Last night, WWE presented its inaugural Fastlane PPV from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. As the final major stop on the road to WrestleMania, we can now see a clearer picture emerge as WWE heads into its biggest show of the year.
The major story to come out of Fastlane was Roman Reigns’ defeat of Daniel Bryan in the main event. Not only was it an excellent match, but the result made the most sense for business going forward as it locks Reigns into a clash against WWE Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31.
Although I was fine with the outcome, some have argued that the finish should have resulted in both Reigns and Bryan becoming the two legitimate contenders to Lesnar’s championship.
While a triple threat match sounds good in theory, we already saw the same scenario at last year’s WrestleMania. The only difference is that the Bryan vs. Authority storyline was much stronger and there was a series of unexpected, organic events—such as CM Punk’s exit and the fans’ complete rejection of Batista—which led to Bryan being inserted into the originally scheduled main event. Besides, we just witnessed an excellent triple threat match at last month’s Royal Rumble. Coming back with another one just two months later would seem redundant.
While there is a subset of the fanbase who are likely not thrilled with Reigns’ ascendancy to the top, the outcome of the match went down as expected. WWE has groomed Reigns for this very spot from the moment he arrived on the main roster. He won the Royal Rumble match and defeated Bryan in what has to be considered the best singles match of his career. Just like 2014 was Bryan’s year, now is Reigns’ time to shine.
And what about Bryan?
While the company has never truly gotten behind Bryan as being the #1 guy, I do believe that they understand and appreciate his value to the product. There is no other guy on the main roster that they would entrust to go out and put over Reigns in as strong of a manner as he did. Reigns is in a much better position to succeed following their match than he was in the wake of his ill-fated Royal Rumble victory.
Even if Bryan never finds himself in another WrestleMania main event, he’ll always be over with the fans and give his best effort inside the ring. That’s what he’s all about.
The thing I find most interesting about Bryan is that his fans take his career more seriously than he does. Bryan has publicly admitted that he considers himself to be among the least ambitious guys in WWE. Bryan would also be the first to say that he never envisioned himself reaching the level he has achieved thus far in WWE. His top priority is wrestling and he’s just happy to be out there doing what he loves on the biggest stage possible.