WWE FASTLANE 2018
MARCH 11, 2018
Watch: WWE Network
MEET OUR REVIEWERS:
Kelly Harrass: This past week on Smackdown we saw a rematch between Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton. Kelly instantly regretted turning the show on. Even if he was just barely paying attention, it was too much to be subjected to that pain once again. Damn you, Road Dogg, damn you to hell. Find Kelly on Twitter @comicgeekelly, where he was very happy about the Nintendo Direct last week.
Suit Williams: Suit wasn’t even subscribed to the network, and had absolutely no intentions on watching this show until the day of. Read Suit’s other stuff on PWPonderings and Voices of Wrestling, where he reviewed ROH’s Supercard of Honor with Sean Sedor just last night! You can follow Suit on Twitter @SuitWilliams.
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA DEF. RUSEV
Kelly Harrass: What if the WrestleMania sign isn’t actually a sign, but is in fact a magical object that appears as what the people in the ring want the most? They’re not pointing at a sigh, they’re pointing at a sweet pair of pants or eternal wealth or something. We just see it as the Mania sign because you need to be in the ring to complete the spell. I’d like to believe that’s all true. Rusev probably sees the greatest Rusev Day celebration of all time when he looks at that sign. Speaking of Rusev, he was really good in this match. I wanted to like this match a lot more than I actually did, but there was a very long period in the middle that was absolutely boring. While this was ultimately an enjoyable match with a strong closing stretch, the middle “grab a hold, kid” section of the match really dragged it down for me. That superkick from Rusev that turned Nak inside out was tremendous though. **¾
Suit Williams: The 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble Winner, The Artist Known As The Rockstar Shinsuke Nakamura, is in the opener to get the audience prepared to see him there at Wrestlemania. Most of this match was pretty tedious, however the last few minutes were pretty hot, so I’ll call this a good opener. Rusev got a really close nearfall off of a superkick that Nakamura sold like death. Nakamura even pulled out the Kinshasa to the back of the head before putting Rusev away with the Kinshasa proper. The end of the match was fun, but all things considered, this was nothing special. **½
WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
RANDY ORTON DEF. BOBBY ROODE ©
Kelly Harrass: Gonna set myself an alarm to go off in fifteen minutes to wake me up if this match puts me to sleep.
-wha *sniff* I’m up! Uh, this was a technically sound match probably. They made wrestling well. That doesn’t always make a good match though. Look, you’ll never know if I actually watched this match or not. **
Suit Williams: These are two professionals. Two wrestler’s wrestlers. If you could build a pro wrestler from scratch, you would build these two. First guys in the gym, last guys out. They’re deceptively agile. They’re gritty athletes. That intangible that you can’t teach. They have workmanlike attitudes. They are gym rats. High motors. Great fundamentals. Good lockup to start. The timing on those hard-cam chinlocks was impeccable.
Aaaaand it’s over. Orton won in 20 minutes that felt like 40. Jinder Mahal came out, but Roode beat him and Orton up and left to his music. If these motherfuckers are building to a triple threat match between RANDY ORTON, BOBBY ROODE, AND JINDER MAHAL at Wrestlemania, I’m selling my goddamn ticket, and I didn’t even pay for the damn thing. *½
NATALYA & CARMELLA DEF. NAOMI & BECKY LYNCH
Kelly Harrass: I might as well sleep through this one too. I didn’t actually, but I probably should have because this sure was a big nothing of a match. My favorite moment was when Nattie yelled “NOOOOOO!” and tossed Naomi out of the ring. The ending of this match was very dumb and confirmed once again that a distraction weakens the strength of a baby face by 75%. *
Suit Williams: Nothing gets the show going like a meaningless tag team match. By the way, Carmella has the Money in the Bank contract. Can we all admit the reason that the only reason that match happened was to have Vince McMahon laugh at James Ellsworth? Carmella has done jack-and-shit since July. In fact, none of these women have really done anything in recent memory. Becky has fashioned Seth Rollins’s Guy Fieri gear into her own. I made myself dinner during this. Sloppy Joes with XXtra Hot Flamin’ Cheetos that I stole from my sister. My Wrestlemania diet starts tomorrow. If it looks like I’m filling for space, that’s because I’m filling for space. Carmella pinned Becky Lynch, because reasons. *½
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
THE USOS © VS. THE NEW DAY WAS RULED A NO CONTEST
Kelly Harrass: Here we go, we’re in the money end of the card now! I loved the feud between these two teams last year, so I was really looking forward to this match. What we actually got from this was very good. The two teams stole each other’s moves and had a fun bit of back and forth. The match was fast paced and genuinely exciting. Then they screwed it all up by having the Bludgeon Brothers come out and beat everyone up. This wasn’t so much of a match as it was an angle. If this had happened on Smackdown, I wouldn’t really care, but on this show, it was my most anticipated match of the night. This is the first time I was let down by a match between these teams, but I can’t really say it was their fault. What we got was very good, but it wasn’t nearly enough. That being said, the potential triple threat match that was set up here for Mania will probably be awesome. ***
Suit Williams: In the recap, we got to see Big E’s money promo from a few weeks ago. You know what would’ve been interesting? US Champion Big E. Better than that? WWE Champion Big E. This company has several top tier talents playing second string to lost causes like Roman Reigns, boring stiffs like Baron Corbin, and talentless hacks like Jinder Mahal. This was hyped as “a rivalry being renewed,” so they played their “Rivalry Renewed” trope of having the guys steal each other’s moves. There was a Randy Orton/John Cena PPV match that did that, I’m sure there was a Triple H/Orton match that did that, and we got this. It’s too cutesy for me. After a dive from the Usos, the Bludgeon Brothers came out and killed everyone. I was mad about this, because this is an angle for Smackdown, not a hyped PPV title match ending. But Harper and Rowan beat the shit out of everyone and it was pretty dope. I was expecting whoever to win to end up against the Bludgeon Brothers, but we may get a three way. It sucks, but it should be a fun match. ***
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
CHARLOTTE FLAIR © DEF. RUBY RIOTT
Kelly Harrass: At this point in the show, this was by far the best match of the night. These two laid out a really good match that actually made me feel like Ruby Riott had a real shot at winning. While there was a bit of interference from both the friends of Flair and Riott, I didn’t mind it because it didn’t seem integral to the finish of the match. Riott was perfect as the disrespectful heel here, using chops against the champion and then putting her in a submission hold facing Becky Lynch and Naomi so that they could “watch [Charlotte] fail.” The champion hit her usual moonsault off of something which was cool. This was really my favorite Charlotte match in quite a while. She carried herself quite well here, being wary of the Riott Squad, but never really preoccupying herself with them. I can’t really say that this is a super memorable match, but it was a pretty strong mid tier PPV title defense. ***1/2
Suit Williams: The T in Riott is for title. The extra T was a typo. The Riott Squad came out, Becky and Naomi came out, the Cosmic Ballet rolls on. This was fine. They got a lot of time, and the work was good. I’m running out of things to say that aren’t play-by-play. In one of the dumbest babyface moves I’ve ever seen, Naomi and Becky got in the ring to run off the Riott Squad and got thrown out by the ref. The Riott Squad beat up Charlotte, but the ref caught them (I think) and threw them out. Charlotte won with a Figure 8. Post match, Asuka came out and pointed at the sign, so that’s that match booked. I’m sure this was good in a vacuum, but this show has drained me. **3/4
AJ STYLES © DEF. JOHN CENA VS. KEVIN OWENS VS. SAMI ZAYN VS. BARON CORBIN VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Kelly Harrass: This was exactly the kind of frantically paced spotfest that you want a match like this to be. It was the kind of match that’s stupid and fun and at the same time completely disposable. Everyone here played their roles well, particularly Zayn and Owens. Those two are saddled with one of the worst stories in wrestling, but they continue to kill it in their roles. Their interactions between each other and with Shane McMahon, no matter how stupid, were really good. Speaking of stupid stories, I guess Cena won’t have a match at WrestleMania. Janela should try to book him for Spring Break. The weirdest thing about this match is that AJ Styles wasn’t really the star of it. He may have won, but the match was really built around Zayn, Owens, and Cena. Corbin and Ziggler were there too, essentially just being bodies to add to the car crash. These scramble matches are built around chaos, not strong storytelling. AJ Styles sort of materialized out of thin air after being put through an announce table minutes earlier to hit Owens with a forearm and pick up a win. Sure, why not? For what was a lacking show, this was a very fun main event. ***½
Suit Williams: Dolph Ziggler’s music makes no sense. Record scratches stop music, they don’t start it. Why am I thinking about this so much? Why am I watching this? I had an out. I could’ve went to see Black Panther tonight. Instead, I’m watching this bullshit show. There was a glaring negative sat at ringside. Shane McMahon is the worst character on WWE television, by a country fucking mile. He’s an annoying prick that keeps getting himself involved in other people’s business, and then blaming them for getting in his face. If I never saw a McMahon, a Helmsley, or a mix of the two ever again in my life, it wouldn’t be too soon. Phew. I needed to get that off my chest. Now to the match. It was actually pretty fun. Baron Corbin really looked good when he was taking everyone out. Zayn and Owens played their roles well, even if I’m getting tired of both of them thanks to Shane. Cena and Dolph were kinda there, too. And Styles won with a Phenomenal Forearm. Is it too late to book John Cena vs Gentleman Jervis somewhere? Neither of them are booked. ***½