The Rope Break #34: WWE Fastlane Review!!

By Curtis Suthard – 3/12/2017

 

So, last night, Smackdown made it’s last big pit stop before firmly placing itself on the Road to WrestleMania and laying the pedal down. Going into the show, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with excitement at the card or probable outcomes of each and every one of the matches. It all seemed kinda’ predictable and that’s not always fun. So, was it predictable and boring? Predictable? Oh, Hell Yeah! So predictable that I, your humble, nongloating pro-wrestling snob correctly predicted the outcome of almost every single match. The only reason I didn’t go 6-for-6, was because of the non-ending that we got with the Tag Team Championship match. Which means it doesn’t count and I got a perfect score! Boring, though? Sort of, but there were plenty of decent moments that caught my interest and kept me hanging around. So, let’s take a look back with the…

Credit: WWE.com

WWE Fastlane Review

Credit: WWE.com

Quick sidenote: Yes, there was a Pre-show match, but I didn’t watch this bad boy live and couldn’t be bothered hunting through the Kickoff just for Tye Dillinger VS. Local Talent or Konor from The Ascension, which results in Tye losing as usual.

Credit: WWE.com

Rusev VS. Shinsuke Nakamura: So, let’s get the bad news out of the way right off of the bat. Rusev lost. What a shock, right? But, who really thought that he honestly stood any chance at all going up against the Royal Rumble winner and WWE Championship #1 contender, Shinsuke Nakamura? At least it was a good match, which it was. Everything built at a nice steady pace, with some decent wrestling starting things off. And continuing with Rusev performing some nicely done, clichéd “heel” attitude in the beginning, as he rolled out of the ring, multiple times, making Nakamura wait and throwing off his momentum. Then things got a bit stiff-looking, as both Shinsuke and Rusev got in some solid shots against each other, with Rusev delivering a rather nasty looking, Leaping Kick to Nakamura’s face which flipped the dude head over heels. In the end, though, Shinsuke would slip out of Rusev’s grasp and deliver not one, but two, Kingshasas to the Bulgarian Brute’s skull. Nakamura is heading straight to the big show to face the WWE Champ and probably win. While Rusev, unfortunately seems to have no plans for WrestleMania and…that stinks.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura

Credit: WWE.com

Randy Orton VS. Bobby Roode (United States Championship): Maybe it was the meds I’m on or the copious alcohol that I drink to wash them down talking here, but, I really liked this match. It wasn’t wholly due to the outcome either (though that helped). It is the fact, that at least to me, this one felt like a really solid “throwback”-type of a match. No real big flashy gimmicks or moves, unless you count a Superplex. No run-ins or other distractions during the match. Jinder did show up, but not until the match was firmly over. This was really just a straight up classic mano-a-mano style match with no clear hero or villain, but simply two excellent competitors fighting over a title, that one holds, and would like to retain, and another man who desires it. Go back and watch it, I hope you see what I’m seeing, sans the little, floating green martian that tells me purchase Snorks merchandise off of E-Bay with no regard for my financial security.

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, Orton managed to win his first ever United States Championship after all of this time and that’s cool. The guy is great and deserves, honestly, just as much of the spotlight as he can grab. Roode, on the other hand, may have lost, but I think that this match, possibly more so than any other that he has thus far had under the WWE umbrella, proves that he could and should be at the top of the Championship heap at some point this year. I mean, come on, Jinder got a shot! Roode is working his way to the top and I look forward to it. Now, speaking of Jinder, as I stated earlier, Mahal did show up after the match and attacked Orton. Which led to Roode going after Jinder and then a downed Orton as well. This is all setting up yet another multi-person match for an already seemingly stacked, multi-person match loaded card at WrestleMania.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Randy Orton

Credit: WWE.com

Becky Lynch & Naomi VS. Carmella & Natalya: Up next was another match that I had really written off as simply filler and had scheduled as a possible “Bathroom Break”, had I been watching this live. That was before Carmella not only showed up, but woke up. We all know that her Money in the Bank cash-in is inevitable and possibly scheduled for WrestleMania (though I have a theory or, more accurately, “fantasy booking” about this coming up in the Charlotte VS. Ruby Riott match) and Carmella really needs to step up a bit and prove that she can be a believable Smackdown Women’s Champion. Alexa Bliss had to do this same thing a while back, on Smackdown as well coincidentally, and she not only improved in both character and in-ring skill, she rocketed to the top of both brand’s Divisions and now makes it look easy. Carmella needed to do that same thing here. She can, of course, still be that “heelish” coward and spend a good amount of time in each and every match shrieking and avoiding conflict, but she needs to be able to bring it when the time comes. And, with this match, I think we may have seen the best display of Carmella’s improvement in that direction, yet. She was rough and tumble, beating down both Naomi and Becky with nasty cheap shots and stiff hits. Carmella looked great.

Credit: WWE.com

Unfortunately, as good as Carmella looked, Becky Lynch and Naomi suffered another loss and are going to continue to run in place outside of the Women’s Division title picture. Naomi took most of the punishment in this one and seemed to be a little off in her timing at more than a few points, but still did a decent job. Becky also suffered from some miscues, which may or may not have been her fault alone, and she did the job and looked fine doing it. Natalya was…well…Natalya. Nothing more. Nothing less. She’s a great wrestler, but just seems to be lacking that certain something that would and should put her over the top. Carmella scored the win with some hinky distraction, assisted by Natalya, which was poorly executed, but gave her the chance to get a pin and build momentum.

Credit: WWE.com

Winners: Natalya & Carmella

Credit: WWE.com

The New Day VS. The Usos (Smackdown Tag Team Championships): So, now we go from the match that I cared about least, but surprised me the most, to the match the I was looking forward to the most, that disappointed me. Now, don’t get me wrong, the match, right up until that ending was good. Both teams looked great, as always, and were beginning to deliver another classic, as they were giving us, the fans, something new, which isn’t easy to do after having faced each other so frequently over the years. Kofi and Xavier were representing New Day and were moving this match along at hyperspeed, as the Usos kept the pace right along with them. The real interesting part started as both teams began using the other team’s movesets against them. Jimmy Uso hit a Boom Drop on Kofi. Xavier hit an Uso with a sloppy looking Samoan Drop. The Usos double-teamed them as they hit Kofi with New Day’s Midnight Ride (or whatever it’s called). Kofi and Xavier scored Super Kicks and followed it up with an Uso Splash. It was great.

Credit: WWE.com

Unfortunately, everything good has to come to an end. As the Usos dove over the top ropes, taking out all three members of New Day, and all five men lay at the ringside area. The Bludgeon Brothers music hit and the duo came slowly trudging out to lay a beat down on every body in sight. Now, I’m all for anything new, including new teams being pushed to the top, and I sort of get why this was done. But…couldn’t it have been done AFTER the match ended? Y’know, AFTER we got a clear winner, so as to avoid essentially a “No Contest” result, that is oh-so unsatisfying? As a fan of Luke Harper, I’m happy to see that he’s getting a chance, along with Erick Rowan, to re-enter the spotlight and head to WrestleMania (probably) to go up against other guys who are of the caliber of The New Day and The Usos. But, did we have to sacrifice a good ending of what was a good match for this set-up? Anyway, Harper and Rowan pummeled everyone relentlessly and supposedly injured Xavier Woods by slamming him down onto the ring steps (not sure if there is really anything to it or not…I’m going with not). As I already said, this is all probably setting up yet another multi-team Tag Team Championship match for ‘Mania. Though, hopefully there’s some gimmicky goodness thrown in there. Like, say…a TLC match?

Credit: WWE.com

Winners: ?

Credit: WWE.com

Ruby Riott VS. Charlotte Flair(Smackdown Women’s Championship): Oh, joy! Time to combat autocorrect as it fixes Riott every single time I type out her name. Let’s see how many times I miss it or just give up going back and forcing an extra T!

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, this match was decent, as both women put on a good showing with only minimal stumbling, fumbling and bad timing. I’ve stated in the past that I feel that Charlotte almost always messes something up in her matches and it always seems to throw either her or both she and her opponent off, a bit. This match wasn’t any exception, as there were a few noticeable examples, like towards the end of the match when Riott was clearly standing still and waiting for a shot that seemed to take forever to come from the Smackdown Women’s Champ. Charlotte, even with these occasional stumbles, though, is at the top of her game and put up a good fight with Ruby. The Riott Squad got involved (shock!) which led to them getting ejected. But, not before Naomi and Becky Lynch, who had come out to help, got the boot. Ruby had a good showing as well, coming close to a victory, but just coming up a bit short.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, all of that’s out of the way, let’s get to the big news that came out of this match. After Charlotte got the win, we all got a thrill as Asuka’s music hit and she strutted and endlessly jazz fingered her way to the ring. Upon arriving she shed her coat and mask and struck a variation of the “Rousey Pose”, as she pointed up to the WrestleMania sign, indicating her desire to be take on the Smackdown Women’s Champ at the show. That, or she was making a big spectacle in asking Charlotte if she could carpool with her to New Orleans? Now, here’s my theory: Maybe Asuka’s going to challenge both Charlotte AND Alexa Bliss for both of their respective titles at WrestleMania? Maybe, she’ll win the title for whichever woman she pins or win both if she were to win? Which could lead to Carmella “Cashing In” and not only winning, possibly just the Smackdown Women’s Championship off of Asuka, but also giving the “Empress of Tomorrow” her first defeat in WWE? Maybe it’s the meds and liquor again?

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Charlotte Flair

Credit: WWE.com

John Cena VS. Baron Corbin VS. Dolph Ziggler VS. Kevin Owens VS. Sami Zayn VS. A.J. Styles (Six Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship): There were a lot of questions, for me, going into this one. The main on being why we needed to have such a large multi-person match, when the stories might be better served being built individually. There was just too much going on here. Had this been an Elimination Chamber match, it may have made better sense and could explain away why Styles would be willing to risk his title, this close to ‘Mania, with the odds so heavily stacked against him. But, that wasn’t the case. So, we got this instead. So, let’s just run down a few of the notable things that happened here.

Credit: WWE.com

The match started off with Cena hitting Attitude Adjustments on everyone, but Styles. Which freed the two of them up to stand in the center of the ring and throw some of the worst looking shots at each other that I have seen since the Women’s Rumble and Sasha Banks kicking the air between she and Lita. Holy crap, did it look bad. But, Cena was there to try to earn his spot to ‘Mania, by winning the WWE Championship, which he failed at, in the end. I’m not really sure why we had to endure this much Cena over these last few weeks? Especially, if he just ends up facing ‘Taker at WrestleMania anyway. It’ll all seem pretty pointless then, unless WWE thinks that by throwing us a few swerves will really make that pill easier to swallow. There may still be some other big twist coming, that doesn’t result in Cena VS. Undertaker. Or…less likely…maybe we’ll really get a WrestleMania free from John Cena?………. Right up until he runs out and on the spot makes something happen. It’s Cena, folks. Deal with it!

Credit: WWE.com

Ziggler and Corbin did a good job in this match, even though neither made any real impact. Each getting a few good shots in and a moment or two in that spotlight. Where either goes from here, I don’t know? Ziggler would have probably been better served sitting things out until after ‘Mania and making some kind of surprise comeback and then getting a decent push. Instead, the guy quits, laying down the US title in the process, only to pop right back up a few weeks later at the Rumble to a lackluster reception and end up where he started at, with no Championship at all. I still maintain that Ziggler should get put into some kind of gimmicky match with Cena, like a loser leaves WWE thing, beats Cena and crows about it. It’d help get the guy over a bit more and might just reignite things. As far as Corbin goes, I have no idea what’s going on there? There seemed like there was a push happening, once. Then the dude crossed some line somewhere, on social media or whatever, and the push ended. But, then it looked like it was starting up again, only to end up here, with no real path or goal in sight. The guy’s improved, he just needs someone good to play off of.

Credit: WWE.com

So then we come to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, with Shane McMahon once more seemingly inserting himself in the middle of things. See, Shane-O-Mac came strutting down to the ring before the match began and took a seat over by the time keeper’s box. The match progressed and eventually Sami and Kevin had the spotlight on them and their dysfunctional friendship. As the two were going at it, they ended up outside of the ring which led to Kevin “accidently” kicking Shane in the face, as Sami dived out of the way at the last instant. This led to Shane getting involved in the match, as he pulled the ref out of the ring, stopping Owens from getting a possible pinfall. Which, in turn led to Sami getting the drop on Kevin and going for a pin and Shane yanking him out of the ring. So, all of this is leading to what? Some sort of match between Zayn and Owens with Shane posing as ref? Maybe, Shane and Zayn teaming up against Owens and Daniel Bryan? Yeah, right! I would much rather just see a good old, straight up match between Sami and Kevin, with maybe a “No DQ” stip thrown in. Or…maybe this is all a big set up by Sami and Owens on Shane McMahon, to get him to let his guard down.

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, Styles won and is heading to ‘Mania to face Nakamura, in what I hope truly is a “Dream Match”. The dream won’t be in seeing these two go at it on the “Grandest Stage of Them All”. Instead, the real dream will be if WWE not only invests the proper amount of time and attention to the build for this one, but if they also give it the proper attention and time at ‘Mania itself. We will see.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: A.J. Styles

Credit: WWE.com

So that was Fastlane. All in all it was a decent show, with most of the matches being good, but almost all of the outcomes being predictable. That’s not always a bad thing, though. The surprise or two that we got, Asuka showing up, the Bludgeon Brothers beating up New Day and the Usos and Orton winning amongst them, for me, were fun, but didn’t drastically change the overall scope of the show. Every match was inevitably a launching point for the storylines that will lead in to WrestleMania. For all of these reason we give WWE Fastlane a 3 out of 5 on the official Nerd Nation Radio Pocket Protector Scale!

Be sure to check back here for future Rope Breaks on the upcoming NXT Takeover: New Orleans & WrestleMania itself. I’ll have my predictions for both shows in the weeks leading up to ‘Mania weekend and reviews after the fact.

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Credit: WWE.com