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What’s At Stake: Fastlane 2016

As we head into yet another special event on the WWE Network, I’ll try to answer one simple question: What are these guys and girls fighting over? As always, we welcome your feedback. Leave a comment below or send an email to [email protected].

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
What’s At Stake – WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H at WrestleMania
Are we doing this, or not? Is WWE going all the way with Roman Reigns, or is the company about to get cold feet again? It’s now been nearly a year since Reigns’ coronation as WWE’s next top star was put in an indefinite holding pattern. Now, here are again. It should be a foregone conclusion that Reigns will overcome the odds, defeat the nearly unstoppable juggernaut he nearly conquered last year at WrestleMania along with his longtime friend and Shield co-founder and go on to defeat Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Title in front of the largest live crowd in company history. Everyone say it along with me – “The Roman Reigns era has begun!”

This should be all about Reigns, but it’s not. The past few weeks have been more about Lesnar and Ambrose, who appear to be building toward a match against one another at WrestleMania or their own opportunity to dethrone Triple H. All which feel like more appealing options at this moment in time.

Reigns feels like the third wheel, even after WWE spent the past week trying to convince us that his friendship with Ambrose could implode at any moment. Perhaps that’s by design. If we’re not paying attention to him, we can’t boo him, right? The only problem is the longer WWE leaves the door open for someone else, the more likely it is that someone will walk through it.

A.J. Styles vs. Chris Jericho
What’s At Stake – A.J. Styles’ future in WWE.
A.J. Styles is, in the opinion of many, the best professional wrestler on the planet. He was my choice for Wrestler Of The Year in 2014. He was named the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Wrestler Of The Year for 2015. When he made his WWE debut in the Royal Rumble match, he was instantly the most popular guy in the building.

A.J. Styles didn’t spent a second in NXT. He is the ultimate rarity in the current WWE landscape, a guy whose skills and reputation make him worthy of a spot on the main roster the moment he signs his contract. In that way, Styles has been treated as a star by WWE. In other ways, he hasn’t. If he beats Chris Jericho decisively at Fastlane, my personal fears will probably subside. Anything less than that, and Styles could find himself on that slippery slope that others have struggled to ascend.

Charlotte vs. Brie Bella
What’s At Stake – WWE Divas Championship. That dream match between Charlotte and Sasha Banks at WrestleMania.
A funny thing happened on the way to that Divas Championship match at WrestleMania between Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Perhaps this was planned all along, but it seems somewhat suspicious that suddenly sympathetic fan favorite Brie Bella is riding the wave of emotion following Daniel Bryan’s retirement into a title match that no one saw coming a few weeks ago.

Brie has openly talked about her imminent retirement. Is this a throwaway title match with fortuitous timing, or are the wheels in motion for Brie’s last hurrah as the defending Divas champion on the big stage at WrestleMania. It was supposed to be the night fans’ NXT-fueled dreams of that long-rumored Divas Revolution became reality. Instead, it could turn into a Total Divas crossover.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler
What’s At Stake – WWE Intercontinental Championship. Perhaps, a long overdue first singles match at WrestleMania for Ziggler.
It pains me to say this about someone who’s just won the Intercontinental Title, but poor Kevin Owens. It wasn’t that long ago when rumors were swirling about him as a possible opponent for Undertaker at WrestleMania.

So much for that. It feels like Owens is stuck, even though he’s one of the most entertaining guys in WWE.

Dolph Ziggler has been beating Owens at just about every turn over the past few weeks. There’s a lot on the line for him at Fastlane. If Ziggler loses, he could tumble all the way backward into the Andre The Giant Battle Royal or some other cluttered multi-man match at WrestleMania. If he wins, he has a much better shot at a career first – a singles match at WWE’s biggest show of the year.

Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks vs. Naomi & Tamina
What’s At Stake – More than likely, the next shot at the WWE Divas Championship.
Sasha Banks hadn’t been seen on television in weeks before she returned at the Royal Rumble, and appeared to literally and figuratively boot Becky Lynch out of the Divas Championship picture. It didn’t quite work the way Banks intended. Despite losing in her title match against Charlotte at the Royal Rumble, Lynch didn’t simply go away. Now, both Lynch and Banks are reluctant partners against Team B.A.D., who didn’t appreciate Banks distancing herself from them following her return. The Boss wants a Divas Championship match, but her hasty bridge burning is leaving her with too many fires to put out.

Big Show & Ryback & Kane vs. The Wyatt Family
What’s At Stake – Big man supremacy in WWE.
Here’s the beef! The Wyatt Family’s latest mission is to take down the “titans” of WWE. For the purpose of this match, that includes Big Show, Ryback and Kane. Are they merely a stepping stone for the Wyatt Family before they resume their tormenting of Brock Lesnar after Fastlane, or is this a new direction entirely?

The Cutting Edge Peep Show – Guests: The New Day
What’s At Stake – A direction for the WWE Tag Team Champions heading into WrestleMania.
What do you do when you’ve run out of worthy challengers to the W…W…E…World…Tag…Team…Champions? It’s an ugly problem this time of year. The New Day absolutely deserves to be in a big match at WrestleMania, but there aren’t many worthy contenders. The Usos have had more than enough chances, and the Lucha Dragons can’t move forward as long as Kalisto is the United States Champion. Some are hoping his segment will introduce a new tag team, perhaps a call-up from NXT, who can challenge The New Day at WrestleMania, but it seems more likely this will be more about promoting Edge and Christian’s new show on the WWE Network.

Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio
What’s At Stake – WWE United States Championship. Kalisto’s bid to make it as a singles star.
These two have been at it forever. So, it makes perfect since that they settle their differences in a 2-out-of-3 falls match. If WWE thinks the Lucha Dragons can be the answer to their depleted tag team division, Alberto Del Rio is probably going to win this match and become U.S. Champion…again. Time truly is a flat circle.