Re-Booking WWE Fastlane, A Bad Show

WWE Fastlane, a Raw-brand PPV shown not entirely on PPV a mere 4 weeks out from WrestleMania, was a show that had some good, some OK, and some that should by all rights permanently damage America’s diplomatic relationship with Canada.

While the casual fan might be content to simply watch the event and go to bed seething, I — a very big nerd — am setting about the task of re-booking the show in a way that better suits current and future storylines in a totally serious way that’s not at all mined mercilessly for humour whenever I get bored.

There is one rule for this experiment: everyone who walked out of the actual event as champion must walk out of this article as champion as well. Everything else is fair game. Let’s bloody do this.


AKIRA TOZAWA & RICH SWANN vs THE BRIAN KENDRICK & NOAM DAR

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Swann & Tozawa win a pre-show match of no consequences that I did not watch. No one in their right mind should have the patience to watch Jerry Lawler tread water for an hour just to see a tope suicida through the Teletubbie ropes. Swann pins Dar to set up a Cruiserweight Championship match on RAW against Neville, because apparently every match in the division is for the number one contendership.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

Alicia Fox is revealed as the person behind the infamous GTV, despite the fact that she was about 10 when it first appeared. A clip on the big screen shows Noam Dar in the locker room struggling with the zipper on his jacket for ten minutes, distracting him just long enough for Swann to power up his bunny hop standing 450. As Dar, betrayed, lies on the canvas emitting an elongated “A-lee-shuh Fuuuuuuuuuuucks,” Tozawa kicks Kendrick so hard he rips through the brand split and lands in the loving embrace of Daniel Bryan on the set of Talking Smack. Bryan takes Kendrick home and makes up a cot for him that sets up a pro-graps ‘You, Me & Dupree’ situation, which forms the backbone of ‘Total Bellas’ season whatever. Swann then pins Dar.


SAMOA JOE vs SAMI ZAYN

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Samoan Joseph revealed his secret special power is “murder” and spent the bulk of the match imprinting a bruise pattern on Sami’s thigh that matched the plaid on his tights. Sami once again played his special power of “guts > brains” and scored a near-fall with John Cena Transitional Move #3, before Joe clamped on the Coquina Clutch and sent Sami off to dream of a much nicer time where the person trying to kick his head off was an eccentric, charming Japanese man and not a 285 pound killbot.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

Exactly that. Save for Joe shouting “SAY MY NAME” into an unconscious Sami’s face one more time, just to complete his full transition from neutered, dead-behind-the-eyes TNA employee to the WWE’s Heisenberg. Joe is the danger. Joe is the one who knocks.


RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: THE CLUB © vs ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Enzo bada-boomed his way through a rambling promo that had more leaps in logic than a Donald Trump twitter rant(*rimshot.gif*). The crowd ate up the sing-songy bit and somewhere in the world Billy Gunn’s arms reflexively crotch chopped. Gallows & Anderson retain the titles via Smarter At Wrestling and everyone Too Sweets.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

Enzo bada-booms for so long it becomes an all-night affair. A bada-boom filibuster. A Staten Island Stonewall. A cuppa bloviaters. It goes on for so long that The Club falls asleep at Gorilla. When Enzo finally lets Cass do the SAWFT bit, Gallows & Anderson are sound asleep. Officials don’t wake them, because the Good Brothers look so darn cute and snug, and Enzo & Cass wins by forfeit. The Revival then arrives and murks them. Then challenges all remaining tag teams in the division and murks them too, one-by-one (or two-by-two, as it were). Then they demand title shots at both the Raw and Smackdown belts at Mania in two matches that will happen simultaneously; a feat they will easily conquer because #TopGuys. Meanwhile, The Club awakens several hours later to find they’ve retained the titles while putting in roughly the same amount of effort they did in the actual match.


SASHA BANKS vs NIA JAX

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Sasha scouts Bayley’s match against Jax from Takeover: London and discovers Jax is quite susceptible to chinlocks, roll-ups, and chanting Brits. She narrowly misses getting a win with the Bank Statement — which in this case is more of a Raised Neck Discomfort — before scoring with an O’Conner Roll; her 110 pound frame proving too much for Jax to escape this manoeuvre. Jax vows to never again skip leg day.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

This is where things start getting a bit interesting. In this (good) version, the match plays out exactly as is, but Nia picks up the win. Sasha gets to look like an actual competent wrestler at long last, and Nia keeps a dominating presence heading into what should be a Fatal Four-Way for the title at ‘Mania. Bayley heads to the ring to pick up the crumpled Banks, who avoids eye contact and has a beleaguered and frustrated look on her face. MORE ON THIS LATER.


CESARO vs JINDER MAHAL

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Sweet lord in heaven who even cares.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED: Wellness Policy officials march to the ring and force Mahal to take a piss test in the middle of the ring. His urine glows bright green and burns a hole in the cup and the ring. Cesaro swings him out of the building and into a 30-day suspension, during which time he “miraculously” loses 20 lbs on the Chris Masters Diet.


BIG SHOW vs RUSEV

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: The incredible shrinking Big Show places his giant mitts on the svelte, handsome visage of Rusev and defeats him only after three chokeslams and a knockout punch, because Rusev is secretly the toughest SOB in the game.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

HANDSOME RUSEV WINS. HANDSOME RUSEV WINS EVERYTHING. HANDSOME RUSEV EXITS ARENA IN TANK AND IS AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE FOR BEST RUSEV. ALL GLORY TO RUSEV.


CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: NEVILLE © vs JACK GALLAGHER

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: The Cruiserweight division finally got a match it can hang its hat on thanks to the two men who should’ve been in the damned thing from day one. Remember Gran Metalik? What the bloody hell happened to him? Did Miz chuck a tour bus nap in his Calgary Kid mask causing a miscount on the number of luchadores present during a pitstop (“Sin Cara… Kalisto… the other one… good, that’s all of ‘em.”)? Is Metalik stranded at a gas station somewhere still holding hope that the bus will come back? WHY IS NO ONE ELSE TALKING ABOUT THIS.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

This. All of this. It was beautiful and wonderful and the only travesty of the match is that Gallagher didn’t get the ‘Loser’s Mark of Respect’ spot where he sadly rises to his feet after Neville’s music stops and the crowd gives him a standing O for trying his guts out and then he opens his umbrella and rises up out of the building and off to Neverland because Jack Gallagher is a human treasure who we 100% do not deserve.


THE NEW DAY REVEALS THEIR NEW DAY POPS ICE CREAM VAN

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Three of the most talented dudes on the roster prepare to spend WrestleMania shilling ice cream to rubes, which has the unintended effect of delaying CM Punk’s return by another 2 years.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

Top. Guys.


ROMAN REIGNS vs BRAUN STROWMAN

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: HOSS FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT. And it was DOPE AS HELL. For the first time in forever Roman wasn’t booked like he just got the last Chaos Emerald, and Braun is not-even-remotely low key the absolute shit right now. Roman overcomes the un-overcome-able in order to pose a credible threat to WWE’s final boss — Undertaker at WrestleMania — and Braun still comes off looking like Chickenpicken Bane before he goes on to win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal in under 5 seconds.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

See above. Silent-but-violent Roman is the man. Do not @ me.


RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: BAYLEY © vs CHARLOTTE FLAIR

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: After building her entire character around being a “big game player” with the best PPV streak of any burgeoning wrestler in company history, WWE inexplicably throws Charlotte’s PPV win streak down the toilet on a B-Show with a clean pin after mild interference from Sasha Banks. Bayley retains the title and will (presumably) walk into her first WrestleMania as champion.

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED:

After the Sasha/Nia match that, in this universe, ends with Nia pinning Sasha clean and Bayley picking her half-broken friend up off the canvas, we replay the finish of Bayley’s RAW title win. Charlotte locks Bayley in the Figure 8, except this time Sasha runs down and enters the ring to break the hold, saving the title for Bayley, but getting her disqualified in the process. Bayley looks miffed and disappointed at Sasha as the referee hands her the belt. On the ramp, an incensed Charlotte grabs the mic and reads Bayley the riot act. “You’re not a real champion/you’re a pretender who hides behind people/you know you can’t beat me so you take the easy way out.” Bayley grabs the mic and returns serve, “I don’t need help, I don’t need anyone, I can get this done all by myself, I can beat you by myself. I earned this title by the hard work that I put in and I never got a leg up from anyone, etc etc.” But after she’s done she turns around into a forearm from Sasha, now enraged, who leans over Bayley’s distraught body and screams “YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE? BITCH, I’M ALL YOU’VE GOT.” Sasha leaves a devastated Bayley with her title in the ring. Backstage, a furious Charlotte storms into Mick Foley’s office to demand a title match at WrestleMania, only to find Mick already talking to Nia Jax. Bing bang boom, you’ve got yourself a Fatal Four-Way. Charlotte, whose PPV record remains intact, is out to claim the title that is her birthright on a stage where her record is perfect. Sasha, tired of back-seat driving, steps out on her own and The Boss finally arrives. Nia Jax enters the match as the physically dominant wild card. And Bayley seeks to validate a championship she’s now starting to doubt she actually earned by retaining it off her own back.


UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: KEVIN OWENS © vs GOLDBERG

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: *very, very, very, very long continuous fart noise*

WHAT SHOULD’VE HAPPENED: Oy vey. In the considered words of Tennessee Williams: “What a fucken load of shite.” There’s so many ways this could’ve gone that would still have justified 50-year-old Goldberg steamrolling the hottest heel the company’s had in yonks, taking the title for the Lesnar feud which sorely needs motivation beyond “Brock mad.

But most importantly how on earth do you pay off the inglorious Owens betrayal of Jericho at the Festival of Friendship — aka THE DAY FRIENDSHIP DIED — with a simple Jericho ambles onto stage and that’s a bit distracting. THAT’S IT? THAT’S HIS GREAT REVENGE? A SLOW WALK? Firstly, what referee in their right mind rings the bell to start a championship match while the champion is clearly not ready to begin? Secondly, OWENS KILLED FRIENDSHIP AND JERICHO GETS HIS OWN BACK WITH MUSIC AND A WALK? Unacceptable.

So how do you pull this catastrophe off in a way that’s both interesting and doesn’t make your monster WWE Universal Champion look like a two-bit fool? It’s a lot simpler than you might think.

Owens and Goldberg both approach the ring as normal. During the formal ring introductions from Jojo, Owens gets mouthy and fronts up to Goldberg, causing the ref to get in between the pair. Owens reaches over the ref to get a thumb in Goldberg’s eye. In the commotion, the ref goes down, and Owens gets tangled up with an in-ring cameraman. KO berates the cameraman, quite deliberately calling him a “stupid idiot,” and then the cameraman turns around and drops Owens with a Codebreaker. The cameraman then pulls off a balaclava to reveal the jilted BFF himself, Chris Jericho, who smirks and exits stage left. With Owens struggling to regain his feet, Goldberg trying to get his vision back, and the ref still down, enter: Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar hops into the ring and we get a Goldberg/Lesnar stare-down. Goldberg talks trash at Lesnar, who says nothing in return. Right at the point where it seems like blood is imminent, Owens regains his feet and Lesnar swoops, planting him with an F-5 and promptly leaving the ring, to Goldberg’s great shock and confusion. Another stare down happens to buy a little time, and the referee slowly gets to his feet. He groggily waves for the bell to ring and the match to officially begin. Owens drags himself to his feet and Goldberg, having mulled over the ethical dilemma he’s in, then proceeds to spear and jackhammer Owens, taking the title in :21 seconds.

NOW THEN. This achieves a few things: Firstly, Jericho **physically** contributes to Owens losing the Universal Title, giving KO greater motivation to go after him than “slow ambling stroll” does. Secondly, Lesnar gifts the title to Goldberg because he knows his ‘Mania match with him is on no matter what — he doesn’t want to simply take the W from Goldberg, he wants to take everything. Thirdly, it makes it look like it took an army to put Kevin Owens down for the count. And finally, Lesnar has a ready-made and extremely pissed-off challenger who got murdered out of the Universal Title waiting post-Mania once he’s sent Big Bill packing back into retirement. One who is still, contractually, owed a rematch. Narrative threads, folks. They fray for a reason.

ALTERNATIVELY:

Rocks fall, everyone dies.

Fastlane was bad.

Tune in next time when I maybe do this for WrestleMania when Orton takes the title off Wyatt and 50,000 people simultaneously flip their chairs.