Liam Hoofe reviews WWE Fastlane 2017…
Fastlane is in the record books and if anything, was a yet another showcase of all the problems with WWE’s current booking. The event has sparked some extreme reactions across social media, so let’s take a look at each match and see if the card deserves the panning it has been getting.
Samoa Joe defeated Sami Zayn
Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn opened the night in a match that many thought had the potential to steal the show. Their current positions on the card, however, meant that a certain story had to be told here and that the two couldn’t put on a showcase the likes of which they treated us to in NXT.
The match was a solid enough opening bout that highlighted Joe’s strengths and while it never got really got out of first gear, it still had some nice moments that emphasised Joe’s athletic abilities.
Sami Zayn’s current position on the card at the moment is not as promising, though. In the last few months he has become Dolph Ziggler 2.0 – an excellent worker, and arguably the company’s best seller, who is fast becoming a glorified jobber to the stars. Hopefully, he shifts brands after Mania and gets some momentum behind him.
Match Rating: *** out of 5
The Club defeated Enzo and Cass
This match was fine. Nothing more, nothing less. It featured some nice tag team moments, and the ending, while being predictable still sets up things for an Enzo and Cass win down the line. The Enzo and Cass hot tag shtick is getting a little tiresome now, with their matches pretty much always following the same beats, but on the whole, this was a perfectly acceptable tag team bout.
Match Rating: **½
Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax
The feud between these two has hardly set the world alight, but their in-ring work has been solid enough, even if the fans aren’t fully behind it. The biggest problem here appears to be the audience’s lack of connection with Jax; despite being billed as a big monster heel, she has pretty much just squashed any momentum Bayley or Sasha have been picking up and fans just can’t get involved in that.
The match wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special either. Things got a lot better as the match progressed and it had a nice finish. The two still look on course for the rumoured Mania fatal 4 way, which I’m fine with at the moment.
Match Rating: **½
Cesaro defeated Jinder Mahal
This is where things really started to go downhill. The company, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, decided to turn the PPV into an episode of Raw half-way through, with two impromptu matches being caused by an altercation between Rusev and Jinder Mahal.
This match was just a way of filling time, and while it’s nice to see Jinder actually getting a match on PPV, this match did nothing for anybody.
Match Rating: *1/2
Big Show defeated Rusev
The second of the impromptu matches was a considerable improvement on the first. Big Show looks to be in the best shape of his career right now, and if WWE are going to give him a mini push on his way out, then so be it.
Rusev is a great worker, and hopefully, he can pull out of this second post-US title slump like he did last time and find his feet again. The guy would be much better suited on the Smackdown roster right now, and a move in the draft might be on the cards.
I also really enjoyed the ending of the match as in many ways it protected Rusev. No superstar was going to get up from that.
Match Rating: ** ½
Neville defeated Jack Gallagher
Damn this was good. The new Cruiserweight division has been stuttering ever since its arrival on the main show, but it has been undergoing a steady growth since Neville returned a few months back.
The self-professed King of the Cruiserweights and Jack Gallagher put on the best match the division has seen so far at Fastlane, and if this is a sign of things to come, then the division may succeed yet.
Gallagher has a great look, is a top worker and has a great in-ring psychology. The pair brought the best out of each other here and Gallagher’s eccentric style gave the match some brilliant moments. The ending was also perfectly executed, and Gallagher’s headbutts on Neville were brutal. Gallagher does take some serious bumps though, and the way he lands on his head and neck looks quite nasty, hopefully, this is just great selling, and not him actually putting himself at risk.
Neville is great as Cruiserweight Champion and a feud with Aries, if it is happening, would be great for the division. Gallagher is only 27 years old and a title reign in the future is inevitable. This was the match of the night.
Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman
So I’ll probably get a lot of hate for this comment, but I really liked this match and I’ve been really impressed with the work Roman Reigns has put in over the last few months. When it was rumoured that Reigns was going to face Strowman at Mania I was pretty angry, I failed to see how the two could put on a decent match and I just flat out had no interest in watching it.
So credit has to be given here to both men for establishing a good feud. I really like Strowman’s character at the moment and his work in the build up really helped give this match an interesting feel.
The match itself was, I would argue, the best we could have gotten out of these two, without a gimmick being involved. The crowd seemed really into it and it helped give the match a big fight feel. Strowman works so well against Reigns because he has been booked to look strong against him and he actually gets in some really strong offense against him, making Reigns a more interesting character in the process.
The match was a hard-hitting and physical affair, and having Strowman kick out of the spear was a big moment. A table spot in a Reigns match is pretty much a dead cert these days, but it was well placed in this match, and all the stuff on the outside made me want to see these guys square off in a No-DQ.
I also really enjoyed Strowman’s ring inside the ring. His move set has increased a lot since he first arrived and seeing him hit the Samoan Drop was also an awesome moment.
The biggest controversy around this match was the finish. Reigns going over here seemed an odd move, especially considering the warpath Strowman has been off. Reigns may need to look strong going into Mania, but surely a gong going off could have just given Braun the victory and kept Reigns strong, while also further establishing the Mania feud.
Braun won’t struggle to rediscover his momentum after the defeat, though. It is arguably his best solo performance to date and he looked great- there are bright things in his future, no doubt about that.
Match Rating: *** ½
Bayley defeated Charlotte Flair
I’m not really sure what to say about this one? Wasting the end of Charlotte’s streak here was totally pointless and did nothing to develop anything, other than adding Sasha back to the mix.
The match itself was okay until the end, which definitely took a lot away from it. Bayley’s title win should have been kept until Wrestlemania, giving us two big moments in one night – instead, Bayley won on Raw, and Charlotte lost at Fastlane. What a waste.
I really thought we might have gotten a Sasha turn at the end, especially with the Wrestlemania sign so prominent in the frame. If this match had led to a match between Bayley and Sasha I might have been a bit more forgiving.
Match Rating: **
Goldberg defeated Kevin Owens
I can’t say I’m happy about this one, but I’m really not surprised( check my predictions here). In fact, I thought it was the most obvious moment of the night.
Goldberg was always going into Wrestlemania as champion, and if the guy can beat Brock Lesnar in just over a minute, then it would seem silly if he didn’t do the same to Owens.
That doesn’t mean it’s any less infuriating. It’s difficult to say a whole about this match. I guess it furthered the Jericho/Owens storyline? I have enjoyed Owens’ reign as champion, and feel he has done the best work of his reign in the last month. His feud with Jericho is likely to continue to be the highlight of Raw over the next few months and we can only hope the company continues to keep him in and around the title scene after Mania because we all know he deserves more than this.
Goldberg has managed to come into the company, wrestle for less than 2 minutes, hit 6 moves, and become the top guy. Insanity. Lesnar will take the belt off him at Mania and hopefully drop it to a full-time star straight after Mania so we can get away from this nonsense and return to normal. I understand the need to have the big guys in the key slot at Mania, but the belt is still in its infancy and having him on the waist of part-time stars won’t do it any favours.
Match Rating: ½*
Verdict: Fastlane 2017 will only really be remembered for its closing moments, and outside of the Cruiserweight match and Braun/ Reigns it did very little else to inspire us. Fastlane featured some very strange booking-Charlotte and Strowman losing being prime examples of this, some very strange decisions (pretty much the whole second hour) and did very little to set stuff up for Mania that wasn’t already set in stone. Things started okay, severely dipped in the middle and ended terribly. Thankfully the two really good matches mixed in there that saved it from being a total disaster.
Show Rating: ** ½
What did you think of WWE Fastlane? Let us know in the comments below and let Liam know on Twitter here- @liamhoofe