Pro Wrestling

10 Major Issues Raised By WWE Fastlane

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WWE Fastlane is in the books, and unless you haven’t been paying attention for roughly the last two years, you would almost certainly not be surprised to learn that Roman Reigns is now the #1 Contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and will face Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania. The problem is, the fans aren’t exactly into Reigns, and have been quite vocal about that fact, and that’s an issue. In fact, there were a lot of issues that came up during Fastlane, which have raised a fair number of questions that you would think might have to be addressed, as we barrel down an increasingly bumpy Road to WrestleMania.

10. Mauro Ranallo Is A Really Good Announcer

There was a lot of cautious optimism about WWE’s signing of Mauro Ranallo, even if he was just going to be relegated to Smackdown as part of the shuffling of deck chairs brought about by its move to USA Network. That said, those who actually tuned into the Fastlane kick-off show got an example of why Ranallo should eventually replace Michael Cole as the main play-by-play announcer in WWE. When given the desk for the Kalisto-Del Rio match on the pre-show, Ranallo was everything that Cole just hasn’t managed to be since inheriting his position as “Voice of WWE” from Jim Ross. Ranallo was engaging, informative, entertaining, and educated about the product he was discussing. He managed to call the match (and use actual move names) while still bantering with his color commentators. His announcing voice carries the kind of gravitas that emphasizes big events without having to repeatedly scream catchphrases at viewers, which has become Cole’s trademark whenever something important happens. While Cole resumed his seat for the actual Pay Per View, Ranallo’s performance, and the fact that he was given that shot so early into his WWE tenure, suggest that his talent has not gone unnoticed in WWE. Hopefully, this will lead to an even better position for the former MMA analyst in the future.

http://www.foxsports.com/wwe/story/wwe-mauro-ranallo-on-his-dream-come-true-experience-working-for-wwe-011116 Source: foxsports.com

http://www.foxsports.com/wwe/story/wwe-mauro-ranallo-on-his-dream-come-true-experience-working-for-wwe-011116 Source: foxsports.com

9. Messed Up Priorities

You’re probably tired of us talking about this, but now that it’s actually happened, why the hell did WWE decide that putting Kalisto vs Alberto Del Rio on the pre-show was a smart move? What we got as a result of that was an abbreviated 2/3 Falls Match that could have been something great if it had actually been given time to develop, and at least three match on the actual Pay Per View which probably should have been switched with it. The obvious choice would be the six-man tag match, which managed to become even less important as the show went on due to backstage decisions being made (which we’ll get into) and was a terrible match that everyone saw coming. But there was also whatever that Curtis Axel vs R-Truth match was supposed to accomplish, which ended up being absolutely nothing. And while we love Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, truly we do, and we don’t want to look like we’re complaining about getting two Divas matches on a Pay Per View, their tag match probably would have been just as meaningful on the pre-show and had roughly the same amount of time. Of course, the good news is that Kalisto won, plus got his own personalized entrance video, so it looks like WWE has actually decided to run with him as a singles star for a while. Well, it’s bad news for Sin Cara, but good news for fans.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/kalisto-vs.-alberto-del-rio-%E2%80%93-united-states-championship-2-out-of-3-falls-kickoff-match-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=22 Source: pl.wwe.com

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/kalisto-vs.-alberto-del-rio-%E2%80%93-united-states-championship-2-out-of-3-falls-kickoff-match-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=22 Source: pl.wwe.com

8. Dealing With The Last Road Blocks

One thing that has become apparent since Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte made their WWE debuts is that the WWE Divas who had existed on the main roster up to that point, for the most part, are completely incapable of keeping up with the new, NXT-bred form of women’s wrestling. But with Nikki Bella injured, Brie Bella on her way into retirement, and most of the rest of the cast of Total Divas relegated to non-wrestling roles or sent back to NXT (with the exception of Paige and Natalya, who actually can wrestle), the way has slowly been cleared for the former NXT Divas (and several more who will likely follow in the coming months) to take the spotlight. The tag match between Sasha, Becky, and the former members of Team BAD was something that had to happen to fully break Sasha away from the ridiculous “team” concept that began the so-called Divas Revolution and establish herself (and Becky) as top contenders in WWE, while members of the old regime like Naomi and Tamina slide into less featured roles. And, because she’s awesome, Sasha Banks spent this mostly pedestrian match showing off the kind of moves that she can do, even when wrestling Tamina Snuka. Look at these videos we’ve provided for you. Just imagine what she’ll be able to do now that she’s being set up to wrestle the women who are closer to her level.

 

7. What Is Up With Dolph’s Hair?

Seriously, did he decide for some reason that he wanted cornrows, but ran out of time before his match and just left them half-finished? Odd hair choices aside, this was the usual good match that we’ve come to expect from Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler, and the only real issue about that is we’d really prefer not to have Dolph Ziggler get caught up in another Best of 1,000 Series with a wrestler just because they put on decent matches together. Actually, we’re mostly just disappointed that after WWE showed Machine Gun Kelly in the audience, Kevin Owens didn’t instantly run out in the crowd to destroy him a second time, and continue to do so until Machine Gun Kelly stops showing up at WWE events. If it seems like we’re glossing over the match itself, that’s because we are. Not because it was bad, far from it, but it’s a match we’ve seen a lot, and if you’re like you, you already figured that Owens probably wasn’t losing this match, and rightly so. The only part anyone’s going to remember from this match is that Kevin Owens, as usual, spent part of it bad-mouthing Michael Cole, then threw the title in Cole’s face post-match. We’re not sure where any of this Cole-hating is leading, but we find it hilarious that WWE might think that abusing Michael Cole is the action of a heel. Heck, if Owens takes out Cole and leads to Ranallo taking over the announce chair on Raw, however briefly, Kevin Owens might become the biggest hero in professional wrestling.

http://www.pw-core.com/news/FastLane_2016_Review_and_Match_Ratings_eWrestlingNews_com/61833 Source: pw-core.com

http://www.pw-core.com/news/FastLane_2016_Review_and_Match_Ratings_eWrestlingNews_com/61833 Source: pw-core.com

6. The Death Of The Wyatt Family

We’ve tried to see the bigger picture with The Wyatt Family ever since its debut. Sure, they never win big Pay Per View matches, we’d argue, but they’re clearly a part of WWE’s future plans, and at the very least, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper are two of their more talented big men, and Strowman should get a fair shake just because of his massive size. Well, that’s pretty much all off the table at this point, and The Wyatt Family looks less like a dominant heel faction and more like the hillbilly version of the Mulkey Brothers. Losing to John Cena and The Undertaker is one thing, but losing a meaningless six-man tag match to WWE’s two most-wanted candidates for retirement and the guy who appears to have stolen CM Punk’s moveset for the sole purpose of injuring people with it? In the meantime, they’ve lost their anticipated match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania and are looking down the barrel of, at best, a match with Ryback instead. At this point, you might as well pull a Spirit Squad, pack The Wyatt Family inside a box, and mail them back to developmental, because watching them stumble around like gigantic bearded goofs forced to sell offense from Goldberg’s smaller, less charismatic clone (who also managed to blow the finish and appeared to possibly injure Harper in the process) basically sent what little credibility they might have left as a force in WWE down the drain.

http://www.ewrestlingnews.com/articles/fastlane-2016-review-and-match-ratings Source: ewrestlingnews.com

http://www.ewrestlingnews.com/articles/fastlane-2016-review-and-match-ratings Source: ewrestlingnews.com

5. No Sympathy For The Bella

If there was a ever a point where Brie Bella could be a massive babyface star, it should have been this match. Brie;s sister recently underwent neck surgery and might be looking at the end of her career. Her husband was forced to retire thanks to a career full of serious injuries and made every single fan of pro wrestling cry on his way out the door. Brie herself has said publicly that she plans to retire and start the family she’s always wanted within the next few months. She also wore the kickpads that Bryan wore at WrestleMania 30, and dedicated the match to him. That’s more sympathy heat than any single wrestler could probably get in an entire lifetime. And yet, Brie’s acting abilities and wrestling skills are so sub-par that it’s literally impossible for fans to root for her, even against Charlotte, who has come into her own as a heel. In days long gone, people used to say that Ric Flair could get a three-star match out of a literal broomstick, and the match between Charlotte and Brie reminded us of that statement. The match was nowhere close to three stars, but any good that did come out of it was because of Charlotte trying to carry Brie to something decent. The whole match was basically summed up in a camera angle during the finish which showed that Brie wasn’t even holding onto Charlotte’s leg or applying pressure during the half-crab submission. We do offer sincere best wishes to Brie in her future life with Daniel Bryan and their eventual family, and simultaneously beg her to get out of the ring and let the real wrestlers show what they’re capable of.

http://www.pw-core.com/news/FastLane_2016_Review_and_Match_Ratings_eWrestlingNews_com/61833 Source: pw-core.com

http://www.pw-core.com/news/FastLane_2016_Review_and_Match_Ratings_eWrestlingNews_com/61833 Source: pw-core.com

4. AJ Styles Is An Even Bigger Star Than Expected

So, AJ Styles won his match against Chris Jericho, as we all knew he would. Unfortunately, expectations were a little high for this match, and it quickly became apparent that Jericho just can’t keep up with someone like Styles at this point. To be fair, Styles is one of the best wrestlers in the world and lots of people would have similar problems, but it was kind of sad to see it in a wrestler known for rising to the occasion and putting on great matches for so long. The good news is, the fans in attendance were willing to give this match every break in the book, despite some flubbed spots that would normally kill a match. The reason for that, of course, is because despite only having been in WWE for a month, the fans like AJ Styles and see him as a big star. As a result, they’ll accept a match that probably wasn’t as good overall as they might have expected, because it still gives them a chance to watch AJ Styles do those phenomenal things that only AJ Styles can do. To WWE’s credit, they’ve booked him effectively (even if few will be happy that Jericho kicked out of the Styles Clash, it seems like the Calf Crusher is going to be his regular finisher anyway), but the fact that they’re paying Styles a boatload of money may be at least part of their motivation. The issue, of course, is what WWE thinks Styles’ ceiling is. Because while fans may be okay with him facing, for example, Kevin Owens at the moment, since there’s a bunch of great matches there, they’ll soon get restless if a guy with that much fan support doesn’t sniff the main event sooner rather than later.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/aj-styles-vs.-chris-jericho-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=20 Source: pl.wwe.com

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/aj-styles-vs.-chris-jericho-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=20 Source: pl.wwe.com

3. The Feud Absolutely Nobody Asked For

For some reason, WWE has decided that the League of Nations needs to continue existing, despite the fact that Sheamus has no purpose after being treated like a rag doll by Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio has nothing to do now that his feud with Kalisto is (hopefully) finished, Rusev has been a non-entity since his engagement leaked on TMZ, and Wade Barrett can’t actually wrestle (a fact so obvious that Edge even scored points on Barrett by mentioning that all he can do is “state menacingly at you”). Meanwhile, The New Day has no real opponents left after destroying everyone in their path, and apparently, despite most wrestling fans being able to think of half a dozen better options, that spot belongs to the most useless international faction since the original League of Nations was formed in 1920. If last night was supposed to be a face turn for the New Day (which we actually doubt), then it was horribly executed and actually made a New Day segment almost un-watchable, which we would have thought was impossible at this point. If it wasn’t, then they’ve basically saddled the New Day with another set of criminally boring opponents for the sole reason of “we couldn’t think of a better idea for the League of Nations, but want them to stay in a semi-prominent position for reasons which are currently unclear”.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/the-new-day-courts-controversy-on-the-cutting-edge-peep-show?r30_r1_r1:page=23 Source: pl.wwe.com

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/the-new-day-courts-controversy-on-the-cutting-edge-peep-show?r30_r1_r1:page=23 Source: pl.wwe.com

2. This Match Had No Reason To Exist

Hey, we here at Goliath love the Social Outcasts, but even we know there’s no future in that team beyond being entertaining and losing matches against anyone above them, which happens to be almost everybody. And R-Truth and Goldust are also wrestlers who have been doing funny things lately. But the decision to put them out there, in between a promo segment that died a painful death and a main event where the favorite to win was the third-most popular guy in the match, led to much head-scratching. It was short, unannounced, and will have relatively few major consequences in the future, taking place literally in the spot that used to be reserved for Divas matches before that division became worth caring about. Couldn’t WWE have maybe used this time to give Owens-Ziggler or Styles-Jericho or even the main event more time? Or, since we don’t feel like we’ve mentioned this enough yet, how about instead of this match, they put the US Title match on the actual PPV? Actually, what we’d have preferred is that WWE had conflated this match and the previous segment, giving us New Day vs Social Outcasts going forward, instead of what we actually got. Quite frankly, the only thing this match seemed to accomplish was attempting to wear down the crowd’s enthusiasm before Roman Reigns came out, in the vain hope that they might not boo him quite as lustily. Sure, that’s a ridiculously paranoid examination of the events as they occurred, but that doesn’t mean that we’re wrong.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/r-truth-vs.-curtis-axel-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=11 Source: pl.wwe.com

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/02/22/r-truth-vs.-curtis-axel-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=11 Source: pl.wwe.com

1. The Fans May Have Given Up

Honestly, at least when the fans boo Roman Reigns, they’re reacting to him. Even if it wasn’t following WWE’s script, it was creating an atmosphere in which the fans cared about what was going on, and in that environment, things can always change for the better. Negative reactions can be modified, story lines can adapt to deal with them, characters can change to more fall in line with what the audience likes. However, what struck us when Roman Reigns won the match last night at Fastlane was that the fans just didn’t react at all. There are rumors that WWE actually cut the crowd audio because of fears of boos raining down on Reigns, but frankly, a bad reaction would have been preferable to what appeared, to viewers at home, to be apathetic silence. Also troubling was the sentiment going around before the Pay Per View, which was the resigned acceptance that Reigns would win the main event, which inevitably is what happened. Hatred can be dealt with, but what about plain indifference? We have reached a point where the fans just don’t care, because it’s become apparent that it doesn’t matter what they think or who they actually like, they’re going to get a big dose of Roman Reigns whether they want it or not. Fans hating the top star in the promotion won’t kill WWE, they’ve shown in the past that it’s an emotion they can manipulate in order to continue making money. But do you know what will erode even the most hardcore fan base, whether it’s pro wrestling, a TV show, a sporting event, or anything else that depends on viewers tuning in regularly?

Apathy.

http://ambreignsfans.tumblr.com/ Source: ambreignsfans.tumblr.com

http://ambreignsfans.tumblr.com/ Source: ambreignsfans.tumblr.com

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