The SmarK Rant for WWE Fastlane 2019 – 03.10.19
Live from Cleveland, OH
Your hosts are Michael Cole and friends.
Smackdown tag team titles: The Usos v. Miz & Shane McMahon
And the most unnecessary PPV of the year kicks off with the most unnecessary rematch! Even though they don’t do mandatory rematches any longer. Shane starts with armdrags on Jimmy and Miz joins him for some double-teaming in the corner. Jey comes in and walks into a Miz boot for two, and Miz gets a sunset flip out of the corner for two. Hart Attack gets two for Shane. Pretty soon that’ll be his literal finisher. Shane gets cut off by the Usos as the commentary is all centered on Miz’s dad as a part of a storyline I’m not following and don’t care about. Jey beats on Shane and we go to a chinlock as they keep him in their corner and Shane gets redder and redder. Shane comes back with a hurricane DDT that that looks like a dying fish bellyflopping onto the beach, and it’s hot tag Miz. Knees in the corner on Jimmy get two and Miz dumps both Usos, then follows with a crossbody to the floor. Back in, short DDT on Jimmy gets two. Jimmy rolls him up for two and Jey blind tags in for a samoan drop that gets two. Miz fights them off, but walks into a superkick and Shane has to save. Usos double-team him as well with a samoan drop, but Miz gets the skull crushing finale on Jimmy for two. Miz works on the leg while this crowd is just molten for him, but Jimmy sends him into the post and Jey comes in to set up a Doomsday Device. Miz fights them off again and cradles Jey for two, and they fight to the top before Miz goes down hard. Shane then pops in for the Coast to Coast, but Jimmy stares him down with a flying splash attempt, and they collide in mid-air for an amazing highspot. Miz decides to go up with a frog splash at the behest of his dad at ringside, but lands on Jey’s knees and gets pinned at 14:14.
Indeed. Poor decision-making from the Miz there thanks to some bad fatherly advice. And then Shane breaks up the post-match conciliation hug by turning on the Miz to finally advance this stupid story somewhere. So Miz loses in his hometown in front of his dad, and then Shane turns on him and beats the crap out of him as well. That’s the kind of push for Miz I can get behind! Match was way better than the Rumble one thanks to a super hot crowd and Miz working the whole thing. *** I’m not still not on board with babyface Miz, but this was an effective turn for Shane.
Also, another nice touch is that the announcers didn’t incessantly talk over the angle for once, letting it play out and then doing the analysis.
Meanwhile, Corbin and his geeks do a selfie promo backstage. Thankfully we don’t have get any word bubbles popping on the screen.
Elias is here to sing a song about Wrestlemania and goes for mondo cheap heat by promising to hang out in LA with Lebron.
And that’s the whole segment. OK then.
Smackdown Women’s title: Asuka v. Mandy Rose
With Charlotte and Becky off on RAW doing stuff full-time now, Asuka has pretty much cleaned out the women’s division by forfeit. Case in point, MANDY ROSE? Rose tries a headlock and Asuka takes her down and goes for the leg, then hooks an anklelock and Sonya interferes about 3 times in a row to distract her. Mandy takes over with a suplex and goes to an abdominal stretch while Corey is nearly whipping it out at ringside. Asuka reverses to her own abdominal stretch, but Asuka gets distracted by Sonya AGAIN and Mandy reverses out with a slam for two. Asuka fights back with a high kick and the hip attack in the corner trying to pick up the pace and get SOMETHING out of Rose. Mandy comes back with a knee strike for two and tries her finish, but Asuka fights out, but Sonya interferes AGAIN, this time tripping up Mandy by mistake, and Asuka gets the pin at 6:44. Well that was a bit of a disaster. Mandy is just not ready for this spot. * And then I guess Mandy and Sonya are breaking up, too. New stipulation: EVERY TEAM BREAKS UP TONIGHT!
Meanwhile, the New Day finally gets in to see Vince, who has been waiting for over an hour to see Kofi, apparently. Big E and Xavier make their pitch for Kofi. So Vince makes the title match into a triple threat, RIGHT NOW.
WWE title: Daniel Bryan v. Kofi Kingston v. Kevin Owens
No, correction. Apparently it’s a handicap match and not for the title and the New Day is barred from ringside.
Kofi Kingston v. The Bar
So yeah, Vince is apparently just trolling everyone now and Vince is fucking with the New Day because reasons. Kofi evades both guys, but they double-team him and beat him down in the corner. To the floor for more punishment, but Kofi fights back for a bit before running into a Cesaro forearm and the Doomsday Device. Brogue Kick, but Cesaro picks him up at one, at which pint the New Day runs in, gets cut off by Rusev, and the White Noise finishes at 5:15. A literal waste of time that was only there to troll the audience. So…mission accomplished, I guess. ½* You know, there ARE other stories to tell besides “Babyface gets screwed over by the McMahons”.
Elias returns with another song, this time insulting Kofi and the Browns.
And then we get a RECAP of the tag title angle at the beginning, just to fill MORE time in between all the commercials. In case you were flipping over to YouTube or something for the past hour and missed it.
RAW tag team titles: The Revival v. Ricochet & Aleister Black v. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable
The NXT guys all slug it out to start and we get some gymnastics from Black & Ricochet to clear the ring. Gable starts with Ricochet and Ricochet gets a handstand rana and dropkick, but Dash tags himself in and the Revival double-team Ricochet for two. With the RAW commentary team now joining the show after an hour of the tolerable Phillips & Graves, we now have Renee wrecking the match with “OOOH!” after every move. How do people listen to that for three hours on RAW? Gable comes in with a snap suplex on Ricochet for two. Dawson suplexes him onto the top rope and drops elbows, into a back suplex for two. Corey: “If you’re upset that other people are getting the opportunities you think you deserve, maybe you don’t deserve them after all.” That’s like the most Vince philosophy statement I’ve ever heard. Ricochet finally makes a hot tag to Black, who goes to work on Roode with kicks and a springboard moonsault. Roode comes back with the spinebuster, but Black goes up with the double knees. And then everyone comes in with flying splashes and Ricochet gets a shooting star press on Dash for two. Revival goes after Ricochet in their corner, but he dodges them and goes up. Dawson cuts him off and they fight on the top, which results in a rana that puts Dawson onto the pile of guys on the floor. Didn’t quite get all of that one, but kudos for the effort. Looked like Dawson slammed his own neck into the apron, though. Back in, Dawson wisely rolls away from Ricochet, so Ric fires himself over the ringpost with a dive onto Roode instead. That’s ridiculous. What laws of physics? Back in, Shatter Machine on Gable finishes out of nowhere at 10:49 in an anticlimactic ending. Fun but way too short. ***1/2
US title: Samoa Joe v. R-Truth v. Andrade v. Rey Mysterio
Remember, there are no contractual rematches in WWE, but this just happens to be exactly the same match from Smackdown where Joe won the belt. Joe clears the ring to start and hits everyone with a dive. Back in, Joe throws chops on the Mexican half of the match and Andrade gets two on Rey. Truth with a dropkick on Andrade for two after getting rid of Joe, but then Rey comes off the top with a rana on both guys in a cool spot. I have to question the physics there, but it looked cool. Joe demolishes everyone again. Thought for the day: When they called up the Enzo/Cass/Carmella team from NXT, who would have bet that only Carmella would be the last one standing? Joe tries a powerslam on Rey and gets DDT’d as a result, but Rey goes up and gets cut off by Andrade. This sets up the Tower of Doom spot, with Rey hitting a rana on Andrade off of Truth’s shoulders for two. Joe clears the ring again, but Andrade hits him with a missile dropkick and gives Rey the Three Amigos. Rey reverses that for two, so Andrade goes with the Gory Special and Truth quickly breaks it up. He gets some offense and then Joe cuts him off, so Andrade hits Joe with a dive to the floor and then Rey goes up and hits Andrade with a rana to the floor. Vega gets involved with a superkick on Truth, so Mella stands up for her man and they scrap on the floor. Back in the ring, Joe hits Rey with the uranage for two in the chaos, but the others save. Andrade with the hammerlock DDT on Rey for two, but Truth saves there. Andrade hits Joe with the running knees and Truth makes the JOHN CENA COMEBACK with the five knuckle shuffle on Joe (Corey: “You know, he’s six years older than Cena…”) for two. Joe gets good and pissed again and gets rid of Truth, but Rey hits the 619 before missing the Dime, and the choke finishes him at 10:49. Best match of the show thus far with everyone working their asses off while Truth continues his unlikely AARP comeback run. Hopefully I’m still that spry at 65. ****
Women’s tag title: Sasha Banks & Bayley v. Tamina & Nia Jax
No way they’re following that US title match. Nia no-sells a bunch of stuff and the mean girls work on Bayley in their corner, with Tamina hitting a superkick for two. Samoan drop gets two. Tamina with a chinlock, but Bayley fights out and makes the hot tag to Sasha. Cross body on Tamina and a running knee gets two. The heels botch a double-team samoan drop and it’s back to Bayley for knees on Nia in the corner. Tamina misses a charge and hits the post, and the champs hit dives and double-team Nia for two. Nia tries a powerbomb on Bayley and she reverses to a rollup for the pin to retain at 7:10. Just a match. *1/2 And then the heels beat down the champs afterwards, which draws color commentator Beth Phoenix out of the chair to save. So then they beat HER down until Nattie makes the save, and she gets beaten down as well. Gotta get HEAT. No buys for any of this.
WWE title: Daniel Bryan v. Kevin Owens v. Mustafa Ali
This whole show is just leaving me confused. What a convoluted way to get Ali into the match. Because Vince said the title match would be a triple threat, but never specified WHO would be the third guy. So clever. Haha.
The crowd immediately chants for Kofi, which is probably what they’re trying for, but why screw over the paying customer to get there? Owens chops both guys, but Ali fights back with a dropkick for two and dumps Bryan for a dive. Owens follows him out there with a cannonball on both guys and I guess he’s a heel now? I’m a little lost to be honest. Like, are we supposed to be booing Owens for taking Kofi’s spot? Back in, Bryan dropkicks Ali off the top and into the railing for a sick bump. Bryan works on Owens with the kicks in the ring and throws Ali out of the ring again. He gets the Yes kicks on KO for two, but Ali saves. Bryan hits him with the kicks for that, but Ali comes back with an X-Factor until Bryan cuts him off with a clothesline. Bryan misses a blind charge and Owens cannonballs both guys in the corners and then drops Ali onto Bryan with a senton. Hey, they’re working for the crowd’s approval, I’ll give them that. They set up a Tower of Doom spot, but Ali takes out Owens and then brings Bryan down with a Spanish Fly to the floor. 054 misses on Owens and the KO Stunner gets two. Bryan escapes another Stunner attempt, but walks into the Pop Up Powerbomb for two. They head to the apron and Owens tries a powerbomb out there, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, but Bryan fights out and then hits the post. Back in, Ali hits him with a 450 onto the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and that gets two. Rowan gets involved and the babyfaces take turns superkicking him and send him into the post, followed by Owens hitting him with a dive. Bryan hits Owens with the double knees and they head back in, but Ali cuts Daniel off and hits him with a tornado DDT to the floor. Yikes. Owens then gives Ali the apron powerbomb, but Rowan gets his revenge and takes KO out, then puts Bryan on top of Ali for two. What a sequence! Bryan slaps Ali around, but he goes up for a crossbody, and Bryan hits him with the Yes Knee on the way down and gets the pin at 18:11 to retain. Well they certainly got through the Kofi backlash and turned that one into a great match. Like, that match was on the way to the graveyard and they did an Undertaker zombie situp and turned it into a classic. ****1/2
Becky Lynch v. Charlotte Flair
The storyline here is that Becky is basically fighting on one leg and she has to win to get back into Wrestlemania. Soooooo…why not just have Charlotte win the Rumble and then have Becky need to fight to get added? How does it make sense to have Becky win and then immediately screw her out of the title shot and then go back on it two weeks later? They slug it out and Charlotte goes right to the knee. Charlotte with the half-crab as she stays on the leg, and Cole claims “Becky has needed a crutch for months to just hobble around!” She just won the damn Royal Rumble a few weeks ago! Why do we even need the stupid knee injury angle? So people will cheer for Becky? Charlotte beats on her in the corner and then clips the knee to cut off a Becky comeback. Becky with a small package for two, but Charlotte slams her again and Becky bails. Back in, Charlotte continues beating on her, but she goes up and Becky shoves her to the floor. Back in, Becky tries the Disarmer, but Charlotte reverses to the figure-four and Ronda runs in for the DQ at 8:33, so Becky is added to the three-way and that’s that. Well that was cheap and stupid. Like, if they didn’t have this needless PPV, they wouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops to get to Wrestlemania. *1/2
Elias is out to sing another song and I really hope this is going somewhere. So Elias gets all happy about not getting interrupted all night and bids us good night, but then Lacey Evans interrupts, walks out, and leaves again. And with Elias distracted, it’s RKO OUTTA NOWHERE. And then AJ Styles comes out and hits him with a forearm. Well that was certainly some fun stuff that happened.
OK, back to the commercials and recaps so we can stretch this show out to 3.5 hours for whatever reason.
The Shield v. Bobby Lashley, Baron Corbin & Drew McIntyre
I don’t really feel like reuniting the Shield with a week of build against these mooks is a particularly worthy main event. It also makes Seth look like a secondary guy when they should be building towards the Brock match. Everyone brawls to start and the Shield clears the ring. Lashley pounds on Rollins in the corner, but Seth hits the sling blade. Olive Garden Server comes in and Rollins runs him into the turnbuckles and it’s over to Ambrose. ‘Member when they spent weeks building up the reunion of Ambrose and Rollins a couple of years ago and teased it and teased it and then delivered a huge payoff? And now we’ve got six weeks of storyline crammed into one show with a hasty Shield reunion and Ambrose is suddenly just a babyface again after turning on his team and mocking CANCER. Next up, Roman goes against Drew and wins a slugfest, and the babyfaces double-team him for a bit. Rollins gets caught in the heel corner and Lashley works him over on the floor and back in that gets two. Over to Corbin with an elbow to set up a chinlock, but Rollins fights back with the enzuigiri and makes the hot tag to Dean. Ambrose with a rollup on Drew for two and he clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a diving elbow to polite applause from the crowd. Gotta say, this match has a shocking lack of heat, although not shocking when you consider the heel side. Back in, Lashley spears Ambrose for two. Drew with the Claymore kick and Dean lands on the floor, but beats the count at the last second. So then Dean gets the heat and the heels go to work on him as this is basically a dark match main event on PPV. McIntyre with a suplex for two. Ambrose goes up and Lashley brings him down, but Dean gets a neckbreaker and then hits the lariat on Drew. Hot tag Roman and he cleans house with the usual as the Shield puts the heels on the floor and Rollins & Ambrose follow with stereo dives. Roman tries his own, but Corbin catches him with the Deep Six, which is probably the drink he’s working on while moonlighting as a bartender. They slug it out and Corbin sends Roman into the post for two and hits a chokeslam for two. Meanwhile, the other four all wander around the floor and fight in the crowd. Back in the ring, Roman hits Corbin with a powerbomb for two. And then Rollins dives off the balcony in the stands and hits the heels, which doesn’t seem wise four weeks before Wrestlemania, but he’s the professional. Corbin blocks the superman punch once, but tries his sliding clothesline and Roman hits the second attempt for two. But then they take too long setting up their Shield powerbomb and Corbin hits the End of Days for two. So the heels prep the tables outside, but the Shield cuts off their powerbomb attempt and we get more brawling as everyone spams their finishers on the floor while the camera SHAKES AND ZOOMS. Vintage Bucky Beaver! Shield Powerbomb for Drew through one table, leaving Corbin alone in the ring. And he takes all three finishes from the Shield, before the powerbomb finishes at 24:50. And it’s one last celebration for the Shield until the next time they haul them out of mothballs to make a quick buck! Match was every Shield six-man main event we’ve ever seen. ***
Overall, a pretty easy show to watch and an easy thumbs up, even if I was ready to call it a night after the Becky-Charlotte match. We’ll probably all forget it by next week but it’s worth checking out. It’s a good thing the guys (and girls) are talented enough to overcome the ridiculous overbooking, though.