The WWE took one of their last big stop on the road to Wrestlemania this past Sunday night when Smackdown Live presented Fastlane. Despite suffering from a lack of build, the show still managed to produce some quality match-ups, and continue some angles heading into Wrestlemania.
While it didn’t really have many surprises up its sleeve, the show was solid from a wrestling standpoint, with only a few matches being below par. Let’s take a look back at each of the night’s six encounters and rank them from worst to best.
This match was added to the card at the last minute, and it’s sole reason for existence was a tweet. On an otherwise entertaining show, this match felt as though it had been shoehorned on merely to remind fans that Carmella and her briefcase exist. The in-ring action was fine but instantly forgettable, and the crowd were dead throughout. Becky Lynch taking the fall is a crying shame, she remains one of the most under-utilised talents in the WWE today. She needs a move to Raw, where fresh and interesting feuds are waiting for her, as she is way down the pecking order on Smackdown, despite her obvious popularity.
The Usos and The New Day have a well-documented history of exceptional tag team matches, and the two teams were robbed of the chance to deliver another classic at last night’s event. The two teams were working towards having yet another great match when they were cut short by a Bludgeon Brothers interruption. The former Wyatt Family members then proceeded to destroy both The Usos and The New Day, presumably setting up a triple threat match at Wrestlemania.
For the sake of balance, I’ve got no real issue with the company booking The Bludgeon Brothers to look strong here, it just would have been nice to see these guys get the chance to have a longer match before it happened. Fastlane was full of adverts and time fillers, so why not just give the potentially best match on the card more time to shine?
Randy Orton’s US title victory at Fastlane was one of the night’s biggest surprises, and the match itself was stronger than it’s terrible build-up had suggested it would be.
Roode and Orton had a methodical slow burn of a match, which was beginning to build some tension when Orton hit the RKO outta nowhere. While this was a great finish, the match felt like it still had one more gear to go before it reached its climax, and had things been paced a little better, it would have been a more exciting moment.
The post-match attack from Jinder Mahal means that we will be getting a triple threat match at Wrestlemania. Hopefully, Roode uses that stage to recapture his title, and Orton winning is just a case of him ticking the last box on his list of achievements in the WWE. Jinder’s presence also definitely means the match at Mania will not be as good as this, especially given Orton and Jinder’s previous work in the ring together.
Of all the matches on the card, this was the one with the least build, and it turned out to be one of the night’s most enjoyable encounters. A smart decision to open the show with this match, Rusev and Shinsuke set a good tone for the rest of the night and the crowd was well invested in both men.
For once, Rusev was booked to look strong in defeat to a main eventer and this loss hasn’t damaged him at all. In fact, he was booked to look strong against Shinsuke for a lot of this match, scoring several near falls before finally falling to the Kinshasa, The duelling chants made for a great atmosphere to start the night and hopefully, Rusev will continue to climb up the card in the coming months. He is one of the most popular superstars in the WWE today, and the company will be foolish to leave him off the Mania card.
Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riott’s feud over the Women’s title has always felt like a placeholder until Asuka arrived, and while the match may have been lacking in any unpredictably, these two women really stepped up their game at Fastlane.
Charlotte is one of, if not the finest women wrestlers in the WWE today, so her performance was not a surprise. Ruby Riott, on the other hand, is still fairly new to the main roster and has not had the time to show us what she is capable of yet. That all changed last night when Riott gave her final in-ring performance on the main roster to date.
Sure, there were interruptions from The Riott Squad and from Becky Lynch and Naomi, but Charlotte and Riott rose above that and delivered one of the best Smackdown Women’s Title matches in quite some time. The two women shared a great chemistry and the match had plenty of excellent exchanges. Asuka showing up post-match was one of the best moments of the night, and a match between her and Charlotte could easily steal the show at Wrestlemania.
Smackdown always has a habit of delivering in big multi-man main events, and Fastlane’s blockbuster outing was no different. John Cena hit four straight AAs to kickstart the match, and that really established the tone for the rest of the encounter. Every superstar was desperate to win, with each man hitting several finishers and getting several near falls throughout the bout.
The chaotic style of the match really added to the occasion, and while the Shane McMahon stuff was, unsurprisingly, completely unneeded, everything fell into place nicely here. AJ getting such a big win heading into Mania is great for him, and the fall-out of the match will likely set up several key Mania storylines.