The New Day def. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura (Kickoff Match)
A match pitting Rusev and Nakamura against The Hardy Boyz was teased this past week on SmackDown Live, but apparently WWE thought it was more appropriate to have them face Big E and Xavier Woods instead for some strange reason. On the bright side, it was an enjoyable outing with more nearfalls than I would have expected. It's amazing to think that Nakamura was the the number one contender to the WWE Championship at this time one year ago and has since been reduced to losing on the Kickoff show. What a shame.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos def. The Miz and Shane McMahon
The outcome of this championship clash was never in doubt. Rather, it was more a matter of who would be the one to go heel, and surprisingly enough, it ended up being Shane. I really thought WWE would take the predictable route and have Miz betray Shane, but they swerved everyone by reversing the roles and having Shane turn on Miz in his hometown of Cleveland (which received a great reaction from the fans in attendance). The actual match was entertaining and I'm hoping The Hardy Boyz challenge for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 35.
SmackDown Women's Champion Asuka def. Mandy Rose
Similar to Shane and Miz vs. The Usos, I can't say I ever bought into the possibility of Rose winning the SmackDown Women's Championship so close to WrestleMania. Sure, Rose beat Asuka several weeks ago, but that was about it. Although the crowd sat on their hands for this, it's hard to blame them considering it wasn't that good, anyway. Hell, even the finish looked botched and abrupt. Time for Asuka to move on to bigger and better things (though I assume Lacey Evans is next in line for a title shot).
The Bar def. Kofi Kingston in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Mr. McMahon told Kingston backstage before this bout that he'd be added to the WWE Championship match on this show and that it would become a Triple Threat, but after he made his entrance, it was announced he'd instead be taking on The Bar in a Handicap matchup. The crowd was clearly disappointed by this turn of events, but it makes perfect sense from a storyline standpoint for the powers that be to not want Kingston to go for the gold. That way, it will mean more when he eventually does. Kingston tried his hardest to overcome the odds but fell short of victory here.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival def. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable and Aleister Black & Ricochet in a Triple Threat Match
Raw's tag team division has been on ice for a while now, so the lukewarm crowd reaction to this early on was hardly a shocker. That said, all three teams put forth an excellent effort and successfully got the fans invested in the action by the second half. This was a hell of a sprint with plenty of exciting moments and strong showings from everyone involved. The Revival retaining the titles was the right call. Their reign has been lackluster up to this point and they deserve to hold the belts for a little longer.
United States Champion Samoa Joe def. Rey Mysterio, Andrade and R-Truth in a Fatal 4-Way Match
This was the exact same match we saw on SmackDown where Joe won the U.S. Championship. Needless to say, it would have been insanely stupid to take the title off Joe so soon, but this was a fun four-way, nonetheless. I'm hopeful that Mysterio vs. Andrade getting bumped from the Kickoff show is a sign WWE will have them go one-on-one at WrestleMania after all. Now that Joe has defeated these guys twice, I'm ready for someone new to challenge him at 'Mania, and I maintain that it should be John Cena.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions The Boss 'n' Hug Connection def. Nia Jax and Tamina
I'm sorry but Tamina and Jax are just terrible. Props to Banks and Bayley for getting the best bout they could out of them, but this felt sloppy and disjointed. It was smart to keep this on the shorter side because I fear it would have been even worse had it lasted longer than it did. Meanwhile, I have mixed feelings about the post-match angle. On one hand, Jax and Tamina are apparently still in the title picture despite losing multiple times to Banks and Bayley. On the other hand, Beth Phoenix and Natalya are seemingly back together, which is pretty cool. I'd be pumped if we got The Boss 'n' Hug Connection vs. The Divas of Doom at WrestleMania, but the idea of a multi-team match (like what we saw at Elimination Chamber) isn't too appealing to me because it feels lazy.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan def. Mustafa Ali and Kevin Owens in a Triple Threat Match
Two Triple Threats, a Fatal 4-Way, and a six-man tag team match? Damn, WWE sure does love their multi-man matches on pay-per-view. McMahon lived up to his promise by making this a Triple Threat, but it was Ali contending for the title and not Kingston. The match definitely benefited from Ali being added, as it was all action from start to finish and both Ali and Owens had their time to shine before being beaten. This should lead to Bryan vs. Kingston at WrestleMania, but I have no clue where Owens and Ali go from here.
Becky LYnch def. Charlotte Flair by Disqualification
If Lynch could defeat Flair, she would be added to the Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania. Everyone and their mother knew Lynch was winning, but having her win by disqualification following interference from Ronda Rousey was a cheap finish. Flair spent the entire outing targeting Lynch's injured knee, so this was nowhere near as strong as their past encounters. WWE has one month to fix this convoluted mess they've created with this storyline and, unfortunately, this didn't get me any more excited for the matchup at 'Mania than I was before.
Lacey Evans Interrupted Elias; AJ Styles Attacked Randy Orton
Elias performed at various points throughout the show and you just had to know someone would eventually interrupt him. Evans has been in that position before, so that was mildly disappointing, but WWE having her appear on every show all but confirms she'll by vying for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania. Orton hitting Elias with an RKO out of nowhere only to be blindsided by a Phenomenal Forearm from AJ Styles was a nice angle and furthered their feud ahead of their likely match on the grandest stage of them all.
The Shield def. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley
Aside from this being billed as The Shield's "last ride," there was no reason for fans to care about this contest since there was nothing on the line and it came together on a whim. I was happy to have been proven wrong, however, as this was a quality main event with a chaotic pace that brought back memories of The Shield's exhilarating six-man tag team matches from years ago. Part of me expected Ambrose to go heel (again), but I'm actually glad they held off on that and gave us a decisive ending with The Shield going over clean. Whether The Shield will remain "retired" as a unit coming out of this remains to be seen.
I honestly didn't have high hopes for Fastlane going in, just because I can't recall a single time in years past that this event was truly worthwhile. This installment was slightly above-average thanks to the main event, the WWE Championship Triple Threat, the U.S. title four-way, and the opener (Shane's heel turn included). I'd put it on par with Elimination Chamber in that there was a lot to like about Fastlane, it did its job in setting the stage for WrestleMania and that I'd give it a thumbs-up on the whole, but it also had its fair share of mediocre matches and questionable booking decisions.