Despite getting off to a bit of a slow and at times confusing start, Fastlane picked up speed in the second half with a few stand out matches. There’s certainly a lot to talk about with multiple storylines starting to really take shape on the road to Wrestlemania.
Women’s Tag Team Championship: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
We kick off the main show with women’s tag action between two teams that just can’t get along. This was pretty much the main story of the match, with either side coming at loggerheads throughout the contest.
In the latter stages it looked as if the challengers had it won, following a 450 splash off the top rope from Belair. However it was everyone’s favourite sommelier, Reginald, who would get himself involved to prevent the titles changing hands.
Sasha would come close again with a Frog Splash, but the pin was broken up via Nia using Belair as a battering ram. This was the boiling point for Banks, immediately blaming her partner for the failed pinfall. With her attention diverted, Shayna was able to surprise Banks with a roll up to retain the titles.
This wasn’t the strongest opening to a show and really felt like something that could have been done on a Friday night. The post match altercation, where Banks would slap Belair, at least points towards the fact the feud will come away from the tag division and solely focus on their showdown in three weeks.
Match Rating: D
Intercontinental Championship: Big E def. Apollo Crews
The build towards this match had been very good, with the animosity growing between the two each week. Friday nights backstage brawl between the two certainly served as a good advert of what was to come.
Big E would be in control for the most of this match, hitting his signature spear through the middle rope, and a couple of splashes to Crews on the apron early on.
Crews would fight his way back into it when he caught the champion out with a quick dropkick to the knee, and hit a well executed Frog Splash, but it only earned him a two count.
The match seemed to be really picking up until a very sudden finish. Apollo went for a roll up, which Big E reversed into a roll up of his own where it would appear as if both men’s shoulders were down. It looked very odd, making you wonder whether this was the planned outcome.
Immediately after the bell Apollo started laying into Big E, and stood tall, hinting that this feud may carry on to Wrestlemania. What there was of the match was good, but the finish left a sour taste. It felt like what was weeks of great build was almost for nothing. If a match at Wrestlemania is the end goal, perhaps this contest wasn’t needed.
Match Rating: C-
Seth Rollins def. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is where the show started to really pick up and how could it not with two of the best going head to head. Although Seth doesn’t directly have issues with Shinsuke, this match was a sort of statement, aimed the way of Cesaro.
Throughout the match Rollins would shout towards the camera, still going on about the twenty two swings Cesaro put him through a few weeks back. In fact at one point Rollins tried his own swing, but Shinsuke was able to wriggle out of it. Cesaro well and truly in the head of Seth.
There were some really nice transitions going into the late stages of the match. Rollins countering the Kinshasa into a Buckle Bomb as well as Nakamura catching an attempted Curb Stomp and hitting a Landside for a near fall.
In the end it would be Rollins who would take the victory. An inventive kick to the back of the head followed by a successful Curb Stomp would be enough to put the king of strong style away.
Rollins is doing some of the work of his career at the moment and is one of the highlights of the company at the moment. A one-on-one match with Cesaro is something to genuinely look forward to that shouldn’t disappoint one bit.
Match Rating: B
Drew McIntyre def. Sheamus (No Disqualification)
The main takeaway from this match is Drew and Sheamus love beating each other up. This is the third in their trilogy of matches in recent weeks and by far the best of them.
Drew sported Scottish flag face paint, similar to that in Braveheart, and wasted no time in starting the battle that was to come. The two quickly found themselves on the outside, bringing a literal handful of kendo sticks into play.
They would fight around the arena and up into the virtual crowd, where in a great spot Sheamus was sent flying through the Thunderdome screens and down to the level below.
Sheamus would work his way back into the match when a Brougue Kick caught Drew off guard, sending him over the barricade. This would allow Sheamus to pull the Scotsman into position for a White Noise, crashing through the announce table.
As they moved back into the ring Sheamus would look to use a piece of the broken announce table as a weapon, but Drew would reverse the attempt into a Future Shock DDT. One devastating claymore later and Sheamus was out for the count.
A brilliant hard-hitting match from these two and has a definite shout for match of the night. Drew looked strong, ready for his world title match and despite defeat Sheamus still looked like a warrior. It’s hard to picture what Sheamus will be doing come Wrestlemania, but performances like these have surely earned him a spot on the card.
Match Rating: A-
Alexa Bliss def. Randy Orton
And now for something completely different. This was less of a match and more of a segment, but an interesting one for sure. The spooky shenanigans were at play from the start. Orton doing his best impression of anyone who’s ever had their pen explode in their mouth at school, before the bell had even rung.
The match took more of a cinematic form, which allowed them to be creative with what took place. Fire came up from the ring, Alexa shot another fireball and at one point one of the lighting rigs almost fell onto Orton, to Alexa’s maniacal delight.
The main talking point would come in the finish. When Randy had Alexa cornered in the ring, a hand burst up from the canvas. Out of the smoke and fire rose the fiend. With his mask melted and his body and clothes burned to tatters, the fiend looked like something out of a Hollywood horror film.
He would then deliver a Sister Abigail on Orton, to allow Alexa to win the match.
It’s hard to grade this, as it wasn’t your typical match, but overall I thought it was a great way to return the fiend. His new look is perfect. The detail on the burns of his arms, as well as the rest of his attire are very nice touches. He has a genuinely terrifying look. I can only imagine the entrance he will have at the show of shows.
Match Rating: Spooky
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns def. Daniel Bryan
A month ago it seemed Reigns and Edge were destined to face each other one-on-one at the Raymond James Stadium, but since then Daniel Bryan has put a spanner in the works. Bryan’s realisation that this could be his final Wrestlemania has led to slight changes in behaviour. It seems he would give anything to have one last crack at the title and doesn’t mind getting in others way achieve that.
This match was a bit of a slow burner but would flourish into a very exciting affair. Bryan had an air of confidence about him, edging on cockiness, attempting to use his technical prowess and engage in some chain wrestling with the champ. Despite Bryan’s ability, Reigns proved too strong, bringing his momentum to halt and starting a brutal beatdown.
The match followed this formulae for the most part. Bryan having flashes of hope and giving everything to win the title until he is stopped in his tracks and absolutely battered by Reigns. As we near the end of the match things start to really get interesting.
Bryan looked to comeback again when he set up for the running knee. Reigns was able to duck, leaving Bryan to crash into the referee. Up until this point the special enforcer Edge hadn’t done much special enforcing, though now he was left no choice other than to take control.
Bryan somehow finds a way to kick out of a spear just before three and manages to again lock in the Yes Lock. With Reigns helpless, who else but Jey Uso to come down and get involved. Jey attacks everyone but Roman with a steel chair however, yet again, Bryan will not stay down.
He fights Jey off and looks to use the chair on Roman but he ducks again and this time it’s Edge in the firing line. He applies the Yes lock for a third time and this time Roman is to weak to fight out. He starts to fade and begins to subtly tap out. The first time he’s ever been submitted. The only problem. There’s no referee to stop the match.
After being wiped out Edge didn’t see the tap, he’s only aware that Bryan was the one to attack him. He snaps, laying chair shots into both Bryan and Roman whilst screaming “This is mine”. Another referee comes down to take charge, whilst Roman manages to crawl onto Bryan to, just about, claim the win.
A whole lot to process there but also a lot to be excited about. At the end of the day Reigns did tap so Bryan should currently be the champion. Because of this Bryan has a great claim to be included in the Universal title match at Wrestlemania. Alongside this we saw a possible heel turn for Edge. The way I interpreted the shouts of “this is mine” is that he wants that title all to himself. He’s waited ten years to reclaim the title he never lost and now he’s here he doesn’t want another obstacle in the shape of Bryan standing in his way.
A great way to end the show.
Match Rating: A-
Overall I would say this was a solid PPV. Some of the stuff may have been better suited to being on one of the weekly shows, however there was also a lot to enjoy, especially in the second half. For me the show did it’s job. It tied off loose ends and built excitement and intrigue going into Wrestlemania, a show that’s shaping up to be unmissable.
Overall Rating: B