Here are my final thoughts on Raw and SmackDown’s Fastlane 2021!
Riddle (c) vs. Mustafa Ali (WWE United States Championship)
Reactions: I knew coming into this match that Riddle and Mustafa Ali would put on a worthwhile title matchup. They gave us a nice sample size of what they could do on the last episode of Raw and they went on to deliver the full serving of their strong chemistry here. Both men upped the ante a bit with some cool counters and a huge top-rope rendition of Riddle’s finishing maneuver. This one got a good amount of time to truly realize its potential, which was nice to see. So yeah, it was a good match overall. Post-match, we got to see the stable that no one gives a damn about finally implode. RETRIBUTION has always been trash and will forever be associated with the word WrestleCrap till the day I die. Now please give Ali something great to sink his teeth into, WWE…
Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair (WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship)
Reactions: I feel like I’ve watched this match a thousand times already. And just like the previous ones, this one was among the same quality as those. It moved at a solid pace, but there were a few sloppy changes here and there that knocked it down a peg. It was weird seeing Nia Jax amount to nothing more than a base for Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to do all their cool moves off of, though. All that domination she’s used to delivering in her matches was completely missing here. The main story of this match was Banks finally tapping into her heelish “bossy” ways and turning on her WrestleMania 37 challenger. So at least we got that. This was a perfectly fine match with an expected outcome and heel turn.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Reactions: I knew I was going to enjoy this one simply based on the hot start to this heated title match. Apollo Crews took hella abuse from a clearly pissed-off Big E as soon as the bell rang. Things were progressing well as both men tore into each other with some vicious moves. But then all of a sudden, Big E won out nowhere with a botchy-looking pin that brought this to a close in a disappointing fashion. Like, the hell was that? Why couldn’t they keep going and give us the classic that this match was clearly building into? Man, my feelings were truly hurt here…
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Bruan Strowman vs. Elias
Reactions: Okay, now I’m upset! Did they really shave a whole bunch of time off of the previous match that people actually wanted to see for this unnecessary squash match? Bruh…whoever decided that was a good idea is completely ass-backward. Anything Braun Strowman, Shane McMahon, Elias, and Jaxson Ryker are involved with these days is minuscule and a complete bore-fest. So you can already guess how much I cared about this entirely too-long travesty. The extra time Big E and Crews deserved before this was sadly given to this unneeded segment. Boy, I tell ya…
Rating: 1 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins
Reactions: It’s pretty rare to see Shinsuke Nakamura shine on PPV nowadays. But when it does happen, I tend to rejoice. As someone that’s been watching that man since his NJPW heyday and his 2018 main roster run at the beginning of that year, his fall from grace has me heartbroken. But he’s enjoyed some cool spurts of a decent push every now and then. This match was a shining example of what he’s still capable of when given the chance to do so.
That came as no surprise since Seth Rollins is usually the best guy to put in the ring with anyone, no matter their level of talent. This match started off slow, but it gradually got more competitive the longer it went on. The last 10 minutes or so added some extra heat to this bout, which pushed this match’s quality factor up a notch. Rollins got the win here as expected since he’s heading to ‘Mania 37 to take on Cesaro. But Nakamura still deserves props for looking like his old “King of Strong Style” self here.
Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus (No Holds Barred Match)
Reactions: Well damn! I figured these guys were going to put on a banger, but I didn’t think they’d go that hard to produce a MOTY candidate here. The No Holds Barred stipulation randomly got attached to this hotly contested rematch, which went a long way towards making this all the more brutal. Sheamus got in a ton of offense and got to go out on a strong note in defeat. The Irishman was out for blood and he clearly made every attempt to get that point across. The outside brawling that transpired during this one played out wonderfully and truly matched the intensity of the heat between both guys.
Drew McIntyre made sure to match his former best bud’s level of violence with some equally painful offense of his own. The kendo stick shots were cringe-inducing, the sparks were flying thanks to a TV monitor spot, and the announce table got torn to pieces after a brutal White Noise got delivered through it. The final few seconds were pretty hype as McIntyre drove Sheamus’ head into a piece of that same announce table with his Future Shock DDT and finished him off with a stiff Claymore Kick. This was a great barroom brawl that set up McIntyre perfectly for his much anticipated ‘Mania 37 meeting with Bobby Lashley.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Alexa Bliss vs. Randy Orton
Reactions: The worst part about WWE this year has to be the god-awful continuation of the supernatural horse manure “The Fiend,” Alexa Bliss, and Randy Orton have all been a part of. Orton simply deserves better than to be saddled with this trite going into this year’s Mania. And I’m simply sick to death of seeing a completely uninteresting rendition of Bray Wyatt and a tiresome version of Alexa Bliss take up valuable PPV time. This feud sucks, this “match” sucked, and the eventual meeting we’re going to get between “The Fiend” and Orton at ‘Mania 37 is also going to suck. Good lord, would someone hit this whole thing with the Wrap-It-Up-Box already?
Rating: HATED IT!
Roman Reigns (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Universal Championship; Edge Will Be the Special Guest Enforcer)
Reactions: This was…fine, I guess? Which is a bit of a letdown considering the amazing match these two had back at Fastlane 2015. The beginning portion of this bout was filled with an overly long feeling out process that worked my nerves. And once Roman Reigns finally got his hands on Daniel Bryan, we were treated to a ho-hum delivery of slow strikes and jaw jacking from the “Tribal Chief.”
It took forever for this match to hit its second gear, but even when it did I found myself not as excited about it as I figured I’d be. The match wasn’t bad by any means, but it just fell short of my high expectations for it and it took way too long to pick up the pace. I wasn’t a fan of the ref bump and all the madness that ensued once Jey Uso and Edge got involved, too. This main event certainly had its moments, but most of it was hampered by repetitive spots and a brutally slow pace. I expected much better from this one.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Match of the Night
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus!
Man, this show was a mixed bag. The good was obviously the US Championship match, Nakamura vs. Rollins, and the awesome No Holds Barred match. But the bad really stuck out as truly awful here – the paranormal BS involving Orton & Bliss made me roll my eyes, Braun Strowman and Elias had a pointless match, and Big E vs. Appolo Crews ended far too prematurely. The women’s tag team title match was decent at best. But the fact that I feel the same way about the main event is damning. This was a middle-of-the-road PPV that really didn’t need to happen, honestly. If it wasn’t for Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus, I probably would have given Fastlane 2021 a much lower grade.
Final Score: 3 out of 5 Stars