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Home Articles WWE Fastlane 2018: Tracking Feuds on SmackDown LIVE for PPV Card

WWE Fastlane 2018: Tracking Feuds on SmackDown LIVE for PPV Card

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Unlike Raw’s Elimination Chamber sneaking up on us very quickly, the next SmackDown LIVE-branded event following the Royal Rumble will have more time for feuds to build and gestate as Fastlane 2018 is set for March 11th at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

This means we have several more weeks before we know a more fully formed card as there can be plenty of twists and turns along the way, making for my usual “extended projections” to need a bit more reaching than normal. The more difficult, the more fun, right?

So with all that being said, which matches do I think are going to be on the Fastlane card, how will those stories be told up until that point and what else do I see happening in March? Let’s take a look…

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens

While we don’t know who will receive the title opportunity, it’s at least been established that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will face off on SmackDown LIVE next week with the winner going on to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at this event.

In a way, it’s interesting to do this so soon and have four more weeks afterward to need to fill before the pay-per-view, so let’s hope this doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on too much and won’t simply get to the point.

Due to Kevin Owens having some injuries plaguing him, plus how we’ve seen he and AJ Styles fight each other on many, many occasions in 2017 and 2018, I’m personally hoping Sami Zayn pulls out the victory because it’s at least the option we haven’t sat through as many times.

However, I have my doubts that this will end in any definitive way, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some kind of problem arises that turns this into another handicap match or more realistically, a Triple Threat match if the tension between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens continues.

Shinsuke Nakamura Needs Something to Do

True, he’s the No. 1 contender and he doesn’t have to compete at this event, but it would seem rather ridiculous to not have him in a match when he’s trying to establish himself as someone we should all want to see, right?

The easy call to make is to say that the loser of the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn match ends up fighting him just out of spite and anger, rather than trying to attach some stipulation where his WrestleMania title shot is on the line or something more complicated like that.

The point of this will just be to give Shinsuke Nakamura a chance to shine with a victory to build momentum heading into WrestleMania and nothing more than that.

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ruby Riott

If you watched SmackDown LIVE this week, then this should be a pretty obvious conclusion to draw, too.

As I see it, what Charlotte Flair does at WrestleMania depends entirely on what WWE wants Ronda Rousey to do. Ronda Rousey is either fighting Charlotte Flair or she’s tagging up with Kurt Angle to fight Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

In the mixed tag match scenario, there really isn’t much from the SmackDown LIVE brand that can garner any interest for a WrestleMania match, and we might have to call upon Asuka to make the jump from Raw to challenge Charlotte Flair and take the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

If it’s Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair, that doesn’t depend on the SmackDown LIVE brand, either, which means we might as well get Ruby Riott out of the way.

Here’s hoping this isn’t a situation where we have Charlotte Flair vs. Liv Morgan and then Charlotte Flair vs. Sarah Logan and then two or three six-woman tag team matches leading up to this at Fastlane only to find out that Asuka is fighting for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, Ronda Rousey will be in the mixed tag team match, and Charlotte Flair will be defending the SmackDown LIVE women’s title in some throwaway “gather all the women on the brand because no one single contender is interesting enough to fight Charlotte” type match.

Given the current roster the blue brand has, the match that makes the most sense for right now would indeed be Ruby Riott commandeering a title shot as the leader of The Riott Squad and someone who hasn’t already wrestled Charlotte too many times to count, like Natalya, Becky Lynch and so on. Even Nikki Bella has had her scraps with Charlotte Flair and would probably be better served not wrestling extremely often if her neck is truly bothersome.

Then again, maybe this is a card of tag teams and filler. Maybe this is Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi and The Bella Twins against The Riott Squad, Natalya and Tamina or something along that route, and no one ends up paying any attention to it whatsoever?

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. The Bludgeon Brothers

This was hinted at big time on SmackDown LIVE this week and since The Usos have already beaten all of their potential opponents save for Harper and Rowan, there’s no logical way to justify skipping The Bludgeon Brothers and going with some other team.

The more interesting part to me is whether this means we’ll see The Bludgeon Brothers suffer their first loss since reforming their team, or if new champions will be crowned.

Everything leading up to Fastlane will just be the waiting game until we get to that point of deciding the finish of the match itself.

At the moment, I’m hoping The Usos retain their titles by hook or by crook, whether that means taking advantage of the champions’ advantage by being disqualified or counted out, or doing something that bends the rules in order to score a lucky pin.

If I had to bet, though, The Bludgeon Brothers will probably take the belts and there will be some kind of Fatal 4-Way at WrestleMania with them, The Usos, The New Day and possibly Rusev Day if they aren’t relegated to being Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal participants instead.

United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. ???

For reasons I’ll explain below, I don’t anticipate Rusev winning his United States Championship match, nor do I think that will be a feud going forward past next week.

Instead, Bobby Roode will move on and continue his open challenges, where I think he will run into Dolph Ziggler yet again.

With The Showoff returning to action much sooner than I had truthfully anticipated, I’m expecting him to go straight back into the midcard title scene, rather than starting a feud with anybody else, particularly as he was strangely kept off this episode of SmackDown and no attention was called to it.

It’s the simple plan, but it’s also something that prevents another option from taking place, like Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode, which I think has a lot of potential to happen at WrestleMania.

For that matter, I think Orton will be taking this event off. Just a hunch.

The New Day vs. Jinder Mahal and Rusev Day?

With Jinder Mahal eliminating two-thirds of The New Day and really making them his priority during the Royal Rumble, following his defeat of Xavier Woods in the United States Championship tournament, then being taken out of the game by Kofi Kingston and continuing to fight Kingston in the Fatal 4-Way for the United States Championship title shot, all signs point to this being a feud going forward.

However, Jinder Mahal can’t fight all three members of The New Day on his own and he doesn’t have both of The Singh Brothers as Samir Singh is injured, making Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh still a handicap match.

The other two people in the Fatal 4-Way match were Zack Ryder and Rusev, meaning if you had to divide the line with two heels and two faces, Ryder/Kingston were the faces with Rusev/Jinder Mahal being the heels.

Anybody who can hear would disagree with Rusev being a full-fledged heel right now, considering the reaction he gets from the crowd, but that hasn’t stopped WWE from booking him to go up against babyfaces more than anything else (nor has the opposite situation ever convinced them to actually turn Roman Reigns heel based off his boos)

The way I see it, we could be in store for Rusev, Aiden English and Jinder Mahal to be teaming up against The New Day just to these people have something to do.

Tye Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin

Honestly, I don’t think this will be a feud WWE will continue to visit for the next few weeks and still book on the card.

Perhaps Randy Orton steps into it and this turns into Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin, or maybe Dolph Ziggler doesn’t wrestle Bobby Roode and he starts a feud with Tye Dillinger, or we do get some kind of crazy combination of these guys and Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder and other midcard talent being shuffled around, but as it stands right now, I anticipate this to be just two or three week program and not much more than that.

Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. Breezango / The Ascension

After losing their opportunity at the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at the Royal Rumble, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin picked a fight with The Fashion Police on this week’s episode, seemingly starting a new feud.

There’s no way this becomes a priority going forward, but it’s still a feud, so it’s worth talking about, because it might play into the pre-show or something like that.

Since Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin already defeated Breezango, I hope this isn’t yet another case of singles matches and rematches over and over only to have another Gable and Benjamin vs. Fandango and Tyler Breeze match. I’d actually rather see The Ascension get a bit of a push out of this, even though I’m a much bigger fan of the Breezango duo, oddly enough.

CARD PREDICTION SUMMARY

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Sami Zayn
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens
United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ruby Riott
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
The New Day vs. Jinder Mahal and Rusev Day
Match #7= Some pairing of the midcarders
Match #8 = Either a secondary women’s match not hinted at yet or Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable vs. The Fashion Police

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