Wrestling Review: WWE Fastlane (2021)

With Wrestlemania looming large, there is only one more stop on the Road to Wrestlemania, as former friends collide at WWE Fastlane. In the main event, Daniel Bryan will get one last chance at the Universal Championship as he facing the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns, with Royal Rumble winner, Edge, acting as special guest enforcer. Will Edge call it down the middle, or will Edge’s desire to defeat Roman Reigns cause him to act against the interests of Daniel Bryan? Just three weeks before challenging for the WWE Championship, Drew McIntyre will be in action as he faces former friend turned bitter rival, Sheamus, in a match where there are No Holds Barred. In perhaps the most unique match on the show, former 14-time world champion Randy Orton will also be in action, against none other than Alexa Bliss, at Bliss’ own request. With the threat of The Fiend still hanging heavy over both Bliss and Orton, what will Orton be able to do to Alexa when he finally gets her one on one? These three huge confrontations, as well as three championship matches, one grudge match, and Seth Rollins versus Shinsuke Nakamura in only the second ever meeting between the two.

+ Roman Reigns (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Daniel Bryan (WWE Universal Championship) (Edge is the special guest enforcer): this was really good. Bryan works well with Reigns, especially now that Reigns is more confident using his bad guy and power tactics. The walk and talk style suits Reigns really well, and the addition of Edge on the outside meant Reigns had two targets to aim his jibes at. Bryan is just fantastic at everything, and he was the star of this match. This was a great main event
+ Alexa Bliss vs Randy Orton: the outcome to this was obvious from the moment it was announced. This wasn’t great, but it didn’t outstay its welcome and it delivered on the expectation
+ Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus (No Holds Barred Match): I could watch these two beat the crap out of each other on every show and never get tired of it. This was not a particularly visually pleasing match, but both guys were willing to beat their opponent, and be beaten themselves, to make this into something really exciting. You all know I’m asucker for those Shingo/Suzuki/KENTA/Goto/Ishii matches in New Japan and this was basically one of those including the ringside area. I loved it
+ Shinsuke Nakamura vs Seth Rollins: it’s funny that even without anything resembling a coherent story, just letting two guys go and do something they are good at (that is, wrestle) gave us one of the better matches on the show. A few years ago this may have been considered a dream match, and while it may not have quite reached those heights it was still really good
+ Riddle (c) vs Mustafa Ali (WWE United States Championship): this was relegated to the pre-show, which makes sense considering we’ve seen it two in the last few weeks already anyway. The match was fine, and Ali is supremely underrated, but this all seemed to be a way to set up the post-match shenanigans

Shane McMahon vs Braun Strowman: unsurprisingly, this did not happen as was advertised. God forbid WWE deliver on the things they say they will
Big E vs Apollo Crews (WWE Intercontinental Championship): this was touted as a big grudge match, but it never even had the chance to be close to that, before a clunky (and perhaps botched?) finish destroyed any remaining momentum. I wanted this to be good, and I gave it a chance, but it’s clear the WWE doesn’t want these two to be anything special
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (c) (w/ Reginald) vs Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair (WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships): I’m really not sure who the ‘good guy’ in this match was meant to be, because everybody looked like an idiot. The defending champion duo looked entirely incompetent, and barely able to win when they had the 2-on-1 advantage, and Sasha looked as if this was her first ever tag team match, and Belair actually being the rookie in this storyline precludes her being allowed to stand up for herself. This was garbage

Should you watch this event: There were only two matches on here that anybody could realistically have been excited for, and both of them – McIntyre/Sheamus and Reigns/Bryan – were good. Bliss/Orton was fun for what it was, and both Riddle/Ali and Nakamura/Rollins were good, too.

That said, this show was wholly unnecessary. WWE needs to put Elimination Chamber back a few weeks and make it the only stop between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Use the Chamber match itself for the show, Raw or SmackDown, whose wrestler did not win the Rumble to choose their number one contender (using the best performers of that brand from the Rumble match itself), and have the Rumble winner of the other show defend their win in the second to last match. It’s simple, but they refuse to do things the easy way.

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