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Cook’s WWE Fastlane 2019 Report Card

March 11, 2019 | Posted by Steve Cook
Daniel Bryan Kevin Owens Fastlane

Hi, hello & welcome to the WWE Fastlane Report Card! The main talking point heading into this show…do we really need two shows between Royal Rumble & WrestleMania? The answer is probably not, but I’m not going to complain too much about a good night of wrestling.

Or will I?

The Kickoff Show panels somehow get worse by the month. This time we’ve got Jonathan Coachman (no thanks), Beth Phoenix (ok), Sam Roberts (yuck) & David Otunga (meh). Not much of note happens with that except The Iiconics show up for a little bit.

Yeah, that’s all you need to see there. Oh, and there was a match too…

Kickoff Show Tag Team Match: Big E & Xavier Woods vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev (w/Lana)

Just before this, Kofi was asked to speak with the McMahon Family about tonight’s WWE Championship match. So that’s why he’s not out there to counter-act Lana, who is still wearing her boot on her left foot for the injury she suffered at the hands of Nakamura. And he & Rusev are teaming & want to dominate as a tag team on SmackDown Live. It makes sense because…they’re not Americans? Woods gets some flips early until Nakamura kicks his head off his head. The non-Americans dominate Xavier while we see a plug for tonight’s show. Bearhug! The domination continues while Miz, Miz’s Dad & Shane talk some shop. The announcers talk about all of the amazing tag teams on Tuesday nights, which only serves to make people wonder where they are tonight. Xavier finally hits a missile dropkick & Big E gets the tag. Lots of suplexes to Nakamura, some gyrations, and a Warrior Splash! Nakamura tries a guillotine choke. That doesn’t work, but blocking the spear to the floor with a kick does. Xavier tags back in and gets his head kicked off his head by Rusev for a two count. Xavier & E with some fun doubleteams, but Lana crotches Xavier on the turnbuckle, leaving Big E ripe for a Machka Kick. Since it’s a WWE tag team match, that finish isn’t it. Xavier dives into the arms of Rusev & Nakamura on the floor, then gets powerbombed! OK, that two count is some bullshit right there. Cactus Jack lost his memory & moved to Cleveland after a move like that. Nakamura stretching out the rope during Rusev’s Accolade is cool. Rusev takes a header into the ringpost, then Woods & E hit Up Up Down Down for the three count.

Lots of stuff being done here. It’s nice to know that Xavier & E still exist. I still don’t get the whole Nakamura/Rusev teaming, and I like to think I keep track of SD stuff pretty well, but they make a decent enough team so whatever. Hey, it’s the preshow and most people aren’t even watching this.

Grades
New Day: B
NakaRusev: B

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. Shane McMahon & The Miz

Man, Miz loves being a babyface. That entrance was as white-meat as it gets. Showing off the Browns-colored t-shirt, hugging his dad, the only thing missing was kissing a baby. He’s got another one coming! Shane landing some punches on Jimmy early, along with some classic wrestling moves. Miz & Shane work in a Hart Attack because why not? Shane gets beat up for awhile, and if Eric Bischoff was booking this he’d lose because he didn’t have a tan. Face looks sunburnt though. After getting beat up awhile, Shane hits the Rock DDT & makes the tag to Cleveland’s Own The Miz. It Kicks & double knees in the corner. Miz takes off his jersey to reveal his shirt, and jumps from the top onto the floor! Miz’s Dad claps & nods! Usos fight back though. A double superkick probably puts Miz out, but Shane makes the save. A Skull Crushing Finale gets a two count…unfortunately that referee was a bit busy attending to a down Shane. Miz goes for the figure 4 but gets rammed into the post instead. Miz breaks up the doubleteam and takes turns with the Usos. Shane & Uso standing on opposite corners…Uso goes for the splash & Shane kicks him in mid-air! Miz looks over to Miz’s Dad, who points to the top rope! Miz goes up…frog splash hits nothing but knees, and he gets rolled up for the three count! Damn it, Miz’s Dad!

Much better showing than last month. The crowd was excited for it and the performers upped their game. Usos do what they usually do.

Grades
Usos: B
McMiz: B

The real story happens after the match though. Miz helps Shane out of the ring while apologizing. Miz & Miz’s Dad hug, Shane helps raise the arms. After high-fiving Miz’s Dad, Shane attacks Miz from behind! He tears Miz’s shirt off and beats the man about the head. He & Miz’s Dad get into it, and Shane pie-faces the man! Triangle choke! Miz is down & out, and the folks are not happy. Miz gets helped out of the arena by the referees while the fans chant “Let’s Go Miz”. I’ll take “Things I Thought I’d Never Type” for $200, Alex.

This will be a big run for Miz. The one thing he’s missing from a pretty remarkable career is a successful run as a babyface. They tried it a few years back and it flopped pretty hard. Can it happen in 2019? I’m willing to give it a chance…as poorly as WWE books babyfaces, I think Miz is smart enough to know what he’s doing.

Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley cut a Shield promo. I find McIntyre’s promo style interesting, but I’m not sure I’m in the majority on that.

Elias is out to kind of play Tuesday’s Gone. He’s not wrong about Miz not aging well if he looks like his dad. A LeBron James reference & we’re out.

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Mandy Rose (w/Sonya Deville)

I feel a little uncomfortable watching this match while Corey Graves calls it in his Barry White voice. Believe it or not, Mandy actually does get some offense here. Asuka locks in the octopus hold while Sonya looks under the ring for…something? Rose dumps Asuka out of the hold. Asuka has a tough time getting Rose up for the German suplex, but the knee to the face goes fine. Hip attack on the ropes misses by a mile & Rose hits a strike for two. Deville’s back under the ring, and she’s found a kendo stick. Irish whip reversed, and Rose slips on the ring apron that Deville pushed into the ring. Asuka kicks her right in the mush and gets the win. Mandy seems unhappy with Sonya, who is very sorry.

Grades
Asuka: B-
Rose: C-

Kofi is still waiting outside. He has been for over an hour now, so Big E & Xavier lead him into the office. Vince McMahon has apparently been waiting for him. Xavier & Big E plead Kofi’s case for him. Big E thinks a triple threat would be a good idea. Vince has an idea. He says the WWE Championship match will be a triple threat. Xavier & Big E are barred from ringside, and Kofi should go down to the ring because his match is right now!

WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) (w/Rowan) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Kofi Kingston

Wait, hold on. Greg Hamilton is being informed that there’s been a change to the match.

Handicap Match: Kofi Kingston vs. The Bar

This is a two on one beatdown. Occasionally Kofi hits a strike or two, but it’s a squash. Kofi gets some support for a bit, but eventually the crowd turns on it and calls it boring. Xavier & E finally get mad enough to wander out, but Nakamura & Rusev strike them down for some reason. Because they’re not American. Lord, I hope this doesn’t lead to another League of Nations gimmick. After awhile, Sheamus & Cesaro put their feet on Kofi for the pinfall.

Kofi, Xavier & Big E looked like the biggest idiots & losers in the world here. If there’s a bright side, it’s that the Cleveland crowd, more than most crowds, could identify with looking like idiots & losers. Don’t get mad at me, Cleveland. You know it’s true.

At least we get to see Charly Caruso afterward, and she’s talking to Sasha Banks & Bayley. There ain’t no connection stronger than the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection, and you can bank on that.

Elias sings again. I guess he has a lot of material tonight, being in Cleveland and all.

Kayla Braxton is a lot smarter than Kofi Kingston, as it doesn’t take her an hour to get into the McMahon Family locker room. It doesn’t do much good, as Shane doesn’t have anything to say for himself.

Raw Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match: The Revival (c) vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. Chad Gable & Bobby Roode

You hear about all these barnburners the Revival & Roode/Gable have on the house show circuit. Add in the NXT boys and there’s some potential for fun here. Gable & Ricochet could totally main event an EVOLVE show. Scott Dawson really perfecting the Mini A-Train look with the bald hair & beard. Just needs to grow out the chest & back hair. Ricochet’s getting to do all the selling while Black’s getting to do all the pondering & jumping around on the apron. Roode & Black tag in, and now Black gets to run through all his strikes. Roode gets to hit a spinebuster. Black fights them off. Now everybody’s hitting moves off the top and nobody knows who’s legal. Top rope moves wake the crowd up. Ricochet ranas Dawson off the top & takes everybody out on the floor. Didn’t look pretty but they got the ending right. Ricochet goes up top, but there’s nobody around, so he runs across the ring, jumps over the ringpost and lands on Roode. OK then. Gable & Dawson exchange rollups, and the Shatter Machine ends it. Roode is a sore loser and DDTs Gable. Then Black hits Black Mass on Roode, Wilder gets cradleshocked by Ricochet, who then does the 630. All righty.

This didn’t quite hit the mindblowing status that people say these guys hit these days, but Ricochet did some cool stuff as usual.

Grades
Revival: B
Blacochet: B
Chobby: B-

United States Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Samoa Joe (c) vs. R-Truth (w/Carmella) vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade (w/Zelina Vega)

Tons of experience in this matchup. Rey & R-Truth have been around approximately forever, Joe’s not far behind them, and Andrade…well, he’s not thirty yet, so this is his chance to sit under the learning tree and learn the sports entertainment style. All three of Joe’s opponents end up on the floor, then Joe ends up on top of all three opponents. Damn, Andrade caught Rey with a lethal elbow. These guys aren’t getting paid by the hour. Rey manages to rana R-Truth & Andrade, then take them over with a headlock-headscissors combo. Joe clotheslines Truth & Rey. Rey breaks up a Coquina clutch, goes for a 619, gets caught, slips out of a running powerslam into a DDT on Joe. Andrade gets ranaed off the shoulders of R-Truth, who breaks up the pinfall with a slingshot legdrop. Andrade wants to do the three amigos because he wants to be Eddie Guerrero. That gets blocked, then he goes for the Gory Special, and that gets broken up. Joe yanks R-Truth off the apron, Andrade takes him out with a corkscrew plancha, then Rey hits a rana off the top onto the floor. Vega hits a superkick on Truth, and Carmella jumps her! Joe hits a urinagi in the ring and Truth & Andrade barely get in there & save it. Hammerlock DDT on Rey gets two. Joe’s down in the corner. Truth is running through John Cena’s moveset. Cena is Truth’s hero, you see. A lie detector to Andrade gets a nearfall. Truth sent into the post, Joe sent into the ropes for the 619 by Rey! Rey drops the dime on the mat, and Joe locks in the Coquina clutch for the tap out!

Well damn, I’m glad they decided to put that on the card. All four of them went all out. Amazing Rey can still do what he does at his advanced age, and that R-Truth can do what he does at his even more advanced age. Not to mention Joe with his body that’s probably past its sell by date.

Grades
Joe: A-
Truth: A-
Rey: A-
Andrade: A-

Beth Phoenix joins the Raw crew for the Women’s Tag Team Championship Match.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (c) vs, Nia Jax & Tamina

Nia & Tamina are certainly one of the most dangerous teams out there. Bayley takes a beating for awhile. Sasha tags in. Things…do not go well. Tamina & Nia try some power tag team moves that are pretty rough. I mean, they’re trying, but this is bowling shoe ugly. You’re not sure if Tamina’s botching, or Nia’s botching, or if Nia & Tamina are both botching, or what. All you know for sure is you don’t really want to see these teams go at it again. But you probably will, because Tamina & Nia immediately start beating Boss ‘n’ Hug down after the bell. Sasha gets tossed over the announce table. Beth wanders over towards Tamina, they start talking some stuff, and Beth lands a shot before getting stomped down by Nia & Tamina. Leg drop from Nia, then Natalya runs down to get beat up as well.

The one thing Nia & Tamina do well is come off as dangerous. That’s because it’s a shoot, brother!

Grades
Boss ‘n’ Hug: C
Tania: D-

Turns out that the WWE Championship match is still a triple threat!

WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: Daniel Bryan (c) (w/Rowan) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali

You don’t typically feel sorry for somebody randomly inserted into a WWE Championship Match, especially a fun kid like Mustafa Ali. But man…he was not what the people wanted tonight. He didn’t get booed out of the building or anything, but it certainly wasn’t a warm reception. Bryan says that neither of these idiots deserve to be in this match, and Owens & Ali team up on him for the moment. They toss him out and decide to wrestle each other. Owens’ mass is a bit much for Ali. Bryan runs in & gets chopped by Owens. KO’s breaching wrestling etiquette here, chopping a bare-chested man while wearing a t-shirt. I’m sure Bryan doesn’t mind, but that stuff gets you in trouble with men of a certain era. Flips by Mustafa! The more flips he does, the more he will win the crowd over. Owens does a flip of his own. A couple of cannonballs, actually. Bryan must feel at home with the crowd chanting for somebody not in the match. Jeez, Ali takes a huge bump off the middle rope into the barricade off a Bryan dropkick. Bryan with a ton of No Kicks in the corner. He does that joint manipulation business the kids are into. Ali does stir for a moment before getting tossed back outside. More No Kicks from Bryan. He actually hits the No Kick to the face & Ali breaks up the count. Ali eats some kicks, flips out and does some flips! He flips off of a Bryan clothesline next. Owens with some superkicks. Ali jumps on KO’s back attempting a sleeper, which results in a double senton on Bryan. Owens sets Bryan up for a superplex but never gets it…Ali with a reverse rana on Owens and a C4 off the top rope on Bryan! Ali misses the 054! Owens with a Stunner! Bryan breaks up the count. Bryan & Owens pair off with Ali out of commission for the moment. Pop-up Liger Bomb gets a two count for Owens, who thinks it was three. He takes Bryan to the apron, which winds up with Owens getting backdropped on the apron, and Bryan missing a running knee on Ali into the ringpost. Bryan gets neck snapped on the bottom rope, and Ali heads up top again….450 on the apron! Rowan helps Bryan get his shoulder up & pulls him outside. Now the big man heads towards the ring. Superkicks from Ali & KO send Rowan outside. Rana into the ringpost, Owens with the Fosbury Flop onto Rowan! Bryan with a knee to Owens’ face off the apron. Ali keeps Bryan from hitting KO with a top rope move…a series of backflips & jumps leads to Ali with a tornado DDT on the floor. Pop-up power bomb to Ali on the apron. Rowan takes KO out into the timekeepers’ area, and It’s down to Bryan & Ali. Bryan tells Ali that he doesn’t deserve to be here. Ali fires back after the slaps, flips off the ropes, and Bryan hits the running knee in mid-air for the three-count. Damn, that replay looks brutal.

Ali gets claw-slammed by Rowan afterwards. Dude, work in a tooth-brushing, will ya?

These guys were booked to fail, and they did anything but. Ali has certainly grown accustomed to making indifferent crowds care about what he’s doing, so even though he was thrown to the wolves tonight it didn’t faze him. Wrestlers with a ton more experience wouldn’t have done so well. I don’t know if this was an MOTYC like some out there are saying, but it sure didn’t suck.

Grades
Bryan: A
Owens: A
Ali: A

Good thing I can skip through the pre-match video on this one, as the last thing I want to do is re-live this portion of the Becky/Charlotte saga.

If Becky Lynch wins she will face Ronda Rousey & Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair

Rare that you see a wrestler crutching her way out to the ring like Tiny Tim, but this is where we are. Charlotte goads Becky on, which might not be the best strategy, but she’s smart enough to kick Becky in the injured knee. She works that knee over from time to time while continuing with the smack talk. Half crab by Charlotte, who sticks her tongue out like she’s Michael Jordan. Maybe she is. Becky takes some shots at Charlotte here & there, but this is barely more competitive than Kofi vs. The Bar. Becky does get a small package though, and that just pisses Charlotte off. Charlotte slips on Becky’s face! Now she goes up top for the moonsault & Becky pushes her off into the barricade. Charles Robinson working that count. Charlotte gets back in, but Becky locks in the disarmer. Not for long, Charlotte slips out and locks in the Figure 4. Before the Figure 8 can properly be applied, Ronda Rousey runs in and smacks Lynch. This prompts Robinson to disqualify Flair and declare Becky Lynch the winner! Well that’s one way to do it.

Weird-ass booking aside, I could watch Charlotte Flair squash people all day. The talking smack, the moveset, the posturing…ah, she would have been tremendous on 1992 WWF Superstars.

Grades
Lynch: C+
Flair: A

Elias is back again. I really didn’t think this show needed this much time filled. Well, it didn’t, to be honest. He’s not a Becky Lynch fan. This eventually leads to the SASSY SOUTHERN BELLE Lacey Evans making her walk to the ring & back. Is she taunting Elias? That’s the only conclusion I can reach. Randy Orton runs in & hits an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE. AJ Styles appears and hits a Phenomenal Forearm! I mean, I can think of worse WrestleMania matches.

Six Man Tag Team Match: The Shield vs. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre

Do we really need separate entrances for Corbin, Lashley & McIntyre? Seriously. Rollins, Reigns & Ambrose are much bigger stars than them, and they have no problem coming out together. Why do we need to sit through the three geeks being fed to the Shield walking down to the ring individually? It’s like if Barry Horowitz, Brooklyn Brawler & Glenn Ruth were in a six-man tag & each got their entrance televised. What’s the point?

Can you tell this is the part of the show I’m getting tired of sitting in front of my computer?

Rollins & Ambrose with some trademark tag team offense early on Corbin. It’s Shield dominance the first few minutes, including Roman’s first in-ring action in months. Eventually it’s Rollins getting beat up by Lashley like it’s a couple of months ago. Corbin comes in to slow down the pace. Ambrose gets the tag, goes off for a minute before it’s his turn to sell for the baddies. I like that we’re allowed to mention that Ambrose’s rope-assisted clothesline is Nigel McGuinness’s move now. Reigns with the tag & he’s laying waste to everybody. The ol’ Drive-By gets a near-fall on Corbin. Rollins off the top onto Drew. Ambrose & Rollins with a tandem suicide dive onto Bob & Drew. Corbin joins them outside, but Deep Sixes Roman before he can join as well. Ambrose runs across the tables onto the others in the timekeepers’ area. It’s Reigns & Corbin in the ring, and Corbin’s trying everything to put the Shield away but nah. The four others are brawling all across the Kickoff Show set. Rollins dives out of the audience onto all three of them because why not? Reigns digs it. Time for a Superman punch! Well, not quite yet. Corbin has to do his run around the ringpost deal, then there it is. The other four finally get back to ringside, and Reigns has to Superman punch Corbin’s geeks before meeting End of Days. Rollins & Ambrose break up the count. Corbin goes bezerk on everybody and clears the Spanish announce table. A tradition unlike any other. They clear the English one too. It doesn’t matter since Rollins & Ambrose break up the plans. Rollins stomps Lashley into the announce table, seemingly ending his evening. Reigns spears Corbin on the floor, and McIntyre gets the three on one treatment. Triple powerbomb through the Spanish announce table! One geek left from the looks of things. Superkick, Superman punch & Dirty Deeds! Rollins lets loose with some profanity, and Corbin gets Triple Powerbombed into oblivion.

Classic Shield! The geeks did all they could do, and Corbin got to look kinda decent, but the ending was never in doubt. What’s in doubt is this whole “one last time” business….I, for one, am not buying that. If nothing else they’ll be back for WrestleMania 50. You can pump some nostalgia out of this act.

Grades
Shield: A
Geeks: B

Final Thought

It’s some really good wrestling if you can ignore all of the stories around it. I remember way back in the day when I would talk the wrestling with my good buddy Voodoo Penguin. He had problems getting into promotions like TNA & ROH. The reason, according to him, was that he couldn’t watch a show that was just about great matches. There had to be stories. Even if the wrestling wasn’t so great, he was willing to put up with it if there were entertaining characters & storylines.

To me, WWE has become the thing that the Penguin complained about back in the day. Great wrestling, but I really have to ignore the stories to get the proper enjoyment out of it. Or make up my own stories, which I then write columns based off of.

It’s a hell of a racket, isn’t it? At least the wrestling’s really good a lot of the time.

article topics :

Cook's Report Card, Steve Cook