WWE Fastlane
February 22
FedEx Forum
Memphis, Tennessee

WWE marches into Memphis, Tennessee for their last major show before WrestleMania 31, WWE Fastlane. Fastlane occupies the spot previously held by WWE Elimination Chamber. For those wondering why WWE did away with one of their more successful “gimmick” PPVs, it was a matter of logistics — per Stephanie McMahon, the damn thing weighed too much (nearly 10 tons) and couldn’t be placed in most modern basketball/hockey arenas due to the huge centered scoreboard. Oh well, WWE is better off holding gimmick matches for when they actually matter and not just because it’s February or October (traditionally WWE’s Hell in a Cell).

In it’s place is Fastlane, since, you know, we’re on the fast lane to WrestleMania… yeah. A few weeks out, it was worth asking why WWE even ran a special event in February. The promotion and build of Fastlane seemed lacking in all departments, with only a few designated matches and nothing to sink your teeth into. To WWE’s credit, they went into overdrive in the last week to promote this show not only as a major player in the build to WrestleMania but as the crown jewel of their “Free February” WWE Network promotion.

All eyes will be on the Fastlane main event pits Daniel Bryan vs. Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns in one of the oddest dual babyface builds ever. Both guys have come across equal parts mean and annoying in the build to this match which will determine the man to face Brock Lesnar in the WrestleMania 31 main event. The go-home RAW saw these two brawl as the show went off in the air and that 10 minute segment/brawl did more for this match than any of the prior week’s promos or odd backstage interactions could. I, for one, am genuinely excited for this match, not because of anything in the build but that I legitimately have no idea who is going to win. I’m still not sure what the WrestleMania 31 main event is going to be. Are we getting a straight 1 vs. 1, if so, can WWE really build a Lesnar vs. Reigns main event? Do they stick to their guns or do we see in improbable Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan main? Does it go to a three-way like last year, what about a four-way with Seth Rollins? There’s a lot of answers and no clear answer — and I can’t wait to see it play out.

Elsewhere on the card, John Cena circles back to where it all started as he vies for Rusev’s United States Championship, the Rhodes Brothers explode as Co…StarDust takes on his brother Goldust in what could be the beginning of the end for Goldust. The Brass Ring Club (Cesaro & Tyson Kidd) battle The Usos for the WWE Tag Titles in a potential show-stealing matches while Dean Ambrose tries to get his photo on the wall of Intercontinental Champions by beating current champ Bad News Barrett. -Rich Kraetsch

Stardust vs. Goldust

Sean Flynn: I’m really hoping this turns out to be the leadup to a bigger match at Mania. It would be good to see the Rhodes Family get a WM moment all for themselves. It’s kind of incredible to think Dustin Rhodes has been doing the Goldust thing for about 20 years now. The facepaint really did let him become his own man. With as much gusto and pizazz as Cody is playing the Stardust character with, the time for him to become his own man is almost upon us. I’m saying this leads to Mania in a match where Goldust puts his career on the line after…

Prediction: Stardust

Damon McDonald: After what seemed like a lifetime, the day has finally come for the WWE to pull the trigger and split the team of Goldust and Stardust. According to Cagematch, this “illustrious” tag team has had 229 tag matches with 129 wins ( 56.3 winning % )… but leading up to the split the team has traveled the country in 2015 taking the fall against such future Hall of Famers as The New Day, The Ascension, and Los Matadores. So with the writing on the wall and the WWE subtle hammer swinging away, the “shocking” Stardust turn went down with a whimper even with Big Dust making his way into the storyline. The match has a chance to be decent and should be used to build to a ‘Mania blow-off so expect a screw job heel win (with help from (hot take!) a Dusty heel turn.

Prediction: Stardust

Alex Giardini: While it was time for the Dust Brothers to disband, it felt rushed with the intent to include this contest on the pay-per-view (the breakup happened on this past week’s RAW, if you’ve given up on the Monday night marathon). It had good build up over the weeks, but it would have been nice if we had another week or two where all three members of the Rhodes family can argue on one of the talk show segments. With that said, the only finish that makes sense is Stardust going over, with a potential attack on “The American Dream,” or maybe even an alliance with the WWE Hall of Famer.

Prediction: Stardust

Rob Barry: Why does this have to happen? 2 seemingly nice guys with facepaint who are breaking their father’s heart not because as one JBL puts it they are  weirdos but because family don’t fight family daddy. Both Stardust and Goldust have fallen on hard times and hopefully this long exasperated choreographed turn can perhaps be a launching pad for Cody Rhodes-Who I actually enjoy more than Stardust-is that an unpopular opinion?

Prediction: Stardust

WWE Tag Team Championship
The Usos © vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd

Sean Flynn: The tag team division is a spot at Mania where a feel good moment can happen without having to do too much heavy lifting in the booking department. But for the faces to have a moment of triumph they need some sort of tragedy to happen beforehand. Rikishi going into the HOF will allow him to make an inspirational speech to his boys before their WrestleMania rematch.

Prediction: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd

Damon McDonald: You could fill a book with all the reasons why Vince hates professional wrestling and I am sure Cesaro would have his own chapter. On the other hand, you could flip that chapter and say that The Usos are the text-book Vincent K. McMahon babyface tag-team. So, it’ll be interesting to see if VKM remains as stubborn as he has always been and continues to shove the Usos in our face or does he take a chance on the the tag-team with the largest upside in the WWE. Eh, who are we kidding? It should be a solid match – maybe MOTN? But yeah, Vince is gonna be Vince.

Prediction: The Usos

Alex Giardini: This one’s a bit tricky. The Usos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, yet for the WWE model that many have grown sick of, they fit the mold perfectly. In all honesty, The Usos aren’t even that bad in the ring; they’ve improved greatly, and have partaken in solid matches with the right tag team. I think the major problem is the lack of depth in the division. WWE is not enticed to take a risk and throw the titles on a blossoming pair, and they missed the boat when they could have made the Samoans swap the belts with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan when they had the chance. In this particular case, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro are pretty over when it comes to the smark, and winning would give them a much-needed boost in terms of where their careers are going. Hopefully, this sets up some kind of Fatal-Four Way at WrestleMania 30, yet that could be wishful thinking seeing how WWE will want The Usos to induct their father Rikishi into the WWE Hall of Fame as title holders.

Prediction: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd

Rob Barry: It’s time for a title change as The Usos have gotten incredibly stale and redundant and it’s not like they are doing anything with the Brass Ring Club so you might as well give them something to tie them over with for a while. Matches like these tend to show how awful the state of the tag division is in WWE. This could be a fun time as all 4 want to impress but this is in Memphis who only care about one man-Jerry Lawler. Speaking of him I really hope he won’t be doing commentary for this event.

Prediction: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bad News Barrett © vs. Dean Ambrose

Sean Flynn: I’m not as upset about the idea that Dean Ambrose wants to win the I-C title to get his picture on the wall as others. He’s been presented as a dude who will get obsessed with whatever random thing crosses his mind. So sure, the idea that Dean Ambrose walked in a blizzard from Boston to Stamford, saw a bunch of I-C champ photos, was pissed that his year-long US Title reign didn’t merit a nifty banner, and decided that he would get that photo if it kills someone…sure, that’s an Ambrosey thing to do. Of course the downside is it means he’s in a feud for the I-C title. But that’s okay because it allows a thought experiment to actually be tested. What happens when you give the guy who always loses the title that makes you always lose? Either somehow they will combine to turn Ambrose into Goldberg, or he’ll be jobbing to a returning Zack Gowen by the RAW before WrestleMania. Sadly though I don’t feel the change coming. Barrett wins via DQ after the 2nd best match of the night.

Prediction: Bad News Barrett

Damon McDonald: It is truly an amazing thing how the WWE can totally fuck up slam dunks. From the first Hogan/Flair, to the WCW/ECW invasion, to CM Punk, to now Dean Ambrose. If it is a no-brainer the WWE will find a way to over book and just ruin what could be great moments. It is this that makes it so fucking frustrating trying to be a fan. Trust me, no one reading this is a huge fan of the current WWE product. We are all trying to be fans but it is situations like this where your legs get taken out from under you. You can’t understand it and it happens again, and again, and again, and again. WE WANT TO LOVE YOUR PRODUCT VINCE BUT YOU MAKE IT SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING! Dean Ambrose’s motivation is that he wants to win the meaningless IC so that he can have his picture on the walls of the office? Why would anyone want the IC title? Why would anyone care after the way Ambrose has been booked? Barrett? Christ, don’t get me started about how the WWE has dropped the ball on him. Look, this should be a real strong match and there is a good chance that these two will have a match that will make me forget about all the screw-ups along the way.  They will have a really good match – hang your hat on that.

Prediction: Dean Ambrose

Alex Giardini: You can vent your frustrations online, you can claim kayfabe is dead, and you can say the creative team has no clue what they’re doing. The bottom line is the current wrestling fan base is more educated than ever, and that’s largely due to the secondary options like Indy wrestling, the great Japanese promotions, or even the dingy shows where you can witness something truly special between two lesser known wrestlers. For what it’s worth, I think Dean Ambrose hasn’t been booked in the greatest way, yet I don’t think it’s worth causing an uprising. It wasn’t wrong for him to come up short in his feud against Seth Rollins, and the Bray Wyatt duels were a little messy. While I don’t think it’s necessary for the man formerly known as Jon Moxley to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, it would be a perfect fit, considering he’s reminiscent of a classic Intercontinental Champion of the past (a mid-to-upper level talent, so to speak). Also, this match should be a doozy.

Prediction: Dean Ambrose

Rob Barry: Will Ambrose actually get his big win here? Or keep taking losses and have none of them effect him? Is the IC Title a kiss of death to any champion? This could actually steal the show as Barrett seems to care about the IC Title and Ambrose is always consistently solid. I’m waiting for the day that someone actually makes this title mean something but I’m not holding out hope.

Prediction: Dean Ambrose

WWE Divas Championship
Nikki Bella © vs. Paige

Sean Flynn: Halfway through the match Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Leva (Blue Pants) Bates, Mia Yim, and Sara Del Rey come out and help Paige destroy the Bellas. They declare themselves the New Women’s Order and sell a whole bunch of nWo shirts to a confused fanbase. Because it’s that or this match actually happens and nobody’s happy except Vince and Kevin Dunn.

Prediction: Nikki Bella

Damon McDonald: Sorry, I am so not into this. I don’t watch Total Divas. I fast-forward my DVR when these two are on. It is meaningless to me and if you are looking for insight and analysis on arguably the worst division in all of professional wrestling, I can’t help you. It is not out of laziness it is just that I don’t give a shit about these two or the Divas as a group. Truth be told I don’t understand the purpose of the Divas division. They are terrible wrestlers, terrible actresses, annoying, not funny. Are they attractive? Sure. Is that all they are there for? Is that the reason we see them? Really, what is the entertainment value these current Divas bring? I am being dead serious. Help me with this. Why is there a Divas Division match on this show? Is there that much crossover from Total Divas? Anyway, go with Paige. She wears Doc Martens.

Prediction: Paige

Alex Giardini: I’ll admit I’m a little surprised that Nikki Bella is still holding the WWE Divas title, considering her counterparts are deeming her irrelevant based on the great matches they’ve been having. I think WWE copies what they did last year, by having one of the NXT wrestlers defeat Nikki shortly after “The Showcase of The Immortals.” Would it be a hell of a lot better if Paige wins so we can see the Englishwoman battle the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, or Bayley? Absolutely.

Prediction: Nikki Bella

Rob Barry: Can we just have the ladies from NXT here? I don’t care about the Bellas and Paige is a pale comparison to what she was in NXT-see what I did there? The Bellas think she is a vampire-ha ha ha, let’s give her a title shot. LOGIC!!! I don’t care who wins or loses, let’s flip a coin much like Two-Face. 2 for 2 on comic book references, I’m winning.

Prediction: Paige

WWE United States Championship
Rusev © vs. John Cena

Sean Flynn: Give WWE credit, I have no idea what to expect out of the two big matches. Could be Cena embracing the hate as Kane always wanted him to do. Could be Rusev proving he is the Super Athlete and beating Cena clean with the Accolade. Could somehow end up with Rusev being shaved from head to toe by Cena. Could end with Zack Ryder molesting Lana causing Rusev to get counted out. Could be Haku coming in, giving both guys the Tongan Death Grip and claiming the title for his own. I partial to this last ending. But, realistically, I know my dreams never come true. So here in the desert of the real I’m feeling Rusev getting DQ’d after Cena hits him with the AA. That way they can save the clean pin for Mania. WWE will assume that seeing Cena chase to get the win is enough of a hook.

Prediction: John Cena

Damon McDonald: Logic says Rusev gets the win, right? Logic says John Cena doesn’t need the win – Rusev needs the win going into WrestleMania. Even with “heel” Cena destroying Rusev on RAW. Even with it being Superman Cena. Even with Vince getting in his own way on booking this match…this has to be a Rusev win to build to a WrestleMania payoff? Right? Clean win for Rusev and babyface Cena gets his revenge at the biggest show of the year. Logic. Pro Wrestling 101. Right?

Prediction: John Cena

Alex Giardini: I usually try to avoid internet spoilers because of matches like this one. Truthfully, I’m sort of intrigued as to how this match concludes. If these two superstars are supposedly meeting at WrestleMania 31, then there shouldn’t be a clean finish, or more importantly, a title change. For the sake of storytelling, Rusev should maul Cena until he gets disqualified, setting up the familiar episode where the face of the company needs to overcome another monster by channeling his inner marine and never backing down.

Prediction: John Cena

Rob Barry: Rusev has to win here, what does Cena have to gain by beating Rusev here? This is all about USA and Russia right? Why not just have The Patriot come back and beat Rusev if it’s so important. I’m expecting some kind of screwy finish so they can extend this feud to or past WrestleMania. Maybe they beat each other senseless and neither man can make the 10 count. What happened to Ryback vs. Rusev? I would have much rather preferred seeing that to this. Hopefully Rusev comes off better from this feud than Cena’s other victims.

Prediction: Draw

#1 Contender for WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan

Sean Flynn: So all I need to do to predict this match is to try and figure out the mind of Vince McMahon. I quit. First things first. This match is all about if Reigns can hang on a main event level in a long match with the best worker in the company. The funny thing is that whether or not Reigns gets that WM main event is going to be all up to Bryan. He could lead this match in a way that makes Reigns look like dog crap, or in a way that makes Reigns a mega-heel, and Reigns wouldn’t likely know the difference until it is way too late. But I don’t think that’s the kind of guy Bryan is. He’s going to try to lay out an epic. What happens in the end is relevant but not so much as we might think. The decision simply tells us to which point on the map we will be going. How the match goes will give us a better idea of what the road to WrestleMania will actually look like from mile to mile.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Damon McDonald: As I write this at 9:52am on Thursday February 19th, I would bet my house that Vinny Mac and the crew still don’t have a final, solid booking plan leading to the WrestleMania main event. I know what Vince wants but I also feel confident in saying he is shitting his pants once again this year. He wants Roman but more important he wants YOU to want Roman. What he doesn’t want is a football stadium full of fans crapping on his WrestleMania main event. So, how does he make that happen? Did someone say “3 way”? This match will somehow, some way fill in the blanks to lead to a three-way match with Brock at Mania. Don’t ask me how…they couldn’t even answer that right now. Vince did it last year and doesn’t want to do it again but I am certain he’d rather have a three way than Brock and Roman stinking up the joint.

Prediction: No Decision/Draw

Alex Giardini: Based on how the plot is unfolding, it makes all the sense in the world to book a Triple Threat Match in a few weeks time, with both Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, there’s a gut feeling that Bryan was slotted in the main event for this card to soothe the fans. Some “Yes!” enthusiasts will be heartbroken witnessing a Reigns victory, yet it just feels like that’s the way it’s going down. I fully expect some interference, and names like Randy Orton, Sheamus, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, and Lesnar himself, I think Bryan getting screwed over yet again would be the wisest choice. It would be exhilarating to see Bryan make history two years in a row, but that’s incredibly farfetched.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Rob Barry: Another screwy finish where both men pin each other so we can set up for the 3 way at WrestleMania because that’s what the fans want and we have to give the fans what they want!!! Ah, who am I kidding this is WWE and Vince has a hard-on for Roman which means we better fall in line people. It will be the Rise of The Roman Empire and we can have our beloved Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan match at WrestleMania.

Prediction: Roman Reigns