The Best And Worst Of WWE Fastlane 2018

WWE Network

please clap

Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Fastlane: If you want to feel better about this year’s show, last year’s show is the one where Roman Reigns pinned Braun Strowman clean and Goldberg beat Kevin Owens in 22 seconds. Count your blessings, folks.

If you missed the event, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Remember that With Spandex is on Twitter, so follow it. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter.

One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it. It’s the most WrestleMania season it’s gonna be all year!!

Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Fastlane for March 11, 2018.

Fastlane, The Pay-Per-View That Doesn’t Really Get ‘Bests’ Or ‘Worsts’

WWE Network

The first thing you’ll notice about WWE Fastlane 2018 is that nothing happens.

Sure, Asuka shows up to challenge Charlotte Flair with a bit of the old sign pointing and that gets the crowd hype, but outside of that, nothing. It’s a lot like Elimination Chamber was, really, with the “obvious” and “predictable” stuff you need to build your WrestleMania card (as assumed) happening on schedule. And, like at Elimination Chamber, that’s not a wholly bad thing.

We were worried they were gonna add people to the AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura WWE Championship match at WrestleMania, and they sure came close to it, but they didn’t. The match is happening as planned. The Raw women’s division is built around the Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax “frenemies” thing, so it would make sense to do that blowoff at WrestleMania in some capacity and have Royal Rumble winner Asuka challenge The Flair for a dream match. It all checks out. It’s not like, rewarding us for paying attention or anything, but there are already tentatively a minimum of three triple threat matches on the WrestleMania card, so seeing a few feuds focused on building to a one-on-one payoff is a good thing. It’s sometimes also a very boring thing.

The good news is that nothing on the show was really bad. Even the stuff like Randy Orton wrestling for 20 minutes were competently done, and we’re like, full of bug rings and ghost mansions. It was the textbook definition of fine pro wrestling. Most times I’d rather see lots of boring wrestling with a point than no wrestling and a bunch of bullshit.

That said, please know that anything reading “Best” probably translates to “this was one of the better parts of the show,” and “Worsts” translate to, “I would’ve preferred to not watch this.” WE’RE DISHING OUT THE HOT TAKES HERE TODAY AT WITH SPANDEX.

Rusev vs. Nakamura

Smack (down) dab in the middle of that milquetoast-ass quality chart is “Shin” Nakamura vs. “Al” Rusev, probably the best one-on-one match on the show with the worst vibe and setup.

We wrote about it a little in our predictions post, it’s hard to see the greater point in taking a wrestler you just booked to win the Royal Rumble and keeping him off TV for a few weeks, just to give him a last-minute, thrown-together match against a heel the crowd ABSOLUTELY does NOT want to be heel. It’s sorta like asking A Wrinkle In Time to be the most popular movie while Black Panther is out. Plus, the announce team won’t stop insisting that Rusev Day are heels nobody likes, while the crowd chants “Rusev Day.” One of them references Rusev Day and the other’s like, “pfft [rolls eyes] whatever.”

Rusev’s a pro, though, and works as hard as humanly possible to be a heel despite everyone in the arena wanting to clap for him. It’s so weird. That’s gotta be one of the hardest things about being a WWE Superstar … having to do exactly what you’re told and ignoring the crowd response entirely, instead of listening to and vibing off them to make sure they’re entertained. Both of these guys are great at what they do so they put together something that had the crowd invested by the end, but I’m not entirely sure the crowd wasn’t just like that because it was the first match. But again, even if it’s not perfect on paper, the end result is Nakamura vs. Styles at WrestleMania with Nak getting a strong, clean victory over a capable, noteworthy opponent to build momentum. That’s objectively good!

Hamilton variant Aiden English gets a definite Best, though. Fingers crossed that WWE finds something for Rusev to do at WrestleMania, and doesn’t shoehorn him in as the fourth or fifth guy competing for a secondary championship. This year Rusev feels like last year Braun Strowman. He’s not on the Mania card and you’re like, “shit, wait, what?”

Aiden English’s Reaction To This Kick Is The Best

WWE Network

Siri, how do I get this match in the Tokyo Dome?

Randy Orton Wrestles For 20 Minutes, Wins Randomly, Begins Jinder Mahal Story

Here’s the rub: it’s not that bad.

Reviewing shows like that is a nightmare. I want the shows to be great so I can write these little loving tributes to how they made me feel, or I want them to be hilariously bad so I can type “who were the ad wizards who came up with THAT one” 1,000 times. Bobby Roode and Randy Orton have the same moveset, kinda look the same, definitely act the same since they’re both in Smackdown mid-card babyface territory, and Roode can’t even cheat to make his act interesting. It’s just a faceload of chinlocks and punches and chinlocks and kicks to the gut and some chinlocks.

It goes over 19 minutes, too, which is hard to figure out. I guess they wanted it to feel “epic,” but Orton doesn’t do epic well. Orton doesn’t do epic or matches well. He does moments. He’s the King Shit Of Fuck Mountain when it comes to WWE moments, but when he’s not punting the boss or RKO’ing you out of nowhere while you’re trying to pose in spotlights, he might as well be a mannequin. A mannequin who looks more and more like a rockabilly Mark Jindrak every week.

Orton wins the championship Booker T assured us he didn’t dream about holding when he was young — thanks as always, Book — and becomes grand slam champion. Jinder Mahal shows up to continue his eternal beef about that one popularity contest top 10 list they’re never doing again, and Roode DDTs them both to “get back his heat,” which he didn’t really need. If you didn’t do anything notable in 20 minutes, that extra sneak attack’s not gonna keep you looking credible. Best case scenario, Roode uses this loss and his impossibly forgettable United States Championship run to turn heel and be the Bobby Roode they signed in the first place.

Part of me really wants to see them do Orton vs. Jinder for the title on Smackdown, then go straight into Orton vs. Cena at WrestleMania. I want to see the Superman and Batman of the past 20 years of WWE booking trading finishers for the U.S. Championship at like 4 PM.

Please Do Not Forget Carmella™-brand Wrestler!

One of the two most Smackdown matches on the card was this random women’s tag, which appears to have been put together to remind us that Carmella’s a wrestler who can win sometimes and holds the Money in the Bank briefcase. They’d held onto it this long to get to the aftermath of Flair vs. Asuka, and I’m pretty sure the result of any version of a post-match cash-in attempt ends with Carmella losing. She should just try to cash in on whoever wins the 205 Live tournament. You’ve got a better shot against Cedric Alexander than Asuka, Carmella!

Again, there’s nothing really structurally wrong with the match or how they wrestled it. Natalya is forever awkward and Becky Lynch’s gear made her look like one of Seth Rollins’ legs, but it was fine, and it gave Carmella a win to (again) remind us that she’s a thing. Not really a lot to say about it positively, or negatively aside from the general feeling that Becky Lynch needs a hug and someone to tell her she’ll be off Smackdown one day.

WrestleMania, Maybe? Please?

The most disappointing match of the night, on purpose, was The Usos vs. The New Day for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. I’m not just talking about the “speed lineup” of Woods and Kingston that leaves Big E — the guy who’s been cutting all the big passionate promos against the Usos for weeks — standing outside the ring making faces. This was only here for the Bludgeon Brothers to attack both teams and set up a triple threat for WrestleMania. Can I use one of my monkey paw wishes so the Bludgies get their title shot before WrestleMania, and we find out the reason we were robbed of a finish in this one is because the Usos and New Day wanted to do a better version there?

The Bludgeon Brothers attack wasn’t badly done, especially that big powerbomb on the steps to Woods and his D’Von Dudley electrocution selling, but those little baby hammers were embarrassing. Straight up, when they dropped them, they bounced. And they didn’t really kick anybody’s asses with the hammers, so why couldn’t they just use the bigger actual ones? Were they worried about having to replace the ring steps?

It’s a shame this one ended so soon, because the idea of New Day and the Usos having to switch up their offense to the other team’s moves to keep from being too predictable and getting caught was a hell of a lot of fun.

Overbooking When You Don’t Need It

The story of the Smackdown Women’s Championship match is that the Riott Squad attacked Charlotte Flair, so Flair wants to take them out one by one as revenge. She beat Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, which is like the Houston Astros winning baseball games against middle school school gym classes, but couldn’t get her one-on-one match against Ruby Riott without putting the title on the line.

The only story you need is Ruby battling as hard as she can, maybe taking some shortcuts, and then Flair ultimately beating her. If you want to have the Riott Squad show up and get fought off before the finish, sure, go for it. What you don’t necessarily need is the Riott Squad interfering a lot — what was the point of Charlotte “taking them out” again? — OR Becky Lynch and Naomi showing up as backup to stop them, only to be immediately fooled. They get ejected, and the match slows down. Then the Riott Squad gets ejected, which slows things down even MORE because the crowd’s still reacting to your weird Lynch and Naomi situation. And then the finish just kinda happens, and the overbooking has robbed you of (or at least put a sizeable dent in) the clear, easy-to-enjoy story you were building and almost done telling. Par for the course, I guess.

Note to WWE: you have a large, diverse roster so you don’t have to tell the same stories all the time. You’re able to switch it up and switch around the talent to keep things fresh, like in the territories days! Having a big roster doesn’t mean you have to have six people show up in every one-on-one match.

Asuka Ye Shall Receive

The hottest you’ll see the crowd all night is when Asuka shows up to Point Challenge Charlotte Flair for WrestleMania. It’s a great moment, featuring one of the most beautiful camera shots I’ve ever seen WWE pull off:

WWE Network

That match could very easily steal the show at WrestleMania, especially the weird hodgepodge WrestleMania we’re all picturing full of triple threat matches and endless Roman Reigns coronations and Ronda Rousey non-wrestler main-events. The best news from WWE this year is that they had Nakamura and Asuka win Royal Rumble matches, and are moving forward with Nakamura vs. Styles and Askua vs. Flair like everyone in the world pretty much wanted.

There are a lot of Smackdowns between now and WrestleMania, though. Fingers crossed.

More Great Camera Work

Seriously, look at this shot from the post-match:

WWE Network

The production team was on point on Sunday.

In the broader sense, the six-pack challenge was probably the most enjoyable thing on the card, because while it had a lot (a lot) of narrative problems, it was exciting, something nothing else on the show was. There was also a lot going on, so here’s a quick breakdown.

  • Shane McMahon is the most garbage wrestling character on Earth. Seriously, how this dude isn’t universally accepted as the biggest heel in the company is beyond me. He interjects himself where he doesn’t belong, continues to screw Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens out of title opportunities despite them not getting along and legitimately fighting each other throughout the match. That shot of him walking between them and shaking his head after the match was INFURIATING. I don’t want Shane to have a WrestleMania program. I want him to go to the doctor and find out why he’s got those big dark spots between his eyes and his ears. That shit’s not healthy.
  • Baron Corbin’s Deep Six is one of the best looking moves in wrestling. Not really a conversation as much as a true fact.
  • How hilariously pointless is Dolph Ziggler still? Why’s he here? Doesn’t he hate championships? If he hates championships, why does he want a WrestleMania moment? It should be “ego,” but he’s been built up as a quitter who doesn’t want any kind of reaction from the fans. That’s why he got rid of his entrance theme (kind of) and wanted to hurt people like Nakamura and Bobby Roode. Why does his music START with a record scratch now like he’s interrupting another guy’s entrance theme, but then there’s tons of silence before his kicks in? Wasn’t the record scratch there because the idea was that he was stopping his own music, so fans didn’t get to enjoy it? Is his song on Side B of whatever Forceable Entry vinyl they’re using? Does Dolph Ziggler even understand his character?
  • John Cena moping in the corner is John Cena’s final form

That’s it, I guess! A pay-per-view with forgettable action, lots of botches and bad match results that was never that bad, was more watchable than the average episode of Smackdown and set up what we imagine will be a lot of GOOD match results.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night


*swings arms over Styles/Nakamura* SAFE!


Now imagine how great it would have been if the betrayal happened here and not on Tuesday.

Beige Lunatics, King of String Style

This match without Corbin and Ziggler would be dope.

Of course, I said the same thing about all of those Corbin vs. Ziggler matches.

The Real Birdman

*Cut to Carmella throwing her MitB contract in shredder*

Clay Quartermain

Asuka is like the coolest Fatal Frame ghost


“Like an albino leopard this match has a lot of missed spots!”

Mr. Bliss

The graphics department working overtime adding text to Ruby’s leggings during the match

Baron Von Raschke

Liv: HEY! It’s the team that lost to Carmella and Naty earlier tonight!!! WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE!


Eric Rowan is always up for a good Stairs match.


“Two, whenever RAW’s not on the screen, all the other characters should be asking ‘What’s happening on RAW’?”

WWE Network

“Sure, Sami Zayn can wrestle Kevin Owens at WrestleMania. With ME involved!” — Shane McMahon

That’s it for this year’s Fastlane. We’re rapidly approaching the cul-de-sac at the end of the Road to WrestleMania, so make sure to drop us a comment to let us know what you thought about the show, and share the column on social media to spread the word. Thanks for reading!

Subscribe, rate, review the With Spandex podcast

[protected-iframe id=”8333541b4dd5a82249cd1b86a5f250b0-60970621-10222937″ info=”” width=”100%” height=”180″ frameborder=”0″]