WWE’s Fastlane 2017 pay-per-view is over, and the results are in — thanks to a Chris Jericho distraction, Bill Goldberg beat Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship in just 22 seconds. And once again, it’s been a very polarizing win for the comebacking Goldberg, whose title win officially ups the ante for his match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 33.
After weeks of sniping at each other on Monday Night RAW and on Twitter, Goldberg vs. Kevin Owens took place at last night’s Fastlane pay-per-view at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Prior to the event, rumors had circulated that Goldberg was going to win the match, so as to transform his confirmed WrestleMania 33 match against Brock Lesnar into a WWE Universal Championship match. Those rumors did ring true, but what shocked a lot of fans was how quickly it took for the rumors to be proven correct.
Still, this was nothing surprising for those who had listened to Wrestling Observer Radio about a month ago, as hosts Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez both speculated (h/t SportsKeeda) that Goldberg vs. Owens may turn out to be similar in length to the 86-second Goldberg win over Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016. As it turned out, it was even quicker, and many weren’t happy about it.
Writing for Bleacher Report, Erik Beaston reacted to Bill Goldberg’s win over Kevin Owens at Fastlane 2017, giving the extremely quick match a satisfactory C- mark. He was most impressed with the underlying Chris Jericho vs. Owens feud that continued when Jericho distracted Owens with his surprise appearance but was quite critical about the extremely short duration of the match. According to Beaston, the fact that Goldberg has been placed in very quick matches since his late-2016 comeback could cause him to wear out his WWE welcome.
“At some point, the WWE Universe will come to the realization that Goldberg cannot hang with today’s Superstars, thus necessitating the short matches, and it will turn on him.”
Larry Csonka of 411Mania offered a similar take, admitting that he didn’t like the match, but that the outcome was expected anyway, given how WWE wants to up the stakes for Goldberg vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania 33. If it’s any consolation, he added, the Jericho vs. Owens angle may lead to the latter challenging the former for his United States Championship at ‘Mania.
“I do not like it, but Goldberg vs. Lesnar for the title was the path so they accomplished what they needed to; what I did like was that Jericho, the guy that repeatedly gave himself up to allow Owens to retain his title got payback for the Festival of Friendship beating and ended up being the guy that cost Owens the title.”
One concern fans have with the Fastlane 2017 results is that it could point to WWE having two part-time wrestlers consecutively win the Universal Championship. Goldberg is one, and if he loses to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 33 as expected, that would make for yet another champion who only makes select television appearances, infrequently wrestles on pay-per-view, and doesn’t often compete in house shows.
Forbes‘ Alfred Konuwa took a look at the business implications of WWE crowning part-time champs like Goldberg, Lesnar, and, for a few months early in 2016, Triple H. Based on statistics he cited in his report, Konuwa wrote that attendance tended to go down when “special attractions” like the above-mentioned wrestlers reigned as a top champion.
From 2014 to 2016, median live attendance at domestic and international shows was at 6,000 and 7,350 respectively if WWE had full-time wrestlers as main event champions. But if WWE went with part-timers instead, those figures went down to 5,900 and 6,850 respectively over the same time period. Given those stats, Konuwa opined that having Bill Goldberg win at Fastlane 2017, resulting in his match against Brock Lesnar at ‘Mania becoming a title match, might not have been a wise decision after all. That’s because business is usually at its peak anyway during WrestleMania season.
“Goldberg, at 50 years of age, is set to enter his third reign as a world champion, his first as WWE universal champion. But it’s fair to question whether having an absentee champion during WrestleMania season is truly worth it.”
The snarky and dissenting fan comments on Twitter above say it all — Goldberg beating Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship at Fastlane 2017 was the result they may or may not have expected, but it wasn’t a good one for them in most cases. Still, it can be argued that WWE makes such creative decisions to appeal to casual or old-school fans leading into WrestleMania, and nothing remains certain as to how the company is going to book the biggest matches on its biggest pay-per-view of the year when it takes place next month in Orlando.
[Featured Image by WWE]