Fans are in a rage on social media after Bill Goldberg dethroned WWE Universal champion Kevin Owens in under a minute at Fastlane 2017. Yet anyone who even casually watched WWE TV since Survivor Series should have been prepared for the highly predictable result.
With all due respect to the critics of the Fastlane main-event, their anger and disappointment is tough to comprehend. Even a fan with little interest in the social chatter throughout pro wrestling could have predicted Goldberg’s next booking move since returning to defeat Brock Lesnar in under two minutes in November. Yet somehow, for some reason a delusional minority expected something completely different at Fastlane.
If it were up to those critics, Kevin Owens would have defeated Bill Goldberg. At a minimum, those critics would have expected some kind of a competitive contest between a guy who is slotted for a U.S. title match and a showcase performer anchored to the hype on the biggest card of the year, WrestleMania 33. At some point you either have to be realistic and enjoy the show or just walk away, and give up watching the WWE altogether if you were expecting different.
One of the biggest complaints I have read is that the main-event was predictable. Well, no kidding. The Fastlane main-events have become some of the most predictable headliners of the year in recent years. The idea of shifting booking plans for a WrestleMania just a few weeks out to “shock” the audience makes absolutely no business sense at all. Why don’t you book Neville to beat Brock Lesnar while you’re at it?
Like him or not, Goldberg has been a business-mover since he returned to the WWE last year. With all due respect to Kevin Owens who is one of the most talented wrestlers in the business, he wasn’t moving numbers. Was he booked to be a game-changer? No, but that was his slot and if you ask Kevin Owens, I bet he’d gladly take a run as Universal champion for six months and a screwy loss to Goldberg than floundering on the cards getting nowhere past the middle.
Sometimes predictability can be good. Goldberg is moving numbers for a reason. Based on ratings, I have to think that there were a lot of fans tuning into Fastlane to see Goldberg win the title. They got their payoff and the WWE locked down the massive WrestleMania main-event that the company has lacked in recent years. There were probably more fans tuning in to watch Fastlane to watch Goldberg win than for any other reason.
One of my favorite gripes is that Goldberg is a part-timer. I read several fans opine on social media how WrestleMania is going to suck because it has two part-timers in the main-event and a part-timer should not have beaten Kevin Owens. The part-timer argument is always a convenient one. I can almost guarantee you that the same people complaining about a part-timer winning the title would have no problem with it if that part-timer was CM Punk. It’s a business and if the part-timer is drawing the money, the part-timer is getting the spot, as well he should.
The storyline and booking have been clear since the Royal Rumble. Goldberg is a beast who has destroyed the number-one draw in the WWE and WrestleMania would be Brock’s revenge. Now you could have gone two ways with this match. You could have had them wrestle on Mania without the belt and make the two world title matches look silly in regards to interest and reaction. Or you could add a little more sizzle to an already hot main-event, and elevate the Universal title by showcasing it in this match. Considering that the title has been somewhat of a joke since its inception, this is a necessary boost to add credible to the title.
I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade but at some point you have to use some common sense here. The money is in Goldberg, the investment is in Goldberg, and the dividend will be paid at WrestleMania. Deviating from that course to “shock” a few hardcore fans would have just been foolish. At some point Goldberg and Lesnar will relinquish the belt to someone else and whether it is Kevin Owens or Roman Riegns, someone else will have an opportunity. But until then anyone expecting anything different from the obvious is just kidding themselves.