After what seemed like 100 PPV events this year, WWE wrapped up their special event showcases with Roadblock: End of the Line. The show ended up being a solid culmination of all that is good and bad in the company, and while the future is bright, there are many troubling questions going forward. With that said, onto the matches.
Match 1: The New Day (Champions) v. Cesaro and Sheamus for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
With The New Day finally making the record for longest tag team title reign, it made sense that this was the time for them to lose the titles. I was surprised it was Cesaro and Sheamus, but after the back half of the year these two have had, I can’t say I’m upset with the decision. This was a very strong match, with Cesaro being an absolute ball of fire, and a series of near falls that really pulled you into believing The New Day would retain the titles again. Cesaro and Sheamus have great chemistry, and the partner at odds role they’re playing will be nice for a short run with the title before they turn on each other, but the big question for me is; what will happen to The New Day. All three of these guys could conceivably branch off into strong singles runs, but if I had to guess, one will leave while the others stay as a team. I don’t think this is the end for The New Day, but this may be coming up on a change in the structure of the team, and, if I had to guess who is going to branch out on their own, I’d guess Big E, as he’s the strongest in ring. That’s to take nothing away from Woods or Kofi, who are also strong, but Big E seems closer to the whole package. That said, it’s been a great and historic run for the team.
Winners and New Tag Team Champions: Cesaro and Sheamus
Match 2: Sami Zayn v. Braun Strowman with a 10 Minute Time Limit
It’s hard to judge this match, as the whole point was just to see if Zayn could last 10 minutes with Strowman, who has been squashing everyone in under 2. With Zayn’s history, it was hard to believe he wouldn’t, and the interplay of Foley coming down to possibly throw in the towel, only to be stopped by Zayn, kept the tension of the match interesting. Other than that, it was mostly Strowman beating up Zayn until the last 30 seconds or so, where Zayn actually looked like he could’ve gotten a pin on him. With that, it’s looking like these two will actually have a match in the future, hopefully with Zayn putting in some offense. The biggest takeaway for this whole angle for me was the notion of trading Zayn to Smackdown. While this was just a macguffin, the idea is interesting, as it puts Zayn onto a platform that could launch him into the spotlight, as Smackdown desperately needs babyface main eventers, and it separates him from Owens, who seems to dictate Zayn’s future (as in he makes Zayn more important when he’s feuding with him). As long as Zayn is on Raw, I’m all for him getting big wins, so I hope he continues to look strong
Winner: Sami Zayn (Lasted 10 Minutes)
Match 3: Seth Rollins v. Chris Jericho
The whole night was dominated by the split of the friendship of Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, and this match, while very solid and fun, became somewhat of a vehicle for it. Before Owen’s made his presence known, Rollins and Jericho had a nice back and forth, as Rollins seems to be exactly like Jericho circa 1999. Jericho continues to prove that he still has the technical knowhow, and, while he’s slowed down a little, his ring psychology and heel work hasn’t missed a beat, and that makes every match he’s in (that isn’t marred by a bad gimmick) entertaining. For Rollins, we know he’s in the top 2 of guys on the Raw roster, and this feud gave him a nice position to maintain that dominance with an opponent that made him look great. Rollins appears to be amping up his aerial offense as he becomes more of a babyface, and it only makes his previously strong matches even better. When Owens came down to try to help Jericho sneak out a win, it was obvious that he was going to cost him, and that’s exactly what happened. Even though it went according to a predictable script, it was a damn entertaining match.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Match 4: Rich Swann (Champion) v. TJ Perkins v. The Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
The Cruiserweight division continues to struggle for crowd support here, as the move to it’s own show has done little to garner excitement from the live crowds. That said, this match seemingly had the opportunity to blow the doors off, as Swann is a crazy athletic and spot heavy wrestler, Kendrick is a strong heel, and TJ can work off his opponents well, if they are strong. Sadly, this match was both quick and forgettable. While Swann hit some nice spots, it still seemed subdued, which has been a problem for this division’s PPV matches. Swann pulled out the win, but the big story was the returning Neville, now sporting a full beard, and his quick and devastating turn on Swann and TJ. He lays waste to the two, and left the ring with a strong, very capable heel now in line. With Neville proving himself with his NXT work, I cannot wait to see what he can do with Swann, and the mean streak will do him well in character development.
Winner and Still WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Rich Swann
Match 5: Sasha Banks (Champion) v. Charlotte in a 30-Minute Ironman Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
After a lengthy and legendary feud Charlotte and Sasha Banks put everything on the line in this Ironman match, which was absolutely the most anticipated match of the night for me. These two put on their usual incredible show, and while this wasn’t their strongest performance, I think the 30 minute time limit had them moving a little slow at the start, it was very compelling start to finish, and the final 5 or so minutes were incredible. With Sasha up 2-1, Charlotte went after Sasha’s knees hard, and, with 3 seconds left, managed to force Sasha to tap to send the match into sudden death OT. In a moment that summed up their entire feud, the end of the match came with Sasha locked in the figure four, desperately reaching for the ropes which were inches away from her grasp. With Charlotte pulling out the grueling win, and this seemingly being the end of the feud for now, I’m left with a few fears, but optimism. Firstly, Charlotte might be the strongest character on the Raw roster, right up there with Owens, and while she’s an incredible Women’s champ, WWE has lightning in a bottle, and should think about pushing her toward the US belt. In terms of Sasha, I am genuinely concerned with Raw’s inability to grow any undercard feuds in the Women’s division, and I hope she doesn’t flounder. That said, if we can get good matches with the likes of a returning Emma, proven in NXT, and a possibly debuting (hopefully soon) Asuka, we should be squared away. All in all, we very well may look back on this feud in the same vain as Rock/Austin or HHH/Rock, and it was one of the best things about professional wrestling in 2016.
Winner and New Women’s Champion: Charlotte
Match 7: Kevin Owens (Champion) v. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship
When it comes to Roman Reigns, I tend to be in his corner more often than not, but I knew something was going to be off when he came out to one of the largest boos in recent memory. Putting my, and most people’s, love of Kevin Owens aside, Roman was the babyface here, and is usually not too bad, but this match was very off for him. It appeared that he very quickly got gassed, and struggle to keep up with the pace that Owens had established. That would make it even harder for the crowd to get behind him, and since his moves require a build up spot for cheers, that inevitably became boos, it was awkward. That said, Owens managed to pull out a solid performance, which lends me to believe that while Roman was gassed, he still has the potential, and this was just an off night. The ending of this match was, first, as predicted, but turned out to be a much stronger end to the card than I thought. Jericho, predictably, came down, and attacked Owens, seemingly angry at him for costing him earlier. This caused Reigns to be DQ’d, and it became clear that this was always the plan for JeriKO, who look to be just as close as they were a month ago. Just as the two were going to ride off into the sunset, Rollins appears, and he and Reigns put a Shield-esque beatdown on the two, superpowerbombing each of them through an announcers table to end the night. Rollins, and the tease of a Shield like reunion, brought cheers to Roman that he hasn’t received in quite some time, and this pairing will seemingly do him well in the future. With the rumble causing uncertainty as to who will face Owens at that PPV instead of being in the Rumble match itself, both heroes come out looking strong, and Raw ends the year on a high note.
Winner and Still WWE Universal Champion: Kevin Owens
And that was Roadblock. In a night that saw an end to a historic reign, and historic feud, WWE had a solid showing to end out their year in PPVs. Next year is looking exciting, and I hope to see all of you back in 2017!