Saturday, April 13

7 Hidden Details Most Fans Missed From WWE Fastlane 2023

Highlights

  • WWE Fastlane 2023 featured the return of John Cena and Carlito to the WWE ring, marking a significant moment in their shared wrestling history.
  • Paul Heyman’s use of a cell phone during a match at Fastlane was a nostalgic callback to his earlier gimmick as Paul E. Dangerously and added an interesting element to the storyline.
  • The split between Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso allowed them both to have high-profile matches at Fastlane, but in separate matches, highlighting their potential apart from each other.

In the grand scheme of WWE Premium Live Events, it may feel difficult at first blush to get excited about Fastlane. It is a B-PLE. On top of that, it’s one that the top star in the company, Roman Reigns, didn’t have a match on and the event wasn’t staged in front of a stadium audience or rabid international crowd.

Despite these limitations, WWE has been hot for most of the last year-plus under Triple H’s creative direction. Moreover, with acts like LA Knight and Judgment Day enjoying surges in momentum in recent months, John Cena back in the action, and WWE building momentum toward its “Tuesday Night War” with AEW this coming week, the stage was set for a memorable event. Fastlane advanced storylines, featured some solid in-ring action, and featured more than a few hidden highlights and interesting bits of trivia.

7 The Poeticism Of Carlito And John Cena Returning To The Ring At The Same WWE PLE On The 19th Anniversary Of Their First Televised Match

John Cena Carlito Backstage WWE Fastlane 2023

WWE Fastlane 2023 saw the returns to the WWE ring of Carlito and John Cena. Cena has been a part-timer for years and hadn’t worked a proper match since the spring. Carlito has had sporadic appearances but hadn’t officially worked a WWE match since 2021. The fact that both of these Ruthless Aggression Era-minted stars working a match at this PLE was noteworthy, but is especially interesting for their shared history.

RELATED: Was Carlito WWE’s Greatest Missed Opportunity?Indeed, Cena and Carlito feuded more than once in the past. All the more noteworthy, Carlito made his WWE television debut 19 years ago to the day, and in so doing defeated Cena for the United States Championship. Carlito would go on to work his very first PLE match at Survivor Series that year, his team opposite Cena’s, in a traditional elimination tag team match.

6 Paul Heyman Makes A Call Back To A Gimmick From Decades Past

Paul Heyman Cell Phone

The broadcast team made a point of observing Paul Heyman’s activity at ringside during the tag team match pitting John Cena and LA Knight against Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa. Heyman visible spoke into a smartphone, while the commentators speculated he was reporting on what he observed to Roman Reigns.

If Heyman using a cell phone at ringside felt familiar, it’s with good reason. Indeed, for much of his earlier career as Paul E. Dangerously, he used a comically large old school cell phone outside the ring was one of his signatures. The prop simultaneously sold his persona as a young yuppie to have such an expensive piece of technology for its time, in addition to functioning as a weapon Heyman or his heel clients would use to bludgeon babyfaces.

5 John Cena Worked His First WWE PLE Match That Wasn’t At A “Big Four” Show In The Last 5 Years

John Cena LA Knight Fastlane 2023

John Cena spent a solid decade as the face of WWE and one his hallmarks was working month in and month out on PPVs, not to mention wrestling a high volume of Raws during his time on top. His presence hasn’t been the same in recent years, though.

RELATED: Is John Cena Making A Mistake With His Latest WWE Return?WWE Fastlane 2023 actually marked the first time since Super ShowDown 2018 that Cena worked a match on a PLE that wasn’t a traditional Big Four show (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, or the Royal Rumble). Perhaps all the more interesting, the last time he worked a “B-PLE” that occurred within the United States at all, it was actually at a Fastlane as well—participating in a Six Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship at Fastlane 2018 that March.

4 WWE Fastlane 2023 Was The First PLE In Which Both Jey Uso And Jimmy Uso Wrestled, And They Were Not Involved In The Same Match

Jey Uso Fastlane 2023 Jimmy Uso SummerSlam 2023

Jimmy and Jey Uso have a long history of teaming up with one another on WWE PLEs. 2020 saw a shift as Jey began to rack up PPV matches of his own that did not directly involve his brother. That onset of the Bloodline angle saw him challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. Before long, Jimmy and Jey were back together, running the tag title picture.

Money in the Bank saw the brothers on opposite teams for the first time at a PLE. Now that the Usos are on separate sides of the face-heel line and on separate brands, questions remain about how successful either will be as a singles wrestler. The split has also opened up the opportunity for them each to work high profile matches at Fastlane, but in matches apart from one another. Jey teamed up with Cody Rhodes to challenge Judgment Day for the Tag Team Championship, while Jimmy paired off with Solo Sikoa to face John Cena and LA Knight.

3 Every Man Involved In The Opening Match Has Been In The World Title Mix This Year

Cody Rhodes Jey Uso Tag Champions

WWE Fastlane 2023 opened Finn Balor and Damian Priest facing off against Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso. This match for the Unified Tag Team Championship was deceptively steeped in main event-level talent. After all, on the babyface side, Cody Rhodes was the challenger to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 this past spring, while Jey Uso headlined SummerSlam chasing Reigns in August.

Meanwhile, Balor and Priest have been more involved in the World Heavyweight Championship picture. Balor was the chief rival to Seth Rollins as he launched his reign. While Priest has been less integrally embroiled in that picture, he’s the reigning Senor Money in the Bank. More than the promise of him eventually cashing in, he already more than once teased he might deploy his briefcase at Rollins’s expense.

2 Carlito Picked Up His First WWE PLE Victory Since 2007

Carlito returns Fastlane

Carlito’s not-entirely-surprising return to the WWE ring at WWE Fastlane 2023 drew a warm reception from WWE fans. Given his extended absence from the company, it’s no surprise that it’s been a while since he won a PLE match. However, given his handful of appearances over the years, and that he was wrestling full-time for WWE as recently as 2010, it may well be a surprise that he hadn’t won a match on a PLE since 2007.

RELATED: 10 Wrestlers You Didn’t Realize Wrestled For WWE In 2007Over sixteen years ago, Carlito won a Singapore Cane Match over The Sandman at The Great American Bash 2007. His losing ways over the two and a half years to follow may well have been indicative of his standing in WWE at the end of his original run, mostly used as cannon fodder in multi-man matches for that stretch.

1 Both Cody Rhodes And Jey Uso Had Previously Reigned As WWE Tag Team Champions With Their Brothers

Goldust Stardust Tag Team Champions

There was a lot of sub-text to Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso teaming up, let alone unseating Judgment Day to become Tag Team Champions at WWE Fastlane 2023. That includes the fact that the two were on opposite sides of a main event feud earlier this year. Moreover, transitioning to the tag title picture was a noteworthy adjustment for Rhodes, who has been operating at or around the main event level all year, whereas Uso won his first title for which he was not paired with his brother Jimmy.

Rhodes had actually won two tag titles with his own brother before, too—Dustin Rhodes. One of the pieces of the Stardust run fans tend to forget is that it yielded Cody’s most recent WWE tag title reign prior to Fastlane. All the more interesting, that most recent time the Rhodes brothers won the tag titles together came in 2014, when the team they took the titles off was none other than The Usos.

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