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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Heel Turns: Fast Lane part of journey

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 10

The problem with WWE’s Fast Lane, which takes place Sunday night (WWE Network, 7 p.m., kickoff show at 5 p.m.) is that it’s just a step toward WrestleMania.

Fast Lane is headlined by Daniel Bryan defending the WWE Championship against Kevin Owens. The main angle of this match is that Owens, who just returned from a lengthy absence due to injury, is replacing Kofi Kingston as the challenger.

The purpose of this match, like most of Fast Lane, seems to be to set up matches for WrestleMania. That means that the significance of most of what happens at Fast Lane will be how it builds toward WrestleMania rather than the outcomes of Sunday night’s matches.

Fast Lane is part of the journey. WrestleMania is the destination.

That doesn’t mean Fast Lane can’t be a good show. The journey is half the fun.

Expect Kofi Kingston to get involved in the match between Bryan and Owens. The Greek God of Wrestling isn’t sold on Owens being a fan favorite. Somehow this match will have to lead to a championship opportunity for Kingston at WrestleMania

The top women’s match, pitting Charlotte Flair against Becky Lynch, also is part of the build toward WrestleMania. If Lynch defeats Flair, she will be added to the WrestleMania match between Ronda Rousey and Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship. Lynch, of course, already earned the right to be in this match with her Royal Rumble victory, but she’s being forced to qualify a second time after Vince McMahon, as he did with Kingston, replaced her in the WrestleMania match. Rousey may get involved in the finish, but it’s difficult to believe that Lynch won’t emerge victorious.

One match that’s could be more of a conclusion than a means to an end is the Shield reunion. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, who is leaving WWE when his contract expires, are reuniting for what is billed as the final time as they battle Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin. With Rollins slated to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania, this could be a “feel good” final reunion for The Shield.

There are four other championship matches at Fast Lane. Asuka should successfully defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Mandy Rose. Achilles Heel hopes Rose makes a good showing in defeat, but the key is how this match will build to Asuka’s title defense at WrestleMania. The same is true for Bayley and Sasha Banks defending the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship against Tamina and Nia Jax. It’s too early for Banks and Bayley to lose the titles, so this has to lead to a development, possibly involving Jax in an inter-gender match, for WrestleMania.

Jimmy and Jey Uso defend the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against The Miz and Shane McMahon. The Usos should prevail, which would be a step toward the inevitable Miz-McMahon split. The Raw Tag Team Championship will also be on the line, with the Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) defending the titles in a triple threat match against Aleister Black and Ricochet and former championship Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. If given enough time, this match could be tremendous.

The kickoff show contains two matches with a lot of potential. Rey Mysterio meets Andrade in a rematch of a terrific match that took place on Smackdown. Another Smackdown match on the kickoff show pits The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) against Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev.

Fast Lane could be a terrific event. Every match, with the possible exception of Asuka vs. Rose, has the potential to be terrific. It should be a fun show to watch as the build to WrestleMania heats up.

*****

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: A plethora of titles will be on the line Friday during Ring of Honor’s 17th Anniversary show in Las Vegas. In the main event, Jay Lethal will defend the Ring of Honor World Championship against Matt Taven.

Jay and Mark Briscoe will defending the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against Brody King and PCO of Villain Enterprises. Jeff Cobb will defend the Ring of Honor World Television Championship against Shane Taylor. Mayu Iwatani will defend the Women of Honor World Championship against Kelly Klein.

In non-title matches, Marty Scurll meets Kenny King, Bandido faces Rush, Silas Young battles Jonathan Gresham, and The Kingdom’s Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan square off with Lifeblood’s Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams.

It will be interesting to see the fans’ reaction. This is Ring of Honor’s first major show without some of the stars – Cody Rhodes, Matt and Nick Jackson – from the past few years. The anniversary show should feature exciting action in the ring, but the star power is definitely reduced.

*****

JOE CHAMPION: Not that he is seeking my approval, but the Greek God of Wrestling congratulates Samoa Joe for winning the United States Championship from R-Truth in a fatal four-way match on Smackdown that also involved Rey Myterio and Andrade. This is Joe’s first title in WWE. He has traveled a long journey before capturing his first WWE title, and it probably will be difficult to take that title away from Joe.

*****

JOURNEY INTERRUPTED: Like Samoa Joe, Tommaso Ciampa has taken a long road to get to WWE. Unfortunately, shortly after his arrival in WWE, Ciampa has been sidelined indefinitely by a neck injury that required neck fusion surgery. Ciampa returned from reconstructive knee surgery to become, arguably, NXT’s best performer last year. Achilles Heel wishes Ciampa a similar recovery and outcome after his latest surgery.

It will be interesting to see how NXT handles the now-vacant NXT Championship. It will also be interesting to see how WWE handles Johnny Gargano, who entered WWE aligned with Ciampa.

*****

IMPACT DEFENSE: Johnny Impact is scheduled to defend the Impact Wrestling World Championship against Brian Cage next Friday. The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers, so he won’t say any more about this match.

*****

FAREWELL TO BUNDY: King Kong Bundy, a huge star, literally and figuratively, during the 1980s and ‘90s, died at age 61. Bundy (Christopher Pallies), who was from Atlantic City and learned the ropes at The Monster Factory in Paulsboro, N.J., headlined WrestleMania 2 by challenging Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship in a steel cage match.

Described as a walking condominium by Gorilla Monsoon, Bundy was a main event-level star as WWE developed into the world’s biggest wrestling promotion. The Greek God of Wrestling remembers first seeing Bundy wrestle – with hair – as Chris Canyon.

If there weren’t so much news this week, more space would be devoted to Bundy’s career. Achilles Heel sends his condolences to Bundy’s family and friends.

*****

FAREWELL TO DESTROYER: Dick Beyer, better known as “The Destroyer,” died last week at age 88. Beyer achieved his greatest fame wrestling under a mask as “The Destroyer.” In addition to being a big name during wrestling’s territory days, especially on the West Coast, Beyer was a huge star in Japan. Achilles Heel sends his condolences to Beyer’s family and friends.

*****

COMBAT READY: Mance Warner became Combat Zone Wrestling world heavyweight champion at Cage of Death 20 when Maxwell Jacob Friedman vacated the title. Friedman (MJF) returns to tried to regain the title from Warner on April 13 at Best of the Best 18, which also features (of course) the Best of the Best tournament.

*****

CHIKARA DOUBLEHEADER: CHIKARA’s Young Lions Cup XV on Saturday is going to be a doubleheader, with one show at 3 p.m. and a second show at 7 p.m. In the first stage, Mr. Touchdown Mark Angelosetti will battle Chris Dickinson, Lucas Calhoun will meet Volgar, and Missile Assault Man faces Rory Gulak. For a limited time, a ticket bought in advance will be good for both shows. Later, tickets will have to be bought separately for each show.

*****

ROSS LEAVING WWE: Jim Ross, the greatest broadcaster in professional wrestling history, is leaving WWE at the end of the month. All Elite Wrestling would add to its credibility if it could sign Ross to be its top broadcaster.

By the way, AEW has announced that its second event – Double or Noting on May 25 is its first – will be Fight for the Fallen on July 13 in Jacksonville, Fla. The Khan family, AEW’s chief financial backer, owns the Jacksonville Jaguars.

*****

HARPER RETURNS: Luke Harper wrestled for the first time since having wrist surgery last fall. Harper defeated Mojo Rawley at a house show in Rochester, N.Y. Achilles Heel has been a long-time fan of Harper. With Erick Rowan, how former Wyatt Family and Bludgeon Brother teammate, serving as Daniel Bryan’s enforcer, the Greek God of Wrestling hopes that Harper gets his long-deserved push as a singles wrestler.

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