Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE Fastlane 2018

In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.

Last time on SO OF COURSE, RAW hosted its pit-stop on the road to WrestleMania, code-named Elimination Chamber (now in cubical form). March is here and now it’s SmackDown’s turn to iron out their plans for next month’s big dance. Of the six matches already announced for WrestleMania, only one is confirmed for SmackDown (with a second still in the cards, depending on if Asuka chooses Charlotte or Alexa for her title-challenge). Hopefully after Sunday we’ll have a clearer picture where the Blue Brand is taking things.

SmackDown itself is in dire straits lately, with poor attendance and a meager product that has failed to maximize its talent. It feels like WWE is in a holding pattern until after WrestleMania, when they’ll probably do another draft, “shake things up” and not fix the underlying problems in the writer’s room, resulting in us right back here in six months complaining about the fifth Broken Matt Hardy vs Bobby Roode match in a row.

Aaaaaanyway, let’s look at this PPV, a show that is just as inconsequential as Elimination Chamber, without the cubical of doom adding novelty points! THIS is your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE FAST IS JUST ONE ADJECTIVE TO DESCRIBE THE…

LANE THAT SMACKDOWN IS CURRENTLY IN; OTHERS ARE “DEPRECIATED,” “BARREN” AND “SAD.”

On to the show!

BOBBY ROODE vs RANDY ORTON

WHAT IT IS: The SmackDown roster held a vote as to (paraphrasing) who they thought were the best or something. The top two names were AJ and Charlotte (the top champions) followed by Nak and Naomi, then Booby Roode (US Champ), then New Day, then the Usos (Tag champs and primary challengers), then Becky Lynch, then Orton and Tye Dillinger (at #10 just in case you thought this was a real list).

Jinder (who?) Mahal made fun of Randy Orton’s low ranking at number 9 and Roode’s…fine-enough ranking at #5…what the heck is your point Mahal? He didn’t even make the ranking, because even in kayfabe no one thinks Jinder Mahal should be in the top ten of anything significant. That led to Mahal calling out Roode and Orton, eating a bunch of finishers and a title match between #5 and #9 being booked.

Obligatory “if this was the Attitude Era” comment: If this was the Attitude Era, Mahal would be special guest ref, the match would be a defacto triple threat and Mideon would do a run-in stark naked but for the Hardcore title around his waist, being chased by Crash Holly with a trashcan.

WHAT IT SHOULD BE: Some roundabout way for Bobby Roode to turn heel. Heck, turn both guys heel and let them add some freshness to the tag title scene. These could be a less charismatic Rated-RKO. Bobby Roode is wasted in his current role on SmackDown and Randy is doing a “the US title is the only belt I’ve never won” storyline, which means, ugh, we’re dragging this thing out to WrestleMania, where those sorts of storylines are more appropriate aren’t we?

SO OF COURSE…

THE USOS vs NEW DAY

WHAT IT IS: It’s the Usos vs New Day…again.

WHAT IT SHOULD BE: The Usos vs New Day: The End.

Don’t get me wrong, these five are money, but at some point you need to shake things up. Not counting the Royal Rumble (where New Day competed in the 30-man match), The Usos and New Day have wrestled each other on LITERALLY EVERY Smackdown or dual-branded PPV going back to June of last year.

It’s time to SHAKE THINGS UP (please). It’s time for some fresh faces in the tag team scene. It’s time for WrestleMania to be the launching point for a new tag division.

SO OF COURSE…

SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs RUSEV

WHAT IT IS: It’s the hottest babyface on the show vs the Royal Rumble winner, who is also a legend in Japan, a charisma machine, and a guy about whom everyone said things like “he doesn’t need to be messed with or fixed, he just needs to be turned loose” and “if WWE finds a way to screw him up they are the dumbest company alive.”

Well..challenge accepted!

WHAT IT SHOULD BE: It should be both of these guys wrestling heels not wrestling each other. It should be Nak wrestling a heel to give him some momentum heading into Mania, after months of just being sort of there. It should be Rusev getting an honest to goodness push as a babyface, and not be the victim of WWE going “welp, he’s a foreign guy but the crowd loves him… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .”

When your show has a lightning in a bottle thing like Rusev being organically and delightfully over, yet not being used in any constructive way, AND Nak is sitting there twiddling his thumbs and slowly drowning in unrealized potential, you’ve failed as a show.

SO OF COURSE…

CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs RUBY RIOTT

WHAT IT IS: It’s the women’s title in a holding pattern until Asuka WWE’s “creative” team figures out which woman the Royal Rumble winner is going to beat.

And nothing says Ruby Riot like “holding pattern.” Also nothing says Ruby Riot like this, which…

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…is very mean and I’m sorry. But those are French subtitles, so blame the French. The bastards.

WHAT IT SHOULD BE: A Charlotte win, keeping her momentum going into Mania, where she defends against Asuka, loses after a grueling match, watches Carmella cash-in and steal the title, and spends the spring and summer chasing it for a change.

SO OF COURSE…

AJ STYLES vs JOHN CENA vs KEVIN OWENS vs SAMI ZAYN vs DOLPH ZIGGLER vs BARON CORBIN

WHAT IT IS: The entire SmackDown main-event scene, minus Jinder lol just kidding I mean plus Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin…and John Cena if you’re Brand Split stickler. Basically its the three guys that SmackDown is relying on to carry the show plus three other guys.

Oh yeah, all the main-eventers not counting Nakamura. See that, WWE? I forgot about Nakamura. That’s what your booking has done to him.

WHAT IT SHOULD BE: What can it be? AJ vs Nakamura is the match for WrestleMania. It’s not even up for debate. AJ has to retain here. The action will be fun, as all of these guys can go and even Baron Corbin is good when there’s a lot of bodies to throw around. In the end though, there’s only one possible outcome.

SO OF COURSE…

Oh well, there’s always NXT (which has sucked the life force out of Smackdown in order to return to being worthy of a weekly watch).

Here’s to Sunday.

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