The first of many, Project Shanks will begin covering WWE and not only predicting its pay per view results, but grading and analysing them as well. First up, Fastlane. Let’s dig in!
Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa vs The Brian Kendrick & Noam Dar
To say the cruiserweight division has been lacking thus far would be an understatement. The division, despite generating interest and working to build new stars for months via the wildly popular Cruiserweight Classic last year, has really struggled to find its place on Raw. To help with this, WWE has gone as far as to give the cruiserweights their own show on the WWE Network following Smackdown every Tuesday night, 205 Live.
This particular matchup features two babyfaces, Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa, taking on heels The Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar. While each of these competitors is talented in their own right, the addition of Tozawa could potentially rejuvenate the division. As such, expect his momentum to continue.
Prediction: Rich Swann and Akira Tozaw
Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax
The Boss, despite being a multi-time Raw Women’s Champion, has had her struggles against Nia Jax. But this match, despite being the women’s undercard, nevertheless carries intrigue as potentially both of these women could join the fray come Wrestlemania for a fatal four way for the Raw Women’s Championship.
Given Sasha’s track record in big time matches, expect her spot in the Wrestlemania fray to be a lock as is. Therefore, to ensure all four women go into the biggest show of the year as believable contenders, expect Nia Jax to continue her dominance.
Prediction: Nia Jax
Raw Tag Team Championship
Champions Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs Enzo & Cass
Things haven’t been easy for The Club since defeating Sheamus and Cesaro for the tag team titles, but that almost helps make the case for them to retain the belts here. While their reign likely won’t be very long, it would still make sense for them to at least successfully defend the division’s top prize a few times.
Prediction: The Club retains
Neville (c) vs Jack Gallagher
The only thing the Cruiserweight division seems to have going for it the past few months is Neville, the heel champion who returned from injury to capture the gold. As for Jack Gallagher, although he has shown promise, the time is not yet right for him to ascend to the top of the mountain. This should prove a competitive but expected victory for Neville.
Prediction: Neville retains
Sami Zayn vs Samoa Joe
Since debuting on the main roster, Samoa Joe’s path of destruction has run over the likes of Seth Rollins (legitimately injuring the former champion just before Wrestlemania) and Cesaro. He also holds a pinfall victory over Roman Reigns. Sami Zayn, meanwhile, the underdog from the underground, has found himself squarely in Joe’s path the past several weeks.
This match has a chance to be the match of the night as both Joe and Zayn are phenomenal performers. In spite of that, expect the underdog to lose to the Samoan Submission Machine in Joe’s PPV debut.
Prediction: Samoa Joe
Raw Women’s Championship
Champion Bayley vs Charlotte
While conventional wisdom would suggest the newly crowned champion Bayley would successfully defend her title, Charlotte’s unblemished PPV record cannot be ignored. The Queen is 19-0 in Pay Per View matches and has won each of her women’s championships away from Raw.Bayley has spunk, but expect the Queen to reign.
Prediction: Charlotte Wins Raw Women’s Championship
Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman
The second biggest match on the card, Roman Reigns takes on the unmovable object that is Braun Strowman. WWE has done a masterful job in billing Strowman as an unstoppable monster, and his recent displays of power suggest this brawl will be filled with impressive spots.
Also interesting lately though is Roman’s continued stealing of The Undertaker’s gimmick, referring to the ring as his yard. Add to that the tension displayed between the two in this year’s Royal Rumble and you have a recipe for a Wrestlemania showdown. As such, bank on the Deadman making an appearance, hopefully after Strowman takes care of business on his own.
Prediction: Braun Strowman
WWE Universal Championship
Champion Kevin Owens vs Goldberg
Here we are: the main event of WWE’s Fastlane card. The longest reigning Universal Champion, Kevin Owens, and the man, Bill Goldberg. Given Goldberg’s recent dominance of Brock Lesnar, squashing the beast in shocking fashion (1 minute, 26 seconds) and then easily dispatching of him again at the Royal Rumble, it seems quite plausible that Goldberg could continue his steamrolling straight into his rematch with Brock at Wrestlemania. This would further elevate their match and reward Brock for effectively laying down twice in recent months.
Further factors in this match will undoubtedly be Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens’s “best friend” until Owens recently betrayed him at their Festival of Friendship a couple of weeks back. In the event Owens retains, his eventual clash with Jericho would itself be elevated by the inclusion of the company’s top prize. It would also give Jericho an opportunity to become only the second man to unify the United States championship with what is in essence, a World title.
Speaking of interference, what about the Brock angle? Does the Beast Incarnate take the short-term approach and look to cost Goldberg the title simply out of spite? It’s hard to say, but if manager Paul Heyman is present, expect reason to trump emotion. Hell, Brock may even help Goldberg win the strap.
To see how we did, check back Monday for results, grades, and analysis with Mitchell Barnett!
Prediction: Goldberg Wins WWE Universal Championship