Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre emerged victorious from two incredible battles at WWE Fastlane. On what is the last major pay per view before Wrestlemania, WWE had their last chance to kick their big stories into gear. They ensured that opportunity was far from wasted where Reigns and McIntyre are concerned.
Reigns remains the Universal Champion but only just, after a tremendous match with Bryan who more than shone again in the main event scene after much of the last year comparatively treading water in WWE. Reigns for his part is performing at an entirely different level with some of the best work of his career.
At Fastlane the key factor was neither man, but instead was that of the special enforcer to their match in Edge – and Jey Uso for that matter. The combatants battled in a very even contest before the inevitable shenanigans kicked in; Edge entering the fray after the original referee had been wiped out. As Bryan looked to have Reigns beat, Uso took them both out before wielding a steel chair. In a rage, Edge would come back and attack both Bryan and Reigns, after the former had actually made the latter tap out, with Reigns able to pick the bones and just about manage to cover his foe for the win. He retained his title with a triple-threat match between the three of them now almost inevitable at Wrestlemania.
McIntyre and Sheamus again did what they’ve been doing on various shows in recent weeks in beating the living daylights out of each other in what was another match that was as hard to watch without wincing in sympathy as it was utterly fantastic to enjoy.
The Scot was given the win, as is probably just about right, but it was far from a one sided outing. Sheamus has come out of the rivalry with his stock significantly boosted - a Claymore eventually enough to settle the brutality, but not before McIntyre had been hurled through the Thunderdome set with sparks flying.
Another Wrestlemania tale that’s finally getting its act together is that between Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair. It’s long been established that the two will meet for for Banks’ Championship in three weeks, but Fastlane finally saw the tenuous partnership between the two finally kicked into touch. They lost out in their quest for tag team gold after being beaten by Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, the post-match argument between them boiling over to the point where a stinging slap from Banks left her challenger reeling.
Randy Orton looks a long way from being done with The Fiend after the demonic figure finally returned during a scheduled match between Orton and Alexa Bliss. That has descended into the kind of silliness we’ve come to expect from recent episodes of Raw, and ended with Bliss pinning Orton after a charred Fiend had emerged from under the ring to confront the man who set him alight at TLC.
Elsewhere, Seth Rollins came out on top in a very watchable outing with Shinsuke Nakamura thanks to a Stomp - their slick showing being in stark contrast to the nonsensical beating of Elias by Braun Strowman after an ‘injured’ Shane McMahon had substituted himself out of his planned match with Strowman, all to build towards a probable bout between the two at Wrestlemania that has captured the imagination of very few.
Retribution now looks to be a thing of the past after the faction disintegrated following Mustafa Ali’s unsuccessful attempt to snare the United States Championship from Riddle. After the match, leader Ali found himself on the end of a double chokeslam from Mace and T Bar.
In the night’s other title match, Big E just about edged past Apollo Crews to retain his Intercontinental Championship, but having won that battle he arguably lost the war as Apollo had the final word, once again leaving E laying with a deadly attack after the bell, leaving the champ’s reign in serious threat as we approach Wrestlemania.
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