By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Prowrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net. Will Pruett and I will be taking your calls during the live audio show regarding the WWE Fastlane and any other pro wrestling topics you wish to discuss.
WWE Fastlane Hits
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena in a Six-Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship: A strong main event that featured a predictable outcome yet with some good in-ring work and fun storytelling along the way. It felt like this match would make or break the pay-per-view and the wrestlers came through and sent the crowd and viewers home on a high note. Shane McMahon appearing at ringside seemed odd initially, but it led to some entertaining moments with him taking a superkick from Owens and then breaking up pins that would have given the win to either Owens or Zayn. Are they building to yet another Triple Threat at WrestleMania? The match was built around whether Styles could win and give fans the dream match with Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. Adding Cena to the match was a nice touch in that it provided Styles with a credible threat to the title while also building on Cena’s own frustration as he once again failed to secure a major match at WrestleMania. Will the gong sound for Cena tonight?
Charlotte Flair vs. Ruby Riott for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: There was never any doubt regarding the outcome of this match. Even so, the women worked hard and this was the best Smackdown Women’s Championship match in recent memory. Riott gained something in defeat and hopefully this will lead to bigger things for her coming out of WrestleMania. The post match angle was simple and effective. They could have saved Asuka confronting Charlotte for television this week, but they made the right call in rewarding the pay-per-view audience with her surprise appearance as it helped make the show feel more newsworthy in the process. Charlotte vs. Asuka is a great WrestleMania match. My only concern is that the company could take the easy way out by having Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank contract during the match and then take a pin in order to avoid having a real winner of Charlotte vs. Asuka.
Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton for the U.S. Championship: A nice match that Orton seemed genuinely happy with during his appearance on Talking Smack. WWE went out of their way to make sure Roode didn’t come away looking heelish for his post match DDT on Orton. Even Orton said he would have done the same thing if he were in Roode’s position. It took away some needed tension between the two, but I guess they decided that Roode being a babyface is more important. It was a pleasant surprise that Jinder Mahal never got involved in the actual match. In fact, I wish they would have made it clear that he wouldn’t be interfering by banning him from ringside since I get the sense that I was not alone in waiting for Mahal to show up. It will be interesting to see if there is a storyline reason for Orton winning the title here rather than saving that for WrestleMania. It could be as simple as creative feeling that the title change would have been overshadowed by everything else happening at WrestleMania.
Jimmy and Jey Uso vs. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods for the Smackdown Tag Titles: Watching each team perform the other team’s signature moves was entertaining while it lasted. The finish was obviously disappointing with the Bludgeon Brothers attacking both teams for the DQ. Ultimately, though, the Bludgeon Brothers beatdown was so strong that it seemed like the fans forgot about being disappointed and simply got caught up in the destruction angle. I assume this is setting up another Triple Threat between the three teams for WrestleMania, which looks good on paper.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev: A good opening match. I couldn’t help but feel like the same match would have come off much better if it had taken place prior to the Royal Rumble. There was absolutely no reason to think that Nakamura was going to lose four weeks before he challenges for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, so those good Rusev near falls didn’t register as much as they would have under different circumstances. Here’s hoping the company has a real plan for Rusev. The fans are hot for the guy and it’s time for the company take advantage of it.
WWE Fastlane Misses
Naomi and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya and Carmella: The effort was there for the women, but there was nothing about this match that felt like it was more than filler. Why can’t creative be bothered to come up with anything meaningful for the Smackdown women who are not challenging for the Smackdown Women’s Championship? Why is Lynch constantly made to look foolish via the finishes of the matches she loses? Does creative notice that the fans still rally behind Lynch despite the fact that a year of her career has been essentially wasted via bad storytelling? Anyway, the heels went over, so I assume that means we’ll be seeing the babyface duo win a rematch on Tuesday.
Fandango, Tyler Breeze, and Tye Dillinger vs. Shelton Benjamin, Chad Gable, and Mojo Rawley: WWE didn’t even bother to advertise this match for their Kickoff Show. There was nothing really wrong with the match aside from the fact that it felt like filler and it’s hard to imagine it was enough to move anyone who was on the fence to actually order show.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net staffer John Moore returning for an in-depth discussion on NXT, AEW, Impact Wrestling, MLW, and the NWA, and more...