by Scott Saffran. The 2016 year for WWE pay-per-views has officially concluded! Was Roadblock 2016 a successful conclusion to an incredible year? Let’s take a look!
Rusev vs. Enzo
I really dislike giving pre-show matches a spot on the list, for better or for worse. However, a slim card and this match’s quality have forced my hand. This was abysmal, another misstep in a nonsensical feud. A bona fide main eventer in Rusev wrestled on the pre-show! How does that happen?
Further infuriating was how the mess unfolded, not even a semblance of an emotional arc attempted. It was a waste of talent, a waste of time, and, no matter how absurd the story is, a waste of one of the more legitimate feuds on the roster. They’ll keep going at it, but for the love of God, I hope this one matchup fades into oblivion as fast as the career of Kizarny.
Cruiserweight Triple Threat
After the show, Good Ol’ JR sent out a tweet which best encapsulated my feelings towards the cruiserweight division at this moment in time. The tweet stated ‘Submission oriented matches with talent’s who aren’t ‘over’ yet are challenging for fans to emotionally invest.’ While I have the benefit of having known of and watched the careers of all three men for many years prior to the CWC tournament and this new Cruiserweight Division, the average WWE fan simply does not. I enjoy a good submission-focused match, but they are not exciting to the average WWE fan. Adding these two factors together will not magically produce something enticing for a crowd. I want these talents to explore their own styles, but to get the division off the ground the WWE needs to focus either on high-flying or actually building characters and stories for these wrestlers. Thankfully, it seems like they’ll be pursuing the latter, but also please give Lince Dorado a shot, please.
Women’s Ironman match
Yes, this match is on the Best list, but it did have some…issues. First off, the overarching story – Sasha is the babyface and Charlotte the heel. A comeback heel story, certainly within the confines of a single match, is not going to go over well. It’s different, yes, and different in this modern WWE is usually good, but a bad taste was left that cannot be ignored. Second, Charlotte’s PPV streak. Why? Why must this be a thing? It’s not special, it’s just predictable. It is one thing to have wrestler who always rises to the occasion during a certain night every year to defeat all others, and it is quite another to have one wrestler win every single one of their PPV matches. Heat is good for a heel, but this is cheap heat that will inevitably drive away interest. Tread carefully, WWE.
Finally, the sequence leading to the overtime. Sasha sat through a Figure-Four for quite some time and tapped with 2 seconds left. Who thought that would procure any sort of favorable reaction? As a person who has been on the receiving end of many a submission, it makes no sense. As a wrestling fan, it would have been the perfect way to bridge into overtime if the situation had been entirely reversed. Not a great decision.
New Raw Tag Team Title Belts
Ok, I’m gonna cheat super hard with this one, but I get to make the rules so it doesn’t matter! On Monday night, the new tag champions were gifted with new tag team title belts. These new designs are identical to the Smackdown versions, but with red leather instead of blue. Now, I know I sound like a cranky jerk complaining about title belt designs seemingly incessantly, but these just do not work. Red, though in a same neutral tone as the blue, is a natural ‘highlight color.’ Paired with a silver plate as a backdrop, the near lack of contrast provokes an unnatural balance that is very distracting to the eye. As weird as the pennies were, they did not suffer this issue. Red leather has just not been working.
New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
This was a very good match, plain and simple. I cannot say it’s a ‘must watch’, but it was a perfect package of fast paced action and appropriate storytelling within a tight, sub-10-minute match. It successfully got the titles off the New Day and on to the Fella-ship of the Swing without diminishing the strength of the New Day or making Cesaro and Sheamus look like anything less than championship material. This was, without doubt, the most entertaining match of the night and a truly fantastic way to kick off the show. I very much enjoy a tag team (a successful one, at that) made up of a much loved character and a…not so loved character. The fun little spot at the end with the crowd booing Sheamus and cheering Cesaro was a great way to push this very different style of tag team.
Women’s Ironman match
While there were some things about the contest that did not sit particularly well with me, this was still a very good match. The style was almost shockingly brutal, completely appropriate for this grudge match. Sasha and Charlotte clearly pushed themselves and each other to the edge to craft a very impressive battle within the confines of the squared circle.
Seeing Sasha get a bit of color at the end of the match really sent home the intensity of the match and left me with some flashes of Bret/Austin at WrestleMania 13. I would have much preferred Sasha going home with the strap, but I am reassured by the event on Monday night that this was the path best chosen for the future of all the women on the Raw roster.
Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns
A match I did truly look forward to was not as good as I had hoped, but it was undoubtedly entertaining and generally well-wrestled. The inevitable intervention from Jericho was nothing but expected, but was handled very well throughout the night’s series of vignettes which built a surprisingly impactful emotional arc. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kevin do his best to avoid Roman at all costs. I much prefer ‘Prizefighter’ bad a$$ Owens to chickensh!t heel Owens, but he is proving his incredible versatility to successful effect. The post-match events were fan service for no one, which I can’t count against the match – but I definitely was not in support.
I had gotten quite irritated with the lack of Neville on my television for quite some time. He has an insanely good build, he is one of the best all-around wrestlers on the roster, and he actually had a decent superhero character. All these pros aside, he is far too short to be considered for actual main event wrestling in a WWE that is still very much defined by Vince McMahon.
The dawn of the Cruiserweight Division saw the reemergence of hope for the Man Who Gravity Forgot, but we did not seem to be lucky enough to get Neville back in the spotlight. All that changed when his music hit after Rich Swann was able to retain, and to my great surprise, he turned on his former protégée! It is awesome to have Neville back with us, and even better to have him be a totally ruthless bad guy.
Looking through the lists, the Roadblock show does not seem as weak as it actually was. There were highlights, but the show as a whole was an especially dull trudge when it could have been an explosive cap to an exciting year. The C grade is due mostly to falling short of expectations; in a vacuum, there were few truly bad matches.
I incorrectly stated in the preview that a completion of the ten-minute limit in the Zayn/Strowman match would result in a draw, as it in reality gave the win to Sami. Because it did reach the time limit, I’ll count it towards my total.
Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and a joyous New Year to all of our wonderful readers out there! I hope to see you all again soon for the Royal Rumble!
Photo Credit: WWE.com