February 23, 2015 by Joey Keogh
The moment nobody has been waiting for is finally upon us, WWE FastLane! Now, if you’re at all confused by that title, don’t worry because there’s a nifty little driving-themed graphics package to go accompany absolutely everything tonight, along with a sweet little “vroooom” sound effect that plays every time the words “FastLane” appear on-screen. Speaking of things making absolutely no sense, we just got rid of Alex Riley and now we have to deal with Corey fucking Graves on the pre-show “experts” panel? What exactly is his expertise? Slicked back hair? Shitty neck tattoos? Getting injured? Graves is joined by the incomparable Renee (please don’t steal her from us, actual news channels), Booker T (who, as you may recall, is replaced by King for PPVs) and Byron (there was one spot left). There’s a short promo with the team of faces involved in the 6-man tag, and Ryback is dressed like a shamrock shake (bit early, fella), followed by Renee interviewing her rumoured boyfriend, Ambrose, who is rocking a new beanie hat. Graves consistently cuts across Renee during the actual discussion segments, and is pervy about Paige whom he believes “became a woman” in the ring – er, wasn’t she, like, twenty when she joined NXT? Miz does his Miz TV thing, and the usual chaos with Mizdow ensues. They’re definitely teasing a feud here but, thus far, nothing of note has really happened. Still, Miz is fun for the first time ever so we’ll take it. Heyman is his guest. He’s only on for about two minutes but he does a fine job as usual, even choosing to repeat himself instead of shouting over the fans’ raucous chants for Mizdow, which just makes them louder. It’s an incredibly filler-heavy pre-show (even by pre-show standards) that doesn’t exactly bode well for the PPV itself.
6-Man Tag Team Match: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback -v- Seth Rollins, Kane & Big Show
How depressing to see two of the most exciting talents on the current roster – three, if you count Rowan – jerking the curtain tonight. And with a couple of boring oldies no less. To their credit, Ziggler and Rollins ensure the spotlight is on them throughout but it doesn’t make this bullshit match-up any easier to stomach. To make matters worse, Big Slow and Kane sleepwalk their way through it. Ziggler and Rollins kick things off with an extended hug, each man refusing to actually do anything lest they admit they’re being totally undervalued in their jobs. There’s a stunning dropkick from Ziggler early on, quickly followed by Rowan tagging in, showing off his spiffy new ring gear that is emblazoned with a sheep’s head on the back. The crowd are totally behind Ryback, even though he doesn’t really get a look in here, but his chant is easy so whatever. Rollins tags back in, knocks Ziggler clean off the apron and eats a huge dropkick from Rowan as a result. Ryback misses his first attempt at a shellshock as Mercury and Noble rush to interrupt and save their boss’s skin yet again, but he lands it the second time and Show tackles him quickly as revenge. There’s a hot tag to Ziggler, who hits the Fame Asser on Rollins before loading up a succession of swift digs to Kane in the corner. Show then wins it with the Knockout Punch and the crowd fall asleep, never to awaken again.
Winners: Seth Rollins, Kane & Big Show
Suddenly, just as we’re sinking into our seats, preparing ourselves for a deluge of bullshit, it all kicks off in the ring once again as none other than Orton’s music hits (it wasn’t teased long enough for my liking, but no matter). He makes his way slowly to the ring, as always, RKOs Mercury and Noble and sets Rollins – his main target, according to a gleefully giddy Cole – up on the ropes. However, Show intervenes, allowing him to make a quick getaway as Kane eats an RKO instead. It isn’t the most exciting, or indeed shocking, moment of the night but it softens the blow just a little.
Stardust -v- Goldust
This is a wonderful feud, with the potential for longevity, but it just hasn’t been given enough time or space to grow just yet, which is awfully sad considering the Rhodeses have supposedly been pushing for it for years. Dusty is backstage giving Goldy a little pep talk, telling him to go easy on his brother and to remember the good old days and isn’t family the most important thing of all, etc, etc. “Tonight, I’m not fighting Cody” Goldust tells him simply, “I’m fighting Stardust“. And indeed he is, although his little bro appears to have forgotten his top for some reason. He’s also billed as being from “the fifth dimension”. He gets upset at the crowd for chanting “Cody” and this, arguably, loses the match for him as his older brother hits him with all he’s got. Cole refers to the Final Cut as the “Director’s Cut”, setting a new record for how many stupid things he can say in the shortest amount of time. The crowd are absolutely dead throughout this bout, which, considering the boys have been prepping for it pretty much their whole lives, is borderline devastating. Stardust focuses on his brother’s ribs and ankle – two ridiculous sweet spots, by anyone’s estimation – but Goldust wins out of absolutely nowhere with a roll-up in what is essentially a two count (the ref’s hand doesn’t even make it to the mat the third time). He goes for a handshake but is denied as his brother stalks off.
An entertaining little vignette follows the match, recapping the Rollins/Jon Stewart feud that’s been playing out over social media for the past week, ever since Rollins claimed on Raw that he could make The Daily Show watch-able again. Stewart, a proud mark himself, fired back with a snarky video calling Rollins out for making “some mistakes” including not being able to choose “what colour your hair should be”. Elsewhere, Stardust tackles Goldust backstage and Dusty is very worried altogether.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos -v- Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
There’s really only one outcome that could satisfy us here: The Usos losing, fair and square, to a more exciting tag team. And, since The Ascension are too busy beating up old dudes and The New Day are off supposedly having fun somewhere, Kidd and Cesaro will have to do. On another, somewhat worrying, note all of the women are dressed kind of like hookers tonight for some reason. Earlier, Nikki Bella was sporting some long, leather gloves (later optioned by Stardust in place of a shirt), while Naomi is in booty shorts and knee-high boots and Nattie looks like a cross between your neighbourhood dominatrix and someone’s mother. It’s oddly unsettling. Kidd and Cesaro both sport headphones en route to the ring, but quickly dispose of them in favour of kicking some Uso butt. These two work incredibly well as a team, epitomising the whole point of a tag: two wrestlers who work well together, as opposed to two lads fighting separate singles matches that just happen to be taking place during the same bout. They cheer each other on from the sidelines, finish off each other’s moves and anticipate when they’re needed. They’re also a force to be reckoned with. Kidd grabs an Uso in a tight leg-lock early on before smashing his leg off the apron. Cesaro steps in, stopping Uso mid-Splash by bouncing off the ropes and hitting him and Superplexing him, leading to a near fall. On the outside, in a somewhat sloppy maneouvre, Uso holds Kidd in a Fireman’s Carry but then stumbles, dumping him into the barricade. He goes for a Splash but Kidd counters easily, before locking him into the Sharpshooter. The other Uso breaks the hold with a swift kick. He and Cesaro then duke it out, tumbling out of the ring as they do so. Uso superkicks Cesaro off the apron as he tries to get back in. Kidd then wins it for them, in spectacular fashion.
Winners: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Trips is here and he clearly means business in his leather jacket and heavily-taped hands. He calls out Sting, who still appears to be a member of The Black Parade as he enters to the rapturous applause and cheers of one dude yelling “WCW!” Trip cuts a promo that’s a little bit too close to home, as he notes how Stinger sort of bet on the wrong horse before. He should also note that he hasn’t been relevant for ten years, but whatever. It devolves into a brawl because Sting has no lines. Trips grabs his sledgehammer, Stinger his baseball bat and, for some reason, the latter is deemed to be the deadlier weapon. It’s also used to point at the Wrestlemania sign as Trips removes his jacket in anger and Sting hits something called the Scorpion Death Drop that would look totally shit if Triple H wasn’t so good at selling.
Divas Championship Match: Nikki Bella -v- Paige
Credit where it’s due, Nikki isn’t half as annoying as her sister. Her in-ring work is also getting better with each week that passes. Having said that, Paige deserves better than this and she seems even madder than usual as she unloads on the current, undeserved champ with a flurry of gut-wrenching punches. Nikki, playing up the cowardly heel angle that’s lately been epitomised best by Rollins, flees the ring to hide behind her sister but the British powerhouse stalks her on the outside until she’s forced to re-enter. Nikki grabs Paige in a sleeper hold and looks pretty pleased with herself for a bit. She then hits a gnarly Alabama Slam, chucking Paige into the turnbuckle and head-butting her. However, she eats a kick for being too cocky and a succession of clotheslines follow, threatening to derail her. They tussle for a bit before Nikki eats a superkick, leading to a near fall. Paige hits the PTO, Cole reminding us, as always, what those three letters stand for, but Nikki crawls to the ropes before grabbing her opponent’s tights and pinning her to win and retain. Paige screams after her that she cheated but, hey, this is pro-wrestling so nobody cares, love.
Winner: Nikki Bella
Intercontinental Championship Match: Bad News Barrett -v- Dean Ambrose
Easily my most-anticipated match of the night and, in spite of a shitty finish, it lived up to expectations. Barrett flees right off the bat, clearly afraid of Ambrose after being tied up and forced to sign a contract on Raw the other day, Fifty Shades style. He’s booed out of it by some loony mark in a Cena shirt, who refuses to sit down even though everyone around him (all of whom paid about $400 for their seats) is politely doing so. Ambrose hits a crazy shoulder tackle once Barrett is back in, but the Brit manages to follow it up by chucking him clean over with a kick as Ambrose sets up on the top rope. Barrett chucks his opponent into the steps while screaming “Where’s your wrist ties now, huh!?” before dragging him back in and aiming for the Winds Of Change, which Ambrose counters with a neat roll up. A flying elbow follows, from the top, leading to a close near fall. Barrett prepares for the Bullhammer but Ambrose manages another roll-up, leading to another near fall. He then bounces off the ropes to land a crazy clothesline that nearly knocks Barrett out. The Brit flees once more as Ambrose lines up the Dirty Deeds, grabbing the belt as he does so. The Lunatic Fringe (groan) isn’t going to let him get away that easily though, and he launches through the ropes to knock him into the barricade, into the steps and then finally back in the ring. For some reason, this leads to a DQ but it isn’t entirely clear why. Nonetheless, Ambrose continues beating up his opponent even after the bell has rung. He also legs it with the belt, leaving a confused Barrett to wonder aloud “But I’m the bloody champion”.
Winner: DQ (Barrett retains)
As an attempt to stop us from thinking the worst about this pathetic excuse for a PPV, Taker’s entrance music drops next and a long-ass entrance follows, as is to be expected. But, in a rather brilliant move on behalf of the WWE, when the casket opens it is none other than Bray Wyatt sat inside. And Memphis is pissed. He cuts a great promo, as always, in what is arguably the coolest moment of the night, finishing off by claiming to be the “new face of fear”. When we cut back to the “experts” panel, Corey isn’t happy, possibly because Wyatt’s ink is considerably better than is. Or maybe it’s because he can’t ever manage to grow a respectable beard and has to settle for looking like a wannabe member of Good Charlotte circa 2003.
US Championship Match: Rusev -v- John Cena
Much like the infamous Cena/Lesnar match, there’s only one possible outcome here: the face of the WWE has to get his ass whooped. To be fair, the two lay into each other to start with and it isn’t immediately clear who’s going to come out on top. Rusev has been sold to us as an unbeatable juggernaut, so to have Cena defeat him – at this nonsense PPV nonetheless – would be an inconceivably massive error. The crowd are suddenly awake during this match, as Cena lands the 5-Knuckle Shuffle and the Russian sells it even though he clearly hit the mat, instead of him. Funnily enough, the crowd mics are turned way up for this so we can hear Cena calling shit throughout. It should take the magic out of it somewhat but, let’s face it, there’s no magic left here any more. Not where Cena’s concerned, anyway. Rusev goes for the Accolade as Cena simultaneously tries for the STF, but neither of them manage to hit either. Moments later, Cena does hit the STF, but naturally we all expect Rusev to power out of it in an awe-inspiring moment of strength. Cole is screaming his head off, which can only mean Cena is about to lose. As expected, Rusev does not tap and he hits an Alabama Slam (Nikki’s was better, funnily enough) before locking Cena into the Accolade, in which he “passes out”, much to Cole’s dismay.
Wrestlemania Match For Spot Opposite Brock Lesnar: Roman Reigns -v- Daniel Bryan
Memphis kind of cheers for Reigns as he enters, but the powers that be have been messing with the audio all night so it kind of sounds as if they’re being positive very quietly. Bryan barely gets a pop because, as previously noted, this crowd are weird. Much like every other match he’s ever been in ever, the whole point of this bout is to make Reigns look strong and, to him, that means screaming a lot. A bit like a Diva, only with less cleavage (although he does have the correct amount of hair). He hits a nice flying clothesline, but Bryan fires back, smirking at his own aggression while simultaneously hinting he may be about to turn heel and make this shit interesting (we can but dream). Reigns hits a stunning backdrop from the top, before the whole thing quickly devolves into a succession of boring ol’ Raw spots as he’s chucked into the barricade, and then he Suplexes Bryan on the outside, onto his sore neck, and he responds by chucking Reigns into the steps. Back in the ring, Bryan grabs him in an arm-bar and then locks him into the Yes-Lock. Will he tap? Well, he can’t see as Bryan’s hands are locked over his eyes so I guess he’s going to scream for a bit until he can just power out and pummel the little fella? Predictably, Reigns wins with a Spear. Immediately following it, Bryan squares up to him and yells that he better kick Lesnar’s ass. He then goes for a handshake, which Reigns gratefully accepts, channelling one of the coolest moments of last year except that that match was actually good and there were things at stake and it wasn’t about making Reigns look fucking strong as per usual.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Maybe it’s just me but this didn’t particularly feel like a PPV. If anything, it felt a bit like a so-so episode of Raw, right down to the Main Event itself. There were some fun moments, including the Barrett/Ambrose bout, some of the spots from Rollins and Ziggler, Wyatt popping out of the coffin, the new tag team champions, Orton’s return and even the Divas match.
But overall, is this really the go-home PPV before the biggie? Is this really the last stop on the road to Wrestlemania? If we contrast this to last year, it’s almost depressing how little decent build-up there’s been. The lack of the popular EC PPV is noticeable and FastLane hasn’t really bridged that gap, nor does it feel like anything has really progressed.
All things considered, it doesn’t feel as though the biggest event of the year is just five weeks away. And all that’s been set up tonight are a load of rematches.