WWE Fast Lane 2016: Roman Reigns Triumphs in Triple Threat to Secure Main Event Spot at WrestleMania 32
Roman Reigns secured his spot at the main event of WrestleMania 32 after prevailing in an extraordinary triple threat in the final pay-per-view on the road to Dallas.
The Powerhouse will face Triple H for the World title in Dallas
The Samoan will face Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the event after managing to outlast Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose on a night where things really took to another level ahead of the Grandest Stage of Them All.
It took both Ambrose and Reigns to put the Beast aside, but even after two power-bombs through the announcer's table, he wasn't done. Ambrose's use of the steel chair would keep him out the ring for a few moments, but when he turned around a thunderous spear by Roman Reigns would seal the deal - Reigns vs. Triple H is on at the AT&T Center in Texas.
Elsewhere in the event, Kalisto and Kevin Owens kept their championships as did Charlotte, while AJ Styles and Chris Jericho's rubber match was one for the ages with the former prevailing.
Kalisto's American dream stays alive
Having went back and forth throughout the early goings of the new year, it was only fitting that the next chapter to the rivalry for United States gold followed suit. Juxtaposing with the aspect of actually kicking off the event, Kalisto all but put an end to his feud with Alberto Del Rio in a somewhat definitive matter.
The Mexican Aristocrat's frustrations were on full display early in the two-out-of-three falls match when he conceded the first fall by disqualification. After tumbling into the timekeeper's area at the hands of the mind-boggling athleticism from one half of the Lucha Dragons, Del Rio struck his opponent with a steel chair - despite sacrificing a fall, he inflicted some crucial damage on the champion.
In many ways, the former World Champion was the benefactor of disqualification. After throwing Kalisto into the barricade multiple times, an eventual double stomp would put Kalisto away for three meaning the next pinfall or submission would crown or sustain a champion or their reign.
For most of the moments that followed, it appeared Del Rio was zeroing in on the title once again. But when Kalisto began to rally, the penny began to drop as the masked star gained momentum, not for too long however when he was left in a heap outside the ring, just getting back inside the squared circle before being counted out. He would then catch his opponent by surprise, similarly to how he has swept the WWE Universe, by rolling up the challenger and retaining the gold.#USChampion @KalistoWWE wins the first fall via DQ after @VivaDelRio utilizes a steel chair! #WWEFastlane pic.twitter.com/3HjHb4u4Ho— WWE (@WWE) February 22, 2016
Presumably a match with this stipulation should be the be all and end all of a rivalry, although the finish suggests otherwise. Who knows what's next, it remains up in the air but the belt is on the right shoulders at this moment in time with Kalisto.
A pivotal Divas' tag team match on the road to Dallas would encapsulate the magnitude of wins at such a time on the WWE calendar, and when it mattered most, an unlikely pairing of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch would get a big push on their way to WrestleMania.
That came, however, after plenty of hardship following a strong fight put up by the team of Naomi and Tamina. At times the relatively seasoned performers took advantage of the lack of chemistry between Banks and Lynch to gain an edge, however the conclusion would contradict that.
As Tamina and Naomi were both viced in arm submissions with a tap-out leading to the ending of the contest, their quest had fallen short, while the horizons looked prosperous for the victorious tag team.
Kevin Owens first title defence as the new Intercontinental Champion was indeed an incredibly tough one. He was pushed to his very limits against the ever-entertaining Dolph Ziggler, but soon enough, capitalising on a moment of confusion, a Pop-Up Powerbomb would be that's all she wrote for the evening.
Setting a pace early and dishing out punishment on the experienced challenger, Owens looked keen to get Ziggler finished in quick time to set his sights on WresteMania, although soon enough he would be the recipient of the undying wrath which Dolph has built a reputation on in his many years under the WWE banner.
As Owens' head went crashing into the turnbuckle after an incisive side-step from Ziggler, the Show Off rallied and found his way into the match, although momentarily, since he would soon find himself being gulped up by a vicious cannonball into the bottom rope.
It was far from done there, however. After an inverted suplex from the heights of the ring, it appeared that the tide once again turned; Ziggler nailed the Famouser and looked to tune up the band with a super kick, only to collide with the ref bringing his flow to a halt, turning around to a Pop-Up Powerbomb as Kevin Owens kept a strong hold of his Intercontinental strap.
Dolph Ziggler coming up short in a midcard title match has a concerning sense of familiarity to it, but look across the ring to the opponent who beat him and you needn't be too disappointed. Owens is looking strong going into his first WrestleMania, and it will be a moment to relish as he further excels.
In a physical six-man tag team match to follow up a series of targeted attacks on WWE's sized stars, Ryback, Big Show and Kane got revenge on the feared and illusive Wyatt Family through a shell-shocking finish to shake up things on the road to WrestleMania.
"The Big Guy" came out strong to start things, as Ryback brought the fight to Erick Rowan, before looking towards the World's Largest Athlete to continue the job. With strikes being exchanged consistently, Ryback then found an opening to tag in the Big Red Machine who dealt with the swarming Wyatts well, booting Strowman to the ground although that did serve as a distraction for the opposition to gain leverage.
WWE didn't really make much sense with this booking even if it was deemed as a pointless match. With supposed big plans set for the family, losing like that isn't exactly the way to go. Maybe they'll justify it later down the road, maybe not.
A defiant "No" thwarts Brie Bella
Brie Bella looked to emulate her recently-retired husband Daniel Bryan by capturing a championship in a saga which had quickly escalated into personal waters with Charlotte. Despite being in touching distance of getting her hands back on the belt, a clever bit of capitalisation from Charlotte would lead to a continuation of her reign.
Sporting the famous kick pads worn by Daniel Bryan during his incredible WrestleMania 30 world championship victory, it appeared that Brie also emulated the drive and ferocious pace, taking an early fight to Charlotte with dropkicks from the top rope and more. However, just as she has been during her reign as ruler of the division, Charlotte soon managed to set her own pace, methodical and taking the wind out of the challenger's sails.
But it would take a lot more to truly put away Brie Bella. And in the final seconds of the bout it appeared that the title would fall into Bella's hands, when she had a leg lock in, only to tweak her own leg and provide an opportunity for Charlotte to vice in her finishing submission and get the win.
Styles outlasts Jericho in thrilling rubber match
If there any doubts that AJ Styles belongs inside a WWE ring, all were gone following a match that was nothing short of extraordinary as he forced the veteran to tap out in their third and deciding bout which yet again exemplified everything that WrestleMania brings out of professional wrestlers.
Whether it was bad blood or just intense competition would be determined in a match which kicked off with a frantic pace and barely let off for the many minutes that followed. Things would soon spill to the outside with Styles crashing into the barricade before being flattened with a cross body when they were back inside the paramaters of the ropes.
The knowledge that the fighters had gained of each other over the previous matches was demonstrated at its best when Jericho managed to forecast AJ's springboard, drop kicking the ropes and sending the former TNA star thudding to the canvas.
But it was far from one-way traffic. Styles landed flush with a Pele kick as Jericho wobbled off the top turnbuckle, while a Frankensteiner almost went wrong at the same position. As Y2J would continue to persevere though, he had Styles in trouble with the Walls of Jericho, although his opponent managed to grit through it.
Frustration was growing on the part of Jericho as he couldn't put AJ away. But those feelings were mutual when somehow, someway, the Lionheart kicked out of the Styles Clash, only to tap out with a leg lock submission and give the WWE newcomer a massive win.
Albeit frustrated, Jericho acknowledged Styles' efforts and shook his hand after the match, perhaps ending it at the trilogy stage - and they were some matches to certainly savour.
|Image: WWE Network|
What was set to be an intriguing promo would end up just becoming an advert for the new Edge and Christian show on the WWE Network. Thoughts on that may differ, but any time the legendary tag team are in the ring is a moment to relish.
First laying into New Day, the League of Nations would then be dragged into the conversation and in the end things would become as comical as Edge and Christian would allow, eventually finishing with those two getting the last laugh - and hopefully many views on the WWE Network to make those few minutes worth it.
Later, R-Truth lost a singles match to Curtis Axel with Goldust's misplaced intentions resulting in his comrade falling short.
Roman Reigns headed to WrestleMania
Anticipation reached fever pitch in Cleveland with the final bout of the evening holding huge importance to the main event of WrestleMania 32. One major roadblock stood in the Fast Lane of the brothers Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, with the former Shield men going straight after the Beast even though he dealt with them easily, dispatching Ambrose and landing a German Suplex within seconds.
Swatting away Ambrose at ease, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion was certainly on his game as he had both his opponents easily handled. But soon enough, the numbers game would begin to slowly chip away at the anomaly, but even so, belly-to-belly suplexes meant that Reigns'attempt to catch him on the ropes and Ambrose's drop kick would have little effect.
Having been one-way traffic up until that point, the danger of the triple threat match would be on full display when Lesnar prepared to hit an F5 on Ambrose, before Reigns came in and landed a Spear, sending the Beast into survival mode.
Further triple threat features would come to the aid of the Shield brethren when Ambrose's low blow grounded the NCAA decorated wrestler, before going vintage Shield on him with a collaborative powerbomb through the announce table - with that, the Beast was down. With the battle now cut down to 2, Ambrose seized the iniative and went straight after Reigns, coming close with near falls as the crowd fledged their full support behind him.
Just as they exchanged strikes and both fell to the canvas, the re-emergence of Lesnar rising through the rubble sounded the alarm bells for Ambrose and Reigns, throwing him into the barricade and clearing out another table to power bomb him through for a second time, and looking to keep him down they piled all the remains of the tables over the Beast.
During the second attempt, Reigns would manoeuvre to get Ambrose on his shoulders, but out of nowhere, Lesnar came frm behind with a German Suplex to both men at the same time. Even after another Spear the Beast remained aware, locking in a Kimura as the Samoan went for a pinfall - with Reigns raw strength eventually lifting him up and then Ambrose seizing the opportunity by landing hard on the spine with the steel chairs to both men.
Lesnar would be sent to the outside, leaving Ambrose and Reigns, but when Ambrose turned around he walked into a thunderous Spear followed up by the pin as Roman Reigns booked his spot at the main event of WrestleMania 32.