WWE Fastlane (10.3.19) review

WWE Fastlane

 

March 10 2019

 

Hi, I’ve just got back from Germany. It took me most of the day to write up my exploits there. Now I have to catch up on the mass of stuff I’ve missed. Here’s the start, and easier thing to do (thanks to the network), the WWE show. But it’s very long. Pushing four hours. What do you think this is 16 Carat Gold N2? On the plus side WrestleMania season is when WWE tends to perform better creatively so let’s do this.

 

Smackdown Tag Championship
The Usos (c) vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon
So we’re going to kick off with the greatest pure striker in the history of pro wrestling. We’re in Cleveland so Miz is particularly over. It’s the right match to start the show off and Miz is full of beans. At one point he does a dive right in front of his dad. There’s definitely mileage in the proud parent angle, whether they involve the dad to any greater degree or not. I also like that the match focuses on Miz and not his sweaty mate. Going to watch WWE after having not seen it for a while is quite strange because you forget how abysmal the camera work is. All they can shoot is poses. The crash zooms mean you miss most of the actual work. They might be killing it with the details but I can’t see it. Even the big spot; the Shane cut off in mid air looks bad because it’s from the hardcam, not the one at ringside that can actually see the spot. Miz tries for a frogsplash, to please his old man, but eats knees and defeat. This was a mixed bag but most of the bad stuff came from production. The storytelling was better than expected.
Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Then Shane turns on Miz and I howl with laughter. Finally everyone can hate Shane as much as me.

 

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) vs. Mandy Rose
The far, far more interesting match is stood at ringside in Sonya Deville. This match leans heavily on her as it is. The match is awful with a terrible angle of Sonya looking for plunder and then Mandy “slips” on the ring apron she exposed and gets kicked in the face. A contender for the worst finish of the year.
Final Rating: DUD

 

The Bar vs. Kofi Kingston
This is some weird bullshit where Vince tells Kofi he’s in the WWE title match and then turns it into a handicap match against the Bar instead. Is Vince thinking it’ll get Kofi over in the long run or something? I honestly don’t get his booking. The crowd chant “this is boring” because it is. Handicap matches are a total waste of time.
Final Rating: DUD

 

There have been two Elias segments on this show already. If they’re trying to make me hate wrestling after a buzzing weekend it’s fucking working.

 

RAW Tag Team Championship

The Revival (c) vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black vs. Chad Gable & Bobby Roode
In an attempt to cheer myself up I play Nordish By Nature vs. Ghostbusters over Ally Black’s entrance. Ricochet nodding along is a nice touch. There’s an air of competence about this from the start and it feels like they’ve been allowed to tell a story rather than have one forced upon them. There are some really good wrestlers out there…and Bobby Roode. The effort levels are high but the execution isn’t brilliant as they’re not really familiar with each other. I love Gable tagging Ricochet as he dives over the ring post. That’s just incredible. It’s so fast comms miss it completely. Shatter Machine finishes Gable and this was fun. A big recovery after back to back shitty matches.
Final Rating: ***1/4

 

WWE US Championship
Samoa Joe (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio
Oh now we’re talking. If they let this go and we get Andrade and Mysterio mixing it up with Joe we’re in for a proper banger. I feel like a multiman is the best use of Joe in between big matches and Truth is better off in there too. Rey still being able to go at this level at his age is incredible. He does a bunch of springboards and ranas and assorted flying that’s as smooth as it was in his prime. Andrade is doing all the same stuff effortlessly but he’s bang in his prime. At one point Truth outwits Andrade though, which shows he’s perhaps not the sharpest knife in the draw. They do a great job of incorporating missed spots into assaults on other people and making it look accidental. Rey tries to drop the dime but jumps into the choke and Joe wins. I loved this. Great sprint.
Final Rating: ****

 

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Sasha Banks & Bayley (c) vs. Nia Jax & Tamina
This is not an ideal first defence. Nia is quite bad but Tamina is one of the most worthless workers on the roster. Nia has early timing issues that make Bayley look stupid. I feel bad for the Boss N Hug Connection as they’re clearly trying to work this state-of-the-art mega-effort super indie bout and the other team just can’t hang with them at all. For example Nia falling over attempting a Samoan Drop. Sasha almost works around Nia at times. It’s pretty amazing that the champs are able to make the match as entertaining as it is. Bayley picks up the pin and we can move on. Hopefully finding more interesting opponents next time.
Final Rating: **1/2

 

Post Match: The challengers continue to attack so Beth Phoenix steps up to Tamina from comms and lays her out. Nia overwhelms her and Natalya saves but Nia kills her too. That’s a Mania pre-show match if ever I saw one. I like that Natalya has sneakers and sweats on like she was just hanging around backstage and saw it happen.

 

WWE Championship
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali
So Ali replaces Kofi after Kofi replaced Ali originally. It’s logical. However they’ve built Kofi up so it makes no sense to do this. It takes a while for the fans to buy into this match and there’s always a background of resentment. Owens adapts a little and works heel but Ali is then in a position where he has to be babyface. Ali takes a horrendous looking bump off the top to the rail. He makes it look like a back bump, which is sick. Not long after that the crowd start to come around to how good this match is and that Kofi isn’t a part of it. I like Owens using the Stunner since he came back. It feels like he’s Austin approved and enough time has passed that it’s ok. The match builds nicely and tells a story of how everyone could win given the circumstances. Which in itself is great news for Ali as he doesn’t look out of his depth. By the time he hits the 450 Splash on the apron the crowd are there. By the time Rowan interferes the crowd are actively behind him and Owens as is the nature of Kevin. He can make you hate him but he has natural support based on years of hard work. Ali coming off the ropes and getting creamed by the Busaiku Knee for the pinfall is fantastic work all around. They fought the crowd all the way here and against the odds got over. And that finish lads. Woo!
Final Rating: ****1/4

 

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte
If Becky loses she’s not going to Mania. But Becky won the Rumble. Why are they making this so complicated? I don’t understand it. It’s like they couldn’t think of anything so they put a bunch of obstackles in Becky’s path. Becky’s bad knee from January is still playing up. Due to the focus on the storyline we don’t get a great match. It’s plodding and lacking in energy. WWE are capable of ruining pretty much any sure thing. Anyway Charlotte has the match won with the Figure Eight but Ronda Rousey runs in, punches Becky in the face and causes a DQ. The crowd boo but Becky is going to Mania. Technically a total face move from Ronda, so desperate to beat Becky Lynch’s ass at Mania. At least we got to Mania, even if there’s six feet of blonde baggage in there.
Final Rating: **

 

Elias does a bit more singing but Randy Orton kills him out of nowhere. AJ Styles then appears to wipe Orton out. How did AJ know Orton was going to be out here? And what was with the Laceybomb?

 

The SHIELD vs. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre
It’s a bit weird that Ambrose is just a good guy again after a flop heel run and is likely to be gone in a month. Unless the whole thing is a work, which it feels like it is because they keep mentioning him not having signed his deal. Roman is back in the ring for the first time in months and this is probably the last SHIELD match and it is at least presented as that. It’s a shame they’re presented with such dour opponents. The match massively improves after they stop pissing around with heat segments and just have a big old scrap. This leaves the Big Dog in with Barry Corbin and somehow they think Corbin can match Roman in any way, shape or form. The Hounds of Justice are clearly going to prevail here and using the enhancement guys for a 25 minute match is weird to me. I like Drew but he’s so bland in WWE and the other two I don’t care about at all. I love Seth yelling “one last motherfucking time” when they set up for the SHIELDbomb but otherwise this was pretty forgettable. The crowd liked it and I generally missed the SHIELD at their peak so it wasn’t really for me.
Final Rating: **3/4

 

Summary:
A mixed bag from WWE on the road to Wrestlemania. Some really cracking stuff and a couple of absolutely dire matches in the first half. Did we really need Asuka vs. Mandy and that stupid Kofi angle? Hyped for Mania even if WWE have a patchy track record at delivering in the big show itself. There are so many shows that weekend that at least some of it will hit with me.

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