WWE PPVs CALDWELL'S WWE FAST LANE PPV RESULTS 2/22: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Bryan vs. Reigns, Cena vs. Rusev, Sting-Hunter confrontation, final PPV before WM31
Feb 22, 2015 - 10:00:12 PM
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WWE Fast Lane PPV Report
February 22, 2015
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Live PPV First Hour
The PPV opened with a video package highlighting the top matches of Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns and John Cena challenging Rusev for the U.S. Title.
Live inside FedEx Forum, pyro and fireworks shot off and Michael Cole noted they are at the final PPV stop before WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler's music played to kick things off with a six-man tag match.
Ziggler was joined by Erick Rowan, then Ryback. As John Cena's Fired Friends made their way to the ring, Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler were shown on-camera to introduce the show from ringside. A few words from the Spanish announce team, Big Show's music played to bring out the first member of Team Authority. Kane joined Show on-stage, acting chummy despite their recent issues. Seth Rollins's music played next to bring out Rollins and J&J Security.
1 -- THE AUTHORITY (BIG SHOW & KANE & Mr. MITB SETH ROLLINS w/Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) vs. JOHN CENA'S FIRED FRIENDS (DOLPH ZIGGLER & RYBACK & ERICK ROWAN) -- six-man tag match
Ziggler and Rollins started things off with a basic feeling-out process, then Rollins bailed out of the ring when he saw a superkick coming. The announcers mentioned Rollins's issue with Jon Stewart from last week, then Rollins returned to the ring to fight Ziggler, who answered with a dropkick. Rowan tagged in and worked over Rollins.
Show then tagged in and the pace slowed considerably as the two big men battled. Show tossed Rowan over the top rope to the floor, where Rowan tried to respond with a spin kick, but Show moved and Rowan crashed knee-first into the ringpost. Rowan sold a knee injury as Show stood over him and gloated.
Back in the ring, Show worked over Rowan as the crowd chanted for Ziggler. The heels continued to work over Rowan's leg/knee as Ziggler tried to rally the crowd. Rowan finally escaped Show, but Rollins stormed the face corner and knocked Ziggler off the ring apron. He turned around and took a kick from Rowan, though. Rowan then crawled across the ring to tag in Ryback.
Ryback ran over Rollins, but missed a big splash. Ryback responded with a big powerbomb, then clotheslined Kane running into the ring. Ryback wanted Shell-Shock on Rollins, but J&J hit the ring to provide a distraction. Rollins nailed a kick to the face, but Ryback kicked out of a pin.
Reset at 11:00. Rollins tried a top-rope move, but Ryback moved. Rollins then jumped right onto Ryback's shoulders, leading to Shell-Shock. But, Show hit the ring and squashed Ryback with a big splash. Both Rollins and Ryback sold on the mat until tags were made to Ziggler and Kane. Ziggler shoved Kane into Big Show, then planted Kane with a DDT. He then ran across the ring to give Rollins a Fameasser. But, Show KO Punched Rollins from outside the ring behind the ref's back. Kane then covered Ziggler for the win.
WINNERS: Team Kane at 13:01. I don't think anyone in the pool had Kane scoring the pin in this match. Standard six-man tag fare that was more about setting up the post-match... (**1/2)
Post-match, The Authority put another beat down on Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan. "Randy Orton" chant from the ringside fans. Suddenly, Randy Orton's music played. The crowd was just a little early. Orton, in wrestling gear, hit the ring and cleared the heels, including an RKO to Noble, then a super RKO to Mercury. Orton wanted an RKO on Rollins, but Show pulled Rollins out of the ring. So, Orton gave Kane an RKO as Cole shouted about Orton back for revenge on Rollins, who tried to end his career months ago. Rollins was shown running out of the arena to the parking garage, wanting nothing to do with Orton.
Poll Result: Congratulations to the 32-percenters...
Video: WrestleMania 31 is 35 days away.
Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL talked on-camera about pot holes on the Road to WrestleMania. Cole fed to a video on the implosion of the Rhodes Bros.
Locker Room: Dusty Rhodes walked up to Goldust to discuss facing Cody Rhodes - or Stardust. Dusty said he's broken up about this, so please don't hurt Cody. Goldust said he's not facing his brother tonight, but Stardust, so he has to beat him so badly that he never wants to put facepaint on again. Goldust said he has to get Cody back tonight. Dusty hugged Goldust and said he loves both of them.
In-ring: Stardust f/k/a Cody Rhodes was introduced sporting a new look of blue & silver facepaint, no shirt, blue & black & white pants, and white boots. Stardust entered the ring and did his poses before Goldust was introduced to the ring. Before the bell sounded, JBL went through the history of brothers fighting each other - Harts, Funks, Briscos, Steiners, Harlem Heat.
2 -- GOLDUST vs. STARDUST (f/k/a Cody Rhodes)
Basic feeling-out process, then the crowd taunted Stardust with "Cody, Cody" chants. Cody and Goldust reversed Tombstone attempts, then Goldust teased the Director's Cut, but Cody slipped out of the ring and recovered on the floor as Dusty Rhodes watched backstage. More "Cody, Cody" chants as the announcers debated what's wrong with Stardust.
Cody returned to the ring, where Goldust set up Cody for a globes shot in the corner, but Cody slipped out of the ring again to boos. Cody ran back into the ring and cut off Goldust before stomping on him in the corner. On the floor, Stardust roughed up Goldust before taking him back into the ring and continuing the attack. "Who's your favorite?" Cody tauntingly asked, directing the question to Dusty through the ringside camera.
The crowd picked up a "Goldust" chant to try to rally behind the older Rhodes brother. Cody lost focus teasing his finisher, and Goldust suddenly rolled up Cody and scored a quick three count. The ref called for the bell as Dusty sold mixed emotions watching backstage.
Post-match, Goldust tried to grab Cody's hand and get him back in the fold, but Cody pulled away and left the ring. WWE replayed the finish, which showed a very close three count. The announcers noted it does not seem like anything was resolved, but neither Rhodes Bro. got hurt, to Dusty's relief.
WINNER: Goldust at 8:55. Basic match that came across like Chapter 1 of the in-ring story. (**)
Announcers: Cole and Co. reviewed the Seth Rollins-Jon Stewart back-and-forth from last week.
Backstage: Goldust was shown talking to Dusty about winning the match, but trying not to hurt Cody. Stardust interrupted, saying apparently he wasn't invited to the Family Reunion. Cody threw Goldust down to the ground as Dusty yelled at him to stop. Cody blamed Dusty for killing Cody Rhodes when he sent him this "bag of bones" relic (Goldust) to carry around. He said he's no longer living in their shadows and he will surpass Dusty. Cody stormed off as Dusty called for help for Goldust.
In-ring: WWE tag champs The Usos were introduced for the next match. Naomi joined them for the Tag Title defense. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and Natalya were next and WWE subjected viewers to another viewing of the double-date-gone-wrong that set up this Tag Title feud.
3 -- WWE tag champs THE USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO w/Naomi) vs. TYSON KIDD & CESARO (w/Natalya) -- WWE Tag Title match
Cesaro and Kidd took turns working on Jimmy early on. Cesaro then put Jimmy in a one-legged Big Swing, settled into a half-Boston Crab, and tagged in Kidd to inflict more punishment. But, Jimmy shoved Kidd down on the floor, allowing him to tag in Jey. Butt splash to Cesaro, then he climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Cesaro ran over to the corner and tackled the top rope to crotch Uso. Kidd then tagged in and landed a springboard elbow on Uso for a close two count.
Kidd wanted the Sharpshooter, but Uso shoved him away. Kidd tried a reverse huracanrana, but the Usos executed a blind tag that allowed them to block. Chaos everywhere in and out of the ring. Kidd suddenly found himself on an Uso's shoulders, leading to a running Samoan Drop into the barricade.
Back in the ring, Uso tried a top-rope move on Kidd, but Kidd got his knees up to block. Kidd flowed into a pin, but Uso kicked out. Kidd followed with a Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Uso held on, then Jey superkicked Kidd in the head to break up the hold. Cesaro and Uso scrapped, then fell out of the ring. Craziness here.
Reset, then Kidd smashed the injured Jimmy Uso with a fisherman suplex/neckbreaker. Kidd covered Jimmy for the win and the camera went to Natalya, who celebrated the win before entering the ring to join Kidd and Cesaro. The new tag champs celebrated on the way out as Naomi tried to work on Jimmy's injured knee in the ring.
WINNERS: Kidd & Cesaro at 9:33 to capture the Tag Titles. The match walked a fine line throughout of a good vs. bad frenetic pace. Overall, the match felt a bit all over the place. (**1/4)
Live PPV Second Hour - Sting vs. Triple H
WWE aired a video package on the Triple H-Sting issues over the past few months leading to their face-to-face confrontation tonight.
Back in the arena, Triple H's music played to bring out Hunter dressed for a fight. No suit. Tonight's attire was a t-shirt, black leather jacket, taped fists, and jeans. In the ring, Hunter noted he was confronted by the greatest of all-time last Monday on Raw, Ric Flair, and he pushed Ric and he regrets that. He apologizes to Ric, but he does not apologize for what he said last week. Hunter said he stands in the ring tonight not as the COO of WWE, but as the heartbeat of WWE. He said he stands in a WWE ring, in a WWE arena, as The Game and King of Kings. He shouted that he's waiting for Sting.
Long pause. No sign of Sting. Suddenly, the crow noise played. A video played, then Sting emerged on-stage to a loud reaction. Sting, dressed in his Wolfpac-themed trench coat, stood on the stage before marching down to the ring to stand opposite Hunter, who backed away a bit as Sting took the middle of the ring. Sting and Hunter paused to listen to the crowd.
Hunter spoke first. He said he knows why Sting is here, and he feels sorry for him backing the wrong horse, WCW. He said Sting was a loyal soldier to WCW and he was WCW. And when the time came, Sting went down with the ship, which he admires and respects. But, the reality is guys like him (Hunter) made that ship go down in the first place. He said his legacy is making legacies like Sting's go away.
Hunter said he gets it that Sting tried to put him and his wife out of business at Survivor Series in November. Because without the McMahon Family, WWE dies. But, that plan failed. Hunter said he guesses failure is what Sting does. No reaction from Sting. Hunter said he can give Sting his legacy back. He said Sting can leave with his head held high and they can do business together. If he walks away, his legacy goes on. Hunter said he will make sure Sting's legacy lives forever through WWE Network. Through DVDs. Through merchandise. Hunter circled Sting as he listed all of the legacy opportunities. Hunter said he'll even put Sting in the Hall of Fame.
Hunter removed his jacket and went back to standing opposite Sting. Or, they can do it the other way where Sting sits there with his look on his face and continues to disrespect him. Hunter vowed to beat the legacy out of Sting, erasing him from history. "Gone like you never even existed," Hunter threatened. Hunter said he's not going to wait long for a decision. No response from Sting. Hunter said he thinks Sting has made up his mind. Hunter tried a cheap-shot, but Sting saw it coming, blocked, and pounded Hunter with a right. Hunter suddenly popped Sting with a right hand, then beat him down. "I gave you a chance!" Hunter shouted.
Hunter left the ring, then went under the ring to retrieve his sledgehammer. Hunter returned to the ring, where Sting met him with his customary baseball bat. Sting put the bat underneath Hunter's chin, backing him to the corner as Hunter held his hand sup in the air. Hunter tossed the hammer down out of the ring, then Sting slowly backed away before pointing to the WrestleMania sign atop the arena with his bat. "Yes!" shouts from the crowd. Hunter made a move, so Sting shoved the bat under Hunter's chin again. Sting re-pointed to the WM sign, then Hunter mouthed some trash-talk, so Sting put the bat under his chin again.
Sting appeared to get his acceptance, so he started to leave the ring. Hunter tried to attack him from behind, only to take a baseball bat jab to the gut. Hunter sold on the mat, then Sting scooped him up and delivered a Scorpion Death Drop. Sting pointed back to the WM sign before leaving the ring as Cole speculated on whether this match is actually going to happen. JBL tried to hype Sting vs. Hunter as a dream match for years, basically as a surrogate for Sting vs. Undertaker.
Poll Result: Congratulations to the 50-percenters...
Locker Room: Daniel Bryan was shown stretching for the main event against Roman Reigns.
Announcers: Cole and Co. hyped WWE Network as it nears its one-year anniversary. Cole also thanked Sky for making this PPV available in the U.K. market. They transitioned to a review of events on the pre-show when Paul Heyman appeared on Miz TV. And, on the pre-show, Heyman said Brock Lesnar will not lose to Bryan or Reigns at WrestleMania.
In-ring: Paige, back in her standard ring gear, was introduced first for the Divas Title match. The Bellas were out next for Nikki to defend the belt. Lilian Garcia flubbed, calling Nikki the WWE Women's champion.
4 -- Divas champion NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie Bella) vs. PAIGE -- Divas Title match
Nikki controlled the action early on and maintained control after dropping Paige on the back of her head. Paige made a comeback, but could not get a three count on successive pin attempts. Nikki came back with a running powerbomb, but only got a two count. She could not believe it. Paige tried to come back with the PTO, but Nikki slipped out. Paige lost her focus and walked into Nikki dropping her head-first on the bottom turnbuckle. Nikki rolled up Paige for the win.
WINNER: Nikki at 5:34 to retain the Divas Title. Even on PPV, they only got a few more minutes than a standard TV match. Mainly because PPVs and Raws feel so similar these days with a lot of filler/videos/on-cameras in-between matches.
Announcers: Cole and Co. hyped Vince McMahon's appearance on the Muscle & Fitness cover. They babyfaced McMahon trying to take lessons from the weight room into the board room. Cole transitioned to a discussion of the Academy Awards tonight, where Divas Cameron and Eva Marie were part of the red carpet pre-show on E!.
Cole then relayed breaking news - Triple H vs. Sting is official for WrestleMania 31. JBL offered the see-through hype of this being a battle between icons of WWE and WCW.
In-ring: Dean Ambrose was introduced first for the Intercontinental Title match. IC champion Bad News Barrett was out next, prompting a replay from Raw when Ambrose forced BNB to sign the title match contract.
5 -- IC champion BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. DEAN AMBROSE -- Intercontinental Title match
Barrett worked over Ambrose early on as the crowd sat quietly. They rallied behind Ambrose, but Barrett big-booted Dean out of the ring to the floor. BNB tried to toss Dean back into the ring, but Dean reversed momentum and clotheslined Barrett to the floor. Back in the ring, Dean hit a Tornado DDT that put both men on the mat.
Reset at 5:00 with an exchange of offense until Barrett hit Wasteland, but he only got a two count. Barrett argued with the ref, then prepared for the Bullhammer, but Dean ducked and rolled up Barrett for a two count. Ambrose then exploded off the ropes with a rebound lariat that rocked Ambrose. Dean then scooped up Barrett for Dirty Deeds, but BNB slipped out of the ring and demanded his title belt. Barrett said he's taking off, but Dean flew through the ropes with a suicide dive.
Barrett tried to run away again, but Ambrose caught up to him and tossed him back into the ring. Barrett tried to crawl away again, but Dean caught up to him and stomped away in the corner. The ref reprimanded Dean, then called for the bell. Dean continued to pound on Barrett as the announcers tried to figure out what happened. Ambrose then grabbed the title belt and taunted Barrett with the belt, asking why he's running. Cole relayed the official word that Ambrose has been DQ'ed. (It was not announced to the live crowd.)
Ambrose then scooped up Barrett and delivered Dirty Deeds. He decided not to leave just yet, as he took the title belt and left the ring. JBL told Lawler to call someone to fix this, as he was almost mayor of Memphis. Ambrose left with the belt and his music played as Barrett called out for his title.
WINNER: Barrett via DQ at 7:58; Barrett retained the IC Title. Another match that came across like Chapter 1 of the in-ring story. Barrett running away from the fight was a good heel move to keep Ambrose on the chase, presumably until WrestleMania. (**1/4)
Backstage: Roman Reigns was shown taping his wrists for the PPV main event.
Suddenly, the familiar sound of Undertaker's druids humming played in the arena. Out came druids with lanterns lighting the entrance ramp as the announcers reacted to the teaser. "It's him," JBL said. Suddenly, the bell tolled. The arena popped as the entrance ramp filled with Taker's customary fog. Lightning flashed and a casket was wheeled out on-stage. Two druids wheeled the casket down to ringside as the announcers sat quietly.
At ringside, the casket lid was lifted to reveal ... Bray Wyatt, who sat up inside the casket to boos and some claps. Bray spoke from inside the casket that there's a wicked feeling in the air tonight. Bray said "he" made him tremble the first time he saw him. "And I feared him," Bray said. "But now he has become just like everyone else - weak. And broken. Just a shell of what he once was." Bray said his soul is lost. "Stuck in limbo between your world and ours," he said. "But I think it's time for him to go home. My mission is clear." Bray paused to draw out boos.
"I know you can hear me," Bray continued. Bray said he does not fear him anymore because "I am pain, I am suffering, I am Bray Wyatt, the new face of fear." Bray dropped the WrestleMania line. "At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker," he said. Bray cackled and leaned back before going flat into the casket. The lid was shut and Bray's video interruption played.
WWE cut to the pre-show panel for Renee Young to set up a concerned Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton to react to what just happened. Graves said Bray is officially out of his mind calling out Taker for WrestleMania. Saxton said he doesn't think Bray knows what he just got himself into. Booker said Bray thinks Taker is a broken man because of what happened last year at WrestleMania, he better thinks twice.
Video Package: John Cena vs. Rusev feud over the U.S. Title.
Live PPV Third Hour
In-ring: The champion, Rusev, was introduced first flanked by Lana. Cole claimed Rusev is undefeated in WWE. He has plenty of count-out/DQ losses, even just this year on Smackdown TV, but he is "unpinned/unsubmitted." Rusev marched into the ring and posed with the U.S. Title belt. Long pause. John Cena's music eventually played to bring out the challenger playing to his fired-up fanbase. Cena, dressed in Memphis Grizzlies colors, played to the crowd before storming the ring. Rusev did not move as Cena did his typical pre-match routine.
6 -- U.S. champion RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. JOHN CENA -- U.S. Title match
As the bell sounded, Lawler referenced Cena showing "reckless abandon" (instead of ruthless aggression) when he squared off with Kurt Angle on his first night in WWE, taking Cena back to the beginning for this feud story. Cena and Rusev circled the ring, then Cena struck Rusev in the face with a right hand. Cena slapped on a side headlock, but Rusev broke free and pounded Cena into the corner. Meanwhile, some of the crowd picked up a "Jerry, Jerry" chant. Rusev owned the non-match chant by pausing to yell at the crowd and stare at Jerry Lawler ringside.
Cena tried to fight back with elbows to the face, but Rusev did not take kindly to Cena audibly calling spots, so he smashed him in the corner and applied a modified Cobra Clutch. Cena came to his feet to escape the hold as JBL covered for Cena calling spots by saying he was talking to himself, shaken by Rusev.
Cena made his standard comeback, did the You Can't See Me hand wave to Lana, and ran into a standing kick from Rusev for a close two count. Rusev followed with a monstrous swinging bodyslam, but only got a two count. Rusev yelled at ref Charles Robinson, then ran into a corner boot from Cena, who followed with a Tornado DDT for a two count.
Cena and Rusev came to a standing position trading blows, then Rusev tried another swinging slam, but Cena grabbed Rusev and forced him to the mat. Cena called another spot as he wrenched on the STF and Cole excitedly said Rusev is going to tap out. But, Rusev impressively powered out of the hold and smashed Cena with an Alabama Slam. Rusev covered for a two count, then sold a neck/shoulder injury following the STF.
Reset at 14:00 with Rusev angrily targeting Cena's back before vowing to crush Cena. Rusev went for a big foot stomp, but Cena blocked and reapplied the STF. Cena again called a spot for Rusev to grab the ropes. Moments later, Rusev grabbed the bottom rope, taking the crowd down after thinking Cena was going to win. (It's mainly a pro-Cena/USA crowd tonight.)
At 15:30, Rusev charged Cena, who tried to answer with an AA, but Rusev escaped. Cena tried again and this time he dropped Cena with the AA, but Rusev kicked out in time. Cena got desperate and went for a top-rope guillotine drop, but Rusev stood up and dropped Cena to the mat. Rusev immediately slapped on The Accolade, popping the minority of anti-Cena fans. The pro-Cena fans tried to rally behind Cena, who teased breaking the hold. He tried again, but Rusev re-applied. On the third try, Cena powered to his feet.
Suddenly, Lana entered the ring with the U.S. Title belt, a rarity for a Rusev match. With the ref distracted by Lana, Rusev kicked Cena in the Oscars and applied The Accolade again. Rusev locked in the hold and leaned back as Cena faded out. Ref Robinson was forced to call for the bell. Eden Stiles announced Rusev as the winner via submission (they were going for Cena losing by passing out, not by traditional submission means of tapping out).
Post-match, Rusev exhaled and celebrated his victory as Lana proudly presented her champion. The Russian flag dropped from the ceiling, then Rusev posed over a fallen Cena. Medical staff hit the ring to check on Cena as Rusev and Lana made their way to the stage to continue celebrating. Rusev's music eventually played as Cena came to life and tried to make it out of the ring as Lawler noted Cena has the key to beat Rusev, but Lana interfered.
WINNER: Rusev via submission at 18:42 to retain the U.S. Title. The second-half picked up, but it still felt like they were holding back for the re-match. That's been a theme thus far tonight. The match lost a lot of momentum by Cena regularly calling spots right next to the ring mic. It happens too often during Cena's matches and he should be held to a higher standard as the top star in the promotion. (**3/4)
Pre-show Panel: The crew reacted to Cena losing to Rusev.
Video Package: Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns to determine who faces Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania. Heavy emphasis on Bryan telling Reigns that he's a better *wrestler* than Reigns, which will likely factor into the match.
Back in the arena, The Shield's music played to bring out Roman Reigns through the crowd to a mix of boos and cheers. Lilian Garcia announced Reigns as the winner of the 2015 Royal Rumble, then Daniel Bryan was introduced to loud "Yes!" chants. Reigns looked around the arena to absorb and process the pro-Bryan sentiment while waiting for Bryan to enter the ring. The bell sounded at 10:33 p.m. EST.
7 -- DANIEL BRYAN vs. ROMAN REIGNS -- #1 contender match to the WWE World Title
Quick lock-up as the crowd picked up a dueling chant of "Daniel Bryan / Roman Reigns." Less support for Reigns in the duel. Bryan drove Reigns to the corner, then backed away as Reigns sold not being affected by Bryan trying to out-wrestle him. Bryan slapped on a headlock, drove Reigns around the ring, maintained the headlock, absorbed an elbow to the gut, maintained the headlock, and Reigns reversed the headlock. Reigns then shoved down Bryan with a shoulder tackle to boos.
Bryan came back with a drop toe hold, then flowed into a surfboard stretch, but Reigns dramatically powered out of the hold before Bryan could apply it. Reigns did a mad-face pose to show that he's the big dog in the match. Reigns delivered a big bodyslam, then clotheslined Bryan over the top rope to the floor. On the outside, Reigns ran Bryan into the barricade before rolling him back into the ring. But, Bryan caught Reigns with a kick to the back of the leg to begin working on Reigns's lower body. But, Reigns responded with power offense, including a high-impact clothesline for a two count. Lots of grunts from Reigns and the announcers said Bryan is out-wrestling Reigns, but Reigns is over-powering Bryan.
Reigns left the ring, then stalked Bryan for his leaping double-foot dropkick to Bryan's head. Reigns returned to the ring and cocked his fist for the Superman Punch, but Bryan emphatically kicked Reigns in the gut to block. Reigns sold losing his breath, so the ref checked on Reigns and pulled Bryan away. The ref asked Reigns if he wants to continue the match. Reigns waved him off, then Bryan went to work on Reigns's mid-section, targeting the area where Reigns had hernia surgery. Reigns sat down in the corner gasping for air as Bryan pushed the ref's limit striking Reigns, then delivering three consecutive running dropkicks in the corner. More Yes! kicks to the gut, then Bryan took Reigns to the top turnbuckle and tried a huracanrana, but Reigns blocked and delivered a top-rope powerbomb for a two count.
Reset at 11:00 with an injured Reigns stalking Bryan in the corner for forearm strikes. Reigns continued to sell gasping for air before he climbed to the top turnbuckle for a top-rope move, but Bryan slipped underneath and crotched him. Bryan pounded Reigns's back, then delivered a big top-rope suplex, but Reigns kicked out of a pin. Bryan then slapped on the Yes! Lock in the middle of the ring, but Reigns made it to the ropes for a break.
Reigns rolled to the outside as Bryan smiled, knowing Reigns is injured. Bryan delivered a suicide dive, then he ran back into the ring and delivered a second. Bryan wasn't done. He climbed back into the ring and went for a third dive, but Reigns caught him and delivered a big belly-to-belly suplex on the padding. Reigns tried to follow with a spear into the ring steps, but Bryan moved and Reigns crashed into the ring steps. Both men sold on the floor as the ref started a ten count. JBL played up the Draw/No Contest idea, wondering what happens if neither man wins. Bryan made it back into the ring at eight, Reigns got up at nine, and Reigns barely made it into the ring as ref Mike Chioda was warming up to count ten.
Reigns suddenly speared Bryan after recovering on the outside, but Bryan kicked out of a pin. Reigns then stalked Bryan for another spear, but Bryan countered with an inside cradle for a close two count. Kick to the face, then Bryan delivered his big running knee smash to the face, but Reigns kicked out of Bryan's finisher. Bryan, stunned, stared up at the WrestleMania sign wondering what he needs to do to win.
After a pause, Bryan went back on the attack with Yes! kicks to the chest. Over and over. Bryan wound up for the big win, but Reigns grabbed Bryan's leg. Uh-oh. But, Bryan slapped Reigns, then spun Reigns onto his back into an armbar submission. Bryan flowed into the Yes! Lock in the middle of the ring again. Reigns teased tapping out as the crowd sat quietly, not buying the possibility of Reigns booked to submit. Suddenly, Reigns spun over onto Bryan and pounded his face with big forearms, drawing boos. Bryan sold being limp, but he reached up and slapped on the submission. Only, Reigns lifted Bryan into the air and dropped him to the mat. Both men sold being KO'ed on the mat.
Reset at 19:30 with a big exchange on the mat. Bryan kicked Reigns over and over in the face, then delivered the big roundhouse kick to the top of Reigns's head. Bryan wanted another running knee smash, led the crowd in Yes! chants, charged Reigns, and ran right into a spear. Reigns covered and it was good for the pin and the win. WWE immediately cut to crowd shots - some people cheering, some people heading for the exits, and others unmoved.
Post-match: WWE replayed the finish, then showed Bryan angrily collecting himself in the corner. Bryan then walked over to Reigns and spun him around. Bryan pushed Reigns in the chest with his finger, saying he better kick Brock Lesnar's ass. Bryan extended his hand and Reigns shook. Some of the crowd booed. Bryan, having done his work putting over Reigns and trying to give him the endorsement, left the ring. Cole said it's official - Reigns vs. Lesnar for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania. Reigns collected himself and left the ring as Cole and Co. hyped the WrestleMania card. The PPV ended just before the top of the hour, going nearly three hours.
WINNER: Reigns clean at 20:10 to retain #1 contendership status for the WWE World Title. The crowd was pretty unmoved throughout the night and they only got up a few times for the main event, not really buying nearfalls for Bryan and not being into Reigns. There was just that feeling of they were being teased with the possibility of Bryan winning the match and it was inevitable that Reigns was going to be booked to win. The match was good, with Bryan delivering in his role of pushing Reigns, and Reigns had his best singles match, but how much of that was the opponent? The jury is still out until Reigns adds more singles matches to his resume, which is another reason why it's pre-mature to put Reigns in this position. (***1/2)
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THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
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