KELLER’S WWE FASTLANE PPV REPORT
MARCH 11, 2018
COLUMBUS, OHIO AT NATIONWIDE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Panel: Renee Young, Booker T, Sam Roberts, David Otunga
Pre-show Highlights: Booker T claimed he was the first U.S. Champion, only to have Renee correct him a few minutes later, to which Booker T said he meant “of the modern era”… Sam Roberts made a joke about “journalists” reporting about Booker T’s dispute with Corey Graves when Booker joshed about it. Sam also mistakenly called WWE “WWF” and then corrected himself, to which Dolph Ziggler quipped, “I’m not that old”… Sam almost rebooked the mixed tag match at WrestleMania by saying Shane McMahon was teaming with Triple H; he quickly correct himself… In a New Day promo, they defended being the “E” in World Wrestling Entertainment, but they also accomplish a lot in the ring and have more titles by far than the Usos… Sam astutely asked if fans would cheer Shinsuke Nakamura more than Rusev Day… There were interviews with Dolph Ziggler (who would only answer social media questions and also said he’s full time and doesn’t take nights off within a minute of saying he had no regrets over quitting and relinquishing the U.S. Title and being gone for a while because he had already accomplished that stature and instead wants to focus on winning the WWE Title and defending it at WrestleMania), Jinder Mahal on set (who said he might be doing commentary), Sami Zayn, and Baron Corbin…
(A) BREEZANGO & TYE DILLINGER vs. MOJO RAWLEY & SHELTON BENJAMIN & CHAD GABLE
WINNERS: Breezango & Dillinger when Tye pinned Mojo.
MAIN PPV EVENT
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. RUSEV (w/Aiden English)
English sang a Rap-Opera style song insulting the city of Columbus… A very loud “Nakamura-Rusev Day” dueling chant took place. Rusev bailed out a couple minutes into the match after Nakamura fired up and played some mind games. Nakamura stared him down. Rusev leaped onto the ring apron, but then jumped back to the floor and laughed in self-satisfaction at not taking the bait. Nakamura went after Rusev and then leaped off the ring apron and gave Rusev a guillotine knee drop across the back of his neck. He tossed Rusev back into the ring. Rusev took over shortly thereafter when he checked into Nakamura as he tried to reenter the ring. He went on methodical sustained offense for a few minutes. Nakamura came back with a kick to the head for a near fall. Nakamura went for his Kinshasa Kick, but Rusev ducked and went for his Accolade. Nakamura countered and went for another kick, but Rusev countered. Nakamura came back with a knee to the back of Rusev’s head and a Kinsasha for the clean win. The announcers said that’s the type of match Nakamura needed to sharper his skills for WrestleMania.
WINNER: Nakamura in 15:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: This was a well-crafted and executed match, but also quite forgettable. I’m still not sure I understand WWE continuing to fight the popularity of Rusev, but he worked total heel here. Nakamura looked fine, and he stands out to a degree as a star, but he’s nowhere near his potential and just doesn’t shine like people who have followed his pre-WWE career expected.)
-A WrestleMania video aired.
(2) BOBBY ROODE vs. RANDY ORTON – U.S. Title match
They did formal ring introductions for the title match. Phillips said this is a match a lot of people in the WWE Universe never thought they’d see. Saxton said Roode was successful his entire career, “but never in his wildest dreams” did he ever imagine facing Randy Orton. Huh? Roode must have pretty conservative “wild dreams” if something like this never crossed his mind in 18 years of being a pro wrestler. Orton leapfrogged a charging Roode and then caught him with a back elbow on the rebound. Phillips said there’s no wasted movement with Orton. A loud “RKO!” chant briefly got rolling as Roode recovered in the corner. When Orton went for an RKO seconds later, Roode slipped out of the ring and regrouped.
Back in the ring, Roode caught Orton with a chop. The he went for a DDT, but Orton rolled to the floor to regroup. Roode smiled and showed some fire. They cut to Jinder Mahal and Samil Singh watching backstage on a monitor. After some back and forth action, Roode settled into a chinlock (copyright Randy Orton). The crowd fell silent (and they’re still waiting for a match on the main card where they have a stake in seeing one of the wrestlers lose). Roode leaped off the top rope and hit Orton with a clothesline, landing on his own feet after Impact. He then went into his silly psych-up routine leading to “Glorious!” being chanted day the fans. It, as usual, backfired, since it gave Orton time to recover and counter his DDT attempt with a schoolboy for a near fall. Orton landed two hard clotheslines and a snap powerslam. Roode rolled to the ring apron. Fans chanted for the RKO. Instead, it was time for his second rope DDT, but Roode slipped out. Orton then snapped Roode’s neck over the top rope. Roode caught a charging Orton with a boot to the face and then landed the Blockbuster for a near fall.
Orton came back a minute later with his DDT off the second rope, drawing a crowd pop. He then signaled for the pending RKO and looked up at the WrestleMania sign. The crowd cheered. Orton pounded on the mat and waited for Roode to stand. He went for the RKO, but Roode pushed off and set up a DDT. Orton backdropped out. Orton sat down on a sunset flip attempt for a two count. Then he clotheslines Orton over the top rope. Roode went after Orton at ringside. Orton backdropped Roode’s back over the ringside barricade. Orton threw Roode back into the ring and scored a near fall. Orton set up a superplex a minute later. Roode punched to try to avoid it, then went for a sunset flip. He lifted Orton and powerbombed him for a near fall.
A minute later, Orton set up a superplex again. He stood on the top rope and superplexed him successfully. Graves said it was picture-perfect and no one does it better. Orton was slow to get up, too. Orton made the cover eventually and scored a very near fall. They battled over a backslide id-ring. Roode got a two count. He set up a Glorious DDT, but Orton countered with an RKO attempt. Roode countered with a spinebuster for a near fall.
Both were slow to stand. Roode went for a back suplex, but Orton elbowed out of it. Roode caught a charging Orton with a boot and then leaped off the second rope. Orton caught him mid-air with an RKO for the win. The announcers noted that this is the final major title in WWE that Orton had not held.
WINNER: Orton in 19:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was a mix of first, second, and third gear, with nothing explosive, but it was really smooth throughout.)
-Afterward, Jinder walked out to his music. He attacked Orton. Roode made the save with a Glorious DDT. Roode then turned and gave Orton a Glorious DDT. He showed frustration with the title loss as he retreated to ringside. Graves said Roode shouldn’t feel bad for doing what he just did to Orton since Orton has delivered an unsolicited RKO to him. Good point. This sets up the (predictable) triple threat match at WrestleMania for the U.S. Title.
-A lengthy video package aired on the set-up for the mixed tag match at WrestleMania – Stephanie McMahon & Triple H vs. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey.
-KO approached Sami angrily in the back. Sami said his promise to have his back and lay down for him was about tonight’s match. He told KO last Tuesday was different and not to dwell on it. Sami said tonight he is his guardian angle and he won’t let him down. KO didn’t buy it and stormed off. Sami smirked.
-Graves thanked SUR for “Lean Back,” the theme song for Fastlane.
(3) NATALYA & CARMELLA vs. BECKY LYNCH & NAOMI
Becky and Carmella started. Becky went for an early armbar. Carmella scurried to the bottom rope and yelled obnoxiously Vickie Guerrero style for a fast break. Natalya tagged in and went to work Becky. Naomi tagged in, but Natalya soon took control. The heel duo tagged in and out against Naomi. Natalya grounded Naomi with a sleeper. Naomi almost hot-tagged Becky, but Natalya picked her up and carried her back to her corner. They double-teamed Naomi in their corner, including Carmella yanking Naomi’s pony tail. Carmella scored a two count back in the ring. Eventually Becky got the hot-tag, getting a crowd pop. Becky landed an Exploder and then chased at Natalya in the corner. Becky leaped off the top rope with a missile dropkick, but the camera showed a close-up of the back of Carmella’s ass instead. Focus. Natalya tagged out immediately to Carmella. Becky spin kicked Carmella, but Carmella countered with a jawbreaker. Naomi tagged back in and kicked Carmella. She scored a two count with a unset flip. Carmella avoided the Rear View. Naomi tagged Becky who then landed a top rope legdrop. Natalya broke up the near fall. Natalya threw Naomi out of the ring. Becky went after Natalya and threw her to the floor. She landed on the Money in the Bank briefcase. With Becky sitting on the top rope, Natalya distracted her. That gave Carmella an opening to use a head scissors to yank her to the mat. Naomi broke up the subsequent pin attempt. Natalya handed Carmella the briefcase, but Becky knocked Natalya off the ring apron. Carmella then superkicked Natalya for the win.
WINNERS: Carmella & Natalya in 9:00. (*3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Not bad. I mean, not great. But solidly laid out and largely smoothly executed with the crowd reacting as you’d want to the hot tags and near hot tags and big sequences.)
-A video aired on the Kids’ Choice Awards.
(4) THE USOS vs. THE NEW DAY (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston w/Big E) – WWE Tag Team Title match
Despite cutting the memorable and intense aspects of New Day’s promos leading into this match, including on the Kickoff Show earlier, Big E was watching from ringside. Jey and Kofi went at it early with some verbal back-and-forth. The Usos double-teamed Xavier in their corner. Saxton said it’s a version of the New Day Unicorn Stampede. Graves said New Day didn’t invent stomping on their opponent in their corner. Kofi got the hot-tag and tried to take control, but the Usos quickly took over again. Kofi came right back by knocking the Jey out of the ring. He started a “New Day!” chant and then landed a hip attack in the corner. Jimmy, the legal man, entered with a flurry of offense against Kofi. He got cocky as he circled him and then leg dropped him, with an “U-so” chant in the middle. He led the crowd in a “New… Day sucks!” chant. The Usos gave Kofi the Midnight Hour for a near fall. Graves said it would have been the ultimate disrespect to win with New Day’s finisher. Phillips said the teams have essentially swapped each other’s movesets so far.
Xavier eventually got the hot tag and took the Usos down. Then he tagged in Kofi who landed a top rope Uso-Style frog splash for a near fall. Xavier and Kofi climbed opposite corners and set up the Uso stereo splash on Jey, but Jimmy broke it up and knocked Kofi and Xavier to ringside. Big E checked on them. The Usos did a running dive onto the New Day trio at ringside. It didn’t sound like much of a pop, which was strange. With all five down, the Bludgeon Brothers music started. They attacked all five.
WINNERS: No contest in 9:00. (**1/2)
-The post-match beatdown with the mallets drew cheers from the fans who eventually chanted “We Want Tables.” They eventually slammed wrestlers on top of other wrestlers and tried to swing the mallet at Xavier’s head, but he moved. Then then they clotheslines Kofi with the mallet over the ringside barricade. Finally, they powerbombed Xavier onto the base of the ringside steps. Medics crossed paths with the Bludgeon Brothers. The announcers went into “soft talking mode.” Graves was appalled at the Bludgeon Brothers’ actions and said they turned a potentially classic tag team match into a horror move.
-They aired a video package on the Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns match.
-Renee interviewed A.J. Style backstage. He said the odds are against him, but he’s made a career of turning the impossible into phenomenal. He was interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura who said he hopes he wins. Styles interrupted and told him that he will beat Shinsuke at WrestleMania.
-They went back to ringside where Xavier was rolled back in a gurney. Kofi and each Usos were also also helped to their feet and up the ramp.
(5) CHARLOTTE vs. RUBY RIOTT (w/Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan)
Riott dominated offense for the first several minutes. After intimidation at ringside by Logan and Morgan and then a distraction a few minutes later, Naomi and Becky ran out to even the odds. Riott continued to dominate. When Charlotte made a comeback and attempted a moonsault, Riott shoved her off the top rope to the floor. A few minutes later, Charlotte did land a moonsault of the ringside barricade. Riott, though, took over again with sustained offense. When Naomi and Becky ran into the ring to cut off interference from Morgan and Logan, the ref sent them to tieback. As they protested, Morgan and Logan punched Charlotte. Graves said you have to appreciate the strategy by the three women. The ref then kicked Logan and Morgan to the back. They screamed and screeched in protest. Charlotte had time to recover and rallied. She took Riott down and set up a figure-four, but Riott countered with an inside cradle. Riott went for a head scissors, but Charlotte lifted her up and then fling her head-first over the top turnbuckle in a cool spot. Charlotte then hit a spear mid-ring and applied the figure-four. She bridged into the Figure-Eight for the tapout win.
WINNER: Charlotte in 15:00 to retain the WWE Smackdown Women’s Title. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: No surprise at that finish. Decent match.)
-As Charlotte celebrated, Asuka’s music played and she came to challenge Charlotte for the match at WrestleMania by pointing at the WrestleMania sign. No words were exchanged. The crowd popped. Graves said Alexa must be relieved.
(6) A.J. STYLES vs. JOHN CENA vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BARON CORBIN vs. SAMI ZAYN vs. KEVIN OWENS – WWE Title match
Shane McMahon came to ringside. Phillips said Daniel Bryan was at a family function. Ring entrances took place for each of the challengers and finally champ Styles. Cena landed AA’s on all four other challenges rapid-fire, then turned and stopped in his tracks when he saw Styles staring him down. Graves said there’s a long history between these two. They played to the crowd as an “A.J. Styles” chant started followed by “Let’s Go Cena.” Cena smiled. They exchanged punches mid-ring as the crowd yelled along with them. Eventually the challengers re-entered. They surrounded Cena and all five attacked Cena mid-ring. Saxton said Cean’s early strategy is coming back to haunt him. They threw him out of the ring, then turned and went after each other.
They fought at ringside. Corbin threw Styles into the ringside barricade, then fended off Owens. Owens hit Corbin from behind after Corbin threw Styles into the ring. Corbin threw Owens into the ringside barricade. Shane stood at ringside and watched. Styles rolled up Corbvin. Corbin charged back, but Styles ducked and Corbin flew over the top rope. Sami entered, but Styles rolled him up for a two count. Styles threw Sami out of the ring. Owens then attacked Styles and went for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Styles countered with a roll-up and a faceplate. Styles covered Sami, but Owens broke it up. Graves said Owens saving Sami was out of pure necessity. Phillips said it was out of self-preservation, not friendship.
After a series of quick spots by alternating wrestlers, Owens landed a big splash on Ziggler out of nowhere and Styles broke up the pin. Styles set up a Styles Clash, but Owens backdropped out of it. Corbin hit a chokeslam neckbreaker on Owens. Ziggler entered and hit a Zig Zag. Cena entered and landed a sideslam. Cena then set up his You Can’t See Me sequence. He landed fist drops on both Sami and Ziggler in stereo. Sami rolled to the floor. Cena lifted Ziggler, but Ziggler countered mid-air into a Fameasser. Ziggler stomped the mat for the superkick, but Cena avoided the telegraphed move and quickly applied the STF. Styles broke it up. Cena went for an AA, but Styles countered with a Styles Clash. The crowd counted along, but Sami broke up the pin. Sami mounted Styles and punched away at him.
Corbin eventually landed a Deep Six on Styles. When Ziggler entered, Corbin went for an End of Days, but Ziggler flipped out of it. They brawled to the floor. Corbin threw Ziggler “into the WWE Universe.” (That sounds so dumb.) They fought into the hockey bench area. Meanwhile, Owens threw Styles onto the announce desk and signaled for the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Styles clotheslined Sami into the “time keeples air-e-err,” as a tongue-tied Phillips put it. Cena blocked Owens. Styles charged. Cena gave Styles a flying AA onto the other announce table. The table collapsed. That was a hell of spot.
Sami and KO faced off mid-ring. Sami said he’s a man of his word. Sami slowly dropped to the mat. The crowd booed. Graves said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Sami’s actually going to do it. Kevin Owens is about to become WWE Champion.” Well, that assured it wasn’t going to happen. They drew this out. KO was about to make the cover, but the grabbed Sami. Sami small packaged KO for a near fall. They went at each other with a barrage of punches. Sami rolled after KO at ringside. KO threw Sami into the ringside barricade. KO went for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Sami grabbed the bottom rope. Sami backdropped KO on the ring apron seconds later as a counter to a Pop-Up Powerbomb up there.
Sami looked over at Shane and asked antagonistically if he had a good enough seat. Shane stood. Sami said he wanted to drive a wedge between them. KO went for a superkick, Sami moved, and the kick hit Shane. Sami then hit KO with a diving DDT through the ropes to the floor. Back in the ring KO caught a charging Sami with a superkick. Ziggler went after KO, but KO landed the Pop-Up Powerbomb. As the ref counted, Shane yanked the ref out of the ring. KO couldn’t believe it. Graves said Shane overstepped his bounds. He said the vendetta has gone too far. Sami then hit KO from behind with the Helluva Kick, which the director inexcusably missed because it was so telegraphed. Shane yanked Sami out of the ring as he had KO covered. “What the hell was that?” asked Sami. Sami turned and broke up Ziggler’s cover on KO. (So WrestleMania looks like KO vs. Sami vs. Shane with Bryan as special referee, right? At least all of the TV time dedicated to this drama would lead to something, if that’s where they indeed go with this.)
Corbin resurfaced hit Cena with the ringside steps. Corbin tried to hit Cena with the ringside steps in the ring, but Cena blocked it and bashed Corbin with it. Cena then gave Corbin an AA on the steps mid-ring. He made the cover, but Ziggler broke up the pin attempt (which the ref was counting despite being on the base of the steps center-ring). Ziggler ducked the steps and then superkicked Cena. Cena fired right back with an AA attempt. KO yanked Ziggler off of Cena and then gave Cena a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Cena then flew at KO off the top rope with a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
WINNER: Styles to retain the WWE Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, with all the pros and cons that come along with a multi-person match format.)
-Shane applauded as Styles celebrated. Graves said Styles will defend in a one-on-one match against Nakamura at WrestleMania. Shane walked past a dejected KO and Sami at ringside with a bit of a grin. Cena leaned in the corner. Phillips said Cena’s “path to WrestleMania is gone once again.” Styles laid his belt down mid-ring. Graves said you can’t help but feel a little bad for Cena. Phillips plugged Styles vs. Nakamura and said, “The dream match is on!” The show ended.