Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Fastlane: Nothing happened, but at least we got this sweet GIF out of it.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Fastlane for March 10, 2019.
Best: Shame McMahon
Or, “Mr. An Hero.”
If you want to know how over The Miz is in Cleveland right now, they were selling those Browns orange (yes, that doesn’t make any sense when you type it) CLEVELAND IS AWESOME shirts at the event and they were almost completely sold out by the time the pre-show started. When Miz was in the ring, there were like four mediums left. If you’ve ever bought a shirt at a WWE Live event, you know “medium” is what you buy your child or girlfriend when there’s no other option because medium is as small as WWE believes wrestling fans can get.
The match was pretty fun. I especially liked the top rope Mexican standoff that ended with a coast-to-coast dropkick into a flying splash, which is the coolest thing Shane McMahon’s done since he fell off the Hell in a Cell …
… but any and all discussion of The Miz and Shane McMahon at Fastlane has to revolve around the post-match assassination of Miz via awkward ear punches and strip mall jiu-jitsu in Miz’s home town in front of Miz’s father, who only just started loving him because tag team wrestling. It’s the most HEINOUS ASSAULT of its kind since Brock Lesnar broke a one-legged kid’s one leg in front of the kid’s mom, then pushing a one-legged kid with one broke leg in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs. That’s probably never getting topped, but pie-facing Mr. Hero is certainly up there.
I like that they had Shane turn on Miz instead of the other way around, because
- it’s a little less obvious, given Miz’s history of rampant heeldom
- it validates the idea that Shane McMahon the character is an absolute piece of human garbage, and
- it maintains the fearful symmetry between Daniel Bryan and The Miz, as they have to be aligned as polar opposites at all times, and if one of them is super evil, the other has to be super good
Not that I want a Shane McMahon WrestleMania match (again), but at least maybe Miz can get a feel good WrestleMania moment for once in his damn life. Let’s hope John Cena doesn’t randomly appear and throw him into the Earth’s molten core for trying to be happy.
Best: Everything Except The Women’s Division
And Kofi Kingston, but we’ll get to that in a second.
So Fastlane ended up being a really enjoyable show from top to bottom, but was also a bit of an anomaly; for the first time in a really long time, the women’s division — routinely among the best parts of WWE pay-per-views for a while now, whether it’s a show devoted to them or not — shouldered most of the show’s “Worsts.”
Mandy Rose vs. Asuka was fine until the finish, but I don’t think we expected it to be much. Mandy Rose’s ongoing booking and rise to division main-event prominence was sketchy at best, especially since she was on the mostly losing end of a feud with Naomi what feels like a minute and a half ago, but Smackdown’s “will they/won’t they” love of Asuka didn’t help, either. They can’t seem to decide if they want her to be the dominant NXT version of Asuka again (like she was for a few weeks between TLC and the Royal Rumble), or if they want her to be the female Shinsuke Nakamura, where nothing she does is ever fun or exciting and our enjoyment of her relies solely on her reputation.
The finish was definitely the worst part, though, with Sonya Deville going under the ring to look for a weapon, then switching sides when she realizes she’s out of place. She grabs a kendo stick but leaves the ring apron sprawled out on the ring, which causes Mandy to slip and fall. It’s a very AJ Styles Championship Match sort of idea, which probably looked a lot better on paper than in practice. On paper, you have Deville not really thinking Mandy has a chance toe-to-toe but messing it up because of inexperience or lack of focus or whatever, and you can go right into a Rose/Deville breakup. Not that I’d choose to do that. Maybe it’ll be more like a Lashley/Lio Rush situation where it’s just emotionally and socially abusive? Maybe Sonya will have to step up to defend Rose’s honor and then Mandy can “get her back” for her mistake? In practice, it was just Sonya looking really dumb and Mandy phantom slipping on nothing in a way no one has ever slipped.
Supplemental Best: Asuka
On the positive side, Asuka’s still the Smackdown Women’s Champion heading into WrestleMania. I hope she gets on the card. Also positive: Mandy got kicked in the face so hard it turned her into Rocky Dennis from Mask.
Supplemental Best: Bayley
The Women’s Tag Team Championship match was also what you’d expect it to be: great on the champions’ side, and not so much on the challengers’. I think Bayley and Sasha Banks are both great (and that Bayley is secretly the best woman in the entire division at carrying a less skilled opponent to a good match; see also her NXT match with Nia Jax, and that spectacular NXT match with Eva Marie), but brother, there’s really only so much you can do with 7+ minutes of Jax and Tamina. It’s just not a good combination. Even the “beautiful teamwork” video WWE Fan Nation uploaded (above) is Bayley visibly doing the work of four people. She’s the one who has to move and maneuver and time everything while Nia and Tamina’s job is “run forward sometimes,” and she’s got to anchor Sasha for two dives.
Also at the end of that clip, the combined strength of Nia Jax and Tamina isn’t enough to catch a short dive from Sasha Banks, who probably weighs 75 pounds soaking wet and couldn’t create enough body momentum to break a table in the Hell in a Cell. Bayley has to watch them all mess it up and then do a big dive into them by herself. There’s also a moment where Nia tries to catch her on her shoulders and struggles under the weight, falling down. If Mustafa Ali hadn’t competed on this show, I’d say give Bayley a humanitarian award for her work in the field of Trying To Hold Shit Together.
The Beth Phoenix stuff after the match was interesting, but WWE, I am openly begging you to run this on Raw and not at WrestleMania. You just saw how good Nia Jax and Tamina are in a seven-minute tag match against the two best workers on the Raw women’s roster. Imagine how they’d do in a longer match against a woman who hasn’t wrestled a match in seven years and her partner Natalya, who wrestles every night like she hasn’t had a match in seven years.
Finally we have the low point of the entire night, somehow: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair. Really, the only supplemental Bests I could give here are, “at least Ronda Rousey’s character motivations are somewhat consistent,” and, “Charlotte Flair is an awesome monster heel and really beat the dog shit out of her opponent.” Also, this tweet.
And I also liked Rousey showing up in the Undertaker’s comfort wear from 1998.
I don’t know how they expect us to feel about Becky Lynch at this point. Maybe the years of Daniel Bryan stories burned me out on scrappy underdogs who can’t ever seem to win anything ever, but from November until March Lynch went from a bad-ass murderer who wasn’t going to take your shit anymore to a helpless, hobbling mess. There’s a difference, I think, between “overcoming the odds” and the whole “being an underdog” thing, and getting your ass kicked every time you take a breath. I made a joke last week about Becky rolling into WrestleMania in an iron lung, and that’s seriously what’s going on. Becky got completely, effortlessly trounced by Charlotte Flair here with almost no resistance, and was straight-up about to lose via submission (like she did at the Royal Rumble) until the woman who kicked her ass on Monday made a pity save. I don’t blame Ronda; if I’m her, I want Becky in the match at WrestleMania, too, so I can easily win.
And for real, this is coming from a big Becky Lynch fan and supporter. I think she’s great. But sometimes WWE has a way of taking a wrestler who has an objective 99 overall rating and turning them into cannon fodder for an 81, you know? Maybe the story would resonate more for me if they weren’t concurrently doing the same story in a less confusing way (with less time to fuck it up) with Kofi Kingston, and if Daniel Bryan himself wasn’t currently the evil WWE Champion. I don’t know. I believe they can flip this around and have us cheering Lynch wholeheartedly in a single, well-done segment, and honestly most of the crowd doesn’t seem to share my point of view, so maybe they’re doing a great job and I’m just not connecting with it. But the combination of Becky as Tiny Tim on Christmas Eve and how they turned a lay-up blood feud into the most confusing triple threat plus four general managers plus suspensions plus worked shoots is a bridge too far.
Best: Two Great But Unsurprising Multi-Man Title Defenses
Feel free to note me complaining about things being “unsurprising,” and then going on and on about how surprises don’t make sense. I’m the worst!
I guess someone realized at the last minute that (1) the Kickoff show match between Rey Mysterio and Andrade didn’t really have any stakes involved, and (2) the United States Championship wasn’t on the Fastlane card and won’t be on WrestleMania unless his grace John Cena returns from China in a good mood, so Rey vs. Andrade got replaced by a placeholder Smackdown tag team match and the U.S. title got a fatal four-way on Fastlane proper. This was the right call.
This is such a fantastic combination of characters and athletes. You’ve got the new champion, Samoa Joe, who needs to immediately prove himself against all of his top competitors, and can do that by taking them all on at once again. You’ve got the former champion, R-Truth, who is in a sort of weird career renaissance and makes every segment he’s in more interesting and fun. You’ve got Zelina Vega and Carmella doing their thing on the outside, and Rey and Andrade carrying the physical workhorse portion of the action. It’s a great combination of fresh stars, resurgent stars, and always-on legends, and the fact that it went from not existing to barn-burner in like an hour is proof of how well it works.
Really hoping we find a way to get Rey vs. Andrade two-out-of-three falls at WrestleMania (or again on Smackdown), Samoa Joe vs. John Cena with something on the line and Cena eating shit for someone who deserves it, and, since I’m going to keep saying it until it comes true, Truth winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and getting on the mic afterward to say he’s going to WrestleMania. Hat tip to @mynameisjeremy for that last idea.
Also coming through at Fastlane were the Raw Tag Team Champions, because there’s nothing Raw likes more than having its champs lose a string of non-title matches on free TV to “build challengers” only for the champs to retain on pay-per-view. Since it’s the Revival, and their opponents are Ricochet and Aleister Black and Chad Gable and Chad Gable’s dad, I’ll allow it. I guess my only complaint is that Shane turned heel on Miz to open the show so there’s still no chance of Gable choking Bobby Roode to death with his sparkly bath robe and dropping the Mizdow act.
Anyway, this could’ve benefited from Raw’s tag team division ever being exciting outside of the few times they let the Revival actually go and either of the challenging teams making sense, but was still really fun to watch. Ricochet and Aleister Black are both obviously outstanding, but outside of that one combo taunt they have no chemistry as characters, no tandem offense, no reason to be tagging, and might as well be two singles stars who are accidentally standing in the same corner. And they look like the Midnight Express next to Roode and Gable.
Just like the United States Championship and the Smackdown Women’s Championship (and, uh, the Cruiserweight Championship, and probably the Intercontinental Championship), I hope they find a spot for the Raw tag straps at WrestleMania. Just run the Revival against the Usos for twenty minutes and say it’s for bragging rights, I don’t care, I just want to see the wrestlers I love because of how good they are at wrestling be good at wrestling more often.
Worst: The Kofi Thing
Just to come right out and say it, this “works” I guess, because it makes me angry as a fan and makes me want to see Kofi get the love and big moments he deserves. It’s important to note that I think we all already felt like that circa the Elimination Chamber, which is why that gauntlet match and the following chamber match worked so wonderfully, but WWE is the worldwide leader in looking gift horses in their mouths.
In case you missed the show, Kofi got pulled aside during the pre-show and told to stand outside of Mr. McMahon’s office for like an hour. New Day catches up to him and yells at him for being passive, and they go into the office and canvass McMahon to give Kofi his due. McMahon agrees to make the WWE Championship match a triple threat and sends Kofi to the ring … except nope, it’s actually a 2-on-1 handicap match against The Bar for some reason, and Mustafa Ali is the third person in the triple threat match. Except we don’t find that out until later, so we go through the emotional roller coaster of the handicap match and then ANOTHER roller coaster somewhere between “wait, it’s still a triple threat match?” and “MUSTAFA ALI?”
I think the big issue I have here is that Vince really hasn’t expressed any reason why he’s punishing Kofi Kingston for suddenly getting popular. Kofi’s not Stone Cold Steve Austin, he’s like the most passive and agreeable dude in the world. He just went along with Vince replacing him in the Fastlane match and did what he was told. Dude was waiting out in the hallway because he didn’t want to bother anyone. And sure, you can imply some combination of “Vince McMahon loves manipulating gullible babyfaces” and “racism, question mark,” but if we’re gonna keep doing this we should at least get clued into why literally any of it is happening. Maybe I’m dumb and missed it.
In a related note, is Cesaro’s current role of “one half of a crony tag team that follows orders and almost definitely won’t get on the WrestleMania card” better or worse than, “loses a handicap match to Braun Strowman at WrestleMania that is also technically a championship loss to a 10-year old?”
Best: The Ali Thing
This was my favorite match of the night, because of course it was.
Owens being subbed-in for Kofi Kingston in the WWE Championship match against Daniel Bryan was already a bit of a trek, but now we have Mustafa Ali getting added and it becoming a triple threat at the last minute. I get that Ali was supposed to be in the Elimination Chamber match and missed out due to injury, but (1) since when are they so prompt and good about working undercard babyfaces into spots they feel they’re owed, (2) why are they doing this concurrent with the Kofi Kingston story where the motivations of the front office are completely reversed, (3) why would there be a triple threat match with a person randomly added and it not be the guy Shane McMahon said was originally getting the shot, and (4) why do a contract signing if you can just add people at the last minute day-of and it be fine? I know the answers to these questions are, “shut up, this is a show for babies,” but SOME of this shit has to remain consistent. They’re doing so many GM screws the babyface stories at once that they’re starting to pile up.
The good news is that the match ruled, and that Mustafa Ali’s good enough to transform a hostile crowd booing him for being in that Royal Rumble “Rey Mysterio isn’t Daniel Bryan” spot into a happy crowd cheering him on for being an absolutely psychotic athlete and human pinball. Ali deserves a bonus and a paid vacation to a hospital anywhere in the world for the ass-whomping he took in this match, as I couldn’t even GIF all the dangerous situations he was subjected to. There was the pop-up powerbomb to the apron that sounded like someone snapping a twig in half and the incredible “running knee to your guts” crossbody counter that ended the match, but the biggest moment had to have been the dropkick that sent him flying off the top rope into the barricade.
Look at this madman:
Killer work out there. The New Daniel Bryan should be champion forever, until April.
Best/Worst: AND THE REST
If we want to talk about things that didn’t make a lot of sense, let’s talk about this segment.
Elias pops up throughout the show to narrate it like a Greek chorus that hates our local sports teams. He makes it through all his songs and gets confident about how nobody’s interrupted him, which means everyone who has ever lived has to immediately interrupt him. First is Lacey Evans, whose TitanTron calls her “sassy” and looks like a grandmother’s couch. While that’s happening, Randy Orton shows up From Outta Nowhere™ to defend Ohio (or whatever) and hits an RKO. While he’s SNAKE REACTING, AJ Styles uses the curvature of a round Earth to sneak up behind him and hit a Phenomenal Forearm.
- as previously mentioned, the Styles/Orton match at WrestleMania will at least probably give us a creative and memorable RKO, and
- AJ Styles and Lacey Evans should get paired up as a deeply uneducated but ruthlessly confident southern couple
Because let’s face it, Wendy belongs with her true love, Samoa Joe. Imagine Styles out there with Lacey on his arm wearing a white suit with the sleeves pushed up and dark sunglasses, bragging about how he just bought a convertible Trans Am and a military challenge edition Bible.
Best: The Shield Plays Their Greatest Hits
Finally we have our Baron Corbin pay-per-view main event featuring The Shield, which is every bit as nostalgic and fun as you wanted it to be. Everything’s here, from the Dean Ambrose table run to the Seth Rollins balcony dive to Roman Reigns Looking Strong, which has a completely new connotation these days. In fact, I think the only person who didn’t like it is this Mets fucker in the front row, who goes full NXT Full Sail vs. Bo Dallas on two guys hugging their friend for winning his return from cancer:
There’s not much to say beyond, “it was the Shield and the Shield was really great for a long time,” but does there need to be? It was good enough to make me hope Dean Ambrose changes his mind and sticks around so The Shield can keep being a thing for years to come with nobody randomly heeling out on anybody else, because brotherhood and friendship. If not, at least they got to go out on a high note.
I’m guessing Corbin fridges Ambrose on Raw tonight to set up a match with Roman for WrestleMania, or maybe Bray Wyatt finally comes back and absorbs Dean into the Negaverse. I don’t claim to understand how Raw works anymore.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
You wear a Cleveland Browns shirt and you suffer a heartbreaking loss. Who could have seen that coming?
Say what you will about Daniel Bryan’s Smackdown, but at least they don’t have to put up with the pollution that comes from Cole.
The only logical conclusion here would be Sonya crying in the middle of the ring, cradling Mandy’s fresh corpse like she’s Jason Todd.
“I could see the wires when Ali did that move.” -Rousey
Nothing brings people of different cultures together like beating up hippies.
If anyone should sympathize with working hard for years and not being appreciated it would be Cesaro.
(Watches Mandy Rose survive longer than 15 seconds with Asuka)
Ronda’s right, this is fake.
The Real Birdman
I love the announce team emphasizing Ali isn’t used to wrestling in front of an indifferent crowd like he wasn’t on 205 Live for over a year
The year is 2078. Somehow, Mysterio still hasn’t aged and heels are still getting heat by using Eddie’s moves on him.
A PPV called Fastlane being promoted as a stop is possibly the most WWE thing we’ll experience tonight.
That’s it for Fastlane. A really good show, where even the “worst” parts were pretty good and were attempting to move stories forward and go somewhere. Between this, the Rumble, and Elimination Chamber, we’re having a pretty good pay-per-view year so far.
Thanks for reading, as always. Make sure to drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, and share the column on social to keep us in the business of reacting poorly to wrestling stories. Join us tonight for Raw, tomorrow for Smackdown and the Best and Worst of Raw, Wednesday for NXT and the Best and Worst of Smackdown, and every weekend until April for several more unscheduled stops on the Road to WrestleMania.