We’ve already taken care of the superstars missing from Fastlane 2018, but who are the lucky few who will not only perform, but likely steal the show in some capacity?
Whether it’s in a scripted or non-kayfabe sense by factoring in everything from wins and losses, how much of an emphasis they’re given on the show, their momentum for the next TV episode, match performances and everything between, here’s my shortlist for who I think will be stealing the show at Fastlane.
After all the talk of AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania, I can’t imagine the Six-Pack Challenge ending in any way other than the champion retaining.
It should be a tough task, but by winning this and overcoming the odds, AJ Styles will look stronger heading into WrestleMania than if he had just been in singles competition against any of these stars, particularly if it were someone like Baron Corbin or Dolph Ziggler, who fans would have known would stand no chance.
Unlike some other matches that are lingering around with an air of uncertainty, WWE went ahead and made the graphic for Styles vs. Nakamura and published that on the website extremely early on, so that proved that they were committed to it. Otherwise, why would Nakamura have won the Royal Rumble in the first place? To fight Sami Zayn? Doubtful.
This won’t be a one-sided affair, as others will get a chance to shine here and there, but AJ Styles should definitely walk out of this event with the belt and the main event victory to his name as the most prominent star of the night.
Bobby Roode / Randy Orton
I’m really on the fence about this, as I can’t decide what type of scenario I can see happening more: does Jinder Mahal interfere, or is there a legitimate winner here, and if it’s the latter, does one of these two guys turn heel?
I can wholeheartedly see a situation where Bobby Roode cheats to retain his title and goes back on the idea of him having respect for Randy Orton, but if somebody is going to turn heel, The Viper is usually a good candidate to make that turn, as he has even said in recent weeks/months that he’s waiting and anticipating on turning again.
Randy Orton could do something villainous and win the title to set up a rematch at WrestleMania, where Jinder Mahal might be involved as well, or Bobby Roode could simply stand tall with the title still in his possession.
Or, admittedly, neither man can steal the show and The Modern Day Maharaja could upstage them both in some fashion like he’s done several times recently.
If I had to pick, I’d lean more toward Bobby Roode standing out, but it’s a toss-up in my mind.
The New Day
The more I think about this, the less I think my original prediction of The Bludgeon Brothers causing a no-contest by interfering will end up happening, as I think that’s equally likely for the United States Championship match.
Instead, I’m leaning more toward The New Day achieving their goal of winning their fifth tag titles, as the last time these two teams met, it was The Usos who walked away victorious.
In another parallel to the US title program, just as I can see an option where The New Day win, The Usos use their rematch clause for a match at WrestleMania and The Bludgeon Brothers find their way into the match somehow (possibly by beating down both teams on SmackDown LIVE), I can also see WWE just jumping straight to that end game by having Harper and Rowan run in during this match and obliterate the five men involved, setting up a Triple Threat.
Still, as it stands right now, I’m putting a tiny bit more faith in a title change with The New Day walking out with the titles.
Shared Glory: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
I was going to put John Cena down as a loser in this category, as I can see him taking the pin and them making a big deal out of his WrestleMania chances circling down the drain, but the safer bet in my mind is assuming more spotlight will be put on the tension between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, rather than John Cena’s goals.
Something has to happen between these two that helps set up their plans for WrestleMania, and I’m not willing to write WWE off yet with the idea that they’re so lazy and uninspired that it will be a simple Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn match with the two not being friends anymore.
That would be a lesser repeat of last year’s storyline with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, without a title on the line, serving us a match we’ve seen an exorbitant amount of times. That just isn’t good enough, and I hope WWE realizes that and has a better plan in store for this—ideally, something that can justifiably (and interestingly) incorporate both Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan.
Even if it doesn’t involve the commissioner and general manager having their disagreements, I’m remaining hopeful that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will do something at this show that will make them stand out as one of the major talking points above most other performers.
As indicated by their lack of a presence on this list, I don’t think Charlotte Flair or Ruby Riott will be making a splash, even though Flair will be victorious in being the standout woman for the brand at this show, nor do I think Carmella will cash in her contract, nor do I expect Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev to really light it up—although Rusev may get some of the biggest pops of the night, much to the detriment of the No. 1 contender.