The SmarK Rant for WWE Fastlane 2018 – 03.11.18
(Originally written 03.11.18)
Live from Columbus, OH
Your hosts are Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton & Corey Graves
Rusev v. Shinsuke Nakamura
Weird choice for an opener. It is indeed a fortuitous coincidence that this show falls on Rusev Day, and hopefully they won’t be so heartless as to job him out on his own day! Rusev takes him down with a throw for two and goes after the arm, but Nakamura drops a knee for two. Rusev slugs him down while the crowd does a very enthusiastic dueling chant for them, but Nakamura dances away and wants it brought on. So Rusev bails for some advice from Aiden English. That advice? “Marry into a wrestling family.” More stalling from Rusev as they continue to fight against the babyface turn, but Shinsuke hauls him to the apron and drops a knee on the neck, there on the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, Rusev clobbers him on the way into the ring and beats on him outside to take over. Rusev with the chinlock, but Nakamura rolls into a leglock to escape. Rusev drops him with that spinning uranage that Big Cass uses (something something New York reference?), and that gets two. Back to the chinlock for Rusev, but Nakamura comes back with kicks and the knee in the corner for two. Rusev powers out of a guillotine attempt and turns it into a fallaway slam and a head kick for two. Nakamura with a rollup for two and a spinning kick from the mat, but Rusev counters the Kinshasa with the high kick for two. This sets up the Accolade, but Nakamura escapes, hits a pair of Kinshasas, and Rusev Day is over at 14:25. Mostly dull, but the crowd was hot and they had a couple of good near-falls at the end. ***
US title: Bobby Roode v. Randy Orton
Apparently this feud is centered around the Top 10 list, which tells you all you need to know about how much anyone cares about it. And really, it’s all just leading to Jinder Mahal interfering to set up a three-way at WM anyway. They do some rasslin’ on the mat to start and neither guy gets anywhere with it. Orton catches him with a back elbow and tries the RKO, but Roode bails to escape. Orton, by the way, is really starting to look his age as his hair grows in again. 2017 was not kind to him. They slug it out and Roode tries the DDT, but now Orton bails to escape. Back in, Orton suplexes him onto the top rope for two, but Roode gets a clothesline for two. And we hit the chinlock as the bored crowd chants for Byron Saxton. Roode comes back with a neckbreaker and a clothesline from the top, but Orton reverses the DDT into a rollup for two. Orton makes his comeback with the usual stuff, but Roode hits a blockbuster for two. They fight to the apron and Orton brings him in with the draping DDT. And he’s going to that place, and that place is Wrestlemania, the showcase of the Immortals, the grandest stage of them all, and then the Hall of Fame, creating separation! Roode takes him to the floor and they fight out there, but Orton suplexes him on the barricade and gets two. They fight to the top and Roode powerbombs him down for two. Back to the top and this time Orton crotches him and brings him down with a superplex for two. Roode gets the spinebuster for two. And then RKO OUTTA NOWHERE finishes and Orton wins the US title at 19:25. So now he’s held all the titles and won everything. Jinder Mahal comes in for the post-match attack, but Roode saves and then lays out both guys with DDTs. This whole thing was a snooze from start to finish with no heat and no real point. **
Meanwhile, let’s go back and watch all the Ronda Rousey stuff again to waste a bunch of time. Seriously, what did that have to do with anything?
Meanwhile, Sami once again pledges allegiance to KO.
Naomi & Becky Lynch v. Carmella & Natalya
So we get 10 minutes of video recapping the Rousey storyline, but this doesn’t even get a video package? The announcers are now pointing out that Carmella has held the briefcase for nearly a year with no cash-in, which again makes me ask: Why the fuck did they even give it to her in the first place? If you don’t have an interesting story to tell with it, just make up a stipulation and get it onto someone else. Becky has weird new gear that looks like something a 70s woman wrestler would wear. Becky controls the bad girls with armdrags and Naomi comes in with a running slap on Natalya for two. She misses a blind charge and Natalya gets an atomic drop, but Naomi comes back with a stunner and goes up. Nattie brings her down with a powerbomb for two. The heels get the heat on Naomi while Nattie keeps telling the silent fans to shut up, and it’s time for a chinlock. Carmella holds Naomi in the corner by the hair, and back in for two. Hot tag Becky and hits the exploder and goes up while the camera shoots from behind Carmella’s ass on the apron for some reason. Naomi comes in and puts Carmella down with a high kick, and Becky gets a legdrop for two. They just mess up all kinds of shit and can’t get into position for whatever they’re doing, until finally we’re left with Becky on top and Carmella getting a headscissors for two. Carmella asks for the briefcase, but Becky knocks Nattie off the apron, but then walks into a superkick at 8:53 in a lame finish. This was like house show level and again had zero heat. *1/2
Meanwhile, the New Day auditions as hosts of the Nickelodeon Kid’s Awards to waste even more time on this show.
Smackdown tag titles: The Usos v. The New Day
Have we not seen this enough times already in the past year? And now we get cartoon writing overlaid on the screen during the New Day entrance, because I guess this is now a thing they do. Xavier and Jimmy slug it out to start, but Woods walks into a superkick from Jey. The Usos stomp away in the corner and Jey goes to the chinlock, but Kofi comes in and throws dropkicks and the crowd is just really dead. Boom Drop sets up the kick, but Jey blocks it. Kofi cleans house and hits Jey with his own corner butt splash, but Jimmy comes back with his own Boom Drop. He tries Trouble in Paradise, but misses, and the Usos recover with the Midnight Hour on Kofi for two. This is so weird and meta. Like, it’s a serious tag title match where they’re just goofing on each other? Jimmy misses a corner splash and Xavier gets a hot tag and no-sells a superkick, then gets a bunch of his own. So then the New Day does the superkick into Kofi’s flying splash for two as we continue with the silliness. And then New Day goes up for the stereo splashes, but the Usos send them to the floor and follow with dives. And then with everyone down, the Bludgeon Brothers just come down, complete with entrance and graphics, and it’s a DQ at 9:00. And then they lay all five guys out and leave. This was a lot of silliness that turned into hot garbage, another pointless match in a series of them and a lazy finish. I just really hated the whole “Ha ha we’re stealing each others’ entire moveset” story because it turns the entire thing into even more of a videogame than it already is. *
And then we get MORE unrelated video packages, with a recap of Roman Reigns v. Brock Lesnar thus far.
Smackdown Women’s title: Charlotte Flair v. Ruby Riott
Apparently this is the payoff for the “Riott Squad” storyline that died weeks ago. Ruby works a headlock to start, but Charlotte runs her into the corner and takes her to the floor. The Riott Squad mysteriously appears at ringside to provide distraction, and back in Ruby hits the kick that is apparently her finisher, for two. Charlotte bails, and Naomi & Becky come out to chase off the heels. Back in, Ruby with a suplex, but Charlotte gets a slingshot suplex. Ruby gets a senton for two and goes to a chinlock that turns into a surfboard, and an STO for two. She goes up for another senton and misses, and Charlotte goes up and gets shoved into the railing by Ruby. Ruby tries the most ridiculously gentle suicide dive ever and misses, and Charlotte gets a sloppy moonsault off the railing, and back in for two. She goes up and Ruby cuts her off again and gets a rana for two. Ruby does the SHOCKED EXPRESSION at that two count, but no one in the crowd gives a shit. They trade chops and mess up a backbreaker spot, but Ruby cuts her off AGAIN and the heels trick the babyfaces into running into the ring like idiots, resulting in everyone getting thrown out. And then Charlotte comes back again and slams Riott’s head into the turnbuckle, then finishes her with the spear and figure-four at 13:41. Took way too long to get where they were going. And if the storyline was going to be Naomi & Becky backing her up, wouldn’t it have made more sense for the tag match earlier in the show to be Naomi & Becky v. Riott Squad? ** And then, finally, Asuka debuts on Smackdown to challenge her for Wrestlemania so we can finally get where we knew we were going weeks ago.
Smackdown World title: AJ Styles v. Kevin Owens v. Sami Zayn v. John Cena v. Dolph Ziggler v. Baron Corbin
John Cena spams his finisher on everyone to start until only AJ remains, so that’s the matchup we start with. They slug it out and AJ escapes the AA, but now everyone else recovers and goes after Cena. John’s “Hold on now fellas, let’s talk about this…” reaction is pretty funny, and he gets beat down and thrown out. Everyone fights on the floor and AJ rolls up Zayn for two and then counters a KO powerbomb into a rollup for two. He blocks the Helluva Kick with an inverted DDT for two, but Kevin saves and beats on AJ in the corner. They fight to the top and Corbin saves AJ, but Ziggler lays him out and then Owens flies off the top with a splash on Ziggler for two. AJ with a Pele on Owens, but he gets backdropped to the floor and suddenly it’s finishers from everyone until Dolph hits the fameasser on Cena for two. Cena reverses the superkick into the STF, but AJ runs in and saves. Styles Clash on Cena gets two, as Sami saves this time. Corbin tosses him and hits KO with his rebound lariat, and then hits AJ with the Deep Six before fighting with Ziggler into the crowd. They both go through the penalty box glass and appear to be done for a while. Back at ringside, Owens preps the announce tables, but he spends too much time talking shit and gets kicked down by Styles. Then Cena swoops in and puts AJ through the table with an AA. Back in, we’re left with Sami v. Owens, and Sami decides to lay down as promised. And then Kevin decides to turn on him when he’s down anyway, and the fight is on. KO tosses him into the railing outside (Some guy at ringside: “Do it HARDER!”) and tries an apron powerbomb, which is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING, but Sami backdrops out of it and goes to yell at Shane instead. And that leads to Shane taking a superkick from KO, and then Sami hitting the ringpost DDT on Owens. Back in, Sami tries the Heluva Kick, but KO superkicks him and then powerbombs Ziggler for two, as Shane pulls out the ref to save. Sami with the Kick on Owens, and Shane stops THAT pin as well. Now that’s just inappropriate. Next up, Corbin brings in the stairs and hits people with them, but Cena steals them and destroys Corbin with an AA onto them that gets two. Ziggler with a superkick, but Cena hits him with the AA. Owens with a powerbomb on Cena, but Styles hits the forearm on Owens out of nowhere and gets the pin to retain at 25:00. Total chaos, but it worked spectacularly well and was at least very much worth watching the show to see. ****1/2
A totally forgettable and inconsequential end to brand-specific PPV shows, finally setting up the stuff we realistically knew about weeks ago. Definitely give the main event a watch, however. The entire show was boring, but nothing was too bad and the main event was fantastic, so that’s a thumbs up in the Network era.