Even though Dean Ambrose is clearly being positioned as the fall guy, the storyline needed him to be put in a position to over-come obstacles and a major loss with so little time before the PPV. After calling out Brock, Stephanie McMahon forced him to defend the Intercontinental Championship in an "F5." Except in this case, the F5 means a Fatal-Five-Way. Then technically wouldnít that be an F5W? Anyway, the challengers included legit contender and previous Champion Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, and Superstars main-stays Stardust and Tyler Breeze. Are we seriously that shallow on midcard talent weíre digging into the frigginí C-Show crew to round out an Intercontinental Championship Match!? Ambrose fought valiantly, but circumstances forced him away from the deciding fall, where Kevin Owens finished off Tyler Breeze (heel pins heel because...) to kick off his second reign as Intercontinental Champion, and to add some meaning to the recent meaningless series of jobs heís been doing for Dolph Ziggler. Naturally, with Ziggler (and others) owning victories over Owens in recent weeks, guess who gets the first title match at Fast Lane?
As much as the Intercontinental Championship was treated as a cheap whore, how about that United States Championship? If you forgot, Kalisto is the reigning Champion. I know I address this every week like itís some new revelation, but how important has his reign been? What advancement have they done between him and Alberto Del Rio? How important is their Championship Match at Fast Lane? Well, itís being decided in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match. The bad news is that it will be featured on the Kick Off Show. Yes. One of the few Championships defended (no Tag Title Match, no WWE Title Match) will NOT be on the 3-hour allotted PPV. A PPV that will feature a worthless 6-Man Tag Team Match featuring the Anti-Smark Darlings and the Wyatt Family sans Bray Wyatt, will have the US Title, in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match, on the Warm-Up Show. LOGIC!
As for the New Day, their plans currently set for the Fast Lane PPV are doing a non-wrestling "Peep Show" with Edge and Christian, who will no doubt be promoting their soon-to-premiere WWE Network Show as if it means something to a viewing audience who are mostly WATCHING THE WWE NETWORK! I canít say thereís much left for them to do until they pump new blood into the division. The Usos are dying a slow death with the crowds and just lost a big PPV match. The Lucha Dragons have come and gone as challengers. The Dudleys were sinking until the sudden heel turn. The Ascension are terrible and jobbed out, the whacky team of R-Truth and Goldust will never go anywhere, and the less said about the Social Outcasts, the better.
Turning our attentions to the Women... sorry, DIVAS Division (only NXT has the audacity to respect their female competitors by not calling them a derogatory term ("a woman regarded as temperamental or haughty). Thereís two storylines being pushed, and neither is going to deliver a very good match at Fast Lane. Charlotte is in a "simmering water" angle with Brie Bella, to cash in on the recent retirement of Daniel Bryan and very well may be the swan song of Brie in the WWE. All those Ĺ* matches, all those years... who isnít going to miss that? Elsewhere, weíve got the remains of Team BAD (Black and Dangerous? I donít know anymore) feuding with the mismatched partners who hate each other, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. Can Becky trust Sasha? Yes. Because she trusted Paige and Charlotte for weeks after they both were showing signs of heel turns. Oh, and in case you missed it, Paige and Summer Rae have been trading victories again. Who did Paige piss off this time?
Rounding out the stuff that actually went somewhere, the Raw Main Event actually ended up being a negative-star anti-classic between the Big Show, who has turned face AGAIN, against Braun Strowman. Yes, it was less than 3-minutes long, but holy crap, thatís still enough time to challenge anything El Gigante/Giant Gonazales or the Great Khali has ever done. The point of the match was to create a ridiculous reason to make a Six-Man Tag, with Kane... whoops, DEMON Kane, ripping his way through the canvas to even the odds for former rivals-turned-allies, Big Show and Ryback. How many more times are they going to trot out Kane and Big Show as tag team partners? WE DONíT CARE if they are supposed to be the babyfaces, weíre tired of that act and this is what, the 17th time theyíve been put in a storyline as tag team allies? Last, and certainly not least, Chris Jericho and A.J. Styles continue to have their professional rivalry over whoís the better man, all while making the Miz their personal job boy. Sometimes a simple and to the point storyline works, but Iíll love it the day we donít get a series of matches blown through in a few weeks and supposed to be excited about the "rubber match." Who knows where A.J. Styles goes when heís done with this rest-stop program with Jericho.
From WWE Main event, taped on February 16th from Ontario, CA... The Man That Gravity Forgot (4-1) and Zack Ryder (4-6) defeated Tyler Breeze (3-5) and Stardust (3-9) in a decent match of guys who have been completely forgotten about or have lost all their credibility. Do you think that WWE might bring up Mojo Rawley soon? I hope not... Paige (1-1) defeated Summer Rae (0-1) to avenge her loss on Monday Night Raw. Good to see Summer hasnít improved since we last saw her in the ring... The New Day (all three 1-0) defeated Social Outcast members Curtis Axel (1-2), Adam Rose (1-7), and Heath Slater (2-9) in a decent Six-Man that pretty much kills any chances that the Social Outcasts might have had a PPV program.
From WWE Superstars, taped on February 15th from Anahiem, CA but technically broadcast at a later date than Main Event... Natalya (2-1) defeated Alicia Fox (2-3) in a rematch from last weeks Main Event, a match Natalya also walked away from victorious, and Jack Swagger (13-2) defeated Fandango (2-8). Iím already missing Titus OíNeil. This was a pretty poor episode of Superstars. I guess the Ascension needed a break from double-duty C-Show jobbing.
1. The Main Event will be a Triple Threat Match pitting Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar against each other to decide who gets to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H at WrestleMania 32. Thereís just no point to get excited about this match. Roman Reigns is clearly going to win. The real intrigue is how will they move Brock Lesnar into a storyline with the Wyatt Family (as has been rumored for a couple of months now) and where does Dean Ambrose go from here, and will he be the one taking the fall. It amazes me how much the WWE has dropped the ball in pushing Roman Reigns, from the questionable booking at the Royal Rumble, to constantly matching him with more popular baby-faces... whereís the magic that got him over for about three weeks to close out 2015 and kick off 2016? They really need it if heís going to carry the company moving forward from WrestleMania 32.
2. Kevin Owens defends his newly won Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler. Owens had been suffering through a minor (but non-addressed) losing streak, with two notable losses to Ziggler, so it makes some sense that these two would meet at Fast Lane, but I donít think anyone saw them moving the Title back on Owens so quickly, and completely out of nowhere. With Owens winning the Title less than a week ago, thereís very little chance that theyíll move the Title, again. If Owens does lose, I can see them doing a cheap Disqualification, but with this being one of only two Title matches on the PPV itself, they need to do as many decisive finishes as possible.
3. Charlotte defends the WWE DIVAS Championship against "#1 Contender" Brie Bella. Not to be that douche-bag, but this is such a meaningless, time-filling match. If this is truly Brie Bellaís swan song with WWE, what does it cap off, a career of insignificance, poor matches, and poor storylines where they couldnít decide if the Bellaís were heel or face when it came to the week to week operations? The Division has been making progress lately, but this is a major step back and will probably be the worst singles match on the PPV.
4. A.J. Styles and Chris Jericho go at it in the Rubber Match of their rivalry, with Styles winning the first match on Raw (a solid 3-stars), and Jericho winning the rematch a couple of weeks later on Smackdown (a 4-star effort and one of the best TV matches Iíve seen lately). With the skill level of both men, and the amount of time to fill, I can see this getting 20-minutes and stealing the show. I wouldnít be surprised if this opened the PPV if it isnít the Intercontinental Championship Match (itís a rule that Ziggler has to open as many shows as possible).
5. Big Show, DEMON Kane, and Ryback face off with the Wyatt Family members Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman in what might be the worst Six-Man Tag Team Match the WWE could manufacture. Is Luke Harper good enough to carry five people in the same match? No. Nobody is. Hopefully it will be short, and hopefully Big Show will retire soon. Ryback needs to ditch the Goldberg tights, just for the record... and Kane needs to go away, too. Heís ran his course 40 times over.
6. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks face off with Naomi and Tamina in a Battle of the former BAD Members and the gullible Lass Kickerô. This is going to be a piss break match, it wonít be very good since Naomi is so-so at best and Tamina is even worse, and the storyline of the match is how well can Becky and Sasha get along? Spoiler: They wonít get along well until the very end when they string together a few nice spots.
7. Finally, Kalisto defends the United States Championship against Alberto del Rio in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match on the Kick-Off Show. I would feel bad about this match being downgraded to Kick-Off Show status, but their negative chemistry at the Royal Rumble (and other matches) didnít leave me with much confidence. With Sin Cara back, do you take the meaningless title off Kalisto, or keep it on him for a while longer since the Lucha Dragons are kind of dead right now.
8. In a Non-Wrestling Segment, the New Day will be on the Peep Show. Maybe we will introduce Enzo and Cass or some other NXT Team in this segment to give New Day something to do at WrestleMania?
With that being the announced card, itís a bit of a surprise they arenít doing something like the Dudley Boyz vs. Usos since it would be a logical match to do, and thereís no Sheamus or Rusev featured, either. I guess the weakened undercard means less to do, but maybe if they didnít bury people like Tyler Breeze and Stardust (among others), maybe there would be something for them to do? I guess Neville was really forgotten by Gravity, as he disappeared from doing anything worth noting.
Final Thoughts: Next week, we officially make our way towards WrestleMania 32. Weíll know for sure if Roman Reigns will be the challenger to Triple Hís Championship, but we still donít know what the rest of the card is going to shape up like. Who will face the Undertaker? How can they make Brock Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt an interesting program? What of the Tag Team Titles? The Intercontinental Championship? Will Braun Strowman get the rocket push via winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale? Next week weíll have a complete recap of Fast Lane and hopefully a few answers for WrestleMania.