Monday, March 12, 2018

WWE Fastlane 2018

Note to WWE Creative; If I'm going on a fast lane, it's not so I can make stops along the way. But I guess I should expect this sort of incompetence from people who confuse the 25th iteration as an anniversary, but I digress.

Despite being on the "Fastlane" to the Road To Wrestlemania, we have another 3-hour digress featuring a bunch of matches that will do nothing to set up the upcoming Showcase Of The Immortals and will instead waste plenty of time to reach their foregone conclusions. I will be perfectly honest; I had no real intention of watching this show, but a trip to the Amerindian Museum in southern Quebec left me a bit queasy and I found myself lying on my bed watching the show to pass the time... which meant no work done on stuff that needed to get done, but I digress. (On that note, either expect videos to resume again on Wednesday, or maybe I'll hold off until Friday and resume the daily stream from there.)

Anyway, Fastlane is otherwise significant as it is the final brand-specific PPV, as from this point forward, we'll be getting monthly dual-brand PPVs that will last for ten hours and then we'll wonder why nobody is watching their PPVs any more. Yes, I'm sure Network number will jump up because Wrestlemania is right around the corner, but how many of those folks are going to stick around after the fact?

Anyway... again... on with the show.

Shinsuke Nakamura kills Rusev Day in a decent enough opener. This was just another payday for both these guys, but they got something to do, it was a nice hard-hitting match, and the crowd was hot for it, so that helps a bit. I do wish they gave Rusev something better to do, given that it's Rusev Day and all. Nakamura is set with his match against WWE champion AJ Styles (sorry if I spoiled the show for anyone), but Rusev deserves better than to be another body in that battle royal nobody cares about.

Randy Orton defeated U.S. champion Bobby Roode via Not So Glorious RKO Out Of Somewhere Or Other to win the title... and then Jinder Mahal comes out and gets DDT'ed by Roode, who then DDT's Orton because fuck him, that's why. Orton beating Roode for the U.S. title - his first as it turns out - might not have been the ideal ending for some, but I was alright with it and the match was pretty good stuff too. If only they gave us this match at Mania instead of doing it now to make way for a pretty worthless three-way with Jinder... oh well.

Hey, two matches in and the show's been pretty solid so far, so let's ruin the goodwill with a video package highlighting the whole Ronda Rousey business up to that point. Because fuck me, that's why I pay $9.99 a month for the WWE Network; so I can get recap packages for a show I don't watch and featuring the one major reason why I don't watch Raw anymore.

Carmella and Natalya defeated Becky Lynch and Glow Girl in the designated bathroom break match. I suppose I should say something nice and say that it was an okay match... but I was in the john at the time and by the time I was done, the match was over. To be perfectly honest, I don't know why this is a thing to begin with. Isn't there a Riott Squad that could've been in this match instead?

The tag title match between the Usos and the New Day ended in a DQ when the Bludgeon Brothers (former Wyatt Family members Rowin and Harper) came in and beat the crap out of everyone to the point where they need stretchers, man. The match up to that point was alright and the beating was fairly simple fare. This is the first time I actually got to pay attention to the Bludgeon Brothers and the idea of them using each other as weapons against their foes is a novel concept that hasn't been done all that often as of late. If you didn't notice them before, you certainly did if you were watching this. And if you weren't watching this... my mind's a blank.

And then it was announced Xavier Woods was injured. Oh noes! Who will do the UpUpDownDown channel now?!

And hey, while we're at it, let's have a video package on Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. A video package about a RAW angle on a Smackdown PPV... and then people wonder why they're doing away with the brand-specific PPVs... AGAIN.

Smackdown Women's champion Charlotte Flair defeated Ruby Riott to retain the title... and then Asuka comes out and challenges Charlotte to a title match at Mania... because Asuka won the Royal Rumble, remember? So going forward, we're getting Flair vs. Asuka for the title on Smackdown, while on RAW, we're poised to get Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax. One match-up is interesting, the other is not. Meanwhile, this match was a thing that happened. The ending was a foregone conclusion anyway, but at the very least, the match wasn't boring and it had some nice moments here and there.

WWE Champion AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, and whoever that last guy was (Um, what's his face again? Oh yeah, Baron Corbin!) in a Six-Pack Challenge to retain the title. A pretty competitive and great little match hampered by too much Shane McMahon, who decided to interject himself by interrupting pinfall attempts from both Quebecois. This happened after Owens accidentally kicked Shane in the face... and so why am I supposed to cheer for Shane again?

Also, John Cena failed to secure himself in a championship scenario for Wrestlemania... which means he's apparently out of Wrestlemania for some reason. Cheer up, John. If all else fails, there's always the completely worthless Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal that you can take up.

You know? WWE completely missed the boat by not having John Cena compete for every single title in WWE and just coming up empty. He can challenge the Miz and whoever to an IC title match and fail there, then move on to the next title and fail to capture that. It's probably not the most compelling thing you could do with John Cena, but it certainly would give his "worst stretch" gimmick a bit more credibility.

And so that's your Fastlane 2018 PPV event and on a whole, this was actually pretty decent. Whether it's due to expectations being horrifically low or simply general apathy on my part, I found myself enjoying this quite a bit for the most part. The main event more than makes up for whatever defeciencies in the undercard and even then, the matches were at the very least perfectly acceptable slices of wrestling pie... or strudel, whatever floats your boat.

All in all, a pretty solid show all-around that does its share of keeping anything worth keeping track of in a holding pattern until we eventually get to Mania next month. Hey, do you suppose if they're doing dual brand PPVs again, they'll move Wrestlemania back into March again? No point in having a "fast lane" if all you're doing is road blocks.

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