I’ll keep this short and simple. Fastlane is a PPV that needs to be cut. It puts creative in a weird spot to build to a PPV that’s less than a month away from WrestleMania. So, with that in mind let’s jump into the actual show and see just how much it wasn’t needed this year.
Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali
For being on the preshow this was pretty plot heavy, and also a really good wrestling match. Ali is one of my favorite wrestlers and he goes completely underutilized. The man can wrestle. And as much as Matt Riddle is kind of a terrible person behind the scenes, I’ll admit that he’s great in the ring.
However, the match was only good when it came to in-ring action, because the plot was absolutely disappointing. They have once again screwed over Ali in order to seemingly break up RETRIBUTION. Granted they needed to break them up but they could have done it without burying Ali after the little bit of screen time he had for the evening.
Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax & Shayna Bazler
I’ve been enjoying Reginald as a character but aside from that this plot has been extremely…well thrown together. It has felt like creative just doesn’t know what to do for the Banks vs. Belair match at WrestleMania and threw this together at the last second. It doesn’t help that I still can’t get behind Nia and Shayna as a team. It just feels like such a weird combination almost as if that team was thrown together at complete random.
The outcome of the match was extremely predictable and the wrestling itself was slow and clunky, in part due to the over reliance on Nia. The only time the match really picked up was at the end which I will note did NOT involve Nia and was the other three women. But the real issue with this match was that it was pointless, redundant, and just meant to stall before WrestleMania. In short, it was a Fastlane match.
Big E vs. Apollo Crews
Meanwhile, the Big E plot honestly has felt pretty natural, well as natural as a WWE plot can feel. Big E’s character has really stood out by himself without the help of the New Day. Granted, it’s been sad to see the New Day broken up of course but he’s been so much fun to watch.
Except for the botch this was a great match. Slow and methodical, both men sold the emotion. A single minute at the start to taunt each other was enough to get me invested in the rest of a match I might have been otherwise indifferent to. It’s just unfortunate that the funky ending was too big to ignore and as a result it affected the match as a whole. But even then it didn’t completely ruin the match for me. So despite the botch I still enjoyed it a lot.
Braun Strowman vs. Elias
I absolutely have no interest in this plot yet and I’m still waiting for it to build to something interesting and this match is obviously building to something. And I’m willing to acknowledge that this match was not supposed to be anything big at all. But they still put it in the PPV and so here we are.
It was dull. That’s about it. Moving on.
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I’ve really loved the potential that Seth’s messiah character has had from the very beginning, but time and time again they just keep screwing it up by giving him never ending feuds and never presenting him as a real threat. So I went into this conflicted about who should win. On one hand, a win for Seth against Shinsuke would be great for him. On the other, well, it’s Shinsuke and we haven’t seen him recently.
This match was absolutely my match of the night. It didn’t take long for things to heat up and it just kept going. There were one or two amazing false finishes that honestly tricked me. It felt like the one PPV worthy match from start to finish on this card.
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
This feud has been odd. It’s something that they’ve spent so much more time on it than others and yet it feels like it’s nowhere near enough time. They’ve never really acknowledged their real life friendship before, so they tapped that to make it seem like there’s been years of history and yet it just doesn’t feel like that’s translating to the audience.
Add that onto the odd timing of this match with McIntyre not having the title and I just couldn’t care less despite it seeming like this was supposed to be a big feud. No doubt they will have a WrestleMania match and this isn’t the end, so perhaps things will pick up but as of right now I just don’t care.
So how was the match? Slow, and as I always say, if it’s slow it’s got to have that emotional backbone. Slow matches are extremely dependent on the plot to be entertaining and to get you invested. So at the end of the day it was just plain bland. There were some strong moments but I struggled to continue watching.
Alexa Bliss vs. Randy Orton
I was excited for this match and it was the one thing I was actually looking forward to. I understand that this feud has some mixed reactions but I have been enjoying it so much. It’s the fun cheese I want with my wrestling. Anytime a feud feels like it could be pulled straight out of Lucha Underground I’m absolutely going to be on board.
We all knew The Fiend was going to be reborn in time for Mania, the actual events of this match (more like a segment honestly) were not at all surprising and I’m excited for the next chapter of The Fiend’s character. However, the match (segment) was extremely slow with maybe 4 things happening start to finish in a ten minute match. They really should have planned out more stuff or just picked up the pace.
Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns
I feel that Daniel Bryan has been randomly interjected into this feud just to give the main event a little more pizzazz, but having said that his role in the feud has grown on me, especially in the last two weeks. And after all, it’s Daniel Bryan, I should have trusted that this would have started shaping up. Honestly most of this match was awesome, but that shouldn’t be a surprise when you have two all time greats facing off.
However…the ending was the most confusing thing in the world. It’s like they had a list of ideas to pick from and just said “Let’s use them all.” Unlike a match with an ending like Big E vs. Apollo Crews where it was a bad botch but I could for the most part ignore it, this was conically part of the match, supposed to happen, and still stunk. They looked at this and said “This cluster f*ck of an idea will be a great story to include in this match,” which made it a lot more detrimental to the match than a botch would have been and isn’t something easily forgettable or forgivable.
There were some good matches in here but almost every one of them was marred by something; whether the end was badly booked, it was too long, or none of the storytelling struck home. Part of it falls on bad writing, but more so the heart of the issue feels like that this is a pointless PPV that puts talent and the writers in a difficult spot.
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