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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Fastlane 2017



It's really, really, really tough to deny a largely pro-SmackDown (and pro-205 Live and NXT) bias in this post-brand split era of WWE. RAW has written itself into a slump and it seems like either it's not aware it's in a slump, despite how much better its counterparts are doing, or is self-aware but completely refuses to do better. Either way, it's hard to get through a red pay-per-view event nowadays.

Despite the general malaise I feel toward catching Fastlane (I only really ever tuned into for the cruiserweight matches, Joe/Zayn, and to see how the main event would really turn out) I will say that it wasn't outright terrible. 

It was a chore to get through, yes, but isn't the worst PPV ever most steaming hot post-show takes declared it was. It's a fair assessment if you truly, honestly expected Goldberg vs. Kevin Owens to go a different way. But go beyond that and you find a show full of matches that tried their hardest, bless their souls, but the aura and atmosphere of crackling energy that you would find on SmackDown just wasn't there. Does that mean it was the worst? Absolutely not.



Instead, Fastlane is a show that could have used a lot of streamlining and tightening up. There's no reason why the Cesaro/Jinder Mahal and Rusev/Big Show matches couldn't have been in the kickoff, and adding those minutes to Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe's brutal opener. Braun Strowman could have fallen to Roman Reigns in a manner that wasn't so decisive. The Women's Championship match could have been a few minutes shorter, and the entire show didn't even have to go overtime.

As for the elephant in the room, the unfortunate truth is that it is what it is. Some people choose to spout anger at the result even though they already knew, deep down, that it was coming. Others, like myself, accept it with ridiculous resignation. I can go on and on about how compromising younger stars will never be a good trade-off for the short-term money game, but at this point, what's the use? RAW will always be RAW, no matter how strange we find its existence to be—as long as SmackDown exists, and as long as they do it right, I don't have to waste time and energy getting angry at the Red Brand.

Match of the Night


Both cruiserweight matches. The Cruiserweight Championship match is a wonderful, brutal piece of drama in sports (that makes me worry about Jack Gallagher's future welfare, with all the nasty bumps he took) but the boys in the kickoff tag match also gave it their all. See what happens when you give the cruisers more than 10 minutes every night?




*****

  • Akira Tozawa is a cruiserweight main-eventer waiting to happen. If the women can close out episodes of RAW, then with a base of Tozawa, Neville, and (spoiler alert) Austin Aries, the 205 Live crew can feasibly main event some episodes if they had enough political will to do it.
  • Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn's placement on the card is odd. I've been racking my brain about it for like a minute, and it just does not make sense to me. I mean, yes, it's sensible that they began the main card with a solid opener, but there were other solid openers that could've done just fine. I just wish both Joe and Zayn were hyped more throughout the show leading up to the match.
  • What's the point of the New Day now, if they're apparently too good for the tag team division?
  • Now I wish that Chris Jericho dropped the United States Championship just before beginning the feud with Kevin Owens. The Jericho/Owens feud shouldn't have to be about the title even as a secondary prize; there's no reason why a deserving midcarder shouldn't hold it going into WrestleMania.
  • The women just don't get to tell stories the way they do on NXT. Bayley and Charlotte did well, but the atmosphere just isn't the same. Maybe this is what Dave Meltzer's "If It Were In Japan" thing is really all about?
    • I can't wait for Emma to get into the mix, though.

Photo from WWE
*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul.

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