WWE Editor @jeffersonlake
WWE Fastlane: Five things we learned on final event before WrestleMania
Last Updated: 11/03/19 3:54pm
WWE pay-per-view events are almost always chaotic affairs but Fastlane served up extra helpings of drama as the company doubled down on the twists and turns before WrestleMania.
There were no title changes among the nine main-show matches in Cleveland but there were talking points everywhere.
The event saw - deep breath - a heel turn, a potential tag-team split, a vicious beatdown in a handicap match, two superb multi-person bouts, a post-match attack which brought out a Hall of Fame legend, an attack on said Hall of Fame legend and failed run-in save, the return to a title picture of a young up-and-comer (at the expense of a much-loved veteran), a disqualification finish with major WrestleMania consequences, and the reunion of one of the best factions in modern WWE, complete with a balcony dive and two triple powerbombs through tables.
It was a night which packed so much into three-and-a-half early Monday morning hours. But what did it teach us? WWE Editor Jefferson Lake took a look…
We're going to miss The Shield
Some factions feel like little more than a handful of unoccupied stars packaged together to give them something to do.
But great factions always come across as feeling greater than the sum of their parts and that was the case with The Shield, who were at their intense and risk-taking best on Sunday night.
Dean Ambrose looked like a star throughout and Seth Rollins provided a hugely memorable moment with a gasp-inducing balcony dive.
The night, perhaps understandably, belonged to Roman Reigns. He looked as good as he ever has, bumping with confidence and oozing the charisma which has become his trademark. It was great to have him back.
Mustafa Ali can win over a crowd
It is a marker of the enormous talent Mustafa Ali possesses that he was able to turn a crowd seemingly ready to rebel against the booking of the WWE title match into one which was on its feet by the conclusion.
Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan are renowned ringmasters and among the best in the world at what they do and so their contribution cannot be understated.
But Ali took the spot many in the arena believed would go to Kofi Kingston and it was his ability to tell an in-ring story which turned their chants of "we want Kofi" to rapturous roars of approval.
The WrestleMania card is starting to take shape
Even with the final pay-per-view now in the books, there are only two matches officially confirmed for WrestleMania 35 - Brock Lesnar v Seth Rollins and the triple threat for the Raw women's title.
Recent episodes of Raw have sown seeds for a match between Triple H and Batista and Samoa Joe seems to be on a direct collision course with John Cena, a man who has previous cited Joe as a preferred potential opponent and whose absence from a Mania is unthinkable.
Fastlane saw another interaction between Randy Orton and AJ Styles, the continuation of the Andrade-Rey Mysterio beef and the ongoing storyline of Kingston's WWE title pursuit, which surely ends in a New Jersey showdown.
The Royal Rumble traditionally marks the start of WrestleMania season but the road to the MetLife Stadium really begins now.
The women's division needs some work
Neither of the women's title matches on Fastlane were without their difficulties: the Asuka-Mandy Rose tussle ended nicely but was kept short and there were some blown spots in the tag match, with Bayley largely responsible for keeping the contest together with a first-rate ring general performance.
It was also the bout which saw the most post-match shenanigans, with Beth Phoenix and Natalya failing to see off the heel duo of Nia Jax and Tamina.
That should lead to a match between the two teams - potentially at WrestleMania - but the creative team will need to move quickly and effectively to give the tag champions something to do at the big one.
The WWE roster is ridiculously deep
Including the pre-show, there were 37 competitors used in in-ring action on Sunday night, with five more providing ringside support, Ronda Rousey and Natalya doing run-ins and another - Phoenix - getting involved from the commentary desk. AJ Styles and Randy Orton were involved in an angle with Elias.
That's a gargantuan 48 members of the Raw and SmackDown rosters and still there was no space on the card for top-level stars such as Brock Lesnar, Finn Balor and Braun Strowman.
WrestleMania has become synonymous with a long run time and if the company wants to include all of their top performers then we could be talking about an event which again runs past the seven-hour mark.
The more likely option, however, is that some of the well-known WWE stars simply won't get a chance to strut their stuff on April 7.