WWE’s ‘Fastlane’, the final push on the ‘Road to WrestleMania! As much as I hate the name of this PPV, it was completely fitting for the development of the SmackDown Women’s Championship program. You may have read the results or watched it live, but yes that ‘Thoughts’ section is back for our PPV- I mean ‘WWE Network Exclusives’ too! First of all, let’s have a recap of what happened last night!

First up, we had our tag match between Naomi and Becky Lynch going against Natalya and Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella. This match was born out of a little backstage segment last week, so it’s not like we had much build-up to work with… and we definitely haven’t suffered a shortage of tag matches on SmackDown, but hey I’m all for 2 women’s matches on the card!

This match worked with Naomi as the ‘damsel in distress’ taking most of the offense from Carmella and Natalya. Eventually, Lynch grabbed the hot tag and the popular faces exchanged several hot tags to pick up the pace (although it did get choppy!). At the end though, it was Carmella who picked up the surprise victory following a superkick straight to Lynch’s jaw! Early signs of a surprise cash-in victory at WrestleMania perhaps?

Onto the SmackDown Women’s Championship match, where relatively new upstart Ruby Riott gets her chance to snatch the Title away from the self-proclaimed Queen of WWE, Charlotte Flair!

At the start of this match, Riott comes out alone and generally manages to hold her own against Flair. However, it’s not long until Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan pop up at ringside… causing Becky Lynch and Naomi to join the party too! For this match, Riott takes charge and works over Flair for the majority – impressive the crowd with her unique offense including a reverse senton drop and a top rope frankensteiner!

In the end, the outside factors cause chaos, causing the referee to eject all of the women from ringside! Riott attempts a reverse frankensteiner on Flair, but instead, Flair flips her a whole 270 degrees face first into the top turnbuckle. This gives the time for Flair to hit her signature spear and lock in the Figure 8 to make Riott tap and retain her SmackDown Women’s Championship!

Oh, but we’re not done yet, no Sir! “The Future” hits the sound system and Asuka’s trademark white mask appears on the titantron, Asuka is at Fastlane!

As she makes her classic confident walk down the ramp, a clearly startled Flair stands centre of the ring. Asuka enters the ring and taunts Flair a little more until she does the trademark point to the WrestleMania sign and the two stand face to face.

If that wasn’t confirmation enough for you, then Cathy Kelley caught up with Asuka backstage to confirm – she is using her Royal Rumble victory to challenge Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania!

With all the attention on Asuka, let’s not forget to see Flair’s reaction to the developments at Fastlane. First off, Flair gives credit to her opponent for tonight, admitting that Riott gave her ‘A-Game’ and impressed her. Now onto the big question, how does she feel about Asuka? Well Flair is confident as ever, claiming that she ‘is ready for Asuka’! The WrestleMania dream match has been set guys!


Let’s bring it back to my introduction at the top of this review, we are now in the ‘Fastlane’! Some of us wanted it, some of us expected it, some of us didn’t think they would do it… but they did! Asuka VS Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania, the Empress VS the Queen, the Undefeated Streak VS the Grand Slam Champion! Even if you’re not a fan of either of these women, we know that this has the potential to be an amazing match so I’m sitting tight.

However, let me go back and discuss Fastlane. Now admittedly going into this, I thought this was a pretty ‘filler’ event, sure I got my prediction wrong for the tag match (and I’ve been doing terribly this year!), but it was still a relatively predictable night. Although, the women’s action we got was fun tonight.

The tag match wasn’t anything to blow us away, but all four of these women have been floating for the past few months and I guess it was necessary to keep them relevant – especially with Carmella picking up the win. I personally wanted the face team to get the win since they are really becoming stale – with Asuka now in the SmackDown division, we know that both Naomi and Becky are going to eat a couple pinfalls to put her over before WrestleMania. Sure I know that this is a cycle, but RAW is doing slightly better in keeping their division relevant as a whole.

It’s a shame that Asuka stole the limelight, as this was definitely a big night for Ruby Riott. She did a solid job against Charlotte, but I felt that there was something disconnecting. Riott works better as a face and she still hasn’t been able to adjust her moveset completely, but this was still a good sign. We know that she’s capable following her work in the Indies, but hopefully, this is a sign to those in the back that she can run with the ball if given the chance.

So, this leaves SmackDown in an interesting situation… and not necessarily a good one. We have the battle set between Asuka and Charlotte, and I for one am excited that it’s a Singles Match! We haven’t had a women’s singles match at WrestleMania since the 2007 when Ashley wrestled Melina in a mat classic… yes, I’m joking.

However, we now have two extremely protected stars on the roster, so the chances of everyone eating pins for the next month is extremely high. With Riott losing cleanly, the Riott Squad are right at the bottom of the list. As explained earlier, Naomi and Lynch’s loss at Fastlane also puts them at the bottom of the pecking order. Sure wins and losses aren’t major factors, but they do play a part in the credibility of these women. If Naomi or Riott eats a pin from Asuka now, who’s going to care after WrestleMania when she eventually has the title?

I guess all eyes are now on Carmella who might get a surprise of her own, but we all know that she’s nowhere near the level of Asuka or Charlotte. But it’s got me thinking, since Asuka’s pulled the switch, Carmella may just make a surprise at the RAW Women’s Title Match at ‘Mania instead…

What did you think of Fastlane? Did you expect Asuka to appear? What did you think of Riott’s performance? Do you agree with my thoughts about Carmella’s future? Sound off in those comments below!