By Jason Powell
Prowrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4E at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet. Will Pruett and I will be taking your calls coming out of WWE Fastlane and leading into tonight’s Raw.
WWE Fastlane Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship: A minor Hit. Goldberg winning with a spear and a Jackhammer felt inevitable once he promised his family and the fans that he would do so. And while this wasn’t much of a match, I like the way Owens was protected to some extent via the Chris Jericho distraction. I don’t think anyone will look at Goldberg differently because they assumed he would destroy Owens anyway, yet the less comedic and more serious Owens has an excuse. Owens taking a page out of the Larry Zbyszko playbook by stalling prior to the match was well done and built up anticipation for him finally entering the ring.
Neville vs. Jack Gallagher for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: The best match of the night. It was good to see Gallagher’s comedic character can work well in a serious setting. As much as I enjoyed the five-way elimination match on 205 Live, this was the most enjoyable cruiserweight singles match they have had on the main roster thus far. And as someone who stated when Neville turned that he should avoid high spots such as the Red Arrow, I like the way it felt like a last resort after he’d thrown everything else at Gallagher yet failed to put him away.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman: The match was a Hit despite the fact that they had Strowman suffer his first high profile loss. In hindsight, I should have seen this coming a mile away. Reigns is expected to face Undertaker at WrestleMania, so of course Vince McMahon would book him to win clean going into the big show. I’m not a fan of the decision and would have actually preferred a schmoz that protected both men and kept Strowman’s recent winning streak alive even if the eventual plan was for Reigns to be the guy to end it. Even so, the match was entertaining and Strowman put in another impressive performance. Here’s hoping that top rope splash is reserved for key moments on big shows like this one and isn’t a move he starts to perform routinely.
Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn: A good match. Yes, we’ll see better and more competitive matches between Joe and Zayn at some point, but this was the right match for now. This is Joe’s time. He’s in badass mode and this needed to be about showcasing him, not about Joe and Zayn attempting to steal the show. It will be very interesting to see what Joe does at WrestleMania and whether they take a similar approach or have him work a more competitive match.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass for the Raw Tag Titles: A minor Hit thanks to the well booked and well orchestrated final sequence. The foot on the rope spot protected Enzo and Cass. Even so, the Raw tag division is a hot mess. The tag champs were fodder for Roman Reigns in handicap matches, New Day cares more about ice cream than regaining their tag titles, and Enzo and Cass have lost some of their cool.
WWE Fastlane Misses
Overall show: The Hit to Miss ratio was not a good barometer for the overall show. I was genuinely looking forward to Fastlane, but some of the booking decisions felt odd and the unadvertised matches really brought the show down. Perhaps those match finishes will make more sense as we go forward, but won’t change my feeling that this was a flat and disappointing show.
Cesaro vs. Jinder Mahal: A dreadful addition. I assumed this would be three minutes of Cesaro hitting his crowd pleasing spots, but it went eight minutes that felt like twenty minutes. Jinder’s gimmick went from being a heel who spoke of peace to now being focussed on his body. There’s no heat there and fans still view him as an undercard wrestler.
Bayley vs. Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Championship: The babyface asked the heel to leave her sidekick backstage so that they could find out who the better woman was without any outside interference. The heel complied with this request only to have the babyface’s friend help her win the match again. And this could have been an interesting storyline development if babyface champion Bayley had shown some sign that she wasn’t pleased by her buddy Sasha Banks getting involved. Instead, Bayley was all smiles after the match and even still on the Raw Talk post show. The pureness of the Bayley character was killed off when she decided to keep the championship despite Sasha’s interference on Raw. WWE doubled down at Fastlane. It’s a shame to see what they have done with the ultimate feel good babyface since she arrived on Raw.
Big Show vs. Rusev: This was not like the inspired performance we saw from Show and Braun Strowman on Raw. This was a lopsided match in which Show slowly destroyed Rusev. It seemed like this was going to be the night that Rusev turned babyface. After all, he split with Mahal and debuted a new look. Instead, he was dominated in an uneventful match. Here’s hoping it leads to a new attitude on Raw or that a move to Smackdown his coming soon.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax: A minor Miss for the match and the outcome. Jax had to lose again at some point, but much like Strowman, I assumed it would feel bigger when she did.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Richard Holliday discussing The Dynasty faction in MLW, MJF's departure, the addition of Gino Medina, training under Paul Roma, and much more. Check out MLW Fusion Saturdays on beIN Sports and on the MLW YouTube Page...