The WrestleMania sign loomed large over WWE Fastlane 2019 with just under a month remaining until The Showcase of The Immortals, and everyone had their sights set on that huge night.
In some ways, that made Fastlane much less interesting. The immediate results didn't matter as much, but the ultimate effect was vital as the decisions made on the night would decide who earned the spotlight on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
From The Shield's final appearance to the establishing runs of Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston, these were the moments that defined the final big pay-per-view before The Show of Shows.
The Shield Shows Up One Last Time at Its Best
The Shield's final ride was as expected, with Roman Reigns standing tall over the heels that attempted to ruin his big return alongside his brothers Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.
The Lunatic Fringe and The Architect battled into the crowd and took out Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley, leaving The Big Dog with Baron Corbin, and it almost looked to be over for the faces. But the Hounds of Justice rallied and triple powerbombed The Lone Wolf for the win.
The crowd were into this greatest hits showcase for one of the biggest stables in WWE history. You could tell that fans were getting nostalgic even during the entrance:
The contest, slowly but surely, won everyone over, thanks to the wars outside the ring and the series of impressive spots inside.
It was a true showcase of three great stars motivated to put on a performance:
It is hard to say what is next for the three as a unit, with the Lunatic Fringe seeming more into the moment than he has in a long time, but it was certainly a great final match for The Shield if it was the end.
Ronda Rousey Intentionally Helps Lynch Get to WrestleMania
Lynch and Charlotte Flair fought once again in their most lopsided encounter, with a hobbled Irish Lass Kicker struggling to get in any offense. The Queen picked her apart throughout the contest, and it seemed hopeless.
However, Rousey stormed the ring just in time and punched Lynch as she refused to tap to the figure-four leg lock. This caused an intentional disqualification that allowed The Man to take the win and earn her spot back at WrestleMania.
The match was good, though fans were a bit upset it was not allowed to be more, with the main event going to The Shield instead:
#AEW Executive Producer @WOKEN_EddieKing
So The Shield vs McIntyre/Corbin/Trashley match is more important than Becky vs Charlotte and The WWE title match between Bryan vs Owens vs Ali So by default, Roman Reigns is more important than Becky, Kofi, Bryan, Charlotte, Owens and Ali. Just let that sink in. #WWEFastlane
More than anything, the result had people baffled by this whole storyline, with more complications to a simple plot:
This was clearly a headliner from the start for 'Mania, and the end result was obvious. It is hard to tell why WWE had to go through so many hoops to get there.
Shane McMahon Turns on The Miz
Miz promised Shane McMahon that he would make up for losing the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, and he tried his best. However, after a tough fight where Boy Wonder distracted the referee accidentally from a likely three count after a Skull Crushing Finale, the faces fell short.
Once more, The A-Lister attempted to prove himself to his father at ringside. Miz went for a frog splash only to dive into knees and a small package for the three count.
Afterward, Shane snapped and attacked his partner while taunting Miz's dad.
The brutal attack was not a complete surprise, but it did make an impact:
Now the stage has been set for The A-Lister to fully commit to his babyface role. His rivalry with Mr. McMahon's son should help establish him as one of the top faces and maybe get his own father to finally respect him.
Kofi Cannot Catch a Break
Kofi was sent to Vince McMahon's office before The New Day's match with Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura, and Big E and Xavier Woods found him waiting outside.
The latter two decided to barge in, and they asked The Chairman to add Kofi to the WWE Championship match.
McMahon agreed, but he stipulated that Big E and Woods would not be allowed at ringside. On Kofi's way to the ring, he discovered the situation had changed, and he was put in a handicap match with Sheamus and Cesaro instead.
This match was a dominant, one-sided affair, with both members of The Bar allowed in the match at the same time.
Even with The New Day coming to the aid of their friend, this moment was frustrating for the crowd, who chanted "this is boring":
The reaction from fans on Twitter was a bit more diverse, with some sold on the situation and others convinced this was cooling him off:
Of course, this was before the WWE Championship match, where one man's name dominated the conversation despite not being in the contest.
Despite the Crowd's Focus, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali Steal the Show
A "Kofi" chant dominated the WWE Championship match, and it almost derailed the entire contest. Luckily, Bryan, KO and surprise addition to the match Ali were too good not to put on a show.
In particular, the Heart of SmackDown Live was impressive and had the crowd cheering for him down the stretch.
The absurd work he put in would have been better for a more reticent crowd, but it was still an incredible showing:
The match was the best of the night and maybe the best WWE has put on in some time, even when the majority of the focus from the fans was on a man who wasn't even at ringside.
KofiMania was in full display after the same crowd had turned against his match earlier in the night:
It is clear that there are two major stars in this company right now, WWE is booking both in a backward manner all the way to 'Mania.