The last WWE pay-per-view of 2016 took place Sunday night as the Raw brand presented Roadblock: End of the Line. It was a night that saw two titles change hands, a women’s match that went over 30 minutes, best friends reunited, a shocking heel turn and a Pittsburgh crowd that didn’t seem too excited about any of it.
I think there was some fatigue going into the show in terms of the crowd reaction. I write about WWE for a living, yet here I am talking about a pay-per-view for the third time in the last month since there was Survivor Series on Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. We aren’t paying that much money for it since WWE Network is very affordable, but there’s so much WWE content out there now that it’s hard to get that excited for anything anymore. The good thing is that the Royal Rumble takes place on Jan. 29, which will give us over one month to get hyped up about one of the most important shows over the year.
The crowd was inconsistent for most of the night. There were times when they got up, but for the most part they didn’t seem to care about most of what was happening in the ring.
There was a lot to digest at Roadblock, so here’s a look at the show in the order that the matches took places.
Rusev defeated Big Cass by countout (Kickoff Match)
What a mess to start off the show. The Kickoff Match should be something exciting to get the crowd into the show. Instead, we got a five-minute match that had a one-minute break so they could advertise WWE Network again. Rusev went into the crowd, got back over the barricade, hit Enzo Amore with a clothesline to the back of the head and poor Cass was too dumb to get back in the ring so he was counted out.
WWE announced that they are doing the match again on Raw. Hopefully, it is not booked as badly as this was because it was awful.
Sheamus & Cesaro defeated The New Day’s Big E & Kingston to win the Raw Tag Team Titles
This past Monday’s Raw was a celebration of New Day having the longest Tag Team Title reign in WWE history. They were sitting at 483 days going into Roadblock and now they are no longer the champs.
I loved this match. It was only about 12 minutes long and four matches were longer, but they made the most of their time given, unlike the other bouts. The pacing of a match is so important. We don’t need somebody being worked on for 10 minutes just to build up the hot tag. It was a fast-paced tag match with so many believable near-falls that drew the best reactions of the night.
A common theme during a lot of New Day title defenses is that they would cheat to win matches, even though they have been faces since March. They tried to do it again as Xavier Woods jumped on the apron while Kofi Kingston was tapping out to a Sharpshooter. The ref never saw the tap out, so it gave New Day another chance. I liked another near-fall spot where Big E hit his Big Ending finisher after a Woods kick to the face and it only got a two-count, even though it could have easily been the finish.
The finish was well done. It looked like Sheamus was going to tag in Cesaro, but Cesaro jumped into the ring before the tag and Kingston dropped him with the Trouble in Paradise kick. Kingston thought he was legal, went for a cover and Sheamus capitalized with a tight cover for the win. Cesaro hugged New Day after the match since he’s a face just like them, while Sheamus celebrated with the titles.
It was the only match prediction I got wrong on the show. The title change didn’t surprise me at all. I just thought New Day might survive another title defense. I’m interested in seeing if New Day ends up splitting in the next few months or if the act continues.
Sami Zayn survived 10 minutes against Braun Strowman
This was a match with a unique stipulation where Zayn only had to survive 10 minutes. Strowman was on offense for the majority of the match. The pace was really slow because of Strowman’s limited offense. With about three minutes left, the Raw GM Mick Foley showed up with a white towel. Zayn grabbed it and threw it into the crowd to prevent Foley from ending the match. Zayn avoided multiple charging attempts from Strowman and even got a near-fall, but Strowman powered out of the pin. The match ended after Zayn hit the Helluva Kick as the 10-minute time limit expired.
I’m glad that Zayn survived, but I don’t know if it’s going to make him a bigger star. They’ll probably have a regular match soon with Strowman winning. When that happens, it will hurt Zayn, so I’m interested in seeing what’s next.
Seth Rollins defeated Chris Jericho
This felt like a Raw main event match that was given around 15 minutes with the obvious ending of Rollins winning clean with a Pedigree. Since Rollins was screwed out of the Universal Title by Jericho multiple times, this was his way to get revenge. Jericho came close to winning a few times, but the crowd never really believed he had a shot. We all know Jericho’s just a veteran who’s there to put over the younger guys.
There was a bit of a storyline with Kevin Owens showing up to try to help Jericho, but he distracted the ref while Jericho had a cradle attempt. Jericho was mad at Owens about it. Rollins followed up with a Pedigree for the win shortly after that. It was a good midcard match and nothing more.
Rich Swann defeated Brian Kendrick and T.J. Perkins to retain the Cruiserweight Championship
Like the match before it, the match was obvious. Swann got the win after about seven minutes of action in a match with a dead crowd that didn’t think either challenger was going to beat Swann the champion. He won with a spinning back kick on Perkins.
The most interesting thing happened after the match when a bearded Neville showed up, attacked Swann and Perkins and stood over them as if he was targeting them. I loved the attack from Neville because he has been a forgotten man since the brand split started five months ago. He’s too good to not have a role.
Now it looks like he’ll be a heel challenger for Swann, which is fine with me. I’m glad he’s back in the picture.
Charlotte Flair defeated Sasha Banks to win the Raw Women’s Championship in an Iron Man Match
I enjoyed this 35-minute match that was apparently the end of WWE’s longest rivalry of 2016. However, I don’t think it was their best match and I don’t think the booking of the match was that compelling. The crowd likely agreed with me on that because they were dead quiet for the majority of it.
There were no falls until the 19-minute mark when Charlotte hit a Natural Selection off the ropes. Banks came back with a sloppy rollup a few minutes later. With about five minutes left, Banks earned a submission fall, thanks to the Bank Statement.
It was weird seeing the heel Charlotte trying to come back from being down 2-1, but she managed to make Banks tap out to a Figure Four Leglock with just two seconds left. I hated that fall so much. The crowd was chanting down to help Banks hold on, yet Banks tapped out. If she held on for two seconds, she would have won the match to end the feud. Instead, she looks stupid because she tapped out. They should have done that fall with 30-45 seconds left, so at least Banks isn’t made to look bad.
The match went into overtime with Banks still hurting from the long Figure Four Leglock. Banks also was dealing with a bloody nose that covered most of her face. Banks got a couple of near-fall attempts, but she was still hurting. Charlotte applied the Figure Eight submission, Banks tapped out and Charlotte won the match after about 35 minutes.
The win improved Charlotte’s PPV record to 18-2 overall and 15-0 in singles matches. It also means that Charlotte is a four-time Women’s Champion while Banks has three reigns. This was the sixth title change since Banks won it for the first time in late July.
Now that the feud is over since they have said there’s no rematch, I thought most of the matches were very good, but six title changes in five months is ridiculous. I get that they want to build up Charlotte being undefeated in PPV title matches, but I think part of the reason the crowd was dead for a lot of it is because they did the match too often. It’s still one of the best feuds of the year.
Kevin Owens defeated Roman Reigns by disqualification
Reigns and Owens had a good match, but it didn’t feel like a PPV main event match that we’re going to remember long after the show is over. They worked hard, had some big spots in the match — like when Owens had to hit the Frog Splash on a table twice to break it — but it went a little long at 25 minutes. If they shaved off 10 minutes before going into the finish with Chris Jericho’s involvement, then it probably would have been a better match.
Jericho’s involvement was predictable, as well as something that has happened during Owens’ other PPV title defenses. I hate how repetitive it felt, but it didn’t surprise me.
This is what I wrote in my preview here at The Comeback on Friday:
“I think Jericho is going to factor into the finish. I know that the story has been that Owens has had problems with Jericho, but we know heels are crafty and they lie. Maybe all of it has been a swerve just to throw off Reigns and Rollins. They can still have Jericho show up at ringside, tease the idea that he’s going to cost Owens or something of that sort and then do something behind the ref’s back leading to an Owens victory. They can still have the Owens/Jericho split happen in January leading to a match between them.”
I was pretty close with that prediction. It ended up with Jericho hitting the Codebreaker on Owens to give Owens the win by disqualification. That’s typical WWE booking where they don’t want to pin the face and the heel finds a way to escape with a title. I still think the split is coming too.
After the match was over, Jericho and Owens hugged it out to show that they were still best friends. Jericho pretended to be mad at Owens to fool people. They were about to leave when Rollins showed up to prevent them from getting away. Reigns hit a Spear on Owens and Rollins hit a Pedigree on Jericho.
Reigns and Rollins put Jericho with a Powerbomb through the announce table at ringside. Owens tried to get away, but Reigns and Rollins stopped him. They put him through the English announce table with a Powerbomb by the stage. It was just a way to have the good guys stand tall at the end, although Reigns was booed so much that you would think he was a bad guy.
Since the Royal Rumble is over a month away, they will have a long time to build up KO’s next opponent. It could be a triple threat against Rollins and Reigns, although I think both of them will be in the Rumble match. Perhaps the Jericho turn will happen leading to him challenging Owens at the Rumble. I’m not sure what the direction is other than a likely Reigns/Rollins vs. Owens/Jericho tag match on Raw at some point.
Raw has been a stagnant, boring show for much of the year. A big reason for that is because the booking isn’t that fresh or exciting. It’s the same story over and over. Owens is the champion who can never win on his own, the faces can’t seem to lose in a clean way and it does more harm than good.
Roadblock: End of the Line was an example of what’s good about Raw (the in-ring action) and what’s bad about Raw (the booking). It was a slightly above-average show that felt like an episode of Raw without the usual promos. If you watched Raw regularly in 2016, then you know that there’s rarely anything big that happens and if you stopped watching for one month, you likely wouldn’t miss anything.
I recommend that you check out the tag title change because it was awesome. The matches were good in terms of their work, but in terms of exciting moments, I feel like the show definitely missed that. Other than that, everything else was predictable, so it’s up to you to decide if you have the time to watch it all.
The next WWE pay-per-view event is the Royal Rumble on Jan. 29. It takes place at San Antonio’s Alamodome, which should seat 50,000 or more people if WWE can sell that many tickets. I’ll be back Tuesday for Raw.