WWE – Fastlane 2016 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray / DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 164 minutes approx.
Fastlane has now replaced Elimination Chamber as the “last stop before Wrestlemania” (not strictly true as there is still RAW, Smackdown and in this year’s case, another WWE Network special Roadblock) and for a second year running, it sees Vince McMahon sticking with his ill-fated plan to make Roman Reigns the new face of the company heading into Wrestlemania.
After losing the WWE Title in the Royal Rumble match to Triple H a month earlier Reigns had been given the chance to earn a title shot at Wrestlemania (not sure what happened to his automatic rematch) – an odd move since The Authority have been doing everything they could to STOP Reigns being champ – by facing Dean Ambrose (the last person Triple H eliminated) and Brock Lesnar (just because). Will the fans get behind Reigns this time?
This show took place on February 21st 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio in front of 14,406 fans. Your commentators once again are Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and JBL.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers but plenty of opinion.
Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks vs. Naomi & Tamina
I believe that history is made here as this is the first time a Women’s match has opened a WWE PPV. A couple of mixed tags have opened the show but never an all female match. Sasha Banks sort of turned babyface at the Royal Rumble after confronting Charlotte which lead to Team BAD ejecting her from the group and after some mutual bacon saving my future ex-wife Becky and Sasha become the latest odd couple tag team in the WWE. A solid match from the ladies and a decent opener to boot.
WWE IC Title Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Owens regained the title in a five way match on RAW and by dint of previous victories over him, Ziggler made the challenge to Owens for this show. A solid match with a hit finish as you might expect from these two but with two prior wins and applying Wrestling Booking 101, it was somewhat obvious that Ziggler was a token challenger. Despite being in Ziggler’s hometown and receiving huge support, Owens was just as popular, which he made a point of mentioning during the match!
Big Show, Kane & Ryback vs. The Wyatt Family
It’s funny that Ryback’s nickname is “The Big Guy” when he was the smallest person in the whole match! Bray Wyatt sat this one out due to a back injury meaning we had to endure Braun Strowman instead. For six big lugs going at it, this could have been worse but it wasn’t so great either. Even so, rarely has ten minutes felt so interminable.
WWE Divas Title Match – Charlotte (c) vs. Brie Bella
Brie got this title shot over everyone else rather coincidentally the week after hubby Daniel Bryan announced his retirement on RAW, with rumours suggesting she was about to follow suit. While no-one foresaw Brie winning the title again, to her credit she put forth her best in ring effort yet. Wearing similar furry boots to the ones hubby wore at WM 30, Brie not only used his kicks and the Yes Lock but also borrowed sister Nikki’s forearm shot for a near fall. Charlotte of course had her father as her secret weapon.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
After his shock debut at the Royal Rumble the big concern was how Vince McSenile would handle AJ Styles thereafter. Well, the next night on RAW we got Styles vs. Jericho in a good match with AJ going over. They had a rematch on Smackdown a few weeks later which Y2J won leading to this rubber match. Jericho is slowing down a bit these days but he still was able to hold his end up here and give us another strong showing and steal the show with this straight up, top notch wrestling match.
Cutting Edge Peep Show with The New Day
Settling into the “come down” slot formerly occupied by the women’s match we get an absolutely toe curling overlong waste of time segment which should have been on RAW since it was designed purely to promote Edge and Christian’s WWE Network show and lazily set up a New Day vs. League Of Nations feud.
R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel
To make matters worse we get an unannounced two minute filler match that wouldn’t even pass muster on Superstars. Thank heavens for the skip button.
WWE World Heavyweight Title No 1 Contender Triple Threat Match – Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
Guess who was booed out the building? Lesnar starts off strong by suplexing everyone in sight which seems to be all he does these days although I wouldn’t make that accusation to his face. Reigns and Ambrose face off with Ambrose getting the bulk of the crowd support which demonstrates not just how screwed up the psychology is for this match. A good outing however with all three guys working hard, and Lesnar’s intensity and rare in-ring appearance giving this a main event feel.
The arrival of AJ Styles, who is a real breath of fresh air to the WWE roster, and the long overdue focus on the women’s division gives us some fresh match ups for a change although that treading water feel for those not named Roman Reigns is still palpable. However Vince’s stubbornness in shoving Reigns down our throats is becoming simply embarrassing and the fans’ deliberate and vociferous rejection of him shows they can be stubborn too.
On the whole the work was solid and most of the matches delivered, but with this being the show that supposedly lays the groundwork for the upcoming Wrestlemania 32 card, the direction doesn’t seem so clear just yet. The only real hint is a New Day vs. League of Nations feud with neither teams on the card to start this off, otherwise this was just another average and not very newsworthy WWE B-level PPV.
Best match – Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
Fastlane Kickoff Match – US Title 2/3 Falls Match – Kalisto (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
Monday Night RAW – 8th February 2016
No 1 Contender’s Contract Signing
The Most “Must See” WWE Talk Show In History – The Highlight Reel?
Monday Night RAW – 15th February 2016 – Charlotte Wants Brie Bella To Join Her Husband
Smackdown – 18th February 2016 – Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns vs. The Dudley Boyz
Rating – ***
Man In Black