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Tension Grows Between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan
When Daniel Bryan defeated Seth Rollins on Raw a couple weeks ago, he earned the right to face Roman Reigns at Fastlane with the No. 1 contendership for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line. Despite the fact that both Reigns and Bryan are faces, there was plenty of heat between them on Raw as the build toward Fastlane kicked into another gear.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is WWE Handling This Feud Effectively?
Pitting two faces against one another and creating a compelling story can be very difficult, but it is clear WWE is committed to making Reigns versus Bryan work.
The Authority forced the two Superstars to team up twice on Raw, and there were predictably some issues along the way. At one point, Bryan accidentally dropkicked Reigns. Following the main event, they exchanged words and got into a shoving match, and Reigns ultimately speared the leader of the Yes! Movement.
Reigns and Bryan teamed up once again on SmackDown to run through a Tag Team Turmoil match that concluded when they defeated Big Show and Kane. Although they were able to coexist to some degree, it was obvious throughout the match that they were trying to one-up each other.
Both men desperately want to challenge Brock Lesnar for the title at WrestleMania, and they have shown no misgivings about going through each other in order to do so.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
The story between Reigns and Bryan thus far has been a simple one, but it has certainly resonated. It has allowed Reigns to become more of a tweener due to Bryan's popularity, and that has added to his character. Even Bryan has shown as certain edge as well, which is a bit of a departure from his normal gimmick.
Neither Reigns nor Bryan is allowing the terms face or heel to limit what they can do, and blurring the lines in that way has made this the most interesting angle going in WWE.
WWE has also drawn on the real-life concerns some fans have by having Bryan carry most of the load in the ring. Bryan has used that fact against Reigns, and it should add even more fuel to their rivalry. With Bryan making the WWE Universe question Reigns' readiness for the main event scene, it will mean that much more when they put on a spectacular match at Fastlane.
Reigns and Bryan's interactions have been nothing short of compelling, and they will be solely responsible for the success of Fastlane.
Potential changes to WrestleMania main event plans (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
Sting Accepts Triple H's Challenge for Fastlane Confrontation
On the heels of Triple H challenging Sting to a face-to-face meeting at Fastlane, the Vigilante responded on Raw. The Game demanded to know if Sting intends on appearing at the upcoming pay-per-view, and he got his answer in an elaborate manner, as three Sting lookalikes played mind games with Triple H before the Icon accepted the challenge through a video package.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Was This Build Necessary?
Now that the confrontation between Sting and Triple H is official, that figures to be one of the most highly anticipated aspects of Fastlane. With Sting having foiled the Authority's plans on multiple occasions, one can only assume a WrestleMania match is in the cards.
Fastlane is the perfect opportunity and venue to make it official, and that is likely what will happen, since that will be a major draw in terms of influencing those who have the WWE Network for free in February to pay for it in March.
Having a segment involving Sting and Triple H at Fastlane makes all the sense in the world because even more eyes than usual will be fixed on it. With that said, it can definitely be argued that WWE would have been better off leaving the Sting and Triple H rivalry untouched until Fastlane. The Raw segment wasn't overly effective, given Sting wasn't actually there, and it isn't a stretch to say that it was corny at best.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Having Sting accept Triple H's challenge allows WWE to advertise the face-to-face encounter as a sure thing, but it would have been more intriguing to leave some level of doubt.
Most viewers would have been expecting the Vigilante to appear at Fastlane, and it would have made for a cool moment when he ultimately showed up. Essentially, the segment on Raw was just a product of WWE wanting to keep Sting's name at the forefront with WrestleMania approaching.
WWE also seems to like the idea of keeping Sting mysterious and ominous. There is nothing to dislike about that as he had his greatest success in WCW with a similar character. At the same time, it simply wasn't believable that Sting would create a video package and hire stunt doubles in an effort to get inside Triple H's head.
The confrontation at Fastlane should be entertaining and one of the show's highlights, but WWE should've taken a less-is-more approach to get there.
Backstage note regarding Sting (PWInsider via WrestlingInc.com)
John Cena and Rusev Gear Up for Fastlane
John Cena and Rusev have been at odds since having a backstage dust-up at the Royal Rumble. It was announced the following night that they would have a match at Fastlane. Build toward that bout continued on Raw, with Rusev and Lana focusing on Cena's veteran status, while Cena made it clear that he wasn't ready to give up his spot. That argument resulted in a brawl that increased tension ahead of the pay-per-view.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is There Reason to Be Excited About This Angle?
Any feud involving Cena is bound to be treated like a big deal by WWE, especially around WrestleMania time.
Cena was in a similar situation last year, as he was away from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and feuding with a young up-and-comer in the form of Bray Wyatt. That rivalry focused on Cena's status as a top guy and his legacy within WWE. That ultimately resulted in Cena beating Wyatt at WrestleMania XXX and coming out on top in their feud.
Rusev is a fast-rising heel in his own right, and taking on Cena could be a huge turning point in his career. With that said, there is reason to be concerned about him exiting this feud looking strong. The Bulgarian Brute seems likely to win at Fastlane in some fashion, but it is tough to envision it happening cleanly. If that is the case, then there is almost no doubt that Cena will win at WrestleMania and overcome the odds yet again.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Wins and losses are one thing, but the very crux of the feud between Cena and Rusev is somewhat confusing.
The basis of Rusev's character to this point has been his hatred for the United States. Some might say that the character has been done before, but it is clearly effective. Cena, on the other hand, is arguably the most patriotic Superstar on the roster, as evidenced by the work he does with the troops. That would seem to suggest that Cena versus Rusev should be about Cena standing up for his country.
Instead, WWE has decided to go back to an all-too-familiar well with Cena protecting his spot on the card from a hungry, young challenger. It's not necessary a bad angle, but it has already been done many times before. Having Cena play the patriotic face would be a bit of a departure from the norm, and it would be the perfect way to get even some of his most ardent detractors on his side entering WrestleMania.
Backstage reaction to Cena's character portrayal (Wrestling Observer Newsletter via WrestlingInc.com)
Ring Rust Radio's Season 7 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Brandon Galvin: 357.5
2. Joe Arcidiacono: 187.5
3. Mike Chiari: 135
4. Donald Wood: 40
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