First thing’s first, FastLane was an iffy show. There were some questionable booking decisions, and at points, it was hard to watch. Braun Strowman and Charlotte both saw the end of streaks, and the show felt like a bad episode of Monday Night Raw. However, it wasn’t the worst pay per view ever, and here’s why.
When you watch a pay per view, there are a few things you expect. You want to see long, good matches, the conclusions of storylines, and maybe a surprise or two. Having said that, it’s easy to see why people hated FastLane.
Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn, Jack Gallagher vs. Neville, and Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns were easily the best matches of the night, but there was also just so much filler. It didn’t have the big pay per view feel, but guess what? It wasn’t supposed to.
FastLane is the last WWE pay per view before WrestleMania. It’s not supposed to be an incredible wrestling show, it’s supposed to set the table for the biggest show of the year. And ya know what? It did that, if it did so clumsily.
A lot of people were devastated about the main event, or the ending of streaks (more on that in a moment), but the thing I hated the most was the treatment of Handsome Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute had to brawl with Jinder Mahal before being murdered by the Big Show. I’m hoping that this means Rusev and Big Show are going to start a WrestleMania program or something, but I’m not optimistic. More on that here. Anyway, back to streaks.
This is a bit of a personal gripe, but winning streaks are overrated. In the history of wrestling, there have been two notable streaks. The first is the Undertaker‘s WrestleMania streak, which I loved and looked forward to every year. The second was Jimmy Havoc‘s losing streak in PROGRESS. Okay, I’m kidding, though I love me some PROGRESS, the second was Goldberg‘s original winning streak. Outside of those two, streaks are seriously overrated.
There’s a manufactured underdog story that comes with the streak, where a babyface overcomes the odds by finally ending someone’s streak. Whoever beats Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam (guessing), they’re going to get a serious push. They beat the guy that beat Goldberg and the Undertaker at WrestleMania. That person will immediately become a huge star, assuming they aren’t already, and also that their name isn’t Roman Reigns.
So while it feels like beating Charlotte’s pay per view streak at WrestleMania would’ve been a big moment, it really wouldn’t. If Charlotte hadn’t lost the belt at all, it would be a big moment, but frankly, her pay per view streak was kinda pointless. Nobody would’ve cared if the announce team didn’t bring it up constantly. And now that her streak isn’t the point of the feud, it can be about what really matters, the women wrestlers.
As for Strowman, losing might have been a blessing in disguise. Strowman has improved by leaps and bounds since debuting, and he’s bigger than his undefeated streak. It took a herculean effort from the strongest pushed guy in the entire company just to beat him. It’s not like he’s going to job to Sin Cara next Monday. So while I definitely had a repulsive reaction to the booking, both wrestlers might be better off without their streaks.
The Main Event
The main event happened exactly the way it should have. Everyone has their opinions about Kevin Owens and Goldberg, but frankly, the way it happened was the only way it should have happened. Goldberg has decimated Brock Lesnar twice, and for the last few months, we’ve seen Kevin Owens rely on heel antics to win matches. If Kevin Owens was more competitive than Brock Lesnar was against Goldberg, that would be terrible booking.
In fact, having Chris Jericho come out and distract Kevin Owens only helped the prizefighter. At least now he can say he was distracted, as opposed to the alternative where he would’ve just been fed to the WCW alum. Lesnar will almost definitely beat Goldberg at WrestleMania, and then we can move on. Not how I would’ve booked it, but then again, I don’t run a wrestling promotion.
There were three rumored returns for FastLane. The first was Finn Balor, back for the first time since the summer, perhaps to rescue Sami Zayn from Samoa Joe. The second was Undertaker, returning to interfere with Reigns vs. Strowman. And finally, some people thought Lesnar would come out and attack Goldberg after the match.
It’s actually a good thing that none of this happened. Nobody is sure if Seth Rollins will be back in time to wrestle against Triple H, and Balor might need to be substituted in. So it wouldn’t make sense to rush Balor back, especially if he’s not healthy.
It would’ve been nice to have Undertaker return and protect Strowman’s push a little, but we’ve seen it before. The iconic gong is an instant mark out moment, and sometimes these things just need to happen. I’m still hopeful that Strowman gets invovled in the Reigns/Taker match at some point, making it a triple threat.
As for Lesnar, it would’ve been a bad move. Whether you like it or not, Goldberg winning the title was a moment. A lot of people hated it, but even more didn’t, and having Lesnar come out and cheap-shot Goldberg would’ve killed the moment. Plus, he did it the next night anyway.
And finally, returns on pay per views are fun, but mostly pointless. The televised show exists to promote the big events, or in this case, the WWE Network. If someone is watching the show, they already paid for it or the network. When these guys return on Raw, it’ll be much more meaningful, and it’ll help sell WrestleMania.
This time of year, the WWE has exactly one thing on their mind, and that’s WrestleMania. The event is less than a month away, and every single thing that happens on WWE television is built around setting up the card. So how in the world do you book a show setting up WrestleMania cards without giving them away?
It’s impossible. And in efforts to prevent that, the WWE just spent the whole night trying not to trip over their own feet. Did they succeed? Was it a good show?
The Last Word
Was it a good show? No. For the third year in a row, FastLane was a crummy pay per view. It wasn’t anywhere near as fun as SmackDown Live‘s Elimination Chamber, and most of the matches could’ve just happened on Monday Night Raw. But to be fair, I think it did the best it could. It’s easy to play Monday morning booker, but things happened the way they did, and the show ended up being yet another speedbump on the road to WrestleMania.