Getting In The Fast Lane To WrestleMania 31

This Sunday marks the first ever Fast Lane pay-per view held by the WWE, it will be replacing the annual Elimination Chamber and marks the second of three destinations on the road to WrestleMania. It has once again been an absolute mish-mash of ideas, rumours and speculation on the plans leading up to WrestleMania, but that just leaves me with more to talk about. Although this post will be long, I will be keeping it based around Fast Lane and its implications, as opposed to sprouting off into a WrestleMania fantasy booking spectacular.

There are five matches booked for Fast Lane, as well as a special confrontation: The Usos vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose, Nikki Bella vs. Paige, Russev vs John Cena and Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns. All of which are to win their respective championships, except Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns, which will determine who will face Brock Lesnar come March 29th at WrestleMania 31, for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. You’ve also got to account for the WWE vs. WCW confrontation between Triple H and Sting, as well as the possibility of an *insert mid-card wrestler* playing WWE Immortals segment.

Fast Lane Poster

I’ll structure this post in regards to my personal interest of each match, with a bit at the end regarding some possible wildcards. Starting with the The Usos vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. I personally wouldn’t class what WWE creative do with the tag-team division as “Story building”, in my opinion it’s on the same shoddy level as the way Raw is booked. Having Jimmy vs. Cesaro or Jey vs. Tyson Kidd may fill up a time slot on Monday, but it adds absolutely nothing to the story of why these two teams are fighting. At least Miz and Mizdow threw a bit of fuel on their feud, The Miz got into the realm of Naomi’s “Acting” career and was causing tension between the relationship of Jimmy and Naomi. Let’s just get this match out of the way so we can have The Ascension lock on to The Usos. Who knows, we might even get some actual promos or contact between the two teams.

I was unsure of when the trigger would be pulled on the Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose match, but it’s finally been confirmed. In fairness, they probably could have scraped by and not had the match at Fast Lane, instead, Ambrose would keep badgering Barrett until he finally accepted for a match at WrestleMania. But, I can’t fault the choice to have them fight early on, apart from that utterly bizarre “Contract signing”, if you could call it such a thing. Ambrose literally bound Bad News against the ring post and scratched a pen in his hand against the contract. I don’t understand how that counts as a valid signature in the lala land of the WWE Universe, I also don’t really care. At least now Dean can win and Wade can activate his rematch clause for WrestleMania, ultimately resulting in a successful defense by Ambrose and a nice long reign as Intercontinental Champion.

Dean and Barrett

On to Nikki Bella vs. Paige, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been looking forward to this match since it was announced; as a resident of England, I’m a huge fan of Paige and her attitude. The build-up, although very girly, has been interesting to say the least, especially with The Bellas running around acting like the playground bullies of the diva’s division. They’ve been spray-tanning Paige NWO-style, stealing her clothes and once again being indecisive on whether or not they like one another. The only thing missing was mention of Paige’s pasty white skin or accusing her of having bad teeth. Now, Nikki Bella vs. Paige may feel like a match I’ve already seen, but it still has me interested, both in the finish, how it will lead into WrestleMania and if AJ Lee is involved. Mostly because if two of those three wrestlers aren’t fighting for the title during WrestleMania, we could really be missing out. Unless of course Charlotte or Sasha are brought up just in time to challenge whoever happens to be Diva’s Champion.

Next up is the (15 time World Champion) underdog! John Cena, who will be facing the unsubmitted and unpinned Bulgarian/Russian/European Brute, for the United States Championship. The question is, can John Cena overcome these odds? I just don’t know anymore, we’ve seen him beat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, win money in the bank, hell in a cell, last man standing and I quit matches. But! Can he beat Russev? No, of course not, not yet at least. First Russev must be made to look like a credible threat; basically the opposite if what we saw on this week’s Raw. Russev could win by a no-contest as Cena follows his never give up mantra by passing out before he ever taps to this despicable commy.

Then Cena can win, he’ll overcome the odds and win the big one at WrestleMania 31, the second time around it might feature a new stipulation, such as a submission, no disqualification or winner gets to go on a date with Lana match. Regardless of what happens at Fast Lane, the bottom line still remains: which is Cena ultimately going over Russev at WrestleMania 31. I feel that the glimmer of “Ruthless aggression” we saw in John Cena this past Monday was just a way to build Russev up and make it look like Cena is having to dig deep. This way (In Vince’s eyes), when Russev finally falls to the hands of the mighty John Cena, John can stay relevant, still look strong and also add some credibility to the US Title. Thus allowing Rollins, Bryan, Lesnar and Reigns to squabble over who gets the WWE Championship while Cena is away from the spotlight. So, basically, just like last year, another newcomer is going to lose all their momentum because John Cena needs someone to face at WrestleMania. However, I feel Russev has significantly less depth than the last victim, considering his only distinctive characteristics are being big and foreign.

John and Russev

The only thing stopping me getting excited for Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns is the likely chance that Vince just made this match so the smarks would shut up and he could play bodybuilder-fetish-fantasy-booking, BFFB, for anyone wondering. This match has so many implications, not just the fact that it’s for a chance to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but because it symbolises Us vs. Them. As an independently minded viewer who frequently breaks kayfabe by reading the latest wrestling news and browsing /r/SquaredCircle, I feel it’s more about The Viewers vs. The Corporation. We had it last year when they tried to cram their idea of a “Good main-event” down our throat and we’re having it this year too.

However, there was huge news a few weeks ago that both of these men would be facing Brock in a triple threat match at WrestleMania, which leads me to believe that this match will end in a dusty finish. Similar to how Randy Orton used the ropes to pin Rey Mysterio in ’06 when he put his WrestleMania spot on the line. Either that or Daniel somehow finds another reason to get himself into the main-event, which I’m also fine with. He doesn’t even need to win, to be honest, just some acknowledgement to what the fans want is all I’m asking. The build has far surpassed what I expected, we’ve seen comradery, mutual respect, tension and finally, an all-out brawl between the two. This has been my most anticipated match since the Royal Rumble; but the rumours, as well as the implications are quite a lot to account for. Especially when you factor in Daniel getting this far and then being denied entry to the main-event, because that is just too much of a kick in the teeth for me to get excited about.

When Sting was announced for WWE 2K15 it blew my mind, not because I’m a fan of the crap games WWE put out, but because it meant Sting might one day fight in the WWE. As of Survivor Series last year, it seems this definitely is the case. I personally don’t understand why Triple H had to “Confront” Sting on Raw to get his answer of whether or not he wanted to confront him at Fast Lane, but I do understand where this is going. Come Fast Lane the two should hopefully be getting in the ring together, does that mean Sting will be talking? And that the two will make physical contact again? I don’t know. However, I’d presume Sting will be pulling more tricks; lights going out, appearance of a bat, jumping from the rafters, typical Sting stuff. I don’t care that it isn’t a match and I don’t care if Sting might not even show up, because it’s the build to my most-wanted match since last year. This is the part of Fast Lane I’m most looking forward to, because it will inevitably lead to a Sting vs. Triple H match, which is the only thing right now keeping me interested in WrestleMania 31.

Sting and Triple H

The last two things I have to discuss are the involvement of Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. Seth Rollins for some reason isn’t booked for Fast Lane, this could be because of a few things: he could be injured, creative may have run out of things for him to do, or, the most likely case, he’s paying his dues for the recent Twitter scandal. WWE can’t punish a wrestler who holds a Money In The Bank briefcase, that just doesn’t work in kayfabe, they know their plans for him and they can’t take them away without mixing everything else up. What they can do, however, is leave him out of Fast Lane, heck, they could even leave him out of WrestleMania and just have him cash in. It would make sense from the business side of things and could even work during the storyline, wrestlers appear and disappear all the time, see The Undertaker.

Speaking of The Undertaker, that brings me to my final point; Bray Wyatt and his Edward Nigma style promos. This past Monday on Raw, WWE decided to bosh out a few Wyatt segments which had him targeting an unknown person. The hints, particularly the coffin, would lead people to believe it was The Undertaker that Wyatt was speaking to, this makes sense to me. However, the one other outcome is that Wyatt is somehow planning on interrupting Bryan’s match and costing him the title shot, I really, really hope this isn’t the case. If the WWE are in fact planning on having Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker come March 29th, then it seems they’re planting the seeds early. Having Wyatt call out The Undertaker in February is a great way to add another element to WrestleMania season that’s actually interesting, an even bigger element would be to have Taker or some kind of representation of Taker at Fast Lane.

I can personally say that if we see Dean Ambrose become Intercontinental Champion, Bryan become number one contender, a Sting appearance and a shout-out to The Undertaker this Sunday, then Vince would have redeemed himself. But, this is the WWE we’re talking about and I’m expecting the exact opposite of what I want and for them to fuck everything up even more, happy Fast Lane everyone!

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