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WWE Fastlane 2017: Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn full match preview

Two former NXT Champions collide.

Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe

Singles match

Because Seth Rollins got hurt.

The Road to Fastlane

Samoa Joe made a memorable main roster debut on Monday Night Raw Jan. 30 when, at the direction of Triple H, he ambushed Seth Rollins and delivered a thorough beating. Unfortunately for Rollins, his knee was injured in the process, putting both his WrestleMania date with The Game up in the air and removing him from a likely Fastlane date with Joe.

In the month since then, this program has been rapidly built from scratch in impressive fashion, making it one of the clearest and cleanest programs on the red brand.

On Feb. 13, when discussing his beatdown of Rollins with Michael Cole, Joe claimed he was on the main roster to make an impact, and that he wasn’t "just some Sami Zayn, happy to be on Raw."

Unsurprisingly, Zayn wasn’t thrilled with the remark. After beating Rusev later that night he fired back, saying that "Sami Zayn doesn’t sell out."

Joe was none too keen and quickly blindsided The Underdog from the Underground, locking him in the Coquina Clutch on the ramp and at one point saying "Next time you say my name, you put respect on it!"

One week later, on Feb. 20, Zayn was set to take on the WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens when was again ambushed by Joe. After being thrown into the steel ring posts several time, Zayn was told by an irate Joe that "This is your world now." Joe deposited a limp Zayn into the ring for Owens to quickly defeat in vicious fashion.

Zayn wouldn’t have to wait long to get his revenge on Joe, coming from out of nowhere Feb. 27 to attack "The Destroyer" after he had just beaten Cesaro. The two would once again fight on the entryway, but this time Zayn stood tall.

Later that night, he told Mike Rome that he would give no respect to the "corporate stooge" at Fastlane.

What’s at stake?

Respect, and momentum. With Orlando plans for neither man particularly clear, Sunday’s winner could be in line for a bigger role post-Mania.

For Samoa Joe, it’s a chance to truly make his name felt on the main roster. He’s already laid up Rollins and beaten Roman Reigns—will Zayn be his next scalp?

For Zayn, however, it’s an opportunity to once again impress. He’s quietly been one of the best and most engaging performers on Raw for months now, despite not receiving much of a push.

Which former NXT champion will gain the upper hand Sunday? And will any other former NXT stars—Rollins, or perhaps someone else—make their presence felt? Find out Sunday on the WWE Network.

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