I feel sorry for the WWE pay-per-view event before Wrestlemania. It’s after the Royal Rumble, when the main event for Wrestlemania is usually set. So that means, even if the WWE Heavyweight Title is on the line in the pay-per-view event before it, there’s no way the title would change hands as it would destroy a whole month’s worth of buildup.
I said “usually” because this year it’s different. We know Triple H won the WWE Heavyweight Title by winning the 30-man over-the-top Royal Rumble last month. However, we still have no idea who he’s going to face. That will all be determined during Fastlane, though! But before we do find out who’s the number one contender for the title next month, we gotta have some other matches!
Match #1: Divas Tag Match: Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Naomi and Tamina
Finally, we get to see Sasha Banks actually wrestling in a pay-per-view! I’m a huge fan of Sasha Banks after she got that attitude change and became The Boss! She may not be the best Diva when it comes to wrestling but she can pull of some fantastic moves and take them as well! Oh, and Becky Lynch is no slouch but I think a lot of her momentum got shot down when she lost to Charlotte at the Royal Rumble.
Anyway, there was a lot of good action all throughout. Basically, Becky got her (l)ass kicked by Naomi and Tamina for the majority of the match. She eventually got the hot tag to Sasha Banks who then proceeded to pour the pain and get the upper hand! And, wow! There’s just something about The Boss and the way she works the ring that brings the entire match on fire!
The finish came when Sasha flipped out of a double suplex attempt, enabling Becky to hit a double missile dropkick. The Boss then gets Tamina into her Bank Statement submission while Becky locks the her Disarm-Her onto Naomi for the submission victory.
This was a very good match to start Fastlane. Naomi and Tamina showed they can effectively work with the former NXT Divas and pull off a fantastic match. I didn’t like how long Becky was beat down, though. She could’ve tried to make a mini-comeback on her own. But it did make the hot tag she made to Sasha a lot more sweeter. As there was virtually no build-up for this match, I wasn’t as invested in the match as I wanted to be, so, even though I love Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, I didn’t care that much.
Rating: 7 of 10 Bank Statements
Match #2: Intercontinental Title Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
This is another match that had virtually no build-up as well. Kevin Owens just won the title during a Fatal Five Way match on Raw by pinning Tyler Breeze and not the former champ, Dean Ambrose. So, who does Owens fight in Fastlane for the title? Dolph Ziggler, of course. Makes perfect sense?
Still, these two are known for pulling off great matches. And they didn’t disappoint! There was a lot of back and forth between the two. Both Owens and Ziggler would take turns getting up upper hand and then reversing a move to get the advantage. And the match was pretty face paced for the most part, making for a nail-biting match.
The finish came when Ziggler tried to hit Owens with another Superkick (which they’ve been exchanging throughout the match) but KO ducks behind the referee, causing The Show Off to hesitate. Owens takes advantage and nails Ziggler with his patented Pop-up Powerbomb finisher for the pinfall victory.
It’s hard to find anything obviously wrong with the match. Both competitors put a really solid match. I guess there was one sloppy moment where Ziggler slid underneath Owens and grabbed his leg but nothing really came about it. But that’s really it. Maybe the match could’ve gone on a minute or two longer as the fans starting chanting “This is awesome!” just as the match was closing.
Rating: 7 of 10 Superkick exchanges
Match #3: 3-on 3 Tag Match: Kane, The Big Show and Ryback vs Erick Rowan, Luke Harper and Braun Strowman
I didn’t have high expectations going into this match. There’s just something about having a bunch of big men in a tag match that I find boring. Maybe it’s the slow pace? Anyway, the match was… let’s just say it met my expectations.
Honestly, I can’t really remember any highlights from this match. Sorry, I’m really wracking my brain, trying to recall something really awesome. I do remember Big Show threw Luke Harper on top of Rowan and Strowman and I did find it funny when Ryback almost fell out of the ring while he was doing the running knee lifts repeatedly. But they weren’t awesome and I’ll probably forget about them in a few mi… what was I talking about again?
The finish came when Harper tried to nail Ryback with a powerbomb but The Big Guy reverses it and hits Shellshocked on the Wyatt Family member instead.
Okay, it wasn’t a terrible match. There wasn’t a moment when I thought it was an awful match but it wasn’t anything I would call a must watch instead. Serviceable and nothing more.
Rating: 4 of 10 Rybacks almost falling out of the ring
Match #4: Divas Title Match: Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Brie Bella (w/ Daniel Bryan and Nikki Bella… in spirit)
Oh no! Not the “Brie Mode” entrance song again! Gak!
After I stopped gagging from listening to that awful song, we get to the match proper. In their defense, both Brie and Charlotte did seem to try to put on a good match. Brie even performed some of Nikki Bella and Daniel Bryan’s moves… which she really shouldn’t do until she can make them look real good. Her kicks looked terrible. But Charlotte tried to sell each and every move as well as managing to pull off some of her own. However, it took forever for the match to get really flowing.
The finish came with Brie cinching in the Yes! Lock (which looked awful, by the way) and floated it over to a half crab. For some reason, Brie let go off the hold (Cole tried to explain that Brie’s leg gave way because she tweaked it earlier in the match), enabling Charlotte to lock in her Figure Eight leglock for the submission victory.
Like I said, the match never really got out of the gate. The finish was incredibly sloppy; I never like it when the announcers have to tell the audience what happened when, you know, we should be able to see it for ourselves! Still better than the last match, though.
Rating: 5 of 10 sloppy finishes
Match #5: Rubber Match: AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho
Now, this is the match I was looking forward to! The previous two matches AJ Styles and Chris Jericho had were filled with great action and, more importantly, great drama! I’m really hoping they can steal the show in Fastlane this year!
I’m thinking the younger generation of wrestlers should watch this match and take notes because, wow! Jericho has been in the WWE on and off for a while and he does have a noticeable pot belly now. And AJ Styles, while he may be considered a rookie in the WWE, has been wrestling for a long time as well, competing in TNA and Japan. Even if they’ve been at it for so long, they can still pull off fantastic matches and this one was no different! There was a lot of creativity in their spots, which made it a joy to watch! I mean, that dropkick to AJ Styles as he was about to springboard off it was beautiful!
The finish came when Styles reversing Jericho’s double underhook powerbomb attempt and nailing his patented Styles Clash. Jericho managed to kick out, however, so Styles went for his submission finisher, the Calf Crusher, in the middle of the ring, forcing Jericho to tap out. A mutual handshake of respect between both competitors made it all the more special.
There were a few rough spots, like that long pause before Styles tried the springboard before Jericho dropkicked him out of it; it looked awesome and fake at the same time. Still, a fantastic match!
Rating: 8 of 10 dropkicked springboard attempts
Intermission: The Cutting Edge Peep Show
Okay, this wasn’t a match but it was a long enough segment to warrant a review and… what was the point of this? You would think putting The New Day and Edge and Christian together in an interview segment would be gold but… no, I don’t get why this is here!
Just watch the ending of the segment and groan with me.
I’m still scratching my head! Why is this here? To promote Edge and Christian’s new show on the WWE Network. I got that. But still, why is this here?
Rating: 3 of 10… somethings… why is this here again?
Match #6: R-Truth vs Curtis Axel (w/ the rest of the Social Outcasts)
This is just here to “cool down” the audience before the main event. It’s also trying to push the entire Goldust trying to partner with R-Truth storyline and to “promote” The Social Outcast. Unfortunately, everything about this match fell flat. The “comedy” speech of the Social Outcasts was unfunny. The wrestling virtually non-existent as the match ended as fast as it began.
The “finish” had Goldust running to ringside and tossing the rest of the Social Outcasts around. However, he mistakenly rolls Adam Rose into the ring, distracting R-Truth. Curtis Axel takes advantage and rolls up R-Truth for the pinfall win. Goldust tries to apologize but Truth walks away. To be continued?
A thankfully incredibly short match. This was more suited for Raw rather than a pay-per-view event. Nothing to see here.
Rating: 3 of 10 unfunny comedy bits
Match #7: Triple Threat Match for the Number One Contender Spot: Roman Reigns vs Dead Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar
If you have even a modicum of wrestling sense, you’ve probably guessed Roman Reigns is going to win this and go be in the main event at Wrestlemania to compete against Triple H for the title. It’s a no-brainer! But even if we do know the outcome, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good match! And this was a good match!
Cole mentioned that there’s a perverse sense of joy whenever you watch Brock Lesnar go to work. I have to agree with him! He just seems like an irresistible force that just crushes anyone that gets in his way. From the start, it was obvious Dean and Reigns had to team up to take him out first. But they had a lot of trouble doing so! They not only had to powerbomb him through, not one, but two tables. And still, Lesnar was able to get up!
Even though Lesnar was the highlight of the match, the antics of Ambrose is a close second. His unorthodox offense makes him incredibly fun to watch. Not only that, he does a great job acting out his “lunatic fringe” personality throughout the entire match. Sadly, Roman Reigns is the weak link here as he didn’t really show off anything really impressive but take a few trips to Suplex City, courtesy of Lesnar.
The finish came with Ambrose taking a chair to Lesnar while The Beast had Reigns in his Kimura Lock. Dean wailed on Lesnar for a while before sending a few chair shots Reigns’ way. Ambrose eventually knocked Lesnar out of the ring. As Ambrose turned to Reigns (who should be badly hurt because of getting his with a steel chair several times like Lesnar), the Leader of the Roman Empire nails a Spear on Ambrose, netting him the pinfall victory.
The match was extremely good overall. Watching Lesnar send people to Suplex City is still as fascinating to watch as it was when he returned to the WWE. Dean’s antics were a hoot and, although I do give Reigns a lot of flak, he did perform his role well. I didn’t like the ending too much as Reigns should’ve sold the chair shots instead of just hitting the Spear to end the match. A little more drama would’ve gone a long way.
Rating: 9 of 10 no-selling chair shots
Overall rating for Fastlane 2016:
While a lot of the suspense was sucked out since you can see the outcomes of all of the matches a mile away, Fastlane was a pretty solid pay-per-view. The first two hours were good and even the “bad” matches during the first two were, at least, watchable. Unfortunately, they blew it on the first half of the third hour, giving us the Edge and Christian segment and the entire R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel match. If they cut those out, this would be a fantastic pay-per-view. But, as it is, Fastlane is good, not great.
Rating: 7 of 10 lousy third hours
What did you think of this year’s WWE Fastlane? Let me know in the comments section below!