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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Fastlane 2019


The problem with a pay-per-view like Fastlane is that the speed bump on the road to WrestleMania forces the narrative to devote half its time to building up to this PPV, and not the big one itself.

Instead of forging a clear path for everyone to get to the Grandaddy of them All, the company forces the Universe to think in the short-term. Consider that only a handful of angles for WrestleMania were truly advanced by the events of Fastlane, while the others will need their own denouements on this week's episodes of RAW and SmackDown Live.

You have the Ronda Rousey/Becky Lynch/Charlotte Flair saga already laid out, a story between Shane McMahon and the Miz, and a budding program between the team of Nia Jax and Tamina and the OG Divas of Destruction, Beth Phoenix and Natalya. Everything else is up in the air with four weeks left until WrestleMania. The wrestling was good, but so far it hasn't felt like wrestling Christmas yet.


Normally, the big monthly events should serve as answers instead of raising more questions than they solve, but considering Fastlane's place in the Road to WrestleMania, I wish we got more solid connections that would lead us to the home stretch. There could've been more intrigue between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, somehow. Vince McMahon could've had a stronger presence against Kofi Kingston to really hammer home how he's been messing with him. I just wanted the little things that make a show more hardworking on Creative's end, because the wrestlers can't always hold up the program.

If you were to ask me if Fastlane was a necessary watch to understand everything that would happen at WrestleMania, I'd tell you that it's fun, but it's not completely mandatory, especially if everything important really happens on weekly TV. And that's a problem if you're advertising the show as a crucial stop on the road we're on; nowadays it feels like the Road to WrestleMania really only begins after Fastlane, with only a small part of it starting at Royal Rumble.

Maybe the show's name really is apt. After it happens, it's all a mad dash to round out the WrestleMania card.

Fastlane 2019 Final Grade: B+

Match of the Night



While this match seems to have no bearing on anything involving WrestleMania at all, the Shield's final hurrah is a pretty appropriate send-off for the beloved stable (assuming it really is their last run together for the foreseeable future). What I thought was going to be a relatively quick squash, given the time it was on, ended up being a greatest hits farewell concert that did capture that old Hounds of Justice magic. If there's anything absolutely worth watching from this show, it's this match. The moment at the end is also worth it.

Other observations

  • I generally hate commenting on the way wrestlers work, but Shane McMahon's heel turn was just butt ugly. I saw it coming ever since the two started teaming together, but Shane was busy trying to prove his MMA pedigree instead of just wailing on Miz like the frustrated ex-lover that he is.
  • Everyone knew Vince McMahon wasn't giving a spot to Kofi Kingston that easily, and the segment did its job in building up the tension between them. I just wish Vince personally changed the match the same way he did the contract signing, for that personal touch. I was also surprised that the WWE Championship match was actually a triple threat.
  • And speaking of that triple threat, you know a wrestler is great when you get them to cheer for you while still wanting someone else. Both Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali were put in a really tough position; it baffles me that heels weren't added to the match in Kofi's place. Owens and Ali are good, but why risk people hating them by association with Vince instead of putting someone people love to hate, like Randy Orton, into the match? They could've even done the AJ Styles interference there instead of a strange running Elias concert.
  • If we get the Bar and Nakamurusev versus the New Day at WrestleMania, I swear...
  • That RAW Tag Team Championship match is also a pretty solid Match of the Night candidate, although I wish this happened at WrestleMania instead.
  • Couldn't they have just figured out a way for Becky Lynch to creatively beat Charlotte, instead of running the very obvious Ronda interference (which is also inconvenient, because they'll have to find a way to explain it)? If Ronda wanted Becky in the match, why not just attack her from the very beginning to cause the DQ?
Photo from WWE


*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is 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. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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