By John Crowe

One last night and the WWE is officially on the fast track to WrestleMania. One more night at FastLane and there will be nothing standing between the WWE Universe and a live crowd of approximately 25,000 a night in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium on April 10th and 11th. I for one, will be happy because it seems like FastLane is just a speed bump to get over before the real business gets done for the Road to WrestleMania.

So, let’s take a look at the card as of Saturday morning.

FastLane PPV Card:

  • Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan with Edge as special guest ringside enforcer
  • WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
  • Intercontinental Championship Match: Big E vs. Apollo Crews
  • Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
  • Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss

It looks like the Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon match has been scrapped for the PPV. I’d rather they scrap the match entirely, but you know they won’t.

There’s no question that the Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan and Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus matches will top the card and be outstanding. But, at the end of the day, I don’t expect either McIntyre or Reigns to lose and upsetting the matches against Bobby Lashley and Edge respectively. I don’t expect Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair to win the tag titles. It would be cool to see Reginald get involved and then have him hanging in a cage above the ring for the Banks vs. Belair match though at WrestleMania. Apollo Crews could go over as I-C Champ, setting up a rematch at WrestleMania with a stipulation attached to it.

Will we get the first unveiling and reincarnation of The Fiend during the Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss match? I say YES!

RAW

RESULTS

  • Drew McIntyre defeated The Miz
  • Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose defeated Lana & Naomi
  • RAW Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day defeated The Hurt Business to win titles
  • Damian Priest defeated Jaxson Ryker
  • Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman went to a no-contest
  • Asuka defeated Shayna Baszler
  • United States Championship Match: Riddle defeated Mustafa Ali
  • Non-title WWE Championship Match: Bobby Lashley defeated Sheamus

Props again this week to Drew McIntyre, Sheamus and WWE Champion Bobby Lashley. They are carrying RAW inside the ring these past few weeks. No matter the match, it’s been really top notch action between these three. Lashley is really going to another level with his first WWE Championship run while McIntyre and Sheamus are willing to beat the holy hell out of each other and still keep the respect going between them. I love it.

Welcome home for the 24/7 Championship R-Truth. Bad Bunny just turned the belt over to him and now has The Miz and John Morrison in his crosshairs after The Miz’s guitar shot to BB’s back Monday night. We’ve been telling you for weeks that WrestleMania will be home to their tag team match with Damian Priest being Bunny’s partner. It’s worked beautifully.

Congrats to The New Day! They’re now 11-time tag team champions after beating Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. As always between these four, it’s a good match. Here’s where it goes sideways though. Directly after the match, AJ Styles and Omos step up and demand a title match with the new champs and get one at WrestleMania. Huh? Styles and Omos have never had a match together but they get a title shot without anyone saying boo! It lacks logic and creativity. At least make Styles and Omos beat The Hurt Business, who obviously have a rematch coming, to earn the championship match.

It looks like we’re getting the badass Asuka back in the fold as she goes tooth (pun intended) and nail with Shayna Baszler. Let these two go at it with their natural instincts and it will be a classic. I just hope we don’t get a tooth for a tooth match. That would be as silly as that eye for an eye match between Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio.

Can we just get Mustafa Ali to drop RETRIBUTION already? Otherwise, quality match between Riddle and Ali and I’d like to see them run that back again with some more time.

As for Shane McMahon and Braun Strowman. Can we just turn off both their mics, let Shane have his one big high-flying spot like he did off the top rope onto Strowman and the announce table and move on with it?!

NXT

RESULTS

  • Dexter Lumis defeated Austin Theory
  • Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza defeated Breezango
  • Dakota Kai defeated Zoey Stark
  • Tommaso Ciampa defeated Marcel Barthel
  • LA Knight defeated August Grey
  • NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch defeated Karrion Kross & Finn Balor

First things first…Bronson Reed doing the “fat guy in a little coat” bit with LA Knight’s jacket was hilarious. Tip of the cap to you Chris Farley!

Now, with a reported new wave of COVID-19 tests going through NXT, there was some shake-up to the show. But, all in all, it worked including a new wrinkle to the Finn Balor/Karrion Kross storyline. I liked putting them together against Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch for the one reason that I never expected them to win. They were challenged by the champs and Scarlett’s “everything happens for a reason” played out beautifully throughout the night. Sure, I think Scarlett purposely put herself in harm’s way just to give Kross the chance to lay the smack down on the NXT Champion. Things got personal in a hurry in the tag match with Balor first wanting nothing to do with getting in the match and then Kross’ response to Scarlett being hit. Plus, the champs got over for the win so everyone wins. With Balor vs. Kross as the main event at the two-night NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver, this next big NXT event is certainly looking worthy of WrestleMania week.

Here’s hoping they’re penciling in Jordan Devlin vs. Santos Escobar for NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver. Give these two 30 minutes and we’ll all be in for a treat.

Do you think Austin Theory likes being coddled by Dexter Lumis even after being beat? Good match to open things up and yes, I think Theory joining Lumis is a good idea.

Give credit to Zoey Stark. She’s 0-2 in the past two weeks, losing to Io Shirai and Dakota Kai, but she’s looked very good in doing it. As for Kai, she’s begging Raquel Gonzalez for another shot at the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles to keep her relevant while Gonzalez now has a contract in hand to face Shirai in a soon-to-be-determined match.

Tommaso Ciampa wanted WALTER. Well, Ciampa sometimes we’re not happy to get the things we want in life. That powerbomb with IMPERIUM’s help sure couldn’t have felt well after the win over Marcel Barthel. Am I the only who thinks Ciampa might also see old/new friend Timothy Thatcher in an adversarial situation very soon? Hmmm…..

I’m not sure what to make of the Kyle O’Reilly apparently running down Adam Cole with his car storyline. I didn’t like it Jeff Hardy and Elias and it seems wonky here. I get that it’s a means to an end to have William Regal get them to a match next week, but there’s got to be a better, more creative way to do it.

Tag teams are looking up though. The Grizzled Young Veterans are after MSK. Legado del Fantasma gets a win over Breezango, looking good doing it too. Lorcan and Burch have plenty of contenders to beware of moving forward.

Sarray, formerly known as Saree, is coming.

SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

  • SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax
  • Dominik & Rey Mysterio defeated The Street Profits
  • Chad Gable & Otis defeated Dominik & Rey Mysterio
  • King Corbin defeated Sami Zayn
  • Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler went to a no-contest
  • Edge defeated Jey Uso to become special ringside enforcer at FastLane Universal Championship Match

Could this be the weekend we see the end to the Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler reign of terror? YES! First, we get Baszler kicking Jax square in the mush to give Sasha Banks a successful title defense Friday night. Then, we get Jax leaving Baszler during her match against Bianca Belair only to get roughed up by Natalya and Tamina. Belair also got left alone by her partner Banks as well. So more tension too between those two as well. Finally, will it all end Sunday in the tag team title match with Banks and Bianca Belair walking out with more gold heading into their WrestleMania match? BTW: thank you WWE for starting the night with a match instead of an in-ring promo. I’m glad you’re listening.

Loved the look back at Edge’s run on SmackDown. Has it really been 19 years since Hulk Hogan and Edge were tag team champions? Damn, I’m old!

I’m kind of bummed that Shinsuke Nakamura isn’t joining forces with Seth Rollins. I was looking forward to the return of the evil Shinsuke. But, then again, joining forces with Cesaro against Rollins isn’t that bad, and probably makes more sense in the long run.

Nice bit of shine on the tag team division with the champions, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode holding court at the announce table. They got a front row seat to see the Mysterios taking down The Street Profits and then Chad Gable and Otis taking out the Mysterios. Sounds to be like a tag team fiesta is coming soon.

Damn, Roman Reigns! Wasn’t that a rather poetic message to Daniel Bryan about his championship match this Sunday at FastLane. “He’s got a better chance of shooting lightning out of his ass than tapping me out. I’d rather die in that ring that to tap out to someone like you.” Well done Tribal Chief!

King Corbin and Sami Zayn was a YAWN. But of course, it always comes down to Zayn vs. Kevin Owens in a battle of former friends right? Guess we’re going to bring this feud back to life after Zayn’s post-match attack. At least we know it will be a good match no matter what between these two.

Big E and Apollo Crews have apparently been watching Drew McIntyre and Sheamus. They’re ready to tear each other apart. Gotta be a falls count anywhere match in their future, right? I do like Crews’ chances this Sunday too setting up more fun down the road at WrestleMania.

To no one’s surprise, Edge speared Jey Uso to become the special ringside enforcer for Sunday’s Universal Title Match between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan. Edge and Uso brought it in the Rated R-Superstar’s first match on SmackDown in over 10 years. I was happy they went with the clean finish before a final send-off with Reigns attacking Edge and Uso taking down Bryan to end the show. Sunday should be fun!

Parting Shots:

Congrats to Eric Bischoff, the latest to be announced to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2021, joining Molly Holly in this year’s class. Without Bischoff, there would be no NWO, no Monday Night Wars and many more fun memories over time in the AWA, WCW and WWE. It is interesting timing in that the NOW will be inducted in April as part of last year’s class and of course, Bischoff was just on AEW a few weeks ago. It’s a well-deserved honor for one of the more creative minds not only behind the scenes but also on camera. His interactions with Vince and Stephanie McMahon were amazing to see play out.

Coming up this week:

RAW:
FastLane fallout

NXT:
NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Aaliyah & Jessica Kamea
William Regal tells Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly how they will solve their differences
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Io Shirai & Zoey Stark

SMACKDOWN:
FastLane fallout

Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at jcrowe567@gmail.com. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND