Tucker’s Live INSTANT REACTION – Fast Lane Edition: McMahon continues career-long quest

By Ben Tucker, PWTorch specialist


Tucker’s Instant Reaction – WWE Fast Lane
Live at Cleveland, Ohio

Overall Score – 5.0

Vince McMahon’s wrestling organization has almost always featured one individual as the flagbearer of the company. From 1984 until 1993, that man was Hulk Hogan. Afterwards, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart took the mantle. Then, Steve Austin would follow during the Attitude Era. Today, the face of the WWE is John Cena. What do these individuals have in common? They weren’t the men that Vince McMahon wanted.

As early as 1987 there were reports that Vince McMahon was looking for a “new” Hulk Hogan, taking into consideration Hulk’s age at the time. When he could no longer be relied on, McMahon put his faith in the All-American Lex Luger in 1993, then Diesel in 1994 into 1995. Before John Cena became the face of the company, Vince had his eyes set on Brock Lesnar. Then Randy Orton. Then Batista.

McMahon has never been able to mold “his guy” from the ground up. He’s always had to settle for who the crowd wants, not who he thinks would be best. And while in the past he has relented by giving Bret Hart the mantle over Lex Luger, ending Diesel’s title reign two years early and making his fourth-best pick John Cena the face of his company, his attempt to “make” Roman Reigns is different.

This time may be his last shot to get “his guy.”

That’s why McMahon will not relent anymore. This is his final opportunity to make his man the way he sees fit, come hell or high water. Fastlane was the latest example of a 70-year-old man trying to come to terms with his own mortality as he rejected the crowd’s support for Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar to push Roman Reigns as WWE’s future. Tonight was Vince McMahon putting his foot down; Roman Reigns will lead WWE into the next decade, whether you like it or not.

Such a situation created one of the flattest WrestleMania stare downs in company history. The situation would not have been as dire if Reigns was presented in a more palatable manner. Instead, the flaws in his presentation were highlighted, cleanly beating his more popular partner with one finisher after receiving an F5, Dirty Deeds DDT, several chair shots, and surviving a kimura lock. Ambrose was highlighted as the scrappy underdog that won’t give up. Lesnar was portrayed as the unstoppable badass. Reigns was a punching bag that happened to get lucky. In other words, there was no opportunity to get behind Roman.

As flawed as the main event was, it was only one problem on a show riddled with issues. The biggest strengths were found in-ring – the IC Title and triple threat matches all featured strong in-ring work. Styles-Jericho almost joined that group, but was marred by multiple clunky spots that seemed conceptually flawed. Worst match of the night honors goes to the Divas Title match, which featured the worst wrestling I’ve seen on the main roster in years. Sloppy spots and awkward execution destroyed what happened to be a solid in-ring story. This was a match where watching live definitely hindered the experience, as there were no camera cuts available to mask the awkward transitions and counters that riddled the match.

While the triple threat did feature the most questionable booking, storytelling suffered as a whole at Fastlane. The Wyatt Family suffered yet another inexplicable loss, leaving them with zero momentum going into WrestleMania for a marquee match. Equally frustrating was the interaction between the League of Nations and New Day. Was that considered… a face turn on either end? Or two heel teams mocking each other? The prospect of a face New Day absolutely terrifies me; committing such a sin would lead to the exact same negativity that plagued their initial face run. They’re fun because they’re so over-the-top. It’s ironic. Don’t tell me to cheer what’s ironic, or else it does not become ironic anymore.

In the end, Fastlane arguably left us with even more questions for WrestleMania; characters have been damaged, credibility lost, false idols continuing to assume dominance. I imagine the rest of the build for WrestleMania 32 closely modeling the hype for Mania 29: muddied storylines, a confused mid-card, and a whole lot of frustration. But, hey, Roman Reigns is main-eventing against Triple H. And to Vince McMahon, that’s all that matters.

Questions? Comments? Reactions? Find me on Twitter @BTuckerTorch, where I talk about wrestling and… stuff!

3 Comments on Tucker’s Live INSTANT REACTION – Fast Lane Edition: McMahon continues career-long quest

  1. So WWE PPVs in the Network era are essentially identical to a Smackdown! or Raw in years past.

    * Triple threat match to determine who will wrestle for the world title.
    * Midcard title match(es).
    * Throwaway tag match.
    * In-ring interview segment.

    Want to lay odds on unadvertised additions such as Triple H giving a long, boring speech and somebody randomly being laid out by Big Show and/or Kane as a gag?

  2. So no New Day defending the titles just a plug for Edge and Christian`s show AFTER the PPV, then 2 YES 2 Diva`s matches meanwhile Del Rio is on the Pre Show? The booking is TERRIBLE and this show going into Mania is really BRUTAL, At least they could have gave us the Social Outcasts or something, and i mean the top heel Owens going against Zigler who needs a whole character makeover, Hopefully he gets a better Mania opponent. Thoughts..Ambrose vs HHH at Mania BTW..Reigns vs Brock

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