Hits and Misses: WWE Fastlane 2015
The road to WrestleMania 31 went through WWE Fastlane on Sunday, February 22 (Monday in the Philippines), as 2015 Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns and fan favorite Daniel Bryan fought for the right to face WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar at the main event of WrestleMania.
Also, two wrestling icons made their WrestleMania face-off official, while The Eater of Worlds dared to call out The Deadman for a match of their own at WWE's biggest pay-per-view event on March 29.
Here's what Rappler's resident wrestling writers had to say about WWE Fastlane.
Six-Man Tag Team Match: Big Show, Kane, & Seth Rollins defeated Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback
Joe "The gRappler" Marsalis: It was all right, and you can tell everyone involved tried their damndest to make lemonade out of some 4-month-old lemons. The Memphis crowd, bless their souls (but for this match only), cheered their butts off for this match. Perhaps they were still fresh, perhaps they still had enough energy, but those factors working together was enough to save what should’ve been a match nobody was paying attention to.
All that said, these 6 men deserve a lot better than to be locked into some strange time trap where it seems to still be November 2014. Thank god Randy Orton returned to break them out.
Nissi Icasiano: This kind of six-man tag team match is usually the main event of an episode of Raw or SmackDown, but the quality was upgraded a little bit because it did not need to conclude via disqualification. The energy of the match helped it turn out to be a surprisingly fun contest, especially the return of Randy Orton.
Randy Orton made his return
Joe: It felt a couple of months too late – it probably should’ve happened at TLC or Royal Rumble – but nonetheless, it’s a welcome development. Orton was gone long enough to make all the possible match-ups he’ll be involved in feel fresh again, and I cannot wait for the WrestleMania barn-burner that is Orton vs. Rollins. It’s been months in the making, man!
Nissi: Before, I really wanted Randy Orton to return at the Royal Rumble, but I guess WWE knows best. However, it can be argued that his return was not much of a surprise as evidenced by the crowd chanting for it well before it happened. The in-ring comeback at the Fastlane event made perfect sense because he arrived just in time for WrestleMania, setting a right spot to build a match between him and Seth Rollins.
Goldust def. Stardust
Joe: Some people were complaining about how this match wasn’t a WrestleMania match, and to that I said: they’re building up to something bigger, more brutal, and hopefully bloodier. My prediction was right, somewhat: they played up the story of Stardust no longer wanting to be Cody Rhodes, but they didn’t go all-out, ending in an iffy, hesitant finish that looked like it was completely botched. If you take into consideration how Goldust didn’t want to hurt Stardust at all, however, it makes perfect sense, setting up the glorious destruction of the rest of the Rhodes family at the hands of Stardust, come ‘Mania.
Nissi: On a personal note, I was expecting a lot in this match because you have two odd but interesting characters that have a good sibling rivalry to tell. However, it turned out to be a disappointment. The pacing was rather slow to the point where it was easy to hear some fans in the arena chanting "Boring!" The crowd just was not as hyped up as they should have been. However, WWE Fastlane offered a tepid appetizer as the backstage attack was better than the match itself. See you at WrestleMania!
WWE Tag Team Championship: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd def. The Usos to win the titles
Joe: Perfect. Absolutely perfect. It all played out wonderfully; the only bad spot is that the crowd never truly cared. It’s a shame, really; I thought they were going to be a good crowd at the opener, but they didn’t give this match enough love. Cesaro and Kidd – arguably the most entertaining tag team in the division right now – finally get some shine. Could we be getting a huge tag title match at ‘Mania with the newly-reunited Prime Time Players? A fan can only hope.
Nissi: I was so happy for Antonio Cesaro and Tyson Kidd! Both men were thrown together seemingly at random and those tag teams rarely ever end up making much of a splash, but Cesaro and Kidd are off to a good start for 2015. They are talented enough to make this a compelling reign going forward.
Sting challenged Triple H to a WrestleMania match
Joe: It was hokey and silly, but it wasn’t too long and it got the job done. Sting came in, threatened Triple H with his trusty bat (which Hunter could’ve easily overpowered with his bigger sledgehammer… if you know what I mean), and hit the Scorpion Death Drop. Everyone goes home happy, except Triple H.
Nissi: The segment was short and had no theatrics, making it a letdown compared to Sting's mesmerizing acceptance of the confrontation against Triple H. However, it did make everybody ecstatic. WWE has formally unveiled that the company just hit the jackpot, because one of the biggest selling points of this year's WrestleMania is Sting finally wrestling in a WWE ring.
Divas Championship: Nikki Bella def. Paige to retain her title
Joe: Nothing to write home about. Decent match, but the status quo remains.
Nissi: It appears that WWE is saving the best for WrestleMania. Nikki Bella and Paige could pull off a high-quality match together at this event. However, if you are interested in watching a good all-out match involving the women of WWE, you should check out NXT TakeOver: Rival as opposed to Fastlane.
Intercontinental Championship: Bad News Barrett def. Dean Ambrose via DQ
Joe: I’d expected that Ambrose was going to take home the championship after giving Bad News Barrett absolutely nothing to do as champion (other than lose), but apparently they’re taking things up a notch. The bad part is that Barrett still doesn’t get to look strong. So instead of hitting the reset button on the Intercontinental Championship again, they’re gonna try and make it worth a watch. The sad part is that Barrett versus Ambrose is a phenomenal matchup on paper, but this is the WWE and this is Vince McMahon: if it’s not the main event, they’re hardly going to throw you a bone.
Nissi: The match itself was an entertaining brawl that could easily be placed on the highlight spectrum, but this took a downward spiral when it comes to the conclusion. I was expecting that Bad News Barrett would retain in a dominant fashion, but it turned out that he walked away with the belt via disqualification. I guess WWE is saving another big moment for WrestleMania. Yes, the promotion just served sample taste of the main course once again.
Bray Wyatt called out The Undertaker
Nissi: Although the entirety of the WWE Fastlane pay-per-view event was essentially a glorified episode of Raw or SmackDown as opposed to a point of finality for any of its feuds, it was more about making a statement rather than catering a great performance. Bray Wyatt made a blatant statement that will give him the limelight over the next few weeks. Wyatt using The Undertaker's brand of theatrics was an excellent way for him to poke fun at the legend.
United States Championship: Rusev def. John Cena via KO to retain his title
Joe: 100% a great match. Rusev stepped up and proved that he’s no Vladimir Kozlov. Whatever spot he’s in at the moment, he proved that he deserves it. I would’ve preferred that Cena win this one so that Rusev could take it back in a huge WrestleMania moment, and I have to admit that this scenario now scares me a little bit, but for some reason I’ve got some faith in Cena to put the young guy over. Just look at his track record over the past eight or so months. It’s possible, and there’s no way he’s stupid enough to derail Rusev’s hard-earned momentum.
Nissi: Rusev displayed a fine work as a heel against a top face like John Cena, especially his level of aggression. However, the conclusion of this match was clearly done to give Rusev and Cena a reason to have a rematch at WrestleMania 31.
Roman Reigns def. Daniel Bryan
- Reigns will challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Championship at WrestleMania 31
Joe: You may not like him, you may not think he’s ready, or it’s entirely possible that you completely, blindly hate him, but one thing’s for sure: Roman Reigns has unequivocally proved that he deserves his title shot at WrestleMania.
This was a great match, and not just because Daniel Bryan was putting in the work we’ve all come to expect from him. It’s one thing for a guy like Bryan to fly and bump around to make Reigns look strong, but Reigns also did his part and held up his end of the deal. He may have gassed a bit early, but he took the hazing Bryan gave him and dished out his own.
Before you finish reading this article, however, please don’t get it twisted. All that I’ve said does not mean Reigns is ready to win that championship from Brock Lesnar, even though that’s what it’s looking like. It simply means that Reigns finally deserves that title shot he won a month ago – which was the entire problem with this year’s Royal Rumble, was it not? It’s some pretty smart damage control booking by the WWE.
Nissi: WWE took the risk by pitting these two men in one ring, as it could have been a terrible disaster, with the audience being even more upset about Daniel Bryan's loss to Roman Reigns. Reigns and D-Bry had a solid match that did not feel unnatural to purely put Reigns over, despite how he managed to come out of it looking better than when he went in.
Definitely, the win over Bryan launches the former Shield member into WrestleMania at his peak because this is the best that Reigns has looked in singles competition. – Rappler.com