In an unexpected turn of events, Vince McMahon yanked Kofi Kingston out of his Fastlane WWE championship match against Daniel Bryan. The Chairman instead announced on SmackDown Live that the returning Kevin Owens would take the coveted slot on March 10.
This comes after weeks of building up the New Day member as a viable challenger to the Planet’s champion. Owens was sidelined with injury, teasing an impending return through a series of cellphone videos at home or around town alongside family. Interestingly enough, McMahon chose Owens, who at one time headbutted and caused him to bleed. Only in WWE indeed.
For WWE fans, bookmakers have established Bryan as a -455 favorite and Owens as a +275 underdog.
This matchup begs the question on where the company plans to go with the Owens and Bryan scenario. The situation can be likened to when McMahon took Becky Lynch out of her Raw women’s championship match against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania.
Despite earning the opportunity by winning the Royal Rumble, her behavior led McMahon to punish “The Man.” Owens and Kingston were successful in a tag match on SmackDown Live versus Erick Rowan and Bryan. However, don’t expect the goodwill to continue as New Day has voiced their displeasure for McMahon’s decision across social media.
Owens has pretty much always leaned toward villainy, but it appears with the recent turn of events he might lean in a different direction. Even though many fans are disappointed, Owens could easily get the fans to cheer him on given their respect for him and his accolades.
Then again being thrusted into the man event scene by Mr. McMahon right off the bat won’t do him any favors
Even with the new opponent, it’s hard to believe Bryan won’t go into WrestleMania the WWE champion. Then there are other questions about the outside forces that could impact the title showdown. Rowan has been regularly by Bryan’s side, so perhaps we would see the former Wyatt member making their presence felt.
There are also other variables that can play a role in a finish. The energy of the live crowd can be a factor with two inactive superstars allegedly close to recovery. Among them is Kevin Owens’ best friend Sami Zayn and even Bray Wyatt, who is no stranger to teasing fans.
This begs questions on potential outside interference. Will Sami Zayn, who is currently on the verge of emerging from the injured reserve list, or even Big E and Xavier Woods try to influence the end of the WWE title match.?
Even if it’s a different scenario involving Bryan defending the WWE title at a WrestleMania versus K.O., the odds remain in the champion’s favor. Among the reasons is because surely there was a significant investment in Bryan’s environmentally-friendly title design. It’s hard to believe WWE would change course and not take full advantage of the championship.
You can bet Bryan to defeat Owens at -455 on 888 Sport with pin fall being the popular predicted outcome at -215. When it comes to who obtains the first almost three-count, the prop betting odds are right down the line on the site at -118 apiece.
There is possibly a silver lining for Kingston and his legion of followers. Perhaps since he is not given the WWE championship match at Fastlane, we’ll see it take place at Wrestlemania 35. Having the veteran defeat Bryan on the biggest show of the year would certainly bring a feel-good moment.
Event prop odds for WrestleMania are already becoming available with the ability to bet on Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan in the main event at +2000. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey for the Raw women’s championship is currently at the top on 888 Sport at -1430. You can also bet on Kingston leaving with the championship at WrestleMania at -167, with Bryan the second choice at +125.
If Bryan retains against Owens at Fastlane only to drop the championship to Kingston at WrestleMania, it would cap off a true career resurgence.
Of course, this isn’t the only big match at Fastlane. Let’s take a look at some of the other top bouts on the card.
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose has no doubt been impressive, getting better each week alongside fellow Tough Enough alum Sonya Deville. She has lately been embroiled in a personal feud with Naomi, but a recent pin fall win over Asuka earned her a title opportunity. Despite the blond bombshell’s success, it would be highly unlikely for her to dethrone the “Empress of Tomorrow” at this stage of the game.
You can bet on Asuka to win at -670 with Betfair. Mandy Rose is +375.
The Miz and Shane McMahon vs. The Usos
The unlikely team of The Miz and Shane McMahon upset The Bar for the tag team championship at the Royal Rumble. Their run didn’t last long with the gold as Jimmy and Jey Uso defeated the new duo at Elimination Chamber.
The Usos have built a tag team dynasty, and I don’t see them dropping the titles so quickly. Adding more in their favor are the rumblings they are leaning to facing the Hardy Boys at WrestleMania in an ultimate division showdown. You can bet The Usos to win at -770 with Betfair.
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Tamina
Bayley and Sasha Banks emerged from the Elimination Chamber as the inaugural WWE women’s tag team champions of the modern era. Since then they’ve been clashing with the dominating Nia Jax and Tamina in different combination of matches leading up to Fastlane.
As the first with the gold, one would think Banks and Bayley get the chance to keep the titles for a decent amount of time. Some are eyeing a dream battle between the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection and Trish Stratus and Lita.
That remains to be seen, but I’d lean with Bayley and Banks at -345 with 888Sport to Squeak by their imposing adversaries.
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