Cleveland, OH was the location for WWE’s final pay-per-view Fastlane before WrestleMania 35. The carditself was headlined by a few good matches including Kevin Owens challenging Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship, Becky Lynch taking on Charlotte Flair for a chance to headline WM35 and The Shield teaming up for one last time. There was also the interesting storyline for what Kofi Kingston had to do to get his WWE Championship opportunity.
There were ten matches total on the card with one being placed on the pre-show. Majority of the WWE titles were on the line as well. Here are my thoughts on the entire Fastlane PPV.
Big E & Xavier Woods def. Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura (pre-show)
The kickoff show originally had two matches scheduled but a backstage segment with Zelina Vega, Carmella and Samoa Joe led to a fatal-4-way for the United States Championship instead of the Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio match (more on that later).
Instead, towards the end of the kickoff show, we had New Day members Xavier Woods and Big E go up against Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev.
The crowd was strongly behind the Kofi Kingston-less New Day, who was told to not come down to the ring but instead go to Vince McMahon’s office.
Woods got the beating early as the heels would work him over until Big E stepped into the ring. Despite Woods repeatedly on the receiving end of the assault, they remained alive and well in the match.
Towards the end, Woods found himself trapped in the Accolade. Big E tossed Nakamura into the timekeeper’s position, allowing separation. Woods fought out and both delivered the Up Up Down Down finisher to seal the victory.
Nakamura and Rusev got a lot of offense in and Woods was great as the babyface fighting his way towards his partner. Once Big E came in, he came out swinging and getting the crowd behind them.
It would of been nice to have the newly former Nakamura/Rusev pairing to get a win here but New Day’s win set up for what was about to happen later on in the night.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship – The Usos (c) def. The Miz & Shane McMahon
Fastlane opened up the main card with SmackDown Tag Team Championships up for grabs as The Usos defended against Shane McMahon and The Miz.
With the PPV in Cleveland, the crowd was behind The Miz all the way despite being booked as a heel here.
The challengers dominated early with the crowd behind them until a nasty clothesline grounded McMahon and allowed The Usos to take control. They isolated and grounded McMahon with Miz only being able to wait in the corner.
A DDT from McMahon allowed him to create separation and make the hot tag to Miz, who exploded into the match with a flurry of offense. Later on, Miz delivered the Skull-Crushing Finale to Jey Uso but the referee missed the count as he was checking on McMahon.
A cool spot here followed as Jey climbed the ropes, looking for his Splash finisher to Miz. As he went up, so did McMahon and caught him with a dropkick that downed them both in the center of the ring. Miz went up to the top rope but was rolled up by Jey for the three-count and The Usos walked away from a successful defense.
After the match, McMahon and Miz were at ringside with Miz’s father. He then turned on Miz and beat him down while shoving his father in the process. He applied a triangle choke to close out the beating and the boos to McMahon erupted throughout the arena.
The match itself was a lot better than expected but the post-match heel-turn by McMahon was more important here. The heel turn makes Miz a face here, something out of the ordinary and look to face off at WrestleMania.
SmackDown Women’s Championship – Asuka (c) def. Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose, for the first time, challenged for a main roster singles title since her call-up to the main roster. It was a tough task as Asuka was standing in her way to becoming SmackDown Women’s Championship
A distraction from her friend Sonya Deville allowed Rose to deliver a jumping knee to the face to take control of the match early. Rose continued to take the fight but her trash-talking did not help in her favor. Asuka fired off with a dropkick and a series of kicks.
While the action was going on in the ring, Deville lifted the ring apron to retrieve a weapon from under the ring. This backfired as Rose slipped on the apron, allowing Asuka finished her with a kick to the face.
Deville attempted to apologize to her friend, but Rose was clearly not happy with what had happened. While Rose looked good in her first title opportunity, nothing really clicked here. Down the line, she will get more opportunities to be in the title picture but having Asuka hold onto the belt until WrestleMania seems like the better call, given her star power.
The tease of dissension among Rose and Deville is interesting but I do not think breaking them up right now is the best option. With a women’s tag division starting to build up, they would be good canidates to be a top team in that division.
The Bar def. Kofi Kingston in a 2-on-1 Handicap match
So Kofi Kingston was asked to come into Vince McMahon’s office during the kickoff show. McMahon told Kingston that he would be in a triple threat match tonight. Kingston came down to the ring, thinking he would hear Kevins Owens or Daniel Bryans music next but the “triple threat” match turned into a 2-on-1 handicap match again Sheamus and Cesaro.
The added stipulation was that it was fought under Texas Tornado meaning both members of The Bar were allowed to compete at the same time, rather than tagging in and out of the match. Mr. McMahon also revealed that Big E and Xavier Woods were barred from ringside.
Kingston tried what he can to fight back but it was quickly stopped. Chants of “this is boring” started happening as the fan favorite was getting beat down constantly.
The grade “A” here is for more of the booking here. Kingston no doubt is one of the best on the roster and has been getting a great push as of late. He deserves a chance to become WWE Champion and this was just another stepping stone for the New Day member.
With the way he has been booked, the perfect ending here is Kingston hoisting up the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. This might not look go now after Sunday night, but it is good storytelling when WrestleMania gets closer. It’ll be interesting to see what the plan is for Kingston during the next couple of Smackdown’s to get his opportunity.
Raw Tag Team Championship – The Revival (c) def. Aleister Black & Ricochet and Chad Gable & Boddy Roode
Up next we had the Raw Tag Team Championships on the line as The Revival defended the titles against Chad Gable & Bobby Roode and NXT’s Aleister Black & Ricochet.
Ricochet took the beating early against the other participants as Black looked on. HE created separation with a somersault double knee and made the tag to Black. A springboard moonsault to Roode followed. As he attempted a Black Mass, Roode countered it with spinebuster.
The pace picked up once again. A series of Dash Wilder’s frog splash and a shooting star press nearly earned the NXT team the titles but only Roode to break up the pin.
The action spilled at ringside. Ricochet delivered a slightly botched headscissors to Scott Dawson that sent him crashing into the other competitors in the match. Roode then sent Black into the guardrail and Ricochet lept over the top rope and wiped him out. While he leaped over, Gable tagged himself in but fell to The Shatter Machine from Dawson & Wilder to retain the titles.
Post-match, Roode attacked The Revival but only for Black to fire back with a Black Mass then 630 senton to from Ricochet.
Up to this point, this was the best match of the night. All competitors had their chance to shine here and action was solid throughout. It showed here that Ricochet and Black could easily go up against anyone on the main roster.
It would have been nice for The Revival to celebrate their win instead of getting buried immediately after but they kept the titles here and look to hold them until WrestleMania.
United States Championship – Samoa Joe (c) def. Rey Mysterio, Andrade and R-Truth
Like stated earlier, this match was made during a backstage segment on the pre-show. Samoa Joe recently won the United States Championship in a fatal-4-way open challenge and the same competitors looked to fight for the title again on Sunday night.
Joe suicide dived at the beginning that wiped out Andrade, Rey Mysterio and R-Truth at ringside. Truth, Andrade and Mysterio came back in the ring and quickened the pace of the match, which included a double headscissors from Mysterio.
Joe came back into the match and bulldozed the opposition. Mysterio tried to halt his momentum and tried for a 619, but Joe countered. He hoisted Mysterio but countered into a DDT. Another cool spot here was when Mysterio delivered a headscissor to Andrade, who was on top Truth’s shoulders from the top rope.
At ringside, a fight between Carmella and Zelina Vega broke out, making Andrade and Truth turning away from the match to break them up. Truth came back into the ring and the former US champion delivered the Five Knuckle Shuffle to Joe and flattened Andrade with a scissors kick. He tried the kick on Joe but this time missed and was thrown into the corner. Mysterio caught Joe with the 619 when he attempted to pin the champ, Joe put the masked superstar Coquina Clutch. Mysterio passed out from the move and Joe was able to retain here.
20 minutes after the best match of the night, the United States fatal-4-way topped it as the match of the night.
All four competitors improved from their SmackDown match last week and barely had any repeat spots, keeping the rematch fresh. A quality match overhaul and build Samoa Joe as a dominant champion that can take on anyone else easily. It is not known what the United States title has in store for the next couple of weeks but you can build a lot of feuds here, including Vega and Carmella on the women’s side.
Women’s Tag Team Championship – The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (c) def. Nia Jax & Tamina
For the first time, the Women’s Tag Team Championships were defended as Bayley and Sasha Banks went up against Nia Jax and Tamina.
The champions started off with the momentum but it quickly turned once Jax was tagged in and the fight was focused on Bayley. Banks received a tag and took the fight to Tamina, delivering a cross body and a series of strikes for consecutive. Tamina halted any momentum and sent a flying Banks into Jax, who delivered a Samoan Drop to Banks.
The champions stood together to lay the challengers out at ringside but back in the match, Bayley delivered a headscissors rollup to Jax for the win.
After the match, Jax and Tamina attacked the champions. Snuka superkicked Bayley and Jax sent Banks flying over the announce table. Snuka then eyed Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, who was guest commentating the match.
Phoenix blasted Snuka with a right strike but fell to a two-on-one beatdown. Her longtime friend Natalya rushed the ring to make the save but found herself on the receiving end of a beating as well.
The match itself was fine and it was a good way to legitimize the titles early in its history, rather than have them bounce around between teams. The match itself seemed a lot quicker than expected but Jax and Tamina looked over as a legit heel team that can be champions in the near future.
The addition of Phoenix is interesting and having her pair with Natalya could work well as the women’s tag division starts to build up. We could see the team in the title picture at WrestleMania.
WWE Championship – Daniel Bryan (c) def. Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali
We ended up getting a triple threat match for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. Mustafa Ali joined the match and looking to make up for the missed opportunity at Elimination Chamber.
Chants of “we want Kofi” rained down from the stands throughout the match as the WWE Universe had their voices heard.
Owens and Ali disposed of Bryan early when the champion said they both did not deserve to be here. Ali delivered a suicide dive to Bryan and Owens answered with a cannonball from the ring apron. Bryan eventually got up and sent Ali off the ropes into the guardrail with a dropkick.
Bryan had a lot of momentum but Ali slowed Bryan’s role for a bit but only to hit Ali with a clothesline. Bryan countered a superplex from Owens but Ali delivered a hurricanrana to Owens and followed up with a standing Spanish Fly from the top rope to Bryan.
Ali tried for the 054 but Owens moved out of the way in time and hit him with a stunner. Bryan broke up the pin and then took a Pop-Up Powerbomb for a two-count. The action went to the apron, where Bryan backdropped Owens and Ali delivered a 450 splash to the champion. Rowan, interfering for the first time, broke up the pin and jumped on the apron.
Owens then delivered a somersault senton to Rowan but took a knee from Bryan to the face. Ali delivered a DDT to Bryan at ringside and Owens delivered a pop-up powerbomb on the apron. Rowan leveled him and took out Owens. In the end, Bryan delivered a knee strike to Ali for the win.
A great match by members here, making a trilogy of great matches this late in the card. The addition fo Ali was a good one and he was able to show what he could do in the main event picture. Owens looked great in his return and has not missed a step. The chants of Kofi were loud and clear. He needs to be in the title picture come WrestleMania time. A predictable outcome with Bryan winning, but a great match with everyone sharing the spotlight.
Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair by disqualification to be added back into the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania 35
Becky Lynch looked to be added back in the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania 35 but had to beat Charlotte Flair Sunday in order for that to happen.
With an injured knee, Flair attacked Lynch’s leg to gain an advantage. Lynch scored a quick near-fall but Flair re-established her momentum by slamming her into the guardrail.
Lynch was looking to win clean here but Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey rushed the ring and delivered a knee to Lynch, drawing a disqualification and giving Lynch the victory.
It was not the clean win we expected but the fans got the outcome they wanted. We knew we were going to see Rousey defend against Flair and Lynch in a Triple Threat match and the DQ win does not bury Flair here with the pin so the booking makes sense.
The grade here is just the length here. I expected the match to be somewhat longer and having Rousey as a distraction instead of giving the DQ win would have better. But as stated earlier, we got what we wanted and the historic triple threat match is set to finally happen.
The Shield def. Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin
For one last time, The Shield reunited together on pay-per-view as Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose squared off against the unlikely pairings of Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin in the Fastlane main event. The Shield made its trademark entrance through the crowd and the crowd was loving it.
Rollins and Lashley started for their respective teams, but the crowd came alive as Reigns and McIntyre entered the match. Reigns and Rollins then started a two-on-one beating to McIntyre.
Rollins then found himself cut off from his partners and at the hands of the heel team. He was able to tag Ambrose in and hit McIntyre with a double ax handle from the top of the ring.
Lashley capitalized on a momentary distraction by Corbin to deliver a spear that returned control of the match to the heels. Reigns was able to tag back in after Ambrose was beaten down by McIntyre.
He hit Corbin with a big boot and Drive-By followed. Rollins caught McIntyre with a flying forearm and Ambrose &Rollins sent Lashley to the floor which followed with a double suicide dive to the outside
The action spilled out in the crowd with Rollins and Ambrose brawling with Lashley and McIntyre in the stands. In the stands, Ambrose dove off the Kickoff Show panel table and into the waiting arms of his opponents. Rollins flew out of the stands, wiping them all out.
While that was going on, Reigns and Corbin continued their battle in the ring. Reigns set Corbin up for the Superman Punch, but Corbin caught him. He found himself on the receiving end of the End of Days from Corbin, scoring a very close two-count thanks to Rollins and Ambrose saving the match.
The heels teased putting Reigns through the announce table, but The Shield recovered and fought them off. They beat down every member before they did their signature Triple Powerbomb to McIntyre through the table to a great pop from the crowd.
In the end, Rollins delivered a superkick, Reigns followed with a Superman Punch and Ambrose with Dirty Deeds. The Shield Bomb to Corbin ended the match and earned The Shield one last pay-per-view victory together.
If this is really the last time The Shield will ever team up, this was a great way to end the stable.
It was the wild and chaotic allowed that each member of the group to shine. Let’s hope this bring the end of the Corbin, Lashley and McIntyre alliance.
Reigns looked phenomenal in his first match back and Rollins performed well here in his final PPV before taking on Brock Lesnar. Ambrose also looked good here in what could be his final WWE PPV since he will not renew his contract with the company after WrestleMania 35.
A great match by The Shield here. A great ending to what has been one of the best stables in recent WWE history.
Fastlane, in my opinion, was a lot better than I expected. With this pay-per-view being so close to WrestleMania, no titles would really change here. That being said, there was plenty of good storytelling matches and potential set-ups for what will go down at The Show of Shows in April.