WWE FASTLANE 2019 KICKOFF SHOW
MARCH 10, 2019
CLEVELAND, OHIO AT QUICKEN LOANS ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MIKE MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Jonathan Coachman, Beth Phoenix, Sam Roberts, David Otunga, Christian, A.J. Styles
Match Announcers: Corey Graves, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton
Kickoff Show video packages:
- Recap of Lynch / Charlotte buildup to Fastlane
- Replay of Carmella-Zelina Vega-Samoa Joe segment from WWE.com Exclusive
- Recap of Usos-Miz & Shane McMahon buildup to Fastlane
- Replay of Ricochet & Aleister Black selfie promo
- Recap of Bryan-Kofi-Owens buildup to Fastlane
The panel discussed the Lynch vs. Charlotte match. Beth suggested that Lynch has nothing to lose, Sam suggested that Lynch has everything to lose, and David brought the discussion to order by claiming they were both right. He also offered his “legal opinion” that Lynch signing the Hold Harmless Agreement was a mistake.
As the panel began to discuss the women’s tag championship, they were interrupted obnoxiously by the Iconics. The Iconics pointed out that Sasha and Bayley have not defended their titles on Smackdown. When asked to make a prediction on tonight’s match, they went with the Boss & Hug Connection and went on to berate Jonathan.
The Iconics departed and we cut backstage to Kayla and Mandy Rose, who is facing Asuka tonight for the Women’s Championship. Rose pointed out that Asuka attacked Deville and her from behind, and that it’s Asuka who’s the long shot to win. EC3 then appeared, and introduced himself. Deville said, “We wait months to hear you speak, and that’s your opener? Lame.” She indicated that Rose has a match to prepare for, and dismissed EC3 unceremoniously.
Jonathan announced that a new match has been added to tonight’s card: A Fatal Four-Way Match between Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe (c), R-Truth, and Andrade for the U.S. Championship. This has replaced the scheduled Mysterio vs. Andrade match, and has been moved from the Kickoff Show to the main card.
Christian was then introduced as a new panel member, and he took Beth Phoenix’s place. The updated panel discussed the environment Mizz is entering: Performing in his home town with his father at ringside. Christian claimed it would be a distraction, and Sam questioned why a 40-year-old man is still seeking the approval of his father.
A.J. Styles now joined the panel, taking the place of David. Styles said it was a mistake to take Kofi’s title opportunity away since he earned the right to face Bryan. Sam said Owens is either a liar or hypocrite, and asked Styles which it was. Styles dodged the damning question, but still said it should’ve been Kofi’s match, not Owens’s. Sam asked Styles what happened to him – going from a champion to a guy who talks about champions. Styles indicated that he’s fine with other people getting opportunities. The conversation pivoted to Randy Orton, and his interactions with Styles – a harbinger of their potential Wrestlemania match.
We cut backstage again to Kayla with Owens. Owens deflected the controversy of Kofi’s removal and said anyone wondering about that decision needs to knock on Mr. McMahon’s door, and that he’s not going to turn down the opportunity. The New Day appeared, with serious faces, and Kofi strode to the front and said he has no problem with Owens and wished him good luck. Owens thanked Kofi and shook his hand, then left in peace. A man in a suit appeared and told Kofi that Mr. McMahon wants to speak to Kofi about the championship match.
(1) SHINSUKA NAKAMURA & RUSEV (w/ Lana) vs. BIG E & XAVIER WOODS
Woods started off against Nakamura as a “New Day rocks” chant rattled through the arena. The wrestlers exchanged arm bars, then Nakamura backed Woods into a corner and landed a few punches. Nakamura missed two clotheslines, then was the recipient of a head scissors takedown and a cover for a two-count. Nakamura then kicked a distracted Woods in the face, allowing Nakamura to tag in Rusev.
Rusev and Nakamura made quick tags and laid punishment upon Woods in their corner. Rusev locked in a bear hug while the announce team discussed the implications of Kofi and tonight’s title match. Meanwhile, Nakamura leveled Woods again with a kick to the back of the head, pinned for a two-count, then applied a front chancery. Kofi seemed to fade out completely, face down on the mat, but he eventually recharged and reached out desperately toward Big E. Woods nearly broke free but Nakamura fired him back into his corner and Rusev tagged in and again took control of the match.
Rusev set up for a superplex, but Woods knocked him down from the turnbuckle before landing his first offense of the match: a big missile dropkick. Woods finally made the hot tag to Big E who landed multiple suplexes to Nakamura and a big splash. Big E set up for the Big Ending, but Nakamura slithered round to Big E’s front side with a front headlock, but Big E tossed Nakamura to the canvas. Big E ran the ropes and charged at Nakamura, but Nakamura intercepted the attack with a knee lift. Nakamura scaled the middle rope and knocked Big E down with a flying knee strike. Nakamura pinned for a two-count.
Woods recovered at ringside and tagged himself in and landed a DDT against Nakamura, but Rusev had also tagged in and leveled Woods with a kick to the head and a two-count cover of his own. Rusev slammed Woods to the mat with a powerful German suplex. The teams exchanged some believable near finishes, and Lana eventually interfered and knocked Woods down from the top rope, and Big E absorbed two big kicks from Rusev, and Rusev nearly had the pin bug Woods broke up the count.
Rusev and Nakamura found themselves at ringside, and Woods attempted a diving senton over the top rope but he was caught by his opponents and then slammed to the floor back-first. Back in the ring, Rusev applied the Accolade to Woods, but quickly escaped. Big E tagged in and the New Day landed the Up Up Down Down for the victory.
WINNERS: Big E & Xavier Woods by pinfall in 14:00.
(Meyers’s Analysis: A good, fast-paced match with a couple believable false finishes. The match had a unique feel as the crowd and announcers are left wondering about Kofi‘s future as his teammates wrestle the match. The Woods bump outside the ring was cringe-inducing. This was a good pre-show match that the crowd was reasonably excited for. Twice the match was reduced to a side-by-side presentation as the show cut to a Fastlane commercial and a backstage segment with Mizz, Mr. Mizz, and Shane McMahon. )
SHOW SCORE (0-10): 7.8
FINAL THOUGHTS: A decent tag match and a Kofi Kliffhanger made the kickoff show a relevant piece of tonight’s Fastlane event.