The outcome of the WWE Fastlane main event on Sunday will result in one of two outcomes: Daniel Bryan will be added to the WrestleMania 37 Universal Championship game, or simply to the original plan – Roman Reigns vs. Edge. While adding Bryan would be the next logical step, it wouldn’t be the first time WWE has used a cruel, heartbreaking twist of events to get fans excited about Bryan’s future.
Bryan was being held by Roman rule to end the match, but the chaos that led to that moment certainly seemed to suggest that more of a story will come in the three weeks between Sunday night and WrestleMania. First and foremost, Bryan led Reigns to – meekly but clearly – gain a foothold in a WWE landscape where Reigns was protected from such an outcome throughout his WWE career.
This tapout happened in the chaos that was created through Jey Uso, who resolved a non-winnable situation for Reigns with Bryan’s Yes Lock. Uso overwhelmed both Bryan and the special guest enforcer. Edgeto help Reigns start the game’s closing sequence. Uso also introduced a chair and it eventually resulted in Bryan Reigns swinging, missing, and hitting Edge instead. When Bryan did the impossible and forced Reigns to type, an angry Edge smashed both Reigns and Bryan in the same chair.
Dominion crept up on Bryan to win the three, but there couldn’t have been a clearer case for Bryan to force his way into WrestleMania.
Bryan-Reigns was one of several games that performed above average on Fastlane, despite the predictable nature of the map and its possible outcomes Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus, Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and mystery vs. Mustafa Ali everything also fits this calculation.
The main event reached a whole different level than the others, however, as Bryan and Reigns slowly built tension in a classic style battle – Bryan’s technical prowess against Reign’s strength and unwillingness to flex at any cost.
Bryan’s reign collapsed repeatedly, only Bryan turned and played every situation to his advantage. Bryan broke a half dozen different transitions into Yes Lock attempts, some successful and some not. Reigns, frustrated with how tough Bryan was on filing, got more reckless with his punches and attacks every time he fought his way out.
The match reached another level when Reigns launched his body into a javelin attempt and ran right into Bryan’s knee. Bryan bounced off the ropes to knock himself off his knee, only to hit the referee when Reigns blocked the attack. Domination then hits a spear and causes Edge to roll into the ring to engage for the first time throughout the game. Now serving as a substitute officer, he counted to two before Bryan pulled out of the pinfall attempt.
– WWE (@WWE) March 22, 2021
Reigns put hammer fists on Bryan, but Bryan caught Reigns in a triangular thrush. Reigns picked Bryan up for a one-armed power bomb, but Bryan hit his way out. Bryan slid down again and put the yes lock in the center of the ring. Cross-face punches from Bryan continued to hurt Reigns before locking up a yes lock that looked inevitable.
Uso, as he has been doing as the Universal Champion for the majority of Reigns’ 200+ days, threw himself in at this point and was hit by a flying Bryan knee due to his troubles following the superkick and chair introduction mentioned above. After beating Uso out of the ring with the chair, Bryan accidentally hit Edge with the chair and countered a final javelin attempt with another Yes Lock. Bryan turned back and forced Reigns to knock out meekly, gently, and almost unnoticed.
But neither Edge nor the original umpire saw or cared about it. Edge distributed his own chair shots and stormed backstage. With that, Reigns had won – but the tensions between all three men grew.
What’s next: Find out everything you need to know in Friday’s edition of SmackDown. Either a triple threat or sticking to the plan.
Alexa Bliss def. Randy Orton
The return of “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt wasn’t an unexpected moment when a match between Randy Orton and Alexa Bliss was announced. But The Fiend’s new, burnt look made the world buzz the wrong way when Bliss won the match.
This was never going to be a normal match, and that thought was cemented when, when Orton was showered with sparks during his pre-match routine, he spat black goose bumps again, as he has done every time he’s been with Bliss lately has crossed memory.
The bell rang and Orton ran straight into a jet of fire that shot out of the ring. That only left the referee running to return in the final moments of the game. Orton recovered, attacked and missed Bliss, and went shoulder first into the ring post. Bliss danced to the other end of the ring, mocking Orton, and beckoning him to chase after him.
The rigging lights fell right in front of Orton as he approached Bliss. Then Bliss threw a ball of fire in Orton’s eyes, but Orton protected his face just in time. Finally a burned, disembodied hand reached out from under the ring and grabbed Orton’s leg. Orton crawled away, and then a jet of fire leapt from under the ring.
An even more disgusting version of The Fiend, burned and almost all black, appeared under the ring, seeking revenge after Orton set it on fire. Bliss pushed Orton straight into a sister Abigail, and Bliss sat on Orton for the three-point win, with the umpire somehow figuring out enough to count the fall (but not realizing the multiple disqualifying moments beforehand) .
– WWE (@WWE) March 22, 2021
What’s next: A cinematic match at WrestleMania with Orton, Wyatt and Bliss that should be fun. But if this new version of “The Fiend” holds up well beyond that, it’s a recipe for disaster for everyone involved.
Drew McIntyre would never lose this match to Sheamus, so close to WrestleMania. But all the credit in the world goes to these two long-time friends who beat each other in a particularly brutal No Holds Barred match across the WWE Thunderdome.
McIntyre set the mood from above, his face painted blue and white, and he was channeling Braveheart. Within minutes, the ring area was torn apart and both men were on the ground recovering from steel stairs and apron attacks. Sheamus introduced a kendo stick and got a few licks, and then McIntyre increased the stake. He got those kendo stick shots back and added a side Russian leg sweep and a stick to the eye at the end.
That was the theme for this match – one man set the bar with an attack or an attempt, and then the other man returned fire. Stiff blows. Suplexes on the floor. Sheamus hit a rolling senton, so McIntyre struggled and, after turning Sheamus around, tossed Sheamus through one of the video boards filled with the faces of WWE fans. This resulted in a particularly well-executed wide-angle shot of McIntyre screaming into the void under the huge WrestleMania sign.
– WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 22, 2021
McIntyre tossed Sheamus over his shoulders to carry him back to the ring, but Sheamus raised McIntyre’s eyes and Brogue kicked McIntyre over the barrier.
“You stole this from me. I should go to the main WrestleMania event!” Sheamus shouted. With both men standing on the barrier, Sheamus picked up McIntyre and smacked a white sound from the barrier through the comment table onto the floor.
Sheamus, battered and injured himself, tried to get McIntyre back into the ring. He took one of the end pieces of the comment table and slid it into the center of the ring – and it would ultimately be Sheamus’ undo. A series of counters ended with McIntyre hitting a future shock DDT on the table and then a claymore, ending the match in a flash.
What’s next: McIntyre challenges Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Sheamus has proven that he deserves something big himself, but time is running out and options are unclear. Maybe something cross-brand?
If you had made predictions for Sunday’s Fastlane card for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Chalk would have been the way to go. Seth Rollins entered with a bone to pick Nakamura and Cesaro with Shinsuke. With a pivotal win over Nakamura on Sunday, Rollins can now target Cesaro again and a seemingly inevitable date for a match at WrestleMania.
While the ending was pretty predictable, everything that led to those final moments was entertaining and well executed. When you put two of the most talented wrestlers in the world together, good things tend to happen.
Rollins went on about how Cesaro swung him around 22 turns and stared at the camera was a bit on the nose, but the match itself hit the right notes. Everyone had their moment to shine, met their signature in a creative way and everything flowed together.
Everything shifted into higher gear when Nakamura slid off the ropes to the ground and suffered a nasty landing. Rollins followed with a suicide dive.
The exchange was quick and the momentum swung back and forth. A nakamura sliding the German suplex under the lower rope quickly led back into the ring, leading to a buckle bomb and a hawk arrow. A rare pinfall attempt by Rollins in the match earned only two points.
Rollins’ first attempt at stomping into a nakamura deep cut called the landslide, followed by a reverse exploder and a kip-up. The running Kinshasa knee stroke missed and in a frenzied fight, Rollins landed a forearm on the back of his head, swept Nakamura’s legs out from under him, and stomped to count the three.
What’s next: For Rollins, it’s Cesaro – no question about it. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path forward for Nakamura. A year that started very promisingly has gone sideways. Hopefully he’ll find something to sink his teeth into in the coming WrestleMania era.
This was just a filler match as Shane McMahon suffered a “knee injury” and abused his power to push Elias into a showdown with Strowman in his place. Despite a brief glimmer of hope with a chopping block and a flying elbow on the top rope, Strowman essentially played with his food for as long as he wanted. He eventually stuck Elias and nothing was gained.
What’s next: Strowman versus McMahon, really. Maybe green color / goosebumps / slime is involved.
It was hard to predict the end of the Intercontinental Championship game at Fastlane. Would Big E definitely win and stop the newfound dynamics of Apollo Crews? Or would crews win the Intercontinental title and bring Big E’s reign to an unspectacular end?
It turns out neither of these scenarios. Big E expressed victory by lifting a shoulder just in time as both men were doing roll ups at the same time, but the victory was not enjoyed for long. The crews launched an attack immediately after the game, landing three angle slams and many slaps on Big E’s face to show his anger. Although Crews has lost five Intercontinental title bouts so far in 2021, it seems like it is on the right track to win WrestleMania again.
Oddly enough, the WrestleMania shot still feels deserved, at least from an emotional point of view. Big E continued to wear his heart on his sleeve and screamed as he beat up crews at the beginning of the game. “You asked about that ass,” yelled Big E as he punched a spear through the ropes and splattered a couple of aprons. “That’s what you asked … you got this side of me out of me.”
After a few overhead belly-to-belly suplexes, crews took advantage of Big E’s aggression against him and flipped the script. A trio of German suplexes and a frog splash gave crews a two count. Two step-up enzuigiris and a stand-up moonsault followed. Big E raised his knees on the final move to turn into the final sequence.
Big E fought out of a power bomb, Crews out of a big ending, and then Big E won the battle of roll-up attempts.
– WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2021
What’s next: It seems like tensions have only just started to escalate and Big E and Crews have to settle their points. What better place than WrestleMania? Hopefully next time around it will be a match long enough to show more of what each of them can do.
In terms of the most transparent and predictable stories on the Fastlane map, the women’s tag team championship game played out exactly as anyone who’s watched five minutes of WWE television in the past month knew.
Banks and Belair – in fantastic gear, mind you – got off to a quick start and did some great double-team moves, including an assisted running knee. But it all unfolded towards the WrestleMania title fight with rising tensions due to an intrusion by a man named Reginald, a moment of miscommunication in the ring, and ultimately the short-term couple breaking up with mounting tensions.
From the moment Banks hit Shayna Baszler’s assisted knee when Belair held Baszler in a double hook position, Banks fell straight into a bank statement statement. Belair tried to stop Nia Jax from abandoning the attempt, but Jax pushed Belair into Banks, and Banks took the wrong route. Banks and Belair started arguing, Banks called Belair a newbie, and then Banks looked at her. Baszler curled up Banks when Belair took the time to step out of the ring, and when Belair couldn’t resolve that pinfall quickly enough, it was game over.
They argued again, Banks calling Belair a rookie again and then bandaging with a full slap on Belair’s face. Tensions still rise with three weeks to go until WrestleMania, but you can’t help but believe there could have been a better way than nailing the SmackDown women’s winner again.
– WWE network (@WWENetwork) March 21, 2021
What’s next: Hopefully a reginald-free future for banks and Belair. Let them build their match, keep it simple and it’ll be great. Jax and Baszler keep turning their wheels without actually going anywhere. Find an emerging team that could take advantage of the boost and let these two go their separate ways as individual competitors.
It’s a shame this match was relegated to the Fastlane Kickoff Show for several reasons. First and foremost, the game itself, especially the last four minutes, was an incredible reminder of the talent Ali and Riddle both possess. There was a specific sequence in which an attempt by Ali to roll up a small package was rolled through to Riddle, who stood up with Ali in his arms, picked up Ali, and met a small package driver straight into an Ali template. It was ridiculous to try, succeed and make it look this good was breathtaking.
There was barely a moment to catch his breath towards the end, and Riddle resorted to his target maneuver, the Bro Derek, from the middle rope to win and hold.
After the game, Retribution eventually fell apart and turned his back on Ali. Reckoning and slapjack came first, and then Mace and T-Bar Ali double slammed for the avoidance of doubt.
High justice for @AliWWE.
– WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2021
What’s next: Could the retribution continue without Ali? For sure. Should you? Absolutely not. Dominik Dijakovic (T-Bar), Mia Yim (Settlement), Shane Thorne (Slapjack) and Dio Maddin (Mace) were saddled with a silly gimmick that Ali tried to save but with no creative juice and no major wins to speak , it was left dead in the water. Each of them, especially Dijakovic and Yim, have incredible solo potential when given a fresh start.
As for Riddle, he will either have a multiway match at WrestleMania or be head-first into something new on Monday night.