WWE Fastlane was filled with primarily unnecessary matches building already otherwise established matches but how bad was it?
In the past couple of years since Fastlane's inception, the running joke has been that it is entirely unnecessary leading up to WrestleMania and following Elimination Chamber. This year is no different except for the PPV being the debut live event on Peacock. Filled with primarily unnecessary matches building already otherwise established matches for the WWE's premiere PPV this year, it also gives an unnecessary announcement that Rhea Ripley will arrive on Raw the following day.
Kickoff Show: United States Championship Match
Going into this match, Ali seems more focused on proving a point to the rest of Retribution than actually beating Riddle. The continuous bickering to ringside takes away from a match between two athletes that work well together. Without the nonsense angle outside the ring, the action inside is quite remarkable. Ali does great heelwork, as he is becoming known for. The two pull off some incredible spots, such as a reversal midair into a submission by Riddle. Though both have great showings, Riddle retains his belt by hitting an Avalanch BoDerrick to Ali. After the match, the angle between Ali and Retribution plays out as the group seems to have imploded. Blaming them as usual, Reckoning is the first to walk out, followed by Slapjack, then the two behemoths Mace and T-Bar double chokeslam their now former leader. This match and all its drama are rated 6/10 though it would have been better if it was just Riddle and Ali, but at least it seems the Retribution members might get to shine in new angles, which could be good.
Women's Tag Team Championship Match
Yet another match where another women's champion squares off against the tag champs. In this case, however, it is even more ridiculous as each team has problems going into this. This match's only somewhat redeeming feature is building up to the big matchup between Banks and Beliar at Mania. The two challengers who will meet at the big show three weeks against each other bring it to the champs with great teamwork until Reggie eventually gets involved in the match. Until this point, Nia and Shayna hardly work together as they're headed towards each other. The match's finish is shrouded with controversy as Bianca is thrown into Banks by Jax to break up a Bank statement that gets the two fighting amongst each other to where the champs take advantage and retain their titles. After their match, the WrestleMania opponents continue to argue, which ends with The Smackdown Women's Champion dishes out a big slap to her challenger. I give this match 5/10 stars as even as unnecessary it was, it served its purpose.
Intercontinental Championship Match
In this highly contested feud, the two rivals started quickly and heated, spilling out of the ring. Big E takes over aggressively while spewing out insults. Once back inside the ring, the same type of action endures with E powerhouse Apolo all over the place. At the right moment, the clever Apollo takes out the champ's knee and does a showcase of power of his own. As the challenger takes over, he begins spewing insults of his own and going for the kill Apollo gets caught with Big E's knees as he tried for a standing moonsault. Following this, countless rollups pursue the champ getting a confusing win; however, he cannot celebrate as Apollo powers E around out of frustration, making it clear their business is not over. Though I would've liked Apollo to get the win and the title, I rate this match 6/10 and can't wait for their WrestleMania showcase.
Strowman Vs. Shane O'Mac(Replaced by Elias with Ryker)
Setting up the most unnecessary match for WrestleMania this year, Shane announces Elias as his replacement due to suffering an injury during his training leading up to the match. As unnecessary as this match would have been with Shane, it is rendered absolutely useless without. Elias and Ryker try to make something of their terrible opportunity, but it doesn't help. 1 star for this match.
Rollins Vs. Nakamura
Although this match had no real contingency other than Seth and Cesaro are seemingly headed towards Mania to meet each other and Shinsuke used to tag with Cesaro, it was a banger. Anytime anyplace, and for whatever reason, this match will always be incredible as the two are two of the best in the world. Cesaro is mocked and mentioned throughout. At one point, Seth tries to do the swing. Of course, Rollins picks up the win after a beautiful contested battle with both pulling out innovative moves they hadn't before because he has the more straightforward path to Mania and just returned recently. Even though Nakamura doesn't have a path to the big show only three weeks away but at least he had a tremendous beautiful match with Rollins. 6/10 stars for this match.
No Hold Barred Match
Coming out painted up like Braveheart, McIntyre showcases the pure hatred the two European brawlers have towards one another. As expected, the two slug it out as soon as the bell rings. Spilling out of the ring, weapons are introduced, and Sheamus takes a short advantage as he uses a kendo stick to go to town on his former long-time friend while he hatefully taunts him. A Glasgow Kiss gets Drew back on top as he then uses the kendo to go to town on the Celtic Warrior. Going back outside the ring, the war continues up to one of the platforms with the screens of zoom callers going beyond the ringside. Continuous clubbing blows endure until Sheamus is thrown through a square of screens and onto a lower platform. Drew then puts Sheamus on a crate and rolls him back to the ringside area. A Brogue Kick is delivered after an eye rake tossing Drew over the barricade, to which Sheamus then performs a White Noise off the barricade onto the exposed announce table. Taking things back into the ring finally, Sheamus also brings a piece of the broken table, and then a lot of back and forths and reversals occur. Finally, Drew dishes out a Future Shock DDT on the table piece, quickly following it up with a Claymore for the win. Though it would've been great to see this for the title at WrestleMania, it gives Drew a good amount of momentum going into his bout with the champion Lashley for a 6/10 star rating.
Orton Vs. Bliss
In a rare WWE Intergender match, Randy begins to cough up the weird demonic blood that's become far too familiar before Alexa even comes out. Once the bizarre girl does come out, she turns on a pink light reminiscent of the red light The Fiend initially had matches under. Straight out of the gate, a fire blast is targeted at Randy. Things are quickly taken out of the ring after Randy rams into the ring post and slide out. Skipping around the ring, Alexa tricks Randy into following her to where she almost has lights drop onto him. Reentering the ring, Alexa bekens Randy and then shoots another flame at him, forcing the legend down. A burnt-looking hand bursts out of the canvas. An eruption of flame bursts out of the same position, then The Fiend, looking burnt and grimace appears behind Orton. Bliss bounces off the turnbuckles onto Randy, causing him to go right into A Sister Abigal from The Fiend, to which Alexa playfully pins the viper after. These bizarre segments have been fun and hopefully lead to a final encounter between Orton and Wyatt at WrestleMania. This match was 6/10 stars.
Universal Championship Match
Perhaps the match with the most WrestleMania implications Edge is the special ringside enforcer for Danial Bryan's match and champion Roman Reigns, determining his WrestleMania opponent. I can't help but think Bryan would be the more compelling and safe matchup for Edge, but I have been weary since his recent return at the rumble. Roman's cousin is noticeably absent at the champ and special council's arrival giving off the impression the head of the table is still upset with him. As the bell rings, Daniel tries to make a quick pace going after the champ's legs, but Roman is vigilantly making the pace relatively slow. His constant picking at the legs, along with various submission attempts and countless reversals, proving to be the more skilled pure wrestler. Bryan's superior techniques in Roman's head. As the two begin to answer each other perfectly, a story of power Vs. technique is painted beautifully in the match. Roman's power takes over, and he throws Bryan out the ring then into the barricade. As Roman takes a brief moment to focus on Edge, Bryan can make a comeback only to be powerfully thrown into the ring post. Back in the ring, Roman takes a moment to flaunt at Edge again, and Bryan can once again take advantage. It is only a short comeback as Roman powers, Bryan, into a Boston Crab from off the top rope, but Danial counters it into a cradle, almost picking up the win. A back and forth in and out of the ring commences between the competitors. Heyman and Edge are on the top ends of their seats as they intently watch from ringside. The Yes Lock is applied, but Roman can power out of it after some time pounding Bryan after. At this time, both are noticeably gassed. Edge is made the leading authoritative official after Bryan unintentionally hit the ref with a running knee. Uso comes out shortly after this, kicking both Bryan and Edge to save his cousin, and then grabs a chair. Bryan neutralizes Uso with the chair and hits Edge with it when attempting a hit on Roman. The Yes Lock is applied again, only this time Roman does tap however no official is present to see it. Edge then hits both and angrily leaves just for a new ref to finally appear in time for Roman to cover Bryan for the win. This flawless match with beautiful storytelling that potentially sets up a triple threat title match at WrestleMania is rated 8/10 stars.
Overall I rate this useless Peacock debuting PPV 6/10 stars.