The February pay-per-view is in a tough spot on the WWE calendar, wedged as it is between two of the three biggest shows of the year. Thoughts have already turned to WrestleMania, so it’s tough to devise a way to make Fastlane matter. This year at least offered a night of solid wrestling and real stakes in the main event, with a WrestleMania main event spot on the line.
Brock Lesnar, now the WWE’s go-to part-time attraction, was the big draw for the fans who packed the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Sunday night. But there was also real drama involved, both of the kayfabe kind with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose forces to set friendship aside in service of their career goals, and of the more meta, real life variety as well.
That’s because the WWE has stuck to its curious commitment to Reigns, salvaging him from being booed out of the arena after winning the 2015 Royal Rumble and building him up over the rest of the year to the point where most fans seemed to be back on his side. Decisions made over the past few months have mostly squandered that goodwill, leaving a more intriguing question than usual for a February show: Would the powers that be continue to hitch their wagons to the former Shield enforcer all the way to Dallas?
It didn’t appear that way at first. Byron Saxton made a reference that would have been even better in 2008 when he said Ambrose was one win away from a “Fastpass to WrestleMania.” Boos greeted his brother-in-arms as he made his way down through the crowd, and Lesnar got the biggest pop of all. For some reason, Lilian Garcia made way after introducing Reigns and Lesnar, allowing Paul Heyman to announce his own Beast.
Lesnar went right after Ambrose, driving him from the ring before delivering the first German suplex to Reigns. Ambrose’s return to the ring was brief as a clothesline quickly chased him back out.
Another suplex was in store for Reigns, and Ambrose attempted to do the same to Lesnar only to find himself flying after a belly-to-belly suplex. Things got no better outside the ring, where Ambrose dove through the ropes only to get caught and thrown.
A smile crept across Lesnar’s face as he suplexed Reigns again. And again. An F5 was next, with Ambrose flying in at the last second to break up the pin. Dean slapped Brock in the face, angering the Beast and punching his own ticket to Suplex City.
With Ambrose in position for an F-5, Reigns rushed in with a spear and a near fall, following with a Superman punch. He looked distraught when he saw Lesnar roll out to the floor, and even more when Brock caught him jumping off the steps. Ambrose crept over to hobble Lesnar with a low blow, something he found effective in recent weeks on Raw.
Working together, the former Shield teammates cleared off the Spanish announce table, throwing Lesnar through it. The alliance broke up a moment later, with Ambrose attacking his friend and taking things back inside the ring for a flying elbow. Reigns kicked out at two, to the disappointment of the fans.
An exchange of blows turned in Ambrose’s favor, and after eating a big boot to the face, he used his slingshot clothesline to take Reigns down. Seeing Lesnar stirring, they put their fight aside and joined forces to throw him into the barricade. The regular announce team had to back away as Lesnar ended up going through their table as well, and this time the other two combatants buried him with pieces of the shattered tables.
Reigns restarted the hostilities this time, quickly gaining the upper hand inside the ring. Coming off the top rope for a second time, Ambrose ran into a Superman punch, though he recovered quickly to hit Dirty Deeds and nearly win the match.
After the obligatory point at the WrestleMania sign, Ambrose looked for a second Dirty Deeds. But Reigns lifted him up and Lesnar hustled back to suplex both of his foes at the same time. Reigns rose first to hit a spear, but Lesnar grabbed him from the mat and locked in a kimura. With the hold still applied, Lesnar found himself lifted from the mat, and a chair-wielding Ambrose returned and went crazy with chair shots aplenty.
Brock Lesnar delivers one of many, many suplexes in the main event, this one to Dean Ambrose.
The crowd perked up even more, sensing that Ambrose might have a chance. Alas, Reigns speared him as soon as he drove the Beast from the ring, pinning his friend and winning his shot at Triple H in Dallas. The COO appeared on stage after the celebratory pyro finished, strolling to the ring and engaging in a brief staredown before the broadcast ended.
The next WWE pay-per-view is WrestleMania 32 on April 3, 2016.
We saw Mauro Ranallo in the pre-show, but the Raw crew of Michael Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton is calling the main card. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not that’s a good thing. And there’s a German announce table along with the Spanish table. That one’s totally getting destroyed in the main event too.
A victorious Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Naomi and Tamina
Banks and Lynch quite possibly have the brightest hair combo of any WWE tag team ever. Becky shakes off Naomi’s unintentionally hilarious rapid kick move, but she ends up getting her face smashed off the top turnbuckle by Naomi, who was on the apron. A small but cool spot. Lynch absorbs a fierce beating, and when she dives for her partner’s hand, Sasha gets yanked to the floor by Naomi. The second time is the charm, and the crowd explodes once the Boss enters the fray. Her former teammates manage to trick her long enough to eat a Tamina superkick, forcing Lynch to make a save. While Becky neutralizes Naomi with the Disarmer, Sasha maneuvers Tamina into the Bank Statement and gets her to tap out. A perfectly acceptable opener.
Winner … Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch by submission
Frequent WWE collaborator Machine Gun Kelly is in the house. Representin’ Cleveland to the fullest.
Kevin Owens (champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler (challenger) – Intercontinental Championship Match
Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens.
Owens says early on that, “Your hometown likes me more than you,” and KO did get a fair number of cheers when he came out. Dolph gets thrown hard into the turnbuckle, and the ref has to check on him to make sure he’s okay. Ziggler gets close to a victory following four consecutive elbow drops, but Owens comes right back with a Cannonball for his own near fall. A DDT by Dolph is answered by a unique superplex by the champ, though Ziggler manages to slide out to the floor, where he delivers a superkick. There’s one right back from Owens, and both men are on their backs. How about another from Dolph? Sure, why not? KO makes it out to the floor, and he’s looking for a powerbomb onto the apron a la what he did to Sami Zayn, but Dolph counters with a hurricanrana into the steps. Ziggler hits the Famouser back inside the ropes for another near fall. He warms up the band in homage to Shawn Michaels, but Owens ducks behind the ref and uses a Pop-Up Powerbomb to retain his title. For some reason, Kevin rubs his victory in Cole’s face. I guess you don’t really need a reason to stick it to him.
Winner … and still Intercontinental Champion … Kevin Owens by pinfall
The Edge and Christian Show premieres tonight after the PPV. I typically don’t watch any of the original WWE Network shows, but I might make an exception for that. In the back, Big Show, Ryback and Kane do the group pep talk thing before they face the Wyatt Family.
The Wyatt Family vs. Big Show, Ryback and Kane
Nice that Bray Wyatt has three huge dudes to do his dirty work. It’s also quite amusing that Ryback is the smallest guy in this match. I also miss Bray’s rocking chair, because he’s just sitting in a normal chair by the announce table as he watches Kane almost land in his lap after getting blasted off the apron by Erick Rowan. Ryback pulls off a sequence of about four high running knees to Luke Harper and then hits him with repeated body slams. Rowan makes the save but gets a choke slam from Kane, and Big Show finally gets involved by picking up Harper and throwing him out to the floor, then hustling over to spear Braun Strowman. With just Harper and Ryback left, the Big Guy pulls off the Shell Shock and gets his team the victory. Better than it had any right to be, I’d say.
Winner … Big Show, Ryback and Kane by pinfall
JoJo asks Roman Reigns about whether his relationship with Dean Ambrose will ever be the same after tonight. Sounds like it might not. His brother from another mother adds some humor to the situation by claiming he’s already booked travel on the “Road to WrestleMania” thanks to a great deal on Priceline. Dean says his crystal ball isn’t always right, but he’s seen the man standing across from Triple H in the main event at WrestleMania, and it’s not Brock Lesnar.
Brie Bella (challenger) vs. Charlotte (champion) – Divas Championship Match
It’s fair to wonder if Brie would have received this title shot if not for her husband’s injury-forced retirement. She’s wearing the same kick pads Daniel Bryan wore at WrestleMania 30, which is pretty cool. Bella delivers an arm drag and mocks the famous strut of Ric Flair, who is at ringside as always. Charlotte returns the favor by mocking the “Yes!” chant after flipping Brie out of the ring, but Brie counters the Alabama slam and gets a near fall. The champ regains control of the match after that, grounding Brie and driving a knee into her back. Bella absorbs a bunch of damage to her neck, dropping Charlotte with a series of forearms that lead to a two count. She looks for the Figure Eight but gets kicked out through the ropes, and Brie manages to dropkick her off the apron. There’s a missile dropkick as well, but Brie looks like she hurt her leg in the process. She comes close to a win thanks to repeated kicks, and she administers the Yes Lock. Ric tries to lend a literal hand, but Brie just turns it into a single leg crab. Charlotte finally gets out of the hold and locks in the Figure Eight, forcing a quick tap from Brie. Good effort but a half-step slow and awkward, plus a slightly weird ending as well.
Winner … and still Divas Champion … Charlotte by submission
It seems like a pre-match interview is par for the course tonight, and Chris Jericho uses his to tell JoJo that he has the upper hand against A.J. Styles because he won their second meeting and all the pressure is on his opponent tonight.
A.J. Styles vs. Chris Jericho
Styles uses a scramble to go for an early Calf Crusher attempt, but Jericho gets to the ropes. They trade chops and forearms before Jericho goes quickly up top for a double ax handle and A.J. fires back with a dropkick. Dueling chants for both men ring through the crowd as Y2J elevates his foe for a huge back body drop. He follows with a baseball slide and hurls Styles into the barricade near the announce tables. Jericho controls the next few minutes until Styles uses a facebuster to get himself a breather. Y2J has to fly a pretty long way for his Lionsault, earning another near fall. Jericho thinks superplex only to see Styles slip out, but he recovers quickly and beats A.J. to his springboard forearm with a springboard dropkick. The Walls of Jericho make an appearance, but Styles digs down deep and crawls to the ropes. Jericho tosses A.J. into the barricade but stops the ref’s count with another submission hold. This time the count gets to nine before Styles crawls onto the apron, where he’s greeted with a Codebreaker. Y2J covers only to see his foe get an arm under the ropes, frustrating him to the point where he begins to verbally berate Styles. A series of counters ends with a Styles Clash, and the smile disappears from Styles’ face when Jericho kicks out. Undaunted, A.J. switches to a Calf Crusher, and there’s a bit of drama before Chris taps out. There’s some tension after the bell when it looks like they might come to blows again, but Jericho extends his hand and Styles accepts it. And so, the torch has been passed — from a 45-year old to a 38-year old!
Winner … A.J. Styles by submission
Edge and Christian try to figure out The New Day.
Edge and Christian are here for the Cutting Edge Peep Show, a segment that should probably be on Raw and not here. It’s funny enough that it deserves some slack, especially as E&C accuse the New Day of co-opting the shtick they made famous. They eventually do some bonding by making fun of the League of Nations together, and that whole faction comes to the ring. The New Day decides to turn the other cheek and leave, at which point Sheamus calls the hosts “hip replacement candidates and Justin Beiber fanboys.” Edge manages one fun bust on ADR before they leave, and the New Day approves of him calling the heels the “International House of Dumbasses.”
R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel
Not sure what the point of all this is, but it’s been a solid show thus far, so I guess we can deal with a palate cleanser. While Bo Dallas leads the Bo Train with his fellow Social Outcasts, Goldust comes out to try to assist Truth, but his appearance ends up costing his would-be partner the match. At least this was short.
Main Event – Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Winner … Roman Reigns by pinfall
Total Event Rating: 7/10
- Nick Tylwalk has been with SLAM! Wrestling since the dawn of time, or at least since before the turn of the century. He spends his days running Bam Smack Pow and overseeing FanSided’s Entertainment efforts, but he’ll always make time to sneak away for some wrestling.