1. Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan (Wrestlemania Title Shot on the Line)

After weeks of kvetching and moaning the WWE Universe is getting what they want and Daniel Bryan again has a chance to main event Wrestlemania 31. Roman Reigns was convinced to put his Title Shot on the line after Daniel Bryan successfully defeated Mr. Money in the Bank, Seth Rollins a couple weeks ago. It’s been no secret that the WWE was worried about the negative reaction to Roman’s Royal Rumble win and the whole #CancelWWENetwork trend and decided to pull out of the presumed Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns title match at Wrestlemania. Now, there’s still a possibility that will still happen should Bryan come up short in his match with Reigns, but provided it’s executed properly perhaps the fans’ reaction to Lesnar/Reigns will be much more muted. I think it’d be foolish for them to do the same thing they did last year and simply make it a triple threat, given that obviously that’s what they did last year and they just had a Triple Threat with Rollins, Cena and Lesnar at the Rumble. Maybe they make it a Fatal-4-Way match and add in Rollins, but still, that feels like treading old ground. I will say though, for a feud that seems slapped together it finally came together this past Monday night. With both Bryan and Reigns doing commentary on each others’ matches it gave them a chance to speak their minds. Roman’s stance was Daniel Bryan had a chance to win the Royal Rumble, he didn’t and should just accept that and move on. Daniel’s position is that since he never officially lost the championship, he should be given an opportunity. Bonus points to Daniel for jokingly referring to Reigns as “the big dog” during his commentary. I also loved how a few weeks back, Triple H claimed they were going to give Daniel a title shot, but once he put himself in the Rumble they scrapped it. Then of course, the post match fisticuffs were the icing on the cake and showed everybody that they’re not just going through the motions on this one.

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I think these two will have a better than average match at Fastlane on Sunday, Bryan’s great at playing the underdog and Reigns is a textbook powerhouse. Personally, I love Daniel Bryan to death, but I don’t think it’s fair to take his title shot away from him just because they rushed him to the limelight.

Winner: Roman Reigns, but don’t count out Seth Rollins or The Authority making their presence felt.

2. John Cena vs. Rusev United States Championship Match

This is the feud Rusev’s entire career has been building towards, the undefeated hero of the Russian federation is finally going one on one with the face that runs the place, John Cena. This one has been built with Rusev claiming Cena’s time is over and that he’s weak and can no longer be the competitor he once was, Cena’s counterpoint is there’s never been anyone like him and if Rusev thinks he’s finished then at Fastlane Cena’s going to show him just how wrong he is. The fact that the US title is on the line is almost irrelevant as Cena has long since moved past winning titles, but it’s a nice touch, why wouldn’t the match be for the US title? Lana as usual has carried the bulk of the talking, but we have heard from Rusev on the mic as well, a necessary skill if he’s supposed to move from upper mid-card talent to main event superstar after this match. For Cena, the only thing he has at stake is defending his nebulous “legacy,” as the WWE’s top guy. Only in the WWE would Brock Lesnar have the company’s biggest prize and Cena still be considered the face of its organization. I’m interested in this one because outside of a couple of his matches with Jack Swagger most of Rusev’s victories have been squashes or incredibly one-sided, so it’ll be interesting to see him in the ring with someone who will go the distance. This past Monday night on Raw we saw Cena tap into some of that agreession Rusev claims he’s lost by bouncing him off the staging and acting decidedly un-Cena like. I figured Rusev would get some of his heat back by ambushing Cena later on, but it never happened, so I’m not convinced victory for Cena is a sure-thing. While I would say Rusev should go over Cena as he’s the new kid on the block, I’m now leaning toward some sort of disqualification victory where Rusev loses his unblemished record but retains the US Championship. That way, Cena doesn’t lose any heat and Rusev gets to claim Cena never beat him. I could see them facing each other again at ‘Mania, but who’s to say?

Winner: Cena by DQ


3. WWE Fastlane

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The rest of the card seems to be a paint-by-numbers affair with Nikki defending her Divas Championship against Paige, The Usos defending the Tag Team Championships against the up and coming team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, Wade Barrett defending the Intercontinental Championship, but most importantly Triple H’s face to face confrontation with Sting. Triple H called out Sting weeks ago and put it on Pay-Per-View/WWE Network because that’s #BestForBusiness, but he also made the odd move of calling him out to agree to come to his calling out. So, now we know for sure that Sting is showing up at Fastlane to confront the COO who’s been made miserable by this rogue element interfering in the Authority’s affairs. I do like that Triple H is now positioning himself as the WCW killer (one would argue that title belongs to The Rock and Stone Cold, or WCW’s contractual practices and marketing stunts but I digress) and his confrontation with Ric Flair on Monday night solidified that position. Triple H has always seemed to have had a disdain for talents that were over in WCW, see his WWE feuds with Goldberg, Scott Steiner and Booker T, except for when it came to his pals, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Therefore this feud does have some of that real-life animosity that the fans eat up, but obviously the ultimate goal is for the Sting and Triple H to square off at Wrestlemania. Wrestling at Wrestlemania and being WWE Champion are the two things Sting has never done in his career, now he’ll probably never be champion, but at least he can cross Wrestlemania off the list. Triple H has always been a solid worker and I imagine they both have enough pride to not stink up the joint, but my biggest hope is Sting’s been training non-stop so we don’t get “wrestling in a t-shirt” Sting that we saw at the end of his run in Impact Wrestling.

Winners: Nikki Bella, Dean Ambrose, The Usos and Sting agrees to a match with Triple H at Wrestlemania.

4. Samoa Joe Quits Impact Wrestling

Ever since joining TNA/Impact Wrestling Samoa Joe’s been one of their biggest stars, having great feuds with Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Main Event Mafia, Aces & Eights, pretty much anyone who ever stepped between the ropes in Impact Wrestling. While he’s had problems with TNA in the past they’ve always seemed to patch things up and come to agreements, but I guess he felt it was his time to go. While I would love to see him in the WWE, something tells me he’s not going to want to start over in NXT or be repackaged with a gimmick. With his name, and so many more options and distribution channels for wrestling, I’d be surprised if he didn’t show up somewhere in the next few months, whether it’s Ring Of Honor or overseas.

5. Kevin Owens defeats Sami Zayn for NXT Championship

Last week, I predicted an “A plus effort” in the NXT Title match and boy, did they not disappoint. Not since Brock Lesnar winning the title from Cena have I legitimately been impressed with just how much punishment one wrestler can take. I lost count, but I think once Kevin Owens powerbombed Sami Zayn for the 3rd or 4th time, they cut two women in the crowd crying. It was an impressive story being told, Sami getting beaten down, briefly rallying, only to get cut down again. A nod to Owens for standing nearby as Sami Zayn waved off the medical personnel trying to treat him and then immediately stomping on him. Even without that barn burner of a main event, NXT Takeover: Rival was an exceptional event and I was equally impressed with the Women’s Championship match and Finn Bálor’s match with Adrian Neville proved that those two are going to mean serious money to the WWE some day. If you haven’t watched NXT Takeover: Rival yet, what’re you waiting for? Go watch it right now.

6. Darren Young returns to Raw

Last week Darren Young took to twitter to vent some frustration over not being allowed to go on the Abu Dhabi tour, but this week he made his return to Monday Night Raw. While he was never a huge star, his run as one half of the Primetime Players with Titus O’Neil had some memorable moments. After the duo was unceremoniously disbanded, neither guy shined on his own and Darren’s injury prevented him from capitalizing on the mainstream spotlight he got from coming out publicly. The Ascension is still learning the ropes, but with Titus O’Neil saving Young from their post match assault, I hope this means a reunion for the PTP. Also, wouldn’t hurt to get a new tag team going since it looks like Star and Goldust and Miz/Mizdow are breaking up and The Ascension are still trying to get over with the crowd. Although, that would lead to the break-up of Titus’ team with Heath Slater AKA “Slater Gator,” but I’m willing to live with that.

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