This past weekend saw one of WWE’s worst received pay per views in a very long time. “Fastlane 2017” wasn’t just considered bad from a wrestling standpoint but absolutely horrible from a booking perspective. I thought the show was bad but didn’t find it as awful as some people said. The reviews were bad enough to warrant a second look though, which is what we’re doing here today. I’m going to look at each match and segment and see just how bad things can get on this show, as well as some of the good that does in fact exist underneath all the horrible.
We’ll skip the perfectly acceptable pre-show match (cruiserweights in a ten minute match are always going to be fine for an opener) and the completely fine (albeit slightly underwhelming) Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe match.
Raw Tag Team Titles: Enzo Amore/Big Cass vs. Anderson and Gallows
While the match was fine enough, the end result brings everything to a halt. No matter how you look at it, Anderson and Gallows are not very interesting champions. They come in, put “ski” at the end of random words in a joke that a lot of people probably don’t get, and then have pretty bland matches. I’m not the biggest Amore fan in the world but he and Big Cass winning the titles would have given the belts a short term shot of energy. The ending made it feel like a way to keep the feud (if you can call this a feud) going, which continues the theme of this show not mattering. Watchable match, really dull ending.
After listening to Stephanie McMahon say she’s stuck at the airport and watching the show on her phone (yet for some reason she didn’t know Foley had her on speaker phone which was shown on camera), we had another match with an annoying ending.
Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
This is a match that changed things for later in the night and not in a good way. Banks won off a fluke rollup in the end, which made a lot of people scratch their heads. In theory this was designed to have Banks get annoyed and ultimately cost Bayley the title but for some reason Banks just wins. Jax isn’t someone who can really take losses like this and I really don’t get the thinking here. The wrestling was fine but I really don’t understand what WWE was going for.
That stuff has all been mostly fine so far. NOW we get to the really weird/bad stuff.
Cesaro vs. Jinder Mahal
I’m sorry what now? Yeah this was a bonus match thrown onto the card because Rusev and Mahal split up (after being together all of a month and a half) and wanted to show that they were able to win singles matches. For some reason that means we get to see this, which followed Mahal beating Rusev down in a one on one brawl.
Here’s the problem: Mahal is one of the least interesting characters I’ve ever seen. He goes out there looking INSANELY jacked up and has the same boring matches he’s always had. I didn’t get it when he and Rusev were put together in the first place or why they were split up so soon. Above all else though, I don’t get why this match was put together. Who in the world needs an eight minute Mahal match on “Main Event”, let alone here on a pay per view? At least we got done with the bad idea first.
Rusev vs. Big Show
And then Big Show beat Rusev clean in another bonus match that was only a step or two above a squash. I’m assuming this is a way to set up the match with Shaquille O’Neal at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” but there’s no one out there who can fill in for Rusev? The three chokeslams weren’t enough of course so Big Show added a KO Punch to really hammer the point home. Rusev loses but hey, at least we get our regular Big Show fix.
Combined, these two matches and the segments before and in the middle of them took well over twenty minutes. I know they have to fill in some time with the nothing main event but did they really have nothing better to do here? They couldn’t add time to another match or have an interview segment to help set up a bigger match later on. Or they could have just ended the show at 10:40 instead of going past 11:00. I have a major issue with a show that added a Mahal match and still goes over. Cut off five minutes of both of these matches and while annoying, they’re not quite as horrible.
Neville and Jack Gallagher had what might have been the match of the night. That’s a rare highlight on this mess of a show.
Paul Heyman was there. He didn’t do anything other than say he was scouting but this was another two minutes killed off.
After New Day shilled ice cream (without showing it) and apparently making Biggie Smalls references, it was time for one of the major featured matches.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Let’s get the good stuff out of the way here: this was EASILY Strowman’s best match ever. He’s been on a roll lately with the power game and is getting how to be a big man in the wrestling business. WWE is clearly interesting in pushing him as something special and this was a great example of him getting to showcase his talents.
Then Reigns speared him a few times for the pin. Again, this is pretty clearly a way to set up a match at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” but at the end of the day, Reigns is going to be fine no matter what happens to him but Strowman needs some wins like this. Reigns vs. Undertaker is going to be a major match at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” but that didn’t need Reigns to pin Strowman here.
Let it be a knockdown, drag out fight and have Strowman get disqualified or something (say for the powerslam through the table). Both guys come off looking fine and Strowman stays strong going forward. But no, let’s go with Reigns again because THIS TIME FOR SURE! Reigns didn’t need this win but much more importantly, Strowman didn’t need this loss, even in a very good match.
Mick Foley told Samoa Joe to stay out of the main event. This led nowhere.
Women’s Title: Bayley vs. Charlotte
And then there’s this mess, which began a few weeks back when Bayley won the title. The whole idea here is that Charlotte loses on TV but is undefeated in pay per view title matches. Now ignoring the fact that having Bayley get the title at pay per view in the first place was the logical move, we’re stuck with Bayley defending it here in a match that doesn’t really mean anything. Since Bayley can’t win the title here though, the best option would be to have Banks turn on Bayley and give Charlotte the title (not logical but that’s the least of their problems).
The end result though? Banks (a face) helps Bayley (another face) beat the heel champion, which Bayley has already proven she can do. I know this is likely to set up Banks turning on Bayley down the line but did they have to have it be so illogical along the way? Just let Bayley win the title here (with or without Banks’ help) and go from there. They’re shooting themselves in the foot with this “Charlotte keeps losing on TV” thing and it’s starting to cause a lot of other problems around here. This was a situation where they had a ton of options and they picked the absolute worst one for reasons I don’t even begin to comprehend.
There’s one thing left to go and let’s just get through it.
Universal Title: Goldberg vs. Kevin Owens
Here’s the thing: there was no secret to the fact that Goldberg was getting the title here. As soon as this match was announced, it was clear that he was getting the title to set up Goldberg vs. Lesnar III for the title (because IT MUST BE FOR THE TITLE). The question was how would Goldberg, who has “wrestled” just under ninety seconds in nearly thirteen years, get through a title match. The scary idea was Owens getting squashed, which would be just about the worst thing they could do. If you’ve stayed with me so far, you know what option they chose.
Yes Owens lost the match in 22 seconds, but only after a Chris Jericho distraction. While that’s an incredibly lame finish, it does make things far less bad (not better, but less bad). Goldberg has still yet to show that he can wrestle a match longer than ninety seconds and he’s going to be in, at worst, the co-main event of “Wrestlemania XXXIII”. I’m almost scared of what could happen if he tries to do a full match but even more scared of what happens if his match is another minute long squash.
As for Owens I still say he didn’t need to lose the title and could have dropped it at the first pay per view after “Wrestlemania XXXIII” while Goldberg vs. Lesnar can just be a grudge match. Either way though, at least Jericho was there to cost Owens the match, which takes away some of the bad feelings. Owens was on a roll as of late but it’s the old guys’ world and we’re just watching wrestling in it.Look at those last three matches (over the last hour of the show) and tell me what in there is good for the common fan. We had Strowman (getting more over as a heel) lose clean to the least popular main eventer since Diesel, a downright confusing Women’s Title story and Goldberg beating the champion in 22 seconds. Couple that with two thrown on matches that meant nothing and it’s no wonder why this show was so poorly received.
Overall, “Fastlane 2017” did not need to happen. Look at how everything took off the next night on “Monday Night Raw” and tell me what needed to happen at the pay per view. Other than Goldberg winning the title, anything that happened at the pay per view could have happened on free TV in a much better presentation. It’s easy to see why the show, which featured good to boring wrestling and some of the worst booking choices I’ve ever seen, is being so soundly rejected and that’s not a good sign as we head towards Orlando.
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