Wrestling Review: WWE Fast Lane 2019

Image Source: The SmackDown Hotel

The fifth annual Fast Lane show, not unlike Elimination Chamber, felt like an almost needless stopgap on the Road To WrestleMania. But as with Chamber, it did manage to provide sufficient entertainment; whilst EC shone due to the in-ring action, here it was story development and a splurge of angles that made this a rather enjoyable event.

The New Day vs. Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura

On the Kick-Off Show, we had this tag team encounter as a warm-up, which also played a role in something that would happen later in the night. Big E and Xavier Woods represented the Power Of Positivity here against a team which already feels like it has seen better days, despite only forming about six weeks ago. Nevertheless, this was a good match which really picked up the pace in the final few minutes, and was a reason why being on the Kick-Off Show can be a positive, since they were awarded more time and were thus able to put together a better contest. The Midnight Hour earned the win for New Day, during which time we had been told that Kofi Kingston had been ordered to see Vince McMahon at his office.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos (C) vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon

Onto the main card now, and it was a matter of when, not if, the team of Miz and Shane would implode, and having stayed on good terms following their title loss to Jimmy and Jey Uso at Elimination Chamber, Fast Lane in Miz’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio seemed sure to host the collapse of their squad. En route, we got an enjoyable match; a shade below the EC bout, perhaps, though it did feature an awesome spot where Shane intercepted an Uso Splash with a Coast To Coast kick in mid-air. Miz was rolled up for the defeat here, having gone for a Frog Splash of his own to impress his dad (who was sat at ringside; I should mention that after the bout, Corey Graves said “Miz’s dad is wondering ‘who’s gonna pay the rent next month?'” which really cracked me up). Afterwards, Miz Sr. consoled both Shane and Miz. But, with the assumption being that Miz would turn on Shane, instead it was Shane O Mac snapping on Miz, pummelling him at ringside and locking him in a choke hold, and even shoving Miz’s father into his seat at one point. Shane was booed out of the building (understandably), and when quizzed backstage later by Kayla Braxton, he offered no explanation for his actions. As expected, Miz vs. Shane seems on for WrestleMania, but with Shane as the heel and Miz as the face. As for The Usos, a potential dream match with The Hardy Boyz has been teased on social media.

SmackDown Women’s Championship
Asuka (C) vs. Mandy Rose

Elias performed a short concert after that match, and he would do after other bouts on the card too as I will explain. The next actual bout was Asuka vs. Mandy, and unfortunately it wasn’t good. Though Rose was clearly trying, things just didn’t click due to a fair bit of sloppiness, plus the crowd was dead since few believed that she had a chance of winning. Sonya Deville randomly searching for weapons under the ring, and leaving part of the apron on show in the ring itself, led to Mandy unconvincingly tripping on said apron before subsequently taking a brutal kick by Asuka to end things. Not a good match here, sadly. Who knows where Asuka’s fate lies at Mania, a card which we thought she might main event against Ronda Rousey this time last year.

Backstage, Big E and Xavier Woods joined Kofi, who was still waiting outside Vince’s office. They all walked in, and McMahon said he’d been waiting for Kofi all that time, which was strange yet amusing. Anyway, New Day begged the case for Kingston to be added to Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE Title, and Vince agreed, saying it would now be a three-way and it would start next, though New Day would be banned from ringside. Kofi went to the ring, only to be informed by ring announcer Greg Hamilton that the WWE Title bout would happen later, and instead Kofi was in a two-on-one match.

Handicap Match
Kofi Kingston vs. The Bar

Sheamus and Cesaro served as Vince’s hired guns here, as they delivered a sustained beatdown on Kingston. It wasn’t the best match to see, but it served its purpose in advancing the story of WWE holding Kofi back (though it is very similar to the Becky Lynch plotline). Big E and Xavier ran down to try and help once they realised it was a trap, but they were attacked in the aisleway by Nakamura and Rusev. Sheamus and Cesaro polished off Kofi shortly afterwards, with New Day having all been destroyed so that they couldn’t intervene in the later WWE Championship match.

Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The Revival (C) vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black vs. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable

Though this match seemed a bit thrown-together, it featured a wealth of talent who were given a decent amount of time, and the upshot was that this was a pretty good encounter. The fans were definitely into it, and they were definitely behind Ricochet and Aleister in their first appearance on PPV. In the end, after a whole bunch of high spots and near-falls, Dash and Dawson found a way to retain the titles via a Shatter Machine, but a post-match brawl kicked off that ended up with the latest NXT call-ups, Ricochet and Black, standing tall. A Raw rematch with The Revival tonight, perhaps?

United States Championship Fatal Four Way Match
Samoa Joe (C) vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade vs. R-Truth

Originally, we were getting Rey vs. Andrade in singles on the pre-show. Instead, it was randomly changed to a four-way rematch from last Tuesday’s SmackDown. This was another strong showing; maybe a step below what we got on free television, but it was still well worth watching and, as is the norm involving Rey and Andrade, we got some death-defying high spots. Truth again paid homage to John Cena, who it’s still humorously claimed is his childhood hero, despite the age disparencies being off (which is obviously the joke as it pertains to the perpetually-confused Truth). Joe wrapped up his first successful title defence by passing Mysterio out with the Coquina Clutch. The frequent references to Cena have led many to believe that we’re getting John challenging Joe at Mania; we’ll find out this Tuesday (probably) if that’s the case.

Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax & Tamina

This was the first title defence for The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection for the titles that they captured back at Elimination Chamber. This was okay, but nothing special; any match involving Nia against a smaller competitor focuses on the size differences, and that was the case again here. Bayley managed to secure the victory from out of nowhere, and that ticked off the Samoans, who destroyed the reigning champions in and around the ring afterwards. That drew the ire of Beth Phoenix, who was on commentary, and she even punched Tamina, only to get beaten down herself. Beth’s old tag team partner Natalya, having realised that Ronda Rousey no longer cares about her in storyline, ran down to make the save, but she got pummelled too. My guess is a multi-team contest at Mania, with Bayley and Sasha facing Nia and Tamina, a reunited Beth and Nattie, and a team yet to be named (Trish & Lita? Riott Squad? Bellas?).

WWE Championship Triple Threat Match
Daniel Bryan (C) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali

As it turned out, the WWE Title match still became a three-way, with Mustafa Ali being inserted as “the third man”. Why was never confirmed, though it’s worth noting that Ali had been scheduled to participate in the Chamber match, but due to injury, he couldn’t perform, hence him being replaced by Kofi Kingston (which began his whole push). Therefore, Mustafa getting this opportunity in return seemed fair, even if the explanation was clumsy. So, of course, fans chanted “Kofi!” throughout the match. That’s wrestling for you. Anyway, after a slow start, this ended up being a damn good three-way, and the fans were eventually drawn into the action. Ali hitting a 450 Splash onto Bryan on the apron, Owens nearly decapitating himself when hitting a senton onto Rowan at ringside, and Bryan constantly reminding both Ali and KO that neither deserved the title shot were the highlights of this one. In the end, Mustafa jumped towards the post to hit a moonsault-type move onto a standing Bryan, but Daniel instead leapt up and caught him with a Running Knee in an awesome spot to get the victory. New returning babyface Owens was spared the pinfall defeat (which is probably the real explanation for Ali being inserted into the match). For Bryan, WrestleMania is the next stop, and all signs are that he will be facing a man with the initials KK on April 7 (no, not Kid Kash).

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair

This was the big disappointment of the night, unfortunately. It received a hell of a build-up as part of the busy hype for the Raw Women’s Title match at WrestleMania. If Becky won here, she’d be re-added to the WM contest, but if she lost, she was “done”. Lynch entering with her seemingly never-ending knee injury stacked the deck against her more, and of course Flair targeted the weak spot, almost treating this as an extended beatdown rather than a competitive match. Becky fought back, and had Flair in trouble at times, but Charlotte managed to catch Becky in the Figure-Eight. At that point, Ronda Rousey (who turned heel on Raw remember, and who managed to send the wrestling community into meltdown with a worked-shoot online rant during the week) ran in and simply punched Becky in the stomach, causing the DQ finish. No sustained beating, no attack whatsoever; Ronda stood there as the result was announced, and calmly walked backstage. Becky smiled in a seated position, as if to say “I got away with that”, and Charlotte looked confused, but not necessarily upset. It all came off very underwhelming; Ronda should have at least attempted to pummel Becky after the bout, and possibly Charlotte too. Charlotte should have been furious, even though she was handed her title shot on a silver platter. And Becky should have earned the win herself, to overcome adversity in the same courageous manner that she did when she won the Royal Rumble match. It doesn’t kill the build-up by any means, but for a storyline that has had many twists already, they need a firecracker of an angle on Raw tonight to ensure that fans remain enthused for this, and that they don’t get tired or let down by the way this one had been hyped up before we get to MetLife Stadium. Between this, the lacklustre Asuka-Mandy match and the mediocre tag bout earlier, Fast Lane wasn’t a banner night for WWE’s female division.

Elias’ third concert ended with him noting how it’s nice not to be interrupted. Then, Lacey Evans did her usual entrance, and with Elias watching, he was dropped with an RKO out of nowhere by Randy Orton, who was then nailed with a Phenomenal Forearm out of nowhere by AJ Styles, alluding to their recent backstage interactions on SmackDown.

The Shield vs. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley

In the main event, it was “one last time” for The Shield to ride, as Roman Reigns made his in-ring return following his second battle with leukaemia to team with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose against Raw’s latest heel squad of sorts. It was an enjoyable match; the outcome was never in doubt due to the circumstances involved, but that didn’t mean that this wasn’t fun to watch. The match eventually descended into a brawl around the arena, with Rollins leaping off a balcony at one point. Drew McIntyre also took the Shield triple-powerbomb through an announcer’s table. In the end, Corbin was the one who succumbed to said manoeuvre in the ring, with Roman pinning Baron for the victory. Afterwards, we got an extended celebration as Michael Cole tried to put over how emotional this was, saying it would never happen again due to Dean Ambrose leaving WWE soon (which of course is often a red herring to suggest that he’s actually staying, though time will tell). A Shield first-bump ended the show. Rollins now focuses solely on Brock Lesnar; Roman’s Mania feud will be revealed tonight on Raw. Who knows what awaits Dean, if anything, on April 7, though I did suggest in my Raw review last week that Roman and Dean could square off, and that may yet happen.

This was an unusual PPV; it was angle-heavy, even for a card that is designed primarily to promote WrestleMania. This wasn’t a bad thing, though; it made for an unpredictable feel with all sorts going on, including moments that nobody saw coming, and all roads intertwine together as we head towards the biggest show of 2019, which is now less than a month away. The in-ring action was solid, with a few very good matches on display. It won’t win any awards come the end of the year, and Becky vs. Charlotte in particular was booked in a head-scratching manner. It’s also a card that will probably seem less entertaining upon a second viewing a few months down the line. Overall, though, Fast Lane was a lot of fun, and the show served its main purpose in getting fans more excited for what will be happening at WrestleMania 35.