Kevin Owens gets squashed, Braun Strowman gets speared, and more.
By Matt Fowler
Barring a last minute announcement about a special WWE Network Event in the nest few weeks, Fastlane was the final PPV before WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. From the fallout now, it looks like we’re officially getting Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho and a Universal title match from Goldberg and Lesnar.
Fastlane, unfortunately, was full of missteps – creative choices that don’t exactly bode well for the Grandest Stage of Them All. Usually, with these day-after lookbacks, the “Best”s will outnumber the “Worst”s, but that wasn’t the case this time around. A curiously noisy crowd was deadened by a mid-show lull of Hour Two RAW proportions while the Women’s title picture became even muddier and muddled. Let’s take a look at the 5 Worst (and 3 Best Moments) from Fastlane!
Even if Sasha had wound up losing this match and the choice was made to keep Nia Jax as an unstoppable heel, this was still a great encounter. Light years better than the short squashy kickoff match they had back at the Royal Rumble when it seemed like Sasha had gotten ferociously demoted. This win elevated Sasha back into the title scene (which is kind of her default scene anyhow) setting everything up for a Fatal Fourway at ‘Mania.
It both speaks to the talent of these two Brits AND the luke warmness of the PPV up until this point that Neville vs. Gallagher was the best match of the night by the time it happened. In fact, depending on how much you liked the Roman/Braun, Joe/Zayn, and Bayley/Charlotte matches, this was arguably the best bout of the entire night. Not too shabby for a division that’s been struggling to find its true place on main roster TV since the summer. Neville’s great as a hellacious heel and Jack, as delightful as he can be, was able to prove he didn’t need jokey spots to get over.
Braun wound up falling to Roman’s Spear in the end, but let’s never forget, or overlook, the monumental moment when he caught Reigns mid-air, hoisted him up on his shoulder and then powerslammed him through the announce table. A magnificent mauling. Statues have been erected for less.
Just when it seemed like the RAW Women’s title match at ‘Mania was shaping up in a good, credible fashion, they inked in the ointment and had Sasha come down and interfere on Bayley’s behalf again. This time, causing Charlotte to lose her PPV streak. It would have been one thing if Sasha had only stopped Charlotte from hooking the tights on a pin, but Sasha ran down and physically got involved when Charlotte hadn’t even broken the rules, thus preventing Charlotte from performing a fair and square move.
And all of this came after Charlotte had Dana stay in the back, fought her own battle, and screamed at Bayley about being a cheater during the match. Of course, I was against the whole “Bayley relinquishing the belt” angle from a few weeks ago, but now I kind of think, going along with her character and what she stands for, that she should give up the strap. It’d certainly make more sense at this point, story-wise, than her just accepting Sasha’s unprovoked aid like a heel.
At some other point I’ll write about why we’re supposed to somehow believe that a major LIVE PPV, or a three-hour LIVE RAW, isn’t somehow planned out, from a storyline General Manager aspect, like any other live television event. Why is it part of the storyline that wrestlers show up not knowing who they’re facing that night? Or, even more ridiculously, that those in charge still haven’t fully planned out the card – or in some cases the main event? They just make it up on the spot or figure it out based on who winds up brawling in the opening segment. It makes no sense.
Our big example at Fastlane was Foley telling Rusev and Jinder Mahal to head out to the ring in the middle of the PPV to face opponents in unadvertised matches. Why was there are a gap in the programming in the first place? I mean, WE know it’s because the Goldberg match was going to last less than a few minutes, but in kayfabe terms why do GMs show up with only a few ideas regarding what the audience will see? This doesn’t seem like an important position at all. “I take my job very seriously and that’s why, with the show already going full steam ahead, I’m going to figure out on the spot what matches will happen.”
This has all just been a long-winded way of saying that Fastlane came to a screeching halt when all of a sudden we watched an almost ten minute Cesaro vs. Jinder Mahal match.
Following the Jinder match, Rusev faced Big Show. That’s right, the other half of the Sheamus/Cesaro team didn’t even get to fight. They gave Rusev someone totally different and then proceeded to destroy Rusev. Sure, he fought back against Show, but in the end he took four finishers from the giant for no real reason. It all makes you think WWE now has huge plans for Big Show at WrestleMania, which is possibly the saddest sentence I’ve typed for this piece so far.
I get that the story here was that Braun had no business being on the top rope and so him missing with the splash gave Roman a big window for a win. It was a risk that didn’t pay off. I also know that Roman needed this win if he’s truly facing Undertaker at ‘Mania, which is rumored to be the case. My head knows all this. But my heart weeps for the monster who was on a roll, lost to Roman right before WrestleMania, and will now probably wind up in the Memorial Battle Royal.
Yeah, so… Owens got nothing. Was it expecting too much that Owens would get in a few kicks and punches on Goldberg, a move or two, when Brock got nothing? Yeah, probably. If Lesnar got squashed then it’s unlikely that anyone else could do better against Bill, even in a losing effort. At least Owens can gripe about legitimately being distracted and Brock can’t. It just all seems like a rather unceremonious title reign end for a guy who usually delivered amazing twenty minute bouts.
I think mostly, even more than seeing Owens gets a few moves in, I wanted to see Goldberg do more than the Spear/Jackhammer. I know he can’t do MUCH more than those maneuvers, but he can do something. Owens fighting back would mean Goldberg would have had pull out a clothesline or a snap spinebuster or something. Something to let us know that he’s made progress, training-wise, since November. That’s what I was mostly looking for here. The funny thing is, the stalling that Owens did at the top, the constant taking a powder outside the ring, reminded me of all the stalling and posturing that happened during the first WrestleMania match between Goldberg and Lesnar.
And, no, I don’t know why the WWE video above cuts off right after the Spear. There’s not much more left to the match so why cut it early?