Handicapping Sunday’s 2021 WWE Fastlane Card

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On Sunday evening, the WWE will present their final pay-per-view event before the biggest show of the year, ‘WrestleMania.’ Entitled ‘Fastlane,’ this second-to-last event is booked mostly with filler matches and bouts that they hope will build momentum for Mania, which will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on April 10th and 11th.

Sunday will be the sixth all-time ‘Fastlane’ since the WWE did not hold the event last year. The last ‘Fastlane’ took place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on March 10th, 2019 with a main event featuring The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) in a six-man match against Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and Drew McIntyre.

This match allowed ‘The Shield’ a number of ‘good-bye’ appearances as Dean Ambrose had already announced he was leaving the company. However, he hasn’t left the sport. Now known as ‘Jon Moxley,’ Ambrose is one of, if not the biggest star in upstart ‘All Elite Wrestling.’

But enough about the past. Let’s get to this year’s event, which will take place at the ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The show’s ‘pregame’ kicks off at 6pm EST, with a bell time of 7pm.

The event can be seen on the WWE Network, but mind you, this show is the last PPV to be on the network. Starting with Wrestlemania, viewers will have to have a subscription to the new ‘Peacock’ network to see all WWE events.

If you have had the WWE network for any length of time, expect to receive a number of emails reminding you about the move to ‘Peacock’ for Mania next month, and that WWE Network will be no more as of April.

Back to the show.

Women’s Tag Team Championship — Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks:

I, for one, don’t understand pairing Banks with Belair, especially since the two will face off as enemies at Mania in less than a month.

If they win, great, then we wait for one to turn on the other. If they lose (which they should here), the two will no doubt get into an argument which further sets up their Mania tussle.

They did this same setup way back in the day with Shawn Michaels and John Cena prior to Mania 23, but they allowed those two to come away with the titles, only to have Michaels turn on Cena the night after Mania, costing them the belts, which seemed super cheesy and cheap. It makes the belts seem almost worthless.

Winners and Still Champions: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler

Intercontinental Championship — Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews:

This is a great opportunity on a semi-big stage for Crews, who many have been waiting to see what he can do now since he made his main roster debut in April of 2016.

It feels like he’s finally found a character he can embrace, and the way things are progressing, it would be nice to see him get a run at the belt.

Of course a lot of what I said above can also be said about ‘Big E,’ and his reign would really be cut short with a clean loss here.

One has to wonder whether they save the big blow-off and Crews winning what would be his 2nd major WWE title for Mania. They could then throw in Sami Zayn in the mix and make that Mania match a three-way.

Look for some type of DQ or count-out end here and for the two to meet up again in some fashion at Mania.

Winner by DQ: Apollo Crews

Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss:

Now it’s fairly obvious to anyone who has watched it that this ‘feud’ between Orton and Bliss has many layers to it, and this ‘match’ tonight won’t be a match at all, but another step forward into bringing back Bray Wyatt for Mania.

The rumor has been that Wyatt and Orton will fight in a ‘Firefly Funhouse Rules Match’ at Mania, the same type of bizarre match John Cena fought against Wyatt last year with mixed results from the fans.

Expect the two to come to the ring, for Bliss to avoid Orton, and within, say, 3-4 minutes, for the lights to go out and a video to play.

Winner: Hopefully the fans, as it’ll be short and move along the feud

Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman:

This is another match I don’t think we will actually see. Why the company (or, in this case, Vince) feels it necessary to push his son into a match at Mania this year is beyond me.

Unless they are building towards a bigger post-Mania faction with Shane or something like that with Strowman, I just don’t see the point to this feud.

Oddly enough, this is basically the exact same feud that McMahon had with one Paul Wight (“The Big Show”) back in 2000.

The two had an entertaining match at “Judgment Day” in Kentucky in May of 2000, where a then 30-year-old McMahon used a cinder block on Show’s knee, and did an elbow off the top of the Titantron.

Now at 51, I don’t know what limits Shane has. Beating Strowman also makes little sense, as it does nothing to further the careers of either of the two on-screen performers.

Winner: It’ll end quickly with a double DQ or CO, and the feud will advance to Mania next month with a stip

United States Championship — Riddle (c) vs. Mustafa Ali:

I have a lot of high hopes for this match, as Ali has been lifting his game up recently, and Riddle has been a solid champ with a lot of room to grow as well.

If given the time — and I can see this opening the show –, these two can have one heck of a match. We’ll likely see some type of non-pinfall ending, meaning they can continue this feud with Ali’s group “Retribution” going after Riddle each week.

I would expect to see these two at Mania, and there’s no doubt that adding a wrestler or two to the Mania mix will only make a match in Tampa even better.

Winner: I’ll say Riddle wins via CO or DQ, and it winds up being a rather shallow win as Ali attacks him post-match and we see this again at Mania next month.

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:

This feels like one of those matches that they add to the card at 4pm Sunday just to fill a couple minutes of in-ring action.

Rollins is fighting to stay relevant since he returned after his wife Becky Lynch gave birth to the pair’s first child.

As for Nakamura, there looked to be a moment earlier this year when he might be in the title mix for Mania, but that seems to have passed.

Look for Rollins to get the win and for the writers to start to figure out what to do with some of these mid-card guys for Mania in a few weeks.

Winner: Rollins gets the win via pinfall

Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus (No Holds Barred):

These former ‘friends’ now ‘foes’ will go at it in a ‘no holds barred’ match, and this should be a good one. These two have probably wrestled each other 1,000 times.

I can see plenty of time given for these two, but it also wouldn’t shock me to see them protect McIntyre by making this a short match so that he’s ready for Bobby Lashley at Mania.

As for Sheamus, he’s done an excellent job filling his role as the physical antagonist going up against McIntyre, and these two will have another very good match this evening.

Look for the company to put Sheamus into a match with a number of wrestlers at Mania, or for him to be in the “Andre the Giant Battle Royale.”

Winner: McIntyre gets the win via pinfall to keep up the momentum for Mania against Lashley

Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Daniel Bryan:

Many wrestling fans have felt that Bryan should be Reigns’ WrestleMania opponent, but for whatever reason, the company went with the Hall of Famer Edge to be Reigns’ opposition.

For the fans who have been calling for this match, tonight will be a big moment, but it’s almost a given that Reigns is still going to walk out of Florida with the title. Meanwhile, the company still needs to give Bryan something high profile for Mania.

Do they make it a three-way like they did seven years ago at WrestleMania 30? That was such an organic build. This year just doesn’t seem the same, even though Bryan does have the fans’ support.

These two will make for a very good match, and it will not be a surprise to see Edge, the guest enforcer, have something to do with the overall outcome of the match.

Winner: After a 20-minute back and forth, Reigns pulls out a win to continue his momentum for Edge at Mania.

Written by Matt Loede

Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."

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