From the WWE Fastlane pay-per-view on Sunday night onwards, it will be a 20-day sprint until the first night of WrestleMania 37. Three of the four major singles titles on Raw and SmackDown have their matches for WrestleMania 37. either locked up or close. in focus and yet many questions remain to be answered in less than three weeks.
The recent chaos of history led to the WrestleMania matches being closed alongside the Fastlane matches in recent weeks on Raw and SmackDown, and even with some additions to the two-night WrestleMania card, there are still only four confirmed matches. currently scheduled for April 10-11 at Raymond James Stadium.
Fastlane might even upset one of those matches, as the highest stakes contest of the night features Daniel Bryan challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal championship with Edge at ringside as a guest executor. Is Bryan’s slip into the world title conversation simply a distraction to kill some time before WrestleMania? Or could he legitimately make a triple threat game a reality, even with a loss on Sunday?
There are three other title fights scheduled for Fastlane, but let’s put Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler’s women’s title defense against Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair aside for a moment, as it seems tailor-made to build tension for the fight for him. WrestleMania SmackDown women’s championship between Banks and Belair. Riddle and Mustafa Ali face off in a rematch for the United States championship, while Big E risks his Intercontinental title against Apollo Crews in a conflict that quickly turned deeply personal.
Finally, there is a trio of one-on-one matchups that are projected to be drastically different. Drew McIntyre and Sheamus solve their problems once and for all in limitless combat, while Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura face off in a wrestling purist’s dream. Then there’s the intergender fight between Alexa Bliss and Randy Orton that could be the trigger for the return of the long-absent “Fiend” Bray Wyatt.
Follow through all night as we break down the action, game by game.
Game in Progress: No Restrictions: Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
If you were making predictions for Sunday’s Fastlane card at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, chalk would have been the way to go. Seth Rollins came in with a bone to choose from with both Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. With a decisive win over Nakamura on Sunday, Rollins can now set his sights back on Cesaro, and a seemingly unavoidable date for a match at WrestleMania.
Although the ending was quite predictable, everything leading up to those final moments was entertaining and well executed. When you put together two of the most talented fighters in the world, good things tend to happen.
Rollins goes on to talk about how Cesaro spun him for 22 rotations and looking at the camera was a bit on the nose, but the match itself had all the right notes. Each had their moment to shine, they hit their signature offense creatively and it all flowed together.
Everything sped up once Nakamura slid off the ropes to the ground, suffering a nasty landing. Rollins followed up with a suicide dive.
The exchanges were quick and the momentum shifted from side to side. A German suplex who slipped Nakamura under the bottom rope quickly returned to the ring and led to a buckle bomb and a hawk arrow. A rare pinfall attempt in Rollins’ match only earned a count of two.
Rollins’ first attempt to stomp resulted in a deep cut from Nakamura, the Landslide, followed by a Reverse Exploder and a kip-up. Kinshasa’s on-the-go knee strike missed, and in a mad fight, Rollins landed a forearm on the back of the head, swept Nakamura’s legs underneath him and struck hard for a count of three.
Whats Next: For Rollins, it is Cesaro, there is no doubt. For Nakamura, sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path to follow. A year that started in a very promising way has turned. Hopefully, he’ll find something to sink his teeth into when it’s time for WrestleMania.
Braun Strowman def. Elijah
This was simply a filler match, as Shane McMahon suffered a “knee injury” and abused his power to push Elias into a showdown with Strowman instead. Despite a brief glimmer of hope with a wad and top rope flying elbow, Strowman was essentially playing with his food for as long as he wanted. He finally covered Elias and won nothing.
Whats Next: Strowman vs. McMahon, really. Maybe green / sticky / slime paint is involved.
Intercontinental Championship: Big E (c) def. Apollo crews
It was difficult to predict the end of the Intercontinental Championship game at Fastlane. Would Big E get a final victory and stop the new momentum of Apollo Crews? Or would Crews win the Intercontinental title and bring Big E’s title reign to an unspectacular end?
Turns out none of those scenarios. Big E scored a victory by lifting a shoulder just in time as both men locked themselves in simultaneous stacks, but the victory was not enjoyed for long. The crews immediately went into a post-match attack and landed three angle shots and many slaps on Big E’s face to show their anger. Despite losing five times in Intercontinental title matches so far in 2021, Crews is apparently on track to land another at WrestleMania.
Interestingly, the WrestleMania photo still feels like it was won, at least from an emotional point of view. Big E continued with his heart on his sleeve, yelling during the early stages of the match as he punched Crews. “You asked about this ass,” Big E yelled as he hit a spear through the ropes and some splatter on the apron. “This is what you begged … you took this side out of me.”
After a couple of belly-to-belly suplexes, Crews used Big E’s aggression against him and changed the script. A trio of German suplexes and a frog touch gave Crews a count of two. Two step-up Enzuigiris and a standing moonsault followed, Big E got to his knees in the last movement to turn in the ending sequence.
Big E fought a powerbomb, Crews came out of a Big Ending, and then the stacking attempt battle was won by Big E.
– WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2021
Whats Next: It seems that tensions have only begun to flare, and Big E and Crews have scores to settle. What better place than WrestleMania? Hopefully next time it will be a match long enough to show more of what each of them can do.
Women’s Tag Team Championship: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
In terms of the most transparent and predictable stories on the Fastlane undercard, the women’s tag team championship match played out exactly as anyone who’s watched five minutes of WWE TV in the last month knew it would.
Banks and Belair, fantastic team to match, mind you, they started fast, they did some great double team moves, including an assisted running knee. But it was all due to an intrusion by a guy named Reginald, a moment of miscommunication in the ring, and eventually the dissolution of the couple in the short term with growing tensions heading into their fight for the WrestleMania title.
From the moment Banks hit the assisted knee on Shayna Baszler, when Belair held Baszler in a double hook position, Banks fell squarely into a Banks deposition presentation. Belair tried to stop Nia Jax from interrupting the attempt, but Jax pushed Belair towards Banks, and Banks took him the wrong way. Banks and Belair started arguing, Banks called Belair a rookie and then Banks confronted her. Baszler ran over Banks as Belair took his time getting out of the ring, and when Belair couldn’t break that pinfall fast enough, it was game over.
They argued again, Banks called Belair a rookie again and then landed with a full slap across Belair’s face. With three weeks to go to WrestleMania, tensions are mounting, but you can’t help but think that there might have been a better way to do it than to have the SmackDown Women’s Champion pinned down, once again.
– WWE Network (@WWENetwork) March 21, 2021
Whats Next: Hopefully a future without Reginald for Banks and Belair. Let them build to order, keep it simple and it will be great. As for Jax and Baszler, they keep turning their wheels without really going anywhere. Find a promising team that could use the momentum and let these two go their separate ways as individual competitors.
United States Championship: Riddle (c) def. Mustafa ali
It’s a shame this match was relegated to the Fastlane Kickoff program for a couple of reasons. First of all, the game itself, especially the last four minutes, was an incredible reminder of the talent that Ali and Riddle possess. There was one sequence in particular where Ali made an attempt to roll up a small package and Riddle stood up with Ali in his arms, lifted Ali, and hit a small package driver, directly into an Ali performance. Trying it was ridiculous, succeeding and making it look so good was amazing.
There was barely a moment to catch his breath towards the end, and Riddle resorted to hitting his final maneuver, Brother Derek, from the middle rope to win and hold.
After the match, Retribution finally shattered and turned his back on Ali. Reckoning and Slapjack were first, and then Mace and T-Bar hit Ali twice to remove any doubt.
HIGH JUSTICE for @AliWWE.
– WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2021
Whats Next: Could retribution continue without Ali? Of course. Should they? Absolutely not. Dominik Dijakovic (T-Bar), Mia Yim (Reckoning), Shane Thorne (Slapjack) and Dio Maddin (Mace) were loaded with a silly trick that Ali did his best to save, but with no creative juice behind it and without much importance. win to speak, was left dead in the water. Each of them, especially Dijakovic and Yim, have incredible solo potential if given a fresh start.
As for Riddle, he will either have a multi-track match at WrestleMania or dive headfirst into something new on Monday night.
Still to come:
Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss