Fastlane Haterade: Missteps, Miscues and Missed Opportunities

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Before I finish my tall glass of Haterade and piss all over Fastlane I want to give major respect to all the performers who appeared on the show last night and worked their asses off and provided a quality night of in-ring competition. I doubt many were clamoring to see Jinder and Rusev in singles action on the last PPV before WrestleMania, especially in unadvertised filler matches with zero emotional investment but that doesn’t take away from the fact that from a pure wrestling perspective they were solid matches by all involved as was the case with the majority of the card. The issues I have with last night are with the booking and creative teams who missed a lot of opportunities to make Fastlane feel important and pigeon-holed a talented roster into what is being perceived as a very lackluster PPV.

There were positive takeaways from last night. The Cruiserweights tore it up and Fastlane was a coming out party for the entire division. The pre-show tag match was an exciting fast-paced way to warm up the crowd and is a spot the Cruiserweights should be featured in on every RAW and PPV going forward as the division continues to find its footing. The stylized athleticism of the Cruiserweights would serve as a far more entertaining open for RAW than a lame Stephanie McMahon promo we’re forced to sit through week after week. I can’t say enough good things about the stellar match between Neville and Jack Gallagher for the Cruiserweight Title. It was the best Cruiserweight Title match we’ve seen yet and both men crafted a hard hitting, logical, character based performance that wowed the Milwaukee crowd and fans watching around the world. Neville continues to shine as the centerpiece of the division and is more than capable of having star making performances like last night with any cruiserweight on the roster.

However creative missed a big opportunity post match. For weeks now WWE has been hyping the Cruiserweight debut of Austin Aries. During the show they aired a new video package for him, twice, in his hometown. Rather than send him down to the ring for one of his trademark interviews to the sound of his music which would’ve popped the crowd and translated great over television they kept him at the commentary table and did nothing to kick start a program with Neville. On a night where the Cruiserweights truly shined WWE had a chance to get fans invested in a marquee feud between Aries and Neville and they didn’t and that was a huge miss last night.

Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn had a great match to kick off the main card and kept the crowd momentum rolling. Sami Zayn sells like a champion and has really excelled in the sympathetic baby-face role since his feud with Strowman and has himself set up for a big year going forward. Samoa Joe looked like a believable ass-kicker unleashing his arsenal of devastating strikes, submission grappling and power moves in my favorite match of the night. It was followed up by Gallows and Anderson defending the tag titles against Enzo and Big Cass. Both teams put on a good showcase of fundamental tag team wrestling and an overall enjoyable bout.

The Haterade just kicked in.

What screams under-card weakling more, Rusev’s haircut or the fact he got laid out by Jinder Mahal for 10 minutes? Those “Matchka” kicks are like the Superman Punch, lame and impossible to win with.

Does the E in Big E stand for ecstasy? The man looked like he was on drugs last night in a corny segment that served no purpose. Please turn him heel at WrestleMania and disband the New Day.

The commentary team references the “power” of Nia Jax almost as much as they do Roman Reigns and John Cena yet she can’t kick out of a lame pin attempt by a smaller foe that had no leverage advantage? Makes perfect sense to me.

From horrendous haircuts and lame pin attempts to the atrocity that was Roman Reigns sneaker game last night. Really, white bottoms? Dude.

Strowman and Reigns really excelled in this physical brawl style of match that served as a nice change of pace to the solid wrestling we had seen thus far. Their underdeveloped move sets weren’t so exposed and they really showcased the strengths they do have as performers. For Strowman he looked great and continues to get better by the week as fans keep gravitating toward the big man.

While I’m not a Reigns fan and didn’t want him to win the finish makes sense if he’s going to face the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. He needed to differentiate himself from the rest of the roster and being the only one to beat Braun Strowman does that. Not having Undertaker appear however was another missed opportunity. He could’ve shown up and done something, anything to get this feud going and give people a reason to watch RAW tonight.

Just do us all a favor and don’t step to the Deadman with that weak ass shoe game in Orlando “UCE”.

Hey guys “its Bayley” and her goofy Lucky Charms inspired, vomit inducing ring gear. This one made no sense to me. WWE put all this time into hyping Charlotte’s undefeated PPV streak just to have it end at a random show before WrestleMania.  WWE creates their own history, their own records etc. we all know this but the investment they made with this streak transformed it into a solid story-telling tool that was totally wasted last night.

If you want to keep the title on Bayley then go with what should have been a DQ finish when Sasha Banks came out last night. Charlotte would’ve remained undefeated on PPV, they could’ve teased tension between Sasha and Bayley and you move to a triple threat or fatal four way at WrestleMania. In said multi-woman match you don’t have Charlotte take the fall…streak remains. Whoever finally beat her *cough Asuka cough* would be an instant legitimized main roster star.  They could’ve even gone another route and TURNED SASHA HEEL. Charlotte wins by DQ or even wins the title and we all witness a cool moment we’ve been waiting for and it adds a reason for people to watch RAW the next night.

Oh no, no, no…let’s just have the PPV streak end at the hands of a performer who was left in NXT too long and whose cookie cutter babyface gimmick, childishly articulated promos and mediocre ring work aren’t translating with the fans, but hey who wants a hug?

Kevin Owens vs. Goldberg…proof positive that RAW is the “B” show. It was a 22 second main event that lasted as long as Goldberg’s overweight, cellar-dweller fan base if they could ever touch a real live woman.

The Universal title has no lineage. No prestige. No history. Now it is in the hands of a 50 year old who has wrestled two singles matches in 13 years that combined were under 2 minutes. How does that add any value to the title? How does that make it feel important? It doesn’t. Having Kevin Owens beat Goldberg would have. Having Kevin Owens defend it against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania furthering a storyline that fans are already heavily engaged in would’ve made it feel important.  The fact is Kevin Owens’ title reign was almost completely invalidated with that loss last night.

Another fumble by creative and booking that I don’t see how anyone can defend, Goldberg fan or not. How does ending your last PPV before WrestleMania that way entice anyone watching with friends to sign up for the network or instill in them a desire to watch WWE programming this week?

What should’ve happened was as soon as the pyro died down and Goldberg exhaled that smoke, Brock Lesnar should’ve been standing behind him and beat him within an inch of his life and tossed him to KO for a cheap win. You get heat on Lesnar, you get heat on KO and you do something unique to get more fans to want to see Lesnar vs. Goldberg 3. Leave KO in the ring celebrating and then, boom, enter Chris Jericho. End with Jericho beating down KO, fans going crazy, we would all know they’re going head to head at WrestleMania and wow, another reason to watch RAW tonight.

Alas, that wasn’t the case. “Ugh, JT you just don’t understand wrestling. You don’t understand the Goldberg character.” I understand perfectly you GoldTurd clowns. I just despise his character, booking and performances and will not support sacrificing full-time talent who work at a high level all year on the altar of the over the hill part-timer who was never that good in the first place to see a match that doesn’t need the title, for the third time, after the first two were both garbage. If you’re attending a RAW that Goldberg is appearing on between now and WrestleMania and you’re as sick of this crap as myself and many others, you have a duty to boo him out of the building as loud and forcefully as possible so Vince McMahon thinks twice before letting Brock vs. Goldberg close WrestleMania 33.

Fastlane was a good little night of wrestling put on by performers who went balls to the wall and worked extremely hard to give the fans the best wrestling show they possibly could. It’s just a shame that the creative and booking couldn’t be bothered to do the same. Missteps, miscues and missed opportunities…just another PPV from WWE’s “B” show.

 

 

 

 

 

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