The New Day def. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev
I don’t know about you guys, but WWE has been killing it on the pre-shows lately. I didn’t expect much out of this match because WWE was airing backstage segments during the match, but this ended up being a tremendous match to warm up the crowd.
They kept the story basic, and they were to keep the crowd in it the entire time. I also like how they slowly but gradually raised the intensity of the match after each near-fall. It was a match of no consequence, and it was just four people working their tails off. Great start! ***1/2
The Usos (C) def. The Miz and Shane McMahon – SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The tag teams seem to be bringing the heat tonight, evidently. Again, I’m not a fan of The Miz and Shane McMahon as a team, but both teams worked hard here once again. Shane McMahon has always been a crazy SOB, and intercepting a frog splash in mid-air in 2019 was really something.
I was also a huge fan of the finish. The Miz lost in their last match because he wasn’t careful with his cover. Here, The Miz stepped out of his comfort zone by going to the top rope and getting the same fate dealt to him. It gives us consistency as well.
Now I don’t know how I feel about Shane McMahon’s heel turn, because he really shouldn’t be a character that we should be concerned with in 2019. But I suppose it gives The Miz something to do. All in all, an eventful start. ***1/2
Asuka (C) def. Mandy Rose – SmackDown Women’s Championship
Well that was, er, not good. The match didn’t have much build to begin with, and the match pretty much matched the intensity, or lack thereof, of the feud. Simply put, the match sucked. There wasn’t a flow to the match, and the only story to follow here was what Sonya was doing on the outside.
So Sonya Deville looks for something on the apron once and moves away. Then she gets a Kendo Stick, leaves the apron up, Mandy Rose slips, and the match ends? Um, okay? I don’t know if the story is Sonya Deville wanting a shot at the women’s title for herself or whatever, but everything here was awkward and disjointed. *
Cesaro and Sheamus def. Kofi Kingston – Handicap Match
Boy, this night was just filled with things the fans didn’t pay to see, eh? I did like the angle with Vince McMahon screwing over Kofi Kingston, as this is clearly a part of something bigger.
The match, if you want to call it that, however, is as the crowd said it was, boring. To be honest, this was really more of an angle than a formal match so I won’t even give it a rating.
I didn’t even think this was needed to hammer the point home. This continued the story, but not in the way I wanted.
The Revival (C) def. Aleister Black/Ricochet and Bobby Roode/Chad Gable – Raw Tag Team Championship
The crowd went from chanting “This is boring” to “This is awesome” best the span of two matches. While I wouldn’t say this match was “awesome”, this was exactly what I wanted it to be. An energetic sprint. We’ve already had two tag team matches. Three if you consider the handicap match to be one.
And with that, we still have The Shield six-man tag and ANOTHER set of tag titles to be defended. What this match needed to do is not only find a way to stand out but make sure they didn’t lose a crowd that would be subject to fatigue.
All teams kept up a brisk pace, there was brief resting periods, and they just went at it. Ricochet’s high flying acrobatics remain amazing, The Revival took advantage of opportunities and Bobby Roode/Chad Gable took risks that almost paid off.
The right tag team won, and I enjoyed myself here. Good stuff. ***3/4
Samoa Joe (C) def. R-Truth, Andrade and Rey Mysterio – United States Championship
Be reminded, this was originally supposed to be Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade on the pre-show.
Thankfully, it looks like superstars are getting the message. I liked this match a lot as well for the same reasons why I liked the match before it. There was nothing long and drawn out, and everyone was throwing haymakers from the moment the bell rang.
Rey Mysterio’s ability at this stage of his career is still incredible. I have no idea how he has the wherewithal to hit some of those hurricanrana’s. Andrade’s cockiness and callbacks to Eddie Guerrero was great, R-Truth in his usual self is good in any capacity and Samoa Joe did what he does best, and that’s give you a false sense of security before finishing you off.
Even the interactions with Carmella and Zelina Vega eventually leading to Samoa Joe wisely taking advantage of the distraction was clever booking as well.
SmackDown LIVE’s mid-card is looking to be in great shape, and I’m glad they’re riding with Joe going into WrestleMania. Overall, this match didn’t overstay it’s welcome and the occupied the time given to them tremendously. Quality-wise, this was on par with this match on SmackDown LIVE, if not a bit higher. ****
Sasha Banks (C) and Bayley (C) def. Nia Jax and Tamina – Women’s Tag Team Championships
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get behind this match. This was primarily due to the fact that Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka are two of the worst in-ring performers I’ve ever seen, and they are on the same team. I wish I could say this in jest, but they are seriously just bad. Nia Jax is dangerous and clumsy, and Tamina Snuka is somehow a worse version of her.
God bless Sasha Banks and Bayley for their passion because they carried this match along, and the effort was certainly there. But with Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka, a match can only be so good. I give them the benefit of the doubt, but I didn’t really enjoy this. So, are Beth Phoenix and Natalya challenging for the titles now? *3/4
Daniel Bryan (C) def. Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali – WWE Championship
So much to digest here. Mustafa Ali was a logical replacement for Kofi Kingston because he was supposed to be in the Elimination Chamber. My biggest fear going to into this match was that the inevitable chants for Kofi Kingston would ruin my enjoyment of the match.
Sure enough, early on, we got chants of “Kofi” and “boring”. If we are being fair, the match was kind of slow-paced to start. I think Kevin Owens, Mustafa Ali and Daniel Bryan were still trying to find a comfort zone.
However, once they found that sweet spot, this match kicked major ass. Mustafa Ali is one fearless SOB, and some of the things he does is insane. I think he’s actually the male version of Sasha Banks in terms of the risks he likes to take. He was just flying all over the place. But he makes the moves of others look incredibly impactful. Definitely an underrated performer.
Kevin Owens carried the structure of the match as well, as he had to find a way to not only fend off Daniel Bryan and Mustafa Ali, but do something about Erick Rowan (you’d think Mustafa Ali and Kevin Owens would take him out from the start to avoid him being a factor to end).
Daniel Bryan, of course, is a phenomenal heel and has great instincts. It showed here, especially with that insane finish when he hit his finisher in mid-air. Overall, the match started slow, but as the match moved along, they got the crowd back into it and all three busted their asses. Definitely a quality showing here. ****1/4
Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair by DQ
This match went exactly like how I knew it would. Right down to the finish. Overall, the match was limited because of how much Becky Lynch was selling her legs. So, obviously we couldn’t have expected a heated back and forth.
But I do give them points for trying because Charlotte Flair’s trash talk was glorious and she wisely went after the knee. Meanwhile, Becky Lynch did her best to take advantage of any opening she saw. They’ve had far better showings, but for what it was, I’ll give them some love. But yeah, pretty anticlimactic. Ronda didn’t even tear them apart like I wanted. It was just a little punch. **1/4
The Shield def. Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin
In terms of the structure of the match, this kind of reminded me of The Shield’s matches against Evolution back in the day. Usually it would be just Roman Reigns and someone else in the ring and Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins all over the arena and Seth Rollins diving all over the place.
Overall, this was an extremely solid main event. If this was truly the last time The Shield are together, then I think they did it right. We got all of the qualities that made Shield matches special. The triple powerbombs, the individual finishers, throwing caution to the wind and Dean and Seth diving at anyone in sight were all accounted for.
Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin’s offense weren’t really all that intriguing to me, and The Shield are at their best when they face people that can match their intensity, like The Wyatt Family. This isn’t to say the opposing “Beat up Braun Strowman” trio was lackadaisical. Baron Corbin was a true workhorse here and he went toe to toe with Roman Reigns.
Drew McIntyre is built like a Greek God so any thing he does looks impressive. I just can’t help but feel that some of the action was just drawn out. So while the main event was a bit long, it accomplished its purpose and gave the fans a true feel good moment to send them home. I think they deserved it after Elias was crapping on them all night. ***1/2
Well, if there’s anything I can say, it’s that WWE brought new meaning to the term “card subject to change”.
As much as I would love to hate WWE PPV’s when they are awful, I can’t do it here. Fastlane 2019 was a quality show to me. If you can get past the poor women’s championship match, the women’s tag title match and some of the filler with Kofi Kingston, I really think there’s a quality show here.
WWE followed a multi-man formula for most of the night, and this resulted in some entertaining, quick paced action. Whether it was the Raw triple threat tag, the fatal four-way, or the WWE Title match, there just seemed to be something special in the air in Cleveland.
While this show could have definitely used some trimming of the fat, I honesty believe the show had more good than bad. At the absolute worst you could the good on this show was nothing spectacular, but the bad was not nearly bad enough to ruin the show. Thumbs up for Fastlane 2019.