Hey, it’s WWE Fast Lane! I don’t really know what it is!
The PPV opened with a video package highlighting the twin main events: Daniel Bryan versus Roman Reigns for a shot at Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, and Rusev versus John Cena for the United States title.
Dolph Ziggler was the first man out, and he made his way to the ring, where he was soon joined by his BFFs, The Ryback and Erick Rowan.
The Big Show, Kane, and Seth Rollins came out, and we got ourselves a six-man tag match!
So this wasn’t great. The two best workers in the match – Ziggler and Rollins – were largely kept out of the action, giving us a mostly plodding affair between two men resting on their former glories, and two others having to compensate for two men resting on their former glories.
Wrestling oracle Dave Meltzer had suggested before the show that the purpose of this match was to position Seth Rollins strongly going into Wrestlemania, and if that was the intention – and you can never be sure of the accuracy of tittle-tattle – it was a colossal failure.
Rollins’s part in the match was to run away when under pressure, and hit his finisher on all three men when the match was done and dusted – Kane got the pin on Ziggler after the Big Show hit him with the knockout punch – and they couldn’t offer any resistance.
After the match, the crowd loudly chanted for Randy Orton, and – would you know it? – Randy Orton’s music hit. He came down to the ring and cleared the heels out, giving RKOs to Noble and Mercury.
Orton grabbed Rollins, who put him out in November with a kerb stomp through the announcers’ table, but the Big Show pulled Rollins out of the ring, and the Money In The Bank winner ran for his life. He didn’t stop running until he was out of the building. Positioned. Strongly.
Backstage, Dusty Rhodes and Goldust had a talk about Goldust’s match with his brother. Dusty told him that he was broken up about this, and said no-one had to get hurt. Goldust said that he had to hurt Cody so bad that he never thought of putting the facepaint on again. Dusty told him that he was broken up about this, and said no-one had to get hurt. Again. Goldust left for his match.
Hey, it’s Stardust! His ears must be burning! He came down to the ring in new gear, chest exposed, for his match with his brother. Goldust came out, and the crowd chanted, “Cody! Cody!”, much to Stardust’s annoyance.
This started out great. It was a believable contest between one man who didn’t really want to fight, and another so far gone that the fight was just another thing in his life.
Stardust got on top, and taunted his dad, watching backstage on a monitor, asking him, “who’s your favourite?” He got cocky, though, and Goldust rolled him up for the win. Kinda.
The referee didn’t seem sure that this was the finish, made worse by Stardust kicking out immediately after the three-count that really wasn’t a three-count. The referee called for the bell, anyway, and everyone looked confused.
Goldust offered his hand to his brother, who blew it off and stormed to the back…
The announcers talked about the Seth Rollins-Jon Stewart online feud from this past week. I hope we see Stewart on Raw soon.
Backstage, Goldust was talking to his father about winning the match but trying not to hurt Cody. Well, Dusty did ask him twice. Stardust interrupted, and threw Goldust into a flight case. Dusty told for Cody to stop, but Stardust told Dusty that he’d killed Cody when he (Dusty) sent “this bag of bones”, Goldust, to carry around. He said he’s not living in the shadows anymore, and will surpass Dusty, and stormed off.
Back in the arena, the Usos came down to the ring for their tag-team title match with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. Jimmy and Tyson both brought their wives to work again. Unprofessional.
So they had a match, and it was a bit chaotic. There’s a fine line between fast and untidy, and it fell on the latter side, with too much being tried too quickly, and not all of it coming off.
Tyson Kidd pinned Jimmy Uso with a swinging fisherman’s buster to win the titles for his team, and he, Cesaro, and Natalya celebrated on their way to the back.
Hey, it’s HHH! And it’s obviously “casual Sunday” at the WWE offices, because the Chief Operating Officer is wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a leather jacket!
He came down to the ring and cut a great talky, building up his imminent encounter with Sting. There was a long pause, and no sign of the Stinger, but then a crow cawed, and Sting’s video played, and he walked slowly down to the ring, carrying his trademarked baseball bat.
They faced off and HHH told him that he gets it. He gets that Sting backed the wrong horse in the WWE-WCW fight, and that he was a loyal soldier who went down with the ship. But HHH said that guys like himself made the ship go down in the first place, and that was his legacy – destroying the legacy of people like Sting.
HHH offered Sting a deal. He said that if Sting left him alone he would give him his legacy back, through the WWE Network, DVDs, and merchandise. He said he’d even put him in the Hall of Fame.
HHH took off his jacket and faced Sting again. He told him that they could do that, or they could do it the hard way, and threatened to erase him from existence. That’s code for send him back to TNA, right?
HHH said he thought that Sting had already made up his mind, and moved to attack him, but Sting cut him off, and sent him out of the ring.
Outside, HHH reached under the ring for his sledgehammer, and got back in the ring to attack Sting. Sting pulled his baseball bat, and thrust it under HHH’s chin. He held him there and pointed at the Wrestlemania sign. Twice, so HHH got the message.
As Sting left the ring, HHH tried to attack him but Sting cut him off and left him lying with a Scorpion Death Drop. They’ll get it on at Wrestlemania…
This was great. One of the best things the main shows have done in a long time. It was NXT-good, that’s how great it was.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan was shown warming up for his match with Roman Reigns.
Back in the arena, Paige came down to the ring for her WWE Divas title match with Nikki Bella. At the Royal Rumble, Nikki Bella was wearing green and did a Misawa elbow. Tonight she was wearing orange, so could we expect a Kobashi Burning Hammer? Maybe she’s going to run through the All-Japan roster like a Tokyo ring-rat?
Anyway, they had a match, and it was not a good match. It was a bad match. That the same company can produce this and the last segment is baffling. Nikki won with a roll-up. There’s talk of a re-imagining of the women’s division in the near-future. It can’t come quick enough.
The announcers told us that HHH versus Sting had been officially made for Wrestlemania. I am oddly excited by this.
Hey, it’s Dean Ambrose! He came down to the ring for his Intercontinental title match with Bad News Barrett – a match which was not legitimately made.
They showed the scenes on Raw where Ambrose forced Barrett to sign the contract for the match. Barrett’s “this ain’t legal” doesn’t get any less funny.
They had a decent match, although I was slightly distracted by Barrett’s slenderness. Put some weight on, man!
Ambrose was on top after the half-way mark, and Barrett decided he’d had enough. He repeatedly tried to leave the ring, and Ambrose kept dragging him back in.
Ambrose stomped him in the corner repeatedly – because that was probably the only way he could keep the champion from running away – and the referee called for the bell for a DQ finish. Yeah, they went there.
On the last NXT special, Kevin Owens won their title by kicking too much ass. On this show, Dean Ambrose got DQ’d for kicking too much ass. The crowd – and any sane person – did not like this finish. That’s because it’s a shitty finish. It would be a shitty finish on Raw, let alone a PPV. Shitty, shitty finish.
Backstage, Roman Reigns was shown warming up for his match with Daniel Bryan.
Back in the arena, a Gregorian chant was heard, and the Undertaker’s old druids appeared. The Undertaker’s dong (heh heh) rang out, and the druids walked a coffin to the ring. The crowd lost their shit.
The druids brought the coffin to ringside, and opened it, and BRAY WYATT sat up. The crowd were disappointed. But that’s okay, because Wyatt went on to cut a great talky, mentioning The Undertaker by name for the first time, and said, “at Wrestlemania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
He lay back down, and they played his video sting, and they cut to the pre-show panel of Backstage Renee, Byron Saxton, Booker T, and Corey Graves, who discussed what they’d just seen.
Hey, it’s Rusev! He’s the United States champion but is getting introduced before the contender! That sucks!
He came down to the ring looking like he meant business, and was soon joined by John Cena, the challenger for his title. Eden Stiles made amends for the earlier faux pas by introducing the men while they were in the ring, champion first. I’ll take that.
They brawled and grappled early on, with Rusev getting the upper hand initially. The crowd broke into a chant of “Jerry! Jerry!”, in honour of the King of Memphis, Jerry Lawler. Rusev OWNED them by staring and muttering angrily.
They traded back and forth, with Cena hitting his usual You Can’t See Me comeback in the middle, before Rusev got some near falls. Cena managed to lock on an STF, which Rusev broke out of, with a sore neck for his troubles.
Rusev then started working on Cena’s back, to prepare him for the Accolade, but Cena got the STF on again, and made sure everyone knew it was coming by broadcasting his intention loudly across the arena. He then told Rusev to grab the ropes, and he did, breaking the hold. Cena talks too much.
Rusev charged into an AA but escaped before Cena could hit it, only to be hit with another for a near fall. Cena went up to the top rope but Rusev cut him off and locked on the Accolade. Cena almost broke the hold but Rusev locked it back on. He almost broke it again, but Rusev again re-applied it. Finally, he powered to his feet and broke the hold.
Lana got in the ring, holding the title belt, and the referee rushed over to intercept her. Rusev took this opportunity to kick Cena square in the balls, and then hit a side kick and locked on the Accolade. Cena passed out and the referee called for the bell. Rusev retained the US title!
After the match, Rusev posed over a fallen Cena, and under the Russian flag. Lawler noted that Cena had what it takes to beat Rusev, but not Lana, too. I’d note that a kick in the balls isn’t much of a leveller, really. Medical geeks helped Cena out of the ring and then he staggered under his own power to the back. Sad John Cena.
The pre-show panel discussed what had just happened, and they showed a video package of what had led to the main event. Talking of which…
Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Roman Reigns versus Daniel Bryan, and the winner goes to Wrestlemania to fight Brock Lesnar for the WWE Heavyweight title!
Roman Reigns came down to the ring first, coming through the crowd like it’s still a cool thing to do in 2015, to a mixed reception. Daniel Bryan came out to a better response, but nowhere near what he’d been getting before they started this farrago.
They had a match. And it was a Good Match. Probably the best I’ve seen Reigns have in singles competition – although, as a qualifier, I’ve only been watching since September last year. It had form and told a story and that’s what you want from a main event on a wrestling show, right? Actually, that’s what I want from every match on a wrestling show, but I know better than to set myself up for disappointment.
The story of the match was mostly Bryan out-wrestling Reigns, but Reigns powering out of his moves. Reigns also made good use of the barriers on the outside, which is a bit rum if you ask me. Bryan went after the ouchy bit on Reigns’s side, where he had his hernia, and the referee had to step in to ask a winded Reigns if he was okay to continue. He was.
Bryan continued to make the pace, hitting a huge top-rope back suplex, and locking on the Yes! Lock, but Reigns made it to the ropes to break the hold. Reigns rolled outside and Bryan hit two tope suicidas, and then tried for a third but Reigns caught him, and threw him to the floor. Reigns tried to spear Bryan into the ring post, but he moved and Reigns crashed into the ring steps. Both men lay on the outside and barely made the ten count as JBL teased a count-out finish.
Reigns hit a spear but Bryan kicked out. He readied another but Bryan countered and hit some kicks to set up the Running Knee, which Reigns kicked out of. Bryan did not like that and stared at the Wrestlemania sign, forlornly.
Bryan went back on the attack with Yes! Kicks, but Reigns blocked him. Bryan turned the block into an armbar, and then into the Yes! Lock again, which Reigns escaped and began pounding Bryan in the face with forearms. Someone – and I don’t think it’s Reigns – has been watching New Japan tapes. Bryan played possum but suddenly locked on an armbar. Reigns powered him up and dropped him down, and both men lay on the mat, spent.
Bryan came back with more kicks, and led the crowd in “Yes!” chants, and readied for another Running Knee, but Reigns hit a spear out of nowhere for the win.
At this point the broadcast appeared to have technical difficulties, because the voices of the announcers grew louder, and Reigns’s music and the crowd faded away to almost nothing. I can only think that they had issues with the sound mixing but completely non-boo-related reasons.
The sound returned after a little while, and some people were booing, although most seemed to be leaving the arena. Roman Reigns is your winner, and he’ll go on to face Brock Lesnar – possibly the most over babyface in the company right now – at Wrestlemania. I wish him all the best.
This was a Bad Show. Until the last two matches – and if you discount the angles featuring HHH & Sting, and Bray Wyatt – it was an Awful Show. The in-ring work of the last two matches saved it from that fate, but it won’t go down as any kind of classic that will be talked about in years to come.
The decision to resume the Roman Reigns push may lead to a simpler main event at Wrestlemania, but it’s still so abundantly clear that he’s not ready for it. Hey, nobody said booking was easy, right?