WWE’s Fastlane went down on Saturday night, with big names, exciting results and long-term story developments.
Only big names like John Cena and LA Knight were eliminated from the list at the end of the night and confirmed as winners. Worst PLE of 2023 It will be hard to beat.
The pace of the night was good with five matches and a quick runtime. But if ever there was a pay-per-view that screamed “WWE offseason,” it’s this bad boy.
Start at the top, where Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso took the undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles from The Judgment Day (Finn Balor and Damian Priest) in a surprise finish.
Rhodes and Jey are huge with the fans, but it’s heartbreaking to see the WWE brands break up The Usos, make Jey Brands a solo star—the theme music emphasizes it—and then win the tag titles during filler. PPV.
WWE now has to navigate these murky waters of somehow keeping Rhodes and Jey together with the fans until they eventually lose the championship, all before The American Nightmare’s presumably shoulder. That Go ahead and challenge Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40. This could be a vehicle to get these guys on both Raw and SmackDown every week (and maybe even unify them?), but let’s not pretend the brand split is all that important.
Carlito and Latino World Order taking down Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits in a 10-minute match was good, and it’s hard to complain in either direction. It was nice to avoid losing the WWE Women’s Championship to Ayo Skye in a filler event.
Cena and Knight against The Bloodline, featuring Jimmy Uso and Solo Chikova, were basically what fans thought would lead to things.
It’s a blessing to still see Jana, and she has some gas left. Knight is super-overwhelmed and well-received by the fans, so him getting this spot is a good sign that WWE will allow him to continue.
As a match, however, it does not deliver moment. It was a headline-style event, the company knew it couldn’t main event, and it didn’t do anything for the underdogs.
This brings us to the main event of Seth Rollins retaining the heavyweight title against Shinsuke Nakamura. It doesn’t justify the competition, because it was clever and funny, but it doesn’t do any good in the long run.
Rollins became absolutely brutal after entering with well-understood back issues. He dives through a table and is dropped through a ladder, and after a good mist in the eyes, he drops his back onto the concrete and stairs, and eats a finisher through a table.
It felt like Rollins and the WWE were going in the opposite direction to the matches he criticized with Bray Wyatt years ago, leaving Nakamura surprised by a loss. The problem is that a lot of viewers will be disappointed to lose the artist, especially if it means he’s going back to the midcard.
Hey, at this point, it was somewhat acceptable, because there was a story-telling effort where the priest would come out and get his money in the bank deal, take the title from The Visionary, and make some amazing stories. Judgment Day and a new main event scene.
Now there’s also a priest problem: he looks like a big dork. At a recent PLE, Rollins showed that he wasn’t going to be available for a cash-in after the main event.
At this point, Rollins’ back couldn’t be worse than anything other than the knee emphasis in his match. He just didn’t show. It asks the fans to raise that suspension of disbelief just a little bit higher, just as Rollins breaks through that beat.
Just How weak Does the priest have to be a champion before he decides it’s safe to take money? Whereas he has four men who can help him win a world title?
At this point, after seeing how much damage Rollins did without getting paid, one would hope that Priest could let the contract expire and never talk about it again.
With how hot pro wrestling is right now and all the things going on, one would think the program could have addressed some of that.
Jade Cargill got a mention, but there were zero CM Punk mentions, no Roman Reigns, “Hey, don’t skip avoidable events” kind of stuff that tells the fans. There are some big things going on in All Elite Wrestling, and WWE blatantly acknowledged that with massive counter-programming putting big names like Cena on NXT on Tuesday. The Undertaker could be there.
See, these are unforced errors. But worse things happen. And to WWE’s credit, it’s on fire In 2023. Burned out. This scene isn’t going to ruin anything, but it presents some weird storytelling issues. That’s why Fastlane could easily go down as the year’s most memorable event in an otherwise stacked lineup.
But hey, at least it went fast.