It's one thing to predict the winners and losers at WWE's Fastlane 2016, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?
WWE has announced 7 different segments for the main card of Fastlane 2016:
- Brock Lesnar versus Dean Ambrose versus Roman Reigns
- Chris Jericho versus AJ Styles
- Charlotte vs Brie Bella
- Wyatt Family versus Ryback, Kane, and Big Show
- Kevin Owens versus Dolph Ziggler
- Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch versus Naomi and Tamina
- Cutting Edge Peep Show with the New Day
So what order will these 7 segments be arranged in?
To help take a stab at this, I sifted through my data on Pay-Per-View (PPV) match times that I have been recording since 2013. I looked through the data to find all of the 3-hour events that were also comprised of 7 different segments. I found 14 different events that fit this criteria, and here is how the timing of those 7 segments broke down for those events:
Segment 1: 13m 24s
Segment 2: 10m 11s
Segment 3: 13m 07s
Segment 4: 13m 51s
Segment 5: 13m 12s
Segment 6: 8m 48s
Segment 7: 21m 11s
Segment 1: 12m 28s
Segment 2: 8m 43s
Segment 3: 11m 03s
Segment 4: 13m 16s
Segment 5: 13m 51s
Segment 6: 7m 16s
Segment 7: 20m 54s
For matches, these times only reflect bell-to-bell match times. For in-ring talking segments, these times also include entrances and exits.
What do the the lists above tell us about the timing of these segments?
The obvious conclusion is that the main event segment gets the most time, but as Alberto Del Rio might say, you already knew that.
The next thing that stands out is the accurate narrative behind the idea that the segment before the main event is the death slot. Segment 6 just doesn't get much time compared to most other segments.
It's interesting to see that Segment 2 really doesn't fare much better than Segment 6. It's possible that the data from before the so-called Divas Revolution is weighing heavily here, because that was a common segment for short Divas matches from those PPVs. Yet as recently as TLC 2015, the match in Segment 2 (Rusev versus Ryback) only received 7m 56s, so it still may be a relevant characteristic of that slot going forward.
The average times of Segments 1, 3, 4, and 5 are all pretty close. The median times start to show some separation here, and Segment 5 is the only slot whose median time is greater than its average time. This probably indicates that Segment 5 is a better bet to receive a long match than Segments 1, 3, or 4.
The much lower median time of Segment 3 indicates that its average time was probably spiked by a couple of large data points. Looking through the data, I do notice a lengthy Elimination Chamber match from 2013 that lasted over 30 minutes in Segment 3.
Fastlane 2016 Segment Order
To proceed from here, I now need to break up the 7 advertised segments for Fastlane 2016 into an order of importance.
The most important matches on a PPV almost always receive those dedicated video packages that air right before superstar entrances.
The less important matches only receive shorter Raw recap videos that Cole talks over during superstar entrances.
So which matches on this card are going to stand out in importance by receiving those dedicated video packages? My best guess is that it will be Lesnar's match, Jericho's match, and Charlotte's match.
Ziggler's match, Sasha's match, and the New Day segment will probably not receive that treatment.
I'm not really sure where the Wyatt Family match will end up here. Big Show and Strowman did main event Raw the other night, but ultimately it doesn't feel like enough has really happened with them to warrant a 3 minute video package. A 45 second Raw recap video is probably more appropriate.
What does this have to do with match order? It turns out that Segment 1 never receives a dedicated video package. Right after the pyro goes off to start the show, superstar entrances immediately commence.
Due to the lack of a dedicated video package hyping up this match, Segment 1 often receives high work rate mid-card matches. Ziggler versus Owens fits this role very well, so that will probably be the opening match on the card.
Segment 1 also has never included a Divas match, so that's one more reason why I am going with Ziggler versus Owens for that spot. I happen to think that Sasha's tag team match should be given a chance to break that mold and start off this show, but past history suggests it is unlikely.
I should also get the obvious statement out of the way with no explanation needed: Segment 7 will be Lesnar's match.
Segment 5 now stands out as being most likely to receive the next most important match on the card. Styles versus Jericho seems like the best choice for that position.
How about that death slot in Segment 6 between Jericho's match and Lesnar's match?
Now that the Divas Revolution is upon us, it is a little harder to identify matches that WWE is likely to throw in the death slot. With just 6 matches announced for Fastlane 2016, it is also possible that WWE adds an unannounced filler squash match to the card involving the Social Outcasts and throws that in the death slot. This card does feel light on match quantity, so maybe that is the most likely outcome.
Given the advertised matches though, I think Sasha's tag team match has a better chance to be thrown into the death slot than any other match. It is the only remaining match on the card that never received any of the coveted top-of-the-hour time slots on Raw that WWE often uses to spotlight its most important feuds.
That leaves Charlotte's match, Wyatt's match, and Edge's talk show for Segments 2, 3, and 4. This puzzle is really tough to crack.
Segment 2 will probably go to the least important piece from that group.
Would WWE follow up a high work rate match like Ziggler versus Owens with a story-driven emotional feud like Charlotte vs Brie, or would they go with a beefy 6-man tag match? How about a comedy talking segment?
I am struggling with this decision because Segment 2 usually goes to one of the shorter matches on the card. Divas matches have been getting more time since the Divas Revolution began, but it doesn't seem like a good idea to let Brie versus Charlotte get a bunch of time. And is it really practical to have a 6-man tag team match be done in less than 10 minutes?
It's also interesting to note that WWE did run some PPV events since 2013 with 2 divas matches, and in several cases those two Divas matches were placed into Segment 2 and the Death Slot on those nights. But that was prior to the Divas Revolution.
There are less stakes in the Wyatt Family match than Charlotte's match, and it is definitely not a high work rate match. Maybe WWE will break up the title matches by throwing the beefy violence in between. All of that seems like a good fit for Segment 2 as well. So this is a really difficult decision.
With all of that in mind, I am going to shrug my shoulders in despair and go with Charlotte versus Brie for Segment 2 and then the Wyatt Family in Segment 3. It really seems like a toss up.
That leaves Edge's talk show in Segment 4. I don't really see them putting Edge's spot in Segment 2. Edge is one of the biggest stars on the show so I don't have any issues giving him one of the more important slots on the card like Segment 4. I suppose it is also possible that they screw up all of my predictions here by opening the show with Edge's talking segment, and use it to set up a tag team match with New Day for later in the night.
So here is my final prediction for the match order at Fastlane 2016:
Segment 1: Owens versus Ziggler
Segment 2: Charlotte versus Brie Bella
Segment 3: Wyatt Family versus Ryback, Kane, and Big Show
Segment 4: Cutting Edge Peep Show
Segment 5: Jericho versus Styles
Segment 6: Sasha and Becky versus Naomi and Tamina
Segment 7: Lesnar versus Ambrose versus Reigns
That's my prediction for the match order at Fastlane 2016. What's yours?