The Morning After Pill: WWE Fastlane Thoughts

The road to Wrestlemania begins at the Royal Rumble every year and as things swing into high gear, last night’s WWE Fastlane was the last stop on the road to the “show of shows.” The show answered some questions, further shaped out the Mania card and left us with some head scratchers. How did we (well Stokester) think the PPV did overall? Here are our match-by-match grades, winners, losers and overall thoughts.

Match #1 (Preshow)
Noam Dar & The Brian Kendrick vs Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa

The preshow match between the team of Noam Dar and Brian Kendrick vs Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa was pretty much filler before the big show began. All four men are solid cruiserweight competitors but I honestly had no vested interest in this match. Some high spots by Tozawa and Swann near the end of the match made it entertaining, as those two go the win.

Match Grade: B-

Match #2
Samoa Joe vs Sami Zayn

My initial thought when I saw this match opening the show was “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Joe and Zayn had some runs ins on Raw the few weeks leading up to the match and we all know that both of these guys can “go” in the ring. The expectation was Samoa Joe would go over, to further build on him being “The Destroyer” and of course that was the end result. The match however, was just OK. I was expecting much more from these two being paired up together and I can’t help but wonder if that was WWE’s plan, not to give us too much with this match. Joe and Zayn don’t have any long term plans to feud with each other and the match served its purpose of building Joe has a dominant figurehead on Raw.

Match Grade: B-

Match #3
Raw Tag Team Championship
Gallows & Anderson vs Enzo & Big Cass

Personally, the only person out of this foursome that I am a fan of is Big Cass. I don’t know why but I can see him having a successful singles career down the road. I thought he showed a lot of potential when he wrestled several months ago in the Fatal Four Way match that saw Kevin Owens become Universal Champion but I digress….this match was just blah. Gallows and Anderson are a formidable tag team, internationally known and deserve to be the champs but they just don’t do it for me. They need a spark (Finn Balor where are you?), something to make me care about them. As far as Enzo goes, I’m about as annoyed with him as Corey Graves. He’s entertaining-ish but the act is starting to get old. Clearly I have no thoughts on this match as I only can seem to give you guys my personal opinions about the combatants. Oh, the champs retained.

Match Grade: C


Match #4
Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks

My HTR co-host, Daris Brown loves Nia Jax and prays she’s in line to win the Raw Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania. While, I personally don’t dislike Jax, I like the slow build WWE is doing with her as I feel she still needs some polishing up. Her movie star cousin and WWE legend, The Rock illuded to this in a recent post on his Instagram page. That being said, some of the build-up the announcers gave Jax during the match didn’t jive with the way the match was booked. I have no issues with Sasha Banks going over, as it looks like the plan is to pit her against her “best friend” Bayley at Wrestlemania but to talk about how strong Nia Jax is and then have her lose on a roll-up was kind of weak. It would have been great for WWE to plant the seed of a Sasha Banks heel turn (which everyone wants) by having her cheat in some way to beat Jax. Guess it’s still time for that to happen…

Match Grade: C

Match #5
Cesaro vs Jinder Mahal

WWE always notes on their programs and promotions for an event that the card is subject to change. Well matches five and six give you just that, a swerve in the Fastlane card. The good news is we got to see Cesaro wrestling. The bad news was that Jinder Mahal was the opponent. Not sure what the purpose for this was (other than filler) but we got the match and again with there being no story as to why these two guys were paired up, I had no interest in the match. As expected Cesaro got the win.

Match Grade: C

Match #6
Big Show vs Rusev

I guess it’s never a bad thing to see Lana on a show but again this was a match that served no purpose. “Handsome” Rusev got squashed by “Ancient” Big Show. It would have made much more sense to just put Jinder Mahal and Rusev in a match against each other, since the real history and animosity is between the two of them.

Match Grade: D


Match #7
WWE Cruiserweight Championship

Neville vs Jack Gallagher

This match was a contender for “Match of the Night” on an otherwise lackluster show. I was very impressed with Gallagher in a losing effort. Those headbutts are vicious! He delivered a huge belly-to-back suplex off the top rope which Neville countered later in the match with a nasty belly-to-back suplex. The crowd even briefly chanted “This is awesome” for what was a solid match. In the end the “King of the Cruiserweights” retained but had to pull every trick out of the bag, even the Red Arrow to get the win.

Match Grade: B+

Match #8
Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns

This would be the longest match of the night and an impressive showing by both men. I get that people boo Roman Reigns but dude delivers pretty much every time he’s in the ring. Strowman really impressed me in his match with the Big Show on Raw last week and has been a dominating monster for months. This match was very physical, with lots of power moves delivered by both guys. Though I hate, that the undefeated dominance of Strowman had to end, I understand why Reigns had to go over in this match. With a potential match with The Undertaker looming, Reigns had to chop down a monster to prepare to step in the ring with another.

Match Grade: B+

Match #9
WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Bayley vs Charlotte Flair

So this match was a little confusing. The WWE has played “hot potato” with the Women’s Championship over the last several months, mostly seeing the title bounce between Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Bayley of course gets the call up from NXT, and quickly gets into the mix, winning the championship (with an assist from Sasha Banks) on Raw last month. Charlotte has (well had) an undefeated streak of singles PPV wins, with 16. Wouldn’t it make more sense for that streak to come to an end at Wrestlemania? Admittedly, I am not as vested in the Bayley vs Charlotte matches as I was for Charlotte vs Sasha Banks. The chemistry was better with the latter. We know that Bayley and Banks have great chemistry as they displayed in some classic matches during their time in NXT, so here’s to hoping we get some of that in the next few months.

Match Grade: B-

Match #10
WWE Universal Championship

Kevin Owens vs Goldberg

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll continue to say it a million more…..Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar does not need a championship to make the match intriguing. Even though it was an epic fail at Wrestlemania XX, people are vested because Goldberg hasn’t wrestled in a while. Most people want to see the match. It would be a draw, without the belt. So with this thought in mind, I was hoping that the WWE would swerve us and let KO retain. Not only did KO not retain, he lost in 22 seconds. I do like the Chris Jericho assist to further build that match for Mania but a title for title match between Jericho and Owens could have been epic. WWE blew this one in my opinion. Good for Goldberg though, I guess….

Match Grade: D

OVERALL PPV GRADE: C+

FASTLANE WINNERS

Jack Gallagher: Though he’s competing with Sheamus to win the WWE’s most pale superstar award and his gimmick is a little cheesy, he showed me something in his match with Neville last night. Solid performance by a guy who should be a player going forward in the Cruiserweight division.

Goldberg: Though I’m not a fan of the circumstances in which he won the title, you have to be impressed with the physical shape Goldberg is in at 50 years old. You also have to be impressed with the run he’s had in this brief return to the WWE. The universe has responded well and he’s riding the nostalgia all the way to Wrestlemania.

Braun Strowman: Another “loser” touted as one of my winners. Braun is a very athletic big man and had an above average showing in his match with Roman Reigns. It will be interesting to see what WWE’s plans are for him at Wrestlemania.

Roman Reigns: “The Big Dog” took down the “Monster Among Men” in one of the most entertaining matches of the night. Reigns is penciled in to be the next opponent for The Undertaker which will make for an interesting match at Wrestlemania. Reigns is solid in the ring but can he take his game to the next level while elevating Taker in the process?

FASTLANE LOSERS

Kevin Owens: Guess it’s not really his fault, but what a sucky way to drop the Universal Championship. Fans really enjoyed him as champion and a match with Chris Jericho at Mania with both the Universal and United States titles on the line would have been intriguing. There is still plenty of spark in their potential match and you’d expect the United States title to be up for grabs.

Sami Zayn: Poor Sami. Dude just can’t catch a break. He was squashed by Samoa Joe and has seemingly turned into the resident punching bag of the upper/main event level Raw talent. Zayn is a talented in ring performer, we all know this but sometimes I question if WWE actually remembers.

Bayley: First, let me say that I like Bayley. She’s talented. I hate her finisher though. It is not believable that a belly-to-belly suplex is so devastating that is knocks the opponent to unconsciousness. Her match against Charlotte could have been better.

MATCH OF THE NIGHT
Neville vs Jack Gallagher

I was going to deem this a tie between the Neville/Gallagher match and the Reigns/Strowman match but I’m going to give to Neville/Gallagher because it was the match that I was most entertained by last night and it’s my article. Great work by both men with a good mix of technical work and some high spots.

HTR Original known as “The Stokester.” Was making “List” before Jericho was cool. Hear my golden voice weekly on the HTR Podcast. Read my humble opinions here at HTRR.com. Detroit Bred. Got more kids than Heath Slater, so I really need this job.

  • They messed up with Jax. Should’ve found a better way to get a slick win for Banks. And we need that Banks heel turn … like yesterday.

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