WWE – Roadblock: End Of The Line 2016 (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 168 minutes approx.
This DVD only release covers the final PPV event of 2016 for the WWE featuring the RAW brand. The reason this event has the suffix “End Of The Line” is to avoid any confusion with the WWE Network only show from February 2016 also called Roadblock, although why they couldn’t just wait a few more months before holding another show called Roadblock…
Whether this show was absolutely necessary or not is open to debate, notwithstanding the brand wars involving each roster having their own shows, which would have put Smackdown up by one. But with RAW being the “flagship” TV show in the eyes of Vince McSenile, you can figure out the distorted rationale for yourself.
Meanwhile the top matches on this card are rematches from previous PPVs and RAW itself, including the (alleged) final chapter in the long running Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks feud and the Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho program, which has already dominated RAW TV main events in numerous iterations ahead of this show.
Taking place on December 18th at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before 8,000 fans, our commentators are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results, expect plenty of opinion.
WWE RAW Tag Title Match – The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
The New Day are now officially the longest reigning “WWE” tag champs, at this point at 483 days, beating previous holders Demolition because of petty politics. Whether you find the New Day still entertaining or not, a change in champions was more than overdue. Having already challenged for the titles before at Hell In A Cell, the odd couple team of Sheamus and Cesaro actually they enter this match with a load of momentum.
It was kept relatively short for a title match – around 10 minutes – but was all action with Cesaro in particular firing on all cylinders. Big E and Kofi Kingston worked the match for the champs, with Xavier Woods throwing in his two pence worth here and there. Solid, fast-paced bout which boasts a very inventive finish that I am surprised hasn’t been used before. Good opener with some nice heat.
Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman
The stipulation for this match is that Zayn has to survive ten minutes with Strowman after RAW GM Mick Foley stopped a previous match between them due to Sami taking a helluvabeating. This annoyed Sami who demanded a rematch but Foley kept refusing because he didn’t think he was up to it, which is just the sort of encouragement an employee wants from their boss.
Foley eventually revealed he was pushing Zayn’s buttons to find that killer instinct inside him and granted the match. Because of this stipulation, there wasn’t much to this aside from Strowman throwing Sami around until Foley showed up a few minutes from the end to make this whole angle even more nonsensical. A waste of both guys here.
Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins
As alluded to in the introduction, it is a little hard to be enthused about this match having already seen it or a permutation of it on RAW almost every week since Survivor Series, as supporting characters in the Owens and Reigns feud, which originally began as Rollins vs. Owens!
But both guys are good workers with styles that complement each other so at least we are assured a good match from which we got, although it never really got into second gear. The crowd was largely dead as a result but the problem is that it was part of a bigger picture so once the McBooking made its presence known in the final stretch the match felt less important.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Triple Threat Match – Rich Swann (c) vs. T.J Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick
The Cruiserweight title has only been in existence since September 14th 2016 and Swann at this point was already the third champion! He beat Kendrick on the cruiser exclusive show 205 Live then after a rematch match the next week, Kendrick attacked Perkins who was on commentary leading to a three-way brawl and this triple threat match.
If proof was ever needed that Vince once again doesn’t give a hoot about this division, this match only went 6 minutes when it could have stolen the show. And they wonder why the fans don’t care about the Cruisers. The big story however is what occurred after the match when a surprise return with even more surprising actions elicited the wrong reaction from the fans but at least woke them up!
WWE RAW Women’s Title 30-Minute Iron Man Match – Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Apparently calling this an Iron “Woman” match would have nullified the idea of treating female wrestlers the same as the men or whatever sophistry they spun for this. Anyway, this was supposed to be the “end of the line” for this feud and with Sasha having regained the belt from Charlotte on RAW in a great Falls Count Anywhere match.
The ladies worked their behinds off as ever, with Sasha bleeding from the mouth and nose, but it took a while for the crowd to get into it since the first fall came quite late into the match. Unfortunately, despite the tremendous effort of the women, along comes the bizarre McBooking to ruin the psychology since they applied it to the wrong wrestler. Great match if you can get over the stupidity of the finish.
WWE Universal Title Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns is the US champ but that fact has been conveniently forgotten while other wrestlers are forced to relinquish their belts for the slightest thing under the infamously flexible 30-day defence rule. A win here would therefore make Reigns a double champion but Owens has been great as Universal champ so feeding him to Reigns would be counterproductive at best.
Match was solid but too long, with Owens throwing everything he can at Reigns but again the McBooking left things to end on a sour note, completing a show long storyline involving Chris Jericho which they have done before on RAW revealing the laziness of the “creative” and another psychologically backwards post-match scenario, designed to send the fans home happy but logically was flawed, not to mention backfired since the fans hate Reigns.
In lieu of being the final PPV show of the year, Roadblock stands as a throwaway show and exemplifies the folly of holding too many PPVs in one year. The WWE Network has afforded the company a platform to do this with or without regular PPV carriers (at least in the US) being a concern, especially in terms of fans’ expenditure, but it seems the hubris about over saturating your product still hasn’t sunk in.
This also extends to how much it stretches the creative end too thinly, even with two separate teams working on both shows (Vince oversees both but favours RAW). A lot of the matches on this card could have realistically waited for the Royal Rumble in January to give them time for a proper build on TV, but with some feuds being long running ones (Charlotte vs. Sasha) it was time to end them.
Whilst as ever the effort was there on behalf of the wrestlers, it is once again the creative end that remains the issue, either in over thinking the stipulations (Zayn vs. Strowman) or being too protective of the company favourites (Charlotte, Reigns). In the case of the women’s match, Vince reportedly intended for the fans to be upset at the result – job done I’d say but for the wrong reasons.
As ever, the desperation in getting Reigns accepted as the next company ace continues to be a battle of wills, meaning further reliance on McBooking to keep him strong. Of course, this is why Reigns is rejected in the first place, and why his heel opponents suffer more instead, just as they would be if they were fed to John Cena. The main event and the aftermath is Exhibit A of this.
Best Match – Despite the illogical finish, Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair.
Roadblock Kick Off Show Match – Big Cass vs. Rusev
Rating – **
Man In Black