Last night the WWE rolled into my home town of Cleveland, Ohio for it’s monthly PPV – Fastlane. We’re well on the Road to WrestleMania with the big show only 41 days away as of this writing. WWE has been dealing with rash of injuries of late including John Cena, Seth Rollins, Sting, Cesaro, etc.
Mark and I had the chance to go to this show but we decided to pass for a variety of reasons. We went to TLC last year when it was in Cleveland (Tables, Ladders & Chairs… Oh My – Live From Cleveland!) and I’m sad to say it, but I think we made a great choice by skipping it this year. I really hate to be the guy on the Internet bashing the product but as the New Day would say, most of this show was “hot garbage”. It just didn’t feel special. There was some great matches to be certain but there was also some stuff that really belonged on a Monday Night RAW. I know quite a few folks who were there live and I’m really hoping for their sake that it was a better show in person than it came across on the WWE Network.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get into it. (All photos courtesy WWE.com)
Kalisto Defeated Alberto Del Rio To Retain The US Championship – Two Out Three Falls
This was a pre-show match and it’s a shame it was because it was pretty outstanding. Kalisto simply does things in the ring that a man shouldn’t be able to do and I thoroughly enjoy watching him wrestle. I’m not a fan of Del Rio but he kept up his end of the bargain in this match and these two had a great match. I’m glad that they gave these guys some time to develop the match even thought it was relegated to the pre-show. Sadly many people will have missed this match as the stigma of the “pre show” is just too much for some to overcome. There are definitely other matches on the main card that should have had this slot.
Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks Defeated Naomi & Tamina
This was a good match for what it was. All four ladies worked really hard and told a good story in the ring. I was surprised to see that they didn’t really play up the tension between Becky and Sasha as that was clearly an element that they’d talked about in the hype for this match. That said, it was nice to see the Divas in a spot on the card where they had some time to develop a match and I’m happy to say they delivered. Not really sure where they go from here with the Divas as I think it’s fair to say Brie Bella was just sort of a holdover for Charlotte until Mania. More on that in a moment.
Kevin Owens Defeated Dolph Ziggler To Retain The Intercontinental Championship
Dolph Ziggler looks more and more like HBK every time I see him. Last night he not only had the HBK-style tights on but he was also rocking a very familiar hairstyle. But hey… if you’re going to emulate someone, it might as well be one of the best to ever step into the ring and Ziggler has the talent to back it up. Couple that with the fact that he was wrestling Kevin Owens and it’s no surprise that this was a tremendous match. I don’t think anyone thought Ziggler was going to the take the title especially after Owens just won it a week ago. That said, these guys pulled out all the stops and had arguably the match of the night.
Big Show, Kane and Ryback Defeated The Wyatt Family
Here’s where things sort of coming off the rails. I’ll admit that I didn’t have high hopes for this match going in and I’m sad to say the match lived up to my low expectations. It’s becoming really difficult to get behind anything that The Wyatt Family is involved in. I wrote about this back in September (Unfollow The Buzzards) and sadly not much has changed. They keep going on runs where you think they’re going to be built up and then… nothing. They go on to PPV and lose. As for Bray… he just sort of sat there and watched it happened. It really seems like all of these guys are just sort of in a holding pattern. I just don’t know what they’re holding for. This is mid card talent in a mid card boring match. Worst of all, it looks like Ryback managed to hurt Luke Harper at the end of the match. That would suck as Harper has, in my opinion, the biggest upside out of everyone in this match. Hope it’s nothing serious. If there was a bright spot here, it’s that Braun Strowman proved he’s just not ready for a big match at Mania against the likes of The Undertaker. We need to avoid that at all costs.
Charlotte Defeated Brie Bella To Retain The Divas Championship
The outcome here was another foregone conclusion but the gals worked hard and put on a performance that had a big match feel to it which made it special. Ric Flair didn’t get involved which was a nice touch and Charlotte continues to be built as a great heel working the same style that made her father the “Dirtiest Player In The Game” and arguably the best to ever step into the ring. Brie held up her end of the match as well but between the “YES!” chants and her borrowing heavily from Daniel Bryan’s move set it just goes to show how little of an impact she has on the company. She’ll forever be known as Nikki’s sister and Daniel’s wife and that’s sort of sad. My big complaint here was the the end where Charlotte went from being in a half-crab one second to putting her Figure Eight finisher on Brie the next. Bad storytelling there to end a better than average match.
AJ Styles Defeated Chris Jericho
Now we’re talking! This was great. I’ve never really understood why Jericho gets all the praise that he does but even as an older Superstar he MORE than held up his end of this match with the Phenomenal One. This makes AJ look even more impressive in the eyes of WWE fans who don’t follow any other wrestling. There were a couple of flubs here but overall it was a tight match that told a good story. I’m not thrilled to see Jericho kick out of Styles’ finishing move (the Styles Clash) especially since as far as I can remember it was the first time he’s hit it on WWE programming. The WWE has a tendency to not protect these sorts of moves these days (see the DDT as an example) but that’s a nit picky thing from this long time wrestling fan. I was also a fan of the mutual respect handshake to close out the contest. Outstanding match.
Edge & Christian The Cutting Edge Peep Show Promo With The New Day & The League of Nations
This wasn’t a match but it took up so much time on the card I’d be remiss to not mention it in my recap. So… Edge and Christian have a new show which happens be be debuting on the WWE Network. You’d already know this if you’ve been watching the PPV because we’d already seen about a dozen commercials for it. Here come Edge and Christian (with an admittedly outstanding intro) to cut a promo to pimp the program. OK, that’s fine. Out comes The New Day and they verbally spar for a few (too many) minutes. Then we get the League of Nations to come to the ring. The segment finally ended with Edge & Christian telling people to watch their show. I texted a buddy of mine who was at the show and said, “So… that segment just happened huh?” This definitely felt like something you’d see on RAW rather than on PPV.
Curtis Axel Defeated R-Truth
I tuned in to watch a WWE PPV and a Saturday Morning Slam match broke out. What in the literal fuck was the WWE thinking when they put this match on the card. Was this match even on the card? What happened to the Dudley Boyz vs. The Usos? Mark and I were looking at one another wondering if this match was actually taking place. The crowd in Cleveland seemed to be feeling the same way. Luckily it was over in less than three minutes but damn this was bad. And think about this from R-Truth’s perspective. The Social Outcasts are a bunch of jobbers and you got beat in less than three minutes. Fail.
Roman Reigns Defeated Dean Ambrose & Brock Lesnar – Triple Threat #1 Contender Match
Yep… this was awesome. Regardless of what you think of the outcome here, this was top notch from the word go. Lesnar showed what a badass he was seconds into the match throwing Ambrose around and giving Reigns a one way ticket to Suplex City. I absolutely LOVED the spot where Ambrose slapped Lesnar in the face. One more reason why he’s my favorite on the roster right now.
Reigns and Ambrose ultimately teamed up on Lesnar and put him through not one but two tables at ring side using the old SHIELD powerbomb. Great spots and a wonderful way to get Lesnar out of the picture for much of the match. The end came when Lesnar made his way back into the match and had Reigns in a Kimura Lock. Reigns showed what a beast he was and picked up Lesnar who was then hit with a chair by Ambrose. Ambrose turned the chair toward Reigns and then back to Lesnar. Ambrose turned around to get hit with a Reigns spear to end the match. HHH made his way to the ring for the requisite “Let’s look at the WrestleMania sign” spot as the show went off the air.
I was really hoping that WWE would go against traditional thinking and give Ambrose the win here. It would have been incredible but HHH and Reigns have been on a collision course for quite some time and to think they’d change things at this point was just wishful thinking. At this point I’m guessing we’ll see Lensar and Ambrose go one on one at Mania and I couldn’t be happier.
The Road To WrestleMania 32
So, we’re officially on the Road to WrestleMania 32. We’ve got just five weeks remaining and I’m still struggling to come up with a WrestleMania card that will sell 100,000 tickets. Reigns and HHH will main event the show but beyond that there’s really nothing set in stone.
- Before last night I would have bet we’d see Lesnar face Bray Wyatt but Wyatt chose to sit his ass in his chair all night and not get involved in the Wyatt’s match or the main event.
- The Undertaker needs an opponent. Rumor has it that it’s someone that’s not currently on the WWE roster. I honestly don’t know who that would possibly be because there are very few folks outside of the WWE locker room at this point that I’d care to see Taker wrestle. Perhaps it’s just a play on words and they’re setting up Sting or John Cena? (Both currently injured and not technically “on the roster”)
- I’m sure they’ll smash The Wyatt Family, The Dudley Boyz, The Usos and The New Day into some sort of multi-way tag match for the tag titles.
- Is AJ Styles on a course to meet Kevin Owens?
- What Diva will step up and face Charlotte for Divas Championship?
- Will Kalisto FINALLY move along from Alberto Del Rio and face someone else? Perhaps a newly signed NXT talent?
- Does The League of Nations merit inclusion on the WrestleMania card? Andre The Giant Battle Royal here you come!
These questions and more will hopefully be answered starting tonight on RAW.
When I first started writing this post I was really down on Fastlane. As I drove home from Mark’s last night I was in a really pissy mood. After taking a step back and looking at each match individually it wasn’t as bad a show as I’d originally thought. It didn’t really have a feel of a special PPV and there were some segments that were downright awful but there were also some gems in there. In retrospect this was absolutely a show you could have skipped in the grand scheme of things as it really did a bad job of pushing any stories other than the top program. It bums me out that it was in my home town of Cleveland but I suppose you can’t have all of the shows knock it out of the park. That said, I can’t help to feel that PPVs should be something more than another episode of RAW. I’m always excited for WrestleMania but this year the WWE has a lot of work to do to build up the show in my mind.
Did you watch Fastlane? What’d you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts!