The final show of the year with enough titles for two wholly separate shows; its time to talk about WWE Roadblock: Endo of the Line!
Emanating from Pittsburgh, PA
Announcers: Byron Saxton, Michael Cole, Corey Graves
RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP- THE NEW DAY (c) vs. CESARO & SHEAMUS
SAMI ZAYN vs. BRAUN STROWMAN- ZAYN HAS TO SURVIVE FOR 10 MINUTES TO WIN
SETH ROLLINS vs. CHRIS JERICHO
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP- RICH SWANN (c) vs. THE BRIAN KENDRICK vs. TJ PERKINS
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP- CHARLOTTE vs. SASHA BANKS (c)- 30 MINUTE IRON-MAN MATCH
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP- KEVIN OWENS (c) vs. ROMAN REIGNS
WARNING: MATCH SPOILERS AHEAD, Y’ALL BEEN WARNED SON
Well, its time to bid farewell to 2016. In just two short weeks, we will have emerged from 2016’s long, grim shadow into 2017. For WWE, they’re closing the year out with the last RAW exclusive show of 2016, Roadblock: End of the Line (aptly titled). And as we cross this finish line, one has to wonder, was it worth reaching at all?
As is par for the course for me lately with WWE, I almost forgot this show was happening at all. With there being such an obscene deluge of WWE-branded programming these days, all these shows are beginning to bleed together and feel more than a little pointless. I mean really, what was actually gonna happen at Roadblock with so many bigger shows on the horizon?
Well as it turns out, a couple of fairly notable things happened at Roadblock, and they went some of the way toward making the show more interesting than it initially promised to be. It certainly kicked off the right way with the RAW Tag Team Championship match, which would also happen to be the Match of the Night (in this critic’s humble opinion). The New Day and Cesaro & Sheamus work with each other better each and every week, and this match was the culmination of that work ethic into a thrilling, high-energy bout that electrified the crowd. The match electrified the crowd almost as much as Cesaro & Sheamus’s surprise title win. Paired with the inventive and smart finish, it made for the moment of the night. While it also meant the end of the New Day’s record title run, it might be for the best, as now The New Day can be refocused and shake off some of the stale feeling they’ve been beginning to accumulate. Zayn vs. Strowman, while nowhere near as strong a bout, told an excellent story: weeks of Sami Zayn being booked as a frustrated underdog denied opportunities to prove himself amounted to a wonderful performance that sold Sami’s guts and heart, while keeping Strowman’s monster cred intact, and will likely elevate both men massively in the coming months.
Despite the strong opening, the middle segment of the show proved to be something of a lull. While Rollins v. Jericho wasn’t a bad match by any means, the whole affair just felt like it was treading water until the inevitable finish, which saw Kevin Owens’ failed interference cost Jericho the match and furthering their break-up angle. The fact that this match felt like it existed more to further an angle made it hard to invest into what was going on in the match, since where was going was so obvious. The unfortunate low-point of the show was the Cruiserweight Championship match, where once again the crowd was completely unengaged with the match and seemingly had no interest in it whatsoever. The fact that Neville’s surprise return and heel turn got the biggest reaction of anything in the match itself is not nearly as troubling as the “Thank You Neville” chants he received for beating the high holy shit out of everyone involved. While Neville joining the division is a smart move, the fact that he was the only guy to get any kind of proper reaction speaks to what dire straits the Cruiserweight division finds itself in right now in terms of audience investment.
So that of course brings us to the two big title matches of the night. The Iron-man (Iron-woman?) match was the exact kind of high quality bout one has come to expect from Charlotte and Sasha Banks, one filled with drama, spectacular athleticism and excellent wrestling. The excellence of the women’s selling in this match was great reminder of how valuable good selling is, and it added greatly to the impact of the match. Of course, I was frustrated by Charlotte’s eventual win: on the one hand, it might just be that I really wanted Sasha to win, but on the other had, I’m just tired of titles getting constantly hot-potatoed around. The pattern of this with Charlotte and Sasha is particularly vexing in that regard, and to see it repeated here was a slight tarnish on a match that was otherwise gold.
The Universal Title match was a solid bout as well, with the drama of the tragic Jericho/Owens break-up hanging over the match throughout. Though again, with the earlier Rollins/Jericho match, it did make the whole feel like an exercise in waiting for an obvious finish. Speaking of, I’m a bit mixed on it: while Jericho and Owens’ feud turning out to be a ruse was a welcome surprise, the fact that it meant a DQ finish to the main event was aggravating. Rollins and Reigns’ brutal post-match beat down of Owens and Jericho did little to alleviate that feeling, and really failed to generate the kind of positive reaction it should have, since this whole angle has actually made Owens and Jericho insanely sympathetic, while Rollins (and especially Reigns), just feel like unwelcome interlopers. Also, this feud as a whole has been frustrating due to how much it has marginalized the US tile, which felt like an afterthought the entire match. Funny though it was, Owens basically lamp shading this point during the match did not help matters. And I imagine this has already been said a squillion times at this point, but Roman really needs a new direction and he needs it now, because every new attempt to get him over is killing him stone dead.
Roadblock is a difficult show to gauge. While it certainly had its strong points, and two genuinely excellent matches, the show as a whole just had a very “blah” feeling to it, and entirely too many telltale signs being of more of a transitional show to the upcoming Wrestlemania season. Check out the Tag Title Match and the Women’s Title match if that tickles your fancy, otherwise you can probably skip the rest.