WWE Fastlane 2017 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Indicative of the lackluster Raw brand compared to the glitz of SmackDown Live’s progressive storylines and vibe, Fastlane is what you get when you bring WrestleMania season into the fold.
Ice cream bars, Jinder Mahal singles matches, potential streaks ending and questionable creative decisions are what this Fastlane will be best remembered for.
Also let the record show that the Cruiserweights stole the show and it wasn’t close.
Deemed “the last stop before WrestleMania,” this one had us downright sleepy at the wheel at times. Drive with caution.
The Pre-Show Breakdown
– The Akira Tozawa/Rich Swann-The Brian Kendrick/Noam Dar match with Austin Aries on commentary was about as pre-show as it gets, but it did have an enjoyable Tozawa-Kendrick feud entangled, primarily focused on Kendrick’s anger-driven obsession to “teach” Tozawa how to regret turning down his offer to be his mentor. On the other side, you get Tozawa out to prove himself and get over in the process. Should we also count that weird lover storyline with Swann going after Fox and maybe buying her flowers? Nah, let’s not. Of course, they worked in Aries’ own hype video yet again. Nice way to start with Kendrick teasing a showdown with Tozawa only to duck out at the last second. Funny moment where Tozawa faked a punch and instead “AHH!”‘d in Dar’s face. If anybody can turn “AHHH!” into an adjective, it’s this guy. Also for what it was, the Milwaukee crowd were into Swann’s near-fall attempts. A nice sequence between Tozawa-Kendrick after the hot tag. Looks like we’d finally get that stereo plancha spot for the faces. Swann executed his Phoenix Splash to pin Dar after Tozawa took out Kendrick with the German suplex. Good action with a hurried pace towards the end, but again it’s the pre-show, so the faces win to make you want to watch the rest of the show? Something like that.
– Like years prior, the opening video revolved around the talk of roads, because it’s the “last stop before Mania.” They worked in sound bites from those competing in Title matches. Set the paint and let the races begin. No pretty ladies holding flags this year.
– The Sami Zayn-Samoa Joe match brought things on just what we needed in terms of the card. One of the better built feuds on Raw, this would allow Zayn to be Zayn (Underdog City, Bitch) against the powerhouse Joe, who has done things like injure Seth Rollins on his Raw debut and defeat Cesaro cleanly. That said, we assumed Joe would get the nod. We were also ecstatic that Commentator Michael Cole brought up their NXT history and their infamous Best 2-Out-Of-3 Falls match that lasted a whole episode. Pepperidge Farm remembers. The two had chemistry (nothing new if you’ve seen their indy work) and gelled from the first tie-up. This was quite a receptive crowd. They even reacted to an enziguri from Joe. Zayn pulled off a nice Blue Thunder Bomb, but that never wins the match despite Cole’s raised suspicions that this “might be it.” Joe rocked a bruise on the back of his upper right thigh. We also noticed a demon Finn Balor in the front row of the hard camera. EEP. Zayn played possum to lead to a nice two. He was within a millisecond of a Helluva Kick, but Joe took that momentum and yanked it down to the canvas. A Coquina Clutch later and Zayn was laid out enough for the Referee to call it right there. Good for what we figured it would be. Let’s hope the show only picks up from here.
– Backstage, WWE Raw Women’s Champion Bayley spoke about her nerves as she considered this was her first Title defense on a Pay-Per-View, a situation where her challenger was 16-0. She insisted she was up for the challenge and proposed that Dana Brooke should be left backstage so they can battle it out. Okay then. Nia Jax walked into the shot and wasted no time to let her know that “her bestie” would be torn to shreds and she would come for the Title next, no matter who held it.
– The WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match between Enzo Amore/Big Cass and Champions Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson began with a Team SAWFT promo on the better side, though it featured high amounts of crowd pandering via home team references. The action was eh besides for a spot where Cass tossed Enzo over the top rope onto GallowSon. Things picked up with Cass’ hot tag and we got a great tease with the Boom Shackalacka nearly setting the place on fire with anticipation that Enzo/Cass had FINALLY did it. Haha. NOPE. Enzo was pulled out of the ring just before three. With that, Anderson kicked Enzo in the corner and went for the pin. Enzo had his foot on the bottom rope as the hand came down for three, but Gallows pushed it off out of the Ref’s view. The heels escaped as Champs and ran out of there. If Gallows/Anderson were going to win, that’s the way to do it, but we wonder if Enzo/Cass would EVER win Tag gold after five years.
– Backstage, General Manager Mick Foley spoke to Commissioner Stephanie McMahon on speakerphone in the office since her plane was struck on the runway and he was there to run things. She didn’t trust him and wanted to be on the phone the whole show. This was more of her pulling her weight to bully Foley, who responded by getting them disconnected? Not quite sure what they were going for, but we know that Steph wears the Raw pants and doesn’t even need to be indoors.
– The Sasha Banks-Jax match dated back to December when Jax attacked Banks’ injured knee. They also showed footage of Jax’s win over Banks at the Royal Rumble and subsequent beatdown the night after. The story headed in was if Banks could rebound. We’d assume she would get her moment here. Jax was 3-0 in PPV matches to this point, so a win would make her 4-0 as Mania approached. Guess who else was 4-0 in their first four PPV matches? Charlotte and The Fabulous Moolah. See, we like when they actually drop random facts like that. Makes it feel more legitimate. This was Jax dominating the whole time, which took the crowd out of it initially. This vibe culminated with her rendition of the Torture Rack. Banks spun around into a front guillotine hold, which they then flirted back and forth between TR and guillotine. Banks worked her way into a sleeper, Tornado DDT and then the Bank Statement. The crowd woke up here. Jax powered out and hit a spike before a leg drop onto Bank’s lower back. We’ll admit it – we thought Jax would get the pin here. Confident, Jax performed a Master Lock using Bank’s neck/hair. From there, Banks yanked back an inverted bridge pin and got the three like that. Okay, didn’t see that one coming. Good because it gets Banks back into “Sasha Mode” and Jax we guess was protected?
– They really couldn’t just put Rusev and Mahal in a match against each other? They split up out of nowhere, which led Foley to come up with the bright idea to have them in separate matches where they’d decide who’d go first. Are they trying to recreate the Cesaro/Sheamus angle? Sigh. Anyways, Mahal came out first, followed by the short-haired “Handsome Rusev” alongside Lana, who had some weird bright gray space boots. They bickered and came to blows… to crickets. Mahal performed a running knee strike that knocked Rusev over the not-as-handsome barricade. Mahal waited in the ring to see who he’d face. Oh look, it’s Cesaro Feat. Sheamus on the hottest track in the industry: “Time To Hinder Jinder.” We guess that’s a way to tie in Cesaro’s pre-show complaints that they’d have to “sit it out.” Cesaro was over in Milwaukee, that was for sure. Cole calls this a bonus match, so yay? Monday Night Fastlane is about to begin. Besides for Cesaro’s occasional amazing offense, we were put to sleep by this. He did break out the “Swiss-One-Nine,” but when that only produced a two, it was back to the heavy eyelids. Mahal was offended by Rusev’s ringside presence at the announce table and didn’t see the European Uppercut coming. That’s never been a finish until now. Wow.
– Now, Rusev was apparently set for action. But first – time to annihilate Mahal some more. With that, The Big Show’s music hit. Oh, snap. He pretty much toyed around with Rusev. This was the “new and improved” Show of course. Rusev targeted the knee and landed a few hard “Matchka” kicks. Show finally hit the Chokeslam and then hit another two when the crowd chanted for them. He sat Rusev in the corner and we were confused at what was to happen. Bronco Buster? Stink Face? Nope. KO Punch right there. Come to think of it, he should’ve delivered the punch like that all this time. This still all felt like a bad way to kill time, since there was still two hours left in the show and four matches to go.
– Backstage, WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens spoke about this being his “biggest match to date,” which he rightfully took exception to before he brought up valid points that Goldberg defeated one man in the last decade. It also helped that he was again in a suit instead of his usual tank top attire. With that, he peppered his in-ring credibility some more and name dropped all the people he beat. This promo alone made us wish he could go to Mania as Champion. This was all brilliant stuff that echoed his serious Raw promo.
– The WWE Cruiserweight Championship match between Champion Neville and Gentleman Jack Gallagher had a worthy buildup ever since Gallagher was revealed as “challenger of the month.” It was through this though that he had a breakthrough of his own to actually be a near-threat to the dominant Neville. As a plus, we also got to see Aries’ magnificent package. Hilarious. Let’s break to the action, where things get all too familiar when Gallagher does his headstand corner spot before he transitioned it into a nice dropkick. He even broke out a suicide dive, which spoke to how badly he wanted the belt, that he’d go outside of his comfort zone. Aries boldly called the move a “wounded duck plancha.” Gallagher next broke out a super back body drop, NOT a superplex, Cole. Dummy. Neville whipped Gallagher into the ropes and unleashed a wicked snap German suplex before he followed that up with a Phoenix Splash. Would you believe that got a two? Yup, this match may actually be making Gallagher. He struck with the headbutt, but Neville responded back. One more headbutt and pin attempt for two. He attempted the running dropkick, but missed and was kicked onto the apron. By golly, the Cruiserweights are stealing the show. What world is this? They keep saying on commentary that this is what “205 is all about” but we doubt even they know how vague that sounds. Gallagher hit a stiff headbutt that laid Neville out on the post above the top rope. Before he could follow up, Neville dropped him to the canvas on his head and hit the Red Arrow to seal the deal. Great match there. Even better was the post-match image, as Gallagher wallowed in shame amongst his many bright cuts.
– Backstage, Paul Heyman was there as a surprise. Well, no kidding. He was asked about his client Brock Lesnar being there. He implied he was, but that information was solely between them. He also painted the picture that no matter who was Universal Champion, Lesnar was ultimately the winner. Nice promo.
– Out came The New Day, who were going to be hosts of Mania, don’t you know. They finally had “New Day Pops” aka ice cream. Byron Saxton just sounded way too excited here. Their promo focused on dreams and ideas as they referenced Booty-O’s. Big E also sang Randy Orton’s theme song. What is this promo about? We’re not even sure. They didn’t even take anything out of the ice cream cart. Utterly a time filler.
– The Roman Reigns-Braun Strowman match “built for weeks and weeks” according to Cole, though it really began at Royal Rumble, which was about five weeks prior. The two did have some hearty brawls, which resulted in casualties of barricades, tables and a poor ringside security dude. We did like that they brought up Reigns’ past history of winning matches at Fastlane to earn a spot in the Mania main event, but that wasn’t the case this year. With that, Reigns flipped over the steps and performed a Superman Punch off them. They battled around some more before Strowman ran into the post hard. Strowman’s running powerslam through the table was a big hit. Spear for two. Two SP’s and a spear attempt before Reigns was wiped out with a clothesline. You know that thing Saxton does when he starts to speak for the wrestlers? We hate it. “Strowman went fully charging at him and Reigns said, ‘No way! Not today! I need to do this for the family so we can all eat Pizza Hut! I have to stay in this!'” Sigh. Strowman went for a top rope splash (No, he can’t hear you to “get down from there,” Cole) before he missed. Reigns hit a spear to get the clean win. Really? That’s how you stop the man’s dominance so close to Mania no less? Strowman should’ve won this, but whatevs. Reigns is 3-0 at Fastlane.
– Backstage, Foley approached Joe, as he claimed he was running the show and that Steph probably didn’t want him to get involved in the main event. He promised “hell to pay” if he did. Hmm. We liked that little tease.
– The WWE Raw Women’s Championship match between Champion Bayley and Charlotte had a strong historic factor with statistics all over the place, though the buildup severely lacked in ideological prosperity. “Good girl wins belt with help and doesn’t give it up.” Right. We at least hoped for some good wrestling as these ladies can deliver. There was once a time when this was “bathroom break time” and now it was right up there as a legitimate main event. Charlotte used her legs to establish the early technical pace. Bayley hung Charlotte in the ropes and clearly messed up on the first try to hit a springboard elbow, but she did it again. Top rope huracanrana/flying elbow by Bayley for two. Natural Selection was a good near-fall. Bayley was hip-tossed to the floor from the apron. Ouch. Banks came down before Charlotte could hit a move from the top rope. Bayley landed a Bayley-To-Belly on the floor. Charlotte nearly got the pin with the tights pulled, but Banks stopped it as she mentioned to the Referee what she was doing. Bayley hit another BTB to retain and end Charlotte’s PPV streak. That was all kind of eh.
– The WWE Universal Championship match between Champion Owens and Goldberg was probably going to be short given Goldie’s last match was a minute and 26 seconds. Owens had a recent character shift that let him be taken more seriously after he dropped Chris Jericho from his act. Goldberg winning still felt inevitable given it was Lesnar in the wings, so why not amplify things with the Universal Title? It also sets up Jericho-Owens for Mania, especially if they have Jericho cost Owens the belt. There began the chants of course. We do applaud the “Goldberg ate a bowl of nails for breakfast… without any milk” sign. Oh, that damn bright pyro. Owens shined the belt right in his face. Nice. We like the mind games as we’d expect from him. He stalled as he left the ring three times, the crowd louder with each time. Jericho’s music hit, which led to Owens being distracted for the spear/jackhammer combo. Simple as that. New Champion. It was ultimately smart for them to tie in that Jericho cost Owens the belt that he helped him keep so many times. That said, it still sends a weird message when a big name from today gets clobbered by someone from the 90’s.
- Pre-Show – Rich Swann/Akira Tozawa def. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox)/The Brian Kendrick via pinfall
- Samoa Joe def. Sami Zayn via KO
- WWE Raw Tag Team Championships – Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows (Champions) def. Enzo Amore/Big Cass via pinfall to retain
- Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax via pinfall
- Cesaro def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall
- The Big Show def. Rusev (w/Lana) via pinfall
- WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Neville (Champion) def. Gentleman Jack Gallagher via pinfall to retain
- Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman via pinfall
- WWE Raw Women’s Championship – Bayley (Champion) def. Charlotte via pinfall to retain
- WWE Universal Championship – Goldberg def. Kevin Owens (Champion) via pinfall to become new Champion
Posted on January 23, 2018, in WWE and tagged Akira Tozawa, Alicia Fox, Austin Aries, Bayley, Big Cass, Braun Strowman, Cesaro, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Corey Graves, Enzo Amore, Fastlane, Gentleman Jack Gallagher, Goldberg, Jinder Mahal, Karl Anderson, Kevin Owens, Lana, Luke Gallows, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Neville, Nia Jax, Noam Dar, Paul Heyman, Rich Swann, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, Sasha Banks, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, The Big Show, The Brian Kendrick, The New Day. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.