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WWE: FastLane and Raw Review- Here Comes The Money?
WWE held their last pay per view before WrestleMania on Sunday night, titled FastLane. This was supposed to set into motion plans for the biggest show of the year, but the following Monday Night Raw was even bigger in that respect. The top three matches are set, but there is plenty of debate to be had if any of the three will be any good. As of right now, only two full time performers will be featured. Let’s break down where the stories are heading into WrestleMania.
Kalisto ( C ) vs. Alberto Del Rio in a 2 of 3 falls match for the United States Championship
These two men really had a good match, considering how much they’ve been pitted against each other recently. Even though the match was on the Pre-Show, it was well worth tuning in early. Del Rio used an old tactic of hitting Kalisto with a chair to give away the first fall, then subsequently taking the second fall. Kalisto absorbed some punishment for awhile before stealing the victory. We weren’t given much of a hint of who Kalisto would be facing the next night on Raw, as he, Sin Cara and Neville faced the New day in a six man tag match. It would not be surprising to see Kalisto defend his title in a large scale Ladder Match that would include about six to eight wrestlers at WrestleMania. Hopefully the U.S. Title continues to be treated as a big deal.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Naomi and Tamina
The four ladies got a surprising opening slot on the pay per view itself and around 15 minutes to work. Becky sold most of the match before making the hot tag to Sasha. After some good back and forth, Sasha was able to apply the Banks Statement for the submission victory. Both Becky and Sasha are on a different level, and this point was made the next night on Raw. The champion Charlotte had a nice promo talking about why Sasha and Becky both wanting the title. We seem to be heading full steam into a Triple Threat between Becky, Sasha and Charlotte at WrestleMania which honestly could steal the whole show.
Kevin Owens( C ) vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship
Another pretty lengthy match, and again highly entertaining. There were a number of good near falls and both men looked good. It was nice to see there was an actual storyline reason for Dolph beating Owens recently on Raw. Kevin Owens has the tools for a serious run as a top heel, which WWE desperately needs right now. However, it appears Owens has settled into the top of the mid card. Fans will have to wait to see who Owens will be facing at WrestleMania, as Owens was not on Raw. Many fans are harboring hope that Owens could wind up facing A.J. Styles.
Wyatt Family (Braun Stroman, Eric Rown and Luke Harper) vs. Ryback, Big Show and Kane
It’s pretty sad to me to see two guys like Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper just be wasted time after time. Their talent level far exceeds the mid card fodder the other guys are at this point. Maybe even more sad was seeing the Wyatt Family actually lose this match. Bray is one of the best performers on the microphone and in ring the WWE has. Why should anyone take him seriously when he is constantly on the losing side? WWE clearly hasn’t known what to do with him for awhile, and has borderline wrecked his character. On Raw, the Wyatts did get their win back. Did anyone care that Ryback left his teammates to cost them the match? Was there any point to this feud whatsoever? Any of these characters have a long road to relevance, and it won’t happen in the next five weeks.
Charlotte( C ) vs. Brie Bella for the Diva’s Division Title
Daniel Bryan’s retirement is fresh on everyone’s mind, and I can’t seem to find much other reason Brie got this match then WWE hoped to ride the sympathy train. This was a very clumsy match that seemed to end with both ladies struggling to remember their ending sequence. Charlotte retained, and will be moving up to real opponents. It truthfully can’t happen quick enough. I sincerely hope Brie is not involved in a title match at WrestleMania.
Chris Jericho vs. A.J. Styles
The two men worked hard, but it became clear through the match that Styles is just on a higher level than this version of Jericho. That’s not a slight on Jericho; Styles is just one of the best wrestlers in the world. The most disappointing element of this match was Jericho kicking out of the Styles Clash. A.J. should have his finisher protected at this point, not kicked out of. Styles did submit Jericho, and Jericho gave Styles some respect after he lost. These two men tagged on Raw the next night. WWE saw fit to use these two guys to beat the Social Outcasts. Especially with all the injuries right now, Jericho and Styles need to be main event performers.
Edge and Christian host the New Day on the Cutting Edge Peep Show
Boy, the New Day sure did appear with Edge and Christian. There wasn’t much point to this past being a plug for Edge and Christian’s new WWE Network show(which is uneven, but does have some funny moments in the first two episodes). It would seem like New Day is in line to face the League of Nations. I’m not sure if there’s too many fans that will be overly excited for it. The League of Nations has four talented wrestlers, but hasn’t clicked once since forming. Odds are we’ll get a multi tag team match with teams like the Usos, Dudleys, League and New Day at WrestleMania. There had been rumors that popular NXT tag team Enzo and Cass would debut, but that will most likely be held for another month or so.
Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns for the #1 Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
This match summed up perfectly why some fans are so critical of WWE and Roman Reigns right now. He was clearly booed from the moment the crowd saw him. He was clearly the least popular man in the match. Yet, Reigns won and was forced upon the fans yet again. Not only did he win, he did it after barely selling chair shots that put Brock Lesnar down and out. The whole story makes no logical sense and hasn’t for about two months. The Authority doesn’t want Reigns to be champ; forcing him to defend his title at the Royal Rumble. Reigns loses to HHH at that event…only to be put in this very Triple Threat match by the Authority! Fans aren’t buying anything involving Roman. This was on full display on Raw. HHH ended the show by beating the tar out of Reigns, leaving him a bloody mess. The fans LOVED this, even though HHH is supposed to be the heel. The crowd chanted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” in rhythm of HHH smashing Reigns’ head off the announce table. It seems almost impossible to get the crowd behind Reigns in time for WrestleMania. There are even rumors that WWE may write off Reigns of TV until WrestleMania because they’re concerned he’ll be booed the next five weeks.
Lesnar and Ambrose had their moment on Raw as well. Brock jumped Dean in the parking lot before the show, sending Ambrose to the hospital. Paul Heyman and Lesnar came out later to complain about Ambrose costing Lesnar his title shot(although it was just fine for the Wyatt Family to cost him at Royal Rumble). Ambrose then drove an ambulance back into the building to confront Brock and goad him into a Street Fight at WrestleMania. The match should be good, but can Ambrose believably be pummeled by Lesnar for the next month plus? It seems like it could be a reach.
Finally, we’ve come to the biggest surprise WWE has pulled off in a long time. Shane McMahon returned after a six year hiatus from WWE, and nobody saw it coming. He came back to try and take back control of the company from Vince and Stephanie McMahon. Shane inexplicably agreed to a match that Vince got to choose when and who. Vince chose WrestleMania and Shane will have to face the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match. Now that the emotional high has worn off, let’s be logical here. There is real chance Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker will not happen as is laid out. There’s five weeks left and there could be twists still to come. However, Shane vs Taker as is will be nothing short of disaster. Both men are over 45 years old. Undertaker rarely preforms. Shane was never at any point a full time guy. Putting aside match quality, why will Undertaker take this match? Most fans will want to see Shane take control of the WWE. Will they root against the Undertaker? If the Undertaker loses, it will undercut him and Brock Lesnar breaking the Streak two years ago. The other alternative is heel continue to control WWE. It would certainly appear they boxed themselves in right now. WrestleMania is their Super Bowl, and there is no clear direction for the company right now. Sometime in the next five weeks, WWE needs figure out the answers to a lot of questions.