WrestleMania is almost upon us. A Raw PPV this year, WWE Fastlane usually feels like a filler event, carrying things into the company’s pride and joy. Also, there are only 4 weeks until Mania, without a Smackdown Live PPV to fill in that time. There was some uncertainty going into the show yesterday.
Would Goldberg really squash Kevin Owens and pick up the Universal title? Would Charlotte put away Bayley and maintain her PPV streak? Would we finally get New Day ice cream? Let’s find out in this review of WWE Fastlane 2017!
This tag match between Akira Tozawa and Rich Swann against The Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar was a good performance. The crowd is finally getting into cruiserweight matches. Hopefully, the wrestlers on 205 Live continue this upward trend.
Samoa Joe Defeated Sami Zayn
I am a big fan of starting PPV’s with big fights that real wrestling fans want to see. Sami Zayn going up against the monstrous Samoa Joe was a throwback to their absolutely brutal matches in NXT. Joe the Destroyer had an insane amount of momentum coming into this match, and that momentum should continue all the way to Mania. This thing was very physical and allowed both to do what they do best. Sami passed out when Joe applied the coquina clutch. Samoa Joe walked away with a well-deserved victory, while Zayn didn’t give up and continues to be the underdog darling.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson Retained Tag Titles Against Enzo and Big Cass
The Club (are we still calling them that?) look great holding gold, no matter what country they’re in. This match had no story, except for a half-baked setup at the go home show last week. It felt like a filler match, despite the high level at which both of these teams perform. The Club’s title reign rightfully continues, but I would like to see a little more all-out dominance, not just slow beatings leading to the opposing team’s hot tag every time. This is the kind of match I usually expect on WWE Fastlane though.
Sasha Banks Defeated Nia Jax
Botched finish aside, this was miles better than their previous bout at the Royal Rumble. A much slower pace allowed Nia’s potential to be on display, without compromising Sasha Banks. I agree with the booking here, and I don’t think Sasha failing to use the ropes for the pin takes too much away from it.
Cesaro Beat Jinder Mahal and Big Show Beat Rusev
Meanwhile, on this mini episode of Sunday Night Raw, Mahal announced the dissolution of his meaningful partnership with Rusev. They both asked Mick Foley for singles matches. Foley suggested a best-of-seven series and I was ready to throw my beer at the TV, until everyone in the room shouted no, including Stephanie McMahon on speakerphone.
While I hated the premise, Cesaro and Jinder put on a great show. I like these types of things because they allow people who pay attention to really appreciate the depth of the talent on the roster. Jinder is never allowed to get his s*** in, and he was finally able to display his talent by working with a performer like Cesaro.
On the other hand, Big Show beating Rusev had the complete opposite effect. Rusev looked so weak, and Show got an unnecessary win. Despite the fact that Cesaro won his match, he was able to make Hardbody Mahal look strong. However, Rusev continues his downward spiral on the roster.
Match of the Night: Neville Retained Cruiserweight Championship Against Jack Gallagher
I was pleased with the Cruiserweight Division’s performance on the pre-show. This match blew it out of the water. Neville is at his absolute peak right now, and Gentleman Jack was the perfect opponent for him. Jack was entertaining and showed why so many indie fans adore him. The handstands on the turnbuckle and absolutely violent headbutts were perfect. I know wrestling is fake, but even my head hurt when Jack headbutted Neville on the turnbuckle. Good grief.
Neville was not only athletic but also 100% in character. He showed that even a heel can do impressive moves, like the corkscrew off the second rope and the always fantastic Red Arrow, and still be a heel. His attacks were vicious and bitter, and I loved every second of it. Can we take another moment to appreciate the snap German suplex that nearly killed Gallagher before our very eyes?
The New Day
The hosts of WrestleMania 33 did not have a match. We didn’t get ice cream either. However, we did get Big E acting like your embarrassing drunk uncle at Christmas. Be careful here WWE. You don’t want your super popular stable to lose their legitimacy. One day you’re tag team champions, and Santino the next.
Roman Reigns Defeated Braun Strowman
This was a big turning point for an otherwise mostly positive PPV. The Braun hype is real, and we expected this to be a very hard-hitting match. There were some good spots, like Braun performing a running bodyslam through the announce table. The problem with booking Reigns against someone like Strowman is that you end up relying on Braun to carry him. It just doesn’t work, and the holes in Roman’s in-ring abilities become obvious. With Reigns beating Strowman, it completely kills the monster’s momentum, and doesn’t make Roman convincingly look strong either. I hate seeing DQ’s at PPV’s, but that would have been a much better outcome.
Bayley Retained Raw Women’s Championship Against Charlotte
Speaking of DQ’s being the right outcome, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Sasha Banks attacked Charlotte to help Bayley, in plain view of the referee. No bell, no DQ, nothing. Charlotte’s PPV streak ended at WWE Fastlane, Bayley picked up another tarnished win, and creative really botched this one. It might be as bad as the time Great Khali stepped over the top rope in a Battle Royal and did not get eliminated.
Despite said elephant, the women continue putting on great title matches. They certainly deserve the time they are allotted, if not more. Charlotte’s streak should have ended at a larger PPV, but this is a great setup to the eventual Sasha banks heel turn that we all need.
Goldberg Defeated Kevin Owens for the Universal Title
This could have gone so many ways, though my fear all along was that Goldberg would squash Kevin Owens and pick up the title. And that’s exactly what happened. KO played his signature mind games, leaving the ring repeatedly before the match even started. Just as the tension was at its peak, Chris Jericho’s music hit, and the bell rang. With Jericho watching from the ramp, Bill Goldberg speared Owens and pinned him after a Jackhammer in 21 seconds. That’s right. The semi-retired part-timer who does not need a title to be an attraction beat the ridiculously hot champ in less time than it took you to read this paragraph.
There is so much that could be said about these implications. Lesnar and Goldberg’s match at WrestleMania does not need the Universal Championship on the line. It would have been a huge match nonetheless. Also, Goldberg has spent more time walking to the ring than actually competing in it since he made his return. Moving right along down the list, all the time that’s been spent building up Kevin Owens was just thrown out the window. Triple H handed the title to his new favourite heel on a platter, only to allow a WCW legacy to squash him.
I like Goldberg a lot. I will always be a fan of his. I certainly don’t hold this against Bill personally. Nevertheless, it is horrible booking and smells of Vince Russo like you wouldn’t believe. Cue the Russo fans’ outrage in the comments.
WWE Fastlane Summary
Grading WWE Fastlane accurately entails stepping back and looking at the event as a whole, rather than just the disappointing finish. While this show was far from perfect, Neville and Gallagher, Joe and Sami, and Cesaro and Jinder really stood out. Those highlights are enough to counterbalance the awful main event and other disappointments, giving WWE Fastlane a solid B grade.
What did you think of the PPV? Does Goldberg deserve a title run? Do you agree with my assessment, or will I be the target of your keyboard outrage? Sound off in the comments!