WWE hit the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last night (Sun., Mar. 5, 2017) for its Fastlane pay-per-view (PPV) and it was an eventful night that featured a big title change in the main event thanks to a big return. The Monday Night Raw brand has been flipped on its ear.
Hit up the live blog for complete results and blow-by-blow coverage of every match on the card. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Look, it sucks that it's this way, it really does, for a number of reasons, both big and small, but, as much as it sucks to admit this, they did the right thing for the stories they're currently telling.
Goldberg can't wrestle an actual wrestling match. He is good for an entrance and a couple of moves -- this was largely the case even in his prime, so it's absolutely the case in 2017. And that's okay! You don't have to be a wrestling god to have a place in the industry, even at the top.
It just doesn't feel very good seeing him beat Kevin Owens in less than 30 seconds.
How it happened is key. Owens employed a legitimate strategy, one he spoiled beforehand when he said he simply needed to wait Goldberg out. He was in the process of doing just that when, after finally calling for the bell, Chris Jericho made his presence felt. The distraction, as lame as distractions like this can typically be, was executed perfectly. He told the ref to ring the bell, the ref called for it, the music hit, and then the bell rang. Owens couldn't help but look to the ramp and that gave Goldberg his opening.
And, again, he's only good for a couple moves but those moves -- as Brock Lesnar knows all too well -- are DEADLY.
This is also poetic. Remember, literally the ONLY reason Owens was champion going into this match was because of the many, many times Jericho saved his ass. That's the same Jericho Owens left hanging out to dry multiple times before ultimately turning on him in the most painful manner possible. This gave Jericho a measure of revenge and all but ensured he'll get a match booked against him at WrestleMania 33. No, it won't be for the Universal title now but this is beyond championships. This is deeply personal.
This didn't feel so great but we have to give credit where it's due for telling the stories right, even if they aren't necessarily stories we want right now.
Good enemies, better friends
The Raw women's title situation is the exact opposite of the Universal title and the stories surrounding the characters involved in it. WWE has done well to remain true to Goldberg, Owens, and Jericho's characters while advancing their stories logically with good pacing.
That is not the case with Bayley, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks.
In fact, they've already destroyed everything that made the Bayley character great. They've played hot potato with the title, gave away her big crowning victory on Raw, seemingly to set up Charlotte's streak continuing on PPV, then didn't continue that streak because Banks interfered after it was explicitly stated she shouldn't, and the babyfaces came out looking like the heels while the heel came out just looking generally pathetic, even though she was the best performer of all three.
What made it worse was on "Raw Talk" after the PPV, Bayley and Sasha watched the footage and Bayley was TOTALLY cool with her friend interfering on her behalf. Her excuse for allowing as much was "we had no idea what Charlotte may have had planned" with Dana Brooke. The thing about that? Charlotte literally ordered Brooke to the back before the match so she could go it alone.
Bayley is champion not because she presevered, not because she battled to overcome great odds against her, not because she refused to quit in the face of failure, she's champion because she is friends with Sasha Banks and they're totally cool with cheating. I have no idea why the referee didn't call for the bell when Banks got physically involved and her involvement directly led to Bayley winning the match.
It was unfair.
It was everything Bayley is supposed to be against.
What I believe has happened here is WWE has become so concerned with pushing the Sasha-Bayley friendship they have abandoned logic and reason when it comes to the latter's character. Banks' behavior actually is consistent with her character but Bayley doesn't look anything like the Bayley we've always known and loved.
This feels wrong all the way around. It seems clear they're building to Sasha turning on Bayley but they're already softening the blow with how poorly they're handling their characters.
Plus, THAT was the big end of Charlotte's PPV streak? This sucked in every way.
All the best to all the rest
Samoa Joe def. Sami Zayn: They really only had one thing to accomplish here and that was to make Joe look like the killer he's been since coming up to be Triple H's new muscle. They did just that. There wasn't anything that stood out here but there didn't need to be. It worked just fine as a PPV opener.
Good Brothers def. Realest Guys: This was all about the finish of the match, where Luke Gallows pushed Enzo Amore's leg off the bottom rope just before the count of three. I think the idea was the bad guys cheated but this just felt like solid teamwork to me. That could say more about me, though. Either way, there's a clear set up to keep this going on into WrestleMania 33.
Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax: At some point they had to get across that Banks actually can, you know, win a match against Nia. They did so here while keeping Jax looking like the absolute beast that she is, so this was a victory from a booking standpoint. I'm always going to be entertained by a big person throwing a smaller person around, so I quite enjoyed this but your mileage may vary.
Neville def. Jack Gallagher: This may have been the best match of the evening, and felt different than anything else on the show. That's always been what the cruiserweight division has needed to make it stand out, so good on WWE for recognizing that and delivering on it. Mostly good on Gallagher, really, for allowing Neville to throw him on his head multiple times. His shiver sell after the first German suplex is the best thing I've seen in wrestling this year. Small stuff like that is what makes wrestling truly great.
New Day ice cream: Big E dropping incorrect lyrics to Randy Orton's theme was entertaining.
Cesaro def. Jinder Mahal: Couldn't have cared about this any less.
Big Show def. Rusev: Firstly, Rusev was great on this show, from his clearly putting everything he has into a less than desirable situation to his facials to his selling for Show, who he was clearly tasked with getting over. That Show was brought out and given a win like this makes me think all that talk about Shaq not doing a match at WrestleMania is just talk and it's still coming. We shall see. Either way, this was more fun than it had any business being.
Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman: I'm somewhat surprised they beat Strowman clean like this but it did take everything AND the kitchen sink AND THEN ALSO the neighbor's kitchen sink to finish him off. In hindsight, it's better this way. Strowman can be even more pissed off now -- and that's a sight to behold -- while Reigns had to have this if he's headed for a showdown with Undertaker. Plus, the match was really good, as expected. And how good is that? We can reasonably expect that any future Reigns vs. Strowman match will be at least good.
This felt like an episode of Raw but a night early.