Hello and welcome to the Planet Kayfabe review of WWE's Fastlane which took place on March 10, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena. An interesting pre-Wrestlemania placeholder. Some good. Some bad. Fortunately, the good has the advantage this time.
On the pre-show they canned Rey Mysterio vs Andrade "Cien" Almas and instead announced they'd be apart of a Fatal Four Way for the United States championship later on with R-Truth and the champion Samoa Joe. Big E and Woods went over Rusev and Nakamura as scheduled.
Let that pre-show bit act as a microcosm because much of this show in real-life and in story line felt like it was thrown together last minute.
The Usos VS The Miz and Shane McMahon (Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
Winners and still SD Tag Team Champions: The Usos
The Miz would be opening this show with his father George in the crowd at ringside. To these Cleveland fans, Miz was very much over as a babyface. It felt like this entire match I was waiting for a turn. When I saw Miz had a Cleveland Browns colored shirt that read "Cleveland is awesome" I thought Miz was going to swerve them and turn.
The match went 14 minutes and was fine. Shane was gassed and looking like a tired old man as usual. I like Shane. Shane can be entertaining. Shane plays his role well. With that being said I laugh my f***ing ass off when people try to tell me that Shane is a "good wrestler". He is not a good wrestler. He has had good matches with some incredible wrestlers, but Shane's work sucks and he makes up for his sucky work by doing a crazy spot in a big match. He is like the highest profile backyard wrestler ever. His punches are the worst I've ever seen on WWE programming and his signature Tornado DDT is always slow and sloppy. Usually getting injured in all his matches. Also, as I said, he's purple in the face and sucking wind 3 minutes into every match. Try and tell me how Shane is a "good wrestler" now. I'm giving you that he's a good character. I'm giving you that he's likable (or hatable as a heel). Good wrestler? No. In fact, if you're reading this and training to be a wrestler and you model yourself after Shane McMahon you might as well learn how to throw flying elbow drops in a McDonald's polo because that's all you're going to be doing as your backyard's top babyface.
The crowd was into the match. Mainly rooting their hometown boy. The signature spot and the finish of the match saw Jey tagging in, putting Miz up on his shoulders but Miz countered by shoving Jey into the corner, which knocked down Jimmy who had perched himself up on the turnbuckle. Jey hit an enziguri kick to The Miz and then sent Miz head first into the turnbuckle. Shane climbed to the top to attempt a Coast-To-Coast on Jimmy, but Jey went up top as well on the opposite side. Jey jumped off for a splash on Miz and Shane jumped at the same time to drop-kick Jey in mid-air. It looked like Shane licked him right in the balls too, but I'm not sure. Either way, it didn't look fun for either guy. Miz went to the top after his father signaled to go to the top rope for a Frog Splash but Jey got his knees up and cradled Miz for the win to retain.
Good match to open 3/5 Goth Babes
After the match Miz went to help Shane out of the ring and raised his hand to the crowd. Miz then hugged his dad at ringside. As Miz walked away Shane attacked Miz from behind turning on his partner and turning heel for the first time since his 2006 fued against D-Generation X, if I'm correct. Shane beat down Miz. Took off his "Cleveland is awesome" shirt and choked him with it. Shane then got in Miz's father's face and taunted him a bit. There's the turn. I expected it to be Miz. I think Miz would be the better heel, but we've seen Shane play a good heel in the past too. My only concern is how well Miz comes off as a babyface in places that aren't Cleveland, Ohio. Even at the end when Miz was raising Shane's hand I was still expecting Miz to be the one to turn. They sure swerved me.
Next, Elias was in the ring singing his song. He mentioned LeBron James who again left Cleveland, this time to Los Angeles to play sub-.500 ball with the Lakers. Elias would appear a few times playing this tune that sounded similar to Neil Young's "Helpless". Do you hear it, too?
Asuka vs Mandy Rose (with Sonya Deville) (Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship)
Winner and still SD Women's Champion: Asuka
The match went almost 7 minutes and it never really took off. If Mandy can't have a decent match with Asuka, I'm not sure what place she has in this era where fans want action and the female talent are now in a role where they are expected to be more than eye candy and have actual good matches. She is Vince's type, though, so that's all that matters. Unfortunately for Asuka, this is WWE and when you're as good as she is your role isn't to have great matches, it's to make people like Mandy Rose look like they at least belong in a WWE ring.
The finish was weird. A couple times they cut to Sonya looking for a weapon under the ring. She lifted the apron to the announcer's table side of the ring to grab a kendo stick. Mandy was whipped to that side and slipped on the apron that was left up which lead to Asuka hitting a spinning kick for the finish.
1/5 Goth babes.
After the match Sonya tried apologizing to her bestie Mandy and some friction was teased. I think the two are better together than apart.
Backstage Kofi was greeted by the other two New Day'er and told then he had been waiting outside Vince' office for an hour. What? Ok... Big E and Woods barge into Vince's off with Kofi and make their pitch about how the WWE Championship match should be a triple threat. After listening to them Vince says he AGREES! The match will be a triple threat and then informs Kofi to get out to the ring because his match is right now.
Did you catch that carefully?
Kofi makes his way to the ring thinking he is out there for a WWE title match, instead announcer Greg Hamilton said the WWE title match would happen later and right now is a handicap match with Kofi Kingston vs The Bar.
The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) vs Kofi Kingston (Handicap match)
Winners: The Bar
The match had heat early on but chants of "boring" soon drowned out the arena. Careful, Cleveland... Vince is going to think you're directing those chants at Kofi. The New Day was banned from ringside so The Bar pretty much just had their way with Kofi before pinning him. Considering the crowd turned on this match hard, I would have had Kofi sneak out with a quick comeback and probably a roll-up to escape Vince's trick with a victory to at least turn the tables a little bit. Instead WWE went for heat. Shocking, I know. Luckily for Kofi, this did not hurt him in the long term, but this is now how I would have booked this. I like the idea of Vince tricking the New Day and the fans at the same time, but I would have had Kofi escape with a victory.
1/5 Goth Babes
Elias was back in the ring. He ran down Kofi in his song. Ran down Cleveland again. He talked about how the Cavaliers, a basketball team, are losers and then put over his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, a football team as the best. I guess it makes a little sense since the Steelers are divisional rivals of the Browns... Just weird how he went from basketball to football. It is also weird how his Steelers are the "best" even though they missed the playoffs in 2018 and haven't technically been the best team in the NFL in a decade since their last Super Bowl title was in 2008... but I digress. Heels, lie. I get it.
The Revival (c) VS Aleister Black and Ricochet, VS Chad Gable and Bobby Roode (Triple threat tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
Winners and still Raw Tag Team Champions: The Revival
Things picked back up here. The match went almost 11 minutes. There was a lot of quick action and even though I did not predict a title change, they kept me guessing and there were times in this match where I thought any of the teams could have won. Exciting match. Ricochet and Dawson were the legal men while the others were on the floor. Ricochet went up to the post, but Dawson strikes him to stall. Dawson and Ricochet were on the top rope together and Ricochet hit a hurricanrana off the top to the outside of the ring on to everyone standing there. The finish saw Gable tag himself in when Ricochet went for a dive to the outside. The Revival hit the Shatter Machine on Gable to retain the titles.
3/5 Goth Babes
Samoa Joe (c) VS Andrade (with Zelina Vega) VS R-Truth (with Carmella) VS Rey Mysterio (Fatal four-way match for the WWE United States Championship)
Winner and still champion: Samoa Joe
One of our thrown together matches that was actually one of the better matches of the night. It officially clocked in at 10 minutes and 50 seconds which was the same official time as the previous match. There was a lot of fast action. Everyone pretty much had their moment in this match, much like the tag match, we were kept guessing only this time I was even more confident that the champion would be retaining because he just won the damn thing on Smackdown this past Tuesday. It does make me wonder why they did the change on TV if they were just going to do the same match on the PPV but I doubt they planned that far ahead. Never-the-less... an entertaining match in the body of the show to keep us all awake. The finish saw Joe lock in the Coquina Clutch on Rey Mysterio. Rey passed out and the ref called for the bell. Commentary made a note of Rey passing out/
3.75/5 Goth Babes
The Boss 'n' Hug Connection (Bayley and Sasha Banks) (c) VS Nia Jax and Tamina (Tag team match for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship)
Winners and still WWE Women's Tag Team Champions: Sasha Banks and Bayley
The fun had to end some time. I should note Beth Phoenix was on commentary for this match. It seemed kind of random since there's nothing special about this match other than it being a title defense, but she would come into play later. The match was pretty shitty. Obviously Bayley and Sasha are fine in-ring talents but Nia and Tamina are like working with a couple oil drums. There was an ugly botches Samoan Drop spot too where Nia was to catch Sasha into the drop.Yeah. You gotta idiot-proof these matches. Don't get too fancy with Nia. The less said the better. The champs retained.
0.5/5 Goth Babes.
After the match the heels attacked the champions because they're mean, I guess. Timina argued with Beth at ringside which lead to a brawl. Outnumbered, Beth's real-life friend Natalya came out to help her but they were both laid out by the heels. I'm guessing this leads to a 3-way title match at Wrestlemania. It wouldn't be Wrestlemania if they didn't book another retiree on the card after all.
The New Daniel Bryan (w/Rowan) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship)
Winner and still WWE Champion: The New Daniel Bryan
Well... New Day asked for this match to be a triple threat and they got it! Mustafa Ali, who was originally in Kofi's spot was put into the match. I guess he "deserves" it but it was still a weird choice and an odd position to put him in. Vince's angle is giving what he feels is the biggest box office match possible. So... He thinks Mustafa Ali is a bigger star than Kofi Kingston who has various merch products in every Wal-Mart, Target, FYE and Hot Topic in America? Why wouldn't Vince put a heel in this spot? Ali ate some heat but it was really heat on Vince. It was similar to the 2014 Royal Rumble match where Rey Mysterio entered at #30 only to get booed because the fans wanted Daniel Bryan.
There was a lot of heat and fans chanting for Kofi, so there's your answer. He wasn't hurt by the loss either in the show. I still wouldn't have booked him to lose, though. There's more than one way to eat a Reese's I suppose, though. There was a lot of fast action in this match. Despite it being a no-win situation for Ali, he looked good in this match. There was one ugly spot where I thought Ali snapped his head off where he was up on the post and Bryan dropkicked him off to land on the barricade. A crazy spot. Later on Ali would hit a 450 Splash on Bryan on the apron. Another crazy spot. Rowan got involved tossing Owens into the timekeeper's area. Ali, back in the ring, went for a top rope spot but Bryan caught him with the running knee for the win.
4/5 Goth babes.
Even though there was some heat for Ali not being Kofi, he showed he belonged in the match and the match was better for him being involved instead of the singles match since he was part of some of the signature spots in this match. This may be it for Ali's run at the WWE Championship for a while, though. It will probably just be Bryan vs Kingston at Wrestlemania. That's how I would book it, even though I could easily see Owens being put in the match. Off the top of my head it looks like the only singles matches at Wrestlemania will be Hunter vs Batista and Rollins vs Lesnar. They like their over-booked clusterf***s now at the promotion's biggest show. Everyone gets a spot and no one really shines except for the old part-timers or retirees who show up once a year or once every 5-to-15 years. Whatever.
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair (Singles Match)
Winner by disqualification: Becky Lynch
Despite Ronda telling you all that this is all fake, Becky is STILL, yes STILL 2 months later selling this damn knee. As I said in my review I saw Ronda coming out and getting Charlotte DQ'ed and that's what happened. It's not exactly how I would have booked it though. This was a dull 8 minutes and 45 seconds. All this selling and heat just for Charlotte to look like she can't beat Becky on one leg and in the end Becky back-doors into the match that she earned anyway by winning the Royal Rumble because Ronda came in, gave her one punch and that was enough for the referee to call for the bell and end the match rewarding Becky Lynch the victory.
I just did not like this finish. The match was ok, but I don't think this made Becky look good. It doesn't seem to matter though. There's a lot of things the last couple months I would NOT have had Becky Lynch do that WWE did and she's still popular despite WWE's ineptitude. She has to sell this damn knee that is just boring the f*** out of the fans. She, despite being hailed as the next Stone Cold, apologizes to the McMahons and is suspended anyway. Shoehorn Charlotte is, hur hur shoehorned, into the match only because Becky was suspended and now we just accept Charlotte as part of this match despite having no real reason in there other than Vince chose her to be there. Whatever, though. Charlotte is a heel, so I guess it works if you want to look at it that way. All I'm saying is while Becky is apologizing and limping around, Ronda is the one cutting rebellious promos and Charlotte is getting all the heat. In a normal situation Becky would be coming off as the geek here when she is supposed to be the rebellious one leading the charge with her fans by her side. The more I think about it, the more it is nothing short of a WWE miracle that she is still over with these fans. Hopefully she stays over for Wrestlemania.
1.5/5 Goth Babes.
Elias was in the ring again. He said something about how Becky is a loser and he's surprised she isn't from Ohio. Not the best material. It's cheap heat, so... whatever
The Shield vs. Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley (Six-man Tag Team Match)
Winners: The Shield
Even though I picked the heels, this really was the right call having this match go on last with a feel-good ending. In case you missed it, my wild prediction was that Dean's ego would cost them the match. This setting up Roman vs Dean at Wrestlemania in a "Loser Leaves Town" match. That did not happen, though.
The match began at quarter-past 10, eastern time. It was pretty much every good six-man Shield match you've seen with some fast action. Power spots. Brawling to the outside. A powerbomb through a table. They kept mentioning that this is the last time you will ever see them together and explicitly state how Dean Ambrose has not signed a new contract. They aren't burying him, though. This whole thing with Dean leaving was never a work. He was leaving, but he could have changed his mind. If he signs a new deal that doesn't mean his leaving was always a work. It just means that since he changed his mind they could work his rumored departure into a storyline.
As the match was closing and Lashley and McInyre were taken out by Seth and Dean working the outside, the fans chanted “this is awesome” as The Shield slowly got to the ring to corner Corbin. Rollins with a superkick on Corbin, Reigns with a Superman Punch, and then Ambrose hit his Dirty Deeds DDT. Seth Rollins yelled “one last mother f***ing time”. The Shield hit the Triple Powerbomb on Corbin in the ring for the pinfall win as Reigns covered Corbin to win his first match back.
3.25/5 Goth Babes
In the ring the Shield posed with their fists together. Ambrose reportedly turned down a 5 year/ $1 million dollar deal. They could probably convince him to stay without burying him and maybe offering less years for the same money. The business has changed a lot in the last year and who knows what it will look like in 5 years and if the same opportunities will be available. Dean will also be 38 in 5 years.
There's my thoughts on Fastlane. It gets 7/10 Goth Babes as a whole from me. Not everything was great but it was mostly good. The theme of this show was apparently the old Dave Meltzer "plans change" mantra. They aren't all going to be perfect shows, so I think 7 is fair. Of course it ran a little long as usual, but they've done worse. As predicted there were no title changes. There were no real surprises unless you count Shane's turn but I know some of you out there did indeed predict that even thought I thought it would be Miz turning.
Congratulations to Harlem Heat who were announced for the WWE Hall of Fame today. One of WCW's best tag teams and this also makes Booker T a two-time (two time!) inductee into the WWE HoF after going in as a singles star in 2013.
A good worth while show. Thanks for reading, everyone. I truly appreciate it. Follow me over on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe where I will be live-tweeting Raw. The big shove towards Wrestlemania is here. Take care and God bless.