WWE – Fastlane 2015 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray / DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 174 minutes approx.
With the decision made that the Elimination Chamber concept was no longer valid in the build to Wrestlemania now there was only one world title to contest – not to mention that the incumbent champ Brock Lesnar was hardly ever around by virtue of nearing the end of his limit date contract – the February PPV would now be a regular filler PPV, with the rather 80’s sounding name of Fastlane.
In a case of “once bitten, twice shy” Vince McMahon seems to have heeded the negative reaction to Roman Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble while the fans once again wanted Daniel Bryan to win and regain the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 31. But Vince wasn’t going to acquiesce to the fans like he did in 2014 and was determined to stick to his original plans for WM 31 and send reigns to the main event despite the vocal disapproval of his audience.
This time however Vince was smart enough to exercise a little damage limitation. That would form the basis for the main event of this show, pitting Reigns against Bryan with the winner getting the title shot at WM 31. Surely this way everyone gets what they want right?
Taking place on February 22nd 2015 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee in front of 13,263 fans, your commentators as always are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL, and while no results will be given away but expect some opinion.
Dolph Ziggler, Ryback & Erick Rowan vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane
A late addition to the card but a logical one after the events on TV when all three of the faces had been victims of The Authority in one way or another. A solid by-the-numbers six man tag match in which Ziggler and Ryback were very popular with the fans, Rowan less so. After the match a familiar face made his return to put the wind up The Authority members specifically Rollins. Fun opener.
Goldust vs. Stardust
Brother vs. Brother matches rarely succeed in wrestling with arguably the sole successful case being Bret vs. Owen Hart in 1994. This is no exception with Cody/Stardust’s heel turn coming out of the blue making this a quick feud with no emotional investment from the fans. The match was met with mostly silence and the layout was awkward with what looked like a botched finish. Trivia fact – the ring announcer for this match, Eden Stiles, is in fact Cody’s wife Brandi. Lucky sod!
WWE Tag Title Match – The Usos (c) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd
This match apparently came about because of a dinner date gone wrong with Jimmy Uso and Naomi and Tyson and Nattie. The former is debuting her tight latex dominatrix outfit here for this match. Naomi is there too looking either concerned or bored, it’s hard to tell. The match was on the short side but the work was solid and pretty much non-stop action bell to bell.
We pause from the action to give Triple H some screen time in order for him to call out Sting and challenge him to a match at Wrestlemania 31. I get why they did it but since the PPVs are now on the WWE Network this isn’t enough of a draw to get people to subscribe, so surely putting this on RAW where at least four million eyeballs are more likely to be watching is the smarter move? Also, this segment went longer than most of the matches on the show because Triple H.
WWE Divas Title Match – Nikki Bella (c) vs. Paige
The feud continues this time because the Bellas object to the fact Paige doesn’t wear fake tan. No really. These two had a great fifteen minute match on Main Event which no-one watches so naturally they only get five minutes here. They crammed a lot into those five minutes and the work was solid, hampered by an awkward finish.
WWE IC Title Match – Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose doesn’t have a great win-loss record on PPV but he does have a string of lousy match finishes to his name so the result of this bout should sadly be obvious. These two beat each other for bit then hit their signature moves before the bad booking kicked in. it was what it was.
Suddenly the lights went out as an ominous bell tolled. A group of druids wheeled a coffin out to the ring accompanied by some familiar music and out of the coffin popped…. Bray Wyatt. he was volunteering to help Undertaker restart his streak at Wrestlemania 31.
WWE US Title Match – Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
Finally John Cena is out of the WWE World title picture but as we know Vince is afraid that if Cena isn’t holding a title the universe will turn gay so he is put in a program with the current undefeated foreign US champion and to be the one to get the rub from beating Rusev because obviously he needs it. Match wasn’t bad to be told and Rusev was certainly made to look like a real brute while Cena as per the ritual, booed by many of the fans.
WWE World Heavyweight Title No 1 Contender’s Match – Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns
No prizes for guessing who was the more popular of the two participants here. It’s fair to say that after showing slow improvement since becoming a singles wrestler in his WWE run Reigns finally showed what he is capable of against Bryan here, and not just because he was in there with one of the best. A very good and even affair where both men got to control the action, this was a well told story of the underdog fighting the big dog for his spot. We have to credit Vince for not using this as an opportunity bury Bryan once and for all just to remind everyone who is in control.
While the Elimination Chamber match was something of a spectacle to create a buzz for the PPV between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, it’s fair to say that Fastlane wasn’t afforded such luxury and really this show is the definition of filler. The main event had an element of intrigue about it but that is not enough to justify a full three hour show.
Many of the matches on this show could have taken place on RAW or Smackdown or even left until Wrestlemania to allow for a suitable build up to really get the fans pumped. Instead they were thrown out here just to fill up a card and were spoiled by the awful finishes. The two non-match segments – Sting/HHH and Bray Wyatt are decidedly more suited to RAW than PPV for both congruity and impact which was time they could have given to the matches.
At the risk of sounding churlish, this PPV borders on “Nothing to see here” territory.
Best match – Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns
Fastlane Kick off Show: Miz TV with Paul Heyman
Home Video Exclusive – The Bellas are Unstoppable
Smackdown – January 29th 2015 – John Cena and Rusev face-off
Monday Night Raw – February 2nd 2015 – The Authority Ups the Ante For Fastlane
Winner Faces Roman Reigns At Fastlane – Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins
Monday Night Raw – February 9th 2015 – Sting Accepts Triple H’s Challenge
Monday Night Raw – February 16th 2015 – Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black