Metalhead’s Riff: Dissecting WWE Fastlane 2016 (Owens vs Ziggler, Styles vs Jericho, Lesnar vs Ambrose vs Reigns)

And here we go for yet another WWE PPV dissection:

The pre-show match was easily the best match of ADR and Kalisto’s series. WWE also deftly sidestepped the problem on not having too much time to give to a two out of three falls match by having heel Del Rio basically take the first fall (via count-out) so he could inflict further damage on Kalisto and “easily” take score the second fall. Ending stretch was a classic babyface underdog story and it worked well here. Match was made even better by the excellent Mauro Ranallo on commentary, who effortlessly put every other WWE commentator to shame. This guy NEEDS to be on the WrestleMania commentary team. It seems that Kalisto’s push will continue, while Del Rio, who as a reminder left LU due to “creative differences” has to wonder if he made the right choice by now. Also, why in the seven hells was this on the pre-show???

Show started with The Boss and the Lass-kicker vs Team BAD. Never were in-ring names more appropriated. This was basically the Becky and Sasha show, with Naomi providing helpful support while Tamina”s role was (wisely) kept to a minimum. Good tag match overall, with Becky excelling at playing the “face-in-peril” role while the Boss, fittingly, got the hot tag. The way this match was structured and the time it was given suggest there might actually be someone in WWE that DOES know how to book such things. Or maybe i’m just being naive again and this was a one-shot, time will tell. Anyway, if this is the start of Sasha and Becky’s push, then the Diva Revolution starts right now as far as I’m concerned.

Yes, Owens vs Ziggler was a good match. But that’s all it was really and I still think that’s a shame. The fact that there was no emotional involvement, no storyline, no creative effort behind it, reduced what could have been an hard-fought battle into a long squash-match. I mean did anyone really believe Dolph was going over at anytime in the match? even Dolph’s body-language was resigned more than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, the right man went over, as Dolph’s role in life is now clearly jobber-to-the-stars and Owens really needed that clear, definitive victory, but this could have been much better with some more storytelling behind it. This is basically the problem I have with the way Owens and others have been booked. Every feud (except the Cena thing) Owens has been in felt somewhat underwhelming because of the lack of creative push or storytelling. Note to WWE creative, it’s not because you’re putting something on the mid-card that you don’t have to make any effort to push it, on the contrary. Here is hoping Owens finally gets a program towards WM where he can go all out on all levels (AJ Styles?).

Thank the wrestling gods for Luke Harper who was the glue that kept the next match from falling into total dud territory. Barely. At least they managed to keep things somewhat entertaining, thanks to Ryback and Rowan at least being enthusiastic while Strowman, Big Show and Kane had a contest about who could move the slowest. I have no clue what good it does anyone to have the Wyatt lose here, they seemed to have some sort of role for them going into WM, but, now, they lost most of their momentum (again). Also, I know The Big Show garnered some sympathy with his appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast, so, yes, he’s a nice guy, yes, WWE’s booking of him HAS been horrible over the years, but that still does not mean I want to see him pushed over younger, much more talented guys in 2016. Sorry Show.

Watching Charlotte vs Brie after the opening tag match made it crystal clear who should be pushed to the moon in WWE’s woman’s division. Because, unfortunately for Charlotte, this match clearly showcased her limitations. Charlotte is a good, competent performer, but she’s at her best when she has someone whose skill level is superior to hers, not the other way around. In other words, she’s no miracle worker like Sasha, Becky, Bayley and/or Asuka can be. She should be the heel that threatens the real faces of the Diva Revolution, she should never have been the one leading said revolution. As for Brie, and I’ve said this before, bless her, she tries, but Manami Toyota she ain’t. If this has been Brie’s swan song in WWE, I guess it gets a pass, as she does deserves some credit for at least trying to improve. But, even if they did get the crowd into things towards the end, this match clearly proved that the Diva Division as we have all known it for years now is a thing of the past. It’s time for Sasha, bayley, Becky, Asuka, Emma, Charlotte and all the others to open the doors to the future.

Not the best match of the AJ/Jericho series, since their timing seemed somewhat off at times (not sure who’s to blame, I thin Jericho, as it seems to me AJ was trying the hardest to keep things together). Still a good match though as I firmly believe Styles is physically incapable of having a bad match. I was somewhat infuriated at WWE’s booking of the Styles Clash though. Here is a finishing move that had been presented has absolutely lethal over the past few year, to the point that top NJPW stars like Okada, Naito, Tanahashi and Nakamura would hit the panic button as soon as Styles made a hint of using it, but, in WWE, after only two appearances, it has already been kicked out off. Now, what’s the point of that? Why would you devalue a move that every wrestling fan accepts as one of the top finishers in the world in favor of the Calf Killer? If they needed something for a near-fall, AJ’s offensive repertoire is more than vast enough to come up with something impressive, so why not continue to pretext a move hat has already been established in such a great manner? Sometimes, I just don’t get the way WWE thinks. Anyway, depsite those problems, entertaining stuff here, and we eagerly await who Styles next opponent will be (Owens?).

The less that we write about the following two segments, the better. That was absolute non-sense. And not even of the funny kind. ‘Nuff said.

OK, one more thing, ADR vs Kalisto had to be moved to the pre-show for that load of crap? Mind-boggling…

And then he was time for the least over top babyface of all time to go over.Because, really, that’s the story of the match. Ambrose and Lesnar had some very heated exchanges, and, let’s be fair, Reigns handled himself well, but he was the least over of the three, by a wide margin. That being said, this was a good, quite entertaining match, who was (mostly) booked the right way. Even for the winner, if we forget that none of us really wants Reigns in the main-event for a minute, then the Reigns win was booked the correct way. Of course, WWE killed any potential Reigns might have had as a babyface a long time ago, so, ultimately, this was all for naught. Good news is the Wyatts didn’t interfere, which might lead us to Lesnar vs Ambrose at WM, which is, less face it, much more enticing than any other possibility. As for HHH vs Reigns… Well, they can actually still save that if they go the HHH/Nash route! The Finger-poke Of Doom is main-eventing WrestleMania and the crowd goes wild!!!

… OK, I’m stopping now.


Conclusion: Fastlane was much the same as most previous PPV’s in recent WWE history. Most wrestlers worked their asses off to present something good, but, misguided, or lack off in some cases, booking prevented this from being any more than your typical WWE B-show. The Road to WrestleMania has entered its last stretch and I can’t see many fans going into Dallas with much enthusiasm. Ah well, there is still the awesome-looking NXT TakeOver Dallas I guess…





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