Well…that was certainly a shitshow, wasn’t it? I’ll admit to having some pretty low expectations going into Fastlane, the final WWE PPV before Wrestlemania, and I was somehow still disappointed with it. Before I get to the post-mortem, though, a few other thoughts.
– I was really happy to see EVOLVE put their World Title on Zack Sabre Jr. He is one of the best workers in the world right now, and is capable of having a 5-star match with just about anybody. I see he’s also now joined the Suzuki-gun faction in Japan, which raises some interesting possibilities. I cannot wait for his match against Shibata at the NJPW 45th Anniversary show this week.
– Some very intriguing news coming out of the Ring of Honor shows this weekend. I had a feeling that the Hardys would end up signing with ROH instead of WWE, and I love their addition to an already stacked tag-team division. I was already looking forward to their match against the Young Bucks at Friday’s PPV, but that they’re officially on the roster, the team I really want to see them feud with is War Machine. I’m also curious to see what a Bully Ray run in ROH is going to end up looking like. With so much uncertainty in the ROH World Title picture after Kyle O’Reilly didn’t renew his contract, I can see them putting the strap on him when Adam Cole inevitably jumps to the WWE when his deal expires in April and letting him carry it until Bobby Fish or Dalton Castle are ready for a main event run.
– I’m glad to hear that NJPW’s Honma is on the road to recovery after what was a pretty scary moment over the weekend after a botched hanging DDT. The most recent update from NJPW is that he’s regaining the feeling in his extremities and is able to move again, so hopefully he’s able to make a full recovery.
Okay, on to Fastlane…
Both of the cruiserweight matches were really solid. The tag match on the kickoff show might have actually been the highlight of the whole show for me – I’m turning into a total mark for Akira Tozawa. The crowd was really hot for that match, too, which is nice to see after some of the more tepid reactions the division has gotten on both RAW and 205 Live. Neville and Gentleman Jack had quite a match as well, and even though I didn’t see any way that the title was going to change hands, the booking was solid enough to make me suspend my disbelief for a little while.
Umm…almost everything else? That’s sort of a cop-out, I know. Here are my two biggest complaints:
Roman Reigns getting a clean pinfall win over Braun Strowman is absolutely baffling. The WWE has built him up to be this unstoppable monster, and then he loses cleanly in his first major PPV match. Momentum, meet window. The match itself was really no great shakes, either, and it really underscored how limited the offensive repertoires of both wrestlers really are. It felt like the match was at least half rest holds.
I really don’t like how they’re booking Bayley right now. She might be the most beloved babyface on either brand, and they’re making her look weak by not allowing her to beat Charlotte cleanly. Honeslty, the whole Women’s Title scene is kind of a tire fire. Can we just turn Sasha heel already and be done with it?
All the filler: the Rusev and Jinder Mahal matches, the Paul Heyman promo, the New Day ice cream segment. Could they have made it any more obvious that the main even was going to be a squash?
Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn deserved better that the curtain jerker match. And is it too much to ask that Zayn be allowed to do something more than just sell in his matches?
I get why they booked the main event the way they did – in theory, Jericho distracting Owens keeps KO from looking too weak, and it sets up their match at Wrestlemania. He still lost in 22 second, though – I don’t think it worked. The only way I’m going to be okay with this bit of booking is if it ends with Lesnar putting Samoa Joe over for the title at SummerSlam.
What was arguably the best match was relegated to the pre-show. With as badly as the WWE has struggled to give life to the cruiserweight division—in fact, I’ve read in more than one place that 205 Live may be cancelled soon if ratings don’t improve—you’d think they’d give them a bit more prominence on the card. Why couldn’t the Rusev and Mahal matches been on the pre-show instead?