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No Punches Pulled: WWE Fastlane 2016 Review

February 22, 2016 | Posted by Eric Presti
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No Punches Pulled: WWE Fastlane 2016 Review  

No Punches Pulled is a hard-hitting, no B.S., call-it-right-down-the-middle, review column dedicated to delivering unbiased thoughts and criticisms from the world of WWE to readers everywhere. Just because professional wrestlers pull their punches, doesn’t mean we have to pull ours.

WWE Fastlane takes place from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, in front of a crowd of 14,468

Pre-Show: Kalisto (c) vs Alberto Del Rio in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match for the WWE United States Championship

Background: There really wasn’t much in the way of building this match up since the last installment of the feud. Sin Cara returned and partnered up with his diminutive buddy, to face LoN members in tag matches. Other than that this match was sort of just announced with no real explanation for the 2 out of 3 falls match.

Pacing: A lot of cool stuff for the first two falls. Alberto Del Rio walloping Kalisto with a chair obviously fundamentally changed the pace these 2 usually cut but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Kalisto takes the first fall by DQ after being hit with a chair. Del Rio takes advantage of his strategic ploy and throws Kalisto into the barricades at all corners of ring side before we go to commercial (on the network, really?) When we get back Del Rio hangs Kalisto up in the rops and drives his knees into his chest, pins him to pick up the second fall. Despite all that, Kalisto recovers fairly quickly. After Del Rio goes for his corner stomp (for like the 7th time in total if you count other variations) Kalisto takes him up for Salida Del Sol, falls backward behind him and rolls him up for the victory.

Finish: Winner, 2 falls to 1, and STILL United States Champion, Kalisto.

PJ: I was about as perfectly fine with this match as I was going to be through the first two falls considering we’ve seen these two go at it 4 times in singles matches and even more in tag matches. The DQ was a unique thing that I always considered taboo for WWE. In an iron man match, why don’t I slit my opponent’s throat, get DQ’d once, then pin him 329 times all the way to victory? Just kidding. Kinda. Anyways, it’s not something they’ve done before to my knowledge and the way Del Rio quickly evened it up gave validity to his strategy and there’s something visually satisfying seeing a smaller opponent get tossed around by someone physically superior. Kalisto sells well and it makes for some entertaining sequences. Then the third falls comes, and Kalisto gets back on offense fairly quickly and goes through all his spots…only to win with a roll up? Really? You’re going to end a long and arduous feud with a roll up? Let him beat him. Or if he’s going to roll him up, make it out of nowhere. Didn’t like that one bit. I’m not a fan of guys winning matches under fluky circumstances. It undermines the value of a kayfabe win and defeats the purpose of a clean finish. Dislike that they seem to be going the Mysterio well with Kalisto. Not saying the guy isn’t talented but Mysterio got over organically, and was talented, and most thought his subsequent push was still a little much. Tread lightly, VKM

Eric: Going into this match, I was not excited. The WWE Universe has seen this match a million times in the past two months, so its really time to put this feud to bed. Take it out back and shoot it, feel me? Anyway, the match itself wasn’t too bad as both of these guys can go. But that’s about all this match was. This is what we mean when we say, “What does it matter if two guys can wrestle in this era of wrestling?” as a response for why guys like Cesaro don’t get a push. Who can’t wrestle? Just because these two can have a good match doesn’t mean it stands out. Yes this match was good, but what makes it better than Owens Ziggler or Styles Jericho? Nothing. You could argue that Del Rio is a better wrestler than Kalisto, Owens, Ziggler, Styles, or Jericho, but it doesn’t matter because that’s all he has, while all those other are better on the mic, making their feuds the full package.

Most Entertaining: The DQ fall. Pretty cool, aggressive heel tactic here. I like when the booking shows different guys employing different strategies to win matches. I’m also a fan of a heel doing chickenshit things no matter how tough they’re booked. It’s a great move for a heel. You’re fighting a guy 1 foot shorter than you, and 70 pounds lighter. What more can I do to even the score? Chair? Perfect.

Something we would Change: Let the little dude win with Salida Del Sol. If you really see value in Kalisto to beat a guy who beat Cena clean, let him win legit. Instead now after already beating Del Rio twice, it looks like he needed a DQ and a roll up just to fend him off. Meh.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs Naomi & Tamina

Background: Sasha Banks returned to action at the Royal Rumble after the Diva’s Championship match between Charlotte and Becky Lynch. The following night on Raw, Sasha announced that she was separating herself from Team BAD, which of course drew Naomi and Tamina to ringside. They vowed to go their separate ways with no hard feelings, but things didn’t work out that way with Team BAD interfering in Sasha’s match. This lead to some disagreements, Team BAD beat Sasha down, and Becky Lynch came out to make the save. Over the next few weeks the feud between the two teams built, culminating in a tag team match.

Pacing: Match starts off a little slow as Becky and Sasha argue about who should start the match. Naomi takes them both out and takes the upper hand for Team BAD. The match picks up again once Becky gets back in hitting some fast-paced arm drags and a solid exploder suplex. Eventually, Team BAD goes back on top and they do a great job building the hot tag. The pace slows down as Becky takes the beat down and the crowds getting hot for a Sasha tag. After some good blocks by Team BAD, Becky finally gets the tag to Sasha and she finishes out the match.

Finish: Sasha forces Tamina to tap out to the Banks Statement.

PJ: Thought this was a weird choice for an opener. That being said it wasn’t a terrible match and it followed basic tag team booking logic, which helped it. Tamina slowed this match up with some awkward little bits. Nothing botch worthy but it just seems like she doesn’t hit some of her basic moves properly. Naomi actually held her own here particularly with that ending sequence against Banks. If Tamina was her bodyguard and not necessarily partner, I could see Naomi getting over a little more. I wish they’d cut the unity crap out though. Let her be serious. Becky played the face in peril to a tee before reaching for the tag, only for Naomi to pull Banks down off the apron. Great stuff. Crowd legitimately comes unglued with the hot tag to the Boss (they were surprisingly hot before this though too.) I liked some of the double-teaming at the end and then the double submission finish was froot. Color me surprised. Decent opener

Eric: Pretty basic tag match, not that it’s a bad thing. These ladies put on a solid match that accomplished what it was supposed to. Naomi looked good in the ring, Becky looked good, Sasha looked great, Tamina not so much. The hot tag was well used in this match. They built it up nicely by beating Becky down to slow the pace of the match and by blocking the tags to Sasha by grabbing Becky’s leg and by pulling Sasha off the apron. The crowd was really into the match at this point and extremely hot for Sasha (although who isn’t, am I right?). The ending sequence really made this match with Sasha countering into her finisher and Becky locking her’s in as well, leading to both members of Team BAD tapping out.

Most Entertaining: This was a pretty basic tag team match, but the end sequence where Tamina attempts a clothesline and Sasha counters into the Banks Statement was awesome. This was topped off by Becky Lynch locking in the Disarmher on Naomi to prevent her from breaking up the submission.

Something we would Change: We are starting to get sick of WWE throwing teams together and then playing up the “can they coexist” angle. Just put them in a team (they were a tag team in NXT, remember Team BAE?) and let them work through the feud. Not every tag team has to have discontent with one another.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Kevin Owens (c) vs Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Background: Just coming off of his loss to Dean Ambrose in a Last Man Standing Match at Royal Rumble, Owens and Ziggler have been mixing it up. Ziggler picked up two consecutive pinfall victories over Owens on just as many RAWs leading up to Fastlane. On the final RAW before Fastlane, Kevin Owens won the Intercontinental Title from Dean Ambrose in a Fatal 5-Way Match. During Owens’ backstage post-match interview, Ziggler approached him to congratulate him and challenge him to a match at the PPV seeing that he has now beat Owens twice in a row.

Pacing: Match kicks off with typical Owens ducking under the ropes to force the ref to pull Ziggler away. They grapple into the ropes a bit and the ref now pulls Owens off. Owens responds with a cheap head butt and takes control early. They scrap it out on the ground for a little but Owens is able to remain on top. Towards the end of the match, Ziggler is finally able to mount a short-lived comeback, which Owens quickly extinguishes with the Pop-Up Powerbomb.

Finish: Kevin Owens evades a super kick from Ziggler and nails the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion, Kevin Owens.

PJ: Good match don’t get me wrong, but I was just hoping for something different I guess as a fan. As an unbiased reviewer, this was a perfectly good title match, filled with great striking, decent high spots and quality heel face dynamics. As a fan though, I felt it was fairly obvious Ziggler had no chance to win, and I’m looking for something more out of him these days. He’s still a favorite of the Internet, and of some live audiences, but what does he do these days to deserve it? He’s the master of the 3 star match that never seems booked well enough or has the motivation to go higher than that. Maybe its time for a heel turn or something, but for me it just isn’t interesting anymore. I liked Owens’ heel work per usual, and that superkick Ziggler hit him with on the outside visibly rocked his face. Righteous. To cap it off, Owens using the ref to set up the finish is classic 80’s heel and I dig it. The amount of replays they showed in this match was brutal. That little vroom vroom sound effect is what caused me to take notice. Do they always do that?? I think Owens deserves something huge for Mania. At the very least, a singles match for the title. No multi-man horse manure.

Eric: I was slightly disappointed in this match just because there wasn’t much difference in this match compared to their last three. I don’t know if Ziggler is planning to leave soon or not, but it barely looks like he’s trying in there anymore. His moves are so robotic and it looks like he barely tries to hit any of them realistically. His DDT is highly over dramatic and when he hits the fameasser he looks like he just falls off the opponents head. People complain about Randy Orton looking bored, what do you call Dolph Ziggler? Certainly not someone who is working like they deserve the WWE Title like everyone thought he did during the tournament after Crossfit Jesus’ injury. Kevin Owens put on a great show especially with the head butt early on and him yelling at Maggle is always entertaining. I was pretty disappointed with the amount of offense from Dolph Ziggler. After that promo he cut right before the match and with him winning by pinfall against Owens two weeks in a row, he sure looked like he forgot how to wrestle. Owens dominated the entire match and the comeback Dolph did have wasn’t longer than 30 seconds before getting tagged with the Powerbomb. Overall, the match was decent, just not what I expected.

Most Entertaining: Its nice to see a definitive win for the title that wasn’t just a cheap roll-up. The WWE has been slingshotting their mid-card titles around quite a bit lately, so hopefully this signifies the end of that.

Something we would Change: Give Ziggler some more offense. 95% of the match was dominated by Kevin Owens, which normally would be fine, but Dolph Ziggler just beat Kevin Owens in two straight matches. Did he forget how Owens wrestled?

Rating: 3 Stars

Ryback, Kane, and Big Show vs The Wyatt Family

Background: Abandoning all technical writing application the background to this match was literally, the Wyatts beat the bejesus out of each of these men one at a time, for 3 consecutive weeks before finally they banded up to fend them off, setting up this multi man barnburner. Got it?

Pacing: Well as you can imagine, the pacing of a match in which near e7 foot Luke Harper is the fastest worker, and legit 7 foot Kane plays face in peril, this isn’t going to be a technical classic. Crowd was dead until the Ryback hot tag too. Overall this was a passable hoss match, where the Wyatts dominated the Big Red Machine for the majority of it, before Big Show and Ryback come in to hit some fairly cool moves, including Big Show tossing Luke Harper Gorilla Press style out of the ring onto his buddies. Kane takes out Bray, who was surprisingly a non factor, before Ryback botches his finisher and drops Harper right on his arm for the Shellshock and the win. Ouch.

Finish: Ryback hits a botched Shellshoked to win it for his team.

PJ: Very surprised a thrown together list of Ryback, and 2 guys on the wrong side of 40 got to beat a team with the supposed next big thing in Brown Snowman on it. Weird booking to me to have those guys win. The match suffered from the babyfaces not having a bumper. Rowan (to a lesser extent) and Strowman are severely limited workers, and Kane is not the most adept bumper. The combination makes for boring stretches. If someone like a Ziggler was on the face side, the workrate would increase, and you could at least have visually appealing spots with the babyface being man-handled. I like Rybacks new gear, but it appears he still brought his penchant for botching the big moments with him because that shell shocked looked BAD. Shame too, because before that he actually looked good. I’ve said it before on these reviews, but I personally believe Ryback isn’t as strong as he looks. He’s had trouble getting numerous people up for that move. Overall this match was just about good enough to not take away anything from the card, but certainly not good enough to add much.

Eric: I’m not really sure what to say about this match. It didn’t make any sense. The team didn’t make any sense; the outcome didn’t make any sense. I can’t even figure out why you would have the Wyatts lose. Ryback, Kane, and Big Show are not an official team. The Wyatts were built up astronomically going into the Royal Rumble and now it looks like they won’t be fighting in anything not called the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Bray Wyatt was built enough that people thought he would win the title at the Royal Rumble and looking at these rumors, Braun Strowman was in talks to fight the Undertaker, so why can they not beat two post 40 year old men and a guy who might be greener now than he was when he debuted, nearly breaking Luke Harper’s shoulder. I’m at a loss. If there were a slammy category for worst match of the year, this would win it; In fact, they might have to add that category in light of this match. I can only pray that they put Bray and the rest of the Wyatts into something interesting that isn’t another multi man shit show.

Most Entertaining: Would have given it to Ryback and his pretty nifty sequence after his hot tag but his big time botch makes us leary of doing that. Nothing else stood out.

Something we would Change: The outcome. It’s not as though this card was so heel heavy it needed a babyface win. So close to Mania we would hope there are bigger plans for the Wyatts than there are the so called “titans.” If Strowman is really to be taken seriously, he needs to look good in matches like this. People complained Roman Reigns was reliant on his Shield brethren. Well folks, Reigns is fuckin’ Lou Thesz in comparison to this guy. Also Bray should be booked better than to just sit on the announcer’s chair like an idiot, being taken out at the opportune time
without proper justice. Wrong guys won to us.

Rating: 2 Stars

Charlotte (c) vs Brie Bella for the WWE Diva’s Championship

Background: Over the past month, Charlotte has been wrestling against the remnants of Team Bella, beating Alicia Fox on a number of occasions. On the 2/1 edition of RAW, Brie picked up the non-title win over Charlotte with a roll-up, guaranteeing her a future shot for the Championship. On the RAW following Daniel Bryan’s retirement, Brie Bella was in the ring for an interview with Byron Saxton when Charlotte’s music hit, cutting Brie off. Charlotte entered the ring and took shots at Bryan for being out of work, calling Brie the “bread-winner” and saying that she must only still be in WWE because her and Bryan need the money. The segment ended with Brie beating Charlotte down and sending her up the ramp.

Pacing: Brie starts the match in control, but hits some messy arm drags that look more like Charlotte is throwing herself rather than an arm drag by Brie. Some good psychology comes into play with Brie mocking the Flair Strut and attempting to hit some of Nikki’s and D-Bry’s moves. Charlotte battles back and tries to return the favor, attempting an Alabama Slam (used by Nikki every so often). The crowd wasn’t really into this match at all and was pretty quiet for most of it. Things start getting worse as Brie botches a Yes Lock attempt (or Charlotte countered? We couldn’t tell) and settled on a roll up, which wasn’t much prettier. The match went on until Brie attempted another roll up, to which Charlotte was able to counter and lock in the Figure-8.

Finish: Charlotte slaps on the Figure-8 for the submission victory. Winner and STILL Diva’s Champion, Charlotte.

PJ: This match was decent. The story behind it was rock solid, as the promo Charlotte cut against Daniel Bryan was gold, and Brie’s beat down thereafter was very convincing. I would wager to say that the build up was so good, that they took Brie who a month ago I wouldn’t have even considered to win a title match, and they actually succeeded at making the outcome unpredictable, so the bookers deserve props for that. The match itself, could have been better. Brie wearing the Brody kick pads and dragon emblem was a cool touch. I know it seems twisted for WWE to exploit DBry’s retirement for ratings but this is the same company who ran an Owen Hart tribute show the night after they basically killed him so don’t overthink it. I wish they actually focused more on Bryan less on Nikki. The crowd was actually getting into Brie as a sympathetic figure after they saw real husband and wife moments during his speech. I think Brie is a little sloppy though, She doesn’t execute cleanly, nor does she look comfortably in all her movements. I may get some flak for this, but I don’t think Charlotte is at a point in her career where she can carry inferior workers to good matches yet. She tried though for sure, and her matches have been a lot more entertaining since she turned. And hey, Ric Flair didn’t do anything to make me want to hang myself. Kudos, Naitch.

Eric: The match was mediocre. The build up was awesome. It takes some skill to, as PJ stated, take someone who was completely irrelevant a month ago and turn them into someone who believably win the title. I was a big fan of Charlotte taking shots at Bryan, but like my fearless partner, I wish they would have left Nikki out of it. The main reason is because it doesn’t make sense. Charlotte beat Nikki as a face and is now heel, bragging about how she put someone on the shelf who was also a heel. The whole dynamic bringing Nikki into it didn’t make sense. I really wish we could get PJ in there and do some scissor work on those weeds growing out of Charlotte’s head. Her extensions seem to get longer every week and even more distracting than the last. Every time she stands up a foot of hair just goes shooting up and behind her head. Not to mention you can almost never see clean punches or facial expressions because of it, making the match look dull.

Most Entertaining: The build up to this match was awesome. Building off of Daniel Bryan’s retirement, their interactions, and even the spectacular video package really made us feel like maybe Brie could win this match.

Something we would Change: Definitely focus more on one aspect of the feud. Charlotte, in addition to taking shots at Daniel Bryan, was also trying to brag about putting Nikki out of action, but since these two incidents are completely unrelated, it didn’t mean as much.

Rating: 2 Stars

AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho

Background: The Phenomenal 1 made his WWE debut at number three in the Royal Rumble match just a month ago. A day later, he defeated the 6-time World Champion Chris Jericho in his first ever WWE singles match. Chris Jericho was clearly upset with the loss, but shook Styles’ hand anyway. A few weeks later on Smackdown, Styles defeats Miz and after the match, Jericho cuts a promo and requests a rematch to which Styles accepts. Jericho picks up the win in their rematch, tying the series at one win each. Styles asks for a rubber match at Fastlane, and after Jericho initially declines, he accepts at the final Smackdown before the PPV.

Pacing: Another great video package really hypes up the match. As soon as the bell rings, these two are off grappling and brawling it out. The crowd was really into this match, a nice change of pace from the rest of the card. Styles had some great counters and both sides utilized innovative offense, especially Jericho hitting styles with the mid-air drop kick off of the dive to the outside. Some nail-biting false finishers between the two as well, with Jericho putting Styles in the Walls, to which Styles sold perfectly, Styles getting the rope break following the Codebreaker, and finally when Jericho kicked out of the Styles Clash. These two made each of these look like the end of the match.

Finish: AJ hits the Styles Clash, but Jericho kicks out and is immediately thrown into the Calf Crusher, to which he is forced to submit.

PJ: HELL of a match! Super impressed with AJ. First big time WWE match and he knocked it out of the park. Admittedly, I was a little worried. Jericho isn’t super young anymore, and AJ is new to the WWE style, and their first match had some awkward spots so I was worried about what giving them more time would do. Well like two pro’s, they had a totally unique and spirited bout, FILLED with great strikes, great chemistry and fluid fluid sequences. Crowd was on fire for this match. Half chanted for the Phemonenal one, half chanted for Y2J, but no one was sitting on their hands. Couple of absolutely sick drop kick spots in there by Jericho, who looked better than he has in ages. Styled sold, pardon the pun but phenomenally for him. But Jericho too was willing to take some big bumps, that springboard reverse DDT and belly to back maneuver were both sick. Slightly disappointed the Styles Clash didn’t end it but it added a touch more drama and something about a tap out victory is more satisfying. Glad AJ won, and i’m glad I got to see this match. A legitimate dream match, played out in the form of a classic. Hope good things wait for both of these guys at Mania. Don’t know that I’d hate a stipulation rematch. Match of the night

Eric: Both of these guys really put in work in this one. Styles’ offense is spectacular and Jericho looked great as well. Styles’ strikes are reminiscent of Scott Hall’s and it looks like he is legitimately beating the hell out of his opponents. Jericho hit some great counters, most notably that dropkick to a mid-air AJ Styles who was diving out of the ring. What was interesting to me was that the crowd was pretty well divided. I mean, you could definitely hear louder AJ chants, but Jericho was getting solid pops and there were a fair amount of people cheering for him. That really made this match in my opinion. At each false finish you could hear the crowd going nuts, some pumped and some pissed. It wasn’t entirely one sided (or completely backwards like in Roman Reigns matches). The false finishes themselves were great too. They weren’t all the same and there weren’t too many of them like in a Cena match. There was a great submission on styles where he sold the Walls like a champ, the one where his arm was under the ropes after the Codebreaker, and finally where Jericho kicked out of the Styles Clash. Overall, great match. Definitely match of the night.

Most Entertaining: This match was so great because it was their third match together and it was so much different than their other two matches. All the way down to the winning sequence.

Something we would Change: We would have liked to see Styles pick up the win with the Styles Clash, rather than the Calf Crusher. He needs to get that move over with the fans and having Jericho kick out of it doesn’t make it look strong, especially since Jericho lost the match on the very next move.

Rating: 4 Stars

Cutting Edge Peep Show

Synopsis: Edge and Christian come out to a pop and pander to the Cleveland crowd as they begin to reference their standing ovation following No Mercy 99 before New Day interrupts. Funny stuff between the teams as Edge and Christian accuse them of ripping them off. They then run down tag teams who have a chance to challenge the New Day before landing on League of Nations (ugh), who Woods calls Hot GAR-bage. Accurate X. Accurate. This eventually brings out LoN (No Enzo and Cass, really??) And they tease a brawl before Woods says it’s a day of rest, and they’ll turn the other cheek. After getting out of the ring they say they meant something else by turn the other cheek, and turn their titles around and shake their asses at LoN LOL. Good stuff, but undoubtedly a plug for Edge and Christians Show.

This was more….SUITED FOR RAW.

R-Truth vs Curtis Axel

Winner: Curtis Axel

PJ: While the peep show was better off on Raw, this should’ve been blasted 17 years in the past and put on Sunday Night Heat. I’m not going to dignify it with any more words. Dank.

Eric: There is so much wrong with this. Why was this not on the pre-show? Why is Goldust still trying to be partners with Truth? The dude brought a ladder to the Royal Rumble match and climbed it. Finally, if they are going to keep doing this Goldust Truth thing, can they at least progress with it? They just did the EXACT same thing with Stardust and Titus (even though Darren Young is fine), and they just dropped that one day (and honestly, I though those segments were better than these ones are).

Rating: 0 Stars

Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar to be Number One Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Background: In the wake of the Royal Rumble, the authority named this match to see who would go on to face HHH at Mania. What ensued was a few raucous brawls between the men. At the contract signing, Lesnar went full beast and threw the table at Roman while manhandling Dean. Dean later came out on Raw seeking revenge calling out Brock and took away an ass kicking. Dean looked like he wanted more though. The “brothers” even got into it at one point with Ambrose almost hitting Dirty Deeds on Reigns. Lesnar even made his first appearance on Smackdown in 12 years to continue the story as he ran interference in a tag match and dialed up the area code for suplex city.

Pacing: Per usual when Brock is in the building, there is a big fight feel here in Cleveland. The action starts quick and Lesnar wasted no time, dishing out suplexes like free appetizers at the Sizzler. Crowd is on fire for this. Finally the brothers gang up on lesnar and send him through the announce table shield style, effectively taking him out of the match for the time being. With the beast out of the way, they begin to settle their own score. Friendship is cast aside with Mania looming. As Lesnar stirs they begin to realize they need to prepare a second table for him. So they do, then they bury him with the rubble and go back to scrapping! Giant german suplex upon Lesnars return as Dean was up for the Samoan drop when Lesnar hits the move. Kimura is locked on as Reigns begins powers out of it; Ambrose introduces a chair and absolutely hammers Lesnar, before turning it onto his friend! He attacks Lesnar some more becoming distracted and eventually eats a Roman Empire sized spear for the L.

Finish: Winner to go on to face Triple H and Wrestlemania 32, Roman Reigns!

PJ: Pretty good triple threat. Very carefully booked, without towing the line of overbooked. Brock was made to look strong. Needed both men to overcome him, and a chair, but he still didn’t factor into the finish. Here is another time where we have to put our fandom, and our writers hats in separate piles. The fan in me wanted to see Wyatt cost Lesnar, and Dean Ambrose fluke his way into the title match at Mania. The reviewer in me has to just judge what was there to judge. And we got a great little match with clever psychology. Despite seeing Roman and Dean lock up with each other in the past, this felt fresh and more personal. Brock is an absolute monster, and seeing him toss around Roman like he’s cordwood is a crazy display of strength. He exhibits a disregard for his own and his opponents body that is fun to watch to be frank. For those of us (all of us) who were expecting a Bray Wyatt run in to set up a Lesnar vs Wyatt Mania match, then this match ended abruptly for all of us. It made for an anti climactic finish. And I mean, I guess I shouldn’t have expected Wyatt, but why do they tease things that don’t happen? What happened to Thou Shalt Not Intentionally Provoke Brock Lesnar? A little consistency month to month before your biggest show…is that too much to ask? Overall though this was hard hitting and everything that happened made sense. It looks like it’s setting up Lesnar vs Ambrose which sounds great on paper. Ambrose has that kind of “I don’t give a shit about my own health” attitude that plays well against Brock. It will be psychological warfare if these guys do the dance at Mania in Dallas.

Eric: Can’t say I was happy with the outcome, but that is just personal preference. The match itself was great. Brock Lesnar is a freak in there and there isn’t another who can replicate his athletic ability. The way he caught Reigns mid-air on his shoulders without even stumbling is just unbelievable. Then he goes and hits Reigns with a German suplex while Dean Ambrose is on his shoulders for a Samoan drop. I’ll also admit that I was waiting for Wyatt to interfere and cost Lesnar the match, but I feel like not having Wyatt interfere just made people scratch their heads, and not in a good way. If they aren’t setting up Lesnar vs Wyatt, then why did the Wyatts specifically target Lesnar at the Rumble and eliminate him illegally? Also, why did Lesnar not seek revenge? I do believe that Ambrose vs Lesnar would be a good match, but I think it makes the overall card worse not having Lesnar fight Wyatt. At the end of the day, I feel like we all should have expected Reigns to win given him getting screwed out of the title at the Royal Rumble. The match may mot be ideal for a lot of people, but its all about the rest of the card supporting that match.

Most Entertaining: The booking and protection of Brock Lesnar. They made him make his presence felt before being dismantled by both men. Who then settled their own score. It was a fun way to structure the match as opposed to the usual “1 guy hides under the apron while the other two fight” method that some triple threats employ.

Something we would Change: More forward thinking in terms of long term booking. If it was possible that Wyatt wouldn’t be fighting Lesnar at Mania, why go forward and make them eliminate him at the Rumble. This change to the card apparently leaves Wyatt in the shithouse after being booked to look fairly strong recently. What gives?

Rating: 3.75 Stars

The final score: review Average
The 411
This was the definition of an average pay-per-view. There was some good stuff, there was some bad stuff, and there was...some average stuff. Owens/Ziggler, Styles/Jericho and the Main event were all solid and the later 2 are worth revisiting at some point in your fandom. It was all sandwiched with some bad stuff though including a barely average 6 man tag and divas match, and a basically pointless segment, and a match that didn’t deserve to air. This pay per view was never consistently good enough to gain momentum though, and I think some of the major flak this is receiving is due to timing. An average pay per view in July wouldn’t receive this much heat. But an average pay per view on the road to Wrestlemania, 6 weeks out to the big show (sorry Paul Wight), is troubling. For all of us as fans I really hope they start to book with some vigor and clarity and that we are all treated to a good Mania. Remember; last year we all thought it would be a disaster and we ended up with a decent Mania. Let’s hope history repeats itself.