Road to Wrestlemania: WWE Roadblock 2016

 

WWE Roadblock

As WWE continues on the Road to the 32nd installment of the show of shows, Wrestlemania, in Dallas,Texas on April 3rd 2016, they present this WWE Network exclusive show titled WWE Roadblock from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

WWE Roadblock needs to deliver solid mic work and wrestling in the ring that will keep people interested going forward to Dallas at Wrestlemania.  I don’t expect any title changes, but I do hope that at least one feud gets advanced through story telling in the ring or on the mic.

Those are my immediate thoughts and reactions as I watch WWE Roadblock. Please read, comment and discuss.

 

New Day vs. League of Nations (Sheamus & Barrett)

New Day opens out to a thunderous pop from the raucous Toronto crowd.  New Day is proof that you can get over when you stick to your gimmick.  The crowd is into their pre match promo as they berate their opponents, the League of Nations, and hilariously unveil Booty-Os cereal.

Per Michael Cole, New Day has had a 202 day reign and have improved as a real tag team unit.

Kingston opens the match against Sheamus with some good back and forth action.  After some transitions and quick tags, New Day gets Barrett in the corner and stomps him over and over; a spot that’s reminiscent of the Andersons (gene and ole version).

In this match, New Day is clearly moving toward becoming character baby faces. The crowd is cheering everything they do.  Kingston takes all of the heat spots from Sheamus and Barrett before a hot tag to Big E.  He throws belly to Bella’s and lands a splash on Barrett before the heels take over the offense.

Kingston gets a tag and works Sheamus and after a heated exchange gets caught in the cloverleaf.

The action advances and Big E is pinned by Barrett after he delivers a thunderous unprotected super kick to the head but the referee is distracted by Xavier Woods.

Barrett turns his back then walks in to the Big Ending and gets the fall.

Analysis: In an era where the WWE clearly doesn’t value the tag team division or tag team wrestling in general, the New Day has managed to get the crowd into the match and the League of Nations did a good job of holing up their end as a heel tag team.

The other members of the League of Nations, Alberto Del Rio and Rusev, are not present and the announcers make no mention of their absence.  This is confusing and frustrating because they are presented as a stable on WWE TV.  The announcers could have played up their absence so that they could have built up a reason for a rematch or a reason to carry this mini feud if necessary at best.

The League of Nations comes off as in cohesive if two members of the group do not appear and the announcers don’t attempt to protect the stable dynamic.  This is unfortunate because the League of Nations started with some promise last December and they are on the Tokyo bullet train to mid card irrelevance if they are not booked better.  They lose a very good solid tag match with some good back and forth action.

The New Day, as I said earlier, are carrying the tag team titles and the division and I think they should continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  This is a solid opening match to start off WWE Roadblock.

 

Paul Heyman Promo Segment

Paul Heyman opens his promo with his trademark greeting, then proceeds to christen Toronto, Ontario, Canada as the new capital of Suplex City.  Paul Heyman tells the crowd that his client has decided to take revenge against Bray Wyatt.  He tells Wyatt he might as well join the Miami Heat and try to beat the Toronto Raptors.  He preaches and promises doom and gloom, F5s, and tortures in a way only Paul Heyman can.

Analysis: In the world of professional wrestling, no one cuts a promo better than Paul Heyman BAR NONE.

 

Chris Jericho vs Jack Swagger

Chris Jericho comes out to a roar from the hometown, Canada crowd.  He grabs the microphone and immediately established his heel persona by telling the crowd to shut up and blames the crowd for his heel turn.  He tells the crowd they had months to cheer for him but they chose to cheer for AJ Styles.

The crowd in turn responds with an AJ Styles chant.  He then tells the crowd they’re typical Canadians, a step behind the world, and always playing catch up.  He calls himself the greatest icon in the history of the country and when ‘We Want Bret’ chants breaks out, he says you’re never getting him again.  He tells the crowd Canada stinks and Toronto is the anus.  The crowd audibly chants asshole.

Chris Jericho stays in the microphone and gets his persona over as a heel.  Jack Swagger comes out to a cold reaction.  The match opens with an exchange of right hands.  Jericho runs out of the ring and takes over.  Jericho controls most of the offense throughout the match.

The crowd breaks out in ‘AJ Styles’ match to antagonize heel Jericho.  Swagger reverses a bulldog to briefly fire up, but gets the reaction from the crowd that’s similar to a toddler ordering a Happy Meal and not getting a toy.  He attempts and misses a Swagger bomb then gets nailed with a running bulldog by Chris Jericho.  Jericho misses a lionsault and Swagger nails a subsequent Swaggerbomb attempt but only gets a two count.

After some more back and forth action, Jericho nails an enzeguri and attempts a Codebreaker that’s countered into a power slam for a two count.  As the action advances he gets caught in the Patriot lock.  He manages to escape and trap Swagger in the Walks of Jericho for the submission win.

Analysis: There is no way Jericho loses to Jack Swagger.  Jericho is embroiled in one of the best booked feuds on WWE TV and Jack Swagger is cold French Fries.

 

NXT Tag Team Titles: The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy w/ Carmella

The challengers come out with a lot of charisma and you can’t teach that!  The call out the soft champs.  It’s amazing that the WWE Network is just over 2 years old and the entire arena is reacting to the challengers, the gimmick, and their catch phrases in such an organic fashion.

The current NXT champions come out and with their grizzled appearance and ring jackets that look like they stole them from the Minnesota Wrecking Crew of the 70s or Arn Anderson’s locker when Jim Crockett promotions was selling out the Omni in 1985.

Ed. Note: The Revival, American Alpha, and Doc Gallows and ‘Machine Gun’ Karl Anderson (on their way in from New Japan Pro Wrestling) will make the WWE tag team cupboard stacked in the next few months.

Dash opens up with Enzo with some wick back and forth spots before Big Cass enters the ring.  The 7 footer is impressive dropping Dash with a side suplex.  The challengers show some impressive team offense punctuated with the Air Enzo when Big Cass launches Enzo over the top over on the waiting champions out of the ring.

The champions whether the storm and take over on Enzo and working the arm Anderson style. There are frequent tags and great ring psychology because they constantly working the left arm of Enzo.  If you haven’t seen the revival wrestle yet, pull up an Ole and Arn tag match and imagine 2016 and then there you have it.

Dawson and Dash are straight forward and aggressive with basic offense on Enzo kicks, punches, body slams and shoulder blocks they cut the ring of fans put the heat on.  Dawson misses a shoulder block and Enzo gives a hope talk to Big Cass. Cass gets in and lands the baby face comeback.  He lands the East River Plunge and attempts the rocket launcher finish.

This match continues to go back and forth with frequent tags on both sides.  The Revival manages to win with the Shatter Machine.

Analysis: This was a very good tag team match.  The Revival is an amazing team.  The 2016 Andersons are worth a look every Wednesday night on NXT on the Network.

 

WWE Divas Title: Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya

These two divas will not have a bad match.  They were both born in the business and know how to work in the ring.  Natalya dedicates the match to her uncle Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart.  This match is a solidly worked match with a lot of good chain wrestling from both wrestlers.  The match really picks up when Charlotte nails the Natural Selection neck breaker on Natalya and gets a two count. She then lands a suplex.  Natalya counters into a power bomb and gets a two.  Both wrestlers are down in the middle of the ring and Natalya goes for a Sharpshooter.  Charlotte counters then Natalya counters in a sharpshooter.  Charlotte grabs the hands of Ric Flair and Flair jumps on the apron.  Natalya takes a swing at the two time Hall of Famer, then Charlotte rolls up Natalya with her feet on the ropes to steal a win.

Analysis: These two wrestlers will always deliver a solid match.  There was no chance of a title change three weeks from Wrestlemania in Dallas.  Charlotte continues to build equity in her heel run with a stolen win.

 

Brock Leanar w/Paul Heyman vs. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper

Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper come out and Wyatt puts over Lesnar as a threat and promises to stab the sword into the Beast. Brock Lesnar comes out billed as “The Bray Bashing Harper Smashing Night Mayor of Suplex City’ Brock Lesnar.  The match starts out quickly with Lesnar landing shoulder blocks and a thunderous German suplex on Harper.  Harper rolls out of the ring and Lesnar follows him.  Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper takes over the offense on Lesnar. Harper lands a discus clothesline for a two. Harper continues the offense and Lesnar counters on Harper and lands a total of eight total German suplexes.  He stares at Bray Wyatt, then F5’s Harper for the finish.

Analysis: Lesnar is booked in a street fight against Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania and he needed to look strong enroute to Dallas.  He seems to blow off his mini feud with the Wyatts that had its Genesis at the Royal Rumble but does he really?  He never gets physical with Bray Wyatt during the match which means WWE creative can potentially go back down this road at some other time if they choose to.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they revisit this feud after Wrestlemania.

 

Sami Zayn vs. Stardust

Zayn comes out to the approval of his hometown Canada crowd.  As he walks to the ring, the announcers immediately mention his frenemy relationship with current WWE Intercontinental Champion, Kevin Owens.  They also mention his desire for Zayn to have a title opportunity.

 

Cody Rhodes controls the pace and tempo of the match. He controls the offense, eventually putting Zayn in a modified Boston Crab.  He lands a side slam and four consecutive pin attempts lands four two counts. Stardust eventually lands a super pled for a two count.  Zayn retakes control of the match, landing punches and eventually dumping Stardust to the floor and following him out with a sunset plancha.  He lands a Blue Thunder Bomb and gets a two.  A chain wrestling spot leads to Zayn countering the Queens crossbow into a disaster kick and getting a close two count on Zayn.  The action advances and Zayn suplexes Stardust into the corner and nails an Olè Kick for the pitfall finish.

 

Analysis: Zayn has just gotten his call up to the main roster and has a readymade Wrestlemania foe in Kevin Owens.  He needs to be kept strong until Dallas and this match advances that goal.  He was supposed to win and he did.  So far, WWE Roadblock offers no surprises here.

 

 

Main Event: WWE World Title Match Triple H(c) vs. Dean Ambrose

Triple H takes control after a lockup, standing switch shoulder block.  He is in great physical shape.  Lockup and arm lock by Triple H into a hammerlock.  Triple H is a ring general.  This is a slower paced build this far throughout the match.  The slower pace allows the suspense to build.  Triple H works Ambrose over with right hands Ambrose then retakes control and starts to target the quad muscle of Triple H.  The same quad that Triple H infamously tore in 2001.  All of his offense, punches, kicks and strikes target the quad.

 

Triple H manages to regain control when he countered a double leg takedown and kicks Ambrose into the steps.  He then puts Ambrose in a front suplex position and drops Ambrose over the guard rail and rolls back into the ring.  Once the two combatants enter the ring, Triple H works over his foe with power offense followed by a crippler cross face and arm stretch from the ground.  Ambrose attempts a comeback but is countered by a spine buster for a two count.

 

Triple H tries to take it to the top and Ambrose counters with an elbow drop on a standing Triple H.  They trade rights with Ambrose winning the exchange, then mounting striking offense, a running Bulldog, and pin for a two count.  Ambrose drives Triple H into the corner and hits him with 6 top rope punches.  Triple H counters and goes for a pedigree but Ambrose counters with a victory roll that yields him a 2 count.  Ambrose attempts a dirty deeds and is blocked.  He then lands a spinning clothesline and gets a two.  With both men on opposite sides of the ring, Ambrose charges Triple H and is hit with a clothesline for his trouble.  The back and forth action ensues, and Triple H attempts another pedigree and it’s countered into a figure four leg lock.  Another chain sequence is punctuated with a sharpshooter attempt to the delight of the Canada crowd.  Ambrose keeps walking his foe back to the middle of the ring and Triple H does a great job selling the damage.  Ambrose hits ‘Dirty Deeds’ and pins the champion for a 1-2-3 but the ref recognizes Ambrose’s leg under the rope and while Ambrose tries to protest, the wily veteran low blows Ambrose.  Ambrose regains control and nails triple H with a flying ax handle on the outside.  Ambrose attempts an elbow drop with a waiting Triple H on the announcers table and the challenger misses.  Triple H tries to win via count out but Ambrose beats the count at 9 but waltzes into a pedigree and does the job for the champion.

 

Analysis: This was an absolutely excellent match.  The original pin attempt that almost had Triple H protects Ambrose and puts him in a position to have a valid reason to get another crack at Triple H down the road.  Triple H and Ambrose have quietly built a feud that works on several levels.  They were the last two in the Royal Rumble, Ambrose is Reigns’ brother, and the natural dissection for the Authority.  This match can build that story even more going toward Wrestlemania or they can revisit it later.  Triple H keeps the title going down the road to Dallas and he has heel heat and Ambrose has sympathy.  The show ends with Triple H still the WWE World Champion.  The psychology, pacing, and the way that Triple H used his finish only once was very well done.  WWE Roadblock produced a good championship match.

 

Final Show Analysis: Overall, WWE Roadblock was a very solid wrestling show.  Like I said in the beginning, I didn’t expect any big movement because we are close to WrestleMania.

 

The stars that are already booked in prominent positions for the big show got wins, no titles changed hands, and prominent pieces like Ambrose who lost were protected.

 

Final Grade: B

 

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Road to Wrestlemania: Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker

The Bumpy Road to WrestleMania 32 So Far

 

The Vincent J McMahon Legacy of Excellence award had been built up as a major award on WWE television throughout the month of February.  The weeks of continuous build, in the form of vignettes, displaying the prestigious award named after the second generation promoter and father of current WWE owner, Vincent K. McMahon, and constant product hawking announcer, WWE RAW Michael Cole, culminated on Monday Night RAW on February 22nd, 2016, the day after WWE Fastlane from Detroit.

“My dad was a very cunning businessman, but he was very kind.  He had a very warm heart and he was a very generous person.  The person that we honor tonight has those qualities”

says Vincent K. McMahon.  

The winner of the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence would end up being Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon’s daughter and perennial heel character.  As Stephanie McMahon prepares to give a lengthy acceptance speech, “Here Comes The Money”, the theme song of the prodigal son Shane McMahon blares from the speakers and he makes his first appearance on WWE television in almost seven years.

Shane, looking at his younger sister, tells her,

“you and your husband have been running this company into the ground lets take a few indicators lets look at the stock, the ratings, lets take a look at the plethora of talent injuries all under your watch.”

All great wrestling promos are rooted in some form of truth and Shane McMahon acknowledges legitimate struggles that WWE as a company has been facing as of late.  

“Several years ago, your father messed up big time and who was there to save the day? Me!”

says Shane McMahon.
Shane goes on to tell Stephanie that he never lost his place in line in the McMahon wrestling monarchy.  Shane then clearly states his intentions.  He wants control of Monday Night Raw.  Vince McMahon says that he will grant his only son’s request and give him what he wants as long as he defeats the Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas,Texas on Sunday April 3rd, 2016.

Shane McMcMahon is not an active pro wrestler.  To say that he has not appeared in a WWE ring in quite some time is an understatement.  The Undertaker boasts a 22-1 record at pro wrestling’s Super Bowl, and despite appearing sporadically on WWE TV over the last six years he has had more ring time than Shane McMahon.  

Shane McMahon did allude to injuries in his opening promo, but at this writing we are 26 days away from WrestleMania and I am not sure why this match is important besides the WWE marketing machine telling me it is.  

Is the Undertaker now aligned with the McMahon fueled Authority?  Is the Undertaker a heel?  Why would the Undertaker be willing to take a match against Shane McMahon?  With regards to Shane, what did he bail Vince McMahon out of?  Does the WWE forget that WWE fans watched Survivor Series 2014 where they attached a stipulation that the Authority would vanish only to return three weeks later. The most important question is does the Undertaker do a job for Shane McMahon?

The following week on Leap Day Raw, the Undertaker confirms that he will face Shane McMahon at the Show of Shows and tells Vince McMahon that Shane McMahon’s blood will be on Vince’s hands and not his.  While it was good to see the Undertaker make the appearance on RAW it still a tricky proposition because for a match that is prominently displayed on the marquee at this stage in the build for this match leads to more questions going to Texas as opposed to definitive answers as we hit bumps on the road to WrestleMania.

 

Stay Tuned As we look at the build toward this match, Wrestlemania  and a lot more in the world of the Squared Circle!     

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