Saturday, October 16, 2021

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Fastlane Review: The Hug to end The Streak


Fastlane is seen as the last part of the track heading to the golden stage at WrestleMania 33! This year’s Fastlane was a twist of events to say the least, but whether those twists were a good or bad thing are up in the air. However, before we get to my thoughts, let’s have a look with the Fastlane review!

First up was the RAW women’s division’s answer to David VS Goliath with Sasha Banks taking her grudge match against the dominant Nia Jax. Pre-match, we’re treated to a history lesson, documenting that Nia has had Sasha’s number the last two times that they’ve faced each other. So will it be third time lucky?

I know I usually rag on about Nia’s repetitive offence, but she actually cracked out some new moves here – most notably a Torture Rack. Throughout the match she works on Sasha’s back, backbreakers, twisting her back against the ropes, multiple slams and pretty much ragdolling Sasha who is probably half her size.

In a similar fashion of trying new things, Sasha’s offence throughout is a little more luchadora-esque. Literally flipping and clambering across Nia’s limbs to bust out some new moves and attempt to lock in some submissions, which looked cool for Nia to power out of. The end of the match comes as Sasha hits a Tornado-DDT and locks in the Banks Statement! However, the ever-powerful Nia manages to lift herself out of the dreaded hold. Luckily, Sasha escapes before Nia can cause damage, but she can’t dodge the blow as Nia choke slams her down! Nia drops one of her signature leg drops on Sasha’s back, but she’s not finished… she attempts to lift Sasha up for one finishing maneuver!

The lucha-Banks manages to wriggle out of what looks like a Samoan Drop attempt and rolls up Nia into a bridged pin! She attempts to grab the rope… but misses… but still gets the 3 count! Three is the magic number for Sasha as she finally topples Nia Jax and ooh, she is not happy at all!

Now onto the match for the RAW Women’s Championship between everyone’s favourite Hugger, Bayley, taking on the PPV Queen herself, Charlotte Flair!

Charlotte makes her way to the ring first, initially accompanied by her protege (and Arnold Classic competitor) Dana Brooke… but there’s no love shown here as she dismisses her to the back – Charlotte wants to do this one on her own! The crowd are super hot for the Champ as she makes her way to the ring, will she be able to finally defeat the streak?

As we have seen since their battles in NXT, Bayley and Charlotte tend to be evenly matched throughout their matches. Similar height, similar ring-based technical moves and Charlotte’s gymnastic moves tend to be equaled out by Bayley’s speedy offence. This match was much of the same. The pace of this match is much more slower in comparison to the other match, with the two women seizing each other up. For every rest-lock Charlotte applies, Bayley counters with one of her own, for every running shoulder block, the other woman is up on her feet.

The tide of the match starts to change when Charlotte nails Bayley with a shoulder block on the outside of the ring. After tossing Bayley back into the ring, most of Charlotte’s focus is on Bayley’s neck. You name it, Charlotte does it – using the ropes, the buckles and even the apron, she continues the damage. She even hits a moonsault off the top rope, follows it up with a senton and can still only get a 2 count!

After reversing an attack in the corner, Bayley starts to gain the offence. Unfortunately, they can’t seem to pull off what looks like it may have been a cool spot in the corner with Charlotte semi-hung up in the Tree of Woe for what felt like years. After regaining control of the match, Bayley manages to take Charlotte off the top rope with a hurricanrana and follows it up with an elbow drop from the top rope! But again, it’s only a two count!

We reach the near-fall stage as the match reaches its end. After Bayley kicks out of the Natural Selection, Charlotte gets desperate and tosses her out the ring from the apron. She climbs up to the top rope and it seems like she’s going for another moonsault… until Sasha Banks runs down to the ring!

However, Charlotte catches her and thrusts her into the apron and into the ring. As Sasha rolls out, it seems the distraction has proved vital for Bayley who hits Charlotte with a Bayley-to-belly on the outside! She throws Charlotte into the ring one more time, but Charlotte attempts a roll-up and tries to grab Bayleys tights! Sasha yells at the referee who sees and refuses to count, in the mix up, Bayley’s timing is perfect one more time as she hits another Bayley-to-belly for the 3 count! Bayley retains the RAW Women’s Championship and the Queen’s PPV streak is over!

The Hug’n’Boss celebrate in the ring together while Charlotte is in tears on the outside! The streak is broken, so what’s next for the Queen?

Thoughts: Oh Fastlane… what a weird night for the women. I predicted it all wrong, which technically should be a good thing, since no one likes watching anything predictable… but this just seemed like a really odd direction for the women to go in. We heard rumblings of a 4-way, but this PPV has made both the heels quite irrelevant now with them both losing to the top faces and seemingly ending their simultaneous feuds.

Let’s also talk about the match quality, which for me made me feel quite short-changed. I feel that these women have all taken the bars so high that they almost can’t have any mediocre matches anymore – especially when SmackDown are out there killing it every week. Both matches had messy endings, which made their outcomes really fall flat.

I admit, that while Sasha’s botch seemed to make Nia look weak, it’s not like we’ve not seen her pinned cleanly before. Also, it just made it awkward for the ending of Charlotte/Bayley as it seemed they were meant to do a ropebreak spot too, but then they just shouted about the tights… which no one ever cares about…

And finally let’s address the streak ending… at Fastlane… what a waste is all I can say. 17 PPVs of predictable feuds, including killing most of Sasha Banks’ credibility as a long-term Champion. And what for? A third rate PPV before the grandest stage of them all. Sure Charlotte’s streak being broken at WrestleMania was predictable, but it’s the traditional fairytale ending that we wanted to see Bayley have. It’s why people fell in love with her in NXT – so while seeing her winning the title so soon gave that mixed reaction, breaking the streak has probably done even more damage.

I guess this all goes to show the development of her character, growing from being an underdog to actually becoming a well-accomplished competitor. Whether this will work or not is something we’ll have to wait to find out. So RAW will show what direction we’re heading into going to WrestleMania… I can’t say I’m too thrilled, unless there’s a real surprise there in the form of a certain Emma!

Did you enjoy the women’s matches at Fastlane? Do you think Nia looked too weak? Are you happy the streak is over? You know what to do in the comments section!

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