It’s the final WWE Network special before the Showcase of the Immortals, WrestleMania! Four titles are on the line for this Raw-brand show!
WWE Fastlane is coming to you from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar – So, Swann and Tozawa are awesome. Dar’s girlfriend, Alicia Fox is crazy and Kendrick is much more suited to the role he’s in now than he was as champion of the cruiserweight division. Fox proves her craziness early on by blocking a double dive onto her team by Swann and Tozawa, though they got to do it later in the match. Despite being a tag team match, this should be a showcase to see where the title picture for the division goes in the next few months. Swann and Kendrick are already former champions and I imagine Tozawa will be elevated soon enough. Dar will probably get a run, too, as long as his pairing with Fox doesn’t leave him overshadowed. Everyone got a little bit of time to shine here, though I was surprised Swann got the pin on Dar. I figured Tozawa would be the guy to get the win for his team. Fun match, but I would have liked to see it go longer. But it’s a pre-show match, so we got what we got.
Winners: Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa
WWE Fastlane 2017
Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn – Here we have two guys who went up against each other in NXT, the WWE’s developmental brand, for the NXT Title, and now they’re opening this show. Joe is in his first one-on-one WWE pay-per-view match and is fresh off injuring Seth Rollins while Zayn is fresh off nearly being forgotten. Their NXT Title match was a competitive match, but Joe needed to come off like a monster here. Mission accomplished, as Joe dominated the match and beat Zayn down, locking him in the Kokina Clutch and knocking him unconscious. Now the question is, what will Joe’s role be at WrestleMania?
Winner: Samoa Joe
Raw Tag Team Titles: Gallows and Anderson (c) vs. Enzo and Big Cass – Anderson and Gallows winning the tag team titles before Enzo and Cass is such a baffling move, as Enzo and Cass have been much more over in WWE than The former Club, but very little about the tag team divisions in WWE makes any sense. Enzo and Cass didn’t even win the NXT tag belts, even though they were the most over team at Full Sail. Not much of a match here, as we get a screwy finish with Enzo getting pinned despite his foot being on the ropes. It will make sense if Enzo and Cass get a big win next month at WrestleMania for a crowning achievement. Otherwise, keeping the belts on Gallows and Anderson is just a waste, since there are a lot better teams on the Raw roster.
Winners: Anderson and Gallows
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax – The most amazing thing here is that there seems to be more than one storyline for the women of Raw, though this is an offshoot the title match later on tonight. Jax continues to be a monster, destroying former champion Banks early on. Banks fighting back to try and outsmart Jax with sleeper holds and DDT reversals allows her to stay over as a fighter, and it helps her roll Jax up with a bridging roll-up to get what felt like a fluke win over the monster. Everyone is kept strong, though, and both of these women should stay in the title picture. But I really don’t want to see Banks getting any more title shots after the disastrous series with Charlotte.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Jinder Mahal vs. Cesaro and Rusev vs. Big Show – During the pre-show, Mahal and Rusev declared they were no longer a team and they both wanted competiton tonight, so Mick Foley set up these matches for the former partners. This is a complete waste of Cesaro, who beat Mahal, and Rusev, who lost to Show. Just filler to get more guys on the card.
Winners: Cesaro and Big Show
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher – “Gentleman Jack” is definitely the standout character of the cruiserweight division, while Neville’s return and title win was a great shot in the arm. Gallagher’s in-ring antics are fun without devolving into comedy, especially as he usually out-wrestles his opponents. And Neville has been a deserving champion. Gallagher should eventually be the face of the division, but it may be too soon for him to be champion. Gallagher taking the beating he did only to come back with a series of headbutts was a great moment, and I really thought he may get the pin when he fell on top of Neville. The champ had to pull out everything to beat Gallagher, including a Red Arrow for the win. A fun match, but I suspect these guys can do more. I wouldn’t mind seeing more matches with these two.
New Day comes out to talk about New Day ice cream to waste more time, but whatever they do will never reach the heights of the original WWF ice cream bars.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman – Strowman has been one of the best things about Raw since the draft, as he’s been well-protected while beating the hell out of everyone. Reigns, of course, has been the chosen one for way too long now, but Strowman beating the living hell out of him on Monday was a great way to put the former Wyatt member over as a monster. The thing that got Strowman over, though, was quick squashes on TV. Putting him in a match as long as this one was a sure way to kill the crowd. Even when the match was in high gear, it still felt slow and plodding. But Strowman powerslamming Reigns through the announce table was still great. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Reigns managed to overcome the odds to hit Strowman with a spear for the win, but giving this match a clean ending seems silly when there’s every reason to keep him strong. WWE logic can be infuriating sometimes.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte – This should be the best story on Raw, with Bayley chasing Charlotte to WrestleMania to finally cause Charlotte to lose at a pay-per-view and win the Women’s title. Instead, Bayley inexplicably won the title on Raw a few weeks back, with the help of Sasha Banks. And now, the former champ, who is undefeated on Sundays, is looking to start her fifth reign. If Charlotte continues to lose and regain the title, she should match her father, Ric Flair’s, 16 World Titles within a couple years, where it took him about two decades to hit that record. But everything is accelerated these days.
With Sasha Banks coming down to the ring to help Bayley, Charlotte wasn’t able to overcome the disadvantage and Bayley hits Charlotte with a Bayley-to-Belly suplex on the outside and another in the middle of the ring to beat the former champion. It’s a bit of swerve, undermining the expectation for the result. And it’s another head-scratcher, when you could still have given Bayley the WrestleMania win over Charlotte to end her streak there. I really don’t understand WWE sometimes…
Universal Title Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg – Kevin Owens just recently beat up his former best friend, Chris Jericho. Goldberg is building to another showdown with Brock Lesnar, who he beat in less than 90 seconds at the Survivor Series in November. It’s Goldberg’s first title shot since December 2003. Regardless of who wins this match, Goldberg and Lesnar are probably closing out WrestleMania in four weeks.
After significant stalling to start, Owens calls for the ref to ring the bell, only to be distracted by Chris Jericho’s music. Of course, from there, it was academic. Spear. Jackhammer. And Goldberg is the new Universal Champion. Why? Who knows. The Goldberg-Lesnar match doesn’t need a title. It’s two part-time guys fighting for Raw’s main title. It’s just baffling that WWE thinks these two men should be fighting for the title over Owens and Jericho, who have been a highlight of Raw since the draft.
Overall Thoughts: Once again, the booking for the show makes no sense and it makes the show a quivering thumbs in the middle.
Next up, though, is WrestleMania on April 2, which should be 6 or 7 hours worth of head-scratching decisions.