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The Disappointment Of WWE FastLane 2017
Where to begin...?
No really, where to begin? Well let's start with what compelled me to watch it. I figured that I put off watching WWE long enough since I wanted catch up from NXT Takeover Dallas onward, so I figured I'd see what was currently going on. And what I saw was some new faces like Jinder Mahal and Jack Gallagher which gave me good first impressions. I saw several familiar faces like Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Big Show, and Rusev, to name a few. And I found myself questioning why Samoa Joe and Bayley were on the main roster.
But the biggest reason I watched this was to see what they were doing with Goldberg. I had heard through the grapevine that Goldberg returned to WWE, so I opted to get an idea of how he's being utilized. And how do I feel about Goldberg's utilization? Well reason on through my assessment and find out.
Assessment Of Fastlane's match card
Our main show starts Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn. I enjoyed how Sami Zayn was the fighting underdog going up against the unstoppable monster that was Samoa Joe. I enjoyed seeing Sami becoming back for more after Joe does everything he could to put Sami down. Well not everything, as the match ends with Joe winning with rear-naked choke. This did well to make Sami Zayn look like a resilient hero, and Joe look like the destroyer of even the most resilient of men.
Next was Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The (Bullet) Club, Anderson and Gallows for the tag titles. Now not having watched RAW and WWE in so many months, I wasn't familiar with Enzo and Cass' feud with Anderson and Gallows, and thus thought Enzo and Cass were dead men. I watched the match expecting Enzo and Cass to just survive, but they did their best to hold their own against Anderson and Gallows. However despite how hard Enzo and Cass fought, Anderson and Gallows retained theta titles.
On a side note, wrestling fans on youtube expect Enzo and Cass to win the tag titles at WrestleMania in April, which makes sense given the build for this. Though a part of me thinks that won't happen because I'm not certain Enzo and Cass are over with the general audience.
Next up was Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax. The promo package prior to the match and while the match itself commenced, Nia was made to look an unstoppable monster, like Samoa Joe. She tossed Sasha Banks around like a rag doll, all the while I was rooting for Sasha. And while I'm glad Sasha won, I get that Nia should've won to maintain her dominance as a monster heel, but WWE seems dead set on Sasha feuding with Bayley for the title eventually. And I'll get to that in my assessment of the writing and build up of WWE after this assessment.
Next was Jinder Mahal vs. Cesaro. For starters I'm not surprised The League Of Nations was disbanded, as WWE gave them barely anything to do as a faction. But I'm curious as to why Cesaro and Sheamus are a team. And are they heels or baby-faces? But despite all of this confusion, I found myself rooting for Cesaro because I've been a Cesaro fan since he won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale at WrestleMania 30. But I didn't know who Jinder Mahal was, and questioned why he was paired with Rusev. But the match itself was good with a descent amount of energy with Cesaro and Mahal utilizing a myriad of holds and displaying their strength with a series of slams. But the crowd not being into the match would've effected me if I had've kept up with WWE until this point. Cesaro wins with a european uppercut, which made me happy.
Next was Big Show vs. Rusev, and was when the pay-per-view went down hill for me. It was slow and they barely did anything to show off their strength or agility. And that ending Big Show knocking out Rusev who was already slumped in a corner before Big Show pinned him. It was one of the worst matches of the night. We'll get to worst match at the end of the assessment.
Things thankfully picked up with CruiserWeight Champion (Adrian) Neville vs. the challenger, Jack Gallagher. This was the first time I saw Jack Gallagher, as my initial thought was:"Who's this dapper looking, pencil necked sucker? He looks like he'd get knocked out in one hit." Needless to say Mr. Gallagher is a walking example of "don't judge a book by its cover." The dude can throw a punch and take one too. It was impressive to see Gallagher utilize some of his MMA experience with getting Neville with some holds, ground and pound, and some vicious head-butts. And Neville as always is impressive with how he handled Gallagher. I also love Neville's "regally smug attitude" as "The CruiserWeight Champion." But the energy in this match was high, and even though Neville beat Gallagher with his red arrow summersault slam, I'm a Gallagher fan, and look forward to see what they do with him next.
The following match was Roman Reigns Vs. Braun Strowman, and I enjoyed this match as Reigns and Strowman did their best to make their match look as destructive as possible. I sadly enjoyed seeing Reigns strike Strowman with a spear and two superman punches, as Strowman stood tall and shrugged them off. I loved seeing Strowman drive Reigns through a table, and loved seeing Reigns win with a spear. Reigns and Strowman did their best to make this match look as destructive as possible with Strowman dominating Reigns, and Reigns doing his best to fight back. Though given the perception of fans online seeing Strowman's loss as a burial, I do hope Strowman's monster push continues with a feud against a promising baby face.
Next was Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair. I enjoyed this match, as Bayley and Charlotte work well together showcasing strength and agility. With spots like Bayley and Charlotte fighting on the corner post, Bayley's hurricanrana, and elbow drop, I nearly forgot I was watching a women's match. Which is an effect Bayley and Charlotte's matches have on me. Things were good until Sasha interfered and the ref didn't call for a D.Q. And while it was nice to see Bayley retain, it'd would've been nice had she gotten a clean win, or we'd have gotten a D.Q. finish to protect Charlotte's pay-pre view streak and Bayley's baby face image. But Bayley retains with a head scratching win.
And finally Goldberg vs. Kevin Owens, i.e. the worst match of the night! Now admittedly part of it was my fault as I never ever listen to predictions or news of WWE schedules. This is because I like to be surprised, and this surprise wasn't pleasant. The moment, I saw Goldberg make his entrance surrounded by security guards, that childhood WCW nostalgia set in. I then got hyped to see Goldberg and Owens have good strong man match, showcasing Goldberg's strength, and Owens' combination of strength and agility. But instead Owen's baits Goldberg outside of the ring for four minutes. And when Owens got into the ring, Chris Jericho's music hit, and his mere presence distracted Owens. This lead to Goldberg crushing Owens with a spear and jackhammer, before pinning Owens, and became the new Universal Champion.
I despised this because of how short and half-hearted this was. It was a championship title match treated like a circus clown act. It shows how little WWE cares about its titles and title matches. I should've expected Goldberg to be utilized so poorly, I can see why he was booked this way. Goldberg's body is broken down from his decade or two of wrestling, but that excuse this sloppy finish.
But next is my assessment of the writing of WWE, and I'll go into more detail of my gripes with title handling there.
Thoughts On WWE's story telling and build up
As alluded to in the previous segment of this review, I have qualms with WWE's writing and build of wrestlers. I get that pro-wrestling is scripted and predetermined, or "fake" as it's colloquially known.
Going back to Bayley, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, and Charlotte Flair's situation, I'm at a loss here. Nia Jax is supposed to be the virtually unstoppable monster heel that left destruction and broken bodies in her wake. Instead they decided to halt this progress by having lose to Sasha Banks at FastLane. My guess is so they can build up a feud between Sasha and Bayley at WrestleMania or after WrestleMania. I'm not sure why they wanted to rush matters in getting to a Bayley vs. Sasha feud. Especially they could've worked Nia Jax into the situation. Have Nia Jax crush Sasha, Charlotte, and Bayley separately, prompting an uneasy alliance which leads to a handicap match where they beat Nia only due to interference from Dana that is missed by the referee. Once that's done, it's back to business, as Sasha slowly grows to resent Bayley's popularity and turns on her when Bayley questions Sasha's consistent interferences in her matches. The interferences help to protect Charlotte who will eventually challenge Bayley after Sasha, or they could form an alliance like in NXT.
Then you've got Braun Strowman, who like Nia is built to be a virtually unstoppable monster. Yet, he loses to Roman Reigns. Granted, Strowman lost during a hard hitting and destructive fight, but to many bitter wrestling fans, it doesn't matter because of their disdain for Reigns. Not only that, but Undertaker is supposed to feud with Reigns. I don't think it would've hurt Strowman to get blinded by Undertaker, but no. Strowman loses clean, and I get it in that WWE wants to give kids a hero, and Reigns is that hero. For some reason heroes have to be unstoppable heroes, which is understandable, but unbeatable heroes get boring. And WWE's staff doesn't seem to get that, and I sadly get why.
It's a known fact that WWE's Executive Producer, Kevin Dunn hates wrestling. To clarify he doesn't hate being a producer, but wrestling. Word has it, Kevin Dunn aspires to be an Emmy winning producer, but feels that won't happen since he's producing wrestling. Why, well because as we implied earlier the common consensus is that wrestling is "fake." So Dunn refers to his job as "sports entertainment." This is why the feuds are rushed, and strong wrestlers get squashed. This also why title matches are treated like a joke. Where in boxing matches, and Mixed-MartialArts matches title fights are handled with a level of spectacle and grandeur that makes them feel important, WWE lacks that grandeur. As I said bout Goldberg and Owens' title match, it was handled like a circus act. They padded FastLane with Cesaro vs. Jinder Mahal, Big Show vs. Rusev, and the New Day unveiling their ice-cream cart. They didn't need to pd it out, and should've given the main event of Goldberg vs. Owens more time. But they didn't, and it's all because Dunn hates wrestling.
The problem too, is there exist a series that utilizes the "wrestling is fake" perception to near perfection, called Lucha Underground. Lucha Underground is a t.v. drama based around pro wrestling as its platform. As a result we get watch characters interact with each other inside the ring, outside of the ring, and with the crime syndicate that runs Lucha Underground. As a result we learn about the characters and get invested.
Now unlike Lucha Underground, WWE is a real world wrestling promotion that's existed for sixty-five years. There was a time where WWE was taken seriously, and still be taken seriously if WWE creative finds a sweet spot of making the narratives of these characters convincing and entertaining. If they manage to accomplish this feuds would be carried out to logical conclusions. Another thing they could do is get some input from the wrestlers on how they what to handle the feuds. But the execution implies of these pay-per-views that Kevin Dunn has a chokehold on the creative direction and refuses input from anyone else.
So bottom line, FastLane was lousy, but in the hands of a creative team that carries a knowledgeable passion for wrestling might've been better.
So what did you think of WWE's FastLane?
- WWE Fastlane 2017 results
Get WWE Fastlane 2017 results, video highlights, action-packed photos and more.
- WWE executive Kevin Dunn: Profiling the maligned, but fairly paid VP - Cageside Seats
A source that gives examples of Kevin Dunn detesting producing for "wrestling."
- Kevin Dunn (WWE VP) | Pro Wrestling | Fandom powered by Wikia
Kevin Dunn Kevin Dunn, a fixture at WWE for more than 20 years.