WWE Raw: The Roadblock: End of the Line Go-Home
December 13, 2016 8:11 AM - Season 25, Episode 15 - Subscribe

The lesser brand has been stepping it up as of late, so of course we're going into a PPV so low-tier that it's recycling a name from earlier this year. Meanwhile, Smackdown Live! has been tearing it up as usual, coming off a better-than-it-shoulda-been TLC PPV that ended with all four title belts around the waists of heels, including Alexa Bliss and the Wyorts.

Roadblock: End of the Line: Get It Because It's December: But Also We're About To Start Down The Road To WrestleMania: Which Appears To Be Different From The Road We're Currently On: But We Haven't Quite Realized That Roadblock Is A Terrible Name For A PPV: Well Because It Means A Stopping Of Motion Of Course Rather Than The Momentum We Want To Display: Anyway This Is The December PPV card:

Sasha Banks (champion) vs. Charlotte for the Women's Championship, Ironperson Match: I don't know about y'all, but I'm not tired of this feud so much as I'm tired of final matches in this feud, which is approaching as many endings as Return of the King. I doubt it'll be as good as the Sasha-Bayley ironbeing match, but we shall see.

Kevin Owens (champion) vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship: Perhaps our long national nightmare of two really good wrestlers and talkers holding the top prizes in the company is nearly over. This iteration of Reigns will certainly get over as big as Cena, right?

Rich Swann (champion) vs. TJ Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick The for the Cruiserweight Championship: They've expanded the cruiserweight universe to three people, which will certainly be what it takes, right? Swann is a more "typical" sort of cruiser, so maybe the crowd will finally accept it.

Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins: Arguably the actual two most over people in the company wrestle in what is presumably Rollins' wait-'til-Haitch-at-Mania feud and possibly the final straw in the breakup of JeriKO.

Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn: Mick Foley becomes one of the biggest trolls in wrestling history, telling Sami he was being traded to SD for Eva Marie just to get him hyped up for this match. Will this outperform expectations as much as Baron Corbin vs. Kalisto did two weeks before?

Big Cass vs. Rusev: Allegedly relegated to the preshow, continuing Rusev's streak of getting huge amounts of screen time while falling farther and farther down the card.

That's it. Just six matches at the moment. Possibly a tag team title match, now that New Day has finally broken the record and we can move past it to Cesaro-Sheamus in the classic Champs Who Can't Stand Each Other plot?
posted by Etrigan (20 comments total)
yeah, so obviously I misread something or badly estimated the date New Day could drop the title, and Spiffy got a significantly more interesting couple of tag matches on Monday than I predicted. To be honest, having the New Day drop the belts on Sunday would feel like kind of a ridiculous letdown. Like, we all knew they wouldn't lose for the last couple months, but to give it away immediately would be pulling back the curtain a little too much. Not sure how I want that reign to end, but not in 1 team vs 1 team action on Sunday. That said, if Sheamus/Cesaro walk out of Roadblock as champs I guess I won't be upset.

I always like it when wrestlers show genuine cunning to take advantage of rules, and since Charlotte always wins the title back at PPVs my dream ending for the Womens' match would be her getting frustrated after about 20 mintues that she can't pull away, cheating in some way that gives Sasha a win or two for free but cripples Sasha, and then racking up like 8 consecutive wins via submission just doing the figure 8 over and over for 8 straight minutes.

If there was one thing I was clamoring for after last week, it was more of the hotel massacre, and more teasing of on air sexy times featuring Lana. WWE is right on the pulse of the universe, as ever.
posted by jermsplan at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2016

What the eff.
posted by Etrigan at 12:48 PM on December 15, 2016

First off, that is a hot looking belt.

It would be wild to see the WWE position itself as the global name under which all wrestling happens, like the Major League Baseball of wrestling or something. (I realize MLB isn't the global umbrella of baseball, but it's at least international). WWE became what it is by taking over all the territories...what if they've just decided to expand that idea globally?
posted by jermsplan at 6:56 AM on December 16, 2016

WWE became what it is by taking over all the territories...what if they've just decided to expand that idea globally?

Word on the sheets is that it's mostly a defensive move rather than offensive -- ITV is looking to resurrect World of Sport -- so WWE is bouncing between showing them how easily they could squash it and signing a shitload of UK talent regardless of whether they'll eventually use them.

And seriously, that is a prime contender for best looking belt ever.
posted by Etrigan at 7:12 AM on December 16, 2016

That was... way better than I expected!

After the way they built up Cesaro on Raw last week, I wasn't shocked by New Day dropping the belts, but it was still a great moment and I thought the storytelling of that match was tremendous. I really, really hope they can find something else for New Day to do and not just have them stay in the title picture. It would be great if this could be the chance for The Club to get a decent run.

I thought both of the matches in the Rollins/Reigns and Jericho/Owens story were perfectly adequate but nothing more. Jericho's means of finishing the title match was a little predictable, no doubt, and hopefully wherever they go with the story from here is no longer just interfering in each other's matches again and again. With that and Ambrose/Ellsworth going on over on Smackdown, it's impossible to see a main event with a clean finish on a weekly anymore.

The whole conceit of the "survive ten minutes" match was kind of dumb, but I thought the match itself was pretty solid, and certainly a good sign that Strowman can work a longer match one on one. He still occupies such a weird place on the card right now (as does Zayn) and it'll be interesting to see where they go with each of them from here.

Cruiser Triple Threat felt very short and meh, but SO WORTH IT FOR HEEL NEVILLE. Yesssssss.

And the real main event, the Iron Woman match, was yet another brilliant match between those two. Their feud has been so strong since a somewhat disappointing HiaC match, and I hope they will let them each take a break from each other to end it on a high note. Charlotte winning gives me hope that she may enter into a program with Bayley. And Maybe give Sasha a few weeks off under the conceit of what I can only imagine was a broken nose? What a way to get bloodied. 30 minutes of strong back and forth and she takes an accidental boot to the schnoz on a kickout.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:28 AM on December 19, 2016

I agree, Rob, that was a really good show in the sense that I didn't think it had any complete downer segments and the highs were pretty high. I was really pulling for Samy to actually win in the last minutes. To not only survive, but actually win. I thought maybe enough distraction by Foley could protect Strowman. The Ironman match was terrific. The tag match was phenomenal. Oh, hey! You know what I remember being really super fun to watch!? New Day matches where you weren't 100% guaranteed they wouldn't lose the title! Whatever they do next, I look forward to it.
posted by jermsplan at 11:21 AM on December 19, 2016

Agree completely about New Day, and I'll give them credit for the build to last night: The last few weeks were effectively them relying on increasingly desperate third man interference techniques to secure the win, which perfectly set up the ending of last night's match. When Woods' antics failed to secure it, there was a collective sense of "uh oh" on all of their faces.

I will say, though: If they get their rematch and it turns into a semi-feud with Cesaro/Sheamus, it could be worth it just to see Kofi and Cesaro do battle a bit more. Those two match up perfectly.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:00 PM on December 19, 2016

Okay, three things I liked about Roadblock: Et Cetera:
  • Cesaro's fake tag was slick, but that tie-up pin that Sheamus executed was just gorgeous.
  • Zayn gets the win for taking it to the time limit. That's a small thing, but it's important in the storyline.
  • Heel!Neville (and Corey's ecstatic reaction).
Things I didn't:
  • The Ironwoman match never grabbed me the way the Bayley/Banks one did. And the last-second tapout is shitty for Banks' character.
  • The ending could not possibly have been more predictable, could it. Well, except for the part where they did it twice despite the crowd booing.

posted by Etrigan at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2016

New (to me) podcast that I'm really digging: Tights and Fights is three friends who just gab about graps. Hal is a little wooden with his setups, but they are all clearly having fun even when they talk about stupid stuff.
posted by Etrigan at 8:24 AM on December 23, 2016

On the whole, it feels like Raw has been improving, but the top of their card is such a mess, and it seems poised to infect anyone who comes close to it. They've done such a good job building up Strowman, and if it's all leading to him putting over Reigns in any capacity, it's going to be such a waste. The closing segment this week was such a perfect example of how much they waste what they have. The Kevin Owens Show segment was going well, Goldberg is threatening the champ, as he should... why can't it end there?

Speaking of Strowman, I was actually very impressed with their ability to build him up while still making Zayn look really good. I really hope they have something bigger planned for him.

Smackdown is just lovely. The La Luchadora angle is such classic, stupid wrestling executed perfectly thus far. And how about your new IC Champion! They seem to be able to develop meaningful feuds without even trying. That belt has moved a lot recently, and I'd love to see Ambrose hold onto it for a while, inspiring a ton of rage in The Miz.

As we approach the Rumble, it'll be interesting to see how well each brand builds up to it. I remember being blown away by what a better job Smackdown did leading up to Survivor Series, but I thought Raw did a pretty good job this week. Still, as weird as it is to see Cena/Styles just sort of pick up where it left off, I fully expect those two to top their Summerslam match and couldn't be more excited for it. There are two many things swirling around the Raw main event picture for me to be totally excited about the Rumble itself, but I'm sure it'll still be a hoot, as always.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:05 AM on January 4, 2017

That belt has moved a lot recently, and I'd love to see Ambrose hold onto it for a while, inspiring a ton of rage in The Miz.

Okay, I have actually seen all of The Miz'z movies (don't ask), and he has never, not in a single scene, acted as well as he has on Talking Smack and on SDL since the draft. It's just amazing.

What I'm most worried about right now, to be honest, is that the Rumble match itself is going to suck. It looks like they're putting in more plotlines than usual (especially last year's, ugggh), which might help, but the last few have not made me confident in their ability to tell all these stories.
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 AM on January 4, 2017

Just catching up on Raw now. I'm sure I'll have more thoughts as this terrible waste of time rolls on, but for now:

Why would Foley's entire 2016 performance review hinge on his ability to produce The Undertaker on the January 9, 2017 edition of Raw?
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:15 AM on January 11, 2017

Because Stephanie is her father's daughter and was asked "What have you done for me lately?" around the dinner table every night of her life?
posted by Etrigan at 6:21 AM on January 11, 2017

I love Neville's heelified entrance music. He's the man that gravity had to forget BECAUSE HE'S SO MEAN.

I really think WWE needs to reconsider changing the ring ropes/canvas/lighting/announce team for Cruiser matches in the middle of Raw. They also switch the hashtag in the upper left to #205Live. No. Guys. These are Cruiserweight matches on Raw and should be presented as such. The division is basically being treated like its own brand that gets airtime on Raw in addition to its own show. It's weird. I understand they're still in the building period, but sooner or later they should really try to make it feel like a more organic part of the brand. Maybe even let one of the top Cruiser guys enter into a feud with a mid-carder like Zayn? Yes, there's a belt for people in the weight class, but that shouldn't mean they can't be a part of the rest of the Raw brand.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:47 AM on January 11, 2017

As frustrating as it was to watch Gallows and Anderson be wasted for so long, this feud against Cesaro and Sheamus is really clicking for me. One member of a feuding tag team versus one member of the other while their partners are on commentary is pretty well-worn territory, but it's worked for me the past few weeks, probably because everyone involved is pretty solid as a singles wrestler and on the mic. Sheamus' stock has risen dramatically in the last few months!
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:06 AM on January 11, 2017

Oh my god I love Talking Smack -- Mojo Rawley is, of course, a good friend of Rob Gronkowski, whose dad's college roommate was Mike Rotunda.
posted by Etrigan at 8:47 AM on January 11, 2017

I haven't watched a lot of wrestling over the last month, but this last week I tried to do a little catchup and here was my takeaway:

When deciding what to watch from the weeks I missed I settled on the Smackdown with 3 title matches and the following week's Smackdown, both of which were GREAT. I find I do not miss RAW in the least. Feels bad, man.

I watched this week's RAW. The most interesting segment to me was the HBK bit. That felt WAY less scripted that most promos, and my assumption is that HBK is an old hand who said he neither wanted nor needed a script, which meant the whole segmented had to be really loosely scripted, because you couldn't have 3 people trying to stick to it while he ad libbed the entire thing. Rusev did a great job bantering with him, I thought he was hilarious. Enzo and Cass on the other hand? Man, you get them past their 60 seconds of prepared smacktalk and they just...struggle. More Rusev, please!

Not strictly due to the aforementioned segment, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it: I'm bored with Enzo and Cass. I don't want them to go away completely, but I'm ready for them to have less mic time, maybe less screen time in general, until they actually have some matches that justify it.
posted by jermsplan at 8:34 AM on January 12, 2017

That was a really good Talking Smack. I was a little nervous because Shane is always pretty stiff on it (and this week was no exception) but I enjoyed all of the interviews quite a bit. TS just allows totally different approaches to gimmick evolution. Having Mojo get un-hyped would be really hard to pull off without a segment like that one, but I think they're clear to do it now. Meanwhile, I am intrigued by Dolph's turn thus far. It's like he really deconstructing what it is to be a heel. Only part that didn't work was when Shane said "Didn't you hear how the crowd reacted when you did that? That's not what they want from you!" No, Shane, the crowd was doing YES! chants after the chair shots.

Agree 100% about Enzo and Cass, but I doubt they're going anywhere anytime soon. At the Raw that I went to a few weeks back (it was the week after the hotel room segment) the crowd was really flailing, energy-wise, because it had been a super flat show. Enzo and Cass' music hits and they go super loud... and then just Cass comes out and everyone gets even quieter than before.

NXT last night was terrific, highly recommended!
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:39 AM on January 12, 2017

Anyone check out the UK Tournament? I know it's a bit controversial because of how anti-competitive the contracts were, and in no way am I clear how this is going to evolve into a regular part of the WWE brand, but man oh man was it great! I'll keep it spoiler-free in case anyone wants to swing back around to check it out, but between this and the CWC, I think tournaments in this style really need to be a regular part of WWE's offering. I know before the UK tourney there'd been some rumors of a women's event, which would be fantastic.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:01 AM on January 17, 2017

Wow, really enjoyed Raw this week! Things that helped:

-Moving the "everybody swirling around the main event scene comes out to their music and stands in the ring" moment to the top of the program. Still dull as hell, and took FOURTEEN MINUTES of show time until anything interesting happened (when Sami snuck in) but that segment ended well and actually gave some justification for this week's main event filler match. I worried it was gonna be tricky to bring Brock back and have him look strong, but that was no issue. And, finally, they got the crowd doing Goldberg chants to drown out Heyman they were looking for prior to Survior Series. Hooray!

-No Foley and Stephanie.

-Sami. This isn't going to end up with him anywhere other than back in the middle card, but, at least that might be an attractive place again? Maybe he can take the US Title off of Jericho before they get going on Jericho vs. Owens? In the meantime, that might have been his best promo since the brand split, and he absolutely looked like he belonged in the main event tonight.

-The tag title match was great. The swerve was obvious once Sheamus hit the ref, but it was exactly what was needed to keep that rivalry going until the Rumble. Great work.

-No announce team for the final brawl/the final brawl. Blech. Making Owens look strong two weeks before the Rumble pretty much seals his fate, but as a standalone moment, that was great.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2017

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