This year’s Fastlane had the distinction of following last year’s dismally booked premiere of the event. And it definitely surpassed it, producing two entertaining Divas matches and inspired performances despite a woefully predictable ending.
Preshow: Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (US Championship 2 out of 3 falls match)
This match was quick-paced from the start, with Del Rio ripping off part of Kalisto’s mask and Kalisto responding with a quick-paced offense that took them outside of the ring, where Kalisto picked up the first fall via DQ as Del Rio struck the Luchador with a steel chair.
Kalisto couldn’t recover soon enough, as Del Rio picked up the second fall with a powerbomb. Kalisto countered his way back into contention, hitting Del Rio with a hurricana and boot to the face. A DDT nearly got him the final fall, but Del Rio kicked out and regained momentum with an inverted suplex. A countout nearly lost Kalisto the match, but he made it back right on time, getting the final pinfall with a rollup.
Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Naomi & Tamina
Though a disagreement caused a rocky start for Lynch and Banks, the two soon gained momentum with Becky’s quick-paced offense and some solid team action.However, Tamina powered back for BAD, with Naomi scoring a near-fall. Lynch continued to take an awful beating, finally tagging in a red-hot Sasha.
Sasha laid a beating down on Naomi, nearly locking in the Banks Statement before being pulled out by Tamina. She almost fell to Naomi’s Rear View, but a double missile by Becky and evasion by Sasha allowed Banks to rally, locking in the Banks Statement on Tamina as Becky locked in the Dis-Arm Her on Naomi.
This was a fun display of the skill of all four women, especially Banks and Lynch. I was surprised Sasha didn’t immediately turn on Becky right after the match, but am interested in where these two go heading into Wrestlemania. Triple Threat still, perhaps? Here’s hoping!
Besides, the WWE doesn’t need to rush every storyline. Sometimes a slow burn is what’s truly best for business.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship match)
Owens took control immediately with a brutal headbutt, taunting Ziggler as the crowd rallied behind him. Ziggler looked to fight back with a dropkick and strikes, but Owens sent him swiftly into the turnbuckle, beating down on a prone Ziggler, slowed after the nasty impact.
Ziggler looked to be making another comeback, but Owens wouldn’t be denied the beating he craved to dish out. Owens hit Ziggler with a vicious cannonball before Ziggler scored a nearfall. Ziggler’s momentum was stopped cold as Owens dropped him from the ropes with suplex. The fight left the ring as Ziggler rolled out, and once they returned to the ring, Owens kicked out of the Fameasser, but just barely, hitting the Pop-Up Powerbomb on Ziggler to get the hard-fought victory.
This match outclassed all of their previous bouts in spades, showcasing both of their strengths wonderfully. Owens looked every bit the brawling monster he was born to be, and Ziggler’s athletic style was a great foil to it.
The Wyatt Family vs. Big Show, Kane & Ryback
Ryback took control early on against Rowan before Big Show looked to continue the beating. However, Rowan would fight back, tagging in Luke Harper, who beat down Ryback before tagging in Strowman. As Rowan tagged back in, so did Kane, quickly laying down a beating on Rowan.
Strowman regained the Wyatts’ momentum before tagging in Luke Harper, who looked to subdue the Demon before tagging in Strowman to finish the job. Ringside, Bray Wyatt observed calmly.
Harper and Ryback both tagged in, and Ryback got on a roll, slamming Harper around viciously, only missing a pinfall after Rowan interfered. Big Show tossed the Wyatts out of the ring before barreling into Strowman as Harper and Ryback returned to the ring.
Ryback hit the Shell-Shock for the pinfall after Kane took out Bray for a distrction.
Honestly, screw Creative.
Backstage, Roman Reigns proclaimed he would be the one going to Wrestlemania. Ambrose, confronting him, didn’t believe that so much, proclaiming either he or Reigns would be the one facing Triple H at Wrestlemania.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella (Divas Championship match)
Brie entered to a chorus of “Yes!” chants that she started, having dedicated this match to her husband and sister and Charlotte continued to master her heel role.
Charlotte began the match strong, mocking Bella throughout. Her arrogance would prove a hindrance to her own success as Bella nearly locked in an armbar, mocking her in turn with a strut.
Charlotte powered back, punishing Brie shamelessly and confidently. Brie went for the Yes Lock, latching onto Charlotte with a sleeper hold, but Charlotte broke it. Brie battled back with a series of kicks and forearms, sending Charlotte out of the ring with two dropkicks and then a top rope kick, tweaking her left leg.
She looked to hit Charlotte with her husband’s kicks, nearly scoring a pinfall, but Charlotte kicked out. However, Brie locked in the Yes Lock and then the Half Crab, but Charlotte countered into the Figure 8, forcing Brie to tap out.
This match featured some nice storytelling by both women, Brie especially. The woman may not be an impressive wrestler, but her in-ring psychology was spot-on tonight. A nice way to prepare to send her off.
Here’s to Wrestlemania, and what will hopefully be a historic showcase of women’s wrestling on the grandest stage of them all.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho
Fans have been salivating over this rematch for weeks, and we finally got it tonight. As expected, the two veterans more than delivered, putting on a clinic.
This match was even throughout. Styles hit a move, then Jericho took an advantage with a clothesline or back body drop. Said back body drop allowed Jericho to weaken Styles, hitting a dropkick as Styles soared through the air at him. Jericho looked to capitalize, but Styles kicked out.
He powered back with a series of strikes, powering into him with ease and launching himself like a missile. He looked to hit the Styles Clash, but Jericho countered into the Walls of Jericho, which Styles countered for an escape.
The two continued to brawl in the ring, with Jericho growing increasingly frustrated. The two kept countering each other’s attacks until Jericho countered Styles into the Walls of Jericho, but Styles dragged himself to the ropes, infuriating Jericho, who sent him into the barricade, looking for a countout before hitting a Codebreaker, calling Styles stupid for continuing to fight.
Styles fought back viciously, hitting the Styles Clash, but Jericho kicked out. Styles wasn’t done, locking in the Calf Crusher, forcing Jericho to tap out.
A furious Jericho confronted Styles in the ring after, and almost looked to fight, which Styles was prepared for, but in the end, shook his hand.
This was a thrill to watch from start to finish. Both Superstars more than delivered, shelling out a seemingly infinite arsenal of incredible offense and fantastic counters. This was, without a doubt, the match of the night. I am so excited to see where these two living legends are going next.
Cutting Edge Peep Show with Edge and Christian ft. The New Day
Edge and Christian promoted their new show, reminiscing about their victory in Cleveland all those years ago, but were interrupted by the ever-jubilant New Day.
Edge and Christian mocked them, reminiscing on their early struggles as faces before claiming that they were rip-offs of them. New Day countered that they were better than them and everybody, mocking the League of Nations, who emerged angrily, scaring off the New Day and confronting Edge and Christian, who teamed with the New Day in mocking the League beautifully.
I don’t know if this was supposed to count as a face turn, but it better not be. The New Day are magical heels. Don’t fix something if it isn’t broken, honestly. Also, putting the League of Nations in this is like a death sentence to anything fun about the New Day.
R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel
After, the Social outcasts emerged, chatting about what kind of cars they are, before being interrupted by a cheery R-Truth.
Distractions by the Social Outcasts allowed the others to help Axel get control over R-Truth before Goldust emerged to offer his assistance, taking down Slater. However, his takedown of Adam Rose inadvertently caused Truth the match. Goldust tried apologizing, but Truth walked away.
I don’t understand the point of putting this on the card without letting it develop in the slightest. I just don’t.
Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (No. 1 Contender’s match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
Lesnar wasted no time in sending Ambrose out of the ring and suplexing Reigns viciously . . . multiple times before Ambrose hit him with a missile dropkick before getting a suplex of his own.
The suplexes were plentiful as the match went on, with Lesnar hitting an F-5 on Reigns before Ambrose screwed up the pinfall, slapping Lesnar in the face before being treated to his own trip to Suplex City. He nearly hit an F-5 before Reigns intercepted with a spear and then a Superman Punch. Lesnar caught Reigns as he went for another, but Ambrose hit the low blow and the two powerbombed Lesnar into the announce table.
Ambrose attacked right away, throwing Reigns into the ring and unloading on him. Lesnar stirred, and the two brothers sent him into another announce table, actually burying him in the rubble. Sweet lord.
This time it was Reigns who attacked first, punching Ambrose before attempting a powerbomb that Ambrose fought out of before falling to a Superman Punch. However, a done Spear led to Ambrose hitting Dirty Deeds for what was TOTALLY a three count. But then Lesnar re-emerged, hitting a German Suplex on both men at once.
Reigns hit a Spear, but Lesnar locked in a submission lock. Reigns, however, powered to a stand as Ambrose emerged with a steel chair, unloading on Lesnar and Reigns both, only to walk into a spear by Reigns for the pinfall. Then, Triple H emerged, belt in tow, sarcastically applauding. The two stood facing each other to close the show.
That ending came out of nowhere, really doing nothing to make Reigns look strong since it was Ambrose who took out Lesnar. I don’t understand why they thought that would be a good idea. The result was predictable, and badly handled. I mean, in what world does Roman Reigns have the strength to spear Ambrose after taking all of those chair shots, hm?
It also elicited absolutely no emotion from me, which is not a good sign. It was so bland and poorly booked that I find myself leaving an otherwise entertaining pay-per-view with a sour taste in my mouth. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.
That being said, I don’t want this bland ending to overshadow some of the magic produced tonight. AJ Styles and Jericho stole the show. Two Divas matches both delivered. Kevin Owens and Ziggler shone. Basically, the first two hours of Fastlane were very, very good. But then Enzo and Cass didn’t debut, and not only did Reigns win, but he won in bland fashion, and only because Ambrose took out Lesnar first.
BOOK. HIM. BETTER. Sweet Jesus.
There’s still time to make me care about the main event. The ball’s in your court, WWE…good luck.