WWE delivered its final pay-per-view earlier Wrestlemania, and while the show wasn’t perfect, there were a number of highlights from Fast lane.
The Fiend returned, Drew McIntyre fought Sheamus throughout the ThunderDome, and Edge appears to have turned heel for the first time in more than a decade. Also, despite the desperate decision to make them lose a match again, Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair are now ready to begin a memorable build for Wrestlemania. Overall, this show, which marked WWE’s debut on Peacock, did its job in sparking interest in Wrestlemania—And put the pieces in place to add Daniel Bryan to the Edge-Reigns main event next month.
Here are the results of the program:
– Matt Riddle defeated Mustafa Ali to retain the United States Championship in the pre-show.
– Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to retain the Women’s Couples Championship.
– Intercontinental Champion Big E defeated Apollo Crews
– Braun Strowman defeated Elias
– Seth Rollins defeated Shinsuke Nakamura.
– Drew McIntyre defeated Sheamus
– Alexa Bliss defeated Randy Orton
– Universal Champion Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan.
Here are my takeaways from the final pay-per-view before WrestleMania:
The main event was Roman Reigns against Daniel Bryan for the Universal Championship.
The first story saw the power of Reigns too much for Bryan’s fighting prowess. After a back and forth fight, with Bryan always finding a way to stay one step ahead, he finally locked the Yes Lock, looking for Reigns to tap, just as he promised to do. When it looked like Reigns was going to break the grip, Bryan applied the grip in the center of the ring, but Reigns eventually used his power to break the grip.
To no one’s surprise, the referee was knocked out at the end of the match, accidentally taking the brunt of Bryan’s knee. With the umpire down, Reigns hit Bryan with a spear, and Edge, the match’s special enforcer, came in to count the pinfall, which was a count of two. Bryan continued to have an answer for everything Reigns did until Jey Uso stepped into the ring and surpassed Bryan and Edge.
Bryan eventually recovered, knocked out Uso with a steel chair and then went to hit Reigns with the chair. Reigns moved, causing Bryan to hit Edge instead. Bryan then locked the Yes Lock in again, causing Reigns to hit, but instead of winning the match, control was broken when Edge, in an apparent heel turn, struck Bryan and Reigns with a steel chair. Bryan ate most of the shots from the chair, and Reigns then rolled on him to win.
The final sequence was well executed. Bryan proved that he could force Reigns to tap, the tension between Edge and Bryan escalated and the story was told well enough that there is a way to include Bryan in the main event of Wrestlemania.
Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair were unsuccessful in their bid to become women’s tag team champions against Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. There was dissension after the game, with Banks and Belair blaming each other for the loss.
With just under a month to go, Banks has incredible potential to defend the Raw Women’s Championship against Belair in WrestleMania 37. This story must now be completely removed from Reginald, Baszler, and Jax.
Banks is a bona fide star, and Belair is tending in exactly that same direction. Vince McMahon needs to have faith in these two stars to carry the game with a legitimate story, which should be “Who’s better?” between the two competitors. That’s a fantastic narrative, especially for two of the best fighters in the industry.
Also, why isn’t this match headlining one of the two nights of Wrestlemania? If men Royal rumble The winner has the opportunity to lead, then the same opportunity must be extended to the winner of the female category. Rumble.
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus faced each other in their no-holds-barred match, which ended exactly as it should have, with McIntyre hitting a Claymore Kick for victory.
The pregame video pack helped detail the history of McIntyre and Sheamus, who have a history that stretches back nearly two decades. To its credit, the match maintained a high intensity physical pace for over 19 minutes. And even more credit goes to Sheamus, who is racking up losses in the last three weeks but has maintained his credibility through a fierce display of in-ring work.
My only problem here was that the Wrestlemania the title shot against Bobby Lashley was not at stake. Especially with McIntyre winning, why not raise the stakes even higher? The match was fulfilled, but that additional stipulation would have made it mean even more.
The Demon returned at Fast lane, providing the highlight of the Alexa Bliss-Randy Orton encounter.
In a match that could never have happened in front of a live audience, Bliss won after a burned-out Fiend hit Sister Abigail in Orton, and she pinned him for the pin.
This show has had too many nuances of Papa Shango putting a curse on Ultimate Warrior. Still, it’s nice to have The Fiend back on WWE programming and it will at least be a date to hear their first promo after being off camera for three months.
Big E hired Apollo Crews to retain the Intercontinental Championship. After the game, Crews beat up E, assuring that the show will continue.
Crews and E work very well together. If this match is destined for a rematch, I hope a lot of attention will be paid to the build. They have already met four times in the past two months, and Crews has continued to fail in their bid to win the title. Especially considering that you are developing your new character, why not warm it up with a series of victories? Combined with tonight’s post-match beating, this would provide a solid reason for a rematch at Wrestlemania.
The pre-show included a very entertaining match between Matt Riddle and Mustafa Ali. Riddle won the fight, retaining the United States Championship. The fallout saw Ali’s Retribution disband, with Reckoning and Slapjack walking away from Ali, and Mace and T-Bar chokeslamizing their former leader.
The pay was never audience related, although the talent involved deserves credit for keeping this alive since August. Why would you ever saddle such talented artists with ridiculous, cartoonish tricks?
Ali is one of WWE’s top talents and hopefully there are big plans for him to move on.
Shane McMahon was “injured” and did not fight, but was replaced by Elias in a match against Braun Strowman. This accomplished two goals: showing Strowman in Peacock, as he really is a physical specimen, as well as saving the McMahon-Strowman fight for Wrestlemania.
Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura put together an excellent fight, the kind of fight that would have risen to an even higher level with a live crowd.
Rollins won the game, which makes sense. He should keep getting wins, which will add even more meaning when Cesaro defeats him in Wrestlemania. This would be a great use of Rollins, and it will be particularly interesting to see if the live crowd gets behind Cesaro and propels him to the next elusive level.
Fast lane by no means set a new standard of excellence in professional wrestling, but served as a setter of the table for WrestleMania 37.
Daniel Bryan now has a legitimate complaint as to why he is not in the Wrestlemania Main event. It looked like Edge was spinning like a heel when he hit Bryan with a barrage of gunfire from the chair, and considering his current comeback hasn’t resonated with audiences in the most massive way expected, this could be a refreshing change of pace.
A critical piece that moves forward will be the narrative. Will Banks and Belair get a chance to tell the story they want? Can The Fiend help make sense of your angle? There are so many variables that target Wrestlemania, including why Bayley does not yet have a singles program and whether Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will be given the time to highlight their rich history. With a live crowd in attendance for the two-night event, we’ll hear organic reactions from the crowd, which will provide a much better gauge than the manufactured ThunderDome as to which wrestlers are poised for stardom in WWE.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.