Fastlane 2018

|Date: March 11, 2018
|Venue: Nationwide Arena |City: Columbus, Ohio
|Attendance: 15,119
|Brand: Smackdown

|tweet me: @BastionBlogger

The show starts with a video package highlighting the importance of this show as the the final stop on the road to Wrestlemania. The main focus is on the six pack challenge for the WWE Championship but the Roode/Orton match and Charlotte/Ruby Riott match also get hyped.

Tom Phillips welcomes us to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev

Background: On the February 27 episode of SmackDown, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Aiden English. The following week, English and Rusev interrupted a backstage interview with Nakamura, with Rusev challenging Nakamura to a match at Fastlane for damaging English’s vocal cords and Nakamura accepted.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between these two men.

Fastlane PPV Record: Rusev is 1-1 at Fastlane, Shinsuke makes his Fastlane PPV debut tonight.

Match: Rusev starts well, out-powering Nakamura and keeping him grounded. Rusev has Aiden English in his corner and there are plenty of “Rusev Day” chants. Shinsuke shows off his charisma by strutting around the ring and telling Rusev to “come on!!”. Nakamura hits Rusev with strikes, knees and kicks. Rusev gets a near fall in a match where you can’t see any result but Nakamura winning. Shinsuke locks on a heel hook but Rusev powers out of it. Nakamura hits a one legged karate kick at one point which I have never seen anyone use in that way ever. Rusev hits a big fallaway slam but he’s struggling. Shinsuke avoids the Machka kick and hits some kicks of his own before looking foe the Kinshasa but Rusev avoids it. Rusev then looks for the accolade but Nakamura counters. Rusev counters another Kinshasa with a Machka kick for a near fall. Nakamura counters the accolade and hits a Kinshasa to the back of the head before hitting another ti the front of his head! And that is enough for the win.

Result: Shinsuke Nakamura wins by pinfall.

Review: This match was ok. It was nothing special but it given Nakamura a big win before his WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania. I’m not sure where it leaves Rusev but he is very popular right now.

Rating: 4.5/10

There’s an ad for Wrestlemania.

Next up is a VT hyping the United States Championship match.

Bobby Roode (c) vs. Randy Orton – United States Championship match

Background: Randy Orton hit Bobby Roode with an RKO following a match with Jinder Mahal. Orton claims that he hit it because he wants the United States Championship, the only title in WWE to have eluded The Viper. But Jinder claim he did it because Randy was unhappy with the “Smackdown Top 10 List”. This was voted on by the superstars of Smackdown and Orton was listed at the #9 spot, below Roode who was in at #5.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between these two men.

Fastlane PPV Record: This is the first time either man wrestle at Fastlane.

Match: This is a match you may never have expected to see between two men with similar styles. It’s a cagey start to the match with both men jockeying for position. Randy attempts an RKO in what feels like the early going but Bobby pushes him away. Bobby looks for the glorious DDT shortly after but Orton evades it. Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh are shown watching backstage. It’s a back and forth match with a slow pace. Roode heads to the top and hits a clothesline before doing his glorious pose which tends to precede the glorious DDT but Orton counters. Orton hits his trademark powerslam but Bobby counters the hangmans DDT. Orton hits the DDT on the second attempt and then motions for an RKO but Roode counters before Orton counters the glorious DDT again. The fight goes to the outside where Orton throws Roode into the barricade. Back in the ring and Roode hits a powerbomb for a near fall.

A match with this pace doesn’t need to go this long. Randy hits a big superplex for a near fall. Both men counter the others finishers again but Roode does hit a spinebuster for a near fall. Roode heads to the top and dives off but Orton catches him with an RKO out of nowhere! Orton hooks the leg and gets the three!

Result: Randy Orton wins the United States Championship by pinfall.

Review: Well I am surprised by this result. I definitely didn’t see Randy winning this match. It was a slow match and I didn’t really enjoy it to be honest. Nor am I happy with the result. A very short reign for Roode who deserved longer.

Rating: 3.5/10

After the match Jinder Mahal walks out. He goes right after Orton but Roode hits Mahal with a glorious DDT! Roode then gives Orton one too!

There’s a recap video of Ronda Rousey making her debut at the Royal Rumble and then signing her contract at Elimination Chamber. We then see what led to the mixed tags team match at Wrestlemania between Triple H & Stephanie McMahon and Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey.

Kevin Owens berates Sami Zayn backstage because of Zayn kicking Owens and pinning him in the fatal five way match on Smackdown. Zayn says that he will not let Owens down tonight but KO walks off.

Naomi & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya & Carmella

Background: On the March 6 episode of SmackDown, Becky Lynch defeated Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella by submission. Later, a tag team match between Becky Lynch and Naomi against Natalya and Carmella was scheduled for Fastlane. Natalya and Carmella have claimed that Naomi and Becky Lynch have let their friend Charlotte down in recent weeks.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time tag team match involving these four ladies.

Fastlane PPV Record: Becky Lynch is 1-0 at Fastlane, Naomi is 0-1 and both Natalya and Carmella make their Fastlane debut tonight.

Match: Becky Lynch and Carmella start the match and Becky looks to snap Carmella’s arm early. Natalya tags in and Becky hits a nice arm drag. Naomi hits some nice kicks and a running hurricanrana. Naomi then hits a modified stunner and then looks for a moonsault but gets distracted by Carmella which allows Natalya to hit a powerbomb. Carmella and Natalya start to make quicker tags, keeping Naomi away from her partner. Carmella shows a vicious side as she lays into Naomi on the outside. Naomi finally makes the hot tag to Becky Lynch and she picks up the pace wearing a terrible fire printed leotard. Becky also hits a pretty bad missile dropkick. Carmella avoids a rear view but Becky tags herself back in. Naomi and Natalya doesn’t seem to know where they’re getting thrown out of the ring. With the referee distracted Carmella wants her Money In The Bank briefcase but Becky stops that from happening before turning around into a superkick from Carmella. Carmella hooks the leg and gets the three!

Result: Carmella and Natalya win by pinfall.

Review: This was another sub par match. It looked like it just served to give Carmella a big win as she is Ms Money In The Bank. Becky Lynch takes the fall and it really makes you wonder who will be in the title picture at Wrestlemania.

Rating: 3.75/10

There’s a video package next for The Usos and The New Day.

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) (c) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship match

Background: This is the rivalry that never ends! The New Day beat Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin to become number one contenders to the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Since then there has been a war of words between the two teams with The Usos intent on being champions heading into Wrestlemania so they can actually wrestle at Wrestlemania for the first time ever whilst The New Day say they have earned every opportunity they have ever had.

Previous PPV matches: This is the fifth PPV match between these two teams. The New Day have won 3 of the previous 4 and The Usos won the other.

Fastlane PPV Record: The Usos are 0-1 at Fastlane whilst The New Day wrestle at this event for the first ever time.

Match: Jimmy Uso and Xavier Woods start off the match. Sadly when Woods is involved it tends to mean that The New Day lose. The Usos take the early advantage, stomping New Day as if they are the New Day. Kofi Kingston picks up the pace and takes down both Usos. Jey counters trouble in paradise but Kofi would hit the running arse splat in the corner. Jimmy Uso then hits the boom drop on Kofi! The Usos hit midnight hour on Kingston for a near fall. Interesting that these spots are so early in the match. All hell breaks loose with all four men getting involved and Xavier Woods hitting superkicks to both Jimmy and Jey. Kofi then hits an Usos splash on Jimmy for a near fall. The Usos clear the ring of The New Day and then dive out on them! With everyone down the music of The Bludgeon Brothers hits and out walk Harper snd Rowan! They lay into both tag teams on the outside with their mallets and the referee calls for the bell!

Result: No contest due to interference from The Bludgeon Brothers.

Review: This match was pretty good. It was certainly different. The two teams basically swapped movesets. But at the end of the day this match was about introducing Harper and Rowan into the tag team title scene and sowing the seeds for Wrestlemania. It felt like this match was just getting going before it goes interrupted but it wasn’t bad for what we got.

Rating: 5.5/10

Harper and Rowan continue their assault after the match, leaving The Usos and all three members of The New Day completely laid out.

Next up is a VT showing how Roman Reigns got to the main event of Wrestlemania.

Renee Young is backstage with AJ Styles who says he is capable of turning the impossible into phenomenal. Shinsuke Nakamura shows up and says that he hopes AJ Styles wins tonight. AJ tells him that he will beat Nakamura at Wrestlemania.

We’re shown members of The New Day and Usos being carried out on stretchers and helped to the back after the earlier attack from Harper and Rowan.

There’s a VT next showing the recent history between Charlotte and Ruby Riott.

Charlotte (c) vs. Ruby Riott – Smackdown Women’s Championship match

Background: The Riott Squad debuted on Smackdown a couple of months ago and have wrecked havoc on the whole division. Charlotte stepped up to take on The Riott Squad one by one, defeating both Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan before challenging Ruby and telling her that she can have a shot a the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Riott would obviously accept.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between these two girls.

Fastlane PPV Record: Charlotte is 1-1 at Fastlane, Ruby Riott makes her debut at the event tonight.

Match: Ruby Riott is alone for this match, neither Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan are present. Charlotte hits a big fallaway slam in the early going but Ruby is quite scrappy in her offence. The two topple out of the ring with Ruby on Charlotte’s back. Charlotte is then aggressive as she throws Riott into the ringpost. Charlotte then gets distracted as Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan show up. Ruby shoves Charlotte into the ringpost before throwing the Smackdown Women’s Champion into the ring and hitting her with a Riott kick for a near fall. Ruby then distracts the referee but Becky Lynch and Naomi run out to ringside to fend off Morgan and Logan. Ruby hits a stagedive senton which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Ruby dominates for a while now, screaming at Charlotte as she does. Charlotte counters the second senton attempt and then goes up top for a moonsault but Ruby pushes her to the outside.

Charlotte hits a moonsault off the barricade for a near fall. Ruby counters a figure four attempt but Charlotte then hits a running knee. Riott hits a top rope hurricanrana for a near fall. The Riott Squad look like they’re going to get involved which baits Naomi and Becky Lynch into the ring and so the referee sends all four girls to the back. Charlotte then starts a comeback, hits a running boot and looks for the figure four but Ruby rolls her up for a near fall. Charlotte slingshots Ruby into the top turnbuckle, hits a spear and locks on the figure eight to win the match.

Result: Charlotte retains her Smackdown Women’s Championship by submission.

Review: This was a good match. Plenty of action, some fun spots and some interesting outside interference. In the end though Charlotte retains her title like she always does on pay per view. A better match than I would have predicted.

Rating: 7/10

After the match Asuka makes her way to the ring to the surprise of everyone. Asuka stares Charlotte down and then points to the Wrestlemania sign which means that we have Charlotte vs. Asuka in place for Wrestlemania! A huge match.

We’re told about the injuries suffered to The New Day and The Usos.

Xavier Woods in particular having to go to a nearby medical facility.

There’s a video package next showing the importance of the main event where the winner goes on to Wrestlemania to defend against Shinsuke Nakamura.

Shane McMahon is introduced as he takes a ringside seat for the main event.

AJ Styles (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin vs. John Cena – Six pack challenge for the WWE Championship

Background: This began with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn battling in a number one contenders match to determine AJ Styles opponent for Fastlane. AJ Styles would get involved and the match was thrown out as a double disqualification, however Daniel Bryan would announce a triple threat for Fastlane between Styles, Zayn and Owens. Shane McMahon would then announce a match between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin with the winner being added to the match but Owens and Zayn would attack both men which led McMahon to add both Ziggler and Corbin to the match. Cena asked to be involved too and was granted his request should he beat AJ Styles in a non-title match, which he did.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time six pack challenge involving these men.

Fastlane PPV Record: John Cena is 0-1, Dolph Ziggler is 0-2, Kevin Owens is 1-1, AJ Styles is 1-0, Sami Zayn is 0-1 and Baron Corbin wrestles at Fastlane for the first time.

Match: The bell rings and John Cena immediately hits attitude adjustments on Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler! AJ Styles counters the effort made in him. All five men then beat down John Cena! It then turns into a pier 6 brawl as all six men go at it around the ring. Kevin Owens gets the nearest fall in the early going as he hits a big frog splash on Ziggler. Owens counters a Styles Clash attempt but Corbin hits a chokeslam backbreaker on KO before Ziggler hits a zigzag on Corbin. Cena locks the STF on Ziggler but it gets broken up by AJ Styles. AJ hits a Styles Clash on Cena but the pinfall gets broken up by Sami Zayn. Corbin hits deep six on Styles who rolls to the outside. The fight between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin goes into the crowd and they take each other out.

John Cena hits an attitude adjustment on AJ Styles through a commentators table. There’s only Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and John Cena left standing now until Cena rolls out of the ring. Owens wants to go at it with Zayn but Sami lays down. Owens doesn’t believe him and looks to pick him up but Zayn rolls up Owens for a two count. The two men then go at it! Zayn then gets in the face of Shane McMahon but Kevin Owens looks to hit a superkick on Zayn who moves and KO hits Shane! Sami hits a big DDT on Owens and rolls him into the ring for a helluva kick but KO superkicks him. Owens then hits a pop-up powerbomb on Ziggler and pins him for a sure fire three count but Shane McMahon pulls the referee out of the ring! Zayn hits a helluva kick on Owens but Shane then pulls Sami out of the ring!

Baron Corbin gets back into the match by hitting everyone with the ring steps, well except Cena who counters it and uses the steps himself before hitting an attitude adjustment on Corbin onto the ring steps but Ziggler breaks up the pinfall. Cena hits an attitude adjustment on Ziggler but KO then hits Cena with a pop-up powerbomb only to turn around into a phenomenal forearm from AJ Styles! Styles hooks the leg and gets the three!

Result: AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship by pinfall.

Review: This was a really fun match. It was chaotic and hard to keep up with at times but it was a really well thought-out match and well executed. AJ Styles retains the title and goes on to face Shinsuke Nakamura but where does the KO/Zayn/Shane McMahon rivalry go? And what will John Cena’s match be at Wrestlemania? This was a really fun match, a great way to end this show.

Rating: 8/10

And that was Elimination Chamber 2018. It felt like a pretty weak PPV which got better as it went on. There were four matches which were average at best and then the final two matches which were a big improvement. Randy Orton winning the United States Championship from Bobby Roode was one takeaway from the evening, despite it not being a great match. The Bludgeon Brothers coming out and destroying the Usos and New Day was also an interesting moment and should put them in the tag team title picture. Charlotte then beat Ruby Riott in a predictable match but a good one. Charlotte retains the Raw Women’s Championship. AJ Styles then retained the WWE Championship in a really fun six pack challenge. It was star-studded and a big win for AJ who will go on to Wrestlemania to presumably defend the title against Shinsuke Nakamura. This match gave 5 other men a chance to get involved at Wrestlemania but it’s AJ Styles who will carry the title into the event. Overall a forgettable event that is just keeping everything in the right place for Wrestlemania without disrupting anything.

Overall Rating: 53.75/100 (ranked joint 277th out of 357)

Match Of The Night: The Six Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship
Worst Match Of The Night: Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton
Surprise Of The Night: Randy Orton wins the United States Championship
Worst Booking Of The Night: Randy Orton wins the United States Championship
Superstar Of The Night: AJ Styles
Fastlane 2018 Will Be Remembered For: The Six Pack Challenge

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