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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Survivor Series: Review/Recap

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Roman Reigns defeats Alberto Del Rio to advance to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament finals:

This was probably the most obvious outcome of the night, because no matter what would happen in the main event, it was all going to concern Roman somehow. It’s a smart opener, too, as they could get a good pop out of the crowd with Roman coming out to kick off the PPV, although he got pretty soundly booed, so maybe not the best with this crowd. This actually ended up to be my favourite match of the night and I think definitely Albert’s best since he came back to the company a month ago. The finish was never in doubt, but both were good enough together to really sell the near-falls.

Dean Ambrose defeats Kevin Owens to advance to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament finals:

Another good match, not as good as the first, and actually a bit disappointing given the talent between the two guys, but it was never anything outwardly bad, just could have been better. It was pretty certain that Dean was going to advance, to push the whole Roman vs. Dean thing, but I don’t think a Kevin Owens win would’ve been too far out of the picture (especially with how things eventually ended). It seems like Owens and Ambrose were going to feud for the Intercontinental title into this PPV anyways, until the Rollins injury mucked everything up and I’d imagine they’ll continue this going forward. Hopefully the matches get better, I have no doubt that they won’t, and from the in ring work to the matches this could be a top mid-card feud that has the potential to be the best thing going for the company right now.

Ryback, The Usos and the Lucha Dragons defeats The New Day, Sheamus and King Barrett:

This was the “oh, damn, this is Survivor Series and I guess that means we need a 5v5 elimination match, so, uh, what scraps do we have around the locker room to fill this out.” Seeing as we had no clue who the participants were going into the match I thought they might have some mini-storyline reason of choosing these people, but nope it was just random leftover heels and faces to fill out the card, who are just a bit above working the pre-show. The match was actually pretty fine, at least until the New Day left with an “injured” Big E to leave Sheamus stranded alone, which I thought was setting them up coming back or complaining when they eventually lost that technically they hadn’t been eliminated, but nope, Sheamus just eventually got beat by the faces.

Charlotte defeated Paige to retain the WWE Divas championship:

Man, I barely remember this match, and I guess it makes sense because their feud is nothing to really retain either. Besides the lame attempt at giving this feud some depth and teeth with that random Reid Flair death comment on the previous RAW, there isn’t much that really makes you invested in any of this. I don’t think Paige is a particularly good heel in the first place and I’m not the biggest fan of hers either, and as well Charlotte is clearly lacking on the mic. You’d think since they’re such great wrestlers within the ropes they’d be able to at least put on something good, but unfortunately it was unforgettable with Charlotte eventually winning after an awkward submission spot. I’d hope this thing would be done here, but I imagine they’d want to keep pushing with Paige at the title.

Tyler Breeze defeats Dolph Ziggler:

I was looking forward to this a lot, actually, but it kinda just felt like a dud all the way around. The crowd seemed long sucked from the building and they only got just over five minutes to make this thing work. It was a fine enough match, but I was just expecting more given the calibre of performers in the ring. I’m glad Tyler got the win, even though I’m sure they’ll harp on his pseudo-cheating with tripping Ziggler for the win. I don’t see this thing ending anytime soon, so hopefully like Owens/Ambrose they can only improve on things.

The Brothers of Destruction (Undertaker and Kane) defeats The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper):

I wasn’t expecting much from this, but I’m surprised it was even worse than I was expecting. I was 99% sure that Undertaker would get the win since this PPV was centred around his 25 years in the company, but a part of me thought they might flip the script and have the Wyatts triumph when everything was seemingly against them. But, nope, this was just a glorified squash match for Undertaker and Kane going through their greatest hits for a short ten minutes with the easy win by an eventual tombstone to Undertaker. Taker and co. were taking it super easy, and hopefully this was just an easy stepping stone to honour his 25 years and he’ll prepping for a more worthy match at WrestleMania, since we know he still has some good matches left in him given his last two against Brock. And who knows where the Wyatts go from here, given that they’re basically glorified jobbers by now, with WWE trying to give them the illusion that they are all high and mighty powerhouses, yet they lose every feud they’re in, losing all their credibility.

Roman Reings defeats Dean Ambrose to win the WWE World Heavyweight championship, but…

I was really looking forward to this, given the whole storyline business of Reigns and Ambrose being best buddies and everything coming down to them taking each other on one-on-one to see who’s the best, and beyond that it’s a fresh match for once! I guess the theme of the night was short matches and I was astonished how short this thing was. I couldn’t believe how early they were going for their finishing moves, telegraphing the end, I thought it might just be an entertaining close call for the middle of the match, but nope eventually Reigns got the spear on Ambrose in just under ten minutes for the win. Don’t get me wrong, the match was good for what it was, but it felt so condensed and rushed, and for what reason I have no clue, since by the time ended the show was still a good 20 minutes short of the 3 hour window.

I was certain that the big angle here would be the Dean Ambrose heel turn on his best buddy that I thought was going to happen way back at SummerSlam, giving the main event a big feud with a backstory and cementing the big heel with Rollins out of the picture. Instead, they decided to go the whole other route, and actually stick with it, so outcomes Triple H to congratulate Reigns who responds with a spear to Triple H all to turn around from a brogue kick from Sheamus and him cashing in his Money in the Bank contract. Sheamus kicked out of the first brogue, and I thought, “oh, okay, now they’re just going strengthen Reigns by having him best Sheamus’ attempt at the title,” until another brogue kick smashed in Reigns’ face and Sheamus got the three for the title.

I’m really not up in arms about this finish as most are, mainly stemming from how much people hate Sheamus. I used to, too, I mean I still don’t necessarily like him, but he’s an actual heel in this day-and-age who actually gets legit heel heat, has a stiff moveset and can be used correctly. Now, I don’t really think this is the best move to put at the top of your card, but I mean it is the deadest period of the year where people tune out, and I’d be surprised if they had Sheamus with the title going into Mania.

With Rollins out it seemed the no. 1 thing WWE wanted/needed was to establish a no. 1 heel and that’s what they did (or at least tried to do) with Sheamus. They needed a top heel (in their eyes, anyways) to go against Reigns, and in doing so gave him the belt to help generate that. Obviously, they’re trying to build sympathy for Roman with the fans and try to build him up and actually get people to cheer and like him before they put the belt on him, because apparently Vince sees him as the face/top of the company for the foreseeable future and he wants to set everything up right. If Reigns isn’t standing tall with the belt at the end of WrestleMania 32 then either something drastic happened, but I would be stunned if that wasn’t the case. I’m interested to see how they work this thing and if they can actually get Reigns over, or at least moreso, this time, because if they screw things up or fail to pull the trigger it might be too little too late with Roman. He’s still pretty terrible on the mic, but his ring work is very solid and I can definitely see him succeeding and winning over the fans to be a draw on top for all fans, but the booking will ultimately decide this in the coming months. I’m fascinated to see how this plays out.

Ultimately, I didn’t hate the PPV like most did, largely stemming from the Sheamus ending, but mostly I just felt underwhelmed. I was actually looking forward to a bunch of these matches, none of them were terrible, but the only one I really liked was the Reigns/Del Rio one, one that I wasn’t even looking forward to. Reigns/Ambrose was good, but seemed so much like a tease at an actual full length match in the future, possibly when one is heel, and I can’t wait for that.

It’s going to be an interesting an interesting time in the WWE due to how uninteresting things are right now. They’re heading into December, their biggest dead time, with no Rollins or Cena (along with the load of other injured stars) with a new champion that everybody hates and a no. 1 contender that most are just so-so on at best. I’m being like The New Day and trying to stay positive!