Did ‘Fast Lane’ offer any surprises at all? Did it create any excitement at all? The quick answer to both questions is: no! There were a few good matches, but the obvious outcomes sapped them of any suspense. We are on the Road to WrestleMania, but the traffic has stalled…
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks vs Naomi and Tamina
Why was this match on ‘Fast Lane’? Why not relegate this to the pre-show and have the US Championship match on the Special? I’m not saying that it didn’t provide any entertainment; it provided a little. Banks and Lynch are smooth operators in the ring, and Naomi and Tamina did their best to keep up with the former NXT wrestlers. The match started off ‘Fast Lane’ well. But what, exactly, was the point of it? Why didn’t Lynch and Banks fight for the Number 1 Contendership for the Diva’s Championship? We all know that’s where the two women are heading, so why not start off the Women’s Road to WrestleMania at ‘Fast Lane’? Instead, we were given a Raw Diva’s tag team match. Yes, it was okay, but meant nothing.
WINNERS: Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks
VERDICT: 5/10. Average, pointless and unmemorable.
Kevin Owens (c) vs Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship Match)
Owens and Ziggler are capable of so much more. It was a good match, but it felt like the two wrestlers were holding something back. Ziggler seemed to only remember how to do corner splashes, elbow drops and superkicks. If there’s any move that’s over-exposed on WWE programming, it’s the superkick (along with the suicide dive). In the last few moments of this match, no less than three superkicks were shared between Owens and Ziggler. The only sequence of the match that grabbed my attention was Ziggler’s reversal of Owen’s Apron Powerbomb into a hurricanrana that sent Owens into the steel steps. But apart from that, and maybe the Hanging Fisherman Suplex, nothing left an impression. The ending, too, looked dodgy. Ziggler missed another Superkick and grabbed the referee, trying to make the crowd think he had almost hit the ref (which wasn’t true; the ref wasn’t in position). Owens took advantage, kicked Ziggler in the knee (for some reason), and hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb for the finish. It was rushed and abrupt.
WINNER: Kevin Owens
VERDICT: 6/10. Better than average, but these two wrestlers delivered a performance unworthy of their skills.
The Wyatt Family (bar Bray Wyatt) vs The Big Show, Kane and Ryback
Here we came to the worst match of the night. Do I really need to explain why? It’s a match involving The Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan and Brawn Strawman! Luke Harper and Ryback tried their best to spice up the match, but in amongst so many flotsam and jetsam, their efforts were a drop in the ocean. In the closing moments of the match, there was a jolt of excitement, but it was too short to make a difference to the quality of the match. Not only that, but why did The Wyatt Family lose? I thought it was usual to make Bray Wyatt/The Wyatt Family look strong before ‘Mania? The Wyatt Family looked to be feuding with Lesnar at ‘Mania due to the shenanigans at Royal Rumble. But after this loss, where for the Wyatts now? The WWE are incredibly short on star power. Why sacrifice The Wyatt Family to the knackered Show and Kane?!??!
WINNERS: The Big Show, Kane and Ryback
VERDICT: 3/10. Almost offensively boring, mixed with an offensive ending. Poor Wyatts…
Charlotte (c) vs Brie Bella (Women’s Championship Match)
Was this Brie Bella’s best performance in the ring? Did she channel her husband? I’d even rate this match above Owens/Ziggler. Brie messed up less than usual (in fact, I can’t bring one botch to mind at the moment…oh wait, I think there was a messed-up drop toehold), and Charlotte was on form as usual. The psychology of the match, surrounding Daniel Bryan and Nikki Bella, added layers to the in-ring action. It was simple but effective. For example, when Brie tried the Yes Lock and D Bryan’s kicks, or when Charlotte tried Nikki’s Alabama Slam. Even though it was exploitative, Brie’s story leading up to the match cast her in a sympathetic light. The light gave her a glow that she seemed to thrive on during the match. What can I say, I was impressed! Especially with her Yes Lock into Single Leg Crab! Brie’s knee injury was a little underplayed, which made the finish a little confusing, but apart from that, some pretty good action from the women!
VERDICT: 8/10. Maybe a re-view will change my mind on this match, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Props to both women, but especially Brie!
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho
We’ve seen this match twice since Styles’ debut, but Styles and Jericho did more than enough to make this a very different match to their previous clashes. They appeared to predict each other’s moves, understand each other’s strategy, and adapt their strategy accordingly. It was a game of one-upmanship that increased in intensity right up until the end. There were a few wobbles throughout, such as Styles almost-botched Stylin’ DDT (which is a common problem for that move!), but they weren’t enough to extinguish the fire of this match. There were some jaw-dropping moments, such as Jericho’s Springboard Dropkick to a Styles about to springboard. Jericho seemed to dominate the match to a degree where Styles was over-shadowed, but it is hard to overshadow Styles. Styles won the rubber match with the Calf Crusher (after Jericho kicked out of the Styles Clash, I must say). Now that that’s over with, where now for Styles? A feud with Owens?!?!?
WINNER: AJ Styles
VERDICT: 8/10. Another very good match from Styles and Jericho, and a very different match to their previous two clashes.
SEGMENT: The New Day and Edge and Christian
Yes, this raised a few laughs, but what was the point of it? Why did the League of Nations come down? Was this supposed to initiate a babyface turn by The New Day? I know there are few tag teams that could face The New Day at WrestleMania, but are the League of Nations the answer? Simply not! A segment that outstayed its welcome and only served to promote Edge and Christian’s WWE Network show (which looks terrible, by the way). I thought ‘Fast Lane’ was supposed to promote WrestleMania, not two ex-wrestlers who will not wrestle at ‘Mania!
Curtis Axel vs R Truth
A surprise match that no one wanted to see. What a waste of time.
WINNER: Curtis Axel
VERDICT: 1/10. Why even bother with this match?
Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose (Number 1 Contendership to the WWE Championship)
The ending to this match was as obvious as the ending to main event of last year’s Fast Lane. Reigns was going to win this match. Ambrose lost the IC Title to create suspense for this match, but it was an easy subterfuge to see through (and even easier to predict that Reigns would pin Ambrose to win the match). However, that didn’t stop the match from providing a lot of enjoyment. As Michael Cole said, there’s a perverse enjoyment in watching Lesnar wrestle. He shows no compassion for his opponents as he hurls them wrecklessly around the ring. That was true in this match. Reigns and Ambrose were thrown about like rag dolls until they managed to eliminate Lesnar from the action (for a while!). Lesnar doesn’t do much apart from German Suplexes and Belly-to-Back Suplexes, but they are executed with such ferocity that they dissipate the illusion of fake wrestling. The three wrestlers put a lot of effort into this match. It was befitting of a main event, even though the finish was obvious and there wasn’t a moment where I thought that Reigns could lose the match. It could have done with more false finishes and the ending seemed very abrupt. Did they cut the match short to have HHH come out for a staredown with Reigns? What was the point in that? I thought that HHH didn’t want Reigns anywhere near the title, so why didn’t he try to screw Reigns out of winning the match?
WINNER: Roman Reigns
VERDICT: 8/10. A triple threat match made by Brock Lesnar. When Reigns and Ambrose were fighting each other, there was a noticeable lack of heat. However, it was a solid main event with a predictable outcome.
OVERALL VERDICT: 5/10. Three very good matches couldn’t save the event from feeling underwhelming. It’s supposed to be an event of hype for WrestleMania, but afterwards I felt less excited than before for ‘Mania. There were too many disposable matches and segments, and too little forward planning for the biggest event of the year. Colour me blasé about WrestleMania and Fast Lane…
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(Click here for my review of Royal Rumble 2016)