WWE Fastlane 2017: Top Buzz and Talking Points Following Raw PPV
Sunday night, WWE Fastlane showcased the best of Monday Night Raw with the roster all battling for the honor to compete at WrestleMania. Many of the most dominant performers in WWE right now were challenged to once more stand tall.
It was a night that left many fans talking due to results that drastically altered the complexion of WrestleMania, from Goldberg dominantly ending Kevin Owens' 188-day reign as champion to controversy putting a blemish on Charlotte's unprecedented 16 straight championship victories on pay-per-view.
The night left many rattled, while others certainly rose to the occasion. For the first time since their debut, the cruiserweights truly stole the show, while Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman put on the brutal showcase they had long been building toward.
Due to the buzz surrounding the show that will lead into a Raw heading straight for WrestleMania, it is only right that people are talking about this event and its potential effects on the Showcase of the Immortals.
Here are the top talking points that stand out from WWE Fastlane 2017, from the biggest moments to the greatest matches that have all left people looking forward toward the quickly shrinking Road to WrestleMania.
Cruiserweights Steal the Show Thanks to the King of the Cruiserweights
The match everyone is talking about coming out of WWE Fastlane is Neville vs. Jack Gallagher, an intense battle between two men who fought with the blinding ferocity of performers willing to do anything to be WWE cruiserweight champion.
This bout was fast-paced while creating enough excitement in multiple moments that it looked like either man could pull out the victory. The underdog energy of Gallagher paired with the cocky malice of Neville stole the show on a night that had few outstanding bouts. It may have also helped to save the division.
The cruiserweight division has been the unfortunate outlier on Monday Night Raw for months now with the wrestlers never getting enough air time and failing to build up fan support. The match on Sunday was the best the division has produced, proof that these wrestlers deserve to be competing alongside the best in WWE.
Neville, in particular, has taken to his role as a heel with such ease that he has quickly become one of the best heels in the company. As a complete star in the ring and on the mic, Neville has carried the division to new heights and may just be gunning for the title of superstar of the year by the time 2017 is over.
Roman Reigns Ends Braun Strowman's Streak of Dominance
When the dust settled on a brutal contest between two titans of Raw, only one big man could stand tall, and it was Roman Reigns, who defeated Braun Strowman after a second Spear. After Strowman had so easily vanquished so many wrestlers, it was hard to imagined anyone could accomplish what Reigns did his first time out.
Strowman debuted in August 2015, and for nearly 20 months, he had never been pinned or submitted. Even though he had competed against top stars—including Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn—no one had been able to topple the big man, with Strowman's only losses coming in tag team matches or from count out or disqualification.
Reigns defeating Strowman particularly during the hottest streak of his career to date could be a massive detriment to the Monster Among Men. While Reigns did not need the victory, the particular worry is that the loss could leave Strowman with no momentum before Mania, perhaps missing the card entirely.
WWE will need to pay off this victory for both men if it means to capitalize on what could have been a huge moment. Reigns has often been a polarizing talent, and even though his match with Strowman was the second-strongest of the night, the finish could serve as one more reason for fans to turn against him.
Charlotte No Longer Undefeated but with Even More Controversy
Going into Fastlane, there was very little reason to believe Bayley could win, as it would take her accomplishing a feat that had not been seen in WWE. However, Bayley did just that, ending the impressive PPV streak of Charlotte Flair to remain the Raw women's champion. However, the win came with much controversy that has left the result tainted.
WWE has repeatedly noted Charlotte's dominance over the women's division, and that dominance was always backed up by Charlotte's unmatched 16 straight victories on PPV with the Women's Championship on the line. No one had been able to match up to Charlotte when the spotlight was at its brightest.
Charlotte was pinned for the first time but only thanks to the unwarranted interference of Sasha Banks. While Dana Brooke did not get involved, Banks chose to run down to the ring anyway, distracting Charlotte and telling the referee that Charlotte had a handful of tights in a particularly close near-fall. If not for Banks, it is likely Bayley would have lost.
This result not only made the enormous victory for Bayley feel hollow but also could end up being reversed, which will cause even more confusion. With Stephanie McMahon insisting this match go on without controversy, the Raw commissioner could even choose to strip Bayley of the championship. The possibilities here are a baffling mess at this point.
Chris Jericho Returns to End Kevin Owens' Long Reign
Kevin Owens can no longer claim to be the current longest-reigning WWE universal champion in history after losing to Goldberg last night in the main event of Fastlane. Part of the reason behind that loss was the sudden reappearance of Chris Jericho, who had not been on WWE television since the brutal attack he suffered at the hands of KO almost three weeks back.
Jericho's timely distraction just as the bell rang cost Owens the championship and has knocked Raw's top star over the past few months out of the top spot just before Mania. While the result was largely expected, it did not stop it from being upsetting for fans of Owens, who will now likely be wrestling in the midcard come Mania rather than the co-main event.
Owens vs. Jericho should be a fantastic match between two veteran entertainers, aided by the culmination of six months of storytelling. However, the promise of the bout featuring Raw's top prize has disappeared, leaving both men hoping to still grab a top spot on what will likely be a stacked card.
It is a shame that once more WWE has pushed a top spot away from a younger star just in time for the biggest show, showing WWE's reliance on its current talent only goes so far. Meanwhile, Owens' opponent will prepare to potentially main event alongside Brock Lesnar.
Goldberg Now Universal Champion in Another Squash Match
It only took Goldberg 22 seconds to capture the Universal Championship, defeating Owens even faster than he did Lesnar at Survivor Series. With one Spear and Jackhammer, he captured his second WWE World Championship and the first wrestling gold he has held since 2003.
The main event squash match was the biggest moment of the night, defining Fastlane for better and worse as the PPV had to build around its main event barely taking up any of the three hours. Two bonus matches were added to the card, as well as a quick New Day segment to fill time.
Goldberg himself once more did not prove he could compete alongside a roster that is constantly performing at a high level. While his booking has done a great job promoting the legend of Goldberg, the veteran has not assuaged fears of his conditioning, looking out of breath by the time he held up the championship.
Set for a WrestleMania clash with Lesnar, the questions only continue to increase. Can Goldberg put on a show worthy of Mania? Will we just see another squash match that will likely stand as the shortest contest to ever headline The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment?
Hopefully, the answers Goldberg ultimately gives to these questions will satisfy fans and make the most of what has been one of the most unique and impressive stories in WWE.