John Cena is officially back on the WWE roster and ready to roll at Fastlane, and he’ll have an interesting teammate that would like to “talk to ya.”
Cena will tag team with LA Knight in a matchup with Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso of The Bloodline. That battle, a six-man tag team match and three title fights will make up the five-fight card at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday night.
Shinsuke Nakamura will once again try to dethrone Seth “Freakin'” Rollins for the WWE world Heavyweight championship. The Women’s SmackDown championship and the WWE undisputed tag team championships will also be up for grabs. Iyo Sky will be in a triple-threat match against Asuka and Charlotte Flair, and The Judgment Day duo of Damian Priest and Finn Balor will square off against the newly formed tandem of Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes.
Michael Coppinger, Brandon Caldwell, David Dennis, Greg Wyshynski and Arda Ocal provide their picks for the event, plus what they’re looking forward to in each match.
World Heavyweight championship: Seth “Freakin'” Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a “Last Man Standing” match
Coppinger: Shinsuke Nakamura has won the Royal Rumble, the U.S. title and the tag team titles, but the Japanese star has never claimed one of the two major championships in WWE. At 43, his window is closing.
“The King of Strong Style” has inspired with his heel work during this program with Rollins for the world Heavyweight championship, and WWE has helped Nakamura with some promos delivered in Japanese with accompanying subtitles.
At the heart of this storyline has been Rollins’ injured back, which Nakamura promised to debilitate ahead of their title match last month at Payback. Nakamura threatened to pull off the upset, but Rollins came through with a Stomp for the pinfall victory in a hard-hitting match.
Nakamura has one more chance to establish himself as WWE’s second champion behind Roman Reigns, but it seems unlikely he’ll pull get it done Rollins is one of WWE’s top stars and has been a workhorse for the company as an active champion, while Reigns works part-time.
Nakamura has often floundered at the bottom of the card, or even off TV entirely, so it’s great that he’s even being placed in a match of this magnitude. He’s one of the best in-ring workers on the roster and deserves to be featured prominently.
So far, Nakamura has elevated himself with this feud, but it will end on Saturday as WWE turns the page in the build to Survivor Series (with a stop in Saudi Arabia along the way)? Expect a better match than last time, but look for Rollins to continue his title run with another victory over Nakamura.
Prediction: Rollins defeats Nakamura.
WWE women’s championship triple threat match: Iyo Sky (c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair
Caldwell: Since the dawn of the modern WWE women’s division, nobody has orbited around a title more than Charlotte Flair. It’s why Bayley’s “skip the line” comment toward the future Hall of Famer stung a bit deeper than usual. Of course, Bayley’s mouth also set up this triple threat match for her Damage CTRL sister (and current Women’s champ) Iyo Sky vs. Asuka and the aforementioned Flair.
This is the second triple threat title match in a row for Asuka and Charlotte, and stands as the first big defense of Sky for the title she won via Money in the Bank cash-in at SummerSlam. Even though specific math puts the champion at a disadvantage, she still has Damage CTRL backing her up. Sky should enjoy a rather lengthy reign as Women’s champion, at least until she finds herself in a one-on-one matchup against possibly Bayley (or perhaps Kairi Sane if she returns to WWE). Until then, the title picture revolves around Damage CTRL, and it’s up to them to determine who could truly dethrone the “Genius of the Sky.”
Prediction: Iyo retains, with some Damage CTRL help.
Undisputed WWE tag team championship: Finn Bálor and Damian Priest (c) vs. Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso
Dennis: The post-Summerslam saga for Jey Uso has been a fascinating journey. WWE writers have found themselves in the position to hold off on the most obvious money match (Uso vs. Uso) for WrestleMania in six months. That means coming up with side quests for Jey for a few months to maintain his momentum and keep him on our minds as a main event guy. Keeping him away from the red-hot Bloodline feud was risky, but this gives Jey a chance to spread his wings and test his star power.
So far, the results have been stellar. Jey can still carry a promo, put on great matches and be the centerpiece of riveting stories. That story comes to a head Saturday when he teams with Rhodes against Balor and Priest.
This isn’t all about Jey, of course. The Judgment Day has had a bit of turmoil, stemming from Priest winning the Money In The Bank briefcase and costing Finn Balor the title. All signs point to this being another blow-up or miscommunication that causes the end of their tag title reign. Attaching Jey to Cody with the belts keeps them both hot, benefiting from each other’s momentum and putting them even more firmly on a crash course with the rest of The Bloodline. Meanwhile, we’ll see the tension get thicker for Finn and Priest as we head to what may be a ‘Mania match between those two. Although, I’d prefer to see more strong moments for their faction before we get to a full-blown implosion.
Prediction: Jey and Cody win the titles.
John Cena and LA Knight vs. Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa
Wyshynski: To catch everyone up here: This was supposed to be Cena and AJ Styles teaming up against The Bloodline, but these dastardly heels attacked Styles and sent him to a local medical facility. Cena had already signed a contract for the match. What was he to do, fight them both himself due to an injury to his partner? Of course not.
Enter L-A-KNIGHT (yeah!) of the thunderous crowd pops and beef jerky endorsement deal. He came to Cena’s rescue during a beatdown by Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa before signing the contract to become Cena’s partner. That’s binding! While Cena has his ongoing storyline with The Bloodline on SmackDown — at least until the SAG-AFTRA strike sorts itself out — adding LA Knight to the feud sets some intriguing possibilities in motion for the WWE’s breakout star. His first backstage interaction with “The Wise Man” Paul Heyman was contentious. In a recent promo, he called out Roman Reigns, saying, “I’m easily top two, and I ain’t No. 2,” and the fans ate it up. Knight vs. Reigns at Survivor Series? Yeah?
Prediction: Sikoa pins Cena after a returning Roman Reigns takes out LA Knight.
Latino World Order (Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, and TBD) vs. Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
Ocal: Fastlane has a lot going on, so this match might fly under the radar, mainly because it’s a six-man tag. Rey’s quote on Kevin Hart’s show about taking a DNA test to ensure Dom was his son has been the viral Mysterio moment this week. One thing I like about Rey is that he’s the kind of legend that every pro wrestler watches to learn how to maximize every second of screen time. Rey is a master at putting his opponents in places to shine, emphasizing a story and still making himself look great (how can he not? He’s an all-timer).
I like the individual pieces of this match, and there’s certainly a lot of talent here. Every match has the potential to steal the show, but coming in, on paper, this one might suffer from the massive storyline intrigue in other matches. We still don’t know who the third LWO member will be — how about Carlito?
Prediction: If it’s a big surprise, I take the LWO to win. Otherwise, it’s Lashley and the Street (Suit?) Profits for me.