Fastlane: Review/Recap

RESEM50037fastlane2016MEBecky Lynch And Sasha Banks Defeated Team B.A.D.:

Don’t really have much to say about this. It was actually a pretty good match, all things considered, from both teams and did a decent job kicking off the night and managed to avoid any kind of gaffs (unfortunately the latter women’s match wouldn’t be so lucky). This thing is obviously just a way to build up the feud of Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks going after Charlotte and the Diva’s title. I’d presume it’ll be a three-way for the belt at WrestleMania, or just a straight up Sasha/Charlotte match. I’d be more keen to the Sasha/Charlotte match because you know that both the company and the women want a star-making match of not only showing off the skills of the women on this huge stage and they can be just as good if not better than the men, but they also want to make huge starts out of these women as the torchbearers for the division for the next decade+. So, it’s easier to make a great singles match with planned ideas, spots and fluidity (the latter part which often plagues divas matches) than to create a great triple threat match which often includes dealing with a lot of timing issues and having to eliminate one person so much that it always seems like a revolving singles match. Anyways, I’m not complaining either way, and I’m sure either match will be great, I just sense that this is a match execution that they’ll want to pull off in spades to further benefit and lend credence to the division as wrestlers.

Kevin Owens Defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental Championship:

This was your prototypical Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler TV match that was really no different than the last 567 times they faced off. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad by any stretch. They’re basically the king of kicking off shows, and if it wasn’t for that extra women’s match that’s what they would’ve been doing, although this was basically the same. Owens was obviously going to win, since he just won the belt and WWE seems like they actually have and want Kevin to do stuff (not that it’s apparent lately) and Ziggler has been doing nothing since that whole Rusev/Lana thing that we’re probably just better off forgetting.

I have no clue what Kevin Owens will be doing for WrestleMania. I’m thinking either a program with AJ Styles for the title, which I’d love, or maybe a program with Chris Jericho for the title, which would be fine, especially since Owens/Jericho worked a bunch on house shows over the past year and their dueling promos would be a lot of fun. I mean, a Sami Zayn feud would be awesome, but I don’t think that’s happening so soon, especially with Zayn dealing with NXT stuff, but I wouldn’t fret since I’m sure we’ll be getting a lot of it over the next decade.

Big Show, Kane and Ryback Defeated The Wyatt Family:

This wasn’t even all that bad! I was surprised! I couldn’t even think of a match I’ve been looking forward to less than this one (although, I feel like I say that on ever PPV review I do). I mean, it makes absolutely no sense why didn’t give the Wyatts the win, as that seemed a foregone conclusion. The booking on the Wyatts is the most schizoprenic, they’ll languish in the background and lose to everybody, then they’ll be pushed like they finally want to build them as legit monsters who win and dominate, but then they’ll just get pushed down again and back to scrape the doldrums. In a perfect world it would be cool to see the Wyatts as legitimate threats and not just glorified jobbers in the skins of people who in theory would be a lot more successful.

Charlotte Defeated Brie Bella to retain the Divas Championship:

Oh, man, this thing was terrible. Not too many other ways to put it. The whole match both Brie and Charlotte seemed to be on a completely different page. This is where that fluidity thing I mentioned in the Sasha, Becky/Team B.A.D. thing comes into place. Often in women’s matches they’ll seem so stiff and so hesitant of the next move and spot that it becomes so blatantly and painfully obvious that this is staged and everything is pre-determined. There’s no seamless back-and-forth, but rather waiting and stumbling around to set up the next move, or wait an unrealistic amount of time to do something or just do something so strained and removed that it looks painfully manipulated. This match was that idea in a nutshell. There was countless times where Charlotte would have to do some many unnatural delays or moves to make sure she and Brie were in the proper position to do a move that it was so blatantly stunted. It wasn’t just Brie, where I think the problem lies in both women being not having much experience with each other and neither really taking charge. The whole thing culminated in a finish apropo of the entire match with Brie having Charlotte in a single leg crab, until she decided to seemingly launch herself into the ropes and give up the move only for Charlotte to magically recover put her in the figure-8 and win. What you were supposed to know is that Brie’s leg was injured and thus the pain of putting pressure on her leg in that move launced her out of the move? I dunno, it was a bad match and a bad finish. Charlotte will redeem herself at Wrestlemania with some more worthy competition, and Brie I’m sure will have a better showing as she winds her career down and remains thankful that this wasn’t her goodbye match.

AJ Styles Defeated Chris Jericho:

Looking back Chris Jericho was pretty much the perfect fit for AJ’s first feud in WWE. They’re both decade+ vets in the business, are of similar sizes and can put on great matches with seemingly anybody. In the end I never got that classic match I expected from the two that I know is in both of them, but instead we just got some really, really good matches, which especially on this show shouldn’t be anything to complain about. I think, funnily enough, that this match was similar to the Brie/Charlotte match (I know.. hold on, let me explain), but on the opposite side of the spectrum. As good as the matches were and this one was, both men just seemed to slightly be on different pages. Whether it was AJ still getting used to the new ring and relative new style (yet he’s still better than 95% of the roster being this new to the company) or if it was Jericho’s age and style not being able to keep up with AJ. Sometimes you’d see them just off on a spot, like that AJ springboard off the ropes to Jericho drop kick, where to anyone less skilled than them it would look blatantly obvious, but instead these guys are so good that slight misses go largely undetected.

I also had a pretty big issue with having Jericho kick out of the Styles Clash, especially when he was just going to give up the submission to Styles, anyways. I would’ve loved to have seen them build up the Styles Clash as this great move, maybe not Japan levels of building it up, but at least have it built up enough to help out another guy that could use the rub rather than wasting it on Jericho a week in. Especially when they have AJ using the calf slicer as his main finisher now and the Styles Clash could’ve been used as a “big match” move that AJ only busted out when absolutely necessary. We’ll see, though, I guess I should just be happy they gave AJ the win over Jericho and actually made him tap out.

The Cutting Edge Peep Show with The New Day:

I rolled my eyes at first because it just seemed like a lame time filler to pimp the new Edge and Christian show, and it was that, but the dreaming side of me actually thought they’d use this to debut Enzo and Cass on the main roster to feud with The New Day into Mania. But, nope, as soon as The New Day started talking about the League of Nations I knew this thing was only destined to get worse. It makes total sense in retrospect that they’d go with this feud since neither has nothing to do, but I could care less. The New Day act is sooo played out with me and always goes on about 5 minutes longer than it should. As if things couldn’t get much worse on this show…

Curtis Axel Defeated R-Truth:

Yep, you read that correctly, the co-main event match on this show was Curtis Axel with the Social Outcasts beating R-Truth in two minutes when a Goldust accidental distraction led to the pin because we absolutely needed that story continued on this show. How this makes it on, even as a dumb time filler when Kalisto/Alberto Del Rio languished on the pre-show is beyond me, because you know full well they could’ve just shifted things slightly and had that match on here to at least bring up the mean.

Roman Reigns Defeated Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar:

The theme of this show really was if you came into it expecting exactly what everybody knew was going to happen (which it did) then it probably didn’t bother you too much. As much as you might’ve wanted Ambrose to win and how fun it would be to throw a wrench in everything, you knew WWE wasn’t doing anything to mess with the story they had of Roman and Triple H with Roman gunning after that belt yet again, he’s already won it twice somehow! The match was good, nothing amazing and pretty serviceable to all. It will never get old watching Brock get built up like the monster he is and just destroying guys left and right.

I’m writing this after RAW, so WrestleMania is becoming a lot more clearer. We got the match that nobody say coming with Shan McMahon coming back to the company to face Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match to win the rights to Monday Night Raw. I’m sure there will be a lot of strings pulled from now until then and the match itself will probably be a cluster in terms of guest spots and smoke and mirrors towards whoever will win. Regardless, I’m excited for the match and at the very least the idea of it because it sounds like the most fantasy booking thing ever, especially in 2016.

Dean Ambrose is facing off against Brock Lesnar in a street fight, which sounds amazing and has the potential to steal the show. The street fight stipulation is a good idea, because it’s the only way that things can sway in Ambrose’s favour towards a fair and believable fight, because realistically Lesnar should mop the floor with the scrawny Ambrose. I’m much more excited about this than I am the before rumoured idea of Lesnar/Bray Wyatt which was seemingly being set up at the Rumble. I was looking forward to the legit Lesnar/Wyatt match, but not the tedious month+ long build up of boring promos and attacks.

I don’t know what’s truly happening with the tag belts outside of New Day/League Of Nations feud, but don’t know how that’ll play into WrestleMania. They’ve been putting together a few tag teams of late like Social Outcasts, R-Truth/Goldust, plus the Dudleyz and Usos feud that seems to be happening and now it seems like Styles/Jericho are going to be a team which I’m not the biggest fan of. So maybe they’ll do a big multi-team match like they did last year?

It seems like the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be back, as it’s now just an easy match to throw all your leftover guys into, and especially since a ton of the big guys have nothing to do like Big Show, Kane, Ryback, the Wyatts etc. I have no clue what this means for Bray Wyatt as I can’t see anyone relatively big or decent for him to feud with that he hasn’t faced already. Who knows.

Of course you got John Cena posting cryptic things on Twitter about him pushing hard to make some certain goal. Hmmmm. This is the same dude who posted about him struggling to regain the mobility in his weak arm and then two days later posted him squatting 300 lbs. The dude is a freak, so he’ll probably be back, but I have no clue facing. The fantasy booker in me wants John Cena vs. AJ Styles for the dream match we’ve always wanted over the past decade.

And, oh yeah, that whole Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the title thing. It’s hilarious that WWE thinks that continually putting bigger and bigger things in front of Roman for him to “overcome” to win the title will somehow get people to like him, yet it’s having the opposite effect where it gets comical how much he beats out to get what he deserves. I’m sure there will be a special ref or special enforcer or people in each of their corners or whatever, but I don’t think much will work and the fans are just too far gone on Reigns in this iteration to see him win like this.

I was getting pretty skeptical of Mania with all the injuries, lack of big matches and the mess the world title picture is, but the whole Shane/Undertaker thing has really piqued my interest and the Lesnar/Ambrose thing is bound to be a lot of fun. Plus, I’m sure they still got a few surprises up their sleeves since it’s the “biggest WrestleMania of all time” (haven’t you heard!?!?), and given we’re still more than a month out a lot is bound to change, but I’m back excited for Mania, and hey, we at the very least get an NXT Takeover special to look forward to, no matter the Mania card.

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Royal Rumble: Review/Recap

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Dean Ambrose defeats Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship:

Besides the Rumble match itself this was really the only match I was looking forward to on the card, with how great Owens and Ambrose are together, both with their promos and their chemistry in the ring, and then add on the stipulation of the Last Man Standing and it had all the elements to presumably blow this feud off perfectly. Now I could easily see these two going back-and-forth on a couple more PPVs as I’m not sick of this match-up at all, but it seems like they’re diverging the guys after this since we’re heading into Mania and I presume they have different ideas for each of them heading into that show.

Anyways, the match was great as anticipated, and really the perfect way to kick off this show or any, with the energy high and weapon spots used to get the crowd going early. There were some cool moments like Owens just beating a ten count by rolling out of the ring onto his feet on the outside, Ambrose striking Owens who had a chair wrapped around his head and the general jawing back-and-forth between the two guys which gave the match an air that these guys actually hated each other. It was pretty clear that when Owens set-up a double-decker table outside the ring that he was eventually going to go through it for the 10-count loss, especially when the cameras made sure to never show it in a shot again until the fateful moment when Owens went to the top rope to moonsault onto Ambrose who was laid across a bunch of chairs, only to have Ambrose spring to life and push Owens through said tables and regain his belt.

The New Day defeats The Usos to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship:

I think I’ve said before that I’m sick of The New Day and their whole schtick, I mean I like them still, it’s just that their gimmick has worn a bit thin especially when they do the same overlong promos every week and have the same matches week in and week out. It doesn’t help that they’re facing off against the Usos, who aren’t bad, but are just generally bland and aren’t really great enough wrestler or have a good enough gimmick that they stick out to you to make you care about them one way or the other. Unsurprisingly, because of all this this was basically just a regular RAW TV match you’ve already seen a thousand times between the teams and wasn’t anything new.

There needs to be some new blood mixed in to at least make things fresh again in the tag division, but on the surface there isn’t really anyone. They already ran through the lackluster Dudley Boyz feud, one was starting up with the Lucha Dragons until Sin Cara go injured and now this Usos one doesn’t have any legs to it, so I don’t know where they go from here. I can’t even think of any teams, outside of any combination of jobbers they could mix and match, or I guess falling in line with that have them do a program with the Social Outcasts, which could be fun or a disaster. Or maybe they finally bring up an NXT tag-team, like Enzo and Cass who seem to have passed their opportunity to gain the NXT tag belts, and throwing them up with The New Day to go promo for promo with their colourful antics wouldn’t be the worst thing to head into WrestleMania with.

Kalisto defeats Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE United States Championship:

I’m unsure of the reason why this belt hot-potatoed between the two guys over the past few weeks, but here we are again with Kalisto winning the belt yet again, where hopefully he can maintain a little bit of a run with it this time. I really enjoyed the matches between the two, they obviously have chemistry, and this one was more of the same again, minus a couple missed cues and one large botched spot, but it was a great showcase for Kalisto and something that WWE actually tries to build off and not just squander like they did when he won before. They obviously wanted to push Kalisto and unfortunately or fortunately the Sin Cara injury gives them the exact excuse to do that with a guy who could be a great mid-card singles guy if they give him a proper run.

Charlotte defeats Becky Lynch to retain the WWE Divas Championship:

This was another solid match between the two. Unfortunately for Becky she’s basically just a stop-gap between the Charlotte/Sasha Banks feud that most certainly will be leading to that as the women’s match at Mania. After Ric Flair’s distraction help Charlotte picked up the victory and saw Sasha Banks walk down the aisle as she celebrated. The pop for Banks was bigger than I imagined, like it looked like it was deafening in there, and long overdue to turn her face since that’s what everybody so badly wanted when they’d chant her name in every Divas match. The Charlotte/Sasha Banks program for the title is what everyone has been waiting for since the NXT stars got promoted to the main roster, so let’s see if they can deliver us that classic women’s match on the main roster that everybody has been salivating for.

Triple H wins the 30-man Royal Rumble Match to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship:

The PPV wasn’t surprising in the least, matter of fact everything we thought would happen, did. So, of course, it’s the end of the match Roman hits his moves on Bray Wyatt as the clock winds down to see who the 30th entrant is… and Motorhead hits and Triple H in his impossibly buff body hits the ring to lay waste to all in advance of his 14th World title win. Now we all knew this was going to happen, Triple H had conspicuously been off TV since Reigns went crazy and gave him a severe beatdown following the TLC PPV, he was going to come in and spark the HHH/Reigns feud, presumably setting up their Mania match where Roman goes over for his PROPER coronation that WWE so badly wants with him standing tall after the biggest show of all time with the victory and title. The booking here was all sorts of weird, though, with them having the League of Nations take Reigns out of the match, beat him down and then have Reigns just walk backstage to supposedly nurse his injuries that were fine enough for him to walk on his own power. I mean, if you’re gonna do the whole “one vs. all, Reigns as entrant #1” stick at least have him stay in the match legit for the whole time, go that 55 minutes until he gets eliminated, but don’t cheap out on the person you’re trying to go over (above everybody else), it doesn’t make sense why you would cheapen his look in the match by pulling him out so weakly. Have him valiantly fight for the whole time and thus his loss to a fresh Triple H at #30 makes sense, rather than how they did it here.

Conversely there was actually some very smart booking in the match in regards to eliminations that follow storylines or perhaps set up storylines. Lesnar’s position in the match was basically just to feud with all the Wyatt’s, which is fine because that’s what it looks like he’s going to do for the next couple months. Sure, it was weird when the previously eliminated Wyatts eliminated Lesnar and then Lesnar just looked all mean and pissed off, but did absolutely nothing about it. We also had Sami Zayn come in to further move along his what will be life-long WWE feud with Owens and eliminate him to set-up whatever they do in the future. Owens eliminated AJ Styles to possibly set-up something in the future. Chris Jericho was eliminated by Dean Ambrose with rumours that they could do something at Mania, stemming from Jericho’s whole defiance of Ambrose back when they teamed at Night Of Champions. Small touches like this help to provide continuity with the overall storylines and are pretty easy things to do to either start a feud or plant seeds for things further down along the line.

Oh, yeah, how could I forget AJ freakin’ Styles debuted at the show, causing me much delay in writing this since I literally can’t stop watching his entrance debut on YouTube. It was seemingly the worst keep secret in wrestling that Styles was going to debut at the Rumble, but damn if I didn’t get excited like it was an unknown surprise when I first saw him walk around the corner in his entrance. I can’t even begin to describe how cool and surreal it is to finally see my favourite enter a WWE ring. They did it perfectly, putting him at #3 where Roman just dumped Rusev and was waiting for his opponent, all the attention drawn to who would be next. Some cool music hit and nobody really knew what was up until Styles sauntered out and the PHENOMENAL words went across the titantron and the crowd went absolutely nuts, like goosebumps each time I watch it level of nuts. I was literally watching the match, a damn WWE match, shaking my head at just how bizarre it was to see Styles in a WWE ring facing off against all these WWE superstars after over the past two decades doing everything but go to WWE and after headlining an ROH and NJPW PPV within the last month. They handled him perfectly to in the match, teasing the Styles clash, while still getting over his moves, and they had him go 27 minutes which is super respectable, especially since he’s not going to win and then having someone of the calibre of Owens, who he could feud with, eliminate him. It was awesome and I really could’ve wrote this whole thing about Styles, but I can’t wait to see how he’s used in WWE and the gravity of his entrance and treatment in the match gives me hopes that they won’t squander him and actually have high hopes for him.

So, we’re right where he though we were really, HHH won the title and know Roman’s gonna chase it for WrestleMania, which I know people hate having HHH main event that event, but really what better options are there at this point with everybody injured and with the company wanting to put Reigns over so bad, even to his detriment. I think it’ll be a good match regardless, whether WWE gets their moment or not, and they certainly didn’t set Roman up well in that Rumble match, but let’s see what they got for the next couple months.