I’ve always had a big problem with the WWE pay-per-views that are set prior to Wrestlemania. They always seemed so inconsequential and boring. After all, the hype begins way back in January with the Royal Rumble which should outline what the main event/s for Wrestlemania will be. So, there shouldn’t be any big surprises in the succeeding pay-per-view events after the Royal Rumble, right? That would just screw up the card, right?
Well… let’s go look at the Raw exclusive Fastlane, shall we?
Match #1: Sami Zayn vs Samoa Joe
Well, this won’t end well for Sami Zayn, will it? I mean, with the WWE positioning Samoa Joe as a monster of a man, there’s no way they’ll surprise us with an upset win, will they?
To be fair, the match was solid but predictable. Samoa Joe pretty much squashed Sami Zayn throughout the majority of the match. The Samoan Submission Machine just overwhelmed Zayn with a flurry of offense. There was the prerequisite comebacks by Zayn to make it seem like he could actually pull off the upset but it was just wasn’t enough.
The finish came after the last comeback burst of Zayn against Joe. Zayn tried to perform a sunset flip powerbomb from the top rope but Joe blocked the move. He managed to jawjack Joe on the top turnbuckle and turned to finish the match with a Helluva Kick. However, Joe grabbed Zayn before the former could connect with the kick and slammed him hard to the mat. The Samoan Submission Machine then lived up to his name and locked in the Coquina Clutch and it was lights out for Zayn.
The match was pretty okay for what it was. It didn’t make Sami Zayn look like a total loser but this was definitely made to make Samoa Joe look like the current monster that everyone has to beat. Respectable performance by both performers, however, I think Zayn does deserve better than to be served to current monster of the week.
Rating: 6.0 of 10 I had to look up how to spell “Coquina Clutch”
Match #2: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Club… I mean, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows for the RAW Tag team titles
Look, as much as I love Enzo and Cass, I am starting to grow tired of their schtick. Maybe a brand spanking new title reign would breathe new life into it? There’s always a chance… nah.
This was as standard a Enzo and Cass match as it goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s with The Club or any other tag team. It went pretty much as how I thought it was going to go. Enzo and Cass started off strong but their opponents start to focus on the smaller Enzo. Beatdown, beatdown and beatdown until the hot tag to Big Cass. Beatdown to opponents until Big Cass gets taken out of the picture somehow. The opponents then take advantage and get the pin on Enzo. This was no different.
Okay, there was a slight deviation from the formula. After the weird double team move by Enzo and Cass, Luke Gallows stepped in to break the count. Big Cass tried to retaliate but Gallows took him out by throwing him into the ringside barricade. Enzo leaped outside to take out Gallows but, as he got into the ring, Anderson was ready. As Enzo climbed into the ring, Anderson struck him with a big boot and got the pinfall victory… but with the caveat that Enzo had his foot on the bottom rope, which should’ve broken the count.
There was totally nothing special about this match. They didn’t mess with the formula which is kind of sad as, well, it’s becoming incredibly predictable. Wrestling may be planned in advanced (spoiler?) but that doesn’t mean viewers have to know what’s going to happen in advance. A totally functional match but utterly forgettable in the long run.
Rating: 5.0 of 10 Did I just see this match before?
Match #3: Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Did we really need to see another Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax in a pay-per-view again after the rather lackluster match they had during the pre-show Royal Rumble? I guess so?
This match just didn’t click for me. I got that they were trying to show that Nix Jax is a monster (I’m noticing a trend here) as she’s supposed to be the current dominant female on the RAW roster. Which is probably why they just had to make her beat down on Ms. Banks throughout practically the entire match. Even when Sasha Banks locked in her patented Bank Statement submission hold, Nia Jax just powered through it with hardly a problem.
However, I guess the WWE realized that the fans were getting tired of Sasha getting beaten by Jax continuously as they, surprisingly for me anyway, gave The Boss the win. However, it wasn’t done with a lot of grace. After the sequence above, Jax shook Banks around like a rag doll for a bit and tried to land a samoan drop. However, Banks wiggled out of it and rolled Jax into a pin to sneak in the win.
This match shouldn’t have been as boring as it was. The problem actually may be with Nia Jax as, while she is an impressive wrestler, she needs to be a little bit more imposing and maybe add some more devastating looking moves to her repertoire. She may have the size but she doesn’t have the arsenal to really display her power. As this match was mostly about Nix Jax imposing her will on Sasha Banks, this was pretty lame.
Rating: 5.0 of 10 *yawns*
Match #4: Cesaro vs Jinder Mahal in a This Came Outta Nowhere Match
When was this announced? During the pre-show? Well, that kinda shows that the RAW team ran out of ideas, doesn’t it?
Well, this was a lame duck of a match! It certainly didn’t help that there was utterly no build up to this match. Not only that, no one really came out of the match looking strong! Even Cesaro’s natural charisma wasn’t enough to make this dud of a match interesting! I can’t exactly blame Jinder Mahal either because I think he did his best with what he had to do. But it still doesn’t excuse the rather sloppiness of the entire match from start to end.
The finish was just the cherry on top of this crappy sundae. After what seemed like forever, Jinder peppered Cesaro with kicks. Jinder then glances over at his former tag partner Rusev (who he hates now with a burning passion all of a sudden) and is… distracted? He starts mouthing off on Rusev and Cesaro takes advantage of the distraction and nails his big European uppercut for the pinfall victory. Oh, and Rusev rushes in and mauls Jinder. Yay… because the match is finally over!
Really boring match with no one really getting over with the crowd. The only amazing thing about this match is that it was a boring Cesaro match.
Rating: 3.0 of 10 Zzzzzzzs…
Match #5: The Big Show vs Rusev (with… oh Lana’s here as well. Didn’t see you there) in a This Came Outta Nowhere Match 2.0
Not only do we get one match that wasn’t planned. We get two! Nice work planning and booking Fastlane, WWE! To be fair, at least this was more exciting than the one that proceeded it. But it was done in a weird way. For some odd reason, this became a rather “epic” match with near falls and finishers galore… between Rusev and The Big Show. Whyyyyyyyyyy? It was totally unnecessary to make this a long drawn out match!
After what seemed like forever (again), Rusev went to apply The Accolade but Big Show slithered out and nailed The Bulgarian Brute with three (totally unnecessary) chokeslams and a WMD punch to get the pinfall victory.
This was a totally unnecessarily long with both competitor oddly enough giving it their all to make it seem like they were competing for a title of some sort. I guess Fastlane was really, really ahead of schedule, which is why we got these two Outta Nowhere matches… which sucked.
Rating: 3.5 of 10 Lanas were actually there at ringside
Match #6: Zach Gallagher vs Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Wait. It is pronounced Gal-lag-ger or Gal-lag-her pr Gal-lag-er? The announcers can’t seem to agree.
Anyway, despite the confusion on how to pronounce Gallagher, both he and Neville put on a rather entertaining match. At least, it was much more entertaining that the prior two matches. It’s kinda hard to figure out if this was as stellar as a match I think it is because I just watched two really crappy matches and this just so happened to follow them. I’d like to think this was at least a fun match with Gallagher doing some really fun and unorthodox attack style juxtaposed with Neville’s rather brutal offensive maneuvers.
Still, it was all for naught for the Gentleman Cruiserweight as Neville eventually pulled off a win. The finish saw Gallagher stunning Neville with a massive headbutt when the Cruiserwight King climned the top turnbuckle. The Gentleman Cruiserweight then tried a superplex but Neville tossed his foe to the floor and connected with his Red Arrow finisher for the pinfall victory and to retain the title.
While I do think the match looked better than it actually is because of how ho-hum the entire Fastlane has been before it, it still was a rather thrilling ride with some really fun spots. It didn’t make me a hardcore Cruiserweight fan, but it did made me see what these “little” guys can offer. And sometimes what they offer is better than what the big guys can.
Rating: 7.0 of 10 better than comparison matches.
Match #7: Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman
Uncharismatic Big Guy vs Uncharismatic Big Guy match. Oh joy.
This was not a match I was looking forward to. While I will say that I’ve been impressed with what the WWE has been doing with Braun Strowman as of late, I can’t say that I’ve been impressed with his non-sqaush matches. This was no different. In fact, booking Strowman with Roman Reigns, a wrestler that can pull off a decent match as long as he’s paired with high caliber talent and no one else, made it seem worse than it had to be. This match just seemed to plod along with Strowman grunting whenever Reigns hit him with a move. Even having Strowman delivering a rather awkward looking powerslam to Reigns through the Spanish announcer table didn’t really help matters.
The finish came after Strowman, surprisingly, kicked out of a Reigns’ Spear. Reigns tries to take out Strowman with several Superman Punches but Strowman eventually got the upper hand and, of all things, climbed to the top rope! Strowman attempted a big splash but Reigns rolled out of the way and nailed Strowman with a second spear to finally get the pinfall victory.
I will say that the WWE planned the match rather well as, although this did give Strowman his first official pinfall loss in a singles match, he didn’t come off as weak. Roman, for the most part, took a rather good beating from the mountain of a man. But it was still a slow and boring match for the majority and just didn’t intrigue me in the least. The closing moments were pretty good but it sure took a long while to get to the good part.
Rating: 5.5 of 10 flying Strowmans
Match #8: Bayley vs Charlotte Flair with Dana Brooke for the RAW Women’s Championship
I will say it was magnanimous of Charlotte to send Dana Brooke to the back so it could be a fair match. That decision came back to haunt her.
The match was really good as both Bayley and Charlotte played to their characters to a hilt. Charlotte was still the “genetically superior” villain despite her loss to the less gifted fangirl in Bayley. This led to Charlotte imposing her will for the majority of the match. However, Bayley would get some spurts of offense, making it seem like the smaller and more perky competitor could beat her more serious foe. The back and forth between the two was really nicely balanced, making it a really competitive match.
The meat of the match was really good. The problem is they had to spoil it with a terrible and confusing finish. Charlotte was in the middle of dominating Bayley. However, Sasha ran in while Charlotte was positioning herself on the top rope. Sasha Banks then attacked Charlotte in plain view of the referee and should’ve been an automatic disqualification for outside interference! Yet, the match continued! Where’s Dana Brooke when you need her? Oh, she’s not coming out?
Anyway, Bayley took advantage and hit Charlotte with her Bayley-to-Belly finisher on the outside. Bayley rolled in the Queen of the WWE and Charlotte tried to steal a win with a small package while pulling the tights. However, Sasha told the ref about the illegal leverage, which upset Charlotte. Bayley then performed another Bayley-to-Belly for the pinfall victory.
This was a good match marred with a terrible, terrible finish. It was illogical for the referee not to call for a disqualification when Sasha laid her hands on Charlotte. It was also illogical for Dana Brooke not to run out and come to Charlotte’s defense the instant Sasha interfered. This match would’ve been rated higher but the stupid ending dragged it down.
Rating: 4.5 of 10 finishes that don’t make sense
Match #9: Goldberg vs Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship
AKA. The reason why we had those two surprise matches.
It’s kind of hard to rate this match as, officially, there wasn’t that much of a match. However, I did like the ring psychology overall. Kevin Owens kept on delaying the start of the match, trying to get into Goldberg’s head. However, the instant he was good and ready to face off against Goldberg, Chris Jericho’s music hit, distracting Owens. A spear and Jackhammer later, Goldberg is your new WWE Universal Champion!
I liked the emotional buildup they did. However, you can tell that it was going to be a really short match since, well, Fastlane was already almost 3 hours long by this time! It was a foregone conclusion that Goldberg was going to win. However, the way they built it up was actually pretty good. I would’ve wanted to see some offense from Kevin Owens, even if it was going to be ineffective. This is more to build up Goldberg vs Lesnar for Wrestlemania and I can’t be upset with that since I hope the two pull off a memorable match this time.
Rating: 6.5 of 10 spears and jackhammers
Overall rating for WWE Fastlane (2017):
A truly dud of a pay-per-view. I was surprised that they did change who the champion was going into Wrestlemania but, otherwise, it was a boring series of matches. I didn’t expect a whole lot yet I still felt disappointed. Hopefully, the WWE makes up for this in spades with Wrestlemania.
Rating: 4.0 of 10 utter wastes of time
What did you think of this year’s WWE Fastlane? Let me know in the comments section below!