WWE Fastlane 2016
Quicken Loans Arena
Cleveland, Ohio
February 21, 2016
Watch: WWENetwork

The last stop on the road to WrestleMania, WWE Fastlane 2016 promises to be at worst a newsworthy and important show.

Meet our preview staff:

  • Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling): Jack of all trades at Voices of Wrestling.
  • Sean Flynn (@spiffie6123): VOW’s …former (boo!) WWE Raw reviewer. Officially dead to us now.
  • Jeff Hawkins (@crapgame13): One-half of the amazing Shake Them Ropes podcast on the VOW Podcast Network
  • Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): The other half of the amazing Shake Them Ropes podcast

WWE Fastlane Kickoff Match – WWE United States Championship
Best of Three Falls
Kalisto © vs Alberto Del Rio

Rich Kraetsch: Oh man, why is this on the pre-show? I was really looking forward to what these guys could do, particularly in the Best of Three Falls format. Being stuffed on the pre-show means it’ll be given, what, 10-12 minutes tops, likely with a commercial break in-between. That sucks. There will also be two rushed falls bringing it to 1-1 (one of my biggest pet peeves about lucha libre) setting up a final fall which will STILL feel rushed. Also I’m a little upset that Del Rio is probably winning this title back as I feel Kalisto has excelled as US Champion and is a star in the waiting, should they ever choose to do anything with him. Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Sean Flynn: The best of three falls stipulation seems tailor made for Del Rio to get the title back. Kalisto is allowed to get a clean pinfall, and the third fall likely involves shenanigans. WWE has done an excellent job of killing whatever value the title had gained during John Cena’s reign of taking on all comers. The match itself could be good, but I can’t imagine pre-show Del Rio being all that inspired. Hopefully the night after Mania Cena can take the belt back and we can try that “Cena wins until he gives the rub to an up and comer” thing again. Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Jeff Hawkins: I personally think the Kalisto experiment was a half hearted attempt to steal Lucha Underground fans and a toe in the water push to see if he could be “the new Rey” while Sin Cara was on the shelf. Half hearted midcard belt pushes don’t work. Week to week stolen wins don’t give a guy credibility. Experiment ends here. WWE-style Alberto Del Rio feels listless, the setup for ADR’s finisher was beyond preposterous on the go home RAW. Maybe we’ll see some viciousness as he gets another title run and Kalisto goes to the multiple tag team match for WrestleMania. Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Rob McCarron: If the entirety of the Kalisto vs Del Rio program had occurred on Superstars or Main Event, it’d have about the same impact as it was presented in actuality. Halfway through through this rivalry, Sin Cara just showed back up and Kalisto was back to being a tag team member. Although, cleverly, Sin Cara and Kalisto avoided the matching tights. Kalisto is a singles performer now, you see! I think the pre-show match will be good, I expect Del Rio to get the title back, and Kalisto will be in a four-corners Tag match on the WrestleMania 32 pre-show. Winner: Alberto Del Rio

AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho

Rich Kraetsch: I’ve LOVED this multi-layered feud between Styles, Jericho and The Miz. Jericho, in particular, appears super motivated by it and it’s showing in his work. This has little chance of being anything less than really good and will act as yet another showcase for the many-nicknamed Styles as he continues his ascent up the WWE ladder. Winner: AJ Styles

Sean Flynn: What does Chris Jericho have in the tank? Whether or not he will go in with the intention of a great match is not in doubt. He’s going to do his damndest to have a classic with AJ Styles. I don’t know if he can though. I expect this to be a very snug, hard-hitting match. That might be how they get around Jericho having seemingly lost a step, just have them beat the hell out of each other. This is probably the best bell-to-bell match of the night. You’d think they have to give AJ the win here, followed by either the respect hug from Jericho, or if they want to change up things going into Mania, full Jericho heel turn. Winner: AJ Styles

Jeff Hawkins: Should be solid. Jericho’s going to show up looking to steal the show, AJ’s great. The only big question to me is whether the Styles Clash is still in WWE continuity, because this would be a special occasion and the man to take it. The only reason I can see giving Jericho a win here is if he’s successfully lobbied to get the Undertaker. But given the rise of the Wyatts, I find that unlikely. Winner: AJ Styles

Rob McCarron: Give it up to Chris Jericho. I have no doubt this guy pitched having AJ’s first program, and a solid AJ win on PPV is a great result. Don’t get angry over AJ’s Smackdown loss. Don’t get angry that AJ has only hit the Styles Clash once. Just don’t get angry. The guy wasn’t going to come in and steamroll over everyone with no purpose in sight. That isn’t how WWE does it. Instead, thanks to Jericho, AJ is going to come in and get a solid, decisive win over a true WWE main event caliber Superstar. That isn’t a bad thing at all! Winner: AJ Styles

Divas Championship
Charlotte © vs Brie Bella

Rich Kraetsch: Jeez, this whole wrestling thing may have passed me by. In any other era, the retirement of a wrestling couple would result in heels lining up by the truck load to cheat them out of their final triumphant win or to shatter any positive thoughts on their way out as a way to build themselves up. Now we’re actually considering the fact that Brie Bella will win the title in her final few weeks with the company. What a world. I think Vince Jr and the WWE brass stick to the wrestling script and Charlotte wins by nefarious means generating heat for Ric and herself. Bryan had his well-deserved moment, Brie doesn’t need it nor has she really earned it. Focus on building someone who will be there for awhile as opposed to throwing it all away for a few week Brie Bella memorial run. Winner: Charlotte

Sean Flynn: I think February 8 may have changed plans for the company. I was certain that the Mania leadup was building to Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte. Maybe with Becky Lynch for a 3-way match. But given the reaction to Daniel Bryan retiring, and the fact that someone inside WWE has to know that the crowd is going to be surly as they wait for the main event, I’m saying Brie wins the title here, drops it to someone at Mania in a multi-person match, and has a final moment in the ring with Bryan as the crowd gets in one last “Yes!” chant. Winner: Brie Bella

Jeff Hawkins: Here’s to a happy life of environmentally friendly living and thrift store shopping for Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Bryan. They could have a Bryan appearance to counteract Flair but Charlotte steals the win and then the couple walk off. My idea would be Charlotte injures Brie like she did Nikki in story. Gives her edge going into WrestleMania, gives Nikki more motivation if she comes back, builds Charlotte as not only having Flair but her dad’s mean streak. Winner: Charlotte

Rob McCarron: Only question here is whether or not WWE capitalizes off the Bryan/Brie press by giving Brie a one month run with the title heading into WrestleMania, or if this is her singles goodbye. Brie is likely done after WrestleMania either way, and a win here wouldn’t shock me. In fact, it may be the logical favorite. Afterall, why else would the Sasha-Charlotte program have been giving such a sudden stop after the Royal Rumble. Winner: Brie Bella

Luke Harper & Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan vs Big Show & Kane & The Ryback

Rich Kraetsch: We all know what the score is here — Strowman looks like a monster destroying two all-time legendary big men then taking apart one of the biggest current big men in Ryback. The work won’t be great… it may be really, really bad but hey, it has Harper and The Ryback in it, so at least there’s that. Winner: Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Erick Rowan

Sean Flynn: In a stronger, loving world this would be the best possible hoss fight. It would be a monster truck rally with DNA modifications from a Godzilla movie. Just 12 minutes of big people running into each other at top speed and hitting each other with their giant ham-like fists. Sadly I just can’t see that happening. Strowman is still in unstoppable monster mode, Rowan is a much better vintner than wrestler, and Big Show and Kane are a combined 6,300 years old. The only hope is Ryback does as much coke as Pam in the Archer Vice season and just runs around like a lunatic until Harper decides to drop him on his head repeatedly. Let’s all hope for short and brisk. Obviously Strowman gets the finish since he’s seemingly on a course to get murdered by Brock Lesnar at Mania, probably over Ryback since he’s the only one he can lift into the choke. Winners: Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Erick Rowan

Jeff Hawkins: This is the Pickett’s Charge of Braun Strowman’s push. Looking good against A- listers, nothing. Destroying big guys one at a time, meh. Dammit, you’re gonna love him so he’s going to destroy three of our biggest (in size) stars and then, THEN that program with the Undertaker or Brock is going to sizzle! Luke Harper is so good I almost feel bad, but at the same time, that talent could stand out, and Ryback’s been known to surprise so it could overdeliver. But this feels setup for later. Winners: Harper, Strowman, & Rowan

Rob McCarron: The Wyatts have a purpose, and need to look strong as they head into what is a likely a big Bray match at WrestleMania. Talk about a guy who has lucked out. Bray Wyatt, the former Husky Harris, seemingly has a singles spot planted at WrestleMania these days. Guys like Daniel Bryan couldn’t even get that. Bray has gone from Cena to Undertaker to… now likely, Brock Lesnar. I mean, talk about building new stars. Building new stars isn’t WWE’s issue, it just seems like the new stars they build never are the guys the fans wants them to build. Tough. Winner: Luke Harper & Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan

Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens © vs Dolph Ziggler

Rich Kraetsch: Imagine still caring about anything Dolph Ziggler does. It’s a shame, I’ve always been a fan of his work but if anyone is in need of a “go away for six months and come back looking and acting completely new” vacation, it’s Dolph. We’ve just seen so much of the guy over the last four to five years and very little has changed about him, it’s natural that we’d just stop caring about anything he does. With that said, Kevin Owens is in this match and he’s far and away the best every week performer in this company both in terms of character development/presentation and in-ring. He’s a quiet MVP for this company and has done a lot to make me care even the smallest amount about a title that’s been in the dredges for nearly a decade. Winner: Kevin Owens

Sean Flynn: This is a classic case of “sure the match will be goodish, but do I really care?” Dolph Ziggler will bounce around like crazy, Kevin Owens will yell at Ziggler while beating him up, and the match will end with a pop-up powerbomb. They’ll work hard, and have the same match we’ve seen repeatedly this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Owens do some sort of countout finish to set up a ladder match at Mania with Owens and his nemesis The DIET (Dismayed Intercontinental Experienced Tacticians). So I’m saying Dolph technically wins, but doesn’t get the belt. Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Jeff Hawkins: Match of the night? Probably. They’re so solid together but I ask myself “what’s going to stand out?” Dolph’s in his hometown, so expect a tease of a win, and Owens getting great heat due to a partisan crowd. Excited to see what comes up, but Owens is winning this. Winner: Kevin Owens

Rob McCarron: Talk about an underappreciated card, this Fastlane show has potential to be really good. This match, for the Intercontinental Championship, is probably the match that will determine just how good this show ends up looking. Owens got the title, and he should keep it through WrestleMania. Winner: Kevin Owens 

Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks vs Naomi & Tamina

Rich Kraetsch: One of these is not like the other! (Hint: It’s Tamina because she’s really bad). Let’s hope (and pray) this is the end of Team BAD as we know it and Sasha can officially distance herself from the Divas Revolution stink. I’m all-in on a Becky, Sasha, Charlotte triple-threat at WrestleMania. If you want to get cute and give Brie Bella a spot in that match too, knock yourself out but please don’t deny me Team BAE in a major match at ‘Mania, these women are so good, let them have their time to shine. Winner: Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks

Sean Flynn: As mentioned in my prediction above, I think Sasha and Becky may have had a wrench thrown in their Mania plans by the whole Bryan retirement. I’m hoping that these four have had some time to put this together, as we know that Team BAE can do amazing things when they (especially Sasha) have time to do the DDP/Randy Savage thing of getting the whole match laid out and rehearsed. Sasha and Becky get the win, as I am guessing a 4-way at Mania with former champ Charlotte and champ Brie Bella. Winners: Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks

Jeff Hawkins: Team BAE! Yay! Could be better than most think. Tamina isn’t the best in the ring but there are times her offense screams powerful monster and both Becky and Sasha can fly for her. Naomi is feast or famine at times, but being the lead heel here is a nice chance for a showcase. Team BAE wins but I think they tease dissension post-match to set up a Triple Threat at Mania with Charlotte. The only reason not to give them the win is if it’s an all divas in one match scenario, which would explain the Summer Rae win on RAW. Winner: Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks

Rob McCarron: I have no idea what they’re doing with Becky and Sasha, unless they really are thinking of a Sasha vs Charlotte vs Becky match at WrestleMania. That’d be great, but it just doesn’t seem like something WWE would do these days. Yes, I know they’ve had a Women’s Championship triple threat before on PPV, but that was forever ago. I hope WWE surprises me, I’d be welcome of that. Winner: Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks

WWE Championship Contender Triple Threat Match
Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns

Rich Kraetsch: I, for one, can’t wait for the Dean Ambrose vs. HHH match coming up at WrestleMania 32…. This build has made it increasingly clear to me that Reigns just doesn’t have “it”. Sure, you can blame the booking, you can blame the losses, that’s fine, I agree he’s been booked like utter garbage but at what point do you cut bait and go in a different direction. Ambrose, even above Lesnar, has been the clear star of this build and continues to be one of the very few guys on the roster that resonates and connects with the crowd. Why not go with it? Plans change all the time in wrestling, why not here? …Oh no, I’m not predicting it, Reigns is definitely winning. Winner: Roman Reigns

Sean Flynn: The crowd is not going to like this. There’s one person in the match who they will definitely not want to win, and that one person is the one who is definitely winning. It would almost certainly be better for the Mania card if Ambrose won, as it would free up Reigns and Lesnar to lend some heft to other matches. It would be better for Mania if Lesnar won, as the crowd would love Lesnar suplexing HHH 20 times. But this train isn’t stopping. We’re getting Reigns and HHH at Mania. We’re getting Roman’s coronation. No one has the kind of overwhelming support that Bryan had when he caused the Mania plans to shift. Without that obvious Plan B, there’s no incentive for WWE to change course. Should be a fun, chaotic match at least. We know Reigns and Lesnar can work well together, and Ambrose is a great fly in the ointment. Winner: Roman Reigns

Jeff Hawkins: So, here we are again kids, the precipice of the “Roman Reigns As Megastar” mountain. The “Biggest Wrestlemania of All Time” they say. A depleted main event roster they have. Do you put the big larger than life proven star in Brock in the main event? Do you book for the kind of crowd that travels to WrestleMania that would go crazy over Dean Ambrose in the main event and eat up Dean and HHH on the mic for the build? No. If they’re going all-in on Braun, Roman’s getting the win. Over Dean. The Wyatts take out Brock. The response to Roman is going to be fascinating. Does Dean go full heel here? Probably at some point. But Braun’s killing the monsters, Roman’s beating the “stars.” But what if… Winner: Roman Reigns

Rob McCarron: I fully expect the Wyatt’s to get involved here and take out Brock Lesnar, the one big guy monster that escaped them after the vanquishing of Big Show, Kane, and the Ryback. With Brock out, the story builds to Roman and Ambrose, the two brothers in arms. Like Survivor Series, they’ll fight it out with respect while trying to get to the main event of WrestleMania. Unlike Survivor Series, the time seems likely for both men to no longer be on the same side after the match is over. Could Ambrose go bad? Could Roman go bad? Unlikely on Roman’s side, although that is probably best for business. Dark horse selection for WrestleMania 32 – Brock vs Ambrose. As for this one? Winner: Roman Reigns


 

Don’t forget to check out VOW/STR Live immediately following WWE Fastlane: