Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Fastlane 2018
Date: March 11, 2018
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

So this is a thing that exists for reasons that I don’t quite grasp. With four weeks to go before Wrestlemania, we have this stop for the final Smackdown pay per view before the big show. The main event is a Six Pack Challenge for the Smackdown World Title as there was no other way to break things up and add another match to a six match card. Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Tye Dillinger/Breezango vs. Mojo Rawley/Chad Gable/Shelton Benjamin

Gable throws Breeze down to start and calls him a joke. Just don’t insult his shoes. Fandango comes in and puts on some amateur wrestling headgear, allowing Gable to take him down as well. It’s back to Breeze so Gable drops down to give him a shot. Breeze rides him like a horse and the good guys clear the ring in short order. Gable comes back in with a hard monkey flip and we go to an early break.

Back with Shelton working on Breeze’s arm before it’s off to Gable for some shots to the face. Another armbar sets up an overhead belly to belly for two with Fandango making the save. Mojo takes over on Tyler and knocks Fandango into the barricade but a hot tag brings in Tye. Dillinger comes in and cleans house as everything breaks down. Gable rolls Tye up (in what seemed to be an incomplete Rolling Chaos Theory) for two but Breeze is right there with the Beauty Shot. Tye superkicks Rawley and hits his one kneed Codebreaker for the pin at 7:26.

Rating: C+. I liked this one better than most Kickoff Show matches I can remember seeing. They were actually trying to put in some effort out there, mainly in hope of getting some attention on Smackdown. It’s not like anyone has paid attention to them in recent weeks because of the Six Pack Challenge eating up the time, so hopefully a hot match helps things out a bit.

The opening video looks at Wrestlemania with tonight being the last chance to get there. Especially if you’re John Cena you see. Every match gets a little time here, which isn’t that hard to do.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev

Aiden English is back to sing Rusev to the ring. Rusev wristlocks him to start and actually works on an armbar for a bit. A shot to the face staggers Rusev but he avoids the big kick to the head. Instead a knee drop gives Nakamura two as the announcers discuss a potential Nakamura day.

Nakamura has to spin out of another wristlock as this is far more technical than you might have expected. A little dance sets up COME ON but Rusev rolls outside to cut off the momentum. I always wanted someone to do that to Hogan back in the day. Nakamura follows him out this time and it’s a knee to the back of the neck to rock Rusev. A hard drive into the barricade cuts Nakamura off though and it’s time to start in on the back.

Rusev gets caught in a quick heel hook but is right back up and working on the back again. Nakamura shrugs them off again and slaps on a guillotine but gets caught in a fall away slam. They trade missed kicks until Kinshasa misses. Instead it’s Nakamura slipping out of the Accolade, followed by the kick to the head. The Machka Kick gets two, only to have Nakamura hit Kinshasa for the pin at 14:51.

Rating: B. They were beating the heck out of each other here and it was actually a heck of a match. This is the kind of thing that Nakamura has been needing: to beat someone with a resume in a competitive, hard hitting match. Why have we been stuck with video packages when this is what we could be seeing? That makes no sense but it’s all they’ve been doing as of late. Better late than never with this, but this needs to be happening every week now.

We recap the US Title match. There isn’t much to this one: Bobby Roode is champion, Randy Orton has never held the title and Jinder Mahal is lurking around for whatever reason.

US Title: Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode

Roode is defending and we get Big Match Intros. They fight over a wristlock to start (FIND SOMETHING NEW ALREADY) and Roode throws him into the corner, setting up the GLORIOUS pose. That just earns Roode an elbow to the face and we hit that RKO chant. They trade some hard shots to the face/chest until the threat of an RKO sends Roode bailing to the floor.

With Mahal watching in the back, Orton drapes Roode ribs first over the ropes for two. Roode kicks him away though and grabs a chinlock for quite a bit of spot calling. Roode’s ribs won’t let him hit a suplex so Orton gives him one instead. A neckbreaker is more Roode’s speed and he follows up with a top rope clothesline. The Glorious DDT is reversed into a rollup for two and Roode needs a breather.

Roode scores with a Blockbuster for two but the ribs are banged up all over again. There’s the hanging DDT to keep the back and forth style going but neither can hit a finisher. They head outside with Roode being dropped back first onto the barricade (you can’t say Orton doesn’t have a target) and that means it’s time for the superplex. Roode is ready though (could be due to every Orton ever using that move) and reverses into a sunset powerbomb for a big crash.

This time it’s Roode going up top and getting crotched back down, meaning the superplex works on the second attempt. Roode kicks out again so it’s time for the slower paced punches. The Glorious DDT doesn’t work so Roode goes with the spinebuster for two instead. With nothing else working, Roode goes up top….and dives right into the RKO to give Orton the pin and the title at 19:30.

Rating: B. This was better than I would have bet on, though I’m not looking forward to the triple threat match next month. I’m assuming this is all designed to push Mahal because something about India (because it worked SO well last year) or just to get another multi-man match at Wrestlemania. At least we got one good singles match though and now we can move on to the REAL wrestling that fans want to see.

Post match Jinder Mahal comes down and jumps Randy but Roode gives them both Glorious DDT’s. So yeah, we really are getting that triple threat at Wrestlemania. Why? No idea really but WWE loves its triple threats and its Jinder Mahal so there’s no way around it.

Here’s a long recap on HHH/Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey to fill in some time.

Kevin Owens yells at Sami Zayn for not laying down on Tuesday but Sami only meant he’d do it here. Everything is fine.

Natalya/Carmella vs. Naomi/Becky Lynch

This was added to the show on Tuesday. Becky rolls Carmella up to start but can’t get an early Disarm-Her. It’s off to Naomi and Natalya with the former kicking Natalya down for two. Carmella comes in and sends Naomi into the corner before rubbing her face into the mat. Carmella: “FEEL THE GLOW!” We hit the chinlock as the announcers tease Carmella cashing in Money in the Bank tonight. With that chinlock having run its course, Natalya comes in for one of her own.

Carmella grabs Naomi’s ponytail and pulls it over the ropes, followed by a running knee to the head. Naomi backflips out of a belly to back suplex though and the hot tag brings in Becky (who happens to be wearing flame attire so the hot tag fits well). Everything breaks down and Natalya tries to bring in the briefcase. The distraction only kind of works though as Becky drops her with a right hand but Carmella superkicks her for the pin at 8:50.

Rating: D+. Well at least there’s something to giving Carmella some momentum heading into the cash-in, which very well may come at Wrestlemania. This was pure filler though and there’s not much hiding it given how fast the match was set up. I do like getting the women on the show though and it’s nice to have them actually doing something other than just having the title on the line.

New Day auditions to host next year’s Kids’ Choice Awards, capped off by getting slimed.

We recap the Usos vs. New Day. They had a great feud last year and capped it off with their final match but since the tag division has all of four teams, we’re back to it again. This time the Usos are obsessed with getting a Wrestlemania match because the Kickoff Shows don’t matter.

Tag Team Titles: Usos vs. New Day

New Day, comprised of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods this time, are challenging. An early blind tag sets up a shot to drop Woods in short order (at least it wasn’t a wristlock) and New Day is in trouble. The champs do their own version of the Unicorn Stampede and Graves won’t have Saxton interfering in his analysis.

Woods rolls over and brings in Kofi for a Boom Drop but Trouble in Paradise is caught in the air. A running Umaga Attack rocks Jey in the corner so it’s Jimmy coming in with a pop up Samoan drop. Jimmy hits his own Boom Drop as they’re certainly doing something different here. A Midnight Hour gets two on Kofi and things settle back down. Jimmy misses a corner splash and the hot tag brings in Woods.

This time it’s the Usos being knocked around, allowing Kofi to get two off a Superfly Splash. Jimmy saves his brother from the double Superfly Splash (that would be the next step) and it’s a BIG double dive onto New Day. Everyone is down….so here are the Bludgeon Brothers to attack all four for a no contest at 9:07.

Rating: B-. Give this an ending and it’s another instant classic. They were starting to roll here and actually had a fresh idea for the match, which I never would have thought coming into this. I mean, of course it’s designed to set up another triple threat match because that’s what we do around here, but at least we got most of a good match here.

Post match, destruction ensues as we set up another triple threat at Wrestlemania. The Usos are both crushed with Rowan slamming Harper onto them both and a double splash. Woods gets powerbombed onto the steps to knock him cold.

Long video on Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar. You have to get to that overrun somehow.

AJ Styles is ready to make the impossible phenomenal again but Nakamura interrupts. They’re ready for each other at Wrestlemania.

New Day and the Usos are still being taken out of the arena.

We recap Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott. Ruby debuted a few months back with the Riott Squad and wants to prove that Charlotte’s greatness is just a myth. She’s defeated most of the other women and now just the champ is left. This has been a much better build than you get most of the time because it makes sense: Ruby wants the title and has won a bunch of matches to get the shot. Why is that so complicated?

Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott

Riott is challenging. They both try an early finisher before going to the standard wristlock. Charlotte takes over with the power but here’s the Riott Squad for a distraction. A quick Riott Kick gives Ruby two and Charlotte is sent outside. Cue Becky and Naomi for backup to cut off the Squad, allowing Charlotte to score with a slingshot suplex (with Graves crediting it to Uncle Tully).

Riott drops her again though and falls off the middle rope (on purpose) onto the champ. We’re off to the chinlock for a good while but another falling splash hits Charlotte’s knees. Charlotte loads up the moonsault but gets shoved outside. Ruby follows her so Charlotte goes with (and mostly misses) the moonsault off the barricade instead. Back in and a hurricanrana takes Charlotte down but she bails into the corner.

The Squad teases interfering so Becky and Naomi get in, meaning a quadruple ejection. Ruby gets two off a small package but gets caught in an electric chair. Instead of dropping her back though, Charlotte whips her face first into the turnbuckle. A spear into the Figure Eight retains the title at 13:38.

Rating: C+. This was all it needed to be: Riott coming close but losing in the end. With Asuka vs. Charlotte all but set for Wrestlemania, what would the point be in having a surprise title change here? Riott looked good in defeat and the match was rather entertaining, although I could have gone without having the other four interfere. Sometimes one on one is ok, which WWE doesn’t seem to comprehend.

Post match Charlotte is celebrating when Asuka interrupts. She motions that she wants the title and points to the sign. Works for me.

Trailer for the Andre the Giant documentary.

We recap the Smackdown World Title match. AJ wants to go to Wrestlemania and a bunch of people want the title as well. Sami Zayn has volunteered to lay down for Kevin Owens, who deserves to be champion. John Cena needs a path to Wrestlemania and this is his LAST way to get there. Or something.

Smackdown World Title: John Cena vs. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles, Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

Styles is defending, Commissioner Shane McMahon is at ringside and it’s one fall to a finish. We hit the Big Match Intros and Cena gives everyone not named Styles (or in a referee shirt) an AA in about thirty seconds. Cena and Styles slug it out with AJ flipping out of an AA attempt. The Clash is countered into another failed AA so Styles gets to the apron. Everyone is back up and circles Cena, who suddenly gets the idea.

Cena is sent outside and the other five are left to brawl on their own. AJ and Owens are left inside and it’s Styles planting him face first to take over. Corbin comes back in and we’re firmly in the rapid fire replacements as AJ keeps clearing them out. It’s Owens finally getting in a shot to the head and knocking Styles outside. Cena is back in but Ziggler cuts him off with a DDT.

Owens frog splashes Ziggler for two and Styles has to run in with a save. Styles strikes away at Owens and hits the Pele but it’s too early for the Styles Clash. There’s a chokebreaker to Owens as we hit the parade of secondary finishers. The AA is countered into a Fameasser for two on Ziggler and AJ has to break up the STF. Cena gets caught in the Styles Clash for two with Sami making a save this time around.

Corbin punches Sami out of the air to break up a springboard and the Dream Crusher (that sliding clothesline) takes Owens down. Since there are too many people in the match, Corbin and Ziggler fight into the crowd and are thrown through some hockey boards. Back at ringside, Owens loads up the announcers’ table but gets kicked in the head. AJ clotheslines Sami into the timekeeper’s area but Cena AA’s AJ through another table.

Back in and Kevin sends Cena to the floor, leaving the Sami vs. Kevin showdown. Sami says he’s a man of his word and takes forever to lay down. Kevin isn’t sure what to do but has to kick out of the surprise rollup. The fight is on and Shane seems pleased so Sami yells at him and Kevin superkicks the boss. Sami dives through the ropes for the tornado DDT on Owens and everyone is down.

There’s the Pop Up Powerbomb to Ziggler but Shane pulls the referee out at two. A Helluva Kick gets the same on Owens with Shane making another save. Corbin is back up with some steps to Cena’s head but Cena takes them away and decks Cena with them instead. An AA onto the steps gets two with Ziggler diving in for the save this time around. The superkick to Cena is no sold and there’s an AA to Ziggler. Owens gives Cena the Pop Up Powerbomb but Styles comes in with the Phenomenal Forearm to pin Kevin at 20:57.

Rating: B+. Yeah it was a lot of fun, and much better than the one they did on Tuesday. You know, the one that was almost this match but with nothing on the line. They also benefited from focusing on other stuff besides the drama of a new champion, which clearly wasn’t in the cards tonight. This was more in the vein of sit back and enjoy and that’s where they should have gone. I still don’t like this as the way they went, but at least it was really fun.

Shane shakes his head and Cena sits in the corner because that’s still a thing. AJ looks at the sign to end the show.

Overall Rating: A-. Honestly, as much as I complained about not caring for the show coming in, the rating doesn’t surprise me. WWE has a tendency to knock it out of the park with the least interesting shows and that’s what they did here. This was a blast (no overrun, thank goodness) and had a bunch of fun stuff. Some stuff was set up for Wrestlemania (the most important thing) but overall, just a fun night of wrestling. Great show, even if it didn’t mean anything in the long run.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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