WWE Fastlane sure was well named. And I’m not just talking about the fact that it took place at the sold out Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Indiana, the same city famous for the Indy 500. This event seemed to go by quickly, and it did.

While the matches themselves did get the time to breathe, there were only five of them. And none of them involved a Roman Reigns entrance, which can be the length of a match in and of itself. I remember turning to by brother at what felt like it should be approaching the midway point of the Premium Live Event, and asking if there were really only two matches left. There were.

Unlike RAW and Smackdown, the focus of PLEs is rarely backstage, and almost exclusively on the matched in the ring, so let’s look at them:

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Finn Bálor and Damian Priest Versus Challengers Cody Rhodes and Main Event Jey Uso

Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes apply their 1-D/Cody Cutter combo finisher on Finn Bálor at WWE Fastlane 2023

Is it possible to predict the outcome of a match, and still be surprised when what you came up with actually happens? Apparently, yes. I had said that if the show opened with the tag title match, it meant Judgement Day was going to lose, only to set up a Damian Priest Money in the Bank cash in later in the show. While the latter did not happen, the new Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions are now Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso, which really surprised me.

The contest started out like a better-than-average RAW match, with plenty of hot tags, and false finishes. But we all knew nothing would really happen until the interference arrived. And arrive it did, first in the form of Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley. Jey quicky dispatched Dirty Dom, then flirted a bit with Mami, only to be repaid with Ripley hitting him with the Money in the Bank briefcase.

But the cheating didn’t work. Jey kicked out of Finn Bálor’s subsequent Coup de Grace and pin attempt. Then JD McDonagh swing with the briefcase missed Cody, and hit Priest on the announce table. Wait, I thought, is this actually happening? And happen it did.

But not only did Rhodes and Uso win, they did so with a finisher that can only be described as a 1-D into a Cody Cutter. It doesn’t have a proper name yet, but I think that name should be The Main Cut. Get it? Main Event Jey Uso/Cody Cutter. Perfect!

The simple fact that this team no one expected has a finisher move is a thing of beauty. Seriously, though, I get that being Undisputed tag champs will allow Cody to get closer to Roman, and Jey closer to his brother, by being able to appear on Smackdown, while still being the top babyfaces on RAW, so this makes sense. But this pairing still strikes as odd, or at least it did until I saw them, um, rather spirited during the Press Conference.

Together, they almost have a Rock and Sock Connection vibe, except they’re both super serious, except maybe during the aforementioned Press Conference. Seriously, check it out, Jey seemed quite drunk, and maybe high, and Cody came across as that one drunk friend you want talking to the cops. They’re also two extremely talented in-ring workers who are massively over with the crowd.

This match was a great setup for many things to come, and a solid start to the show.

Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, and a Mystery Partner Versus Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits

LWO members Santos Escobar, Zelina Vega, Rey Mysterio, and Carlito celebrate after defeating Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits at WWE Fastlane 2023

The main focus going into this match was just who Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar’s mystery partner would be. That’s always fun, even if the internet had already figured out it was Carlito. The problem here was that it was the main focus throughout most of the match, too, as Mysterio and Escobar hit the ring only with Zelina Vega in their corner, and no partner.

This meant it would be three on two for the beginning of the match, and then three on one after Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits took Escobar out of the action. Vega even helped out, hitting Montez Ford with a Meteora in full view of the referee, but under the circumstances, you can’t really blame her for ignoring it.

Carlito did show up right at the end, to a huge crowd pop, and, in quick succession, hit the Backstabber on Ford, and pinned him. This is around when Corey Graves commented on how Lashley and The Street Profits couldn’t have anticipated Carlito showing up. Really, Corey? Are they not online as well? The internet anticipated it, and so did I. But I did start to doubt it when he was absent for most of the match.

Mysterio did have a good match, and it was nice to see Carlito, but holding his entrance to the very end really didn’t do any favors to the new heel faction of Lashley, Ford, and Angelo Dawkins.

WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky Versus Challengers Charlotte Flair and Asuka in a Triple Threat Match

Iyo Sky and Asuka both try and submit Charlotte Flair at WWE Fastlane 2023

This triple-threat was wild and fun to watch, as you might expect from the three women involved. There was arial action, there were cross-bodies, and even Asuka misting Charlotte Flair near the beginning of the bout. Of course that allowed it to be Asuka and WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky one-on-one for a bit, which I think was what everyone wanted to see.

One of the most interesting parts, though, was when both Iyo and Asuka tried to make Charlotte tap out at the same time. What would happen if she did tap? But we would never know, as Iyo broke off.

The match ultimately culminated with a nice bit of storytelling. Bayley came down to save the champ who was on the floor, despite Iyo telling her not to interfere. This was predictable, or rather it would have been if her Damage CTRL mate would have messed up and caused Iyo to lose.

Instead Bayley woke Iyo up, and distracted the ref when Asuka was tapping out following a spear by Charlotte. Sky hit an Over The Moonsault, and retained. Iyo now has a victory over Charlotte and Asuka, Damage CTRL is still together, and the match was great.

John Cena and LA Knight Versus Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa

LA Knight and John Cena celebrate after defeating Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso at WWE Fastlane 2023

This match was all about setting up LA Knight as Roman Reigns’ next opponent, and it did just that, eventually. For most of the event, John Cena put on a clinic in how to build anticipation for a hot tag.

Cena started off, and for what seemed like the majority of the match, struggled against Bloodline member Solo Sikoa, and maybe Bloodline member Jimmy Uso, to escape the two-on-one and bring Knight into the match. It was believable, and exciting to watch. When Knight was finally able to tag in, there was a massive pop, as when he hit the BFT on Jimmy for the pin and the win. So now Jimmy’s official return to the Bloodline may be problematic, if it wasn’t before.

Paul Heyman, now clearly going grey the way stressed-out Presidents do, narrated the match over the phone to Roman Reigns from outside the ring. I found that a hilarious touch. Do they not get Peackock on the Island of Relevancy?

This was a really fun match that set up what it needed to set up. A job well done by all.

World Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins Versus Challenger Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing Match

Shinsuke Nakamura kicks Seth “Freakin” Rollins through a table during the Last Man Standing Match at WWE Fastlane 2023

This was the best match of the night. It was definitely hardcore, and even felt, at times, like a grounded TLC match. There were tables and chairs, garbage cans, kendo sticks, some nunchucks, and yes, ladders.

It didn’t take long for World Champion Seth “Freakin” Rolllins to head under the ring, where all these objects live, and set the tone for his Last Man Standing title defense. Despite the inherently gimmicky nature of such a match, this one came across as way more serious than the last such match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns a few SummerSlams ago, or the excellent Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens versus Judgement Day Steel City Street Fight last month.

Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura were at war, and at many spots, it felt like Rollins might actually lose. Especially when he took a back body drop on the concrete, or when he took mist to the eyes (second misting this show) and fell off ladder to the commentary table. This match showcased the smart ways Rollins stayed standing, like the several times he rolled out of the ring and landed on his feet, rather than try to pull himself up in the ring.

While I still thought there would be a cash-in attempt, despite Rhea confiscating the briefcase, I’m glad there wasn’t. This match stands perfectly fine on its own as a main event, and will hopefully propel Nakamura to new heights. Rollins is already at the top of his game, and this match proves it.

Assorted Thoughts

  • You’d think with the amount of hype WWE is giving to the stacked NXT, they’d just call it Mini Tuesday Wrestlemania
  • Showing Jade Cargill’s pre-show arrival during the event itself was another welcome sign they will be pushing her to the moon when she starts…but why was she wearing her ring gear if she was just there as a guest spectator?
  • That press conference. Wow (again).

Fastlane was fast, and that’s exactly what it needed to be. While Carlito could have come out a bit quicker, everything else was properly paced, and this just worked as a Premium Live Event.

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