Well the road to Wrestlemania continues for the WWE with the Raw-exclusive pay-per-view Fastlane, one of the companies lesser PPV’s… For most fans this is just the WWE spinning it’s wheels while waiting for the biggest event in the wrestling calendar.
Taking place at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Fastlane opens with a video package showing all the big matches: Owens vs Goldberg, Bayley vs Charlotte, and Reigns vs Strowman. So we know right there that the only titles possibly changing hands in this event will be either the Womens Title or Universal Championship – Gallows and Anderson surely to retain given the non-focus on their match.
As always SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the PPV yet…
Opening Fastlane is Samoa Joe vs Sami Zayn in a match that is sure to NOT live up to the fantastic NXT rivalry the pair had prior to their subsequent call-ups.
The crowd were certainly in Zayn’s corner early on, chanting “Ole, Ole, Ole” as per usual. A back and forth brawl led to the two men in the corner, with Joe eventually knocking Zayn to the mat. By this time the crowd were shouting for both contenders – the sign of a great match? A submission move from Joe led to a comeback from Zayn, who hits Joe with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two-count. Samoa Joe comes back with an inverted atomic drop and senton splash for another near-fall. More back and forth and more two-count near-falls from both Joe and Zayn (who is, as usual, selling his beat-down well). Joe hit an enziguri kick to Zayn’s head, who replied with a sunset flip into a Powerbomb, but Joe gets out of it. Zayn tries to end things with his trademark Helluva Kick, but Joe stopped it and applies the Coquina Clutch for a submission win.
Winner: Samao Joe
Promo time as Bayley speaks to Charley Caruso about her forthcoming title match against Charlotte. Bayley is interrupted by Nia Jax who threatens both Bayley and Sasha Banks (who sees facing at Fastlane). Jax tells Bayley that if Charlotte doesn’t get back her title at Fastlane, then she will take it from her.
Up next is the aforementioned Tag Team Title match between Enzo & Cass and Anderson & Gallows. Given that the build up has been nothing short of weak, I don’t expect much from this match. Of course Enzo has got to get his cheap pops and cheesy references in before the match, only this time it really seems like Enzo is just going through the motions – there’s absolutely no fire to his promo.
Cass opens it up for the faces, taking it to Anderson, with the chanmps eventually sent to the floor with Enzo following thanks to a huge toss from Cass. The champs soon take control of the match and as per usual its Enzo that takes the beating (got to keep Cass looking strong right?) Enzo hits an enziguri on Anderson before Gallows inserts himself into proceedings, but to no avail as he hits the ring post. Anderson blocks Enzo’s tag attempt with a knee to the face. A bit more back and forth before Enzo eventually tags in Cass, who cleans house as usual, hitting the Empire Elbow followed by a boot to the face of Gallows. Enzo tags back ino so Cass can launch him for the Bada Boom Shaka Laka – which doesn’t lead to a pin… No shock there. Anderson hits a running knee to the face of Enzo and goes for the pin. Enzo’s foot is on the ropes but Gallows moves it before the ref notices and Anderson scores the three-count.
Winners: Gallows and Anderson
We cut to Mick Foley in the “office”, speaking to Stephanie McMahon on the phone. Steph is apparently stuck on a plane because of some technical problems and will miss the entire PPV. Betrating Foley, Steph tells him that the Women’s Title and Universal Title matches need to porceed with no issues. Then Samoa Joe’s name comes up and Foley takes Steph off speakerphone and we go back to the action – well another video package.
Up next is Sasha Banks versus Nia Jax, continuing the duos feud – which is booked like David vs Goliath but without any of the heart or tension… We know Banks is NEVER going to get buried by Jax, that’s reserved for the jobbers that Jax takes on each and every week. Jax dominates the majority of the match, tossing Banks around the ring like a ragdoll. Jax eventually picks Banks up and puts her in a torture rack submission while doing some squats! Banks fights back, attempting a guillotine headlock submission. Banks continues the offence with a sleeper, a DDT and the Banks Statement submission. Jax replies with her Hogan-esque leg drop following up with a Samoan Drop attempt. Banks turns things around and wins with bridging pin on Jax.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Cut to a video package from the kickoff show, showing the breakdown between Jinder Mahal and Rusev, telling Mick Foley that they’re both having singles matches. In the ring Jinder and Rusev go at it, the pair hit the floor and Mahal knees Rusev in the face, sending him over the barricade.
So we have two single matches that NO ONE cares about… Well every pay per view needs a lengthy toilet break I guess. First up is Jinder Mahal vs Cesaro, in a match that is as forgettable as it sounds. The only highlight is how ripped Mahal looks, he’s definitely been hitting the gym hard. After what seems like an eternity, Cesaro hits a “Swiss-19″ (ripping off Rey Mysterio right there) followed by a cross body block off the top rope. Rusev stands up at the announce table, distracting Mahal who’s hit with a uppercut from Cesaro for the win.
After the match, Rusev enters ring and gives Mahal a severe beating, before hitting Mahal with a running superkick to the head. Big Show’s music hits and the match begins. Rusev mounts some decent offence on Big Show, hitting two running clotheslines that stun Show, before Show hits a side slam on Rusev for a two count. Rusev slams Show in the knees, taking him down, allowing Rusev to kick Show in the head – two more superkicks to the head by Rusev takes out Big Show, but Rusev only gets a two count. Fighting back, Big Show hits Rusev with not one, not two, but THREE chokeslams, leaving Rusev flopped down in the corner, where Show hits him with the KO Punch for the win.
Winner: Big Show
A solid promo from Kevin Owens, interviewed by Charley, leads to the Cruiserweight title match between Neville and “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher. The two have been putting on some great performances, be it at the contract signing or on 205 Live – making this match one Fastlane’s most anticipated.
Gallagher gains the upper hand early on offense early on with a dropkick that sent Neville to the floor, following it up with forearms and dropkicks. Sending Neville to the floor, Gallaghers hit a running cross body block. Gallagher sets Neville up on the top rope with a super back suplex for a two count. After a brief flurry of activity from Neville, Gallagher gets rollup for two. Neville replies with a Phoenix Splash off the middle rope for a two count. After being subjected to a bey of kicks from Neville, Gallagher comes back with a headbutt or two leading to a fuzzy-headed cover and a two count. More back and forth and a “This is Awesome” chant from the fans and Neville hits the Red Arrow off the top rope for the win – hopefully this feud will continue to Wrestlemania as it was EASILY the best thing about Fastlane and the 205 Live brand in general.
Two back-to-back promos from Paul Heyman and The New Day, both totally unecessary and uneeded within the story of Fastlane are followed by a lengthy video package for the next match between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns.
Where to begin with this one? Both men put on a huge, and hugely powerful show, pulling out all the stops and all their signature moves. With action taking place in and out of the ring, the battle was fairly even, with Strowman eventually selling a bad knee to try and give the man-mountain some kind of weakness.
A fast-paced start and some lengthy toing and froing leads to running splash by Strowman earn him a two count on Reigns – who, after avoiding a chokeslam, replies with a Samoan Drop for a two count. Outside the ring Strowman intercepted a spear and put Reigns cleanly through the announce table with a running power slam, to chants of “Holy Sh*t” from the audience. Back in the ring Strowman sells his leg injury as Reigns hits him with a spear for the two count. Reigns hits Strowman with a Superman Punch after Superman Punch. More back and forth until, amazingly, Strowman climbs to the top rope and takes a leap of faith on to Reigns – who rolls out the way as Strowman falls face-first onto the mat. Reigns finally hits Strowman with another spear to get the pin.
Winner: Roman Reigns
A video package detailing Charlotte and Bayley’s feud sets up the Womens Title match, with both women coming out aggressively, fighting as if their lives (not the title) depended on the outcome. Sadly the end of the match lets down everything that comes before it – totally don’t get why all of Bayley’s wins are being tainted other than to build a ridiculous Bayley/Sasha feud down the line (even though they’re best buds in the Raw Talk after the PPV); and we’ve seen that before on NXT.
Opening with someome back and forth mat action, the match goes in and out of the ring. A hurricanrana from Bayley, a headlock by Charlotte, an arm drag from Bayley, a knee to the chest by Charlotte finally sees the first near-pinfall as Charlotte gets a two count on Bayley. Charlotte gets Bayley in a leg vice, followed by a knee to the back by Charlotte for another two count. A badly connecting moonsault is followed by a senton for a THIRD two-count for Charlotte and Bayley.
Charlotte stays on the offensive, really giving Bayley some fantastic trash talk, saying she’s “just a fan” and asking “Where’s Sasha?” It’s the attitude of Charlotte which finally gets Bayley riled up and back into action. A flurry of activity sees Bayley follow a back elbow in the corner with a belly to back suplex for a near-pin. There’s a big pop for Bayley’s hurricanrana on Charlotte from the middle rope. Bayley lands a Macho Man Elbow from the top rope for a two count. Charlotte comes back with a Natural Selection for a two count. A bit more back and forth between the two finally sees Sasha Banks run down to the ring – for NO REASON! Charlotte gets distracted by Banks and Bayley hit a Bayley to Belly suplex onto Charlotte outside the ring. Back in the ring and Charlotte wrpas Bayley up in an inside cradle, but uses the tights for leverage. Banks shouts at the ref, leading to the break. Bayley then hits Charlotte with another Bayley to Belly for the pinfall.
Plugs galore, for Wrestlemania, Raw Talk (?!?), and Seth Rollins’ forthcoming Raw promo are followed by ANOTHER video package to set up the main event. I’ll say it now, even before the Owens/Goldberg match, there’s been so much filler in this PPV that Goldberg is going to squash Owens with his usual Spear/Jackhammer combo.
After Jojo announces both wrestlers, Owens rolls out to the floor and spends what seems like an age outside the ring before getting back in and calling for the bell. At which point Chris Jericho’s music hits, he appears and Goldberg spears, then Jackhammers Owens thanks to the distraction. Called it!
So is this a pay per view, or an extended episode of Raw? Because that’s what Fastlane felt like. Surprisingly, it was the Reigns/Strowman match and the Cruiserweight Title match which stole this particular show; and I for one would like to se both feuds carried through to this years Wrestlemania in Orlando. Unfortunately the Womens Title match seemed to be filled with mis-times and missed spots that made both wrestlers look weak… And Charlotte was made to look even weaker now her “streak” is over.
As for the main event. Well that was just disappointing. After Owens bravado on Raw the other week I would have liked to have seen his “plan” for defeating Goldberg come to fruition. Instead we get a sub-30 second squash of Owens and the predictability of a Goldberg/Lesnar Wrestlemania match.
With more padding than a teenage girls bra, this was a predictable and, sadly, average outing for the WWE Raw superstars, making Fastlane the worst pay per view of the year… so far. Thank god it was available as part of the WWE Network subscription because this was in no way worthy of paying the extortionate PPV prices!