Hello and welcome to Planet Kayfabe. Today I review WWE's ever so slightly less predictable post-Rumble/Pre-Mania PPV filler event, "Fastlane". Even though this PPV was filler you know I your humble author will make sure this column is worth every second of your attention because apparently unlike Mojo Rawley, I care about being good at my profession.
As usual, I break down these events in simple categories. The good and the bad. At the end I sum it all up and give my final grade. So, let's start. Live from Columbus, Ohio this is WWE Fastlane.
Ruby Riott Shines In Loss: When someone new or relatively unexposed is on the main roster and they get their first shot at a title against a good worker who is also over its a good opportunity for them to showcase that they can hang with top stars. Read that carefully. I said when someone is "new" and "relatively unexposed" a good showing in a losing effort against a bigger star it can be good for them. Not AJ Styles, an established top guy and multiple time world champion losing in a good match to John Cena.... UGH!!!!!!!!
Ok. Whatever. I'm over it. I swear.
Anyway. This match was no 5 star classic, but it did what it needed to do and that's at least make Ruby Riott look credible for the future. We all knew (or most of us including myself in the preview column) that the match at WrestleMania was going to be the undefeated Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair. With that said, this match didn't have much heat because no one thought Ruby Riott had a chance and they weren't wrong. As of this moment, she seems to have the most potential of the three Squad girls. At least from a pure in-ring standpoint. Her promo on the go-home edition of Smackdown, while a paint-by-number scripted promo that WWE has every first generation wrestler cut on every next-generation wrestler was still delivered well... or maybe she's just a better promo than Charlotte which isn't saying too much but I still liked her delivery of WWE's lazy typical dialogue. Ruby Riott is a positive take away from this show for me.
Randy Orton as US Champion: I guess being a "Grand Slam Champion" is supposed to be a big deal. It sounds like one but I have a hard time buying that Randy Orton, a guy who is a double digit world champion and established superstar in WWE cares that much about winning the US Championship. I miss the days when these secondary titles were more used as stepping stones before before talent made it to the main event. They honed their craft and got over in the midcard until they were ready for the bright lights. Now it's like they just put these titles on guys that they want to use but have nothing else of significance to do with right now. Hence Randy Orton... in 2018... holding the United States Championship. There's really no reason for guys like him and John Cena and Roman Reigns or AJ Styles to be holding these titles when there is a plethora of talented midcard....
Wait... This is still "the good" portion of this column right?
Shit, well... What I liked about this was that Orton SHOULD win this belt because it is beneath him. It makes sense. A guy who has won as many world titles as him should have no problem becoming US Champion. On the downside, I don't see what this does for the title. I'm not going to ever buy that Orton is truly proud to hold this title the same way I don't expect Tom Brady to throw a party when the New England Patriots clinch a Divisional Championship. Yes this is Orton's first US title win but that's not because this belt alluded him like WWE likes to say, it's because he's been past this level for well over a decade now.
...why did I put that in "the good" again?
The Usos vs New Day -- Still hot: There's just something about these teams. They had a great match that was interrupted by the Bludgeon Brothers which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, it was a great beat down and the Brothers looked like a serious force. On the other hand, the Usos/New Day feud is hot enough and personal enough to survive on its own and the Bludgeon Brothers' inclusion almost seems like they're just doing it to get more people on the WrestleMania card.
That's one of those weird things that only exists in WWE's world of warped logic. The Bludgeon Brothers interfere in a PPV title match, send all the members of the teams out with the aid of medical assistance and for all that they will be "punished" by being granted a tag title match at WrestleMania. Yeah... I can't explain that.
A great match being broken up when done right can be good heat though. When you rob the fans of a good match and a decisive finish you're going to get booed in the short term. We'll see how it pays off in the long term. I think most fans would have gladly lived with a simple Usos vs New Day match at Wrestlemania but at the same time both tag divisions on Raw and Smackdown need some new life and it's good for the the Bludgeon Brothers to be doing more than jus tossing around job guys on TV.
Ya know... let's just get to the bad.
Mojo Rawley doesn't care about being a good wrestler: If you watched the pre-show perhaps the best underrated moment of this whole show was Mojo Rawley being met with "you can't wrestle" chants to which he replied "do you think I care about being a wrestler?"
Huh? That's a pretty odd thing for a guy in wrestling tights wrestling in a wrestling ring to say.
After the match, which he lost, he doubled down on this statement in a backstage interview where he said "I'm a superstar" and he doesn't care about being a good wrestler... essentially admitting that the fans are right -- that he can't wrestle and since he lost his match how can he argue?
I think I get what he's trying to say but damn did it miss the mark. I don't think being the guy who loses wrestling matches that openly states he doesn't care about being a good wrestler will make him a "superstar". After the match during his interview on Twitter he should have said something more along the lines of "these fans can chant whatever they want. Their opinion is irrelevant to me." by saying "I don't care about being a good wrestle" it's like he's saying "you're right -- I can't wrestle and I don't give a shit either." I f***ing laughed when he first belted that out in the ring. A little advice if Mojo happens to read this, you don't respond to "you can't wrestle" chants by losing bad wrestling matches and then saying you don't give a f***. He should have turned it around with something like "these fans wish they could step in that ring like me, but instead they are just jealous of me living their dream". Anyhing but "I don't care about being a good wrestler." f***ing christ, man...
The US Title Picture: If you're excited about a Randy Orton facing a guy who should be a heel and another guy who is a glorified jobber who inserted himself into this feud for no reason, you are in the minority. Orton is fine even though it feels like he's just floating around lately and Roode is good but totally miscast as a babyface with a total heel gimmick. Jinder is Jinder. This whole feud revolving around Smackdown's worked popularity contest is possibly the lamest story of the year so far. No one really gets this list and I'm not sure what it means to be on it at all never mind being ranked higher than someone else. Even in storyline it is not an objective power ranking based on wins and losses. It is who the locker room likes. Why the f*** should I care about that? This is so weak. Randy won, which was my prediction and what I think was the better option but hopefully after Wrestlemania they have something better for all these guys and just leave the US title to the young midcarders where it belongs. Not to guys in their 40's and not to guys that have won 13 world titles in WWE.
Yeah, remember when you all thought the brand split would give the younger guys more opportunities? Yeah? Look who has held the IC and US titles this past year and a half.
Fastlane was a slow paced clusterfukk: We all saw the jokes on Twitter. Slowlane. Breakdown Lane. Yeah, this PPV was all of that. A lot of stalling and a lot of plodding dull action. There were bright moments. Despite the non-finish the Usos vs New Day was probably the match of the night. Charlotte vs Ruby Riott was good even if it felt long at times. The main event was like a lot of multi-man WWE matches. Loaded with angles up the ass and a lot of slow over-selling. AJ took an Attitude Adjustment through the announcer's table and sold it probably longer than someone has sold an A.A. in 10 years.
Of course Shane was out there because he has to take a kick to the face and Shane McMahon must be on every Wrestlemania card for some reason. I know some people get defensive with Shane by saying "why do people complain when he's never been in bad matches"... While that is very much debatable especially since his return match with Undertaker was the drizzling shits until he jumped off the cell for the finish I think the reason why most people complain is because people are tired of Wrestlemania every year being top heavy with aging part time wrestlers taking up all the top spots on the card. We already saw Shane vs Kevin Owens at Hell in a Cell. Cell matches used to be the ultimate blow off to a feud but, now that it is just a random ordinary PPV, it doesn't have anything close to the meaning that it once did.
I'm sure Shane's Wrestlemania match will be a fine stunt filled 3 star match, but anyone on the roster can have a 3 star or more match with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. That's why some people complain. However it's Wrestlemania and every old grey haired and balding performer must be on the card because they are the "real" stars and the young guys are just little pawns they trot out there to dance on TV for 5 hours every week.
There's my thoughts on WWE Fastlane 2018. I guess I liked it a little more than Elimination Chamber. I don't know. I give it about a C. It was fine. Rusev and Nakamura was fine but there were obvious stall spots to stretch time and there was minimal drama because we all know the Rumble winner would win this match and he should. The women's tag match was ok, but I find it weird that Becky Lynch had to eat the fall for the match considering she is one of the more popular women on the Smackdown roster. That was the only match I didn't predict correctly. I expected Natalya to eat the fall, but for whatever reason they chose Becky who is the most over of the bunch here. Whatever. It's not how I would have done it but I doubt many will remember this match going forward anyway. It's been almost a year and people still don't take Carmella seriously as a title contender and who knows maybe a win over Becky will change that, but I doubt it.
That's all for now. Enough preview/review columns for a few weeks until Wrestlemania. I have a couple opinion pieces in mind before then. One being about the WWE Hall of Fame which announced Kid Rock would be inducted today and for some reason fans are worked up about that even though they should be used to these celebrity inductees by now. I guess it's still real to them
Anyway thanks for reading. Hit me up on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe and leave a comment below. Until next time I'm Paul Matthews for NoDQ see you soon.