It's 5:30 AM on the morning after Fast Lane, and I just finished watching the main event.
It was brutal. It was exciting. It ended exactly how I expected it to. And I couldn't be happier.
Why is that? First and foremost, I enjoy a good wrestling match, which is what this was.
But I also wasn't on social media either. . . And I think that made a huge difference
About 5 minutes before last night's PPV started, I sent out a 'thank you' e-mail to the NAI-borhood, stating that it was fans like you that make wrestling fun. I still stand by that, but after last night, I have a broader thesis.
Proving the initial part of my thesis is fairly simple - Take a look at my Twitter stats. Over 21,000 tweets in just about 7 months, most of those happening once I became a part of the NAI community. Trust me, folks, I like talking as much as anybody, but even I wouldn't be writing 3,000 tweets a month unless I was taking part in intellectual and intriguing debate. The entire New Age Insider philosophy revolves around "being heard", and with very few exceptions, there hasn't been a person I've encountered while a part of NAI that I haven't enjoyed hearing from.
Plus, without the fans, there would be no professional wrestling. We've subscribed to the Network, we buy the tickets, we promote NXT to the highest of heavens. We are a vital part of the symbiotic relationship WWE has with its audience.
But lately, we haven't been holding up our end of the bargain.
Quickly, without thinking, what was the worst part of Fast Lane last night? I'm willing to be that you came up with one of two answers.
The first one was the crowd, and I'll agree with you, it felt like Kevin Dunn, in the production truck, had turned the volume WAY down. The Memphis crowd seemed . . . Well, distracted at best and flat apathetic at worst . . . For the majority of that show. It was to the point where I sincerely hoped Vince McMahon would come out and tell the fans to "Have some Fun, Damn It!"
If you didn't select the crowd as your worst part, I imagine you selected the "predictability" of the results from Fast Lane. And yes. . . The results were predictable. . . With the exception of the 6 man tag, I got every match right in my predictions from earlier this weekend, even correctly guessing that Ambrose would get disqualified and that Bryan would shake Reigns' hand after the victory. . .
Actually, I predicted that Bryan would raise Reigns' hand. . .But close enough, right?
So, whose fault is it? Who is to blame for a blasé crowd or matches with expected outcomes? Is it WWE's? I submit to you that it is NOT their fault. That show was as good as one could have expected - In fact, I think it was far better.
This is the "time-filler" PPV, the spot between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, where a pay-per-view is really not entirely necessary but modern tradition dictates that we have one anyway. In the past, they needed to build a giant steel structure and fill it with glass pods just to make this monthly card interesting to watch. It was never going to be one of the "Big 4".
My friends, if you were disappointed by the predictability of last night's show. . . If you were in the crowd and were either too distracted by social media or simply quiet because you were expecting big things to happen the entire time. . . Then I am afraid the problem is not with WWE. . . It's with yourself!
You are setting your expectations WAY too high on this Road to Wrestlemania. For that's what it is. . . A journey. . . The destination is still 5 weeks away, so this is a "Rest Stop" (An even worse name than 'Fast Lane', but perhaps a more appropriate one) along the route.
Let me help you. . . Allow me to broaden your horizons, expand your vision, and look at Fast Lane through new eyes.
Fast Lane saw the return of Randy Orton.
We've been salivating for him to come back and continue his feud with Seth Rollins, and now he has. Sure, it was odd for it to take place after the match, but who cares? Orton continues to show real and true passion (both in his in-ring work and in his Tweeting of "Missed Me?") and his match with Rollins will be excellent.
Fast Lane saw a new Stardust continuing to lose control.
I don't care if the ending was "botched" (A word, by the way, that I wish I could ban from social media for the rest of my life). If you were looking at the referee during this match, you're missing the point. The brothers Rhodes told an amazing story from bell to bell, and this feud is obviously far from over. Much like his former leader Randy, Cody Rhodes is showing us all why he deserves a main event run. Again, my friends. . . PASSION.
Fast Lane saw that the rumors of the death of tag team wrestling were exaggerated.
Not only was the match spectacular (and possibly the best of the night), but Cesaro and Kidd are poised to dominate that division, having bouts of incredible quality while they are at it.
Fast Lane saw. . .but didn't hear. . .Sting set up his match with HHH
There was really going to be no other way this played out, despite my fantasy booking to the contrary. Sting looked strong, HHH got a couple shots in, and somebody pointed to the Wrestlemania sign. Remember, this is a journey.
Fast Lane saw a women's title match. . . But I didn't. . . So let's move on!
It's entirely possible the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be held by Diva's this year. Just saying.
Fast Lane saw Barrett barely escape with his title. . .If not his belt. . .
A lot of people thought this ending was lame. . . I think they would have thought any of the truly possible results would have been likewise. If Barrett had escaped and been counted out - Lame. If Barrett had beaten Ambrose - Lame. The only way many fans would have been happy is if Dean had won the belt, and there was NO WAY that was happening tonight.
This is a journey. Ambrose winning in his first attempt ends the journey much too quickly. You saw the promo - This belt matters to him. . . Which means he's going to have to struggle to obtain it. This is always how it happens.
Plus, now Ambrose has the belt, which is going to make for some entertaining television. Throw it in the water, Dean!
Fast Lane saw Bray Wyatt take another step forward.
2015 really has been the year of Bray Wyatt, hasn't it? A dominant performance at the Rumble. . . Promos that get better with each passing week. . . And now Fast Lane, coming out in the casket, captivating us from start to finish and FINALLY calling out The Undertaker.
Those who kept saying on Twitter that "you knew it was Bray", just shut up already. Had it been Taker, you'd have lost your mind for a few minutes . . . And then realized it made no sense for him to be out there before Bray called him out by name. Absolutely no sense. Just stop it.
Fast Lane saw Rusev beat John Cena and set up an I Quit match for Wrestlemania.
At this point, the US title is irrelevant. Cena passed out, losing the match and some pride along the way. He also broke out a Crossface, which was totally out of left field. These two are going to be fighting in an "I Quit" or submission match in 5 weeks, and despite it being John Cena, you're going to enjoy it. Guaranteed.
Fast Lane saw Roman Reigns look strong.
It's a joke around these parts by now, but it's true. Roman looked very good beating Daniel Bryan. Yes, we knew the spear was coming. If I'll grant the fans anything, I'll say that I hoped for a more surprising ending than that one. But Roman overcome a tough challenger in Daniel Bryan and is now poised to take on Brock Lesnar.
Again, and I apologize for being redundant, but look at the journey. He beat the Wrestlemania 30 winner and now will take on the Beast of Summer Slam.
If Roman wins, he's on the short list for most impressive series of wins in PPV history, and there's no doubting that he is THE guy in WWE.
If he loses, then Brock Lesnar continues to be THE guy, and will really and truly never give that belt up unless he wants to. He could hold it for a decade if he felt like it.
What can we conclude from looking at this PPV with these "new eyes"? Wrestlemania is being written, my friends, which is exactly what should be happening at this point in the year. The matches (and stipulations) are being set, the talents are in place, and if Fast Lane was any indication, we are in for an exciting card.
I just might avoid Twitter to be able to truly appreciate it.