Monday Night Raw is something of a mixed bag of late. While having the biggest names (and quite literally the biggest of wrestlers) to boast on the overall roster, the storylines and booking just don’t quite seem exciting and engaging as it’s rival in the blue corner of Smackdown Live. So it is with the last PPV on the road to Wrestlemania, Fastlane, it continues to stumble and fall over the finish line with an average show. With so much talent on hand, Raw has an incredible way of making the viewing frustrating, leaving for bland and uninteresting feuds. The length of each episode weekly is a huge factor, with some matches there just to fill time, have no real meaning or purpose, or just to get the wrestlers on the card. Even many matches we’ve seen dozens of times before. With Fastlane then, although the matches weren’t terrible, it might have helped if there was a bit more excitement and effort going into the build up. Maybe hoping to get past this PPV quickly and get back to more pressing matters? Such as The Showcase Of The Immortals?
Sami Zayn Vs Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe’s destructive debut on the main roster has been something the WWE needed. Slaying everyone in his path thus far, it won’t be long before The Destroyer takes on a more formidable opponent going into Wrestlemania. My guess is Finn Balor… but i digress. A little dig at Zayn from Joe in an interview claiming he’s just “happy to be here” set this match in motion. Again, not a very interesting start, but a few blindsided attacks from each superstar and here we are. A pretty simple affair at Fastlane, but a good one. Pretty much what we’ve come to expect from both wrestlers. Sami with the underdog character taking the heavy hits, and Joe dominating from the start. An impressive slide tackle from Joe using his upper body, and a hard knockout punch in the corner, was the highlight of the match showing his strength and agility. The man is quick for 280 pounds. A valiant Zayn tries to fight back throughout but Joe just too powerful, and with a slam in the corner to Sami intercepting a Helluva kick, and finally a Coquina Clutch to end the match, leaving Sami Zayn passed out in the ring. Joe continues his impressive path of destruction.
Enzo & Cass Vs Gallows And Anderson (c): Tag Team Championship Match
This was just a plain match. No thrills, no surprises. Although I am surprised Enzo & Cass didn’t leave the arena with the belts. Their popularity since debuting on the main roster has skyrocketed. Maybe they’re being held until Wrestlemania to win. Whenever they decide to be crowned champions though, they deserve it. Big Cass being the hot tag (that’s no surprise) wasn’t enough to conjure up a victory. Though they did come close with a nice team up with a Bada Boom Shakalaka, only for Luke Gallows to stop the pin from outside the ring. Chaos ensues outside the ring before a quick pin from Anderson, with Gallows clearing Enzo’s foot off the ropes for the victory pin. Too Sweet for the champs, bitter-sweet for the Brooklyn boys.
Sasha Banks Vs Nia Jax
Similar to Samoa Joe’s debut, Nia Jax has been bulldozing every woman she’s come across on Raw. Attacking Sasha Banks wherever she can, leading to this match to settle the feud. This was, again, a match that was just there and to maybe fill the card, this could have easily been a Kick-Off match. A predictable story in Jax dominating from the start with Sasha trying everything to come back. A Torture Rack from Jax just showing her strength. Swinging Banks like a rag doll, but then a quick roll-up from Sasha earns her the victory, much to Nia Jax’s surprise, and to mine. I think maybe creatively, Sasha needed this win more coming back from injury. This loss won’t hurt Nia Jax’s momentum though. She’s too powerful to be put on the shelf.
Jack Gallagher Vs Neville (c): Cruiserweight Championship Match
A very entertaining match. Neville has a new heel side which begs the question why he didn’t turn earlier before his injury. Naming himself The King Of The Cruiserweights, you can hardly blame him for his confidence, showing a nastier side to his aerial style. With a snarl coming to the ring, he maybe shouldn’t have taken Gallagher lightly. For behind that pasty, umbrella holding, tea and biscuit loving, ginger gentleman is a tough hitter, who, like Neville, has impressed coming into this match. It did not disappoint either. Gallagher showcasing his comic side holding himself upside down, stopping Neville in his tracks with his feet. Neville controlling the pace with his holds, showing his heel side not wanting to be flash. Gallagher comes back though with his offense, even flying through the ropes!! unlike him but throwing everything he has at Neville. Throwing each other of the top ropes, this literally could’ve gone either way. In the end, a rare Red Arrow seals Gallagher’s fate and the King, once again, reigning supreme and his Empire intact.
I’m not even going to waste a paragraph on the ridiculous promoting of New Day Pops so let’s move on.
Roman Reigns Vs Braun Strowman
The Monster Among Men and The Big Dog. It sure enough had a big fight feel. And it delivered. Strowman showing how much he has improved over the last year, looking a lot slimmer and a lot less clunky in his wrestling. Week in, week out he’s impressed. Not to mention he is a lot more confident on the mic. Showing no sign of slowing down his momentum, Braun could be an imposing figure in the WWE. Credit where credit is due for Reigns too, still rusty on the mic and not truly finding his way at the minute, when the big matches arrive, The Guy steps up to the plate. A brawl of a match, we expected no less, even sing the Spanish announce table to add to the carnage. Roman throwing everything at the big man but just could not knock him down. The true highlight of the match though comes from Strowman jumping off the top rope…. the top rope!!!! Never would he have done such a thing a year ago!! The confidence is just oozing out of him. A David and Goliath scenario in the end, and Reigns conquers the mountain with a spear.
Bayley (c) Vs Charlotte: Raw Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte and Bayley, respectively, have two great characters. Charlotte boasting of her naturally gifted abilities in the ring, and the true Queen of WWE. She truly is the best female wrestler to come out of the industry in over 10 years. And Bayley with the huggable persona, showing that any fan can fulfill their destiny if they go for it. Put these two attitudes together and you should come out with a few sparks. Sadly this feud hasn’t even created smoke. It just doesn’t feel as personal compared to Sasha/Charlotte a few months back. A few forced promos later, and we’re left with a lukewarm title match. Charlotte again showing her gifted abilities, in my eyes, the true champion. However, she gets surprised with Bayley’s comeback, leading to a back and forth affair. Just when it’s Charlotte’s for the taking, Sasha Banks comes to the rescue for Bayley. Not for the first time too. A Bayley-To-Belly outside the ropes, then a roll up from Charlotte, only for Banks to tell the ref she’s holding Bayley’s tights. Followed by another Bayley-To-Belly, and the champion retains. If only Dana Brooke was out at ringside eh, Charlotte? Either way, Stephanie McMahon is not gonna be happy with Mick Foley.
Kevin Owens (c) Vs Goldberg: Universal Championship Match
The one thing I look at when it comes to Goldberg matches, more than anything else when watching PPV’s on catch up, is the remaining time. If the show has less than 15 minutes to go, I know what the outcome is gonna be. Plus, considering it takes 5 minutes for Goldberg to walk to the ring, and then say another 2 minutes for the opponent to come out, and then the celebrations after, that only leaves around 5-6 minutes of a main event. Way too short. To make things even more frustrating, that 5 minutes was just Kevin Owens cowardly walking around the ring not wanting to fight. So it was 21 seconds after the bell rings, in the end, for limited Goldberg to use his 2 moves to become the new Universal Champion. Pretty poor. Not only has the shock factor already happened with Bill pinning Brock Lesnar in quick timing, but to do it again against Owens is just a waste of a main event. Jericho interrupting the proceedings leading up the loss for Owens was predictable too, considering Y2J has been off since his public humiliation from Owens. It was bound to be this night for him to return and kick-start their match for Wrestlemania. And judging by the end of this shambles, it could not come soon enough.
Rating 2/10 (2 points for the Jericho interruption… I love that man)
By George Millard