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Mr. Tito is BACK IN YOUR FACE exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com and has been exclusively (besides helping Top-Rope) for over 19 years now. Another weekend, another Pay Per View to review… Being totally honest here, I was SO HAPPY when the WWE announced a reduction in the # of Pay Per Views to allow for the combining of both rosters to now sell Pay Per Views. My prediction is that WWE might do International Pay Per Views INSTEAD on the WWE Network as “specials” to add a unique flavor to the Network and to get the international markets excited.
Do you know who isn’t excited about the WWE? Columbus, OH which is the site of the WWE Fastlane Pay Per View tonight. I laughed when the Nationwide Arena sent me an alert regarding a SPECIAL DEAL on ringside tickets: “BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE”! In other words, the ringside tickets priced at $425 and $325 were NOT selling well and WWE was using simple “Law of Demand” economic theory to strike up some buys… Do you think that MAYBE $325 or $425 is just a bit high for tickets to a struggling brand’s Pay Per View anyway? You know, that “Law of Demand” also explains quantity demanded when tickets are higher. It’s that little “Tastes & Preferences” component that causes a rightward shift to the demand curve that would make fans WANT to pay $325 or $425 to see a meaningless Pay Per View. Obviously by the BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE sale, demand is not there.
Looking back, the “Superstar Shake-up” during 2017 that followed Wrestlemania 33 was a complete failure and it was 100% the idea of Board Chairman/CEO/President Vince McMahon. Sadly, Vince has the top executive power and remains the majority shareholder by a large margin (even after selling few million shares for his XFL money pit) and thus nobody will grow balls in the WWE Board Room to question his actions. Stephanie McMahon and her Communications degree probably wouldn’t make it this far up any corporate ladder without nepotism. I like Triple H‘s work in NXT, but the WWE loses money on that project and call-ups to the WWE main roster aren’t working out as well as they should be. That, and Triple H will never call out Vince McMahon. Ever. Look at the wonderful career and life that Vince has helped him acquire including his daughter’s hand. Kevin Dunn will never challenge Vince McMahon.
That “Shake-Up” sent Miz and Bray Wyatt to RAW while moving its top female talent, Alexa Bliss, there as well. They were unique staples to Smackdown and actually grew as characters under that booking system during 2016. Miz grew more courage and confidence with his character by calling out Daniel Bryan and cutting killer heel promos on the mic. The Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton alliance was working and was salvaging both of their careers at the same time. Alexa Bliss was the one NXT wrestler who joined and instantly got over but I’d argue based on her own merits of cutting promos and good in-ring work. All 3 were moved to RAW and in my opinion, Smackdown NEVER recovered.
In return, Smackdown received Jinder Mahal who was pushed like a Main Eventer instantly despite being a JOBBER on RAW. Seriously, his last televised win on RAW’s television show was August 2016 and yet he can quickly enter a #1 contendership match and win the damn thing on the first try. Then, he can win the WWE title on the first try! Kevin Owens was damaged goods after that Bill Goldberg squash and being marginalized repeatedly by Roman Reigns in many non-title losses. The RAW roster treated him like a joke. I do think that the New Day is succeeding since joining Smackdown, as their tag battles with the Usos have been great. Props there… Smackdown also received Charlotte Flair in this “shake-up” but it took almost 6 months for the Creative Team to even notice her. Natalya was more important to push instead of her.
This is the kind of stupidity that I keep ranting about and yet “I’m negative”. And then when I point out lower Television viewership + lower attendance, you’ll tell me that “fans are watching WWE in other ways”. Always an excuse instead of challenging the WWE Corporation and its Board Chairman/CEO/President to DO BETTER.
Even your prized Internet Darling, Shinsuke Nakamura, is being poorly used. You’ll tell me that “he won the Royal Rumble match” but he’s doing so following only a brief stint on the WWE Main Roster AND following the Jinder Mahal disaster. Nakamura spent ZERO time in the midcard and was immediately rushed to the top. That is going to crush him long-term because not everybody watches NXT or New Japan Pro Wrestling. What will cause him to fail as a draw is the confusion by fans as to why he’s been pushed as a Main Eventer from DAY ONE… You watch, if Nakamura becomes WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 34 and numbers are STILL down, it will be Eddie Guerrero in 2004 all over again and a “JBL” like WWE Creation will appear to take his title. Or Jinder Mahal will return to the top, take your pick.
But remember, I’m always negative… I’m just a miserable wrestling fan EVEN THOUGH factual numbers (viewership, attendance, merchandise, cost reductions by WWE) are on my side.
Heading into WWE Fastlane, my expectations are legitimately not there… Super low. Chances are if there are any decent matches, that will probably inflate my rating of the show. That low, folks.
Onto the review which is being prepared in REAL TIME and INSTANTLY posted after the show ends. Because that’s how I roll (or rule):
MR. TITO’S PHAT WWE FASTLANE REVIEW
Announcers suggest that Columbus, OH’s Nationwide Arena is a “sellout” at 15,118 or something close to that. Oh really? For hockey with a full ice rink that takes up the entire floor, the arena can hold up to 18,500. Arena football holds up to 17,200 with again, the entire floor taken out. Concerts, which are very similar to wrestling events because they block out one side of the arena, can hold up to 20,000 fans. I call complete BULLCRAP on this “sellout” unless WWE only wanted to just over 15,000 fans. And of course, I know that it’s bullcrap because Nationwide Arena was begging me to attend this with Buy One, Get One Free sales for floor seats. And throughout the event, WWE barely showed the Camera Side of the arena and the upper levels barely had any lighting.
Opening match was Rusev vs. Nakamura. Rusev looked great and hit his offense to look like a true heavyweight wrestler. However, Nakamura’s offense looked weak throughout and nothing looked like should harm the obviously heavier wrestler in Rusev. If you watch the New Japan stuff from Nakamura, he was able to stiff kick his opponents and relied on that often. That, and the WWE isn’t letting him do his charisma spots to show his personality. He’s just a guy out there who is becoming void of personality and doesn’t have effective looking offense to hurt anybody. Rusev, on the other hand, looked like a badass and had offense that looked like it would punish anyone on the WWE roster. If you showed any random stranger this entire match, besides the finish, and ask them who looks tougher… Very likely that they’ll say “Rusev” everytime. But, Nakamura won this match. [ **1/2 ] Everybody has this mystical hope that AJ Styles and Nakamura will re-create their Wrestle Kingdom magic. Yeah, we’ll see what they can do in 10-15 minutes and with WWE officials instructing them how to work their match.
Second match was Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode. I swear, it looked like Triple H vs. Randy Orton out there… Just void of personality out there with neither guy attempting to show any charisma or personality to interact with the fans. Just robotically hitting their moves without any emotion or psychology. They put nothing “extra” on their moves and they did nothing to draw the fans in… Dead silence from this “sellout” crowd. I think that you’re starting to see by Bobby Roode, when pushed as a top guy, wasn’t helping TNA grow into a bigger company. Randy Orton had at least 6 inches in height against him and Roode’s offense looked way too safe to harm a larger wrestler. [ ** ] Randy Orton won this match, by the way, to become the NEW United States Champion. After the match, Jinder Mahal attacked Randy Orton and then a recovering Bobby Roode attacked BOTH Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal. Oh joy, I cannot wait for this “great” Triple Threat match at Wrestlemania. But hey, at least we have actual United States title contenders instead of random people going after that title.
Extensive clips on Ronda Rousey was shown at the SMACKDOWN Fastlane Pay Per View. Better get used to it, folks, as the WWE is going to give us lots of Rousey for the next few years. I would definitely believe that report that Triple H/Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey is going to headline Wrestlemania 34.
Up next was Natalya/Carmella vs. Naomi/Becky Lynch. Why this tag match matters, well, I don’t know other than just needing something filler on a Pay Per View. When you have weak matches booked like this, it completely suggests WHY you don’t try a Brand Split during 2016 with a THIN roster. Hell, I’d argue that the 2002 brand split was ludicrous and they had talents from 2 dead promotions (WCW, ECW) filling their rosters along with all of the Ohio Valley Wrestling call-ups. Match was just “meh” with Becky Lynch just continually placed in a position to fail. I like Carmella too and I hope that her cashing-in moment is big… But WWE is badly failing on Becky Lynch, possibly the best in-ring performer on the roster who is getting the shaft because Kevin Dunn reportedly hates her accent on promos. Seriously. [ *3/4 ]
Usos vs. New Day is up next as I’m relieved because up and until now, this Pay Per View makes me VERY HAPPY that I didn’t (a) spend my hard earned cash and (b) spend my time driving to and from Columbus, OH to see this show live. THANK GOD, as Columbus is a little more than a 2 hour drive for me and getting home late from this show would have worn me out the next day. Match was routine… Guys have wrestled so much in the past year and have worn out the attempts to build drama that it’s “just there” at this point. But don’t worry, we’ll make it MUCH WORSE by having the Bludgeon Brothers arrive and attack both tag teams. Yes, 2 big hosses in failed Kane outfits who were former Wyatt Family members. [ No Stars ] I spoke TOO SOON on being happy for Usos vs. New Day. THANK GOD that I didn’t spend my hard earned $$$ and time for this damn show!
More RAW commercials, as Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar promo is shown. Yes, I know that they are combining Pay Per Views soon… But come on!
Backstage, we have AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura… And there’s no tension because neither personality can sell it.
New Day and Usos are still selling that beatdown from “Team Kane”.
Up next, the Smackdown Women’s Title match between Charlotte Flair vs. Ruby Riott. I kind of like Ruby Riott… Great name, unique look, and a different in-ring style. In a world where many wrestlers look the same, you have need something to stand out. That, and these two have a legitimate chance to “save” the show. Crazy spot where Charlotte Flair held Ruby on her back and then rulled out of the ropes to drop on the side of the ring. After Charlotte gets the upper hand, the Riott Squad stares down Charlotte. Just as I wonder “why does Charlotte not have anybody ringside”, Naomi and Becky Lynch run to the ring. Well then… CROWD IS DEAD as maybe they are still in awe of getting a BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE sale for their tickets. Then again, it was probably overpriced after that sale. Ladies are really trying out there but nothing is working tonight based on the previous matches. Some nice moves hit on the outside (though Charlotte missed by inches on that Moonsault), but at I like the effort. Ruby hits a nice Frankensteiner from the top rope and it gets ZERO reaction by Columbus, OH. Ouch. Both wrestlers wisely do Chops to get the Ric Flair “woooo” chants going. “Sports Entertainment” kicks in as both the Riott Squad and Naomi/Becky are kicked out by the referee. Crazy reverse Alabama Slam (??) into the turnbuckle by Charlotte on Ruby, spear, and then Figure 8. [ *** ] Solid bout, to be honest, although these ladies deserve a better night and setting to better impress fans. Just a bad environment tonight.
AFTERWARD, Asuka arrives and it appears that we have a change in Wrestlemania 34 booking plans. Asuka points to the “Wrestlemania” sign to mean that she has finally selected which title that she wants to challenge for at the big event. I APPROVE of this as it’s a unique match-up that could succeed on a big stage. That and moving Asuka to Smackdown isn’t a bad idea, either. Ronda Rousey is going to suck all of the oxygen out of the room on RAW and thus it’s not a bad thing to be on Smackdown for female wrestlers.
I cannot wait for that Andre “the Giant” HBO special… They had one years ago on A&E, I think, that was quite good as well. WWE used to sell that one commercially.
WWE once again shows the Bludgeon Brothers highlights as if it’s a really big deal to have 2 Kane wannabes attacking 2 tag teams. Oh, we get a medical update on Usos and New Day and WWE.com/Social Media will update you all night long if you want it. Ha!
Thankfully, we have arrived at the 6 Pack Challenge for the WWE Title with AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler. Before the match begins, Shane McMahon arrives and he’s BUFF. Yeah, he’ll be wrestling at Wrestlemania again this year. Joy. Everybody’s long entrances occur and we start this match at about 10:30pm. Starting the match, John Cena successful hits an Attitude Adjustment on EVERYBODY by AJ Styles. Seriously, that is how the match started! After some Cena vs. AJ Styles stuff, the rest of the wrestlers ganged up on Cena and then after a nice showcase of AJ Styles talent against each wrestler, the match became a rotating door of fresh wrestlers to keep the match exciting. LOL, what is going on with Baron Corbin’s tights tonight? Maybe he heard me typing that as he just bodychecked Dolph Ziggler through the hockey glass. It wouldn’t be a multi-person WWE match without the announcer table spots! Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens did a spot where Zayn acted like he would lay down for Owens only for Zayn to turn on him. Many wrestlers are using that side of the ring for spots… It’s going to take one guy having disc problems in their spine afterward to end that. Zayn was upset at Shane for causing Sami and Kevin to fight and Kevin Owens then hits Shane McMahon with a superkick that was intended for Zayn. Kevin Owens hits a Pop-up Powerbomb on Dolph Ziggler in the ring BUT Shane McMahon pulls Owens off the pin. Then Sami Zayn hits his kick on Owens and as Zayn tries to get he pin, Shane pulls his leg to break the pin. Oh that “Sports Entertainment”. You just KNOW that the 2 on 1 handicap match between Shane vs. Zayn/Owens is coming for Wrestlemania 34. Cena wakes up from his nap to no-sell a superkick from Ziggler and then aimed to hit 2 Attitude Adjustments on Dolph. On the 2nd attempt, Owens stopped Cena and hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb on Cena. However, AJ Styles awoke from his nap to hit the Phenomenal Forearm for the 1, 2, and 3 to retain the WWE Title. [ ***1/2 ] The Shane crap was awful and the naps that Cena/Styles took at ringside make the match weaker than it could have been. Nakamura vs. AJ Styles is officially happening.
LAST WORD: I was seriously considering a Smackdown Brand boycott just to emphasize how bad the Creative Team was destroying this brand. I like many of the wrestlers here but it’s HOW THEY ARE USED that bothers me. But, the WWE is merging Pay Per Views following Wrestlemania 34 and that will save me the effort. This show SUCKED other than the last 2 matches. The Creative Team and WWE Road Agents need to improve on their instructions given to wrestlers and/or get out of the way. Whatever works at this point. Either give good advice to your wrestlers or back off. There are many teams in the NFL who have talented players but it’s the management upstairs and the coaching staff who can make or break them. Same thing applies to the WWE. The Main Event was the best thing on the show BUT it featured a long period of time where its WWE Champion, AJ Styles, was outside the ring selling something. Meanwhile, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens almost won his WWE Title if it weren’t for Shane McMahon. YET ANOTHER way to make the WWE Champion look weak. [ D ] for the show grade, as the last 2 matches somewhat saved the show… Smackdown brand needs to fire its entire Creative Staff and remove Vince McMahon from overseeing the Creative process on that show. Seriously.
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