It is safe to say that WWE Raw PPVs have not been setting the world on fire. The majority of their shows have ranged from bad to mediocre at best. On the Road to WrestleMania, though, you would expect that the Raw team would pick up the slack and deliver something worthwhile. Instead, they delivered their worst effort so far.
Fastlane was a complete disaster, and everyone is to blame for this PPV. The wrestling was bad, the booking was bad, the announcing was bad, and so forth. This show looked as if it had potential to be a good show and under-delivered in every facet.
The show opened with a 9-minute match between Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn. While short, this was actually one of the better things to happen on the show. They wrestled a quick paced match. They had good chemistry together in addition with good energy and intensity. Since Sami Zayn is a directionless character with nothing to do right now, you wonder if he got in too much offense on someone they are trying to establish as a barbarian and if Samoa Joe should have been more aggressive and forceful. Either way, anytime a heel makes a babyface tap out, it is a big deal. So, I would say that this accomplished what it wanted to, even if the execution could have been better. PS: I never want to see Zayn hit another Blue Thunder Bomb on Samoa Joe again. A lower mid-carder would never have hit a move like that on Vader in the 80s. Samoa Joe is supposed to be a heavyweight monster, so moves like that damage his aura.
WWE then showed off how trivial its tag division is. Enzo seemingly cut a promo that was longer than the match itself, cringingly pandering to the crowd in a way that would even make Mick Foley blush, only to end up losing the match anyways. This was a total paint-by-numbers tag match. As straightforward, ho-hum and unimaginative one can be. The Club deserve better than this. They need a good program instead of being victims of the normal counterproductive and platitudinous tag team booking.
Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks looked like a promising match on paper, but a lack of chemistry totally derailed this match. This had too much downtime and awkward spots, just a sloppy match that couldn’t establish any flow. To make matters worse, WWE booked one of the worst angles on PPV in a long time. The Mahal and Rusev angle made no sense and were put in a situation where they were left for dead. The crowd did not know what was going on and 9 times out of 10 unannounced matches on PPV die. This was no exception, and running two unannounced matches back to back totally killed the crowd. Both matches made Mahal and Rusev look like jobbers, so I don’t know why anyone could possibly care out their feud moving forward.
For sure, Neville and Jack Gallagher had the best match of the night. It took a while to get going, but once it did, it was a hard fought battle with a number of awe-inspiring spots and ultra-stiff strikes. By virtue of hard work, they got the crowd into the match even though the crowd felt abused by the last couple of matches and this match did not really have good build.
If anything was going to save this PPV, it would have been the Braun Strowman/Roman Reigns and Women’s match. However, due to bad booking, both ended up under-delivering. Strowman and Reigns were having a great match. It was just two impressive brutes slugging it out to see who was the king of the ring after all. However, just as the match really started to get going, the match was cut short. To make matters worse, Roman Reigns defeated Strowman, ending undefeated streak on a B-PPV. It is not even as if Reigns needed the win, either. Strowman’s character could have been elevated to higher heights and someone beating him could have meant more. Instead, they wasted it on someone who is already well-established, and unless there are major changes to his character, he will still not be the babyface WWE wants him to be.
Charlotte and Bayley were also having a good match until the finish. The finish was straight out of WCW, with Sasha Banks attacking Charlotte right in front of the referee. How are we also supposed to cheer for Bayley and dislike Charlotte when Charlotte is the one getting screwed over in these matches? Yet again, WWE decided to end a streak, Charlotte’s PPV winning streak, on a B-PPV.
Despite how bad the booking was on this entire PPV, the main event might have been the worst booked match of the night. They used their overused theme music distraction to change title holders. That is so low-rent and such tawdry. Goldberg, who will be main eventing WrestleMania 33, against Brock Lesnar in a “what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” match is a tainted champion. It was supposed to be two dominant forces locking horns and that has been rather marred due to the kitschy finish. There is no need to give Kevin Owens an “out” when he is going to be in a mid-card feud. Owens’ problem has more to do with how he is booked anyways.
This was a complete waste of a show that only muddled the Road to WrestleMania than made people more excited. The booking was nonsensical and perfunctory while the wrestling was mediocre at best. It seems as if WWE purposely made the worst possible decisions tonight just to make their smarter audience ticked off again, and clearly they mismanaged the time of this PPV and tried filling the gaps with insulting segments that did not even try to pretend they were not filler. WWE wants to take its company in one direction while its fans mostly want the company to take itself in another direction, ergo the frustration continues to grow with a large portion of its audience.