Sunday night saw WWE complete their final pay-per-view before WrestleMania, with a Fast Lane pay-per-view that was notable for… very little, actually. The bookies (or at least, 888sport) had the results right in all-but-one match – and for someone notoriously awful at pay-per-view predictions, I came out 100% with my winners!
Going into Sunday, the internet speculation was that the segment with Edge & Christian and the New Day was going to be used as a way to debut Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady on the main roster. Well, that went firmly into the folder marked “Plans Change!” (as did their last rumoured debut on Raw a few weeks ago), with the segment instead being used to torture the viewers, and possibly set up a feud with the League of Nations instead.
Dark Match: Kalisto (3/10) retained the United States title in a best-of-three-falls match, defeating Alberto del Rio (11/5) by two falls to one (available as part of the pre-show on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb1sWDLnU-I)
Rather bizarrely, this one was placed in the pre-show, but it was given a decent amount at time… for a standard match. Mauro Ranallo on commentary was a breath of fresh air, with Ranallo pointing out that these kind of matches are somewhat customary in Mexico. Somehow, I doubt you’d get that sort of history and insight from anyone else on the team without it coming across as scripted…
Del Rio immediately starts the match by going to work on Kalisto’s arm, preparing for the cross-arm breaker submission, and after motioning at the start that he was going to target it, Del Rio tears off the dragon tail at the back of Kalisto’s mask. Del Rio mounts the corner and starts the old ten-count punch spot, but Kalisto slips out and starts chopping away at Del Rio with some leg kick, only for Del Rio to grab him and toss him into the ring post.
Del Rio goes to Irish whip Kalisto into the corner, but instead Kalisto baseball slides out of the ring. As Del Rio chases after him, Kalisto gets back into the ring first, giving him time to welcome the challenger with a huracanrana once he re-enters the ring. Del Rio rolls out of the ring after a one-count to recuperate, but Kalisto stays on top of him, hitting a springboard bodypress to Del Rio on the floor.
Del Rio throws Kalisto chest first into the ring apron, before taking out the knee with a kick, but only gets a one-count after tossing the champion back in. A snap suplex from Del Rio sends Kalisto out to the floor once again, and Del Rio follows up, ramming Kalisto head first into the post, before throwing him into the security barrier. Kalisto somehow manages to slip out as Del Rio picked him up, with Del Rio taking the ringpost instead of Kalisto’s shoulder. Kalisto gets a two-count, then keeps on top of Del Rio as he powders to the floor, with Kalisto getting payback as he shoves Del Rio into the barrier by the timekeepers’ area.
Kalisto does a Jeff Hardy and walks the security barrier, connecting with another huracanrana on the challenger, this time sending Del Rio flying into the timekeeper’s area, but instead of returning to the ring to take a count-out win, he jumps onto the barrier again to launch another aerial assault. This time, however, Del Rio cuts it out by taking a steel chair to the champions’ knee, earning him a disqualification as Kalisto takes a 1-0 lead.
Before the second fall started, Del Rio kicked away at a grounded Kalisto, tossing him into security barriers and the German announce team’s desk as they went into a commercial break…
Back from plugging the WWE Network, the pair are in the ring as the second fall starts properly, with a cornered Kalisto getting the feet up to block the advances of Del Rio; however, Del Rio catches a kick and swings Kalisto into the ropes, setting him up for a jumping double foot stomp (but not off the top rope) for the equalising fall. Finally a set up from Del Rio for that move that isn’t contrived!
The final fall starts with Del Rio taking the head off of Kalisto (not literally) with a clothesline, getting him a two-count as it’s clear that Del Rio’s looking to close this out quickly. Del Rio plants Kalisto on the top as if he’s going for a belly-to-back superplex, but instead he partially yanks off the mask of Kalisto, before biting away at the champion. First Sin Cara, now Kalisto… maybe Del Rio is just jealous that their masks were shinier than his?
Kalisto slumps down into the Tree of Woe, and is left wide open to receive some kicks and punches to the chest. Del Rio climbs to the top to attempt his contrived double foot stomp finish, but he takes too much time and Kalisto kips up to send Del Rio to the mat with a huracanrana instead. On the apron now, Kalisto leaps up with a kick to the charging Del Rio, before returning to the ring to take out Del Rio with a springboard seated senton, a la Rey Mysterio.
Kalisto starts to use his speed, bouncing off the ropes and ducking clotheslines before hitting a springboard corkscrew forearm on Del Rio, following up with a short ‘rana for a near fall. Del Rio responds by shoving Kalisto into the ropes, and connecting with a tiltawhirl backbreaker, but his attempt to follow up on a cornered Kalisto ends when he takes a boot to the face. Kalisto rushes in with a tiltawhirl of his own, ending with a DDT that gets him another two-count.
Kalisto slowly scales to the top rope, but Del Rio springs up and crotches him as a set up for another contrived double foot stomp attempt, but Kalisto restrains Del Rio, who instead reverts to punching the chest of the upside-down champion, before going up top and flattening him with an inverted superplex. Kalisto rolls out to the floor, but is quickly joined by Del Rio, who drops him onto the security barrier again, this time using the ringside area as a set-up for that godforsaken double footstomp. This time Del Rio connects, and goes back into the ring as he expects to win by count out… but Kalisto returns at the count of nine, only to be greeted by the boots of Del Rio.
Del Rio drops Kalisto across the top turnbuckle again as he once again looks for you-know-what, but this time Kalisto falls flat as Del Rio misses the foot stomp. Del Rio tries to pick up Kalisto for another go, but is blocked as the champion looks to hit the Salida del Sol. He’s unable to hit it, instead using his momentum to propel Del Rio into the top turnbuckle, then rolling him up with a schoolboy for the fall to retain the title.
A good opening match, which really should have been on the pay-per-view – and whilst Del Rio scores points for eating a disqualification loss in the first fall in the way a heel should, I’m taking those points back (and then some) for the continual use of the double foot stomp with the phoney set-up.
Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks (1/10) defeated Naomi and Tamina (5/1)
Two thirds of the potential WrestleMania Diva’s title match are jerking the curtain here, as Naomi grabs her former Team BAD partner to start the match. They start to immediately play the “disgrunted partners” angle with Lynch and Banks, as the two sides struggle to maintain the advantage.
Naomi fires off a series of quick kicks at Becky Lynch, which appropriately enough make it look like she’s doing a version of the Riverdance at her. Team BAD double team Becky as she climbs the turnbuckles, with Tamina distracting Lynch for long enough for Naomi to knock her from the top rope to the floor. Becky beats the ten count to get back into the ring, but goes straight back into a beatdown. Tamina gets a near-fall after a clothesline on Lynch, before sinking in a rear chinlock as Banks tries to encourage the crowd, only for Tamina to knock her off the apron.
The heels keep up their advantage, with Naomi and Tamina combining for the former to get a two-count from a legdrop, before Naomi goes back to the chinlock. Naomi makes the tag yet again, and gets her legs swept by Lynch… who then tries to rush the incoming Tamina rather than try for a tag herself. That ends predictably badly, as Tamina picks her up and drops her in the corner. When Lynch does try to make a tag, Naomi knocks Sasha off the apron to prevent it, before Tamina throws Lynch to the floor once more.
Back in the ring, Lynch ducks as Naomi eventually dives to the floor, and Lynch finally makes the hot tag to Banks. Naomi tries for a pop-up, but Banks drills her to the mat with the double knees, before following up with some more double knees in the corner. Banks connects with a backstabber and goes for the Bank Statement, but Tamina pulls Banks out of the ring. A chase ensues, with Banks sliding back into the ring only to take the Rear View from Naomi for a near fall.
Banks continues the onslaught, but eats a superkick from Tamina that forces Lynch to break the count. Team BAD double team Banks, who flips out of a suplex attempt, as Lynch hits a double missile dropkick on the heels. Sasha and Tamina remain in the ring, with Tamina trying for a tiltawhirl backbreaker, only for Sasha to counter it into the Bank Statement… Naomi rushes in, but Becky Lynch grabs her in the Dis-arm-her, as both heels tap out together.
Not a bad opening match, but it felt like it was missing something. I’ve seen a lot worse, that’s for sure!
Kevin Owens (1/10) retained the Intercontinental title over Dolph Ziggler (5/1)
Counting only their televised matches, this is the 18th time that Owens and Ziggler have faced off against each other in some form, and the 11th time they’ve faced each other one on-one, with Owens going into this with a 7-3 record.
Owens begs off at the bell, with the newly-crowned champion leaning between the ropes as Dolph charges him. Another rope break follows a collar-and-elbow tie-up, with Owens cheapshotting Ziggler at the break with a headbutt. Owens taunts Ziggler by telling him “your hometown crowd likes me more than you!”, before cinching in a headlock, which Ziggler reverses into a brief chinlock. Owens keeps slithering out of it though, and somehow regains his first headlock.
Ziggler gets back to his feet and hits a splash on Owens in the corner, only for him to follow that up with a Bret Hart tribute spot, taking the turnbuckle chest-first following a short Irish whip by Owens, who takes advantage on the potential injury with some crossface punches as he goes to work on the upper body of Ziggler. A running senton splash gets Owens a two count as Michael Cole obsesses over the whiplash effect of Ziggler’s earlier bump into the turnbuckle.
Ziggler gets a head of steam going with a couple of flying forearms, but misses another one in the corner and Owens quickly gets back on top with a senton splash onto the back of Ziggler, before reverting to the chinlock. Dolph punches his way out of the chinlock, but quickly gets whipped back into the corner… but Ziggler slips out of the way of a shoulder charge, as Owens ends up diving to the floor via the ring post.
Back in the ring, Owens misses another shoulder charge in the corner, allowing Ziggler to hit two Stinger splashes and a series of four elbow drops to Owens for a near fall. Owens grabs Ziggler as he goes for his swinging DDT, instead crotching Ziggler on the top rope, which is followed up with a cannonball splash for a near-fall from the Canadian. Ziggler does hit his DDT at the second attempt for a count of two.
Ziggler prepares Owens for a superplex, but Owens counters with a sit-out spinning suplex off the top. Both men end up on the floor, with Ziggler connecting with a superkick, and eventually rolls Owens back into the ring, only for Owens to block a Zig Zag attempt and land a superkick of his own. Owens gets back to his feet first, but Ziggler pops up and drills Owens with a superkick for a near-fall.
Owens and Ziggler end up on the floor, as Owens tries to hit a pop-up powerbomb into the ring steps, but Ziggler reverses it and huracanrana’s Owens’ head into the stairs. Ziggler throws in Owens and lands a Fameasser for a two count, before going for yet another superkick, which Owens ducks out of the way of. One gut shot and a pop-up powerbomb later, and Kevin Owens retains.
If you can look past the indy-riffic selling of Dolph Ziggler (the chest injury which mysteriously disappeared, then returned), this was a fairly good match. However, there’s a reason why Dolph Ziggler isn’t breaking out of the midcard – and a lot of it was in this match. Moves for a reason, inconsistent selling – if you’re going to watch old tapes, pick up more than just the moves!
Big Show, Kane and Ryback (15/4) beat Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman (1/7)
This wasn’t the place to be looking if you wanted to see a contender for Match of the Year… but it was the place to go to if you wanted a surprise.
Rowan started off by putting the boots to Ryback in the corner, but they go back and forth, with Ryback getting the first pinfall attempt of the match with a missile dropkick (!) on Rowan. Big Show’s tagged in and rips open Rowan’s boiler suit to give him a few chops, before bringing Ryback back in for some slightly weaker chops. Luke Harper gets tagged in after a back elbow gives Rowan an opening, but he’s only in briefly before the quality gets dragged down with the arrival of Braun Strowman.
Strowman does some shoulder charges in the corner to Ryback, as I notice that Strowman’s ring gear makes it look like he’s just wet himself. Rowan comes back in to continue the assault on Ryback, but Ryback manages to block a suplex and hit one of his own on the former vintner. Ryback makes the tag to Kane who takes down Rowan with a slam, then a dropkick to a seated Rowan for a near fall.
After Rowan boots Kane to the floor, Strowman gets tagged back in to go to work on Kane, which is limited to throwing him into the ring post before bringing the match back into the ring. Strowman wears down Kane with a chinlock in the ropes, then brings Harper back into the match, who promptly takes Kane down with a rear chinlock to slow the pace down even more. Strowman rejoins the fray and beats on Kane in the corner, but an elbow from Kane stuns the green Wyatt, who ends up charging his way out of the ring, allowing Kane to tag Ryback back into the match.
Ryback takes down Harper with shoulder charges, then hits high running knees several times – with the crowd turning on the Big Guy, sensing that this was more than a tongue in cheek tribute to CM Punk – before Ryback takes connects with a series of body slams. Erick Rowan breaks up the pinfall attempt, but gets taken out by Kane… who then gets blasted by Strowman, as Big Show tosses him out of the ring. Show turns around into an attack by Luke Harper, but Show fends that off and press slams Harper into the Wyatts outside, before joining him to hit a spear on Strowman.
Back in the ring, Ryback hits a meat hook clothesline on Harper, but gets distracted and is rolled up for a near fall. That doesn’t work, and Ryback is able to hit the Shell Shock on Harper to pick up the win for the so-called Titans.
Like I said, not a contender for match of the night, but definitely nowhere near as bad as I was fearing going into this!
Charlotte (1/5) retained the Diva’s title over Brie Bella (3/1)
Charlotte immediately takes Brie into the corner with a collar and elbow tie-up, as Michael Cole on commentary puts over how Brie is wearing Daniel Bryan’s old kick pads. Charlotte mocks Bryan for easy heel heat that doesn’t materialise, before grounding Brie with some headscissors. Brie breaks free and pounds on Charlotte, before locking in an armbar.
Brie takes a page out of Bryan’s book with some kicks to a kneeling Charlotte, but Charlotte escapes and manages to use some headscissors to send Brie to the floor. This time, Charlotte’s mocking of Brie’s husband works, as I’m left wondering what else she has to her heel repertoire… Some shoulder charges in the corner follow, as Charlotte looks to hit the Alabama Slam, but Brie blocks it and gets a near fall from a sunset flip. Charlotte locks in a surfboard on Brie, but Brie powers her way out of it, only for Charlotte to yank her back to the mat with a handful of hair.
Brie tries to go for Bryan’s Yes Lock, but instead turns it into a crucifix pin for a two count. Bella holds on and locks in a sleeperhold, but Charlotte quickly gets back on to with some headscissors, and a brief spot of humping Brie’s head into the mat. Charlotte rolls through with Brie several times, and once again mocks the “Yes” chant, which serves as a starter for Brie’s comeback. Charlotte eats a running knee to the fact, before taking a couple of forearms to the face for a near-fall. Charlotte returns the favour with several Ric Flair-like chops, before drilling Brie with a big boot.
Brie counters a Figure Eight by shoving Charlotte into the ropes, before dropkicking her to the floor. Brie joins her, only to throw her back into the ring, then connects with a missile dropkick off the top rope, apparently injuring herself in the process. Some Daniel Bryan Yes kicks follow, as does an X-Factor, but Charlotte kicks out at two. Charlotte easily knocks her off her feet, but an attempt at a FIgure Eight gets turned into the Yes Lock, as Ric Flair tries to interfere. It doesn’t work, as Brie switches into a single-leg Boston Crab. Charlotte powers out, shoving Brie into the ropes, then drags her limp body into the ring for the Figure Eight for a submission win.
This was a good match in spite of Charlotte… I’m not alone in saying this, but either Charlotte has regressed badly since her NXT days, or she was carried an awful lot down in Florida!
AJ Styles (1/10) beat Chris Jericho (5/1)
Styles and Jericho start with a lock-up into the ropes, followed by a clean break. They then trade waistlocks, with Styles going for an early pinfall attempt with a wheelbarrow. Jericho responds with an early attempt at the Walls of Jericho, which is blocked, as AJ tries to go for a Calf Crusher, but again Jericho rolls out of the ring to avoid it.
After a short breather, Jericho goes for another waistlock and takes down Styles, who responds with a huracanrana from his back. Styles goes to throw Jericho out, but he lands on the apron and returns in with an axehandle chop to Styles off the top. Styles leapfrogs a charge in the corner, but takes a back body drop from Jericho, who follows up with a clothesline out of the ring. A baseball slide helps Jericho continue the onslaught, as he tosses Styles into the barricade, then back into the ring, as Jericho flies off the top with a cross body for another near fall. A chin-lock on Styles slows down the pace, but Styles fights out and gets out of the way of a flying forearm in the corner, with Jericho becoming the latest man to send himself flying out of the ring via the corner. Styles slingshots himself into Jericho on the floor, but eats a dropkick on the way down.
Back in the ring, Jericho goes back to the chinlock, but he fights out and responds with a pair of clotheslines off the rope, and then a third one into the corner, before a diving forearm into a seated Jericho put Y2J on his back. Styles picks up Jericho in a fireman’s carry, but Jericho escapes and ends up taking a moonsault flip into a reverse DDT. Styles signals for the Styles Clash, but Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho, only for Styles to spin out of it.
Styles gets a two count after an atomic drop flipped into a facebuster, but Jericho hits a Lionsault for a two count of his own, before sending Styles into the corner for a superplex attempt, but Styles slips out and shoves Jericho to the mat. Styles goes to the outside and goes for a springboard forearm again, but Jericho meets him with a springboard dropkick before AJ can launch himself into the ring.
AJ blocks a suplex, and eventually gets Jericho on the top rope for a superplex. A slap from Jericho aborts that, but AJ returns fire with a Pele kick, before going for a huracanrana off the top that Jericho blocks and turns into a Walls of Jericho. Styles makes it to the ropes, and Jericho goes to the outside to swing Styles into the barricade. Jericho locks in the Walls of Jericho on the floor, with the aim of getting a win by count-out, but Styles gets back in at the count of nine – albeit a Code Breaker helping Styles through the ropes.
Jericho only gets a two-count from that as Styles got a virtual rope break, and Styles fires back with slaps and kicks to Jericho. Styles hits a huracanrana and rolls through, connecting with the Styles Clash for a two count, before staying on top of Jericho by locking in the Calf Crusher that Jericho fights… and fights… and fights… before tapping out.
Fantastic match, and hopefully this signals the end of Styles’ feud with Jericho – if only so he can move onto something bigger for his first WrestleMania.
We’ll pretend that the segment with Edge, Christian and the New Day didn’t happen, for the sake of all our sanities…
Curtis Axel beat R-Truth (no odds, unadvertised bonus match)
This comes off the back of an appearance from the Social Outcasts saying that they’re on the road to WrestleMania. The Andre the Giant Battle Royal, they hope! R-Truth’s music interrupts them, and we have an impromptu match. I guess this was sent to wake up the crowd after the last segment, so… yay?
The Superstars special starts with (you got it) a lock-up, as Axel elbows his way out of a hammerlock, and into a headlock of his own. Truth leapfrogs Axel and stops him in his tracks, before dishing out a hiptoss into the corner. Truth gives Axel the ten-count punches in the corner, but the Social Outcasts leap on the apron to interfere, with the distraction allowing Bo Dallas to knock Truth down, giving the group a reason to do a lap of honour around the ring. Goldust then comes down to the ring to lend moral support, and immediately trips up Axel behind the referee’s back… but then throws Adam Rose into the ring, distracting Truth, and giving Axel the opening to score the win via a schoolboy.
Absolutely awful – this didn’t have a chance to get anywhere, and the sequence at the end was so rushed, very little of anything sunk in.
Roman Reigns (1/5) beat Dean Ambrose (7/2) and Brock Lesnar (8/1) to become number one contender for Triple H’s WWE title at WrestleMania 32
During the pre-match introductions, the crowd booed Roman Reigns – for the second year in a row, not looking good for the WWE’s chosen one! Paul Heyman took over the introductions for Brock Lesnar, who was announced as coming from the “winner’s corner”. The wrestling world would be a much poorer place without Paul Heyman in it.
Lesnar starts by fighting off Reigns and Ambrose, immediately taking out Reigns with a German suplex. Ambrose cuts off Lesnar as he works on Reigns in the corner with shoulder charges, but that irritation is quickly dealt with as Lesnar unleashes another German. Ambrose comes in again and tries to give Lesnar a German of his own, but that goes as well as you’d expect, and Lesnar instead dishes out an overheard belly to belly.
Reigns drops Lesnar neck first on the top rope, but instead of capitalising, Lesnar takes over and throws Reigns into the barricade. Ambrose goes for a suicide dive, but Lesnar catches him and lands another overhead belly to belly suplex. I’ve lost count of suplexes already!
Another series of Germans to Reigns, and it’s all Brock here in the early going, and an F5 on Reigns would have spelled the end, had Ambrose not jumped in to break it up. It’s now Ambrose’s turn to take a beating, particularly after slapping Lesnar… and a beating he takes! A German suplex folds Ambrose inside out, as does the second… and the third! The fans don’t show much sympathy to Ambrose, but Reigns does, as he spears Lesnar to save Ambrose from an F5, and manages to get himself a two-count in the process.
Reigns fires back with a Superman punch, but Brock rolls out to the floor to avoid any pinfall attempt. Another Superman punch gets caught, as Lesnar goes for another F5 on Reigns, only for a low blow by Ambrose to cut him off this time. The two former Shield members then work together to clear the French announce desk, as Ambrose helps Reigns powerbomb Lesnar through the desk.
Reigns and Ambrose return to the ring and go at it, with Ambrose taking the advantage with a running bulldog, followed by an elbow off the top rope for a two count. Reigns slips out of a neckbreaker attempt before the pair trade more blows, with Ambrose getting the yays and Reigns the boos, as Ambrose finishes off with the see-saw clothesline on Reigns. Lesnar staggers back to his feet, which is the signal for Reigns and Ambrose to collaborate again, with the English announce desk this time being Brock’s resting place after another assisted powerbomb, with the rubble of the announce table being thrown on top of Lesnar in what wasn’t the worst burial of the evening!
Once Lesnar was covered with the old announce desk, Reigns and Ambrose exchange blows once more, and Reigns gets a near fall on a sunset flip, but rolls through to try for a powerbomb. Ambrose fights out of it, and goes for another elbow off the top, only to land in the path of another Superman punch from Reigns. Ambrose blocks the spear with a boot to the face, before directing Reign into the post with a second attempt. Dirty Deeds gets Ambrose a near fall, and it was at that point you could sense the crowd knew that they weren’t going to get their swerve.
Ambrose picks Reigns up to go for another Dirty Deeds, but Reigns powers out to lift Ambrose into a fireman’s carry… and in comes Lesnar to connect with yet another German suplex on the duo, this time sending Ambrose flying out of the ring. Reigns drills Lesnar with a spear, but before Reigns can go for the cover, Lesnar locks in a kimura. Reigns powers out of that, as Ambrose comes in with a steel chair, laying out Lesnar, then Reigns, then Lesnar again. The finish then comes out of nowhere as Ambrose drops the chair, then turns around into a spear as Reign gets the win.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his wasn’t the stinker of a show that some would have you believe, but it certainly wasn’t anything close to a home run by WWE. By the end of the night, we had the main event for WrestleMania locked in… and not much else. Any result other than Reigns winning would have ended the show on a high, but in all fairness, it was the only result that made sense in WWE’s current booking. As for the rest of the WrestleMania card, well, the creative team have a shade under six weeks left to get creative and fill in the blanks… as well as those 100,000 seats in Dallas!