WWE Fastlane 2021 (3/21/2021)- St. Petersburg, FL
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Matt Riddle(c) vs. Mustafa Ali (w/Retribution)- 7/10
Great stuff, especially for less than ten minutes. The finish was crazy.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Is there a term for a mercy killing that happens months after it should have been done?
Ali yells at the members of Retribution and shoves them. Reckoning slapped him and left. Then Slapjack walked out on him. T-Bar and Mace eventually got annoyed and gave Ali a double-chokeslam. Ironically, this probably end of Retribution was the most threatening anyone in the group has ever looked.
WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax(c) (w/Reginald) vs. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair- 6/10
This was fine, although the finish in my mind makes Sasha the clear heel here. I’m sure that wasn’t WWE’s intention, but getting upset at Bianca because Bianca went to go stop Nia from breaking up a submission that Sasha had on Baszler and Nia wound up shoving Sasha into her is completely unreasonable on Sasha’s part.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- decent
Or maybe they do want Sasha to be the clear heel, as she yelled at Bianca, repeatedly called her “rookie,” and slapped her. I was fine with Bianca with responding to that physically (i.e. she was being the better woman), but I got annoyed when she started pointing at the f*cking sign. It almost never feels natural, and in this situation it was even worse than normal.
ELIAS BOTHERS SHANE MCMAHON BACKSTAGE- bad
Shane is faking an injury to get out of his match with Braun. Elias approached him and pitched a musical performance at WrestleMania so great that he thinks Bad Bunny will give him his Grammy. Here’s a novel idea? How about if the professional wrestler wants to wrestle at WrestleMania?
Elias says he’ll do anything if Shane lets him perform his music a WrestleMania. Shane says he has an idea. Oh goody. So we’re getting f*cked out of an advertised PPV match for a match that most people would see announced on Raw and change the channel.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Big E.(c) vs. Apollo Crews- no rating, very mixed segment
I liked what the wrestlers did and thought the finish and post-match segment were a passable way of continuing the feud in a vacuum, but given where we are on the calendar, I didn’t like it.
For those who didn’t see the show, we started off with Big E. running wild on Crews. This is going to sound strange, but Big E. was playing a vengeful showboating babyface. There are very few people whose characters could make this work, but Big E. is one of them. Crews cut him off and ran wild on Big E. until Big E. made a short comeback. Crews got a small package but Big E. countered it into a pin of his own for the win. Crews kept going as if there had been no pin, beat Big E. up and posed over him.
If you’ve got a feud where you want the babyface to retain the title cleanly but keep the heel alive as a challenger and escalate things, this would normally be a fine way to do it. But given the big injury angle that set this up, the fact that this is a PPV, and WrestleMania is less than a month away, if this is what they were planning on doing to be able to do the return match at WrestleMania, I think it would have been much better to just let Big E. be out for a while, have Crews walk around demanding that he be recognized as the champion for putting Big E. out, have Big E. return in a few weeks and just have the match at WrestleMania instead of doing it here and watering things down by having a match before Mania and having Crews lose before the big blow-off.
The other thing I didn’t like here was that even though the match was clearly over, they didn’t announce a f*cking winner! It’s one of those things that WWE does from time to time that makes things feel less real because the reason they do it is to not distract from the segment going on in the ring, but if this was real that wouldn’t be a considering (when someone scores a goal in overtime, they don’t not blow the goal horn because it would “distract” from the players celebrating, for example).
24/7 STUPIDITY HAPPENS DURING AN OLD SPICE COMMERCIAL- that’s what I get for not fast-forwarding through a commercial.
FOOTAGE OF SHANE “INJURING” HIMSELF WHILE TRAINING- yeah… I don’t buy it.
THE DRIFTER SINGS- Also, Shane ells him that he has been booked against Braun Strowman in Shane’s place for a match right now. So am I supposed to feel bad for Elias now?
BRAUN STROWMAN vs. “THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMPSON (w/Jaxson Ryker)- DUD!
Braun dominated early. Elias’ bump for the big tackle on the outside looked extremely phony. A Ryker distraction allowed Elias to hit a chop block and then hit some moves for a nearfall, but Braun kicked out, got up, and just dominated Elias again. This was them advertising a match and then f*cking us out of it. Braun gained nothing from this.
MATT RIDDLE TALKS TO SHINSUKE NAKAMURA- Riddle is SOOOOOO annoying. I was hoping Nakamura would kick him in the back of the head to knock him out and shut him up.
SETH ROLLINS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA- 7.75/10
Where have this Seth Rollins and this Shinsuke Nakamura been? This was GREAT!
I popped SOOO huge for Black Magic. I’ve got to find some early 2000’s Low Ki matches to watch.
“THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS” VIDEO- oh. It’s Rhea Ripley. With a title like that, I assumed they were telling me that Orton vs. Bliss was up next.
NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH: Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre- 8.5/10
They had a big, WrestleMania-style video package for this one. More than just a recap package like usual. Drew has Braveheart face-paint on as well. This feels like dry-run for WrestleMania production.
They brawled all over the place and beat the sh*t out of each other. I could have done without the little fireworks show when Drew threw Sheamus into one of the Thunderdome screens, but other than that, this was awesome.
ALEXA BLISS! vs. RANDY ORTON- no rating, dumb segment
I waited until midnight to start watching the PPV just to make sure no one would walk in while I was watching this match.
Randy comes out, does his pose on the turnbuckle, and starts to vomit bad storyline goo. He gets it all out and seems fine. Alexa comes out, and people in the production truck start having fun playing around with the music. They also gave the match purple lighting.
Randy charged at Alexa, but she conjured a wall of fire on our TV screens to stop Randy. Randy charged again, but instead of burning him alive, she just got out of the way and he ran into the post. Randy stalked Alexa on the outside but she magically made some lights fall from the ceiling and almost hit him. Is she trying to kill Randy or not? I assume it’s “no” because if she wanted to murder him with magical fire, she clearly could have, but if she doesn’t want to kill him, why take the chance that he wouldn’t have stopped in time and would have burned himself to death in that first spot?
Alexa threw another fireball at Randy (the production on this one looked much better). Either Tom or Byron said that Randy “blocked” the fireball. With what? His hands? IT’S F*CKING FIRE! Also, can you get DQed for using mystical fire? I don’t know the rules of wrestling well enough to know if conjured energy counts as a foreign object.
A hand came up through the ring and grabbed Randy’s ankle but Randy escaped. Fire came out of the whole, and then a burned-up Fiend appeared. Alexa jumped off the turnbuckle and pushed Randy into The Fiend, who hit Sister Abigail. I assumed that this would be a DQ, but I guess there are no DQs in this match. Alexa pinned Randy, mercifully ending this.
Well… The Fiend is back for four more weeks of magical bullsh*t until WrestleMaina, which I’m sure will be totally different that the three months of Alexa doing magical bullsh*t to Randy that led up to this match and the two months of The Fiend doing magically bullsh*t to Randy that we got before that.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH WITH EDGE AS THE SPECIAL ENFORCER: Roman Reigns(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Daniel Bryan- 9.25/10
This was like one of those early UFCs where you had the big tough guy who could throw a bunch against the trained wrestler. It evolved into some more traditional pro wrestling stuff from there, but they mostly stayed within that framework. The biggest completement I can pay to this match was that it was so great that they made me completely forget about the Sword of Damocles hanging out at ringside.
Edge took over the referee’s job after the ref got bumped and called things down the middle. Bryan got Roman in the Yes Lock and Uso ran in and took Edge out before breaking it up. Bryan eventually took Uso out with a chair Uso tried to use on him. Roman then swung the chair at Roman (which I didn’t like) but Roman got out of the way and he hit Edge. Bryan eventually got the Yes Lock again and had Roman tapping but Edge attacked Bryan with the chair. He hit Reigns with it, too, screamed “THIS IS MINE!” and walked out. A referee came in and Roman crawled onto Bryan and got the pin.
I don’t like the f*ck finish in the main event, but the match was tremendous, and this seems to solidify Bryan’s place in the WrestleMania main event. Hopefully WWE will come to their senses and let Bryan be the one to beat the heel Roman and give the fans that cathartic moment we’ve been waiting years for.
This was a good show from WWE. Yes, there was a lot not to like, but there was also quite a lot to look. The main event is fine microcosm for the show as a whole. The good was enough to outweigh the bad or frustrating.
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