By Jason Powell
WWE Fastlane Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose: A strong main event and my pick for match of the night. There was never a dull moment as the trio worked an aggressive pace from bell to bell. Lesnar was booked very well in that he looked like a badass despite not winning the match. I didn’t come out of the Triple Threat anxious to see Lesnar vs. Ambrose at WrestleMania, but it excites me more than the WrestleMania main event and more than the previously rumored Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt match. The post-match posing by Triple H and Reigns was really lame. We are supposed to believe that these two hate one another, yet they both seemed way too content striking various staredown poses as if this were the end of a press conference rather than a pay-per-view event.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho: Another good match and I liked the decisive finish. Jericho did an excellent job of selling the Calf Crusher finisher before tapping out. There was an awkward spot with Jericho nearly dropping Styles off the ropes. It’s worth noting that Jericho clutched his knee a couple times before that spot, and I don’t recall there being a need for Jericho to be selling knee pain, so it’s possible his knee gave out on him. Either way, it will be interesting to see whether the post-match respect shown by both wrestlers signifies the end of the program or if Jericho is going to go all out heel on Styles tonight causing this feud to carry over to WrestleMania. Jericho kicking out after taking the Styles Clash didn’t bother me a bit. However, I did scratch my head at the pre-match interview with Jericho, as it seemed like his character was playing mind games even though it was right before the match and you really have to reach to believe that the Styles character would have even seen the interview.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella: A good match with Brie working to the best of her ability. I was never big on Brie incorporating some of her husband’s moves in the past, but I liked it here because it came off like a tribute along with her wearing his kick pads. I thought this program might be stretched out to WrestleMania to get Daniel Bryan in Brie’s corner to counter Ric Flair, but there was nothing about the finish that made me feel like this was more than a one-off.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler: Another good match from Owens and Ziggler. I didn’t think WWE could make me want to see another match between these two, but Ziggler’s recent wins over Owens combined with Owens regaining the Intercontinental Title worked. Those Ziggler wins didn’t seem to make much sense in the moment, but creative deserves credit for planning ahead and getting one more match out of this feud. I am curious to see where they go with Owens at WrestleMania. I would love to see Owens vs. Styles or Owens vs. Sami Zayn rather than another Money in the Bank style ladder match for the Intercontinental Title.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio: On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind seeing a spot-fest ladder match for the U.S. Title. I suspect that’s the direction they will take given that Kalisto’s big Salida del Sol ladder spot at TLC is still fresh in the minds of WWE officials. The best of three falls match was a good way to close out a program that had a shorter shelf life than it should have as a result of the rapid fire title changes. It was nice to see Del Rio bounce back with some innovative versions of his double stomp finisher after that awful one he hit on Sin Cara last week. I also liked the strategy of having Del Rio sacrifice a fall in exchange for trying to injure Kalisto with a chair shot. Bonus points for having Mauro Ranallo on play-by-play. Here’s hoping that was step one toward Ranallo becoming the voice of WWE pay-per-view events. I also hope he brings Jerry Lawler with him. There’s just nothing right about WWE’s top broadcast team.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Naomi and Tamina: This was fine for what it was. I am surprised that we didn’t see any teases of friction between Sasha and Becky, though it’s possible I missed something while my network feed was going haywire. Are we getting a Triple Threat for the Divas Championship at WrestleMania? Will we get a number one contenders match between Sasha and Becky to set up a singles match? Either way, I am looking forward to the Divas Championship match at WrestleMania.
WWE Fastlane Misses
Overall show: A minor Miss due in part to my major concern over the WrestleMania lineup. Most of of the Fastlane matches delivered and if this were a random pay-per-view then I would probably be viewing this as a solid three-hour show. This was the final pay-per-view before WrestleMania 32. I should be excited about WrestleMania and the likely match scenarios. And while they still have just under six weeks to sway me, I currently fear what they have planned for WrestleMania more than I eagerly anticipate it. Vince just refuses to give up on Reigns being his top babyface. It’s not working and it has the potential to blow up in Vince’s face on the big stage. And even if Vince loads up the main event with The Rock, Steve Austin, Stephanie McMahon, himself, and maybe even others and they somehow get through it without the WrestleMania crowd turning on Reigns, it’s not going to change the fact that the majority of the audience doesn’t see him in the same light that Vince does. Triple H belongs in a high profile match at WrestleMania, but there’s just no way to justify him being in the main event of the biggest show of the year in 2016. I am open to the possibility that the title match won’t be the main event. I want to believe they have a match or two up their sleeve that will push the title match down on the card and into a more acceptable slot. I also want to believe that it will somehow make more sense to go with Hunter vs. Reigns than the obvious Reigns vs. Lesnar rematch. Either way, the WrestleMania main event just doesn’t appeal to me and I didn’t come out of Fastlane truly excited by the undercard possibilities.
The Cutting Edge Peep Show: What was that? I enjoy Edge and Christian more often than not, but watching the two of them and New Day try way too hard to be funny did nothing for me. I get the basic logic that both teams are comedic and therefore might work well together, but they just haven’t clicked. I also had no idea what to think of League of Nations coming out. Was I supposed to be excited to see them stick it to New Day? Was I supposed to be excited when New Day backed down and eventually shook their asses along with Edge & Christian at ringside? None of this made any sense and I couldn’t wait for all of them to get off my television.
R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel: And then this match happened and suddenly I found myself wishing that they would have given the train wreck talk show segment a few more minutes. WWE has dedicated more mic time and character development to Goldust’s monthlong courtship of R-Truth than they have given the Uso Brothers in nearly six years. The Social Outcasts continue to be worse off together than they were as singles acts.
The Wyatt Family vs. Kane, Big Show, and Ryback: The Miss is more about the storyline direction than the actual match. WWE seemed to be setting up the Wyatt Family for something big going into WrestleMania, but they pulled the rug out from under them again. Does this mean the apocalypse has been delayed? Is it starting tonight on Raw? The Wyatt Family roller coaster ride conitnues. And it’s not even a good roller coaster with high peaks. It’s a crappy state fair roller coaster that only climbs a few feet before leveling out again. I assume the goal will be to have the Wyatt Family get their heat back tonight. It shouldn’t be difficult since they didn’t have much going into this match.