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WWE Fastlane 2016 Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

Another year, another chance for Roman Reigns to get into the WrestleMania main event and another year where he wins said chance.

Last year, it was against a heavy fan favorite in Daniel Bryan to take on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at the time, Brock Lesnar. Fans were so into Bryan’s return that they actually forced Mania plans to change again, with Reigns needing to beat him to get to Mania and be bought as a “main-eventer.”

This year, we have Reigns (who already had a World Title run) gunning for the same position, only Triple H is Champion, Lesnar’s in his way as is his “brother” Dean Ambrose, the heavy fan favorite.

Predictable booking squandered all a great main event could offer and despite some good matches, an odd final few segments/matches won’t leave Fastlane 2016 in the “classic shows” conversations.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/21/16)

The Breakdown

– Despite getting bumped to the pre-show, WWE United States Champion Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio delivered the kind of high-stakes bout we’d initially hoped for ever since Kalisto initially “upset” Del Rio in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament. A decent rivalry sparked from that point, even if the Title was put on hot potato status there for a moment, but since Kalisto regained the gold, he has held a firm grip on his destiny. With this being a best two-out-of-three falls match, the final rubber fall was inevitable, but the journey there was nice. What elevated this match was Mauro Ranallo’s stellar commentary, particularly insightful in how important the match itself was in Mexican wrestling culture and translating it to Kalisto’s story. The match itself was smart, with Del Rio giving up the first fall by DQ to hit Kalisto with a chair and throw him around for the second fall, earning that one quickly. The third fall provided the best action, notably with Del Rio’s brutal double stomp variation on the timekeepers barricade. Kalisto looked impressive from going one second to being counted out to getting the win on a surprise roll-up. Can’t say we want to see these go at it again, but if this was the finale, it was a good one. Who’s next for Kalisto?

– The opening video themed a drag race while hyping the triple-threat main event between Ambrose, Reigns and Lesnar, all for a chance to fight Triple H at WrestleMania. All roads would lead to one place and this was the race to WrestleMania. Now if only Eva Marie wasn’t the flag waver. Ew.

– It says a lot that the opener here was the Sasha Banks/Becky Lynch-Naomi/Tamina tag match, but that should tell you how well the storyline has gone over for everyone. Naomi has almost seen her character resurge with newfound confidence on the mic and in the ring, being one of the reasons this storyline has clicked. On the other hand, we had Banks and Lynch being on-and-off, which made for some fun backstage segments and paid off with physical matches. Liked how the match started with Lynch/Banks arguing again, before getting on the same page. The crowd was hot for Banks, which made Naomi score great heat when she pulled her off the apron before a hot tag could occur. This was only temporary, since after Banks did tag in, the crowd was into it all the way to the end when she got the Bank Statement applied, coupled with Lynch’s Disarmer on the other opponent. Good stuff overall, as we assume the way both are gunning for WWE Divas Champion Charlotte that they’ll compete for the chance to take her on one-on-one or all be put together for a true Mania moment.

– There’s only so many times we can see WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler fight, but this at least made sense since it made Ziggler’s recent victories over Owens pay off, along with Owens getting his belt back like he’d been pushing for ever since losing it. One interesting thing we had here was Ziggler getting the hometown love, while Owens turned on the trash-talk charm. Both guys went at each other in a lengthier effort than usual. More superkicks and rolling out of the ring than we would’ve liked, but this was still entertaining. With Owens just getting the belt back, it’d be stupid to take it off him, so we liked the decisive finish where he countered another superkick into a Pop-Up Powerbomb sans the Irish whip to head into “KO-Mania” unscathed.

– Nice to see Ryback, The Big Show and Kane on the same page in their backstage segment, but this time would’ve been better served for a Wyatt Family fog promo. Nobody looks at Ryback, Show and Kane as “titans.”

– On that note, the six-man tag between Ryback/Show/Kane and Luke Harper/Erick Rowan/Braun Strowman was probably the weakest storyline headed into the night, but Show and Ryback looked good throughout the match and kept things from getting stale. This was sort of a nod to all those 2013/2014 chaotic six-man tags that involved these guys. What went wrong here was the result. You’re telling us The Wyatt Family dedicates all this time to each taking down separate “titans” in their quest to become the lone gods in WWE (or something like that) and they can’t beat these titans altogether? Here’s a tip – if the Wyatts are to have any credibility, how about not having them lose so close to Mania? Apocalypse our ass.

– The backstage segment with Reigns and Ambrose hyped the main event with the focus on their relationship relating to the WrestleMania main event. Reigns felt his life was on the line, while Ambrose wanted to see what life was like in the “Fast Lane.” Did they purposely forget Lesnar? Either way, the fact that Reigns was mostly booed by the crowd here shouldn’t have been a good sign for WWE officials who hope to get him over. Putting him in a position where Ambrose could be cheered over him was a mistake to begin with.

– When Brie Bella initially upset Charlotte on Raw, we assumed they’d save this esteemed throwaway Title match for Raw, but culminating with Nikki Bella’s (her sister) important neck surgery and Daniel Bryan’s (her husband) emotional retirement, we had real-life elements to make Brie the ultimate babyface going against Charlotte, who didn’t have to try hard to get heat. This was an easy, relatable storyline riding a wave of emotion like no other Diva storyline in the past few years. For better or worse, it made you want to see Brie win, even if you knew there was no chance in hell of it occurring. Good choice to go even further by showing Brie wearing Bryan’s furry kick pads worn on WrestleMania XXX, the night of his career, for some good luck. As for the wrestling, Charlotte did her best to carry Brie to a believable effort, but there were some miscommunications that led to a rough botch for Brie midway through the match. Despite that, the pace was good and the story told was acceptable, as Charlotte squashed any offense Brie would build up, which led to the finish, as Brie’s leg gave out on a dropkick (a target for Charlotte during the match) and that helped Charlotte counter a single leg crab into the Figure Eight to retain. Decent overall, but we can’t say that made us want to watch it again. Let’s hope they don’t shell out any more throwaway Charlotte-Brie bouts.

– Chris Jericho’s backstage promo was a decent lead-in to their third rubber match, trying to make it appear as if the pressure was on for AJ Styles to win and he had nothing to lose here. The line about Styles being “sent packing if he lost” was a stretch, but may have been designed that way.

– Styles-Jericho III gave us more of the same and that’s a good thing. Ever since their first Raw match, their in-ring chemistry has only tightened and we’ve even seen some entertaining promo exchanges, as Styles continues to find himself in WWE. Working with Jericho can only be good for his career at the moment, though we’re eager to see where things will lead to him after this. While it felt like they tried hard to make it feel different from the past two matches, there were some cool spots (Jericho dropkicking Styles’ suicide dive attempt, the simultaneous springboard dropkicks) and a good mix of technical maneuvers and psychological wrestling worked in. Jericho was more heelish here with how he consistently taunted and slapped Styles, which made Styles’ comeback even better. That said, Jericho kicking out of the Styles Clash wasn’t a big deal, since Styles had beaten other competitors with the move and it led right into what did finish Jericho off, the Calf Crusher submission, which is rare for Jericho to lose via submission, so it felt big either outcome. Overall, a good match, maybe below their second encounter, but better than their first. The post-match interaction gave us a nice Jericho heel turn tease, but the handshake fit the moment.

– It’d been a long time since we got to experience Edge’s kickass entrance and theme song in full effect, so that was one plus of The Cutting Edge Peep Show segment that also involved Christian, the WWE World Tag Team Champions, The New Day and The League Of Nations. Unfortunately, the pluses stop there. Despite some bold “disses” (mentioning Kofi Kingston’s dropped Jamaican accent), all the banter went nowhere. What exactly were they setting up here? New Day looked like heels, especially interrupting Edge/Christian before they could introduce their guests, continued to stroke their own egos by insulting other tag teams and then backed away from a confrontation by LON when they came out to face them. At one point, it looked like they were setting up LON to turn face since they confronted heels who insulted them and New Day had backed off. Then, LON insult Edge/Christian and tell them to leave the ring, which leads to Edge/Christian/New Day to… twerk and celebrate? Who are the heels and faces here? If the plan was to turn New Day face, why not have them rush the ring and clear out LON? This felt like a mighty unspectacular way to promote the new Edge/Christian WWE Network show.

– Was a freaking Pay-Per-View the best time to have Goldust and R-Truth continue this lame storyline of Goldust wanting Truth to tag with him? We doubt this will lead to anything like it did for American Alpha, so why even bother with this? This needed to be dragged out for a month? This felt like Main Event-esque filler. On that note, The Social Outcasts continue to just “be there” with zero momentum. So, Goldust inadvertently helps Curtis Axel defeat Goldust. That was it. Other than that, SO’s car-related opening promo was chuckle-worthy. Moving on.

– As far as the talent involved and the match itself, the triple-threat main event between Ambrose, Lesnar and Reigns delivered. Reigns had his usual big man spots, Lesnar had his suplexes and superhuman strength and Ambrose seemed to be fighting with a higher purpose as the crowd’s heavy favorite. Then again, he was in his home state. The elements came together for some logical storytelling, as Reigns/Ambrose teamed up to take Lesnar out with two announce table powerbombs, steel chairs, remnants of the tables and a low-blow. Again, why doesn’t Lesnar wear a cup at this point? When it was time for Ambrose and Reigns to trade fists, that was okay, but didn’t feel as dramatic as it could’ve. At least the finish protected Lesnar since he wasn’t pinned, but this crowd really wanted Ambrose to win and not Reigns like everyone feared. Given the inevitable, could’ve been worse, but could that post-match staredown between Triple H and Reigns been any less dramatic? Imagine if TLC ended like that. WWE needs to get back to pushing Reigns as an unapologetic badass with no heart. That’s who fans want to embrace. Reigns comes off superficial as a character and that’s through no fault of his own, but rather the way he’s being booked. Let’s hope he doesn’t get cheesy as WrestleMania season comes into full gear.

 

 

 

 

 

Results

  • Pre-Show – WWE United States Championship – Best Two-Out-Of-Three Falls – Kalisto (Champion) def. Alberto Del Rio two falls to one to retain
  • Sasha Banks/Becky Lynch def. Naomi/Tamina via pinfall
  • WWE Intercontinental Championship – Kevin Owens (Champion) def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to retain
  • Six-Man Tag – Ryback/The Big Show/Kane def. Braun Strowman/Luke Harper/Erick Rowan (w/Bray Wyatt) via pinfall
  • WWE Divas Championship – Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) def. Brie Bella via submission to retain
  • AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho via submission
  • Curtis Axel (w/Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Heath Slater) def. R-Truth via pinfall
  • Winner Faces Triple H In WrestleMania Main Event For WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Triple-Threat – Roman Reigns def. Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar via pinfall
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About Nicholas Jason Lopez

Just a 25 year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently Freelancing for The Bensonhurst Bean website in Brooklyn, he has also been published on sites such as Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on February 23, 2016, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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