After the embarrassment that was the 2015 Royal Rumble and the tirade that fans have unleashed on social media about WWE creativity, especially regarding their monthly pay-per-view events, has World Wrestling Entertainment learned their lesson and put on a spectacle or a snooze fest for their February pay-per-view outing?
GOLDUST vs. STARDUST: I have such a love/hate relationship with this feud. The feud could be seen coming from a mile away. But their hilariously creepy antics made for entertaining segments on Raw. The match itself was a course study in ring psychology and athleticism (once again, Goldust proving he’s only aged like fine wine). Stardust’s cloudy mental status allowed Goldust to get the quick roll up and the pinfall. A solid match, but maybe it would have had more impact if this team didn’t abruptly shift from heel to face with literally no explanation just weeks before. WINNER: GOLDUST
DOLPH ZIGGLER, ERICK ROWAN & RYBACK vs. KANE, BIG SHOW & SETH ROLLINS: I have always had misgivings with six man tag team matches with four larger super heavyweight wrestlers. It really slows down a match that really has no business moving at a slow pace. These athletes did their best to keep up a reasonable pace. Big Show pulling out some submission wrestling and Rowan has been excelling with his ring psychology as of late, especially in this match. But Rollins and Ziggler really owned this match. The crowd telegraphed the ending though, with Randy Orton making his return and seeking payback for being sidelined months ago by Rollins. WINNERS: KANE, BIG SHOW & SETH ROLLINS
THE USOS vs. TYSON KIDD & CESARO (WWE Tag Team Championship): The Usos have really tried to generate interest in their feuds the past several months. Thankfully, Jimmy’s wife, Naomi and Kidd’s wife, Natalya, have made a lukewarm feud actually interesting. Kidd’s high impact/technical wrestling style with Cesaro’s smash mouth strongman technique (I’ll never know how he makes that second rope move suplexing his opponent from the outside apron into the ring) created some innovative offense. The Usos were solid enough, but I feel like we’ve seen the same match out of them the past five or six pay-per-view outings. The fact that Natalya and Naomi were so pivotal to this feud makes the fact that they weren’t more involved in this match a bit of a head scratcher. WINNERS: TYSON KIDD & CESARO
PAIGE vs. NIKKI BELLA (WWE Divas Championship): This is another feud that is hampered in the build up because of people flip flopping from heel to face with no rhyme or reason (Paige as well as Nikki’s sister Brie). I will give the devil their due, Nikki Bella’s ring work has improved drastically. Paige didn’t have to carry her for the entire match and there were several fluid move reversals that I wasn’t expecting. But the second half left much to be desired as there were a few botched moves. This match was not quite pay-per-view caliber and Nikki improving still didn’t put her up to Paige’s caliber, despite the outcome. WINNER: NIKKI BELLA
DEAN AMBROSE vs. BAD NEWS BARRETT (Intercontinental Championship): Barrett has always been a great mic worker, but just above average in the ring. His current reign as IC champ though has shown a newfound fire within him. These men beat the holy hell out of each other and made for one of Barrett’s matches in a while. Though the referee calling the match for disqualification is not an unheard of thing, doing so at a pay-per-view is unsavory and WWE seems to have been on a roll with ending matches this way. WINNER: BAD NEWS BARRETT
JOHN CENA vs. RUSEV (United States Championship): For days, people have been predicting that this match would not have a clean finish. WWE doesn’t want Cena jobbing, yet they don’t want to derail the momentum that Rusev has had this past year. Rusev devastated Cena with several high impact moves. Cena was force to pull out a few new moves (Crossface submission hold). As most fans guessed, interference by Rusev’s valet, Lana, allowed Rusev to strike a low blow, then place his submission on Cena to the point that Cena passed out. WINNER: RUSEV
DANIEL BRYAN vs. ROMAN REIGNS: This match would determine who would face Brock Lesnar for the championship at Wrestlemania. Even though I haven’t been big on Reigns, he won the Royal Rumble, meaning he shouldn’t have to put his main event match in Wrestlemania on the line. But despite that, we got a hell of a match between him and Bryan. This is exactly what Roman needed, a match to show his intestinal fortitude, how much punishment he could take and that he can go in a 15 + minute main event against a strong ring worker. Both men left it all on the table and ended a somewhat mediocre pay-per-view on a high note. WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS
Overall, this was a good, if not exceptional pay-per-view outing. We got some solid ring work and many storylines did receive satisfactory conclusions. We even got a great promo in Bray Wyatt’s calling out of the Undertaker and the Sting/Triple H confrontation. Still, pay-per-view events should feel like more than just an episode of Raw with fewer promos. In the end, I’d say it was a step in the right direction since the Rumble, but still not where they need to be creatively. What were your thoughts on WWE Fastlane?