Watry’s In Person WWE FastLane 2017 Review
Hi, I’m Justin Watry. You may remember me from such classic columns as March 2012’s “WWE WrestleMania 28: Sheamus Should Defeat Daniel Bryan in Less Than a Minute” and October 2015’s “WWE NXT: Bobby Roode, You’re Next.”
As I am sure most of you know, I was live in attendance for WWE FastLane last night. Here are my thoughts on the entire evening.
WWE FastLane 2017 Review
Entering The Building – After getting some drinks and food at a nearby restaurant, we were ready to enter the arena at about 5:30pm (central time). There had been a line outside for awhile as guys/gals arrived. We opted for adult beverages and burgers instead, despite the somewhat nice weather. As we got to the door, there was Brock Lesnar Fan and crew standing by the will call window. Make you wonder how some of these clowns get tickets and/or work…or do anything…
Rush – No surprise, the merchandise table was packed. Shirts were $25-$35 a pop. Some Smackdown LIVE stuff. John Cena had his junk of course. Makes sense, no complaints there. Some pretty cool special Milwaukee/FastLane gear. I was soooo tempted to buy one of the Bucks/green/WWE design. Pictures are on my Twitter account (@JustinWatry). We were floor seating, so it was straight to the entrance. Easy, easy.
— Justin Watry (@JustinWatry) March 5, 2017
First Pop Of The Night – Booker T made his way out to the Kickoff stage right after that. He was, obviously, greeted to cheers and fans reacting to the first ‘star’ of the night. Everybody else then followed. We just chatted. I have yet to go back and watch the Kickoff Show on the WWE Network and highly doubt I will. Sorry. The ropes were already purple, so showtime…
Cruiserweights – Not going to lie. Akira Tozawa was someone I had never seen or heard of before last year. Even as of Sunday night, I had not been 100% sold on him. Well, throw that all out the window. The fans took to him and enjoyed his moves, motions, chants, whatever. They bought into his act more than anyone else in this tag team bout. Rich Swann coming out did get a bunch of fans to dance though. Guess that counts for something.
Go Time – The 30 second countdown clock hit for the live crowd, and it was on! Amazing pyro display as usual to begin the pay-per-view event. Loud and energetic from the start in Milwaukee. Predictable “Wooo!” chants while waiting around; those have been around forever it seems. I figured Big Cass and Enzo would begin the show. Even a girl with a sign for them nearby got set. Nope, it was Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe. Okay, not a bad choice. Good match. Joe winning was always the end game, but Zayn made you believe in the under dog. As he should. Plays that part so well. Still no Muscle Buster.
Bayley/Nia Jax Staredown – Couldn’t hear what Bayley or Nia Jax because of the loud crowd yelling for the RAW Womens Champion. Something about IF she she had the title after Sunday or something.
Tag Titles – Alright, here come Big Cass and Enzo! I admit it, I got suckered into the act. The local mentions, the chants, the fan interaction. It is pretty addicting when you are there live. Even if you don’t really care much for them (hi!), it is cool. Kudos to Big Cass and Enzo for their promo skills. It is mostly Enzo, but Cass has great timing, and some of his facial reactions are priceless. Not many felt that passionately about Karl Anderson or Luke Gallows. Everything was for Big Cass and Enzo – not necessarily against the specific heels, if that makes sense. Gallows and Anderson retain. I agree with that decision. Orlando is NXT Country, save the big title change for down the road.
Mick Foley Talks – Pretty pointless backstage segments with Mick Foley all night, honestly. Whatever they paid to fly him in and talk was not worth the price. Maybe if I saw him come out to the ring in person or something cool. Not filler nonsense about Stephanie McMahon not being there…or setting up Jinder Mahal and Rusev nonsense. Yawn.
Sasha Banks V Nia Jax – Um yeah, sorry. I didn’t leave my seat, but many fans did. Bathroom break for this one. Can’t really blame the folks. This was my least anticipated bout of WWE FastLane in the leadup. A minor upset with Sasha Banks winning, which is wild to say considering she is a former title holder and main evented RAW (and a pay-per-view) in 2016. Jax losing was semi-surprising, but the entire night of women’s matches felt ‘off’ to me. Little girls were cheering on Sasha in the crowd. I couldn’t wait for their reactions when/if she turned heel later…
Cesaro V Jinder Mahal – Should have lasted 30 seconds. However, that would have taken away from the main event I suppose. Sheamus only appeared on stage for a second. Funny during the Kickoff Show he and Cesaro played to the crowd a lot. Not sure what was all shown on the WWE Network. They kept posing. Boos for Sheamus. Cheers for Cesaro. Then they left…and came back to do it again. The two looked to be having a blast.
Big Show V Rusev – Actually not bad. Moments earlier, it appeared Rusev was turning face with his new look and moving on from Mahal. No face turn though. Not yet at least. Lana was still out there, as Show just destroyed Rusev. Very one sided. Makes me think the Shaq/WrestleMania 33 thing might be back on with such a dominating performance. Otherwise, no reason for this. None.
Kevin Owens Interview – Not much to it. Everybody in the building knew Mr. KO was getting decimated later on. Heck, even the parking dude talked about Bill Goldberg getting the title. The chants and talk in the lobby, all Goldberg. Merchandise too. Sorry to all the whiners and complainers out there over this entire situation, but that’s just how it is right now. The purple ropes were being wrapped on as Owens talked.
Cruiserweight Title – Match of the night up to this point. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns edged it out I thought. Still, make no mistake, this was likely the best cruiserweight match since the division came to Raw in September 2016. Fans bought into the Jack Gallagher character and enjoyed themselves. Nothing wrong with being a different kind of wrestler than the other 99% on the roster. It works for him. I love it. Neville wowed with some of his maneuvers and won. Hard hitting match. Like I said, hot crowd and great in-ring action. Two Austin Aries hype packages aired during the event. Good, more than ready for his return.
Paul Heyman Speaks – Right when Paul Heyman appeared, you knew Brock Lesnar wasn’t showing up. I didn’t think he would anyways, but that sealed it. Milwaukee, on the other hand, bought into the tease. Clever promo though. Smart man.
The New Day – Product placement and filler. Live crowd loved The New Day way more than Green Bay on Monday. I have to believe WWE has a big idea in mind for WM 33 with the trio. Another ice cream cart segment won’t cut it. Fine for what it was.
Roman Reigns V Braun Strowman – My match of the night. Also, for the record, I picked either a non-finish or a Braun victory due to The Undertaker’s music playing. Never thought The DeadMan would be there live. In other words, I (again) picked Reigns to lose on PPV. At the same time, I appeared in 411 Fact or Fiction last week and defended the idea of him winning over Braun. Why? Simple. Logic. If The Big Dog is truly going to wrestle The Undertaker, newsflash folks – HE SHOULD HAVE WON AT FASTLANE! Not just to protect his own streak at the event but to be ready for the biggest test of his career: Taker at Mania. Nothing compares to that. If it was anybody else, we ALL would agree the wrestler in question should look strong and match up evenly with The DeadMan. You know, NOT lose a month before the showdown. I was all for keep Braun unbeaten, but guys do have to lose at some point. You can’t base your career off being a monster forever. Luckily, I think Strowman will be fine and continue adding to his arsenal. One loss is okay; everyone can breathe easy. WWE played it off as him beating himself with a needless risk, with Reigns barely surviving.
Oh, and about the top rope move, you haven’t seen anything yet. Braun can do a lot more than that. Beware.
Samoa Joe Tease – Like the other Mick Foley segments, this did nothing for me. Why would Samoa Joe get involved in the main event. My buddy and I kept wondering what that was all about. Nothing was ever even hinted at. First like a last minute plea for people to suspect Goldberg wasn’t going to just run right through Kevin Owens.
Raw Womens Title – Lots of fan interest in this. Felt like the dual main event kinda. Definitely fell flat once it going going. The mishaps certainly didn’t help things, nor did following an excellent brawl with Reigns and Strowman. Would Bayley win to keep the title or would Charlotte keep her one on one PPV winning streak alive? I had feared the latter sooooo much but stuck with rooting for the champ last night. Even if (like Braun) it didn’t feel like the right outcome, I will defend it. We got another Sasha Banks foreshadowing moment, the title actually DIDN’T change hands for once, and Charlotte can officially move to the next chapter of her career. All positives. Was the time right for Charlotte to lose on pay-per-view? No, that’d be Mania…but similarly to Strowman, it isn’t the worst thing in the world. Inevitably was going to happen anyways. Still hoping for no fatal four at WM in the Raw women’s division. We want Sasha vs. Bayley!
— Justin Watry (@JustinWatry) March 6, 2017
WWE Universal Title -Jacked up crowd for Bill Goldberg. As mentioned, the entire event was built around him and winning the championship. Locally, that was everywhere. In the lobby, in the crowd, in the streets, etc. I know the fantasy bookers were in high spirits, but Kevin Owens was never winning at FastLane. Not in two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, or a million years. Spear, jackhammer, cover. New Universal Champion on the Road to WrestleMania, just as was promised on Raw last week. Fans showed up to the building to see this payoff, and they got it. As reported months back, neither Kevin Owens or AJ Styles get to walk into WM with a title. Disappointing for them I’m sure, but did you see the crowd? Again? The snowball keeps rolling for Goldberg, so I am all for the company to continue the momentum. The Chris Jericho distraction was spoiled beforehand by a production error. Even so, the finish worked wonders for WWE as a whole and Milwaukee live in person. Win-win all around. Satisfying conclusion to FastLane indeed.
Aftermath – Bill Goldberg posed with the title, and that was it. We were thanked for coming and wished a safe ride home. As the traffic let out, fans were pretty sure it was Chris Jericho who left first in a red rental car. Kinda funny if it was him getting out of there right away. Austin Aries was spotted as well, a quick wave out the window. Then came the limos and such. Couldn’t see. Rather than plow through the packed streets, we stopped at a bar for an hour or two for a beer. Met up with some cool people who bought some shots for me. I hope to see them in Orlando later this month. Good wrestling talk and wished them well. If you are reading this, hey! Now you know my real name, haha. Classic picture on my Twitter account from the bar and more little tidbits from the night; trust me – you will love it.
Summary: Great time with friends. Upbeat atmosphere. Nearly a full venue and a major historic moment to end the night. Yeah, I disagreed with some of the outcomes. Who cares? Nitpicking at its finest. Overall a blast to be there live.
WrestleMania 33 Update
Officially less than a month until heading to Orlando. Tickets arrived on Monday, and the flight/hotel plans are booked! If I end up going to the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, NXT Takeover, or even stick around for TV tapings, that would be a spur of the moment decision. It is all about attending Mania baby! Met some great people after WWE FastLane – hope you are there in Orlando! Drinks on me this time…
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