WWE FastLane – February 21st 2016
Quicken Loans Arena: Cleveland, OH.
We’re supposedly right in the middle of the most exciting and fun time of the year to be a wrestling fan. The Royal Rumble was six weeks ago and we’ve got another six weeks of TV leading up to the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 32. So, are you excited? – Yeah, me neither. We all know the problems WWE have had for years: The product is so stale and reeks of stagnation, the booking is seemingly designed to get nobody over, the company’s pigheadedness and reluctance to listen to their fans or to make fundamental changes in the way their product is presented has run-off literally hundreds of thousands of viewers and the ones that remain have been abused so badly over the last few years they have been beaten into a disconsolate acceptance that things will never change and never get any better. Things are bleak, everybody.
That leads me to FastLane, the final PPV during the build to WrestleMania, and once again the WWE is trying to force-feed the fans something they just do not want to swallow. Roman Reigns became the #1 contender after pinning Dean Ambrose in a very good three-way main event, however once again Reigns‘ big victory was soundly rejected by the fans and the big kick-off to him challenging HHH for the WWE title at WrestleMania went over like a Slayer gig in Vatican City. There is little point in ranting and raving anymore about how Reigns is not the guy, because clearly we all can see that; apparently the only person who can’t in Vince McMahon. At this point, it is probably best to just let Vince give Reigns his big WrestleMania coronation and let it die of its own accord. All the booing, negative signs and uproar online isn’t going to change Vince’s mind about this one. The only way Vince will get the message is if they put the title on Reigns and he bombs as champion.
The pre-show had the familiar collection of chumps exchanging mind-numbing banter; Renee Young was her usual congenial self, Corey Graves debuted his new douchey beard, Jerry Lawler made 50 year-old jokes and it was clear that Booker T has long since gone past the point of caring. The most noteworthy thing about the Kick-Off show was that Mauro Ranallo called the Kalisto/Del Rio match and, I don’t want to shock you, was infinitely better than Michael Cole. Kalisto retained the US title over Alberto Del Rio in a decent 16:10 2-out-of-3 falls match. Del Rio got DQ’d early in the first fall for using a chair, but soon evened it up by hitting his double foot stomp.
Kalisto hit a springboard DDT for a nice near-fall then they went outside and Del Rio hit his double stomp off the barricade. Finish saw them both counter each other’s finish and Kalisto got the pin with a roll-up. (***) I presumed Del Rio would get the title back here, however I guess they could do some kind of crazy multiple man match for the US title at Mania with Kalisto, which is probably the better option anyway. The only other thing of note was that AJ Styles was in the Social Media Lounge and he said he wrestled in the “minor leagues” in the US then went to Japan and is now in the “major leagues” with WWE.
Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks vs. Naomi & Tamina. – Becky & Sasha over in 9:50. Match was fine, but a bizarre choice for the opener. Heels got the heat on Becky forever; Sasha ran wild off the hot tag. Finish saw Becky put Naomi in the Disarmer and Sasha got the Banks Statement on Tamina to force the tap. – The crowd were into most of the match since it was still early in the show. They saved Sasha on Becky turning on each other for TV and the double submission finish from the faces was a nice way to set up a three-way with Charlotte at Mania. (** ¼)
IC Championship: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler. – Owens retained in 15:10. Solid match, but I never need to see these men wrestle each other ever again. Owens managed to get Ziggler to start off slow and controlled the early stages with a bunch of chinlocks. Ziggler made his comeback and got a near-fall with a DDT but Owens cut him off with his Super Fisherman Buster. Ziggler rolled outside and hit the first of at least six Superkicks in the match. After more Superkicks, they went back to the floor and Ziggler sent Owens into the steps head first with a Head Scissors. Finish was good and the crowd got into it, as Ziggler went for a Superkick but Owens moved and Dolph nearly hit the referee. Owens capitalised and hit the Pop-up Powerbomb to mercifully end this feud. – Owens sent out a Tweet later on and called out AJ Styles, saying he would take him out in less time than it took him to toss AJ out of the Royal Rumble, so Owens/Styles appears to be the direction for WrestleMania, which to be fair should be awesome. (***)
Big Show, Kane & Ryback vs. The Wyatt Family w/Bray Wyatt. – Show, Kane & Ryback over in 10:37. This wasn’t the disaster I and many others were expecting, but it was still not good. Wyatts got the heat on Kane; nobody cared at all. Ryback made a comeback with some power moves then it broke down with everyone brawling all over the place. Show clotheslined Strowman over the top as a tease for the Andre Battle Royal then he gave Harper a Military Press over the top onto the other Wyatts. Ryback pinned Luke Harper with a sloppy looking Shellshock, because lord knows we need to protect Ryback, Show & Kane. – All these guys will probably be in the Andre Battle Royal, so this match was pretty meaningless and since Show, Kane & Ryback are three of the most stale guys on the roster, I was bored to tears during this match. (**)
Divas’ Championship: Charlotte (C) w/Ric Flair vs. Brie Bella. – Charlotte retained in 12:30. Not a good match at all and both women looked pretty bad throughout. There were tons of communication issues and laughable attempts at spots they had no business trying. Brie wore Daniel Bryan’s kick pads from WrestleMania 30 and threw some “Yes!” kicks. The finish was actually fairly decent, as Brie transitioned from the “Yes” Lock to a single leg Crab and some fans even bought it as the finish. Charlotte fought out and kicked Brie into the ropes then applied the Figure Eight and Brie tapped out in the most pathetic manner ever. – Cole played up the idea afterwards that Brie’s leg gave out when Charlotte kicked out from the Crab, but watching live it just looked like Brie collapsed in a heep for no reason. (*¾)
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho. – Styles over in 16:25. Very good match, although I personally liked their SmackDown match a little more. The crowd were more into this than anything on the show up to this point and started duelling chants. It was back-and-forth early on. Styles went for a Pescado but Jericho countered with a dropkick from the floor, which was a really cool spot. Styles went for his Springboard Reverse DDT, but Jericho was too far away so AJ improvised and took Jericho down anyway. Another nice spot saw Styles go for a Springboard, but Jericho did a Springboard of his own and Dropkicked Styles while he was standing on the top rope. Jericho countered a super Frankensteiner and dropped down into the Walls, however AJ nearly took a nasty bump on the back of his neck in the process. Jericho put Styles in the Walls on the floor then hit the Codebreaker in the ring but AJ kicked out. AJ hit the Styles Clash and Jericho kicked out of the most devastating finish in the business. Finish saw AJ hook the Calf Crusher and Jericho did a great job of teasing the tap-out before finally submitting. They shook hands afterwards and Jericho patted Styles on the back, so it seems this feud is over with Styles winning 2-1. – For whatever reason, Jericho & Styles never quite lived up to what you would expect out of a three match series between the two. All the matches were good, however they were unable to kick it into a higher gear and take their matches to the next level. Hopefully a program with Kevin Owens will produce the blow away matches from Styles that we all saw him deliver in New Japan for the last couple of years. (*** ½)
This is where the show went off the rails and turned into a really terrible episode of RAW. We had the New Day on the Cutting Edge Peep Show to shill Edge & Christian’s new horrendous show on the Network. It wasn’t funny or entertaining in the least and just kept getting more embarrassing and cringe-worthy as the segment kept going. After some painfully bad interaction between New Day & E&C, Xavier insulted the League of Nations, who came out simply to be insulted by E&C. New Day just left and were followed quickly by E&C; Edge called the League of Nations the, “International House of Dumbasses” and Christian told everybody to watch their show. – If star ratings applied to segments then this piece of garbage would undoubtedly get minus five stars. It was just the literal worst.
Things got even worse, as the Social Outcasts showed up and R-Truth appeared to face Curtis Axel; on PPV no less.
Curtis Axel w/Social Outcasts vs. R-Truth. – Axel over in 2:30. Goldust came out to try and even the odds but he ended up costing Truth the match by throwing Adam Rose in the ring and Truth got pinned after a roll-up from Axel. – I don’t know if they timed the E&C segment out incorrectly or they were just running short on time in general, but this match was a further insult after the horrendous that preceded it. (DUD)
#1 Contendership for the WWE World Title: Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns. – Reigns became the #1 Contender at 16:55. Great main event; not at the level of the three-way from the 2015 Royal Rumble, but still very good. Story of the match was Brock killing Ambrose & Reigns with suplexes early on and it was clear that one man was incapable of stopping Lesnar, so Ambrose & Reigns would have to work together. They gave Lesnar a double Powerbomb through one of the announce tables then fought it out amongst themselves for a while. Lesnar got back up, so Reigns & Ambrose gave him a second Powerbomb through another announce table and the two buried Brock under a pile of debris, which we never got the monster rising from the depths pay-off from. Ambrose got a near-fall on Reigns with his DDT and Cole yelled, “IT’S GOING TO BE AMBROSE & HHH AT WRESTLEMANIA,” which blatantly gave away that it would not be. Reigns had Ambrose up for a Samoan Drop and Lesnar came back to give him a German and both men went flying; it was awesome. Reigns hit Lesnar with a spear, but Brock hooked the Kimura. Reigns hoisted Brock up and Ambrose nailed Lesnar in the back with a chair then Ambrose went back and forth delivering chair shots to Lesnar & Reigns. Lesnar rolled out of the ring and Reigns, who apparently was fine after all these chair shots, leaped to his feet and pinned Ambrose with a spear. There were a couple of women shrieking for Reigns, but the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. They even turned up Reigns‘ music to drowned out the boos from the crowd. HHH showed up and did the big WrestleMania face-off with Reigns and it was met with abject apathy from the crowd. – The only real issue I have with the match is Reigns jumping to his feet after taking a bunch of chair shots, the exact same chair shots that took Brock Lesnar out of the match, to hit his move and win. If they wanted to, there is a ready made program between Ambrose & Lesnar for Mania, which they have been building up on TV anyway. So with any luck Bray Wyatt is out and it will be Ambrose vs. Lesnar which is a vast improvement. (*** ¾)