It’s time for the least important WWE Network Special of the company’s calendar year, the final stop on the ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA, it’s WWE FASTLANE!
Coming to you live from oh me-o, oh my-o oh Cleveland, Ohio, the WWE Championship is on the line and The Shield reunites… maybe for the final time. Most importantly, will Becky Lynch be added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania? I guess there’s some good stuff to pay attention to.
The New Day vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev – Your Five-Time Tag Team Champions are represented by Xavier Woods and Big E, because Kofi Kingston was beckoned to the McMahons’ office to discuss the WWE Championship match that Vince McMahon removed him from a couple of weeks ago. I’m still annoyed at how the company is wasting Rusev, but at least they’re doing something with him, even if it is a throwaway tag team with Nakamura, who was in the WWE Championship match at last year’s WrestleMania. Maybe he can fight some midgets at the big event next month.
It’s a fine match, because all of these guys can go, and its placement was perfect for what it was. New Day wins with an Up, Up, Down, Down, which makes me think there’s not much future in a Rusev-Nakamura tag team.
WWE FASTLANE 2019
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match – The Usos (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon – You think Bret Hart is going to complain about Shane O’Mac doing a Hitman taunt right before hitting a Hart Foundation-style Heart Attack clothesline towards the start of the match? I think it’s pretty likely. The highlight of the match was Shane dropkicking an Uso brother (who can remember which is which?) in mid-air as the Uso tried to splash Miz. That high spot led to the high spot ending, where Miz tried a frog splash at the urging of his father, landed on Uso knees and got rolled up. The Usos retain.
I would have put money on this match leading to an angle where Miz turns on Shane to set up a WrestleMania match, but I was wrong. It was SHANE who turned on Miz! Obviously, he got tired of looking at Miz’s dad. But the Miz as the face going into WrestleMania season? I don’t have the words…
SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Mandy Rose – Despite color commentator Corey Graves’ on-screen love for Mandy Rose, she doesn’t strike me as all that good at her job. But SmackDown! Live’s two biggest stars – Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch – have been moved over to Raw, so I guess we get what we get. Asuka should have dominated here, but instead it’s Rose’s partner, Sonya Deville, who basically costs Rose the match. Whatever. Another match where the partners leave arguing.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Kofi Kingston Handicap Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus and Cesaro – Vince McMahon decides to include Kofi in the title match after the New Day implores Vince to include him, then baits and switches by putting Kofi against the former tag team champions. I can’t imagine where this is going outside of Kofi getting the WWE Title shot at WrestleMania. The announcers stress during the match that the fans may want Kofi to have his shot, but the fans don’t make the decisions. What is it the other guy says about shoot comments? It’s appropriate here. Woods and Big E try to help, despite being banned from ringside, but Rusev and Nakamura take them out and The Bar finally puts Kingston down. And, I’m guessing, New Day is now too beat up to make an impact in the WWE Championship match. I fail to see the point in this, outside of ensuring everyone sees all the McMahons as heels. But, I guess, at least Woods and Big E didn’t turn on Kofi.
Raw Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match: The Revival (c) vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable – It wasn’t too long ago that most of these guys (outside of Bobby Roode) were in NXT. I really wish these multi-man matches were elimination rules. These matches descend into clusters otherwise and the need for actually storytelling is minimized. And we also get the classic spot where all six guys get laid out at the same time, grinding the match momentum to a halt while everyone lays on the ground. The match was a showcase for Ricochet’s spots, but the end comes when Gable tags into the match when Ricochet leaps over the ring post, leading to The Revival getting a double team for the win to retain the titles. Roode, Black and Ricochet all get their shots in after the match, though. Will this three-way feud continue?
United States Championship Fatal Four Way Match: Samoa Joe (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio – When did Andrade lose his last name? The single name doesn’t have the same effect as Andrade “Cien” Almas did. Average age of the guys in this match, by the way? 39.75. There’s an 18-year age difference between the oldest guy in the match (R-Truth, 47) and the youngest (Andrade, 29). This is how much I dislike multi-man matches. I’m doing math. The match was fine, with both Andrade and R-Truth doing homage spots. Andrade got heat by mimicking Eddie Guerrero’s THREE AMIGOS triple suplex spot on Rey, while Truth imitated John Cena’s FIVE MOVES OF DOOM on Andrade and Joe. Samoa Joe finishes the match by knocking Rey out in the Coquina Clutch, and I’m really glad Joe seems like he’s going to WrestleMania as a champion. Maybe a match with John Cena is on the horizon.
Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Tamina – I’m glad WWE finally pulled the trigger on the Women’s Tag Team Championship, so Bayley and Banks can have some focus without randomly feuding and not feuding. Jax and Tamina are good monsters to get the champs over as world-beaters, and they did so again tonight, with Bayley getting the win for the team. But the angle after the match is going to get the focus going forward, I bet, as Jax and Tamina reacted to their loss by beating Banks and Bayley, then assaulting guest commentator Beth Phoenix and Phoenix’s former partner Natalya. I guess there’s your special tag team match at WrestleMania.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kevin Owens vs.
Kofi Kingston Mustafa Ali – Ali was supposed to be in the Elimination Chamber, but was injured and replaced by Kofi Kingston, so bringing him back for this match probably resets the storyline to where it was originally going, but Ali being announced to be in the match got zero heat from the crowd, who cheered wildly when they thought Kofi was going to be in the match. Ali’s return may have ended as soon as it started, though, when Bryan dropkicked him off the second rope and shoulder-first into the barricade. At the very least, it looked painful and a ridiculously dumb spot to do.
After everyone beats the hell out of each other for a while, Bryan’s cornerman Erik Rowan realized that Triple Threat matches are no-DQ and gets involved, eventually takes Owens out, allowing Bryan to take Ali out with a knee while Ali was in mid backflip to retain.
I was looking forward to a Bryan-Owens 1-on-1 match, so even putting Kofi in the match was a bit disappointing. But the crowd was fully behind Kofi and kept chanting his name throughout the match. I wonder if WWE realized how much that was going to backfire. Maybe they turn it around and have Kofi earn a shot at WrestleMania, but they turned the fans in the arena completely against the match and nothing these three talented athletes did would turn it around.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair – Why oh why of why isn’t this the main event? This program has been the hottest thing WWE has run dating all the way back to SURVIVOR SERIES! And with the stipulation of Lynch needing to win to get into the Raw Women’s Championship Match at WrestleMania, everyone is invested in the stakes of the match. I smell a screwy finish coming.
This whole program has been screwy, though, from McMahon suspending Lynch and naming Flair Rousey’s WrestleMania opponent, despite Lynch winning a shot at ROYAL RUMBLE; Rousey “vacating” the championship, only not really, making this match go from a title match to a singles match to decide whether the WrestleMania match will be a Triple Threat or not. Way too much McMahon involvement in World Title-level programs.
Rousey publicly said she wanted Becky Lynch in the WrestleMania match, so when Flair put the Figure Eight on Lynch, and Rousey ran down to the ring, punched Lynch and gave her the win via disqualification, it should have come as no surprise. Lynch boasting like she did something herself here was a little silly, but whatever. We have the Triple Threat for WrestleMania set, and I’m willing to bet it’s the main event of THAT show.
Throughout the show, Elias has been coming out to sing and mock the faces in the previous match and the fans in Cleveland, and he did it one final time after the Lynch-Flair match. He’s interrupted by Lacey Evans walking out and then back to the ring, followed by Randy Orton hitting Elias with an RKO. That was followed by AJ Styles hitting Orton with a Phenomenal Forearm. Elias took an RKO to set up an Orton-Styles WrestleMania match. That was nice of him.
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley – In typical WWE booking, Roman Reigns beat cancer. And Dean Ambrose is, reportedly, not going to be around after WrestleMania, they keep pushing it on TV so much that I feel like it’s a swerve. But his leaving is the impetus for this “special attraction,” the Shield reuniting for one last time. Their opponents are probably the most boring heel faction the company has ever produced. Though McIntyre really should be in a main event program for a while to come.
Corbin, on the other hand, doesn’t even have “go away heat” with me. He’s just dull. Why does he wrestle in a dress shirt? And Lashley is only interesting to me when he has Lio Rush with him. That dude is a good hype man.
So, it’s a fairly typical Shield match, right? Chaos all over the place, guys running in and out of the ring, guys getting laid out and recovering on the floor. It may as well have been announced as a Tornado match, because there weren’t going to be a whole lot of tags here once the match got going. While Reigns and Corbin went at it in the ring, Ambrose, Rollins, Lashley and McIntyre battled over by the pre-show set, tossing around office chairs and whatnot. And Rollins, determined to cripple himself, climbed up the stairs and leapt off the next tier up onto the other three. I hope he tweaks his knee before WrestleMania and Roman Reigns has to replace him in the Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar.
Wait… did Rollins just do a curb stomp on the table to Lashley…? Is that not… a little problematic? Maybe I’m overthinking it…
The Shield hits a triple power bomb through the table on McIntyre and the crowd chants “ONE MORE TIME!” So the Shield surrounds the ring, with Baron Corbin in the center, and the crowd chants “THIS IS AWESOME!” And then Rollins swears loud and clear before one last triple power bomb for the win.
Fun match, though it wasn’t anything special compared to other Shield six-man tag team matches. Still, it was good to see the band back together, and after this match, I really hope Ambrose decides to stick around, because it was a reminder of how awesome he can be.
Another fun show from WWE, and it sets up a lot of things for WrestleMania well. So, we’ll be back in four weeks for the biggest event of the year!