The Road to Wrestlemania, Episode Nine

This is the ninth episode in a series, retelling the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. This episode covers part one of the first Pay Per View: WWE Fastlane, originally televised on February 21, 2016.

Match #1: The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz

The pay per view opens with a Tables Match between The Usos and The Dudley Boyz. Having each cost the other a place in the Tag Team Tournament final, both teams are looking to settle a score. As the match progresses, Jey Uso hits a Samoan Drop on D-Von Dudley, landing painfully on an overturned table that doesn’t break. Bubba Ray is there to retaliate though, hitting Bubba Bombs on Jey and Jimmy.

But when The Dudley Boyz try to hit a 3-D on Jimmy, he slips free, and both Dudleys are felled by Super Kicks. The Usos set them up on tables, and climb to the top of opposite turnbuckles. But when they both fly to hit Samoan Splashs, the Dudleys roll out of the way, leaving the Usos to crash and burn. D-Von drags Jey to his feet and throws him through a table in the corner, ending the match.

This match is, in essence, a combination of several matches that The Usos and The Dudley Boyz have had over the last couple of months. Specifically, their matches from Wrestlemania, and the following Monday Night Raw. Rather than drag the feud out, however, here it builds to a natural point of antagonism, followed by a competitive match that the Dudleys win largely because of their greater experience in Tables matches. Now, the Usos can be given a break from the show in order to re-energise (similar to Dolph Ziggler), and the Dudley Boyz are free to begin a new feud, or become involved in an existing one.

Match #2: Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs Naomi and Tamina

The second match of the pay per view starts less in sync than the previous one, as Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch struggle to stay on the same page long enough to decide who will start the match, let alone to coordinate their efforts. By contrast, Naomi and Tamina work as a cohesive unit, limiting the opportunities to make tags, and allowing Naomi to dominate both opponents.

Unable to make a tag, Becky Lynch scrambled outside the ring, hoping to find some breathing room. As both Naomi and Tamina look to corner her, Banks catches Naomi by surprise, and Naomi and Tamina are taken down by a pair of dropkicks. Finally on the same page, Lynch and Banks drag their opponents back into the ring, but Tamina recovers enough to take both down with a double clothesline. But Lynch kicks out of the pin attempt. Looking to regain their momentum, Naomi tags Tamina in, but in the process Lynch escapes her hold, and scrambles to the other side of the ring to tag Banks back in.

Tamina and Banks clash in the centre of the ring, until Banks counters an attack from Tamina into the Bank Statement. Lynch recovers enough to keep Naomi at bay, and Tamina is eventually forced to tap out.

The second match of this pay per view is fairly close to the televised version. Sasha Banks gets the victory over Tamina, while Naomi gets an opportunity to look strong against the top championship contenders by dominating for large parts of the match. This brings to a close the rivalry between the four, allowing Becky Lynch and Banks to focus their attention on the Women’s Championship. In addition, Naomi is able to focus on her own push, with Tamina as her enforcer.

Match #3: Kalisto vs Alberto Del Rio (United States Championship)

The first championship defense of the episode is a 2 out of 3 Falls Match. Once the bell rings, Alberto Del Rio takes full advantage of the stipulation, pushing the boundaries of the rules as he beats down on Kalisto, dragging him from the ring and throwing him against the ring steps. With the referee unable to stop him, Del Rio picks up a steel chair from near commentary and cracks it over Kalisto’s head, drawing a disqualification, giving the first fall to Kalisto.

But the damage has been done, and Del Rio tosses Kalisto back into the ring, tangling him in the ropes and hitting a Double Stomp for a quick three count, evening the match at one fall each.

The beating continues after the pinfall, as Del Rio looks to make a statement with his eventual victory. However, Kalisto finds an opening, when he is lifted up to the top of the turnbuckle, and Del Rio follows him up looking to hit a Super Back Suplex: Kalisto plants his feet on the rope, and hits a Super Salida Del Sol for the final pin, retaining his championship.

The slight changes to this match from the televised version (the increased violence early on and the ending) are made to strengthen Kalisto as a champion. With Alberto Del Rio currently locked into The League of Nations, and as a former world champion, his stock doesn’t need a push right now; making the victory more about Kalisto’s ingenuity than luck produces a stronger US Champion for the run to Wrestlemania, and emphatically ends their rivalry, rather than leaving the door open for more matches that would lessen the story.

Match #4: The Ascension vs The Social Outcasts vs Enzo and Cass vs The League of Nations

The New Day arrive at commentary before the competitors come down the ramp, kicking JBL, Michael Cole, and Byron Saxton out of their seats and taking their places. The three commentators head backstage, after The New Day promise to give them back their seats after the match.

Once the four teams enter the ring, the match begins, with Sheamus and Heath Slater starting proceedings. The early goings are tentative. The three wrestlers patrolling at ringside test the patience and concentration of the referee, as Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, and Rusev push the boundaries of interference.

The match descends into mayhem when Slater attempts to ignore a blind tag from Cass, and the ring fills with wrestlers, as the referee struggles to keep track of who are the legal men. Enzo and Heath Slater leap through the ropes to take down most of the competitors at ring side, as well as Rusev. Amidst the chaos, The Ascension hit The Fall of Man on Sheamus, while King Barrett and Big Cass take out The Social Outcasts with matching Big Boots.

Viktor throws Sheamus back into the ring, and Konnor scrambles back to cover him for the pin, eliminating The League of Nations. A shoving match erupts between the eliminated team and The Social Outcasts, as Enzo and Cass watch with amusement from the ring. The Ascension jump them from behind, but Enzo recovers in time to reverse The Fall of Man, sending Viktor crashing from the ring and leaving Konnor vulnerable to a Big Boot. Enzo climbs high ready to hit a Rocket Launcher, and leaps into the air.

And the lights go out. The Wyatt Family has arrived.

When the lights come back on, the Wyatts attack all four teams, ending the match in an immediate no contest. Already battleworn, and even with Alberto Del Rio rushing to the aid of the League, the twelve wrestlers in and around the ring are no match for the Wyatts. One by one they are beaten down, dragged into the centre of the ring to be subjected to Discuss Clotheslines and Triangle Chokeholds, and finally, as Bray Wyatt paces menacingly through the carnage, a Sister Abigail to one member of each team: Konnor, Cass, Bo Dallas, and King Barrett.

The Wyatt Family then turn their attention to The New Day at commentary. Bray Wyatt falls to his knees outstretched, and begins to laugh.

The lights go out, and all that can be heard is his voice. “We’re here.”

After several episodes with no sight of them, the Wyatt Family finally make their return, ambushing the tag team division and making a very clear, and brutal statement. Unlike the original match the Wyatt Family were booked for in the televised version, this appearance has a suddenness and surprise to it that has been lacking in their previous blackout entrances, something that has been done too much, with too little effect. The several weeks without any presence followed by a starkly different outcome allows for a line to be drawn between prior arrivals and now, and sets the stage for the Wyatts to become more than a mid card heel stable…

Summary

The end of three rivalries, and the start of something new; the first part of the revised Fastlane pay per view sees Kalisto retain his championship in a more dominant fashion than televised, The Dudley Boyz put the Usos down for good, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch get on the same page long enough to secure victory, and once more sees Enzo and Cass come so close to a championship opportunity before having it snatched away by The Wyatt Family.

In the next episode, and the final part of the pay per view, Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns will face off for the right to take on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H at Wrestlemania.

Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

Episode Card
Original Schedule Revised Schedule
Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio (United States Championship The Dudley Boyz def. The Usos
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch def. Naomi and Tamina Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch def. Naomi and Tamina
Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship) Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio (United States Championship)
Ryback, Big Show, and Kane def. Braun Strowman, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan The League of Nations vs The Ascension vs Enzo and Cass vs The Social Outcasts ends in no contest