (2/3 Falls)

They’ve had several matches over the last month while trading the US Title a couple of times. This match is Del Rio’s rematch. Look for Kalisto to retain the gold because he’s the younger guy with a bright future that should have a US Title reign that lasts longer than a month. Being on the pre-show could be seen as a positive because they’ll probably get 15-20 minutes and will have a great match.

Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Tamina and Naomi

Banks recently split from Tamina & Naomi in order to be on her own, which led to her becoming a face. Banks isn’t considered friends with Lynch because they have a long history against each other, but they should get the win here. After this, Banks and Lynch will likely challenge current Divas Champion Charlotte for the title at WrestleMania in a triple threat match. Banks will probably win the Divas Title at WrestleMania.

Edge and Christian interview WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day

This is not a match, but it will be a lot of fun. Since WWE is airing the Edge & Christian show that “Totally Reeks of Awesomeness” on WWE Network after Fastlane, it makes sense to have them at Fastlane. Too bad they are both retired. They could use this opportunity to debut a new tag team – possibly Enzo & Cass from NXT. It would be the perfect spot for it.

Divas Title: Charlotte vs. Brie Bella

Brie Bella went on Good Morning America earlier in the week to announce that she’ll be retiring soon. This may be her last title shot. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have her win the Divas Title one more time. However, Charlotte’s been a really good champion that should walk into WrestleMania to defend against Banks and Lynch. That’s the best story, so Charlotte should win here.

Six Man Tag Match: Big Show, Ryback & Kane vs. The Wyatt Family

The babyface team of Show, Ryback & Kane will face three members of the Wyatt Family. It should be a pretty easy win for The Wyatt Family since they’re a cohesive unit that will have a fourth member outside the ring as well. Since Bray Wyatt is likely facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, he should get the pin on Big Show or Kane. WWE will want to make him look as impressive as possible, so beating a big name accomplishes that.

Intercontinental Title: Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

Owens just won the IC Title back on Raw. Should he lose it in less than a week? No. Ziggler beat Owens a couple of times this month, so at least there’s a bit of a story in place. If you give these guys 10-15 minutes like most would expect it will be very good. Owens will retain and possibly defend the IC Title against AJ Styles at WrestleMania. That would be an amazing match.

Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles

This is the second biggest match on the show and the first singles match on PPV for Styles. The story here is that Styles beat Jericho clean in a match on a Raw a few weeks ago. Then Jericho beat Styles clean on Smackdown last week in an even better match. This is the grudge match that was agreed to on this week’s Smackdown. It should be another classic as Styles proves that he is one of the best wrestlers alive by beating the legendary Jericho once again. This matchup certainly has match of the night potential.

By the way, Styles has the best theme song in WWE. Sorry Sasha Banks, but this is the best now.

Closing Thoughts

In terms of in-ring performance, this could be a great show. The triple threat main event with Reigns vs. Ambrose vs. Lesnar, Owens vs. Ziggler and Styles vs. Jericho should all be outstanding matches assuming they get enough time to really show what they can do. There’s nothing else on the card that will be that bad. WWE has a really talented roster right now, even with all the injuries thinning out the top of the card.

The lack of a WWE Title match hurts Fastlane a bit in terms of star power, but if you watch WWE for the in-ring action then Fastlane should make you happy.

WWE Fastlane is available on WWE Network and pay-per-view outlets as well. It airs this Sunday, February 21 from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio at 8pm ET.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.

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