Tuesday, 23 February 2016

TV Review: WWE Fast Lane

It was the final pay-per-view stop on the Road to Wrestlemania, but did it deliver? That’s what I was hoping to find out by watching WWE’s Fast Lane, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with Divas action, with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch facing Naomi and Tamina.

It’s quite unusual to see two Divas matches on pay-per-view these days, and as far as quality goes this was a pretty decent affair. As expected Sasha and Becky didn’t exactly get along at first, and this played right into the hands of their opponents as both ladies took it in turn for the punching bag treatment.

Naomi and Tamina looked pretty good as a unit, especially when they doubled-up on Becky until the Irish lass got the hot tag to Sasha, who proceeded to clean house. This was when Sasha and Becky finally came together as the end saw Naomi tapping out to Sasha’s bank statement submission while Tamina fell prey to Becky’s armbreaker.

Title action followed as Dolph Ziggler challenged Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental title.

I really liked this one. What we had here was two of the top guys in the company putting on a hell of a back and forth encounter. It was jam-packed with action from start to finish, and the fans put it best with their “this is awesome” chant.

To say that both guys put in good performances would probably be an understatement. Everything they did looked great throughout as both men brought their A-games and came close to getting that elusive win on oh so many occasions.

But as the old saying goes in there end there can be only one winner, and that man was Owens, who finally took his nemesis down with a pop-up powerbomb for the title-retaining pin.

The big boys came out to play next as Bray Wyatt’s boys Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman went up against Kane, the Big Show & Ryback.

If you like watching six big guys beating the hell out of each other then this was the match for you. Mind you, it was quite entertaining, but then again, anything involving Bray and his boys always is.

The crazy so-and-so’s looked in decent form as they used first Ryback and then Kane for target practice. Surprisingly, Mr. Wyatt didn’t get involved as his boys put together some nice moves in their attempts to take the “old guard” down.

Sadly for them the old guard weren’t in favour of moving aside, and Kane’s return to his corner signalled the start of the all hell breaking loose segment as the bodies flew everywhere, especially when Show press-slammed Harper over the top rope. A few moments later it was all over when Ryback took Harper down with the shell-shock for the winning pin.

Then it was back to the Divas as Charlotte, accompanied by her old man Ric,  defended her title against Brie Bella.

If anyone was the emotional favourite on this night then it was definitely Brie Bella. It was a solid enough performance from both women here, although if I’m to be honest then the Divas tag match was a bit better than this one.

Charlotte put in another good performance as the hated heel here, especially after she’d dragged Brie through the ropes with those long legs of hers. Thankfully daddy Ric didn’t feel the need to put the lip-lock on anybody this month as Charlotte showed that she could do things on here own, more or less.

Brie’s spirited comeback saw her take to the top rope. However, this proved to be a little costly on her part when she injured her left leg after connecting with a dropkick. She managed to synch in the yes lock and a half-Boston afterwards, but she soon fell to Charlotte’s figure eight, giving the champion the submission win.

The match I wanted to see the most was next as A.J. Styles faced Chris Jericho.

I never saw their first two matches, so I don’t have anything to compare this match to, so with that being said I have to say that although this wouldn’t fit into the knock down/drag out file it was certainly a decent affair.

Styles looks as if he’s fitted into the WWE...err....style quite easily. The exchanges were crisp and the storytelling made sense throughout, although I don’t really hold with what our esteemed commentators when they portray Styles as the young gun and Jericho as the grizzled veteran. After all, there isn’t that many years between them.

Both guys came close to getting the win with their trademark finishers, with Styles making it to the ropes when locked in the walls of Jericho and Jericho kicking out after being taken down with the styles clash. However, Jericho fell just a few moments later when he tapped out to Styles’ new submission hold of choice, the calf crusher, and the stand-off and handshake that followed made perfect sense.

After a somewhat overlong Cutting Edge Peep Show thing with the New Day and the League of Nations it was on to the filler material of the evening as Curtis Axel took on R-Truth.

The filler material for the evening was a short but not to sweet affair with a few in-ring happenings, a ringside brawl between Goldust and the rest of the Social Outcasts, and Axel rolling Truth up for the pin, thanks to the slight distraction of Goldie throwing Adam Rose into the ring. Nothing more to see here.

The main event saw Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Paul Heyman guy Brock Lesnar fighting it out for a shot at Triple H’s WWE World title at Wrestlemania.

You know, this made me kind of forget that there wasn’t a WWE World title match on this show. All three of our protagonists played their part extremely well as they sought to book their place on the grandest stage of all.

Lesnar, as always, looked like an absolute monster throughout, while Reigns once again looked as tough as nails, capable of carrying the company on his shoulder once more, while Ambrose was at his nutty best, even finding time to give us the odd comedic moment or two.

The holy you know what moment goes to Lesnar, who showed just what an animal he is by taking powerbombs through two commentary tables and surviving. Mind you, the best exchanges came when the former Shield running buddies were going at it, and when they’d suddenly stopped their fighting to take care of their mutual foe.

Towards the end it look like Lesnar was going to win when he survived Reigns’ spear and immediately went for a kimura. It was only when Ambrose clobbered him with a chair that he released his hold, and the tide turned completely when he delivered several more chair shots to both Lesnar and Reigns.

But just when it looked as if the lunatic fringe had booked his place in the main event Reigns, much to the annoyance of many in attendance, took Ambrose down with a spear for the winning pin, earning a title shot and a staredown with the champion.

In conclusion – well, my first review after my recent heart operation has left me in quite a good mood, mainly because I thought Fast Lane was quite a good show.

Okay, I’m never that keen on having a WWE pay-per-view without a big title match, but this show definitely delivered what it set out to do. Each match achieved what it set out to do, and although many of you probably wanted different outcomes to certain matches this writer thinks they got it spot-on booking-wise.

As for my prestigious match of the night no-prize I’m going for the Lesnar/Reigns/Ambrose encounter, one of the most enjoyable triple threat matches I’ve seen recently.

So with all of that being said there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give this year’s Fast Lane the thumbs up.