Fastlane didn’t exactly have a lot of hype going in. The card looked solid enough but it wasn’t exactly boasting a lot of surprises. As the last PPV before Mania you’d think WWE would pull out all the stops to make it something special. Well I can safely say they did try. It wasn’t a perfect show by any stretch but it definitely was enjoyable. Let’s break down the good, the bad and the weird.
Normally WWE pre-shows are okay. They consist of a lot of hype packages; too much Jonathon Coachman and a decent enough match (normally cruiserweights busting their asses.) This time was a bit different, it felt livelier. The packages still clogged up a lot of airtime but there were fun cameos from Christian and the IIconics as well as a really good match between the New Day and Rusev & Nakamura. The tag match sounded thrown together but actually had a lot to offer. Nakamura and Rusev both work well as heels and at least had something to do here. They worked effectively to cut the New Day off until finally falling to the Up Up Down Down. It was a really entertaining way to start a PPV and honestly I hope more pre-shows have this quality of opener. Though it was sad that the cruiserweights weren’t on this show at all.
Heel Turn for the Ages
So, people probably predicted Shane turning before the show even started, but no one probably saw it happening like this.
The Miz and Shane lost their match against the Usos despite both men giving it everything. Miz pulled out some new moves and threw caution to the wind to impress his dear old dad. Shane had the spot of the match kicking an Uso out of the air with a Coast to Coast and taking himself out of the match. Miz would get trapped in a pin fall after a Frog Splash was countered costing the former best team in the world the belts.
After the match everything seemed fine, a saddened Miz attended to Shane and the two appeared to be leaving ringside together. The pair stops to interact with George Mizanin and just when they’re done there Shane snaps. He unleashes a brutal assault on the Miz. He pummels him half to death, chokes him out and then pummels him some more. He then does the most malicious thing you can ever do and attacks Miz’s dad too. In the end he leaves Miz destroyed and refuses to explain his actions.
The next logical step WWE need to take is to have a tag team match at Mania where it’s Shane and Vince vs Miz and George Mizanin to see whose dad is tougher. In all seriousness though, this was a perfectly executed heel turn that managed to remain unpredictable despite being highly predicted by the wider audience.
Continuing the night’s trend of McMahon evilness was the actions committed against Kofi Kingston by Vince McMahon.
Kofi had been called to Vince’s office to discuss the upcoming title match. After winning their match, the New Day catch up to Kofi and find out he still hasn’t been seen. They bust in and argue Kofi’s case. Vince agrees to make the title match a triple threat and Kofi should head to the ring now for it. Kofi arrives and the match is suddenly changed. It’s a trap! Vince McMahon has actually set up a handicap match where Kofi will be beaten down by both members of the Bar. They are merciless and use the tornado advantage to break the New Day member down. The audience never stops trying to rally Kofi but the numbers are just too much. When Xavier and Big E try to help they are caught by Rusev and Nakamura. Kofi succumbs to a double White Noise and the match ends with the New Day vanquished. Kofimania has once again been halted by the villainous hands of Vince McMahon.
I can’t fault this; it was well executed and definitely caught most people of guard. False hope can be a real bitch eh?
Proper RAW Tag Team Action
The RAW tag team scene is finally respectable again. Ever since those bright red belts were put on the Revival, it has felt like there may be hope for decent tag team action to be seen on the red brand again. This match proved just that as it was a semi chaotic match that provided a nice blend of traditional and madcap tag team action. There was sneakiness, underhanded tactics and feats of athleticism rolled into a concise match that offered some fun future matches. For example, no one thought about the need for a Ricochet/Chad Gable match until they saw the pair mix it up tonight.
The NXT team of Aleister Black and Ricochet had the deck stacked against them as the only face pairing in the match. Everyone got a chance to shine and the champions only managed to retain because they took advantage of the chaos. Nobody was really happy after the match as a brawl broke out where Black and Ricochet took everyone out and poor Dash Wilder suffered a 630 Senton. If we get more tag matches of this quality then RAW’s tag division can at least attempt to rival that of its blue counterpart.
Four Way Fun
This match came out of nowhere. It was announced on the pre-show and replaced the existing Andrade vs Rey Mysterio match. Instead of a singles bout the two lucha rivals were added to a Fatal Four Way for the US Title. This was a rematch from last week’s Smackdown where Samoa Joe relieved R Truth of the title. What we got this time was an even better version of that match with more big spots and a decent amount of unpredictability.
It never ceases to surprise me how good R Truth actually is, especially at his age. Andrade and Rey were happy to hit the high-flying spots whilst Joe just wanted to murder everyone. It was a nice eclectic mix of styles that resulted in some ugly spots and intense action. In the end Joe would retain as he choked out Rey Mysterio with the Coquina Clutch. It might have been a rematch from TV but it still had a PPV quality and was a fun addition to the card.
Worthwhile Title Match
Vince McMahon had declared earlier in the show that this match would now be a triple threat. To the audience in attendance this had to mean that Kofi was coming out again right? He may have been bruised and battered but the saviour of Kofimania would fight through wouldn’t he? Unfortunately for them the answer for no as Mustafa Ali came out to a very quiet reception. From there all three participants had to fight an uphill battle to win back the crowd and oh boy did they succeed.
All three men gave it everything. This match had spots galore. Mustafa Ali looked to have died on several occasions as he threw his body around with reckless abandon. Owens and Bryan were not afraid to get stiff and practically pulverised each other with chops and kicks. There was an excessive level of near falls and false finishes as all three men would nearly put each other away. Eventually Rowan would have to interject to save Bryan and dispatch of Owens. Ali would eat the pin as Bryan was able to knee him out of the air. It was a very brutal match that successfully won back an audience that could have very easily buried it. Hats off to all involved.
The Last Ride
WWE finally let the universe have an unpolluted moment as the main event was nothing but a Shield greatest hits match. It was a showcase of everything they had done as a unit with call backs to previous matches, styles and the chaos they were capable of as the Hounds of Justice. This could easily have been tainted by story but instead chose to be nothing but fun. It was another match that decided to go everywhere as the rules were flat out ignored in favour of providing the audience with some anarchy. The heels tried to be dastardly and would get their moments to strike but the Shield were all on the same page so they were deadlier than ever.
We got to see two Triple Powerbombs, one to Drew through the announcer table and one to Baron Corbin in the centre of the ring. Elsewhere, we got Seth diving from the stands and some throwbacks to Dean’s pre-injury offensive style. When it was all done and the match was won, WWE decided to just let everyone enjoy the moment. There were no turns, no surprises, nothing but a chance to soak in what could really be the Shield’s last hurrah in the WWE. It was the ultimate feel good moment to end the PPV.
Tripping Over Story
Why is Asuka rarely ever allowed to have credible victories? Mandy Rose may not seem like a main event player but she could have easily been moulded into one. The tools were there and she could have had backup from Sonya. Instead, she got a short match where her offense was incredibly limited and her partner managed to cost her the victory by tripping her up. I’m serious, Mandy lost because Sonya forgot to put the ring apron back down when searching for a weapon to use. Mandy tripped the BLAM, a kick from Asuka and the lights were out. If you wanted to do a miscommunication angle that’s fine, but can it not wait until after we’ve had a decent bit of match where the opponent can actually look credible before getting screwed. Mandy didn’t even really get a chance to shine in the match. The match was sacrificed to set up a story for Sonya and Mandy.
Meanwhile we’re all over here waiting to see when Asuka actually gets a proper story to work with. Everyone’s too caught up in the Becky Lynch fairy tale that Asuka has been forgotten about.
Becky vs Charlotte was actually a really fun match. From a wrestling standpoint it was perfectly sound. Those two have excellent chemistry together and Charlotte knows just the buttons to press to work a crowd. The end however, well that was just completely disappointing. Ronda showed up, lightly tapped Becky Lynch in the gut and looked at the ref. Obviously the match was thrown out because of a DQ and Becky goes to Mania. From a story perspective, it makes sense, but why not do more with it? Ronda could have gone to town on Becky to show her legitimacy and make her scared to go to Mania. Instead it was just tap, glare, leave.
If this is all part of the Ronda doesn’t care storyline then great but still in the context of this match, it was an anticlimactic end where a match suffered due to story.
Anyone else get the feeling that WWE realised their card was too predictable? Throughout the show we got these little surprise segments or random moments where superstars would appear for little to no reason or matches would change. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t leave everything feeling confused and cobbled together.
For example, there were three Elias segments where he would run down the crowd. The first two went down fine; the third was interrupted by Lacey Evans, then Randy Orton, then AJ Styles. It was a total fustercluck of random superstars WWE want to remain relevant. Sometimes, these moments would detract from the matches that had preceded them, like in the case of the Women’s Tag Title match. The match was okay but all people will talk about is Beth Phoenix getting involved after the match and Natalya trying to save the day and failing. It all just felt a bit off.
So there you have it, everything that succeeded and failed from Fastlane. For the most part it was a thoroughly enjoyable show with some excellent twists and amazing wrestling. Almost everyone seemed motivated and the main event felt like the best send off the Shield could have. The downs were minor annoyances mostly that were ignorable in the grand scheme of things. This show actually helped boost a couple of belts since they got more of a spotlight than they normally would (looking at you US Title.) WWE seem to be going strong at the moment, hopefully they keep it up. Mania is coming and it looks to be a good one.
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