Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see the point of the Fastlane pay-per-view. To me, it’s always been one of the lousiest “big events” the WWE puts out because you know nothing’s really going to happen. They can’t really have any title changes on the show as it would totally wreck the Wrestlemania lineup they’ve been trying to build up since the Royal Rumble results. Even with Elimination Chamber, which is the show just after the Royal Rumble is given enough leeway to have some earth-shattering events, like Drew McIntyre losing his WWE World Heavyweight Championship thanks to Money in the Bank. I have yet to see an incredible moment in Fastlane since its inception.
It is a WWE pay-per-view so I do have the Pavlovian habit of watching and reviewing them for some insane reason. Even though I know it’s going to be a rather uneventful show, it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate some good action inside the ring. So, here’s my review of WWE’s Fastlane for this year.
The first big match of the night was the pairing of Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair going after the WWE Women Tag Team Champions, Nia Jax and Shayna Bazzler. This match was just here to push the Bianca Belair going after Sasha Banks Smackdown Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania so it was obvious from the outset what was essentially going to happen. Still, everyone involved in the match are good performers… well, maybe except Nia Jax because she has a tendency to injure people. The match itself was good but, ultimately nothing to write home about in the long run. There were some clumsy moments, like Sasha Banks somehow knocking Nia Jax to the outside while connecting with a suplex on Bazzler but there were neat moments, like Biana Belair hitting a cool looking 450 splash, as well.
As expected, we did get the screwball finish. The Boss had The Queen of Spades in the Bank Statement. Nia Jax went in to break it up so The EST of the WWE tried to stop her. Jax shoved Belair on top of Banks, breaking the submission and upsetting Banks. The Boss starts berating Belair and calling her “rookie,” which is a nice touch. Belair backs away and Bazzler takes advantage of a distracted Banks, allowing her to roll up The Boss for the pinfall win to retain the belts. Afterwards, Sasha Banks starts yelling at Bianca Belair, slaps her hard in the face before storming off.
This went along generally as predicted. The current Women’s Tag Team Champions, who were just there to pair the future Smackdown Women’s Champion and the Royal Rumble winner together, retained their titles and Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair had the opportunity to strengthen their feud. The match itself was okay but nothing spectacular and the finish was, well, you could see coming a mile away. I will still entertained but there were some sloppy moments and good spots and I don’t see this match sticking in my mind for more than a few days… yep. I already forgot about it.
The next match pitted Big E, the current Intercontinental Champion, going against the newly baptized Nigerian born Apollo Crews. I was mighty interested in this match because of Apollo Crews. I have always felt he’s been undervalued by the WWE so giving him this change of attitude should be good for him. Too bad the match itself was a mess.
It started out more than fine, actually. There were a lot of hard hitting moves from both Big E and Apollo Crews. Crews got a few licks with some beautiful triple German suplexes and a picture perfect frog splash. Those splashes onto the ring apron by Big E to Crews looked painful and that suicide dive spear to the outside was phenomenal.
Too bad the finish left much to be desired! Crews managed to get out of the Big Ending and attempted a small package pinning combination on Big E. Big E then kind of flopped out of it with the referee counting the pinfall victory for Big E? It’s just a mess and I’m betting this wasn’t supposed to happen since there weren’t any replays to get any kind of clarity. Crews is upset and starts wailing on Big E before leaving. This could’ve been a stellar match but, one, it was too short so you couldn’t really see what both Big E and Crews can do and, two, the finish was horrible.
The 3rd match of the night was supposed to be Braun Strowman going against Shane McMahon for… reasons. However, Shane seems to have injured himself, leading him to weasel out of the match and put Elias in his place. There really isn’t that much to talk about this because it was very quick and it was a glorified squash match. Then again, it’s obvious that was it was supposed to be so they can hold off Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman until Wrestlemania.
The finish came after Elias’ quick run of offense was stopped by a massive clothesline from the Monster Among Men. One avalanche splash, spinebuster slam and running powerslam later, Braun gets his hand raise in victory after the three-count. I do love myself a good squash match as it’s become so rare in the WWE. It kind of sucks for Elias as he’s suddenly a glorified jobber but I’m sure he’ll do much better once live crowds are back. Braun Strowman looked good here so I have nothing to complain about really.
The next match had Seth Rollins facing off against Shinusuke Nakamura. I really wanted this match to be the one to steal the show as both Superstars can pull off good matches. Yes, I know Rollins has a tendency to overcomplicate matters but I’m hoping pairing him with someone of the caliber of Nakamura could temper it off. This match was pretty good but, with the caliber of talent in the match, I wish it was better.
There was still a lot of things to like about this match. The pacing and in-ring psychology was above par with both competitors showing a good level of intensity overall. They did perform their trademarks at the appropriate times and Seth Rollins even debuted a new spinning heel kick which looked like some sort of reverse shining wizard. I also loved how Rollins attempted to do a Cesaro Swing only for it to be countered. It’s these nice little touches which elevates what should be a standard match to above average.
The finish came after Nakamura did his reverse exploder suplex on Rollins. The King of Strong Style attempted his Kinshasha finisher but Rollins reversed it and managed to strike Nakamura at the back of the neck with a wicked looking forearm. This stunned Nakamura enough to allow Rollins to connect with his Curb Stomp to get the pinfall victory.
This was a good match. I’m surprised it was also rather short when you consider Seth Rollins was involved. They didn’t really go all out but it wasn’t supposed to. They did keep things exciting and there was a lot of fantastic back and forth. Nothing to really complain here.
We then go to Drew McIntyre fighting Sheamus in a No Holds Barred match. I don’t really understand why they call No Holds Barred matches when it’s simply just a No Disqualification match. I guess to make it seem more exciting than what it really is. Anyway, seeing this was two of the biggest guys, size-wise, I mean, in the WWE, I expected this to be brutal and a lot of action to be held outside the ring. I was right.
Of course, the action did buildup slowly. The fight started in the ring standard wrestling moves. They then started brawling outside and also added weapons like kendo sticks (which I’ll never understand why the engineers who set up the ring would need kendo sticks in the first place) and steel chairs. They did the big stunt which involved destroying some of the screens featuring the “live crowd” watching from home. They finally did another big stunt which involved Sheamus driving McIntyre through the announce table with White Noise. You know, the standard stuff.
The finish wasn’t unique but I do appreciate the use of a totally new prop to enhance it. Sheamus tossed McIntyre back in the ring and brought in the side of the announce table. The Celtic Warrior tried an Alabama Slamma but The Scottish Warrior wiggled out of it and landed a Futureshock DDT on Sheamus right on the same siding Sheamus brought into the ring. One Claymore kick later and Drew McIntyre had his hand raised in victory. This was a fun match and, while nothing was particularly creative, both Drew and Sheamus did a remarkable job selling for each other. I was kind of disappointed Bobby Lashley didn’t come out to blindside his Wrestlemania opponent. Guess we’ll have to wait for RAW?
We then get to the match I was really looking forward to: Alexa Bliss vs. Randy Orton. Call be biased but I simply adore Alexa Bliss as an in-ring performer. While I initially wasn’t on board with her pairing up with The Fiend, she made it work, god bless her! However, to call this a match would be overselling it. This was a glorified cinematic match but done in front of a “live” crowd.
There were signs this was all taped in advanced. After all, there needed to be a lot of setup for some of the things which occurred here, such as Alexa Bliss throwing fireballs and signaling for the lights to almost hit Orton. The biggest hint was the finish as The Fiend emerged from underneath the ring! Alexa Bliss then kicked Orton right into the awaiting singed hands of The Field who nailed Sister Abigail, allowing Alexa Bliss to mount The Viper for the pinfall victory.
I can’t really rate this based on the wrestling because, well, there wasn’t any. I will say I just mildly entertained by it. I kind of wish they did something like Alexa Bliss getting freakishly strong and just go ballistic on Orton to show she’s indeed has some supernatural ability but I guess the telekinetic ability thing is fine. By the way, I don’t like the new look of The Fiend. Maybe I’ll get used to it like I got used to Alexa Bliss’ new role.
We then get to the main event which had Roman Reigns defending his WWE Universal Championship with Edge serving as the special enforcer. I oddly enough, wasn’t looking forward to this because I expected Edge to blindside Roman Reigns to give Bryan the DQ victory. So color me surprised they went all out with the screwjob for this match!
Before the screwjob galore, however, we actually got a really good match between the two! I’ve always said Roman Reigns can deliver a really barnburner of a match and I will forever have this to prove my case. This was a classic big man vs. little man match and both Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan played their roles to the hilt! Reigns looked strong while trying to bully Bryan but Bryan would still manage to get the upper hand thanks to his technical skill. Really good back and forth here.
The finish started when, as usual, the referee got knocked out, which led to Edge taking over as the official for the match. Bryan locked in the Yes Lock and, when it seemed like The Tribal Leader was about to tap, out comes Jey Uso with a superkick to both Edge and Daniel Bryan. Uso then posted Edge and went for Bryan with a steel chair. The Leader of the Yes Movement avoided the chair shot and nailed Uso with his running knee finisher. Bryan then wailed on Jey Uso with the chair, forcing a retreat. Bryan then went for Reigns with the chair but mistakenly hit Edge instead.
Reigns then connected with a superman punch and went for a spear but Bryan reversed it and locked in the Yes Lock once again. Reigns actually weakly tapped out but, since there was no official, it didn’t matter. Edge, upset from eating the chair shot earlier, attacks Bryan and Reigns with the chair before storming off. Another official slides into the ring while Reigns crawls over to cover Bryan to retain his WWE Universal Championship.
Holy smokes, this was a fantastic match! I usually despise screwjob finishers but, for some odd reason, I really liked this one. There was something about the absolute chaos during the final stretch which really hit hard for me. Add to that an already fantastic bout and you have yourself a winner of a fight.
Overall, I did like this year’s Fastlane. There were no real surprises but the matches were mostly good. I could go without the Big E vs. Apollo Crews match because of the terrible finish but everything else was highly entertaining. Still, in the long run, nothing of note really happened here… except for the WWE announcing Daniel Bryan will be added to the match against Reigns and Edge because of what happened here. I can’t really say I was disappointed by Fastlane like I was in the previous years. I can’t say I was super glad to have watched it either.
What did you think of this year’s WWE Fastlane? Let me know in the comment section below!