Quick Takes on Fastlane Title Change That Must Happen, AJ Styles at 'Mania, More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2021

Quick Takes on Fastlane Title Change That Must Happen, AJ Styles at 'Mania, More

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    Could Apollo Crews be closing in on the Intercontinental Championship?
    Could Apollo Crews be closing in on the Intercontinental Championship?Credit: WWE.com

    Despite being a pointless pay-per-view so close to WrestleMania 37, the WWE Fastlane card boasts a few interesting matchups, including Apollo Crews vs. Big E for the Intercontinental Championship.

    The two have had the best feud over that title in recent memory, which has helped elevate both men in the process. As excellent of a champion as Big E has been, it's imperative Crews walks out of the event with the gold in his grasp in order to advance his compelling heel turn.

    Also on tap Sunday is Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss, a bout that is guaranteed to not go down as advertised. Instead, fans can expect some sort of shenanigans to set up Orton vs. The Fiend at WrestleMania—despite the rivalry running its course months ago.

    On the All Elite Wrestling front, it was a newsworthy week for the promotion between the historic women's Lights Out main event on Dynamite and the debut of Dark: Elevation on Monday night. Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker delivered in spades, while Elevation unfortunately proved to be more of the same in terms of the excessive amount of squash matches it featured.

    This week's installment of Quick Takes will tackle why AEW needs a proper second program to showcase its talent, who will be next in line for the AEW Women's World Championship and the Orton-Fiend feud overstaying its welcome. Crews' chances of becoming champion at Fastlane and AJ Styles' WrestleMania match will also be covered.

Apollo Crews Must Capture the Intercontinental Championship at Fastlane

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    Without question, Apollo Crews is doing the best work of his WWE career to date.

    His heel turn was long overdue yet couldn't have come at a better time. Big E has been a fighting intercontinental champion since capturing the title on Christmas Day but has lacked that one defining feud.

    He's finally found it with Crews, and the story they have told dating back to January, when Crews originally unsuccessfully challenged for the championship, has been incredibly well-crafted. Crews' constant losses led to him snapping, and now he's essentially unstoppable.

    The character transformation he's undergone has been a breath of fresh air, and Big E has served as a fantastic foil for him. That said, the only way the rivalry continues is if Crews takes the title at Sunday's pay-per-view.

    He's already lost to Big E a handful of times, and another defeat would hurt his momentum. Big E being back in chase mode would force to him stay serious and prolong the program until WrestleMania, where they can wage war in a No Holds Barred bout or something along those lines.

    Even if Big E regains the belt, heel Crews deserves to be champion for at least a little while.

Who Will Earn the Next AEW Women's Title Shot Between Baker and Rosa?

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    Following a four-month feud, Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa blew off their ruthless rivalry in grand fashion on Wednesday's Dynamite when they went to war and had AEW's greatest women's match yet.

    The brutal bumps they took and everything else they endured made for a spectacle. Although it was Rosa who reigned supreme, it was never established that she will be next in line to challenge Hikaru Shida for the AEW World Women's Championship.

    That move would make the most sense considering it was such a huge victory. However, with it being an Unsanctioned Lights Out matchup, it's worth noting that the loss doesn't technically count against Baker's AEW record.

    Other than that, Baker hasn't lost a whole lot since last year, and for good reason. In addition to Rosa, she is the most unmissable performer in AEW's women's division for her character work alone and arguably should have dethroned Shida as champion months ago.

    Shida vs. Rosa has been done before, but running it back would be a welcome development because of how well they work together. Regardless of the result, Baker should be waiting in the wings for a title shot of her own. She could be the one to dethrone Shida depending on what the fallout is from this history-making match.

The Fiend and Alexa Bliss vs. Randy Orton Feud Has Officially Run Its Course

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    When The Fiend and Alexa Bliss arrived on Raw in October, they were among the more intriguing aspects of the program along with Drew McIntyre and The Hurt Business. Even the first few months of their rivalry with Randy Orton were engaging, but it's taken a turn for the worse as of late.

    Surprisingly, as ridiculous as it was, The Fiend being "burned alive" at the hands of Orton at December's TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view wasn't where the storyline jumped the shark. Orton and Bliss did their best to keep the feud afloat in Bray Wyatt's absence, but the longer it's lasted, the less interested people will be in seeing the payoff.

    It's reached a point where Orton and Bliss are scheduled to go one-on-one at Fastlane, making it clear that WWE has run out of ideas for this rivalry. There's a strong possibility of Wyatt returning at the event to interrupt the match, but the damage has been done.

    Bringing back The Fiend to TV a month or two ago would have spared fans weeks of abysmal content featuring Orton and Bliss. If he resurfaces at Fastlane, that leaves less than three weeks for them to build up their likely match at WrestleMania.

    All roads should lead to a Firefly Fun House match between the pair at WrestleMania, and based on Wyatt vs. John Cena last year, it could be entertaining. Whether it will make everything the audience has had to endure up to this point worthwhile is another question entirely.

AEW Needs a Legitimate 2nd Show to Properly Showcase Its Talent

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    For weeks, AEW hyped the premiere of its new YouTube show, Dark: Elevation, on Monday. Little was known about the program other than that it would provide lesser-known stars with a platform to shine and that Paul Wight would be calling the action alongside Tony Schiavone.

    Wight's commentary work was a highlight of the episode in addition to the Riho vs. Maki Itoh main event. Otherwise, it was two hours filled with enhancement matches that did little to further the more important stories from Dynamite.

    It's important to give the newcomers and independent wrestlers more chances to hone their skills, but devoting two hours to nothing but squashes is not effective. The show's format is basically an extension of what the company was already doing with Dark, and that wasn't that exciting to begin with.

    The main takeaway is that AEW's roster, similar to WWE's, has become so stockpiled with talent that a second show is needed to showcase everyone under contract. Quick squashes on Dark or Dark: Elevation aren't enough; those spots should be reserved for those who can benefit from the extra exposure and experience.

    Although AEW already announced a second show at the onset of 2020 and recently confirmed it's coming in 2021, it needs to premiere sooner rather than later to ensure certain stars don't get lost in the shuffle.

Tag Team Title Match Is a Waste of AJ Styles at WrestleMania 37

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    AJ Styles' first five WrestleMania appearances were all singles matches against top-tier talent. In fact, his Boneyard bout with The Undertaker last year headlined Night 1, and even in defeat, it proved that the company viewed him as a priority.

    One year later, he will find himself fighting for the Raw Tag Team Championship alongside Omos at WrestleMania. To say it's a significant step down would be an understatement.

    With better build, the idea of the match wouldn't be so egregious. Instead, Styles has been directionless for months, teased no tension with New Day before Monday night and now fans are supposed to care about him entering the tag title mix.

    The Hurt Business dropping the tag titles to Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods on Raw was also premature and reverted Raw's tag team division to the status quo. Although holding tag title gold is something Style has never done before, it isn't thrilling enough to justify his being lower on the card this year.

    Unfortunately, with the way things turned out, there wasn't any other logical opponent for Styles at The Show of Shows aside from Triple H, assuming he would even want to do it. New Day vs. Styles and Omos could be fun, but by no means should Styles be long for tag team wrestling.

    The WWE champion, whoever it is, will need credible challengers coming out of WrestleMania. Styles fits that bill perfectly.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.