The final pay-per-view before WrestleMania 2021,, is in the books. As expected, Fastlane was a one-game show: Roman Reigns beat Daniel Bryan in a terrific main event. This was by far the best part of the show.
He saw Reigns defeat Bryan via a fall, with help from Edge. Edge was a special enforcer and, once the referee was removed, acted as the deputy referee. After Bryan accidentally hit Edge with a chair, Edge returned the favor by hitting Bryan twice – just like Bryan used to hit Reigns.
Seth Rollins’ matches against Shinsuke Nakamura and Sheamus against Drew McIntyre were also strong, but the main event was the only truly remarkable thing on the card. The Randy Orton / Alexa Bliss “match” brought The Fiend back, as expected, and was really terrible, as expected.
Roman Reigns retains his universal championship
An absolutely stellar match, even if the ending was less so. It started out slowly, with Bryan frustrating Reigns getting ahead of him. Reigns would muscle Bryan, Bryan would counter and escape. It started off a great dynamic for the match, and was the first fight of the event with proper ring psychology.
It was perfectly paced, starting more methodically and running in action-packed back and forth. Eventually, Bryan switched to his running knee, but Reigns moved, allowing Bryan to time the referee. This led to Edge, who was a special executor, to take on the role of arbiter. Reigns hit a spear for a two count.
Bryan has had Reigns in the Yes Lock multiple times, with him promising on SmackDown to exploit Reigns. On one occasion, Jey Uso hit the ring and hit Bryan and Edge. He then brought a chair into the mix, but was later removed by Bryan. Bryan then tried to hit Reigns with the chair, but Reigns moved and Bryan accidentally hit Edge.
Reigns then went to get a spear but Bryan countered it in a Yes Lock. After a few dramatic moments, Reigns tapped. Reigns sold the submission perfectly, making it look like he was about to pass out and punch weakly. But Edge broke submission with a chair shot. He then hit Reigns with a chair, then hit Bryan again. He yelled at both, then left the ring like crazy. Roman then pinned Bryan.
Rating: 4.5 stars. The match had a few flaws, like the way it overused the “Reigns moves and Edge / the ref is done out” spot, and there was a little too much interference. Plus, the ending will only make sense if it leads to a triple threat at WrestleMania – which Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reports are the case.
Edge acted like a heel, robbing the heroic Daniel Bryan of his hard-earned victory. It’s crazy to me that WWE is making the Edge back so unkind, and it looks like it’s now babyface Bryan against the Edge and Reigns heel. With Edge looking so heeled, a one-on-one feud with Reigns no longer seems tenable.
With it all said – this match ruled.
Alexa Bliss pins Randy Orton
Alexa Bliss pinned Randy Orton after The Fiend came out from under the ring and punched Orton with a sister Abigail. As expected, it was horrible.
As Orton made his entrance, posing on the turnbuckle, Orton began to cough up blood. Advertisers wondered aloud how this might affect his performance. A bad start. Alexa Bliss enters and the match begins with her summoning a wall of fire.
Orton then runs into the turnbuckle, like an idiot and unlike a 14 times world champion. Alexa then magically causes a set of lights to fall right in front of Orton as he tracks her down. Back in the ring, there’s more of the fiery stuff. Then Fiend’s charred hand emerges from the ring, he steps out, looking disgusting, then hits Sister Abigail for the finish.
Drew McIntyre Sheamus brooches
The match was exactly what you expected: McIntyre and Sheamus fought against each other, then McIntyre won. How much you would like it depends on how much you like physical brawls, since the match was mostly that.
McIntyre stepped out with a Braveheart style Scottish makeup. The first weapon introduced in this No Holds Barred match was the Kendo stick, which both men duly used to get high. Sheamus also used it to suffocate McIntyre, and then McIntyre used it to try and tear out Sheamus’ eye. Quite knotty.
They then fought outside and fought in the ThunderDome area between the monitors. I personally zoned here because there are a lot of generic keystrokes and jump into things. There were some well-defined highlights though, like when McIntyre threw Sheamus through some ThunderDome monitors, causing a pyro to trigger. Later, Sheamus hit white noise across the announcement table.
Sheamus then took part of the announcement table in the ring to try and kill McIntyre with it, but he was countered and McIntyre got the Futureshock DDT, slamming Sheamus’ head into the part of the table. Then it was Claymore Kick, 1-2-3.
Rating: 3.5 stars. These two worked really hard and crashed into pieces. But some of the action was laborious, and the smother was undermined by the fact that McIntyre’s victory was never really in doubt.
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
In by far the best game to date, Seth Rollins beat Shinsuke Nakamura with a curb. The result came as no shock, as Rollins is on course for a clash with Cesaro at WrestleMania, but the two fought well enough to make the fight convincing regardless.
Rollins took up much of the first few minutes, but the tide was turned when he tried to mock Cesaro by giving Nakamura a giant swing. Nakamura countered him in a Triangle Choke attempt, then began to strike back. From there it was a fun back-and-forth game. Nakamura countered a Loop Bomb in a Falcon Arrow, Rollins counted a Kinsasha in a Loop Bomb.
Rating: 3.5 stars. The game would have benefited from a few extra minutes, as the pin came just when it was getting great.
Braun Strowman defeats Elias
Braun Strowman was set to face Shane McMahon, but an alleged leg injury put McMahon on the shelf. Instead, McMahon tricked Elias into taking his place against the Monster Among Men.
Single match. Elias was given DDT and an elbow on Strowman for about five minutes, but other than that, that was all Strowman. He towered over Elias and also bulldozed Jason Ricker on the outside. He got the pin following a PowerSlam. I expected McMahon to ambush Strowman after the game, revealing his injury was fake, but there wasn’t such an angle.
Classification: 1 star. More of a raw segment than a pay-per-view match.
Big E retains intercontinental championship
Big E defeated Apollo Crows with a very awkward, possibly sloppy rollup after a short but intense match. This feud is clearly directed towards WrestleMania, as the short and indecisive contest was followed by crews attacking, slapping and insulting Big E.
The match opened strongly. The story leading up to it had Big E apoplectic, threatening to destroy crews and bulldozer his home. No thrill from Big E, and E begins to explode as he slams his signature spear through the ropes. He then trash talked to Crews as he beat him on the apron. In essence, unlike too many performers, Big E struggled like he had a grudge. It was good stuff.
The crews then cut him by attacking E.’s injured leg. But before the match could shift into third gear, it was over. The crews received a small package on Big E, but Big E reversed it to get the pin. It sounds a lot better on paper than in practice though, as the referee started three counts for two fall attempts, and even the announcers couldn’t explain what happened. They didn’t even try and no reruns were shown.
Rating: 2 stars. Bad finish, but the fiery action is hopefully conducive to a meeting with WrestleMania.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszer retain women’s titles
The Women’s Tag Team Championship match between Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler on one side and Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks on the other opened the show. It was decent action, but not exceptional, but with the reservation that ultimately made Banks vs. Belair’s storyline less compelling.
The game had a basic structure: lots of action to start, a long heat on Belair in the middle and a flurry towards the end. The finish itself was also the WWE formula: Banks had Baszler in the Bank Statement, Jax pushed Belair onto Banks to break the hold, Banks got angry with Belair and, as the two argued, was coiled for the spindle by Baszler.
Again, there has been good deed here. Belair’s fight with Baszler earlier in the match was excellent, ending with Baszler hitting a nasty knee to Belair’s chin. Sasha’s hot tag later was creative and fiery, a reminder of how fun she is to watch. And there was a nice false finish when Belair hit a 450 Splash to have the pin broken by Reginald, who is now at a love angle with Jax.
But ultimately, the script made Banks look ridiculous, getting angry with Belair even though it was Nia Jax who pushed Belair onto Banks. It also made Banks incompetent, when her distraction led to her being pinned down. And after the game, the two had a showdown that ended with Banks calling Belair a rookie before slapping her. Belair took the slap and showed the WrestleMania sign.
Rating: 2.5 stars. Banks’ build against Belair at WrestleMania has been weak so far. With the tag team’s red herring now peaking, hopefully the creativity picks up between Now and WrestleMania.
Mustafa Ali pin ridges
The kickoff bout saw Riddle defend his US Championship against Mustafa Ali. It was a solid game, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the pair’s previous bouts on Raw. In the end, Riddle pinned Ali with a BroDerick on the top rope. After the match, Retribution turned on Ali. Seemingly tired of Ali’s failure, Mace and T-Bar double strangled the now former faction leader.
A solid match and a faction breaking angle. Good stuff – but that says a lot about what WWE thinks Riddle and Retribution was on the Kickoff Show.
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