Welcome to another edition of WWE Heat Index, wherein we discuss the interest level for the various feuds heading into the pay-per-view events. This time around, we’re focusing on Fastlane 2019 coming this Sunday night.
The way this works is a pretty simple three-way breakdown of Hot, Lukewarm and Cold. If you like something and you’re very interested in how WWE is setting up the program, it’s Hot (aka Good). If you’re a bit on the fence about it and see some problems, but it’s not awful, then it’s just Okay or Lukewarm. The ones that are the most problematic that you have no interest in are Cold (aka Bad).
The Shield vs. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley = Lukewarm
Having The Shield reunite was such a feel-good moment that genuinely put a smile on my face, so it really pains me to have to be so literal with this and say the following, but it’s true: this is just a six-man tag team match that could main event Monday Night Raw.
That’s the problem with an event like Fastlane that doesn’t need to exist. All of the important things that are happening here could have happened, theoretically, at Elimination Chamber, or on Raw/SmackDown LIVE, and there didn’t need to be an event happening.
It’s great to see The Shield back together, the match itself should be fine, but I can’t give this a Hot as it’s just not something that I can go absolutely crazy over.
Prediction: The Shield wins.
WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kevin Owens = Hot/Lukewarm
Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens are two of my favorites on the roster, so I’m definitely down to see the two wrestle. I’d naturally be more excited about it if I felt there was any chance at all that Kevin Owens would win the belt, but that’s not the case for this event.
That is especially compounded when factoring in how Kofi Kingston is where the money’s at right now and WWE needs to go with that momentum, meaning this is just a stall to eat up time in March until we get to KofiMania.
Still, I’m giving it a thumbs up. Fastlane is a pointless event in many ways and if it’s going to exist despite its superfluousness, I’m at least happy there’s a match like this on the card instead of something that could have been more bland.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan certainly has to retain the title.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair = Hot
This can’t be as simple as Becky Lynch winning and that’s it, right? It has to go to a no-contest when Ronda Rousey interferes and the McMahon Family award Becky Lynch a spot in the match regardless, I’m assuming.
In any fashion, this is a match that is going to be not necessarily about the in-ring action itself, but everything surrounding it. It’s sole purpose is to build more to WrestleMania, and I’m okay with that, so I’m not looking at it as whether or not I’m anticipating a five-star classic.
As long as WWE doesn’t make any weird booking decisions to go along with this to make it more convoluted than it needs to be, or to go in an odd direction they shouldn’t (like Becky Lynch loses and there needs to be another few weeks of trying to get her in the match), it should go down very well.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Mandy Rose = Cold
You can always tell when WWE doesn’t prioritize something by the complete lack of effort in even putting it on television, let alone trying to make it worthwhile. Then, when they reach a point where they realize they forgot about that story/feud/Superstar for too long, they panic and do whatever the absolute easiest thing is to try to make up for it.
That’s what happened with Asuka. They kept her away for the whole Elimination Chamber side of things and then went “crap…what do we do? I don’t know, let’s have someone beat her and that grants that person a title match. Good enough.”
There’s absolutely nothing to this feud, WWE clearly doesn’t care, it’s not going to amount to anything and I wouldn’t even be surprised if Vince McMahon didn’t bother to watch the match at all when it goes down, so even though I think Asuka deserves better than this and I feel bad for Mandy Rose, too, I just can’t muster up the interest to get invested in the scraps WWE tossed away and pat the Creative team on the back for what little effort they put out there.
Prediction: Asuka retains the title.
Raw Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match: The Revival (c) vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable = Lukewarm
This makes sense, after what happened on Raw. It’s kind of a rushed and simple way to go about things, but once they set that up, a Triple Threat needed to happen to justify that entire segment.
It also makes sense that Bobby Roode and Chad Gable would be in this match to give The Revival a team to beat to retain the titles, rather than needing to pin Ricochet or Aleister Black, who should be protected at this stage, but shouldn’t become the champions.
I assume this will be pushed aside no matter what, but I also think it could be one of the better matches of the card.
Prediction: The Revival retain the titles.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon = Lukewarm
WWE really dropped the ball with promoting this one by pushing it to the side and doing nothing with it for a while, which is a shame. I know it’s just a rematch, but I would have liked to see more put into it other than strictly “it’s happening again, wait until Fastlane.”
I’m still putting this down as Lukewarm, though, because I’m curious where they go from here. Essentially, I’m not excited for this particular match, but what the outcome is and what follows it.
Does The Miz turn on Shane McMahon? Does Shane McMahon turn on The Miz? Do they win the titles back in a hot potato situation? Does someone else come out to attack them and stop them from winning the titles and that’s how they get factored into WrestleMania? Am I completely missing some other option?
That’s the hook that has me, not any of the actual build.
Prediction: The Usos retain the titles.
Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Bayley and Sasha Banks (c) vs. Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka = Lukewarm
There is absolutely no way Bayley and Sasha Banks lose these titles so quickly after winning them. Making the first champions lose so fast will crap all over the belts.
Plus, let’s be honest, Bayley and Sasha Banks are the more popular duo and the ones who would actually make a splash defending the belts across Raw, SmackDown LIVE and NXT. That’s not going to happen with Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka, who are just here in this match to be a roadblock for Bayley and Sasha Banks to prove themselves before setting up their WrestleMania opponents.
But hey, that’s fine. If I were in WWE’s shoes, I’d probably do something similar, if not this exact same match, so it gets a thumbs up on a logical booking side for me, even if I’m not super duper pumped to watch the match itself in the sense that I’m not expecting a five-star classic. It doesn’t need to be awe-inspiring.
Prediction: The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection retain.
Kickoff Match: Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio = Lukewarm
These two continue to have rock solid matches together, so I’m certainly not opposed to seeing another one, but I do have to admit that I’m disappointed there isn’t anything on the line here.
With no stakes or stipulations, it’s a little tiresome that this is something like their 8th match together just for the sake of it, which prevents me from going full Hot on it. It’s also confusing to me why they went ahead with another match like this in as generic of a mode as it is, rather than booking something for the United States or Intercontinental titles, or doing AJ Styles against Randy Orton.
Fundamentally, I’m happy this is happening, but I’m also irked that it’s happening over other options that would make more sense in my mind.
Prediction: Andrade wins.