March 13, 2016 by Joey Keogh
It’s the inaugural Roadblock, a Network Special Event that’s shorter than a regular PPV and has no pre-show. Is it all just an attention-grab before ‘Mania? Does any of it mean anything? Was it all booked at the last minute? Well, based on tonight’s evidence, let’s hope this is the first and last Roadblock we have to suffer through. As stops on the road to Wrestlemania go, this one was very unfortunately named and, as predicted, quite self-reviewing in nature.
We open with The New Day defending their tag titles opposite Sheamo and Barrett of The League Of Nations. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the show, because it’s such a high point that the only way to continue from here is down. Regardless, the reliably awesome champs cut a hilarious promo about their Booty Os (buy them in the WWE Store NOW, kids!) before ripping the so-called ‘Lads’ – Sheamo has to have come up with that name, right? – and retaining the belts in a short, but entertaining bout.
The decision to stage this event in Toronto seemed smart on the surface. The crowd is super-hot throughout the show, while the smaller venue gives a more intimate feel. When Paul Heyman pops up to cut a little promo backstage, for example, the fans are so loud, and so in sync with what he’s saying, that the content of his speech almost doesn’t matter. Although why Renee Young, a Canadian herself, wasn’t drafted in to cover tonight’s show is anyone’s guess.
The second bout of the night sees fellow Canuck Chris Jericho heeling it up on the mic before taking on none other than Jack Swagger, for no discernible reason. That’s right; here, in Canada, a Winnipeg man is the heel while an Aryan all-American jock is the face. This is a major comedown from the opener, the highlight of which is arguably Jericho’s pre-match promo, during which he claims to be ashamed of his heritage. He still picks up the win, though, after Swagger sells for ten seconds, then taps.
The NXT tag championship is up for grabs next, as current holders The Revival take on fan favourites Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. The New Jersey boys get the crowd majorly hyped with a rousing pre-fight promo, before giving it absolutely everything they’ve got in the ring. They lose in the end, but it’s not for lack of trying. Indeed, if nothing else, this match highlights the difference in mentality between developmental and the main roster – here, it feels like everyone really wants these belts.
A Divas championship match follows, which sees Charlotte defend her title opposite a recently-returned (though technically, she never left) Natalya. As women’s matches go, it’s inventive and diverting enough – hell, anything is better than watching Brie Bella screw up her damn kicks ten times over. Nattie hits a Mexican surfboard, a Figure-8 and a gnarly Suplex, to name but a few, while Charlotte continues to sell herself as the heel to beat, with her daddy in her corner once again.
A sit-down powerbomb from the top nearly seals the deal for Nattie, but in the end it’s Ric himself who saves his daughter’s title by distracting her opponent long enough for Charlotte to pin her (with her foot on the ropes, of course) and retain. The triple threat at ‘Mania is a hugely exciting prospect for Charlotte, Becky and Sasha, and this match isn’t nearly as game-changing as that one, hopefully, will be. But it’s a decent showcase of what these ladies can do, all the same.
Although Bray Wyatt was advertised for a one-on-one match with Brock Lesnar tonight, he descends the ramp with Luke Harper in tow, explaining to an understandably confused crowd that this match is now a handicap. What he also should note is that it’s only going to last about ten minutes, with Harper taking the brunt of the abuse, eating the loss and Wyatt then fleeing ringside like a scared little baby. Is Vince really so turned off by the idea of a tubby man with a beard getting a push?
In keeping with the pro-Canada theme of the night – er, apart from that Jericho match, of course – Sami Zayn is here to take on Stardust, to drive the point home yet again that whoever was booking Roadblock clearly did so while throwing darts at a board. Blindfolded. This isn’t a bad match per se, it’s just nothing special. Zayn wins, because of course he does. And he gets a massive pop, because of course he does. But, much like almost every other bout on the card, this match-up makes zero sense whatsoever.
And with that, finally, we have reached our hallowed Main Event. The crowd are super-hot for Ambrose, sticking with him the whole way through even though they’re all collectively thinking, along with those of us watching at home, that there’s no way in hell that gurning weirdo is walking out of here with the title. Nevertheless, he absolutely kills it tonight, as he has been consistently doing for months now, dominating the match and controlling the pace even when Trips has him on his knees.
Ambrose hooks The Game into a Figure-4 towards the end, knocking out a Dirty Deeds for a close two-count that many will note was really a win. He beats Trips up on the outside, but a flying elbow off the barricade to the announce table disarms him when his opponent moves out of the way just in time. A Pedigree back in the ring ensures Triple H walks out the champion, but Ambrose arguably looked stronger in spite of losing, quashing any doubts about his status as the real #1 contender.
Overall, Roadblock was a bit of a, well, roadblock on the road to Wrestlemania. The booking was odd, the matches seemingly thrown together at the last minute like an episode of Smackdown engineered to get us hyped for the repercussions, as opposed to what happened on the show itself. It wasn’t terrible, nor was it particularly memorable. And with ‘Mania less than a month away, it felt kind of pointless. But, in the end, at least Ambrose looked great and there was no sign of Roman Reigns, either.
All things considered, who are we to argue with that when it’s not even a real PPV?