Every fan of pro wrestling knows the results in the ring are often meaningless. Usually, the performance on the way to the result matters so much more. With that in mind, let’s take a look at WWE’s presentation of Fastlane 2019, and see who the real winners and losers were.
Shane McMahon & The Miz vs. The Usos (c)
Arguably, the biggest winners here were the belts themselves. They get to stay with a real tag team, and with any luck, will actually be fought over in meaningful tag matches again. The belts have been nothing but a prop since Shane McMahon and The Miz won them, all building to last night’s split. The biggest loser was, unquestionably, The Miz’s dad. After him, it was The Miz. Sure, he’s bound to come out of WrestleMania with the win over Shane McMahon, but now he has to do it as a babyface, a role that’s never fit him well. And at the end of the day, it’ll be a win over Shane McMahon, and will mean as much as that means. Here’s to The Uso’s getting back to taking on tag teams.
Mandy Rose vs. Asuka (c)
A true filler of a match, and an opportunity for Mandy Rose she didn’t take advantage of. All of the ladies in the singles division not named Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair are playing second fiddle at the moment. Asuka is arguably the lady who can feel most aggrieved. She put on a decent performance, and is definitely still an audience favorite, but even as a champion she’s on a back burner at the moment. This win didn’t feel like much to celebrate for Asuka.
The Bar vs. Kofi Kingston
The only winner here was Vince McMahon, who got exactly what he wanted from his swerve announcement. The Bar and Kofi Kingston did their best, suffering through, “This is boring” chants during the bout. But Sheamus and Cesaro were always in the unenviable position of being the two-against-one. Tough to look like a winner, regardless of the result. And despite the fact we can assume this is building to Kofi Kingston getting his shot at WrestleMania, it’s hardly building him up on the way. A no-contest for The Bar, and a loss for Kofi Kingston and The New Day.
Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. The Revival (c)
All of Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Ricochet, Aleister Black and The Revival looked good in the Raw Tag Team Championship match. Great action and some impressive tag team wrestling, which was nice to see. The Revival retaining the belts was a win for them, and Ricochet and Aleister Black claiming the ring post-match was a win for them.
R-Truth vs Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe (c)
I loved Andrade’s mid-match homage to Eddie Guerrero. Lil’ Rey and R-Truth are the best of the veteran talent on the roster. Both men still look to throw as much energy at every spot in a match as they ever have. Andrade looked great, an excellent adversary for Rey Mysterio. When he’s dominant, he looks like he’s in control, powerful and calculated. But he sells spots like he’s making ‘rookie mistakes’, able to make it look like experience and veteran know-how keeps Rey Mysterio in the match. And Joe retains his newly-won United States title headed towards WrestleMania, so that’s a win for him. R-Truth’s probably the only real loser here, coming away from the match with nothing to do – aside from work on his and Carmella’s duet skills.
Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka vs. The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (c)
A training session for Tamina Snuka probably consists of her repeatedly running into a telephone poll outside her house. Bayley carried the bulk of the work, along with Nia Jax. Beth Phoenix looking down at Tamina Snuka post-match somewhat took away from Tamina Snuka’s ‘gigantic’ gimmick. However, the pair getting to beat up Beth Phoenix and Natalya saved them from losing too much face, despite losing the match. Bayley looked good, Banks looked like a passenger.
Mustafa Ali vs. Kevin Owens vs. Daniel Bryan (c)
The live crowd in attendance, and apparently every fan on Twitter, just wanted to see Kofi Kingston in the match. Instead, Mustafa Ali was reintroduced to a crowd that hadn’t seen him in a month, and it showed. Kevin Owens looked good for his big return, and Daniel Bryan was outstanding as always. Mustafa Ali’s 450 onto Daniel Bryan on the ring apron was a nice spot, and he probably earned himself some more new fans tonight. But that doesn’t do much to explain what he was doing in there, outside of eating the pin. All three men looked good, but the biggest winner in this match was Kofi Kingston. He’s in the same position, ironically, that Daniel Bryan himself was in a few short years ago.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch’s jacket got the first pinning predicament of the match before the bell even rang. The start of the match itself reminded me of the old joke about the one-legged woman in an ass-kicking contest. Did someone in the Makeup Department drop a microphone down Charlotte Flair’s top? She was easier to hear than John Cena in the ring. Ronda Rousey interfering was easy to see for Stevie Wonder, so no prizes for anyone who guessed. And at the end of it all, sure, we get Becky Lynch in the Triple Threat WrestleMania bout. But what a long, strange trip it was. No contests all around.
The pointless Elias skits tonight were only slightly less pointless than Lacey Evans once again walking down the aisle, so she could turn around and walk back. I imagine they’re doing this in an attempt to save the botched stroll she made at the Royal Rumble. Neither were in a match, but both Elias and Evans get losses for tonight.
The Shield vs. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley
I saw a few suggestions for the nameless trio on Twitter – BaronMcInLash; The McIntyre, The Lashley and The Ugly; The Midcard World Order. Call them what you will, I think we can all agree, they were never going to be anything but losers at Fastlane. If you’re a big fan of The Shield, you probably enjoyed it. If you’re a big fan of logic and coherent stories in your wrestling, you’re probably better off looking at it as a one-off nostalgia trip, and letting it go. Roman Reigns looked good for his full return. Seth Rollins doesn’t come out of the last PPV to WrestleMania looking like the dominant force to tackle Brock Lesnar. There’s a lot of work to do in a month to build credibility for that match. The three bad guys leave as aimless and devoid of momentum as they were coming in. If anyone won, it was Dean Ambrose, the free agent who got to show all the other wrestling companies why they might want to prepare an offer.
All in all, Fastlane 2019 was odd. It didn’t feel much like the run-in to WrestleMania, maybe because there wasn’t much on the card that actually tied in to the Show of Shows. Matches being added, matches being changed, matches ending with non-finishes rendering several weeks of television pointless – several people online were drawing comparisons with late-day WCW. No wrestling company wants to hear that. There are only four weeks of television left between now and Mania, and an awful lot of build to be done in that time.