A while ago I did a recap article on a WWE pay per view. It was very well received, so I was planning to follow it up with a recap of Fast Lane.
When it came time to sit down and bash the keys, though, the ennui was crushing. You see, Fast Lane wasn't bad in the fun way that you can make fun of in a fun blog. It was bad in the way that just makes you sad and irritable and want to go and do something else. Xavier Woods was trash talking The League of Nations, and the best he could manage was that they weren't as good as League of Legends. It was awful. Nobody laughed. I decided to have the night off an play a Souls clone, because the idea that Dark Souls is a genre now girds my loins.
Cut to Monday Night RAW, a day later. All the internet has been talking about all day is how terrible Fast Lane was. How half the matches were boring, the promos were awful, Charlotte no-selling the figure four like her name was Hogan, Roman no-selling getting thrashed senseless with a steel chair, the night ending in deafening boo-ing from the audience...
Yeah. You get the picture. Fast Lane 2016 ended just like Fast Lane 2015.
The theme music blares, "N-N-N-No chance! That's what ya got!" and Vince comes down to the ring to present the first Vincent J MacMahon Legacy of Excellence Award. They've just invented this, they say, because nobody in the history of the company has deserved it yet, but now somebody does so they're going to give it to them. They've been building this up for a few weeks. It's a minor plotline. OR SO WE THINK.
Vince speaks emotionally about how brilliant and kind his father, VJM, was and how nobody until now has lived up to these standards. Blah blah. He then proceeds to give the award to his daughter, Stephanie.
Now, by this point, we know there's going to be a run-in. We're not wondering if someone's theme music is going to start playing, we're taking bets on whose. Personally I'm with Adam Blampied at this point; I think it's going to be "IF YA CAN SMEEEEEELL-" and then The Rock will come down to ringside with Ronda Rousey, they'll continue the skit they did at last year's Wrestlemania, a challenge will be issued, 'Taker's farewell match will be put off for a year and the main event at Wrestlemania will be The Authority vs The Rock And Rousey Connection.
This is not what happens. THIS is what actually happens. And this is real. And this happened. And this is happening.
"HERE COMES THE MONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!" It's Shane MacMahon. Shane MacFuckingMahon. 46 years old now, grey-haired and tubby, but still he comes out with his awful bright red Vanilla Ice trainers on and does his full man-strut moonwalk thing. He does his full intro, just like when he was... a young boy. The audience is going wild with delight and chanting "SHANE-O MAC! SHANE-O MAC!"
Vince is happy too, and goes to hug Shane. Shane stops Vince with one hand, gently straightens his tie and lapels for him with one hand, and steps back. Then he starts to speak.
And OH GOD SOMEONE SHUT HIM UP. He starts talking about the record low in WWE ratings. He talks about the plummeting share prices. He talks about the injuries. ALL THE GODDAMNED INJURIES. It all happened on Steph's watch, he says. She and Triple H have driven the company into the ground. Normally he's able to sit back, be a businessman and let things take their course because - here he imitates Steph's catchphrase - "It's what's best for business," but seeing Steph being honoured for her tenure with the WWE is the straw that's broken the camel's back. The camel's SHANE IS back. Because Shane is. Back.
The arena is in PANDEMONIUM. The audience is hysterical. They cannot believe what is happening in front of their faces. Shane is washing the company's dirty laundry live on air. He's got hashtag shit we don't mention when Vince is around by the ankles, and he's emptying it's pockets out on Steph's doorstep.
The only reason that Steph is allowed to believe that she's a big shot, he says, is that he allows it. "Daddy, is this true?" says Steph. "Now, sweetie, this isn't really the time or place, let's go and have a nice chat backstage and we can give you your award in private-" blusters Vince.
"IS IT TRUE?"
"There are.......... elements of truth to it."
We're not done, though. Shane wants Monday Night RAW. He wants to show the world that he's better. He wants to save WWE. And Vince agrees! "In fact," he says, "I can do better than that."
Uh-oh. Suddenly he's not blustering, goofy, comedy Vince any more. Suddenly the glint is back in his eye. Suddenly he's Heel Vince again.
Shane can have everything he asks for, he says, if he'll just fight one match. Just show them all that he's still got it. Vince names the place, match and opponent. Shane fights, and he'll be appointed manager of RAW. "That's what you want, isn't it?" he says to the crowd. "You're all chanting for him, you wanna see ol' Shane-O Mac wrestle again, don't you?" The crowd explodes in a Daniel Bryan "YES! YES! YES!"
Shane accepts, and Vince names the terms.
The place: Wrestlemania.
The match: Hell In A Cell.
The opponent: The Undertaker.
On the way out of the ring, Shane pauses, turns to the crowd and drops kayfabe.
"My nipples are hard," he says in his own voice. "I'll never forget this moment for the rest of my life. Seriously, thank you all SO much. See you at Wrestlemania."
And that's the story of how the internet freaked the fuck out, and why Wrestlemania ticket sales deserve to break all records next month. Because NONE OF THIS MAKES A LICK OF FREAKING SENSE, and they sold it anyway. After they'd discounted Wyatt and Lesnar for 'Taker's farewell match because they'd been done, and Roman because he deserved better, I would NOT have called Shane MacMahon. In fact, the news was on Twitter for three hours before I realised it wasn't a joke. And then, when I realised that this was really real, I was like "OH PLEASE FUCK ALL THE FUCKING WAY OFF."
But then I saw the episode, and now I'm a believer. BECAUSE THEY SOLD IT. Those fans stood in the RAW audience and they chanted and cheered and whooped in delight because, after a whole day of shoulder-slumped misery, against all odds, once again the greatest show on Earth was unfolding in front of their faces. Like it used to be. Like it should be.
Now if we can just get #BringBackHornswoggle going, my life will be complete.