By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Fastlane Hits
The Shield vs. Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, and Baron Corbin: The in-ring return of Roman Reigns was well received billing this as the last ride for The Shield made the match feel special. It felt like this was going to make or break the show and they delivered in a big way. There were no signs of storyline friction between Dean Ambrose and Reigns or Seth Rollins. It will be interesting to see if that changes tonight on Raw. If Ambrose is leaving, then it makes sense for Reigns to put the Ambrose character to rest at WrestleMania. If that’s not the plan, then I’m not sure who faces Reigns at WrestleMania. Sure, McIntyre is an option, but I hope they save that match for a time when it can be positioned as being more meaningful.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali for the WWE Championship: The live crowd was all about chanting for Kofi Kingston during the first half of the match. The hard work of the wrestlers eventually won over the live crowd by getting them caught up in the match. It was the right call for Ali to take the pin. The young underdog can absorb the loss more than the new Owens’ babyface character could have.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Shane McMahon and The Miz for the Smackdown Tag Titles: The Shane turn was well executed and was done in the perfect setting of Miz’s hometown. Shane turning is more appealing in the moment, but I continue to hope that this is not leading to a Vince and Shane vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon fight for power. It will be interesting to see how Miz does in the babyface role and whether he can conjure up any real emotion in his followup promo.
Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus and Cesaro in a handicap match: Were you pissed that Kingston was added to the WWE Championship and then pulled from it a short time later? Good, that was the point. WWE didn’t falsely advertise Kingston getting a title shot during the weeks leading up to the match. They teased fans with it happening during the actual show and then pulled the rug out a short time later. There’s still no good storyline explanation for Vince McMahon to work against Kingston or in favor of Owens, who once attacked him, but they are doing a good job of making the fans want to see Kingston get his title shot at WrestleMania. It’s just a shame that Sheamus and Cesaro have lost so frequently. Had they been booked to look stronger leading up to this point then Kingston would have come off even more sympathetic and the presumed revenge matches would be hotter.
The Revival vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable for the Raw Tag Titles: A well worked three-way tag match with the right team going over. Ricochet and Black beating The Revival wouldn’t mean anything at this point because the Revival have been booked so poorly and the tag titles feel so damaged. The stronger The Revival are booked then the more it will mean when a team chases and eventually beats them for the titles. Here’s hoping that creative is disciplined enough to give The Revival a lengthy and credible title reign.
Samoa Joe vs. Andrade vs. R-Truth vs. Rey Mysterio for the U.S. Championship: Everyone involved worked hard, but Mysterio particularly shined. Rey isn’t wrestling like a guy who is back for a nostalgia run. He’s exceeded any realistic in-ring expectations for a 44 year-old guy with his long history of injuries. So why is Rey taking so many losses and not playing a more meaningful role?
Big E and Xavier Woods vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev: It was disappointing to learn that the Mysterio vs. Andrade match was pulled from the Kickoff Show, but these teams ended up having a quality tag match with plenty of good near falls. WWE is doing a better job with the Kickoff Shows these days. They are keeping things lively with backstage interviews, surprise appearances at the desk, and even including some unadvertised panelists before going to the actual match.
WWE Fastlane Misses
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair: The most disappointing match of the night. The Lynch character needs to find a miracle cure for her knee injury because it’s become tiresome to watch her hobble around the ring, and it’s just not what fans want to see from her at WrestleMania. The match finish with Ronda Rousey intentionally getting Flair disqualified got them where they want to be as far as making the match a Triple Threat without doing any damage to Flair. Rousey’s actions were logical in that her character has repeatedly stated that she wants to face Lynch, but it was hardly satisfying. In fact, the shot of Lynch shrugging her shoulders and pointing at the WrestleMania sign really summed up my feelings on this match.
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: The live crowd sat on their hands and for good reason. We’ve barely seen Asuka on television since she defeated Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble, and it will take more than one flukey television win to make Rose seem like a credible threat to the championship.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Tamina for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: It was a rough night for Tamina and just not a very good match in general. On the bright side, the post match angle with Jax and Tamina roughing up Beth Phoenix and Natalya was well done and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Ian Riccaboni discussing his decision to re-sign with Ring of Honor, getting emotionally invested in matches, the March 15 ROH 17th Anniversary show, the G1 Supercard at MSG, and much more.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...