What a weird, fun, absurd PPV. What else would you expect this close to WrestleMania?
“One last time, Cleveland. One last mother f******* time.”
Until that moment – until Seth Rollins said that as the Shield were gearing up to Triple Powerbomb Baron Corbin – I wasn’t so sure Dean Ambrose was actually leaving. Hell, I’m STILL not sure he’s leaving. With the current wrestling climate as it is, it just doesn’t seem like WWE would talk about it as much as they have.
...But that one moment was so laden with emotion and a feeling of gravitas that it still got me.
The Shield was our main event of Fastlane and they took a while to get going. You could blame that in storyline on Reigns being out of the ring for a good six months with freaking cancer or the betrayal of Dean Ambrose, but the end result was the Shield getting their asses kicked in the early going. By a team with Baron Corbin, no less!
But as soon as the trio of Corbin, Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley started feeling confident, the Shield flipped the switch. Ambrose and Rollins began diving all over the place. The duo lured McIntyre and Lashley out into the crowd and Rollins jumped off some high bannister because of course Rollins would jump off some high bannister. The longer the match went on, the more and more the patented Shield chaos began to make itself known.
And in the end? Rollins hit Lashley with a Curb Stop. The Shield put McIntyre through a table with the Triple Powerbomb. And unable to resist the urging of “one more time!” from the crowd, they hit another for good measure on Corbin.
Reigns secured the victory with a pin and the three immediately embraced. Are your eyes stinging a bit? Must be yours, couldn’t be mine. Nope. No way.
And look. None of us know where this is going in the long run. Ambrose may stay – or hell, maybe one of these three turns heel or something on Raw. Who knows? But there was one moment at the end where they all put their fists in together just like the old days and each of the Shield guys had a different expression. Ambrose had his head ducked and his other fist pumped in triumph. Rollins was looking fondly at his fist for a moment before jutting it out for their trademark pose, old wounds forgotten. And Reigns? Reigns just looked happy as hell.
And you know what? That’s worth it.
Vince is a monster
...Y’all didn’t believe Vince for a second, did you? Ever since his little “we’re now listening to the people” trash in December, he’s been doing everything he can to screw up anything fun. And after making Kofi Kingston wait an hour to meet with him, I saw this farce coming a mile away.
Vince McMahon listened impassively as the Xavier Woods and Big E assertively entered his office and defended their brother. The two were never disrespectful with their argument, but neither were they soft; Kofi Kingston had earned this opportunity. He was everything that Vince had said he wasn’t just two weeks ago.
And suddenly Vince smiled, and I knew things were about to get awful. The Boss swore that this show’s WWE Championship match would become a triple threat and then urged Kingston to go to the ring. Woods and Big E looked like two kids on Christmas morning.
This whole thing was gloriously evil. A producer stopped Greg Hamilton from announcing Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan; instead, he was to announce a 2-on-1 Handicap Match. Kofi vs. The Bar. With New Day banned from ringside, of course.
Now to be fair – this is only awesome if we get the right result at WrestleMania. If anyone other than Kofi Kingston walks out of WrestleMania with the WWE Championship, I’ll retroactively declare all of this trash. But this moment of injustice was so overt, so stark, so heinous that the Cleveland crowd chanted for Kofi all throughout the WWE Championship match later on in the night. Mustafa Ali got added to the match and even HE got booed.
That match was killer, by the way. Ali hit a ridiculous 450 splash on the apron as well as a leaping DDT to the floor. Kevin Owens was diving all around the place and chopping Bryan’s chest raw. These guys put on a heck of a match and even got the crowd to stop chanting for Kofi...for a few minutes, at least.
(Oh, and Erick Rowan FINALLY wore an Eluveitie t-shirt. Quite possibly my favorite band; I swooned in happiness.)
And yet through all of this, the story is Kofi Kingston. Hell, the story of WWE as a whole right now is Kofi Kingston. And there’s so much I’d like to add because there’s so many political/societal/racial overtones to this story, but it’s probably best to stay away from discussing all of that in an open forum.
New Day? Y’all need to wreak havoc on Tuesday. Tear that damn show to bits. Vince might not stand with you, but the crowd will.
What the hell has happened?
I thought Geno’s preview for Fastlane’s Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch match was spectacular. Because it’s true! This whole story is a colossal mess, but the match should have been good, right?
Well whoever’s penning this story just asked you to hold their beer.
For starters, Lynch is still on a crutch for a knee injury six weeks removed from said injury. And throughout this match, she hobbled around as if she’d going to have a permanent limp from this ordeal.
...WrestleMania is in four weeks, WWE!
On top of that, Charlotte was going to win – because of course she was going to win! Her opponent has one good arm and one good leg! Charlotte was going to make Lynch tap yet again until Ronda Rousey came running down in all black and socked Lynch in the mouth.
And MY GOD let’s talk about that bit for a second. At least there’s some continuity to Rousey wanting to face Lynch, but do you mean to tell me that she can run in this easily to thwart Vince McMahon’s wishes? Is it really that simple?! NEW DAY ARE YOU TAKING NOTES?!
I don’t know what to say so I’m just going to stop typing, I guess. This feud is bonkers and surreal and makes my head hurt.
New Day def. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev - This was our only preshow match after Andrade vs. Mysterio got bumped to the main card. There was a moment in this match where Xavier Woods almost tapped out to the Accolade. And I’d like to think it was the spirit of Kofi Kingston that helped him to endure. He struggled his way to the ropes and Big E did the rest to help Woods get out of a dangerous spot.
Woods and E persevered to get the win and set the example for Kofi; don’t give up. Keep up your pursuit of the WWE Championship...you know, until Vince McMahon does stupid Vince McMahon things.
The Usos def. Miz O’Mac - The Miz and Shane McMahon was a fun tag team for me simply because it was funny to watch Shane get pummeled and red-faced while Miz did nothing. That happened for a bit tonight until suddenly, the script was flipped. The Miz rallied and went for a Frog Splash, but got rolled up on the attempt to lose once again to the Usos.
And then? Heel turn, baby!
I thought the turn was funny as hell. Shane had said “I’m loopy” several times before hugging Miz and high fiving the Miz’s dad...and then, he turned on him.
Some of that humor comes from watching Shane’s punches. They aren’t very impressive on the best of days and when he’s turning heel on a guy they become - how should I phrase it? - even worse. And yet, Shane kicked Miz in the ribs several times with the very same Jordan’s that Miz had gifted him a while back. The Cleveland crowd was enraged that their hometown boy got destroyed.
...But how else was this supposed to go, Miz? You wore Cleveland Browns colors.
Elias the Bard - Elias played the role of our villainous, narrating bard at Fastlane and I enjoyed his performance so freaking much. He was just dunking all over the Miz, Cleveland, Kofi, and anyone in the world who’d ever tried to do good and it was hysterical.
He had one more appearance after the Lynch vs. Charlotte match and remarked on how refreshing it was to not be interrupted for once. Lacey Evans, Randy Orton, and AJ Styles had other plans.
Asuka def. Mandy Rose – Yikes. I wasn’t interested in this match before and I’m not really digging the story being told here, either. Sonya Deville did dumb things at ringside and her clumsiness by leaving the apron up caused Rose to trip. Asuka did the rest.
The fact that Asuka went from tapping out Lynch to this? Again, yikes.
Bayley and Sasha Banks def. Tamina and Nia Jax – I had no interest in this match beforehand and nothing happened to change my mind. The heels roughed up Beth Phoenix after they lost, though, so that’s kind of interesting. Natalya and Phoenix teaming up might be a lot of fun.
The Revival def. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, Ricochet and Aleister Black - Holy hell. These guys didn’t have a massive amount of time to put on an NXT TakeOver-esque tag title match, but they certainly tried their best, didn’t they?
These guys were doing everything they could to maximize their time. And it worked! The two NXT dudes have added a spark of life to the Raw tag division and has helped these guys get some reactions, but more efforts like this will only continue that trend. Also – can I have a Gable vs. Ricochet singles match, please?
Samoa Joe def. Rey Mysterio, Andrade, R-Truth - I mentioned in my Fastlane preview article that Andrade vs. Mysterio was a match too good for the preshow, especially if we’re getting a rematch at WrestleMania. WWE must have felt the same way, because they threw those two into a United States Championship rematch from last week’s SmackDown.
And you know what? I’m not complaining. The Raw tag teams stole the show right before this match, and these four from SmackDown did their best to steal it right back. My only gripe might be that they didn’t really advance the issues between Andrade and Mysterio in a meaningful way, but Andrade’s getting heat. Can’t ask for much more.
Despite some segments I didn’t enjoy, this was a fun PPV. And more importantly, I think they hit a lot of the right notes. The Shane/Miz stuff should be entertaining going forward and I really like what they did with Kofi Kingston – again, so long as we get the right payoff at WrestleMania.
Let’s go home to WrestleMania, baby!