Was WWE Roadblock a house show? an important PPV on the road to Wrestlemania? Here are my 2016 WWE Roadblock Reactions:
What especially brightened my day was Michael Cole’s opening announcement: “This is the night where the entire complexion of Wrestlemania could change…” (except it can’t because we’ve been hyping Wrestlemania for months now and we’re probably not going to book any drastic surprises…)
New Day vs League of Nations:
It takes New Day so long to get to any heel material these days, and even when they do, they just make fun of the legit heel League of Nations. For a while they’re just popping the crowd, including Kofi and Xavier playing Big E’s two gay dads in a Booty-O cereal skit.
When King Barrett hits the “Winds of Change” I’m pretty sure Michael Cole had to think for a second to remember what it was even called, since it’s been so long since we’ve seen him in action. His tornado snap suplex was pretty tight though.
Kofi’s “injury” spot was a bit weird; he clearly landed hard on his head and neck in a way that couldn’t have been planned. Given that there were no replays showed when the announcers recapped the match, there may have been some question marks about his health from that point on. But he was able to play his role in the final outcome of the match, hitting Sheamus with a modified bulldog on the outside, which gave Big E a clear win in the middle of the ring.
Y2J versus Jack Swagger:
First of all, what the hell is this match even doing on the card? As a continual miser of WWE Main Event and someone that only has time for the 90 minute Hulu version of Raw, I haven’t seen Jack Swagger since the Rumble. And I’m not sure I’ll even have much to say about this match.
Chris Jericho continues to try and find his place on the roster. His best heel-work has always been his Cruiserweight days in WCW, and that was a long long time ago. Even with as big of an asshole as he’s playing during his turn on AJ Styles, half the fans seem to still be behind him, cheering and laughing along with his hateful antics.
As far as the actual match, nothing happened of any real consequence. Jericho wins clean with the Walls of Jericho, and thus Jack Swagger fades back silently into the background of WWE.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass versus The Revival:
I feel like this match was a test to see if Enzoe Amore and Big Cass are over enough with the majority of the WWE universe to make the jump to the main roster. Their pop wasn’t nearly what it is on NXT, despite the much larger crowd, but enough people in the arena knew the catchphrases that the cameramen could easily find people chanting along.
Enzo and Cass could have some great match ups with New Day or the Dudleys. Their timing with each other is impeccable as it always is. They can clearly handle complicated multi spots. Enzo’s flight over the top looked like it hurt, and we’d have to wait and see if he’d be allowed to take as many chances with more weight of the company on his shoulders.
The most fun of this match is listening to Cole, King and JBL call a match of NXT talent. By the time Cass hot tag’s into the match the crowd is firmly on the side of the certified G’s, so when Dash and Dawson eventually retain the titles this match served it’s purpose, exposing the mainstream WWE Universe to the top of the NXT tag division, with two teams who are sure to be soon making their way onto RAW, Smackdown and at least a few PPV’s.
Charlotte versus Natalya:
Natalya, the first third generation female WWE star and alumni of the fabled Hart Family Dungeon, is another superstar that’s on this card for a reason as yet to be determined. It’s not that she’s not talented, she undoubtedly is. I’m just curious when we see a superstar currently featured in an important angle (i.e. the Divas Title Picture) suddenly against another superstar who has had nothing to do with that angle and hasn’t been seen in the same hour of television in quite some time. Is it a PPV or a House Show? I don’t think even WWE knows at this point.
Nonetheless, the Divas of WWE put on a great match, consistently. And Natalya and Charlotte are among the most talented female wrestlers to ever step foot inside a WWE ring. It can’t be a coincidence that the daughter of Ric Flair and niece of Bret Hart are fantastic storytellers.
Other than that fact that Natalya looks like a midget when she tries to apply a sharpshooter on the daddy long legs that is Charlotte, the two women work incredibly well together. The match was flawless, speeding up and slowing down, taking us on a ride along with them in a match that harkened back to the days when you just knew you were watching some of the best wrestlers in the world.
Several false finishes led way to a somewhat predictable Ric Flair interference ending. Apparently Flair never actually grabs Charlotte, but it looks like he does so Natalya turns her attention, Charlotte roll up, Charlotte retains. With essentially the same ending as every Becky Lynch Charlotte match, and Charlotte still defending in a triple threat at Mania against Lynch and Sasha Banks, I’m at a loss as to what, if anything, this match will lead to. Best bet is that they needed at least one Diva’s match on the card (Carmella’s one punch in the previous match wasn’t enough) and so they gave Toronto a hometown (or at least home country) hero to fail against a heel champion. It’s an old formula, but with two ladies of that caliber, I’d watch that any day.
Brock Lesnar versus Luke Harper (with Bray Wyatt at ringside):
Not even at ringside, really, Bray Wyatt spends the match hanging out in the walkway, cowering away from Brock Lesnar like a scared little bitch. I was honestly under the impression that Bray Wyatt was going to take on the Beast in a 1 on 1 match. When Luke Harper did come down to the ring with Bray, I figured he’d be pacing around ringside, ready to interfere for a quick disqualification.
Instead, Harper and Wyatt are set to tag team against Lesnar in a 1 on 1 match (I don’t get it either). And when Brock takes a hold of Harper and starts playing with him the way my cat used to play with a small, not-quite-dead-yet-bird. A few standard suplexes later, Brock gets the pin as a seriously chicken-shit Bray watches on. This match means absolutely nothing going forward. All parties involved would have been better served if this match hadn’t taken place.
Sammi Zayne versus Stardust:
I mean, was Brock Lesnar not even in the co-main event? Despite Stardust being one of my favorite low carders of the moment, and Sammi Zayne putting on one of the best matches of the year thus far in his two out of three falls bout with Samoa Joe on NXT this past Wednesday, this match was a total dud.
There was absolutely nothing you would have missed if you decided to hit the bathroom or grab another beer before the main event…
Dean Ambrose versus HHH:
It’s hard to imagine anything drastic happening on a show that featured Stardust in the second to last match, but for at least twenty minutes we’re asked to suspend our disbelief and hope beyond hope that Dean Ambrose might actually pull off a major (I don’t want to say upset) unlikely surprise win. Both HHH and Ambrose start off slow, warming up the crowd as it begins a rather interesting “Let’s Go Ambrose! Triple H!” alternating chant.
The interesting turn in the match comes when Ambrose begins a cerebral game plan assaulting HHH’s left quad, the leg that was injured during the Game’s earlier career at the top of the roster. Dean takes a page out of his opponent’s playbook and continually zeroes in on that weak leg. HHH, for his part, uses a brutal, steady rhythm of hard hitting attacks, and the two trade momentum a couple of times leading into the end of the match. Ambrose’s elbow of the top rope looked especially painful for HHH’s noggin.
As the two wrestlers move to the outside and the announce table is prepped for a high spot, the crowd has clearly been worked into an elevated state of emotion. When, back in the ring, Dean Ambrose applies the Figure-Four-Leglock and then the Sharpshooter, Wrestlemania is, temporarily, forgotten. So much so that when Dean Ambrose hits a Dirty Deeds and pins HHH for a three count the crowd just about loses their minds.
Of course, Ambrose doesn’t really win. The ref waves the pinfall off, telling us that Ambrose’s foot was under the ropes. Dean is free to lose now, with the WWE Universe knowing that Ambrose could have/should have won. For the final sequence, Dean plays the martyr, first hitting a massive flying elbow off the top to the outside, then missing an elbow and sending his own body crashing through the announce table, then barely beating the ten count to re-enter the ring only to slide right into HHH’s Pedigree for the 3 count.
This match ended in just the way most people thought it would, with a clean win to keep HHH strong, but a nice false finish for Dean so that he doesn’t lose too much heat for his own Wrestlemania match. While this match completes a card that had absolutely zero impact on any storyline going forward, we still got one of the greatest champions in WWE history defend his title against a fan favorite with an impressive move set. After a broken table and a false finish that had every fan in the arena on their feet, this match was already better than the floor some fans believe the Wrestlemania main events may be, which is a hopeful sign.
The main even and the women’s title match alone give this card a passing grade (I wouldn’t say “great”, but “passing”). I’m left excited for Wrestlemania (although I’m already more excited for Wrestlemania 33 in Orlando), which is all this card was ever supposed to accomplish.