WWE Fastlane: Thumbs Up
Best Match: Styles vs. Jericho
Worst Match: Truth vs. Axel (short, but had no business on this show)
Preshow U.S. Title match got things going well with a good match. Nice to see Kalisto retain. Not sure exactly what's going on with Del Rio. They are paying him a heck of a lot to be on the pre-show and the rest of the League of Nations seems way misused as well.
Divas tag match was decent, but not great. It was the right finish though with Banks and Lynch to set up Mania.
Owens vs. Ziggler was a good match even though they've done it a bunch of times already. Glad to see Owens retain and hope he has a good spot at Mania.
Show & Kane & Ryback vs. Wyatt's was decent six man tag, although one I didn't really care about too much. Not sure the faces going over was the best call if the Wyatt's are supposed to be strong for Mania, but then again they didn't show at the end like I figured or Lesnar, so maybe they are changing course or saving it for tomorrow.
Charlotte vs. Brie was better than I expected and it was the right outcome again even if they wanted to give Brie a big moment after the Daniel Bryan retirement, but luckily they stuck with Charlotte retaining for WrestleMania.
AJ Styles vs. Jericho was great. Have loved all their matches so far against each other. Really well done and Styles winning was the right move. Jericho has really done his best to actually put over the matches and the wins and losses and even put the Miz over this week in commentary. It's nice to see him try to help make others look good as well. The announcers don't even do that too much.
The Cutting Edge Peep Show was entertaining for the most part, but strange at the same time. Not sure about a New Day vs. League of Nations feud.
Truth vs. Axel was a wasted spot even if it was short. This could have been on Raw easily. They could have given two extra minutes to the main event or someone else.
Triple Threat main event was very good even if it was a predictable finish and no controversy came from it, but it did what they set out to do which is to make Reigns vs. Triple H for Mania.
Overall a good solid show.
Here's my FastLane Review:
Match of the Night: Ambrose vs. Reigns vs. Lesnar
Worst Match: Do I have to pick only one? Truth vs. Axel just because it had no business on a PPV
Thought that was a really, really weak show as your last PPV going into Mania. It felt like a glorified 3-hour Raw. Divas tag match, Wyatt's vs. Show/Kane/Ryback, R-Truth vs. Axel? Just awful. The kind of turn-the-channel segments we get every single week on Raw.
The New Day and Edge & Christian (and L.O.N.) segment was beyond awful. Even if Raw expanded to 4 hours, there's no excuse for this. One of the most awful segments I can ever remember on a PPV (I'm sure there's been worse that I've mentally blocked out, but this was next level cringe). I'm to understand this segment was supposed to make us want to watch The Edge & Christian Show? This segment was so awful there was no chance in hell I was sticking around for even one minute after the PPV was over.
Based on all of the above, can someone explain to me why Kalisto vs. ADR was on the pre-show?
Owens vs. Ziggler was good, but it's hard to care after seeing them fight almost weekly for months (or what feels like months at least). Brie vs. Charlotte was decent for what it was, but had an awful finish and then having Cole try to cover up for Brie and say her knee blew out, etc. after the fact. Shouldn't commentators tell us this information while the match is going on? Jericho vs. Styles was good, but once again, a match we've seen repeatedly on TV in the classic WWE 50/50 feud. I just can't get into Jericho at all in this run. He gets the nostalgia pop, says a few 1999 catchphrases, and is noticeably slow now. He can still put together a good match, but it's hard to get invested in anything he's doing. I thought having him kick out of the Styles Clash in what is AJ's sixth televised match (?) was shockingly stupid. The crowd buys that as a hot finisher and it's been kicked out of already in his first major feud on a throw-away PPV.
The main event was the best match as expected, but my God, the camera work in this match was SO DISTRACTING. I hear Vinny complain about this every week on the Bryan & Vinny Raw reviews, and honestly I usually don't notice it that much, but tonight in the main event it seemed like EVERY big spot during the match - or when one of them would run back in the ring to pull off a big move they missed it or were zoomed in so tight on someone's face that you couldn't see what happened, or they cut to another camera right at the point of impact and we totally missed the impact of the spot. It really was driving me nuts. Surprisingly, no chicanery to the finish, which seemed flat and without quite enough build-up (at least to the way we've been conditioned), and in a surprise to nobody, Reigns goes on to face Hunter.
Even though I was expecting - and had accepted Reigns vs. HHH as the main event of Mania due to all the injuries - once it actually happened and Reigns was confirmed as the challenger, I just had such apathy to the match and Reigns chasing his THIRD title in such a short span.
- Tim Dudley
Thumbs in the Middle
Best match: Reigns vs Brock vs Ambrose
Worst match: Axel vs Truth
The first 90 minutes of this were tremendous. Pre show and women's opener were a lot of fun. Happy Kalisto get the win. IC and Styles-Jericho were exactly what I hoped they would be. Nice to see Owens and Styles going over. Women's title was good enough. I love Charlotte as a heel and thought the story played out well.
The six way was a nice bathroom break.
And then it fell apart. The Edge/Christian segment was simply unwatchable. And their show was even worse. That mess gets followed up with a Social Outcasts filler match that would have made people change the channel on RAW. Did they time the show wrong? I cannot imagine why those two segments took up 30+ minutes.
The main event was a tremendous match. But my God is Reigns not over. I'll never understand the insistence on his push. He wasn't over last year and this year seems to be worse.
- Mike Trask
Best Match - Jericho vs. Styles
Worst Match - Axel vs. Truth
This show was just awful in my opinion. The network itself had problems for more than 3/4 of the show, and the product felt like a throw away episode of Raw. To make matters worse, we head into Mania with a main event that is very predictable. WWE needs to hit a home run tomorrow with Raw.
I have watched wrestling for over 30 years, and I dont think Ive ever hated the WWE product as much as I do now. Between this and Bellator, its been a rough weekend all around.
White Sulphur Springs, NY
Overall: Slight thumbs up. The first half of the show was enjoyable with solid action that met or exceeded my expectations. Both the US Title Match and the IC Title Match were solid wrestling matches. Disappointing- would be the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe the AJ Styles and Chris Jericho match. Timing and Tentativeness by AJ and some sloppy and missed moves by Jericho hurt the flow of the match. The road was rough, but in the end they did reach the destination. After the AJ/Jericho match, the show descended to the depths of the dreaded third hour of RAW. Thankfully, the incredible main event provided the needed shot in the arm to save the show.
If objective 1 was to solidify the main event title match for WrestleMania; that objective has been achieved. As for the rest of the WrestleMania card, it is as murky and uncertain coming out of Fastlane then it was going into the event. I feel like Ambrose's performances in recent weeks have earned him a prominent spot on the WrestleMania card. I am hoping he gets a match against Brock Lesnar. It feels like it is at least a possibility. No matter what the final plans are, the WWE has lots of work in plating seeds and building frames for those plans in the coming weeks.
Best Match: The main event was fantastic.
Worst Match: R Truth and Curtis Axel should have been left off the show.
A. US Title 2/3 falls match: Calisto vs. Alberto Del Rio. These two brought it and delivered a hotly contested title match. The action was better than their previous encounters and the story was enhanced and defined. Perhaps, this was Del Rio's best match since returning to WWE. He looked formidable in defeat and Calisto looked valiant in victory. ***1/2
1. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks vs. Naomi and Tamina. Heat was a little slow, but it did it's job in building anticipation for the hot tag. Match picked up after the hot tag to Sasha and escalated with some nice twists and turns. The finishing sequence was spot on in making both potential challengers look credible. **1/2
2. IC Title Match: Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler. Great action in the match greeted with a mostly tepid crowd response. Dolph worked 75 percent of the match from underneath and yet could not elicit an enthusiastic response from his hometown crowd. The audience appreciated the action, but did not root for one wrestler to win and the other to loose. I don't know if that says more about Ziggler's mediocrity as a face or Owens' shortcomings as a heel. ***
3. The Wyatt Family vs. Big Show, Kane, and Ryback. Slow and plodding to start as most matches involving multiple 300 pounders are. They picked up the intensity and creativity towards the end and were rewarded with a favorable crowd response. I am surprised by the outcome, but am appreciative of the effort put forth by all 6 men. **1/2
4. Diva's Title Match: Brie Bella vs. Charlotte. The story of the match was Brie using the trademarks maneuvers of her husband and sister in an attempt to dethrone the champ. I am not sure her imitations were sincere flattery. There was some good maneuvers and sequences, but I am not sure they made up an abundance of ugly spots and bad timing. Charlotte has made significant progress when it comes to character and presence, but her ring work is overrated. **
5. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho. This match felt important. The hype video and pre match promo helped create the feeling. The match fell short of great, and hence was disappointing. An abundance of timing issues throughout that looked to be the result of miscommunication and uncharacteristic tentativeness by AJ . The journey was rocky, but they did reach the destination. Very surprised that Jericho kicked out of the most "over" finish in wrestling. **3/4
6. R Truth vs. Curtis Axel. How did this make the show?
7. WWE World Title Number 1 Contender Match: Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar. Great match in which all three stars were given ample opportunity to shine. In format, this was similar to last years triple threat match at the Rumble. My shotgun reaction is it might have been better. The main event for WM is set, but both Brock and Ambrose are in need of opponents. It seems logical to put them together. ****
Thumbs in the Middle: So-so undercard and a really great main event.
Best Match: Reigns vs. Lesnar vs. Ambrose
Worst Match: Axel vs. R-Truth
1. Kalisto vs. ADR. Fine opener. They need to find good opponents for Kalisto. Mauro Ranallo was better here than Cole could ever be. ***
2. Sasha & Becky vs. Naomi & Tamina. Some messy spots but overall fine. **3/4
3. Owens vs. Ziggler. Good but could have been better ***1/4
4. Ryback & Kane & Show vs. Wyatts. WFT result. I guess Bray is out of the picture as a rival for Lesnar at Mania which is a good thing. Even with that, the Family as a unit, needed the win. Maybe Ryback is going to face Goldberg after all. **
5. Charlotte vs. Brie. Brie messed some spots but as whole was a fine presentation. **1/2
6. AJ vs. Jericho. The layout of this was super but it was rough in the execution. Either was too quick or Jericho is getting slow, I bet the later. The Styles was protected by so long that it was hard to believe that somebody kicked out of it on a "B" level show. ***1/2
7. R-Truth vs. Axel. Why this was on a PPV is beyond me, if they wanted to fill time then just give it to the undercard matches. DUD
8. Reigns vs. Lesnar vs. Ambrose. Great match. Predictable finish. Just by the reaction at the end one just know that they really got noting as far as main event attraction for Mania. Hindsight being 20/20 Roman needed to win the title last year from Brock, that was the planned scenario and the right one. But they changed because of fear of him being booed at the end. Guess what? Now he is in the same position but against a lesser opponent. Not to mention that he is already a two time champion with less than 50 days with the title. But the WWE brand and Mania name carried things these days so they are going to get 70-90 thousands fans in there even though nobody cares about who is wrestling. ****1/2
Leonado Mendes Toledo
How you doin' Dave,
Thumbs In The Middle
Del Rio vs. Kalisto ***1/4
Going in thought anything below 20 minutes would be insufficient, felt the same way watching it, although felt they managed the time given well. Would've liked them to be a bit more heavy-handed both with Del Rio's aggression & Kalisto's selling, but thought it was a good match with some nice spots & glad to see Kalisto come out of the program (I presume) with the title.
Banks & Lynch vs. Tamina & Naomi **1/2
Surprised to see this go on first, crowd was a little flat, although they were for a considerable amount of the show, thought Becky was very solid as usual, thought it was fine until the back end of the heat where things got a little messy, Naomi wasn't the best at feeding Sasha, a lack of fluidity here & there, but overall I thought it was ok.
Owens vs. Ziggler ***1/2
Thought the layout was a bit weird with Owens getting the heat from the outset, then Ziggler applying a sleeper on the ground met with heavy resistance from Owens for what I assume was a hope spot, then they sort of went to early stages stuff with headlocks & shoulders blocks, then back into the heat, very weird stuff. Thought there was a bit of awkwardness going into the comeback, once they came out of the comeback I thought there was some good action, lots of nice spots and nearfalls, would've liked a bit more creativity & uniqueness with spots ala' hurricanrana into the stairs spot, thought it was good though preferred some of their Raw matches.
Ryback/Big Show/Kane vs. Wyatts **
Very surprised by the finish, can only assume the program continues in some form going into Mania, thought it wasn't very pretty for long periods although picked-up towards the end, Strowman looks to be improving & looked semi- competent, Ryback dumped Harper on his shoulder for the finish which wasn't nice to see.
Worst Match: Charlotte vs. Brie *1/2
Thought this was pretty poor for the first two thirds of the match, with neither some good action or strong character work prior to the heat, rhythm was off, a lot of awkwardness, but picked up somewhat towards the end.
Styles vs. Jericho ***1/2
Thought it was a good match, but something was missing, and I can't put my finger on it. It was a unique match in-terms of layout by WWE standards (for the better), there was a lot of nice work & creative spots, however I don't whether it was the rhythm or pacing of the match, or a lack of drama, or what, but there was something missing, a lack of spark. I felt it was one of the those matches where most things look good but it kinda just drifts along.
R-Truth vs. Axel *1/2
Surprised it was on the card, didn't feel they did anything wrong, but wasn't much to it.
Best Match: Ambrose vs. Reigns vs. Lesnar ****1/4
Thought it was a great combination of telling a good story & being a spectacular spotfest that wasn't too fast paced, where lots of things lose a great deal of meaning & significance, although there were some instances of almost complete no-selling of big moves which I felt wasn't warranted, also I felt they handled Brock very well. Saying all of that I didn't feel it was at the level of the Brock vs. Cena vs. Rollins match, which you can't help but compare it to with the style of the match. Also it's another match where it left me feeling they're playing a very dangerous game, in the sense of where do they go from here after doing so much stuff & the standards that sets, & it crapping on lesser matches when you expect guys to go out of there & build slowly and keep the crowd entertained. Ultimately I don't think you can continue to put on main event matches of this type and not be forced to make alterations to the "WWE style" at some stage. In addition I was surprised with no interference coming from The Wyatts, and this combined the six-man loss has me questioning the Brock-Bray program.
Thumbs in the Middle
Best Match: Styles vs Jericho
Worst Match: Truth vs Axel (as soon as it came on, it had to clinch it right?)
Was on the fence about Thumbs Middle or Up. Hard to bring down a show too far that had 4 matches I really liked, and 2 others that were entertaining enough but there was some odd and maddening stuff here. Which I am sure many will bring up or already have. The 2/3 falls match which was solid, on the preshow while the New Day talking segment and the impromptu Truth match being on the main card. Stuff like those last 2 would be more than fine on the preshow, keep the quality on the main card. The Styles clash kick out. The Wyatts losing. The network feed having the most issues in a while for many users. The crowd audio adjustments for Reigns.
The main event had good storytelling and a ton of intensity but had this feeling that right when it was going into a third act with the multiple Ambrose chairshots it was over with Reigns' quick recovery. I hope parts werent hacked off for the aforementioned New Day/Goldust stuff. Have this sinking feeling it was which is too bad. As Dave and Bryan and every other Pro Wrestling reporter or host stated well in advance, Reigns was the least popular in the match. Ive said before - I LIKE Reigns but it seems like trying to get him over is the proverbial two steps forward one step back or sometimes feels like three forward and five back and its cringeworthy watching crowds still reject the guy. The match itself delivered though. Almost gave best match to Owens-Ziggler due to some misses in Styles-Jericho but the good work overcame those slips, and Jericho had really quick thinking covering as well. Both women's matches continued the trend of being better than most of the "Diva's" matches historically were. They still arent on the level of the NXT women's matches but progress is good.
Wish we had a better sense of what's on tap for Mania aside from Hunter-Reigns. They have 6 RAW's to get there. I hope that TV isnt wasted. I was assuming one final Jericho-Styles match but the handshake seems to end that. Hopefully as fun as the series was between them, Del Rio vs Kalisto should be over. Get Alberto back higher on the card and highlight Kalisto some more with the title. Let's get some teases to Undertaker's opponent and announce some more Hall of Famers and fill out the card. I am guessing there are still a lot of tickets to sell!
Thumbs mildly up
Best Match: Probably the main event, although AJ vs. Jericho was a very close second
Worst Match: Axel vs. R-Truth
This show had a lot to like - the opening women's tag, the I-C match, the Charlotte-Brie match, AJ vs. Jericho, and the main event were all good. With AJ I feel like he's having a little trouble adjusting to his new surroundings; nothing he's done so far is indicative of what he's been capable of in every other company he's worked for (By the way, seriously guys, someone's already kicked out after the Styles Clash? Way to protect one of the best finishers in the world, dinks.). But this was his best WWE match so far.
The main event was very entertaining but of course WWE went with the dreaded Reigns win, predictably to a chorus of boos (and visible thumbs-down signs from ringside fans). I just don't know in what universe Vince thinks Reigns' inevitable WWE Title win at WM32 over the highly respected Triple H will result in the Dallas fans (or any other city for that matter) embracing him as their new hero. Despite Hunter being the company's top heel the fans still like him, particularly due to his work in running NXT (that's the price of a double on-camera life). Reigns is just not going to work as the top babyface, at least not until he has a great heel run. Creative has taken everything away from Reigns that made him cool in the first place and now people just aren't that into him. It's going to be a loooooong ten years if Vince thinks Reigns can overcome what John Cena went through to earn everyone's respect. And Reigns isn't Cena.
As for the rest of the show, I have no earthly idea why the US Title match had to be bumped for the E&C talk show or the Axel-Truth match. What's wrong with this picture?
Overall a decent show but it failed in getting me excited for WrestleMania. Because I'm not.
WWE Fastlane Feedback
Best Match: Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar
Worst Match: R-Truth vs Curtis Axel
The show was close to being good top-to-bottom. The Edge and Chritian segment with New Day and League of Nations went on too long and I saw no point to R-Truth vs Curtis Axel.
All that being said the rest of the show was good. I wasn't sure how the triple threat was going at first but it turned out really well, with Reigns getting a credible win. I thought he and Ambrose opposed each other enough so that Lesnar didn't come off as the babyface of the match. And the powerbomb spots were great.
Owens vs Ziggler was really good as well and I thought Del Rio vs Kalisto was great. Styles vs Jericho probably would have been my match of the night if it wasn't for the couple scary spots. And Charlotte vs Brie was rough at times but was good at the end.
Best Match - Main event
Worst Match - Brie vs Charlotte
Just a horrible show that dragged all night. The only highlights were the Styles-Jericho match (when Jericho wasn't sucking wind) and the main event, especially Brock. The only thing worse than the segment with Edge/Christian, New Day and the League of Nations was the WWE Network feed, which was the worst it has been in years and years. So many delays, lags and jumps.