During the lead up to Roadblock I saw a significant amount of negativity toward the event. From the name to the matches, it just seemed like too many fans just wanted to hate it. That perception kept me from reading a single word about it after the fact so I have no clue if people liked or disliked the show as a whole or what they liked or disliked about it. I will say right off the bat, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t a perfect show, but perfection is always a lot to ask for. I went into the show without much expectation, as I viewed it as a “breather” type of show.
For anyone unfamiliar with nerdy TV terminology, this is an episode that takes a brief hiatus from the overall plot and stands alone. Often these types of shows are met with criticism as a waste of time, but it can sometimes be a low stakes way of giving people something enjoyable to watch. On Lost, for instance, one of the most polarizing episodes of the show was titled Expose. It was about two characters added late in the game that were hated by Lost fans. The episode was basically their entire story, ending in the death of both characters. The episode pushed nothing forward, it was a fun 45 minutes and a lot of hardcore fans hated it. Sounds familiar right? I’ve noticed that the more people love something, the more entitled they seem to feel toward it.
With WrestleMania 32 just weeks away and the two top matches already booked and advertised, it just didn’t feel like there was anything of any real significance that could actually happen at Roadblock. For the most part that was true, but one real storyline was moved forward. In the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, Dean Ambrose looked not like Roman’s sidekick, but a legitimate threat to the title. Ambrose and Triple H worked an incredibly physical match for well over 20 minutes. It showed that Dean can captivate the crowd as a main event and that there should be plenty more spots like this in his future. I actually even believed he had won the match for a second after the unofficial three count on his Dirty Deeds finisher. One of my favorite aspects of this match was the way Ambrose lost. If you remember, he said in a promo last week that he doesn’t think things through, he just goes off the cuff. He said sometimes it doesn’t work out, like when he got beaten down by Brock Lesnar, but sometimes it does, like when he got himself a championship match against Triple H. Ambrose went all out trying to put his opponent through the table, only to suffer that fate himself. His risk taking ensured that it wouldn’t work out for him this time.
Speaking of Ambrose, his WrestleMania opponent Brock Lesnar was scheduled to face Bray Wyatt. Many of you (myself included) assumed this would end in yet another booking disaster for Bray, but fortunately it didn’t. The match was changed to a handicap match in which Bray fed Luke Harper to the Beast Incarnate. I felt this was a really smart move because it protects Bray and also showed the type of hold he has on his family members. If they are willing to get destroyed by Brock Lesnar for him, what won’t they be willing to do? It also helps build a little more suspense for the day when Bray and Brock finally do meet in the ring. While I look forward to that clash, I am glad it didn’t take place at Roadblock and that Bray wasn’t sent to Suplex City. And who doesn’t love to see Luke Harper bump like a cruiserweight? He may never get a chance to really shine but Harper is one of the most talented workers on the roster.
A late addition with no real story was a Divas title match between Natalya and Charlotte. As an avowed Sasha Banks mark, I was disappointed not to have her on the card, but I was really excited for this match. I’ve been hoping for Nattie to be more involved in the Divas division and she showed exactly why last night. The women actually got about 15 minutes to work last night and made the most of it. Charlotte continues to grow into a great heel. She wasn’t over with the fans as Divas champion at first so they made the change and she is seizing the opportunity. It sounds like something that might be good for another chosen one that isn’t exactly over as a babyface, but that is a story for another day. Natalya had a great performance in a match everyone knew she would lose, but she got sympathy, got the crowd behind her and allowed us to suspend our disbelief for a little while. Hopefully this performance bodes well for the Triple Threat at WrestleMania.
The final major pro of the night was the NXT Tag Team title match. The Revival against Enzo and Cass with Carmella. First of all, is there any more polar opposite tag teams when it comes to charisma? The Revival are a throwback heel team that put on consistently good matches, but for me they fall just short of being interesting. Enzo and Cass can get by on their likability alone. The match was fast paced, there was a lot of great teamwork on either side and the heels were able to use Carmella as a distraction to the babyfaces to get the win. The NXT tag division is incredible right now so it was great to see it showcased. The only downer here is that Enzo and Cass are still without gold, but that they, and their amazing entrance were probably introduced to quite a few fans for the first time is a victory.
The Cons Including Stardust
My only real cons with the show were that the League of Nations, minus two members took on The New Day and the “Real American” taking on Chris Jericho to defend Canada’s honor. The League of Nations just seems like a waste of time for The New Day. They are irrelevant, the won’t be tag team champs and they have become incredibly boring. The only way it makes sense is if this is being used to turn The New Day into a babyface team, which is possible. I enjoyed watching Y2J turn his home country against him and draw as much heat as he did, but there had to be a better option than Jack Swagger as Jericho’s punishment. It just seemed completely illogical and didn’t move the needle at all for me.
My last point is actually a pro and a con at once and that is the addition of Stardust on the show. The pro is that he had a fun match against Sami Zayn and it is always fun to watch Cody Rhodes work. He is great in the ring and is as committed to his character as anyone in the company. The con is that Cody is still being underutilized and is being disrespected by WWE. I know he is far from the only performer receiving this treatment, but I feel his case is the most egregious.
He is the son of Dusty Rhodes, one of the pioneers of the business and the man responsible for much of the current young talent. He is also the brother of Goldust, one of the unsung catalysts who helped usher in the Attitude Era. He can cut a promo, he can work as a heel or a babyface, he can put on a good match and he is committed to his craft. How many people would have approached Stardust with the same fervor as Cody? From the bizarre cosmos themed promos to the wild antics, he bought into the character and turned it into something. Even that comic book feud he had with Neville was something fun and different.
As a lover of championship belts, I will forever be grateful to Cody for bringing back the classic Intercontinental Championship, which he did with his own money. After watching Roadblock I listened to the most recent episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast featuring Cody Rhodes along with Xavier Woods. They hashed out their experiences as high school wrestling rivals in Marietta, Georgia. We all know how funny, creative and interesting Xavier can be, but Cody more than held his own and I felt brought a little something extra out in Xavier and Jericho. It was honestly one of the most fun and entertaining episodes of a podcast I’ve ever listened to and I highly recommend everyone check it out.
Basically the guy is capable of so much more than he’s being allowed to show. He has the lineage, the talent, the athleticism and the mind to be a great WWE Superstar if only WWE would let him. I give WWE a lot more credit than many fans, but in this instance, and in the word of Owen Hart, “Enough is enough, and it’s time for a change!”