Heck with the preamble, I’m going to just come out and say it. WWE Fastlane 2017 is quite possibly the worst WWE PPV I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching since the build to WrestleMania 2. If not THE worst, this disaster of a PPV is easily in the top 5 worst PPV events of all time. Usually there is at least one head scratching moment on any given PPV. Sure, not every match and match outcome is going to appeal to everyone. However, tonight, nearly every move WWE made was detrimental to the storylines and/or made absolutely zero sense. Considering this is the last PPV before WrestleMania, it likely means I’ll get to hate watch all 7 hours (!) of WrestleMania this year. Let’s dig into WWE Fastlane 2017 so I can write about it here and then never watch it again, ever.
WWE Fastlane 2017 Recap – Kickoff Show
The Kickoff Show starts innocently enough with the standard hosts Renee Young and Booker T, joined this time by Peter Rosenberg. If I’m remembering correctly, Rosenberg was the guest host that got called a “mark” by Booker T on one of the other PPV Kickoff Shows. Tom Phillips, nowhere to be seen tonight, has been removed from the Social Media Lounge and replaced by Charly Caruso. Booker T makes reference to Tom being a “dirty bird” and Charly uncomfortably explains that she’s now hosting the Lounge segment. See we’re off to a good start, right?
I don’t recap the match previews, so the next segment is a backstage bit between Noam Dar, Alicia Fox, and Brian Kendrick. Dar says he’ll do anything to win the match for “Fooooox” and says that Kendrick has nothing to worry about. Kendrick reminds Dar of what he’s been doing to Tozawa since Tozawa has rejected his offers to mentor him. Kendrick also adds he doesn’t want any “meltdowns out there” and tells Dar he “doesn’t do crazy” which offends Alicia Fox.
Next, Cesaro and Sheamus join the panel discussion, because God forbid we don’t have at least four people talking about wrestling. Cesaro is upset he doesn’t have a match and the crowd starts cheering for him. They boo Sheamus. Then they cheer Cesaro. They have no idea what they’re asking for by wanting to see Cesaro in action tonight. No idea.
Meanwhile, Foley is backstage on the phone with Stephanie McMahon and she’s not in the building yet because she’s having travel problems. She tries to discuss strategy with Mick but he’s distracted when Jinder Mahal and his freakish veins burst in the room. Jinder starts making demands. Moments later Rusev (w/ new haircut and Lana) enters and starts making counter demands. Foley suggests putting Mahal & Rusev in a “Best of 7” and the entire world all screams “No” in unison. Instead, Foley makes the confusing decision to give both Mahal and Rusev matches tonight versus mystery opponents and both guys will head to the ring at the same time and decide who works first. Yeah, that was the most succinct way I could describe what Foley decides to do. Everyone leaves and Stephanie is left saying “Mick? Mick?”.
Next, we’re sent to the Social Media Lounge. Samoa Joe seems annoyed to be there and gives predictable answers to predictable questions.
For those playing along at home, the Shucky Ducky Quack Quack moment returned for this PPV and Booker T gave the honor to the Women’s Championship Match.
Next, Austin Aries sends us to his video package. After that Swann enters, followed by Tozawa. Kendrick enters first for the heels, followed by Dar and Fox.
Match #1 Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick & Noam Dar (w/ Alicia Fox)
I kind of wish that the Cruiserweights had a tag division OR if WWE used those guys within the thin, and honestly, terrible Raw tag division. Tozawa and Swann work out pretty well as a team as they have complimentary styles. Kendrick and Dar, not so much. There isn’t a ton of storyline here since neither the Fox “flowers” angle or the Kendrick “lessons” angle factor into the match or even the post-match. We just get an otherwise standard Cruiserweight tag team match with low stakes and a lot of spots. Swann hits a Phoenix Splash on Dar to get the win for his team.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – One of the high points on this dismal show and it was an extended mix of a throwaway Cruiserweight tag match from Raw.
Post-match, Swann dances on his knees with Tozawa draped over him. See? These two have some nice chemistry already as a team!
WWE Fastlane 2017 Recap
We open with the typical PPV video package, pyro, and we’re live from Milwaukee, WI. Long haired guy is in the front row and we’re set to go.
Zayn’s music hits so we’re doing this match first I guess? Yep, Joe enters next and nothing out of the ordinary happens during the entrances.
Match #2: Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
Here’s one of the few things WWE did right on this show, put Samoa Joe over strong. Zayn was practically the perfect opponent for this too, as he was tremendous in helping to build up Braun Strowman and he does a great job here absorbing abuse from Joe. Zayn gets in a few spots that I wouldn’t even call “hope spots”, just random offense. Otherwise the match is all Joe. Before you know it, he’s slapped Sami in the Coquina Clutch, Sami is foaming at the mouth, and the ref stops the match.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – It’s great to see Samoa Joe on the main roster and I’m happy that the booking of this match made sense.
Meanwhile, Charly is backstage with Bayley. These post-match “Charly is backstage” and “Mick is on the phone with Stephanie” segments really made this feel like a glorified Raw episode. Anyway, this segment establishes that Bayley wants Charlotte to leave Dana backstage so they can go one on one for the title. Nia Jax enters and threatens to “rip Sasha to shreds” and that she’ll be coming for Bayley’s title if she’s lucky enough to retain later tonight.
Next, Enzo and Cass are out. Usual spiel that goes on and on. Thankfully, Gallows and Anderson enter to save us from even more Enzo.
Match #3: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo & Big Cass (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)
Whew. For a second there it looked like Enzo and Cass were going to win. But, #ThankYouLukeGallows for not only breaking up a few pins, but for pulling Enzo’s foot off of the ropes at the end to keep the titles on The Club. I have lost any and all interest I once had in Enzo & Cass and their schtick now rivals the New Day’s as the top “thing that has worn out its welcome in the WWE”. I’m not super excited about how The Club have been booked either, but they have a decent enough match with Enzo and Cass here. Enzo and Cass have the “Enzo in peril, hot tag to Cass” thing down in the ring, but their characters are starting to wear real thin. The Club gets a heelish win and starts to repair the damage that was done after losing consecutive handicap matches to Reigns on Raw.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Average tag team match. Nothing spectacular, but nothing outwardly terrible either. At least The Club retained and I can continue my, likely false, hope that WWE will eventually realize how good those guys are and book them accordingly.
Meanwhile, Mick is on the phone with Stephanie again. Apparently, a problem with her plane will keep Stephanie from being at the PPV tonight. This causes her to leave Mick in charge. This is not a repeat from the October 12, 2015 episode of Raw where this exact scenario happens, leaving DOO Kane in charge.
Next, Nia Jax heads to the ring. Sasha Banks is out second.
Match #4: Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
So, much like the Samoa Joe match earlier, this seemed like an excuse to get Nia Jax over as a strong heel. It had the same concept behind it too, as Sasha has proven before she’s a great rag doll for Nia Jax to toss around the ring. So, we build an entire match around Sasha getting thrown around, complete with Nia powering out of Banks’ submission finisher… only to have Banks get a cheap roll up win. This effectively ends Nia’s undefeated streak and gives Banks, who hasn’t even been used on TV much lately, a random win. Perhaps, the tide has shifted back towards getting Sasha more involved in the title picture? This is Raw, after all, where you only get the title feud and seemingly nothing else in the Women’s Division is allowed TV time. This also marks one of the first times I’ve seen a -1000 or more favorite in the betting odds the morning of the PPV lose the match.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – This felt like a last-minute change on the finish thus, it came across as really awkward and ruined the effectiveness of the match.
Next, we’re reminded that Mick Foley decided to give Mahal and Rusev matches on this PPV for reasons.
Mahal is out first. Rusev (w/ new haircut and Lana) is out next. They start brawling in the ring and it culminates with Mahal sending Rusev into the crowd with a running knee. Mahal awaits his opponent and Cesaro’s music hits. Michael Cole literally says “huh.”, like even he had no idea the entire next couple of segments were going to be on the show.
Cesaro is out, Sheamus is out, but it’s Cesaro that’s going to be working the match.
Match #5: Jinder Mahal vs. Cesaro
I wanted to see Cesaro tonight. But. Not. Like. This. You could feel the energy just suck out of the room and honestly I spent more time catching up on my Twitter feed than watching this match. If WWE can’t put the effort into promoting the matches before the PPV starts, I’m not going to put in the effort to pay attention to the show. Cesaro hits a pop-up uppercut to get the win.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – An absolute waste of everyone’s time.
Post-match, Rusev has recovered and starts to kick the crap out of Mahal. Eventually, Big Show’s music hits. Oh good.
Match #6: Rusev (w/ Lana) vs. Big Show
As much as I didn’t want to see it, I hoped for Big Show to just come out and chokeslam Rusev and leave. Instead we get yet another unannounced, random match that no one in the building seemed all that excited for. Poor Rusev deserves better than this. Show completely dominates Rusev for the most part and finishes him off with three (!) chokeslams and KO punch while Rusev is just sitting in the corner. Show gets the easy 3 count after that.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – I’d have given this a pass if Shaq came out, but that appears to be off the table for WrestleMania since no Shaq cameo here. But hey, no one probably thought they’d get to see Rusev utterly destroyed at WWE Fastlane.
Meanwhile, Charly is backstage with Kevin Owens. KO reminds us that Goldberg hasn’t beaten anyone in the past ten years, except Lesnar. Owens isn’t impressed with Goldberg and vows that we’re getting the Kevin Owens show tonight, tomorrow, and for as long as he wants it.
Next, Austin Aries spams us with his video package yet again.
Gallagher is out first for the Cruiserweight Championship match. Champ enters last.
Match #7: Neville (c) vs. Gentleman Jack Gallagher (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)
Match of the night. Not that I’m saying much by giving this match that distinction on this show, but sure enough this was the only match really worth a damn. Gallagher gives Neville his greatest challenge as Cruiserweight Champion yet. Neville even has to break down and do his flying offense to eventually put Gallagher away. Jack looks good, but I think it was obvious going in that they weren’t going to disrupt Neville’s run with the purple belt. Sure enough, Neville busts out with his first Red Arrow since turning heel to put the Gentleman away. Good stuff that told a decent story and I liked Neville having to reduce himself to using the “crowd favorite” finisher to get the job done.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – The shining moment on this awful, awful show. I’d have liked to see Austin Aries finally debut by giving Neville a cheap shot in a post-match interview, but I imagine that will happen on Raw or 205 Live sometime soon.
Meanwhile, time for another backstage segment. This time Charly is with Paul Heyman to give us a red herring that Brock Lesnar might be in the building tonight (spoiler alert: he’s not). Heyman cuts a promo, as only he can, saying that no matter what happens tonight, Brock wins. Either Goldberg wins the title and Brock now has a title shot, or KO wins and exposes a weakness in Goldberg they can exploit at WrestleMania.
To kill more time, the New Day are sent out riding an ice cream bicycle. Yeah, I’m not recapping this. The idea that the Hardys aren’t coming to end the downward spiral of the New Day makes me sad. The New Day have come full circle on this gimmick and I don’t care about them. Just like how I didn’t care when they first debuted as the New Day. Full circle.
Next, Roman Reigns is out to boos. He’s randomly wearing sneakers instead of boots tonight. This becomes some of the biggest news from this PPV for some reason. Personally, I like that they finally allowed him to rock something new since the dude has been running with essentially the same gear since he debuted. Strowman is out next.
Match #8: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Hey, remember that build of Braun Strowman that started back at the brand split and they’ve been running gangbusters with since then? Yeah, about that. Roman Reigns goes over clean here. In a baffling move, they did absolutely nothing to protect Strowman and didn’t involve Reigns’ rumored WrestleMania opponent, The Undertaker, here at all. Nope, just a stiff “big man” match where Roman gradually comes back and hits Braun with multiple Superman punches. The finish is completely idiotic as Braun Strowman climbs to the top rope and attempts a splash on Reigns who is halfway across the ring. Shock of shocks, he misses. Braun then walks right into a Reigns Spear and takes his first singles match loss since being rebranded.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Not even because Roman is this generation’s version of “Super Cena”. “Thumbs Down” because the finish was out of character for Strowman and just plain stupid. Add to this Roman not needing this win in the least and the potentially irreparable damage to Strowman taking this loss… and wow, just wow.
Meanwhile, Foley is backstage and catches up to Samoa Joe. He tells Joe he’d better not intervene in Kevin Owens’ match tonight or there will be “Hell to Pay”. Beyond their possible tangential relationship to Triple H, why would Samoa Joe get involved to help Owens? See, if we actually had some story telling that explained if Triple H was building up a faction, then Foley’s concerns would make sense. But nah, this feels like a non sequitur and Joe, I guess properly for this scenario, sells it as such.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is out for the Women’s Championship match. She’s accompanied by Dana Brooke, who she promptly tells to “get off of my stage” and sends to the back. I’m glad they flew Dana all of the way from the Arnold Classic to Fastlane for that. Bayley is out last.
Match #9: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match)
Ugh. Hey, I was as sick of the “Charlotte doesn’t lose on PPV” gimmick as the next guy, but not like this. Not on this garbage dump of a show. Sure enough, Bayley retains here after a lackluster match. Charlotte actually looks okay overall, but there are some key botches and missed spots that took away from the match as a whole. The finish comes when Sasha Banks randomly does a run in… and I mean randomly, there was no reason for her to run in when she did. The ref inexplicably doesn’t issue a DQ, even though Sasha brawls with Charlotte and even enters the ring. Charlotte manages a distraction roll up, but has the tights, and the ref listens to Sasha’s objections and doesn’t count three. Bayley is then able to hit a Bayley to Belly to win. Yay, the faces won by cheating and the heel did the honorable thing by not having her henchwoman out to even the odds.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Awful booking. Awful match. At the very least, however, Bayley can now consider herself a proper WWE babyface since she has to resort to heel tactics to win and retain her title, just like all of the best babyfaces tend to.
Next, the show is supposed to end in like 12 minutes, so it’s the perfect time to randomly show us footage from Graves’ sit down with Rollins from Raw last week. Allegedly tomorrow night on Raw we’re going to take a look at Rollins’ rehab.
Well, here we go. Goldberg is out first and his entrance is uneventful. Owens is out next. His entrance is also uneventful. After the announcements, KO won’t get in the ring and stalls for a really, really long time. KO finally gets in the ring, the bell is rung and…
Match #10: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg (WWE Universal Championship Match)
… Chris Jericho’s music hits, he comes out, KO is distracted and walks into a Spear. Goldberg hits a Jackhammer. Go to Hell, WWE.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – 22 seconds. Completely and utterly disgusting.
Post-match, I don’t know. I literally turned a WWE PPV before it was completely over for the first time in my life.
Honestly, if I didn’t have this site and was still a casual fan, this would be where I’d check out, let my Network subscription lapse, and just spend my Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and occasional Sundays doing something else. But, I’ve made a commitment to this site, so I’ll continue to document the fall from grace of the WWE for the time being. But, hey, shout out to WWE for finding a way to present an even less interesting card for WrestleMania than they managed to last year. That took some doing, but they pulled it off.