The SmarK Rant for WWE Fastlane 2021 – 03.21.21

The SmarK Rant for WWE Fastlane 2021 – 03.21.21

Live from the AWARD-WINNING, CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED Thunderdome, on Peacock!  Except for literally everywhere in the world outside of the United States, where it’s still on the WWE Network, thank god.

Your hosts are Michael Cole & the others

Women’s tag team titles:  Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler v. Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks

Yes, once again we strive to discover if the people who supposedly are feuding and fighting for a title can somehow co-exist to fight for another title unrelated to theirs instead of just finding other partners who they might actually get along with. Corey sums up the truly important issue here:  It’s about momentum on the Road to Wrestlemania!  Hopefully they don’t forget to create separation and point to the sign.  The challengers double-team Shayna in the corner and Bianca gets a handspring splash for two, and they manage to have a backslide go really wrong and then an Oklahoma roll also manages to go really badly.  Bianca is really talented but how do you not know how to do a backslide?   Sasha comes in and Nia beats on her for a bit, but Sasha comes back with a rana into a dropkick from Belair for two.  Nia misses a charge, but Shayna comes in and slugs Belair down for two, and Nia chokes her out on the ropes.  Elbow gets two and Shayna gets a knee in the corner for two and then goes to the armbar.  Nia gets a slam for two and goes to a sleeper, but Banks gets the hot tag and cleans house.  Double knees in both corners and she tries…something…on Shayna and they just kind of fall down and Sasha gets two.  Belair comes in with a 450, but Reginald takes the ref.  So Belair gets the KOD into Sasha’s knee, and that sets up the Bank Statement, but Nia breaks it up and everyone is out.  And so our challengers bitch at each other and Sasha sends Belair away, at which point Baszler gets the distraction rollup to retain at 9:51.  This was a MESS, as they were blowing stuff left and right and the finish was super-weak.  *1/2  And then Sasha officially turns on Belair afterwards and slaps her around, and will hopefully reunite with Bayley after this dull babyface run.  But first, Bianca POINTS TO SIGN.  Our first one of the night!  Unless there was something on the pre-show, I dunno.

Earlier today, Shane McMahon sadly has injured his leg and will be unable to sports entertain for us.  But then Elias bugs him, looking for a spot on the show to perform.

Intercontinental title:  Big E v. Apollo Crews

Apparently Apollo is now wanting to be from Wakanda and will be auditioning to be the new Black Panther when he’s done here.  They fight to the floor right away and Big E beats on him while verbally reinforcing that Crews wanted this particular ass-whooping.  Well that’s only fair, then.  He delivers a pair of splashes on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and back in for an overhead suplex, but Crews comes back with his own german suplex to take over.  Crews stomps him down and goes up with a frog splash for two.  Standing moonsault misses, but Big E misses a charge and Crews gets a small package, which Big E reverses to his own cradle for the pin (?) at 5:50.  The announcers aren’t really clear on what happened there and it didn’t look very good, but Crews lays him out and attacks him afterwards so they conclude that Big E won.  Very short and heatless match.  *  Luckily, Crews remembers to do his Nigerian accent while laying the badmouth on E afterwards.

Meanwhile, R-Truth loses and then regains the 24/7 title to the guy in the Old Spice commercial.

Braun Strowman v. Elias

Hey, remember when they feuded a couple of years ago and Strowman was hitting him with giant instruments and shit?  Good times.  Shane had dumped green slime on Braun to set up their match, so Braun is extra angry, because GREEN SLIME.  And so he tosses Elias around and sends him to the apron for a trip to the ringpost, and back in for some clubbing forearms.  Elias bails and Strowman follows him out for a gentle shoulderblock into the railing, which Tom Philips says is “OBLITERATING ELIAS!”  But then Elias Jr. distracts Braun and Elias takes over with a flying elbow, trying to create his own Road To Wrestlemania, but that only gets two.  Strowman throws him around some more and finishes with the powerslam at 3:50.  Total squash.  *  However, don’t despair, because things are far from over between Braun and Shane!

Meanwhile, Matt Riddle tells Nakamura a rambling story about his former bro Skeeter, who was a skater.  Oh man, can’t wait to see them fight for the US title now!

Seth Rollins v. Shinsuke Nakamura

Nakamura chases Seth to the floor right away and gets a spinning kick for two, but Seth kicks him in the knee and goes to work on him.  They head to the floor and Rollins follows with a knee, and back in with a knee for two.  He continues working him over in the corner and a backbreaker gets two.  Seth chokes him out on the ropes while bitching about getting swung 22 times by Cesaro, and so he tries his own swing, but Nakamura blocks him with an armbar attempt and Seth bails to escape.  Nakamura fights back with a kneedrop on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and makes the comeback in the ring as Corey reminds us that this is the final stop on the Road to the Showstage of the Immortal Granddaddies or whatever.  They head to the floor and Rollins hits him with a dive and then back in for a sling blade that gets two.  They slug it out and Nakamura escapes the buckle bomb and comes back with a german suplex, but he walks into a buckle bomb and Seth DOES THE DEAL with a falcon arrow for two.  Rollins goes for the curb stomp, but Nakamura counters with the landslide for two.  Rollins counters the Kinshasa and finishes him with the curb stomp at 12:55.  This was a pretty decent half-speed Nakamura match but Seth continues to be the most boring heel on TV.  **3/4

No Holds Barred:  Sheamus v. Drew McIntyre

They slug it out and Drew clotheslines him to the floor, but Sheamus trips him up on the apron, so Drew suplexes him on the floor.  Drew runs him into the post, but he stops to throw some kendo sticks in the ring and Sheamus returns the post shot.  Drew whips him into the stairs and stomps him, but Sheamus beats on him with kendo sticks in the ring and makes him bite the bamboo.  I mean literally, not even like some weird metaphor.  Drew fights back with a headbutt and uses the kendo stick for some abuse and follows with a White Russian legsweep.  They fight to the floor again and Sheamus smashes him into the stairs and they head to the announce desk, where Drew throws him off and into the railing.  Into the non-crowd and they slug it out some more before Sheamus gets a suplex on the floor and they head up behind the screens and fight on the aisle up there.  Must suck for the people in the first couple of rows who can’t see them fighting there behind the screens.  And then Drew tosses Sheamus into a row of screens and breaks them.  I know there’s obviously ridiculous limitations right now, but that kind of spot just looks so phony and contrived in this setup.  Back to ringside, where Sheamus gets a Brogue kick to buy some time.  Drew fights up, so Sheamus puts him through the announce table with White Noise.  Back in the ring, Sheamus finds a piece of the desk and they trade finisher teases, but Drew hits the DDT and finishes with the Claymore at 19:44.  Felt a bit long and the layout was weird, like they were supposed to be having a Last Man Standing match and had to adjust it to being a No Holds Barred match at the last minute instead, but it was hard-hitting and entertaining most of the way aside from the walking slow spots.  ****

Randy Orton v. Alexa Bliss

Really, this is a thing that’s actually supposed to be happening?  Sadly for Randy, he starts puking up black slime while doing his corner pose and that’s probably going to affect his cardio late in the match.  Did he get the vaccine recently and have a bad reaction to it, I wonder?  Alexa counters the lockup attempt with a wall of fire and then dodges a charge, as Orton bumps to the floor off that.  She magically causes a light standard to fall and nearly crushes him with it, but that misses.  Back in, she gives him what appears to be an adorable Hadouken, which gets Orton so distracted that he doesn’t notice a hand poking through the ring, which appears to belong to the charred remains of Bray Wyatt, as he’s now a literal movie monster, having the crossed the line into becoming an cartoonish unkillable demon like Jason or Marjorie Taylor Greene.  And he hits Sister Abigail to give Alexa the pin at 4:45.  I’m not even gonna give them the satisfaction of losing my shit over this nonsense.  -****3/4 I won’t even give the full negative monty because that’s what they WANT.

Universal title:  Roman Reigns v. Daniel Bryan

Bryan shoots for the leg and Roman retreats to the ropes to break.  They fight for the knucklelock and Daniel takes him down with a slick reversal into an armbar, but Roman makes the ropes again to escape that.  Bryan teases him with some leg kicks, but Roman takes him down with a headlock to settle things down again.  But Bryan escapes and goes after the hand with some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION, forcing Roman to put the boots to him to escape.  Bryan goes back to the arm, so Roman beats on him with clotheslines in the corner and cuts off a comeback with a tilt-a-whirl slam for two.  Roman goes to work on him and hits a snap suplex for two, but Bryan fights back and so Roman goes to a chinlock.  Bryan bails to the apron to escape and Roman slugs him to the floor and runs him into the railing, but Bryan fights back again and so Roman runs him into the post for two.  Snap suplex gets two.  Roman runs him into the corner, but misses a charge and Bryan throws the kicks and tries a top rope rana.  Roman casually blocks that and walks him down into a Boston crab, but Bryan reverses into a cradle for two.  They collide and both guys are down, but Bryan fights up first and sends him to the floor.  Bryan tries a dive, but Roman catches him, so Bryan sends him into the post and hits a running knee off the apron.  Back in, Bryan hits a springboard knee and goes up with the missile dropkick for two.  He makes the comeback with the Yes kicks, but Roman catches him by the throat and slugs him down in the corner.  Bryan has disrespected the big dog and is paying for it!  Bryan shoots for a double leg and Roman stuffs it and tries for the guillotine, but Bryan escapes and gets the head kick for two.  Bryan puts him down with the stomps and moves into the Yes lock, but Roman goes for the ropes, so Bryan wraps up the free arm and moves him to the middle of the ring to reapply the hold.  But Roman powers out one more time and beats him down with elbows, setting up a powerbomb for two.  Bryan blocks the spear and then accidentally bumps the ref with the running knee, and Roman spears him, which brings SPECIAL ENFORCER Edge in for two.  The count is not to Roman’s liking as everyone keeps disrespecting the big dog tonight and so he takes it out on Bryan’s face, but Daniel traps him in a triangle and then switches back to the Yes Lock again, but then Jey Uso runs in and superkicks everyone to break it up.  You’d think this would be a DQ, but apparently not, and Daniel Bryan chases him off and ends up with a chair.  But then he hits Edge by mistake, going 2 for 2 on taking out referees tonight, and Roman hits him with the superman punch.  Daniel gets ANOTHER Yes Lock, and this time Roman taps, but Edge beats on both guys with the chair now and walks out, leaving us yet again with a referee.  So we get a THIRD referee and Roman gets the pin at 30:03 to retain.  And we’re probably headed towards a three-way at Wrestlemania now, but this was an excellent match so I’m glad they’re keeping Bryan in the mix.  ****1/2

I wouldn’t call it a must-see show, like at all, but the main event was well worth going out of your way to see and the Drew-Sheamus match was hard-hitting as well, so that’s a thumbs up as long as we pretend that the match in between them didn’t exist and NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN.