I know I’m pretty late, but you know how it goes.
I just want to talk a little about Fastlane 2016: how it went down, where the WWE seems to be going, and my predictions.
So, overall, I went 5-2. Not bad, much better than my 3-3 count for the Royal Rumble, bringing my yearly tally to 8-5. Not a stellar record, thus-far. But, in my defense, if I would have known HHH was going to be in the Rumble, I would have picked him, and I did pick him when his music hit. Though I had picked Reigns, when HHH appeared, I said, “There’s your winner.” But, either way, I stick to my guns.
Moving on: Fastlane mostly went as expected, but the matches were pretty solid. I like this event being between RR & WM much better than the Elimination Chamber. I always thought that should be to SummerSlam what the Rumble is to Mania. But, Fastlane makes for a good in-between card sweeping up the Royal Rumble fallout and setting up the WrestleMania blow-up.
1) Kalisto defeats Del Rio: Totally didn’t see this coming. I like how they’re taking a chance with Kalisto and I think booking Del Rio to lose proves that WWE realizes they need to move their product in a newer direction and having Kalisto with the US strap heading into WM shows that they are serious about this dynamo. Even after several matches, these two were able to keep it fun and keep it interesting.
2) Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks over Team B.A.D.: No surprise here. Tamina and Naomi are the Diva Job Squad and they were up against the two divas receiving the biggest push. The only way I could have seen this match going any other way was if they wanted Becky and Sasha to get crossed up and add more heat to their quest for the gold. It was pretty basic booking of a really subpar match. Becky, as much as I want to like her, I just don’t think she’s very crisp in the ring, and I know everyone loves Sasha, but all I really see out of her is a lot of plodding, posing, and wiggling. She has some moves and she can sell okay, but I just don’t see a whole lot.
3) Owens de-pushes Ziggler: I really didn’t care about this match and I still don’t. I don’t like Owens; I find him boring and hard to watch. I admit he is surprisingly athletic for someone who looks like they spend more time at Burger King than the gym and he does have a decent move-set, but I just don’t care. He reminds me of a generic 90s Indy wrestler all the way from his dull entrance theme to his bland, reject clothing. And Ziggler is a lost cause. He’s got talent, but he just doesn’t have “IT.” This was mid-card mania, for sure. The two put on a good match, but it was just like every other match both of them always have against everybody else. If this is what the IC lineage has come to, let’s just retire it and let the US belt reign supreme.
4) The Only True Upset: If there was one match on the whole card that I would have said I was 100% certain of, it was the Wyatts vs. Big Show, Kane & Ryback. The Wyatts have been receiving a mega-push while Big Show & Kane have been fizzling out; and, Ryback can’t seem gain any steam. No way, I thought, the Wyatts would lose–but I was wrong. I even thought the Wyatts losing would be a bad idea, but it wasn’t. This match was the sleeper of the evening as even the old guys brought the best of what they have left. The important part, though, was that the win was all about Ryback, as it should have been. This guy has a world of potential and he keeps getting better; they just have to find a way to stop making him look and act like Goldberg. His grossly unoriginal character is holding him down. But, maybe they have something cooking for him. Combining that with the ever-improving skills of Braun Strowman and Luke Harper’s consistently perfect performance, I thought this was a really solid match.
5) Another Divas Disaster: I had very little doubt that Charlotte would defeat Brie Bella. The only inkling of suspect on the contrary was the recent retirement of Brie’s husband, Daniel Bryan. I thought maybe they’d give it to her on sentimental purposes alone, but thankfully, they did not. It is apparent that Brie still needs in-ring training and she is nowhere near as ready for the big spot as her sister, Nikki. Charlotte did the heavy-lifting here and her performance was the saving grace of the match.
6) The Dead Horse Continues: This time around, AJ defeated Y2J, which was not too surprising since one of Jericho’s best attributes in all his years in WWE has been putting over emerging talent. Not that Styles is anywhere near an emerging talent, considering he’s the one guy who’s been able to transcend the need to wrestle in WWE to achieve major respect and superstardom, but he’s new to WWE and when a newbie needs a push, they call in the master: Y2J. Not surprisingly, the match was very good despite a few botches. Both men brought all they had and Jericho is looking better than he has in years. I just hope they don’t keep pushing this feud until there’s nothing exciting left.
7) Why?: Axel vs. Truth? Who cares?
8) The Triple Threat: You would think a match with Lesnar, Reigns, and Ambrose would promise some solid wrestling and decent high-spots, but you’d be wrong. This match was mostly Reigns and Ambrose finding ways to take Lesnar out so they could duke it out. We missed the off-ramp for suplex city, and the crowd was firmly behind Ambrose, and those that were not were heavy Lesnar fans, but WWE, per par-of-the-course, ignores the fans and elects the John Cena route and goes with the smallest draw of the three men: Roman Reigns. Don’t get me wrong, I personally like Roman Reigns and do not understand why the people are so dead-set against this guy. But, the fact is that I am in the minority. The crowd is not as responsive to him as they are Ambrose. The match itself wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t all that good. I enjoyed it will enough at times, but expected more.
Now, the truth is that WWE is sitting at the edge, on the verge of something big, and they could easily blow-up again if they do the right thing: listen to the fans. If not, and they keep pushing people just because they want to, then they will find themselves in another John Cena era where half the fan-base becomes alienated. Only problem with that now is that WWE can’t afford to alienate the half they have left. The Cena Era followed the Attitude Era where WWE found itself in the largest boom period, ever. The adult fans were not impressed with Cena, nor were the casual fans. And, the PG Era eliminated pretty much all but the diehards and the kids. If they go with Reigns, they’ll have that all over again, and this time it might land the WWE right back into the New Generation Era where they almost went out of business. This show was solid enough. It was much better than I expected. But, it still had lots of room for improvement.
Until next time…
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