The Fast lane to WrestleMania

Evan Williamson, Staff Writer

The Road to WrestleMania is now in the Fastlane as the final SmackDown Live event before WrestleMania and the final exclusive event (minus the regular weekly events) took place March 11.

I’m going to be honest, the way that this event was promoted, how randomly the matches were put together, and knowing what the final Mania card was most likely going to be, I thought it was going to be terrible. The thing about an event happening when the match card for WrestleMania is pretty much all but known, it makes certain matches meaningless.

For example, in 2016, the WWE had an event exclusively on the WWE Network called “Roadblock.” The main event was Dean Ambrose versus WWE Champion Triple H. Everyone knew that Roman Reigns was going to main event WrestleMania and beat Triple H for the WWE Championship so there wasn’t going to be anything huge happening.

Likewise, at Fastlane, the main event matches, the women’s championship match, and the WWE championship match respectively weren’t going to impact WrestleMania at least for the most part. The night started off with Shinsuke Nakamura versus Rusev.

There was no doubt that the number one contender for the WWE Championship was going to win, but it was a great match. It went back and forth and it showed us that Rusev could be a main event competitor. Rusev has been a mid-carder for a while now, but after seeing the program he put on with Nakamura I have no doubt that Rusev will be champion soon.

I am putting it out there now; Rusev will win “Money in the Bank” in June. It’s a testament to Rusev and Nakamura that they were able to take a match that had no implications whatsoever on WrestleMania, but it still kept the fans interest.

The next match was Randy Orton versus the Glorious Bobby Roode in a match for the United States Championship.

This match was a good back and forth match that would definitely garner a WrestleMania preview. Orton won the match in dramatic fashion and captured the U.S Title which is the only championship to elude him.

I was a little upset at first but then thinking about Orton (a future Hall of Famer) becoming a Grand Slam Champion, makes sense and its obvious that a rematch will take place at WrestleMania. It would be great if Roode won back the title.

The only problem is it looks like Jinder Mahal will be involved making it a triple threat match. The problem with brand exclusive PPV events is that its difficult to fill up the card (this is why they are going back to dual brand PPV events).

One example was a random tag team match between Becky Lynch and Naomi versus Natalya and Carmella.

I’m all for giving more superstars opportunities within reason. I was actually very surprised that the match was as good as it was. The tag-team championship match between the New Day and the Usos ended in a no contest after both teams were attacked by another team.

The main event matches I thought would not go over well. The SmackDown Live Women’s championship match was very good despite the fact that Ruby Riott will most likely be out of the title picture till after Mania.

After the match, the women’s royal rumble winner Auska showed up and challenged Charlotte to a match for the title at WrestleMania which will be an awesome match. The final match of the night was the six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship.

There was no surprise on who was going to walk out champion, but it was still an entertaining match. At the end of the event, SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon cost both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn the championship, which will most likely have WrestleMania implications for the three of them.

AJ Styles retained the WWE Championship making the dream match between Nakamura and Styles at WrestleMania. I believe this event was a lot better than the Elimination Chamber a couple weeks ago.

It goes to show you that you can’t judge an event by its match card. WrestleMania is just a few weeks away and as the Road to WrestleMania continues, the match cards are looking great.