Alex Rants on: WWE Roadblock – End of the Line
For a show that was supposed to be the end of the line, only a few things actually ended. And a lot of bad stuff is still going to continue.
WWE’s final PPV of the 2016 calendar year ended with a show that technically already took place in March, Roadblock.
But this one was different. They added the tagline ‘End of the Line’ to signify that many things could be coming to an end at this event. If that’s the case, why not simply call the show ‘End of the Line’ without the ‘Roadblock’ name thrown in for no reason?
While we did see some interesting things on the show, it was, overall, a disappointing affair.
Many matches featured bizarre booking and odd directions, while very little ended up being genuinely surprising in any way. It’s hard to consider this show ‘the end of the line’ considering a lot of what we saw last night is likely to be repeated in the foreseeable future.
So without further ado, let the rant begin.
The pre-show match was a confrontation between Rusev and Big Cass. The story here was that Cass wanted revenge on Rusev for hurting his partner, despite Enzo acting somewhat ‘un-face-like’ in his interactions with Lana (since when is stealing another man’s wife an acceptable thing to do?)
They had a short brawl that ended with Rusev winning via count out. Later on in the show, it was announced that Rusev & Cass would face each other again tonight on RAW. So much for it being the ‘End of the Line’.
The official PPV then opened with the RAW Tag Team Championship match. Now, this match and everything about the New Day’s reign should, in theory, feel much more important. This was a historic reign…and they were the show opener.
You’d think something like that would be treated almost like a semi-main event match. While there was nothing wrong with this match in any way (in fact, it was probably the best match on the card, all things considered), it lacked the big match feel that should’ve been present following the New Day’s historic achievement.
The post-match celebration between New Day and Cesaro was a nice gesture, but this was a moment that New Day really deserved to prologue as much as possible. If there was ever a moment when the New Day deserved a standing ovation, it was here.
Sadly, it was all downhill from there.
Sami Zayn and Braun Strowman was an exercise in nonsense and illogical booking. All Zayn had to do was last ten minutes against Strowman, but there was no explanation of what he got out of it. All Mick Foley said was that he’d earn the fans’ respect.
Was Foley talking about the same Sami Zayn that’s been tearing the house down for the better part of three years now?
The same Zayn that had a MOTY contender against Shinsuke Nakamura in Shinsuke’s first WWE match, and had pulled off several other spectacular bouts against Kevin Owens? How did ne need to earn the fans’ respect when he had already earned it a long time ago?
That wasn’t the only nonsense with this match. The whole contest was executed poorly. It was so painfully obvious from Strowman’s movements and actions that he was stalling for time. He didn’t maintain the same continuous onslaught that he does when he faces a jobber.
He didn’t even go for multiple pin attempts to try and end the contest early. By the time Mick Foley came out, it was so clear that Zayn was going to win that the entire contest felt futile.
Now that Zayn has defeated Strowman, where do both of their careers go from here?
Zayn had been rudderless since July, despite being one of the best workers on the show. As for Strowman goes, Foley kept selling him as the most dominant and dangerous force in WWE. If he really is that powerful, why isn’t he the WWE Universal Champion, or at least, challenging for the championship?
The lack of logic in this booking is bordering on painful.
Seth Rollins defeated Chris Jericho in what was meant to be a blow-off of sorts between them. WWE have tried very hard to build this match up into a big deal, but sadly, given how many times we’ve seen Y2J lose and Seth get the upper hand, it felt less exciting that it should’ve been.
That’s not to say the match was bad; in fact, it was quite good. But for some reason it didn’t feel as fresh or breathtaking as a match between two experienced wrestlers should be. It also didn’t help that the finish was screwy, due to continued interference from Kevin Owens.
As per usual, neither wrestler involved could get a clean, decisive win, so neither one gains any major upward momentum. Rollins’ win was tainted due to interference, and Jericho losing was due to him being dumb enough to not pay attention while wrestling someone as skilled and dangerous as Seth Rollins.
We then shifted to the Cruiserweight Championship match. At this point things really got worrisome.
Unlike many other commentators that had been spelling doom and gloom for the new Cruiserweight Division for months now, I have been optimistic that the division would actually become something big and special for the RAW brand. That optimism disappeared with this match.
It wasn’t that this match was bad; it was that it no longer felt special. This contest felt like a regular RAW match, only with smaller competitors. The flow of the match felt like a standard RAW contest, instead of the high-flying, aerial athleticism we witnessed in the Cruiserweight Classic months ago.
For those wondering what the Cruiserweight Division would look like under Vince’s direct control, this is it: a watered-down shell of its former self, where special spots and the inherent uniqueness of cruiserweight wrestling are both few and far between.
Just because the ring features purple ropes doesn’t make these contests that much different.
After the match, Neville appeared and proceeded to attack both T.J. Perkins and Rich Swann (he didn’t attack Brian Kendrick, so you’re basically guaranteed to see Kendrick & Neville tag team against Swann & Perkins on RAW).
This was a nice change of pace, as Neville had spent the past few months as ‘the man WWE Creative forgot’. A man can only grow with the audience with his awesome finisher for so long. They need further booking support to reach that next level, which is hopefully where things will go from here.
Then we had the Ironman (Ironwoman?) match.
This was nowhere near the level of the Ironman match between Banks and Bayley from last year. In fact, this match didn’t even feel like an Ironman match until well past the 10-minute mark.
The combination of slow pacing, lack of huge moves and a deflated crowd all led this to feel like a lengthy RAW match, which is the absolute last thing you’d want from the final encounter between two top women.
The match itself was average for the above reason, but the finish really made it a disappointing affair. Charlotte won again, becoming a 4-time Women’s Champion in the process. This marks her 4th reign since WrestleMania, and the overall 7th reign for a title that has been in existence for less than a full year.
If there’s one thing that really screams ‘bad’ booking, it’s making the perpetual champion and challenger play hot potato with the belt.
To put this in perspective, Becky Lynch’s first reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion was longer than the four reigns between Charlotte and Sasha since October 3rd.
This kind of nonsense doesn’t do any favours for anybody. It devalues the championship in a major way, implying that the champion’s easy to defeat. A belt gains prestige not just by the calibre of the athletes fighting for it, but also through continuous successful defences.
Why do you think the New Day’s loss earlier on the show was important? They made the championships they defended worth fighting for. The same cannot be said of the RAW women’s championship, which now changes hands more frequently then most people get haircuts.
If this is WWE’s idea of turning Charlotte into a female version of her father (at least 16 reigns during his career), they’re going about it the wrong way. At this rate, Charlotte will be a 16-time RAW Women’s Champion by WrestleMania 34 in 2018.
At that point, WWE will tout how Charlotte’s such a legendary champion, but they’ll conveniently overlook that her reigns were, for the most part, ridiculously short. That kind of illogical forethought is why WWE’s current roster is lacking so severely in top talent; no one really gets over, and major victories don’t mean a thing in the grand scheme of things.
At least the lengthy rivalry between Charlotte and Sasha is now over (at least, according to Roadblock’s presentation).
Maybe we’ll finally see some new wrestlers get a shot at the Women’s Championship for the next few months… or more likely, WWE will come up with some garbage justification to run this feud into the ground by keeping this back-and-forth title exchange going on for months to come.
It’s like the female version of John Cena vs. Randy Orton. Nobody wins in that situation.
And finally, we come to the main event.
The story of this match was that Kevin Owens wanted to prove that he could win on his own, that he didn’t need Chris Jericho or anyone else to help him. Based on how the promotional videos were shot, Owens actually sounded more like the underdog than Reigns did (although with Reigns, that’s pretty much an impossibility anyway).
Kevin Owens was doing well in this match until, you guessed it, the finish. Owens actually had the advantage and momentum for the bulk of the match, but at the end, Chris Jericho showed up and hit his Codebreaker on Owens. Not Reigns, Owens.
So Kevin won by disqualification, retaining the title. This booking proved Reigns and all of Owens’ other doubters correct: he cannot win a championship by himself, making him look like a coward.
If this all looks familiar to you, your instincts are correct, because this is exactly how Seth Rollins was booked when he was WWE Champion last year. He rarely won matches clean and relied too much on underhanded tactics and disqualification to win.
Seth was never over as an independent performer; people disliked him because of his affiliation with the Authority, not because he was a good bad guy.
Now, Owens has proven that he’s the exact same thing. Worse, Owens’ reputation has dropped from last year. He had debuted in grandiose fashion and put on several outstanding matches against John Cena last year. He won most of his matches cleanly and looked strong in most situations.
Now, he can’t even beat Roman Reigns, a man that the Big Show defeated once without any outside interference. If the Big Show can defeat someone and the WWE Universal Champion cannot, that tells you how poorly the powers-that-be book their top champion.
And speaking of ‘looking strong’, the post-match beat-down destroyed Owens in a major way. He and Jericho were made to look like complete fools, despite one of them being one of the craftiest wrestlers in WWE and the other being a no-nonsense, vicious prizefighter.
Rollins and Reigns demolished the champion just for the sake of a cheap babyface win for two guys we’re supposed to cheer.
Whatever happened to protecting the champion at all costs? Shouldn’t the person holding that title look as dominant as possible?
If you’re WWE’s booking committee, then that’s apparently not the case, because making the challenger Roman Reigns look strong seems to be more important, even though nobody outside Titan Towers wants him as champion.
So there you have it, rant over. RoadBock: End of the Line was a forgettable event that’ll be remembered only for the end of the New Day’s historic reign as Tag Team Champions.
By comparison, in the first 15 minutes of Total Nonstop Deletion, we witnessed a one-year-old win his first wrestling match, Matt Hardy talking to the Rock N’ Roll Express and Vanguard 1, the drone, get up close and personal with ODB’s cleavage.
You can guess which one was the better show this week.
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