Welcome to history, folks. Tonight’s Fastlane event is the final pay-per-view to air on the WWE Network before things officially switch over to NBC’s Peacock streaming service. It is also the final event before WrestleMania 37, which is now just 20 short days away. On paper, tonight’s card is pretty good, so we’ll see how that goes. Let’s not waste any more time. You know what to do. Say it with me…
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:04) Fastlane gets underway with the WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler defend the titles against Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair in what can only be described as uninspired booking and storytelling. WWE sure seems to be obsessed with the “feuding opponents are booked together as a tag team” story, and more often than not, it leads to those opponents coming together to win the titles. WWE is also becoming obsessed with having the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Champion as one-half of the Tag Team Champions, as well, so things aren’t necessarily looking good for the champs here.
(0:09) I don’t know why I find it funny that Banks and Belair are color coordinated in their ring gear, but I do.
(0:11) While we’re at it, I also find it funny that neither of the teams in this match is exactly consisting of the best of friends.
(0:14) Bianca Belair’s fake eyelash is hanging off of her eye, and she removes it. With only one fake on, it looks like one of her eyes is bruised up from a distance.
(0:17) I’ve said this before, but Nia Jax moves like peanut butter rolling down a hill.
(0:19) Reggie Reg Da Gawd provides enough of a distraction for dominoes to fall, and Shayna pins Sasha after a roll-up. A match that nobody cared about going in ended up being a match that nobody will care about going out. I’ll be nice, though, and give it 2.5 stars for an “average” score.
(0:20) After the match, the losing squad argues with each other before Sasha slaps the FIRE out of Bianca, calling her a “rookie” in the process. Okay.
(0:23) Shane McMahon “injured” his knee in training for his match with Braun Strowman. He’s walking on a crutch backstage, and he’s approached by Elias, who wants a spot on the WrestleMania card. Shane looks like he’s not interested, but then appears to have an idea. Oh, joy.
(0:25) Big E defending the Intercontinental Title against the new and improved Apollo Crews is up next. Unlike the previous match, the build for this has been great. This is one of the better put-together stories in all of WWE right now.
(0:30) Ten seconds into the match, Big E hits Crews with his diving Spear through the ropes. We’re getting things off to a very hot start. E is talking shit like never before. He’s riled up. This is a good twist to his character. It’s allowing him to show that serious side that people have been wanting to see out of him.
(0:33) Big E’s strength is well-known, but Apollo doesn’t get enough credit for his power. There aren’t many in the history of the business who have his combination of strength, speed, and athleticism. He just tossed E around as if he were a child.
(0:36) Wait… the match just ended out of nowhere. During a pin attempt, E was able to shift his weight and put Apollo’s shoulders to the mat for a three-count. Not only do I hate when WWE does match finishes like that, but it’s even worse when they don’t even catch the ending with the proper camera angle. They didn’t even bother to show the replay of what happened, so it comes across more like someone fucked up than anything else. On the bright side, this feud is going to continue into WrestleMania. On the not-as-bright side, this was barely a match. It was shorter than your average televised women’s match. I can’t give that a rating, but their next match is going to be a ton of fun. Both men are doing amazing work. Apollo beats the hell out of E after the match, looking like a million bucks as he does so.
(0:41) Braun Strowman vs Shane McMahon is supposed to be the next match, but Shane introduces Elias instead. As Elias begins to perform a song, Shane interrupts him and tells Elias that he’s Braun’s new opponent tonight.
(0:43) Strowman continues to look like a fucking moron in this story. Instead of being enraged that Shane weaseled his way out of the match, Braun just heads to the ring as if Elias has been his announced opponent for weeks.
(0:46) Jaxson Ryker hops on the ring apron to distract Strowman. Strowman heads over to Ryker, but looks back at Elias, WHO IS GETTING UP AND MOVING AT BRAUN, and he keeps walking. This allows Elias to attack Braun from behind. Again, this company is hellbent on making Braun look like a complete and utter moron, and I’m not sure why.
(0:48) None of it mattered, though, as Braun got the upper hand again and won the match. We’re off to a really bad start with tonight’s show. Three matches in… two of them have no rating from me, and the other score is average if I’m being nice.
(0:51) We’re almost an hour into the show, and the biggest and best part has happened on the pre-show, when Mustafa Ali lost to Riddle, only to have Mace and T-Bar attack Ali after the match. When Retribution is involved in the most interesting part of the show, you’re in trouble.
(0:54) Shinsuke Nakamura vs Seth Rollins is up next. God, I hope they can provide a boost for this show.
(0:57) In an alternate universe, Nakamura vs Rollins is a WrestleMania main event. I’m still upset about what this company has done to Shinsuke.
(1:02) Rollins is upset that Cesaro took him for a spin 22 times in the Cesaro Swing on Smackdown, so he yells that he’s strong, too, and he tries to deliver a Rollins Swing to Nakamura. Of course, it is unsuccessful.
(1:06) After taking a strike from Nakamura, there is a clearly visible boot print on the side of Seth’s face. Ouch.
(1:07) I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this will be the new Match Of The Night leader.
(1:09) Rollins picks up the win after hitting a Stomp. The match definitely wasn’t as long as I hoped it would be, but it was good. I’ll go with 3.25 stars. A longer match definitely would’ve been beneficial here, though.
(1:11) We’re barely into the second hour of the show, and there are only three matches left on the card. One of those matches, Randy Orton vs Alexa Bliss, is pretty much guaranteed to be more of an angle than anything else. Looks like we’re getting a short show tonight.
(1:13) Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus in a No Holds Barred Match is up next. Sorry, Rollins and Nakamura, but I think your reign as Match Of The Night is about to come to an end.
(1:16) Drew has “war paint” on his face in Scottish colors. It tells you how important this match is for him, but damn, what’s he going to do at WrestleMania? Carry Sean Connery’s corpse to the ring?
(1:18) Awww, damn… I was really hoping Sheamus would have his face painted up with Irish “war paint” to match McIntyre. No such luck.
(1:21) We’ve barely gotten underway here, and this is already the most physical match of the night. When they face each other, I don’t think these two will be satisfied until one, or both, of them is unable to get out of bed the next morning.
(1:23) All these years later, do we have any sort of an explanation as to why there are numerous kendo sticks under the ring at wrestling shows? Tables make sense. Chairs make sense. Even ladders make sense. They all fall into the category of possibly being needed by the ring crew, etc. Why in the ever-loving fuck are there at least six kendo sticks under the ring right now?
(1:25) McIntyre’s back is already welted up and bleeding from kendo stick shots, but now, it’s Sheamus’ turn to get battered.
(1:26) Sure enough, Sheamus’ back is now a mess.
(1:29) Time to brawl all over the Thunderdome. Just what this match needed… more violence.
(1:31) As they brawled up in the midst of the screens, McIntyre throws Sheamus through one of the displays, giving us some sparks and pyro for effect. Good visual.
(1:33) I’m pretty sure we’re up to four or five different suplexes delivered onto the floor in this match. There’s no selling required here. These men are in pain. You can see it. You can damn near feel it.
(1:36) Sheamus hits White Noise from the top of the barricade and through the ringside announce table. Good Lord. Sheamus appears to have hurt his hip or butt area. It is starting to get red under his trunks, and he’s grabbing at the area as he limps around. There are also cuts and welts on his arms to go with the cuts and welts on his back that I’ve already mentioned.
(1:39) A Future Shock DDT onto a piece of the announce table, followed by a Claymore Kick, picks up the win for Drew McIntyre. That was a helluva brawl. Great stuff. That’s an easy 4 stars, but I think I might give it a higher score upon a second viewing.
(1:42) Randy Orton vs Alexa Bliss is up next. You know what would be funny? If these two actually have a match, and it ends up being a 20-minute Match Of The Year contender.
(1:48) Well… we’re starting off with Orton coughing up that black goo again, so… there’s that.
(1:49) Alexa is currently wearing more makeup than should be allowed by law.
(1:50) More edited, cinematic nonsense. Orton goes to charge at Alexa, only to be met by a wall of fire in the middle of the ring.
(1:52) Orton is stalking Alexa at ringside, when a lighting rig falls from the sky and nearly kills Randy dead. If Alexa is this powerful, why isn’t she the Raw Women’s Champion? Fuck… if she’s this powerful, why isn’t she the WWE Champion?
(1:54) Orton dodges a fireball. So far, the entire match is Orton slowly walking at Alexa, nearly being murdered, getting angry about nearly being murdered, then slowly walking at Alexa again.
(1:55) Hey, The Fiend is back, and he looks as ridiculous as ever. He just looks like he fell into some soot. Sister Abigail on Orton, and Alexa gets the win. Hooray? Count that as another match I won’t be giving a rating to. As I said, it was literally just Orton walking around, dodging a murder attempt, walking around, dodging another murder attempt, walking around, dodging another murder attempt, getting hit with a Sister Abigail, and then getting pinned. I also forgot to mention that the entire thing took place under stupid pink lighting, just like The Fiend’s matches used to happen under red lighting. It was a little easier to see than the red lighting used to make things, but not by much.
(2:01) Main event time. Roman Reigns defending the Universal Title against Daniel Bryan, with Edge as a Special Guest Enforcer for the match. This has all the makings of being something great.
(2:12) After a lengthy video package, entrances, and ring introductions, we’re finally underway.
(2:15) DB is trying to get into Roman’s head, using some mat wrestling to put Reigns on the defensive. Bryan isn’t trying to win the match with what he’s doing, but with each attempt, it seems to be angering the champion more and more. Good storytelling, with Reigns being on the receiving end of being toyed with for once.
(2:19) I love these matches that feature drastic clashes of styles (no AJ). Roman’s power and physicality has been successful for him, and Daniel’s speed and technical skills have been successful for him. It’s back-and-forth so far.
(2:24) Thus far, Edge has been pretty much invisible. On two different occasions, I found myself forgetting that he was even at ringside.
(2:28) Daniel Bryan is just about the perfect face to feud with this heel version of Roman Reigns. I’m just saying.
(2:32) Furthering my last entry, Daniel Bryan is a graduate of the Shawn Michaels School Of “Smaller Guy Who Doesn’t Have To Wrestle Like One When He Faces Bigger Guys.” Good ol’ SMSOSGWDHTWLOWHFBG. If you remember, even as a heel, Shawn Michaels was always like a pit bull in his matches with the likes of The Undertaker, Diesel, Sid, and people of the like. He didn’t back down and wrestle “scared” at all. DB has been like that, and it’s great to see in matches like this where he’s the clear size and power underdog. He is bringing the fight to Roman every step of the way.
(2:35) Ref bump! Bryan goes to hit Reigns with a Flying Knee, but Roman gets out of the way, and now, we have Edge in the match as the new Referee.
(2:39) Bryan has Reigns looking like he’s on the verge of tapping out, but Jey Uso runs in and takes Edge out and breaks the submission up.
(2:40) Edge gets the upper hand and takes Jey down. Bryan gets hold of a chair and takes Uso out with it, but when Bryan goes to hit Reigns with the chair while both Referees are down, Reigns ducks and Bryan hits Edge instead.
(2:41) Bryan makes Reigns tap out! The original Referee is still down and out, though. Edge grabs the steel chair and nails Bryan with it, breaking up the submission. Edge then hits Reigns with the chair for good measure before leaving the ring in a huff. A new Referee makes his way to the ring just in time to see Reigns crawl over and pin Bryan. The champion retains the title. A great match, as was expected. The ending featured just a bit of Attitude Era-style overbooking, but at least it made sense within the story. I’ll say 4.5 stars for the match. Very entertaining stuff.
As you can see, this was a roller coaster ride for me. Some really good stuff, and some really bad stuff, with not too much in the middle. I’ll see you all once again in my usual Wednesday spot with another column. Until then, be good to each other.