Fastlane 2018 is the final stop on the road to Wrestlemania. A Smackdown branded PPV, Fastlane will define the Smackdown half of the Wrestlemania card. With all titles on the line, we can see multiple title changes or we may not see any significant change at all. WWE has announced 6 matches for the card. Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura will wrestle on the card as well. Here is what you can expect of the event, match by match:
1. Becky Lynch and Naomi vs Carmella and Natalya.
Carmella has been Ms Money in the Bank since June last year. While Charlotte is looking at a marquee match at Wrestlemania against, maybe, Asuka. Carmella isn’t likely to cash in anytime before Wrestlemania. So they need not keep Carmella looking strong. Also there has been friction teased between Carmella and Natalya. However, Becky Lynch and Naomi has done literally nothing over the past several months. They need this victory more than the heels.
Author’s Pick – Becky Lynch and Naomi.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rusev.
This is a pretty useless match. Every time the Rumble winner has a match against an upper mid carder in the very next PPV and wins. Randy Orton beat Luke Harper at Elimination Chamber last year. Triple H beat Dean Ambrose at Roadblock in 2016. Roman Reigns beat Daniel Bryan in 2015. Batista beat Alberto Del Rio in 2014. You get the picture. No matter how much we would like to see Rusev get booked better, he will end up losing against Shinsuke Nakamura easily to keep Nakamura’s momentum going strong.
Author’s Pick – Shinsuke Nakamura.
3. Bobby Roode vs Randy Orton – United States Championship match.
Bobby Roode defends his US title in his first PPV defence against Randy Orton. Certainly a big money match but the lack of momentum on Randy Orton can hurt the hype for this match. Moreover, the third element in this feud, Jinder Mahal can be expected to make an appearance. A triple threat match between Orton, Roode and Jinder looks to be set for the near future, maybe at Wrestlemania. Orton suffered a loss at the hand of Jinder on the go home Smackdown so he needs the victory and Bobby Roode losing the title so close to Wrestlemania makes no sense. One can expect Jinder Mahal to interfere and cause a no contest setting up the triple threat for the future. Again, Mahal can just be added to the match on the show itself and Bobby Roode can get a scrappy win over Mahal and Orton after pinning one of them without doing any work.
Author’s Pick – No Contest, with a run-in from Jinder Mahal.
4. The Usos vs The New Day – Smackdown Tag Team Championship match.
Usos and New Day faced each other in 4 consecutive PPVs throughout 2017. They delivered every single time often posting the best match of the night. The lack of depth in both brands Tag team divisions was clearly seen both at Elimination Chamber and we see it again at Fastlane. While The Bar has no possible Wrestlemania opponents on the roster, Smackdown has been building up Luke Harper and Erik Rowan, known as the Bludgeon Brothers to be the next challengers. The Bludgeon Brothers might interfere and make their presence felt but that really doesn’t match their MO. My guess is when one team finally manages to beat the other, the Bludgeon Brothers come out and obliterate them to get their opportunity at the titles.
Author’s Pick – The Usos retain. Bludgeon Brothers make their presence felt.
5. Charlotte Flair vs Ruby Riott – Smackdown Women’s Championshipmatch.
There is absolutely no way Charlotte will be dropping the title to Ruby Riott so close to Wrestlemania. Charlotte has been the biggest women’s star in the company for well over 2 years now. The only one who comes remotely close is Ronda Rousey due to her mainstream popularity. Since Rousey is booked at Mania and Nia Jax is being slowly built up to challenge Alexa Bliss, Charlotte’s opponent at Mania will most likely be the undefeated Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka. To make Charlotte as strong as possible to face Asuka, she needs a convincing victory over Riott and that is exactly what we should expect.
Author’s Pick – Charlotte Flair.
6. AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn vs Dolph Ziggler vs Baron Corbin vs John Cena – WWE Championship match.
This match is just as ridiculous as it seems. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura has been set ever since Nakamura debuted on Smackdown and Styles’ move to Raw was called off. AJ Styles should retain. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will work Wrestlemania with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan in some way or the other and Ziggler and Corbin will likely end up in the Andre The Giant memorial battle royal. The only participant who has a legit chance of actualy winning is John Cena who delivered a convincing promo on Smackdown last week about him winning the title at Fastlane and AJ Styles invoking his rematch clause to set up a triple threat match at Wrestlemania. That is the only possible outcome to this match other than an AJ victory. The main element of this match will be John Cena. The Undertaker match won’t happen as it seems. Rey Mysterio got injured at an independent show. The only remaining match worthy of having John Cena are the two World Title matches. Now, the Raw title match can be in jeopardy as Roman Reigns faces Drug use allegations and Brock Lesnar’s in a contract dispute. However Brock’s situation looks to be a work and Braun Strowman has already been pegged to remain as a back up in case either of the two doesn’t make it to Wrestlemania. So there is an outside chance that Cena might actually take the title off AJ. But will WWE give Cena his record breaking 17th reign at a B show like Fastlane? Unlikely.
Author’s Pick – AJ Styles.