Kurt Angle is here to catch us all up on everything we already know from the last few weeks, all with the goal of confronting Triple H for the punch he gave him the other week. Instead, Stephanie McMahon shows up to run Kurt down and suck away all of his heat and credibility. Kurt has a bit of back up, though, as Ronda Rousey shows up to continue her poor skills on the microphone and announce that she wants to face Steph at WrestleMania. Triple H finally arrives and Kurt pops him one and then ties him up in the Ankle Lock while Rousey slams Steph’s fake-tit-ass with a Delayed Samoan Drop. This started off slow and dull, as you’d expect, but picked up once Rousey arrived. She might not be great on the mic but that shouldn’t really matter; just have her say quick, simple things and kick ass rather than go off into soliloquies.
Asuka faces Nia Jax…again…and, once again, gets the upper hand despite Nia’s superior strength and size. I’m struggling with Asuka and the women’s divisions at the moment; if Asuka really is going to face Charlotte Flair instead of Alexa Bliss then couldn’t they have actually focused on her having not decided her opponent and maybe introduced the possibility of that? As it is, I assume that the build towards that will happen once Fastlane is out of the way and Nia will face Alexa out of pity as there’s no one left to challenge her.
Sheamus and Cesaro take on the Revival, with the stipulation being that the Revival will get a shot at the Raw Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania if they win. However, despite it being a really competitive match, they didn’t win so it’s still up in the air who the Bar will actually face. We could be building towards a really awesome three way between the Bar, the Revival, and the Club but, instead, I suspect that we won’t know the challengers until WrestleMania for maximum suspense.
John Cena shows up…wait…what? He’s supposed to have jumped to SmackDown! Live? He justifies it by saying he doesn’t want to be interrupted by the other guys in the WWE Championship match but that’s a pretty shit explanation. Instead, his rant about breaking Ric Flair’s championship record is interrupted by…Goldust? What is this, bizarre world!? Goldust takes on Cena in what was a pretty bland squash; Cena usually wrestles every match like it’s the main event but, here, Goldust didn’t even kick out of the Attitude Adjustment. I mean, rightfully so, but still.
Bayley and Mandy Rose go at it, with Bayley coming out on top, which was a massive surprise. Then she gets the shit kicked out of her by Mandy and Sonya Deville until Sasha Banks shows up to help her out. She goes for a hug, with one hell of a patronising look on her face, and Bayley shoves her away and leaves her bitch-ass behind. I mean, good for her! But isn’t it a little hypocritical and half-ass to only let Bayley win matches and look somewhat decent when she’s on the road to WrestleMania? As long as it’s at the detriment of Sasha, though, I’m all for it.
Elias signs his death warrant by facing Braun Strowman in a “Symphony of Destruction” match, which is falls count anywhere and involves a lot of musical instruments. Elias plays the cowardly heel, running away and striking fast, but it’s just padding as Braun smashes a bass over his head and the squashes him under a massive piano, leading to Elias being stretchered out. Great stuff for Strowman; isn’t it weird how the WWE can book a match like this on Raw between these two but couldn’t do anything similar for Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy?
Speaking of, Wyatt got an instant win over Rhyno (when’s the last time that happened?) and Matt Hardy appeared on the TitanTron to challenge Bray to face him at the Hardy Compound for the Ultimate Deletion. Thank God! we’re finally getting something interesting between these two! I get not wanting to blow your load right away but this feud has been dire without this crazy shite. However, as crazy as it sounds, I actually don’t believe that the WWE can pull this off as well as Impact Wrestling did. They were a much smaller stage with much less to compete with on the show, whereas the WWE just likes to screw stuff like this up.
The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas host the Mizzies, basically an excuse to rag on everyone who the Miz feels has been holding him down lately. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor interrupt and Miz throws some barbs their way and they all end up in a tag team match. So, finally, Balor and Rollins team up like I said they should’ve been doing all along. Although they seemed to gel quite well as a team, there’s some dissention but it doesn’t cost them the match; instead, Rollins tags himself in as Balor is going for the Coup de Grâce and lands the Blackout on Miz to win the match. Kurt Angle then officially books a triple threat between the three for the Intercontinental Championship for WrestleMania which, as long as nobody else gets added to it, could be an absolute show-stealer.
Universal Champion Paul Heyman pops out to talk some smack to Roman Reigns, basically saying that, as good and accomplished as Reigns is, he cannot defeat Brock Lesnar. Reigns shows up to promise that he’ll get all up in Lesnar’s face next week on Raw and wants a fight. This could go two ways; either Lesnar dominates Reigns to a chorus of cheers, or Reigns get the upper hand to a chorus of cheers and boos.
For a change of pace, Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riot open the show. Ruby promises to take the crown and be the new queen (what the fuck is she talking about?) and Charlotte’s all like “nah, mate”. Anyway, Randy Orton took on Jinder Mahal (with Bobby Roode on commentary and Sunil Singh at ringside) in another of their classic plodding, brain-numbing encounters. Oddly, Roode distracted the referee as Orton went for the RKO and Mahal landed the Khallas for another win over Orton. I guess it’s supposed to show Mahal as being a legitimate threat that Orton can never seem to beat him but it’s not really doing much for me. I’d love to say that I’d prefer Orton and Roode to be fighting one-on-one but, if Orton’s not motivated, he sucks the life out of everything.
Carmella finally shows her face again…and loses to Becky Lynch. So…um…remind me again when Carmella is going to do something with that briefcase? I’m all for a slow burn but she’s barely ever featured or talked about on television and the briefcase-holder should always get some kind of push once they win it.
And here comes AJ Styles, taking his loss to Cena last week on the chin and voicing his desire to defend against Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler interrupts, apparently having switched back to being an aggravating asshole, and they end up in a match. Ziggler has some fire under his ass at the moment, meaning that he was channelling more of his old self and this was a really good, competitive match…until Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens ruined it.
Luckily for us, SmackDown! Live’s top star, Shane McMahon turned up to turn it into a fatal five-way match by randomly chucking Baron Corbin in there. I honestly will never understand the point of a five-way match, or any match with an odd number of opponents that isn’t a triple threat but it’s the WWE’s signature match these days. Anyway, we basically got the Fastlane main event early so…why bother to pay for the event again? Either way, despite appearing to be on the same page, Zayn took advantage of Owens near the end of the match, landed the Helluva Kick, and surprisingly won the match. So, apparently, after what feels like a life time of losing and being treated like a chump, we’re supposed to buy Zayn as a potential threat because he might just underestimate you. I doubt it, to be honest, but I guess it adds some false drama into Fastlane.
Carmella and Natalya vs. Becky Lynch and Naomi
I guess this was set up on SmackDown! Live this week but I wasn’t really paying attention, to be honest. I also couldn’t give two shits about this match; I really fancy Becky but Carmella has to win, surely, if she lost this week, right? Nah, screw it, Becky and Naomi for the win.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev
This was also randomly set up in a backstage segment this week, which is pretty pathetic. Again, I would much rather have seen the WWE capitalise on Rusev’s renewed popularity and put him either in the WWE Championship match or the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship match and have Cena take on Nakamura as part of his desperate plan to have a path to WrestleMania. Cena could have lost to help put Nakamura over and fuel his desperation and Rusev would’ve gotten involve din some gold. Instead, we get this match where Rusev will probably lose (which sucks for him) and Nakamura will win but won’t get much out of it because it’s not a high-profile feud. At least they both made it onto the card, I guess.
SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ruby Riott
With Charlotte seemingly destined to defend the belt at WrestleMania, most likely against Asuka, this match kinda sucks. When the Riott Squad debuted, they should have been pushed hard as this dominating force taking out the competition across the show and leading to Ruby capturing the belt and putting a stranglehold on it that Charlotte could break at WrestleMania. Instead, Charlotte will retain and Ruby looks like a massive chump.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
And we’re right back where we started again. Don’t get me wrong, Big E might’ve impressed me the other week but I am not happy that this feud is being recycled as though there are no other competitors for the Usos. I wish we had seen the WWE capitalise on the popularity of Tyler Breeze and Fandango’s backstage skits and had them win the belts, only to get crushed by the Bludgeon Brothers and have them dominate the division until the freshly-turned Usos (or, better yet, the Ascension) dethroned them. Instead, the Usos will retain and, I guess, we’ll get a four-way match at WrestleMania, probably involving ladders, that Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable will randomly win.
WWE United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Randy Orton
I thought this was a triple threat with Jinder Mahal involved? Crap, now my rant about this feud looks stupid….just like this feud! I mean, what has happened to the United States Championship? The open challenge is apparently dead, Mahal is involved, Orton has sleep walked (slept-walked? Whatever) into a championship match, and Roode is being completely wasted and overlooked. SmackDown! Live has a really good mid-card division (Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Mike Kanellis, Tye Dillinger, Jinder Mahal, Dolph Ziggler, etc etc) that really should be given the opportunity to showcase their talent in this division. Instead, it’s directionless and bored Orton RKOing everybody like a asshole and Roode having to go through the motions of trying to force a good match out of him. I hope that Bobby Roode retains and we can start bringing Zayn and Dillinger into the mix on the road to WrestleMania.
Six-Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin)
Anyone else want to be in this match? How about Braun Strowman? The Undertaker? Kane? I think I saw Shawn Michaels wandering around out back if you want to throw him out there, too! Honestly, this match is a clusterfuck of nonsense; Cena should be facing Nakamura, he does not deserve to be in this match and is adding very little to it. The idea of Cena winning and then ruining the AJ/Nakamura WrestleMania match with his presence does nothing for me. I’d like to have seen either a triple threat between AJ, Owens, and Zayn, with a lot more dissension between Zayn and Owens and no shenanigans from Shane McMahon or Daniel Bryan, or maybe involve Rusev as I said before. As for Ziggler and Corbin? I guess it’d be lame to have them fight again so…maybe have Ziggler be involved in the United States Championship match (since he gave up the belt) but, whatever, this is the match we have. All I can say is that I hope to God that AJ Styles retains and everyone can fuck off out of the picture so we can finally start building towards Nakamura/Styles.