On Saturday March 12th, the WWE Network held their Network special event RoadBlock at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. While the event may have been hit or miss for different fans, it certainly was an eventful evening for everyone. On this night, signs in hand, the family and I attended the event, but in doing so an adventure ensued. On the way to the event the traffic getting down to the CNE grounds was terrible. This was partially caused by the Toronto Raptors game happening at the same time, as well as a Home show happening in the building next door.
Once we were able to get through the traffic and find parking on the grounds, we approached the line to enter Ricoh. It was a massive line up to say the least. Something else to keep something in mind as it pertains to the venue: it seats approximately 9,000 people. It is home to the Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, so really it is a small venue when you consider that other venues such as the Air Canada Centre could seat more and bring in more fans. So while it was great to be a part of it, did seem a little strange that of all venues the WWE chose to hold, essentially, a house show here.
Once we were in the area, my wife (who initially braved the merchandise area) held our seats for us. We headed to the merch area, and as we approached we saw Sportsnet 360’s own Jackie Redmond, Nug and Jimmy Korderas. I had also hoped to run into TJRWrestling’s Heather Hickey, but sadly that may be for another day.
As expected, it was crazy busy at the merchandise booth, and the number of people filling the area made it almost impossible to see what our options were. My boys and I eventually made our way through, picking up a Dean Ambrose shirt, Roman Reigns shirt and two AJ Styles shirts. The family was set and ready to go. We had ideally wanted either an Enzoand BigCass shirt or a SamiZayn, but unfortunately neither option was available to us. After nearly thirty minutes in the mass of humanity that was, the merchandise table, my boys and I proceeded to head back to our seats as the event was about to begin. When we arrived there was a preshow match up between Mark Henry and local wrestler Randy Reign (who used the name Sharp for obvious reasons,) who was trained by former WWE wrestler, SantinoMarella.SantinoMarella. It was great to see local indy talent given an opportunity on a major event such as this. While it was only during the preshow that doesn’t diminish the opportunity presented. Henry ultimately went over, but it was a great chance to see up and coming talent cutting their teeth in front of a home crowd.
The show began with The New Day and The League of Nations. Speaking as someone in the crowd, the reaction to New Day was insane. There really wasn’t anything they could say or do that didn’t get a reaction from the fans. They were so over that its no surprise that only a few days later they turned and became faces in front of a nationwide crowd on Raw. The look on my wife’s face as I showed my appreciation for these three clowns was priceless. It didn’t matter my boys and I were laughing the whole time, and even my wife showed a little grin by the end of the New Day’s promo.
Another instance that really caught my attention during the show was the reaction EnzoAmore, BigCass and Carmella received. It is incredible how NXT has been able to create characters and personalities that wrestling fans enjoy following and watching. Much like the very interactive nature of The New Age Outlaws, Enzoand BigCass engage the crowd with their act and my kids were sure to follow along. It didn’t matter what the statement was or who was saying, my little guy proudly flew his Enzoand BigCass sign to show his appreciation for his favourite wrestlers. While we were disappointed in the result, the crowd couldn’t be disappointed with the level of entertainment both The Revival and Enzoand BigCass provided. Big things appear to be on the horizon for both teams. Their talent is simply too great not to see them on the main roster some day.
One of the most unintentionally comical promos of the night had to be the one we heard from Chris Jericho. For all the booing, I found myself laughing hysterically at every word he said. While that more than likely wasn’t Jericho’s intention, it was hard not to, with him stating ‘you Canadians’ as though he was void of any responsibility. It took a while, but he did a really solid job of getting jeers from a great deal of the audience. My kids looked at me like I had two heads because I was laughing so hard, but I couldn’t help it. It was smart comedy that was directed at the adults in the crowd.
We didn’t quite understand why he was facing Jack Swagger, and really weren’t sure why we should have even cared, but that was the scheduled match on the card. It was completely out of left field and a split roster probably contributed to him being booked, it just seemed like they could have had other choices to book against Jericho. If there was someone that fans would have popped for that hasn’t been seen very much at all lately, it would have had to be Damien Sandow, who fans would have appreciated seeing back in the ring. That wasn’t the case. However, fans were witness to Y2J going over the former heavyweight champion and All-American American.
The crowd throughout the evening were really excited. Even the group of guys half in the bag next to us showed their displeasure and elation throughout the event. What was most notable about them were they continued to get up for beer runs, which made the event interesting to say the least. It didn’t necessarily hinder our time at the event, but it certainly didn’t make it any easier attending the event with younger kids.
What we found to be rather disappointing was the Bray Wyatt and Brock Lesnar match. We were under the impression that it would be a one-on-one match up, and then under the impression that it would be a handicap match of Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt against Brock Lesnar. We were then left watching Wyatt push Harper into Lesnar, and rest at ringside. While we may know now that Wyatt was suffering a minor injury at the time, we were disappointed that the advertised match wasn’t technically changed when we went to air. Fans are made aware that cards are subject to change, but try explaining that to a nine and eleven-year-old who worked on signs to see their favourites compete. It’s disheartening during the actual event.
If there was a moment that changed our interest as the match went on it was the Dean Ambrose/Triple H match up at the end of the night. I sat back waiting for things to pick up and when it ultimately happened I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. What was interesting to note was that for the false finish where Ambrose’s feet were under the ropes, we couldn’t tell what had happened as we were positioned directly behind him and no idea. As far as we were concerned, we were witnessing the crowning of a new WWE champion.
The night was generally fun and we felt fortunate that the WWE decided to hold an event in such a relatively small venue.
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