With doubts surrounding his legitimacy as a world champion, Kevin Owens seeks to retain his WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns without any help from his best friend, Chris Jericho, following the breakdown of their relationship. Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair face each other in a 30 Minute Iron Man match for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship, with no opportunity of a rematch for the loser.
Not a lot of time given to this, as Rusev picked up a win via count out. Big Cass, likely to be seen wrestling singles matches a lot more in 2017 as WWE start to roll out a big push for him, dominated throughout.
Lots of strikes, with a few power moves thrown in too. There was a hint of a brawl through the crowd, but that ended up being nothing more than a tease, as Rusev quickly got himself back to ringside. Lana got involved, getting physical with Enzo before Rusev flattened him, leading to Big Cass’ count out as he checked on his friend.
Given the amount of focus this match has had on RAW in the weeks leading up to Roadblock: End of the Line 2016, it deserved to be on the main card. But, after receiving nothing more than a few minutes of action devoted to furthering this feud further, I suspect this isn’t the end of this rivalry by any means.
Sheamus & Cesaro
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) (C)
(WWE RAW Tag Team Championships)
Started with electric pace from Cesaro, who nailed Kofi Kingston with a dropkick right from the opening bell. During Cesaro’s ensuing dominance, a few reversals from both men showed just how familiar these two teams are with each other now. Despite that, Kingston was in a lot of trouble early on, with Cesaro and Sheamus’ regular tags keeping things fresh for their team in the ring.
After some referee distractions, and interference from Xavier Woods, it looked as though The New Day were about to win following a Big Ending from Big E, but Cesaro kicked out at two.
The New Day’s record 483-day reign with their championships came to an end when Kofi Kingston took out Cesaro with Trouble In Paradise, not realising that Cesaro never tagged in, allowing Sheamus to roll Kingston up for the three count. The finish was a little unclear for me, even though the lack of tag from Cesaro appeared to be intentional. Weak finish, but the title change was the right call.
We’ll no doubt see Cesaro and Sheamus edge ever more closer to mimicking Team Hell No, now that they’ve become WWE RAW Tag Team Champions.
Besides his involvement in a multi-man match at WWE Survivor Series 2016, this was Strowman’s most high profile match since he became a singles wrestler. Making it so that Sami Zayn needed to survive for 10 minutes was a fun and rare stipulation for a WWE match, and played to Zayn’s strengths of selling beat downs incredibly well (see how his first NXT Championship match with Kevin Owens ended in 2015).
Majority of Zayn’s moves did nothing to Strowman, particularly Zayn’s strikes. Wasn’t a massive fan of Mick Foley coming out teasing the white towel, given nothing that Zayn had taken up until that point was any worse than what we see in matches every night on WWE television. Had Zayn been getting a beatdown like those dished out by Brock Lesnar, then maybe Foley’s concern would’ve fit better. Thankfully, that wasn’t the finish they went with.
Surprisingly, the match did go to its time limit, ending with Zayn very much in control and on the brink of a potential pinfall victory before the bell was rung at 10 minutes. Having survived the stipulated time, Zayn was announced as the winner, giving him a very significant victory that I’m sure many did not expect.
As is the case with most Sami Zane matches, this was entertaining, but when they only had 10 minutes and some of that time was eaten up by Foley, you’re left thinking that they could’ve done more within what was a relatively short time limit. Both men benefit from the match though, with Zayn getting a crucial win at a PPV, and Strowman engaging in what is perhaps his first feud since leaving the Wyatt Family following the brand split in July 2016.
Started off a little tamely, with both men sussing each other out. Few spots on the outside early on, Rollins almost counted out in fact, after taking a kick whilst he was mid-air in an attempted dive back into the ring.
Hard for Jericho to attract heel heat with the crowd, even though he’s still the best at getting people to boo him. His repeated slaps to Rollins would normally bring about a chorus of boos, but the crowd are just willing to Jericho to turn face, so was rather difficult for him to get them to hate him!
Great moment came when Jericho showed he’s an experienced veteran, managing to escape Rollins’ attempt at a pedigree. I did wince a little when the resulting flip of Rollins saw him land on his feet, given Rollin’s leg injury that happened just over a year ago.
Not sure how I felt about Kevin Owens coming out to help his best friend, Jericho. Call me old school, but at a PPV event, I prefer to see the top title holder not appear near the ring until his match. His attempted distraction ended up costing Jericho dearly, as Rollins pounced on Jericho and Owens’ argument to hit Jericho with a pedigree, and get the three count.
Decent contest, but I thought both men would put on a more engrossing match, especially given this may likely be their only PPV bout with each other for a long time. Chemistry issue, perhaps? I just think that when the build up to the match involved one man being pedigree’d onto the roof of a car, the actual sanctioned match should deliver a few better punches.
Rich Swann (C)
(WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
The change of rope colours for Cruiserweight matches, arena graphics colours, and on screen colours, is never going to grow on me. It’s such a noticeable change to the show that’s been airing, that it takes this viewer out of the action. It’s fine for 205 Live, but I’d hoped they’d stop it on WWE RAW and the live PPV’s. Speaking of 205 Live, this championship match has had a really strong build as a result of that new show existing.
The match had a fast pace to it, no man able to take control, as there was always a third person waiting to strike. Things did reach a rather abrupt end when, following T.J. Perkins and Rich Swann delivering joint big kicks to the head of Brian Kendrick, Swann delivered an immediate kick to the head of Perkins. Three count followed, and Swann successfully retained.
His celebration didn’t last long, as Neville’s music hit, and the Newcastle-born superstar made his way to the ring. Neville turned heel, delivering a huge beatdown to Swann, and even to Perkins when the latter tried to break things up. Great decision to put Neville in the Cruiserweight division, and it really adds some power to 205 Live, especially now that Triple H has revealed he is looking to turn that show into a touring brand.
Special shout out to Austin Aries on commentary, who came out for this one match, and delivered some fine one liners. His chemistry with Graves is unreal.
Sasha Banks (C)
(30 Minute Iron Man Match
for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship)
Something stood out for me prior to the match, and that was Michael Cole stating that this was the sixth WWE RAW Women’s Championship match between Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, and that the belt had changed hands in all five previous matches. I’ve always defended the title bouncing between two opponents in a feud, but when you get to five switches in a short amount of time, well that’s damaging to both the title and the competitors in this writers opinion.
I’ve been a huge supporter of this feud, and I’ve greatly enjoyed their previous matches. That said, I was relieved that this was announced to be the last match between the two for quite some time, as they’ve really burnt through the gimmick matches with them. It’s close to Randy Orton vs. John Cena burn out from a few years ago (2009, I’m looking at you in particular).
Unfortunately, this really was one match too many. Very little to remember, besides a great spot where Sasha’s face hit the steps. Unlike their previous matches, this bout really lacked any urgency until the final few minutes, and both women seemed keen to wrestle a more traditional match than those they’ve had with each other previously.
Prior to Charlotte scoring the first fall at 19 minutes, I thought this might genuinely head toward a 1-0 win for either lady. That wasn’t to be, and we ended up getting a further 3 falls in the following 11 minutes of the match. Sasha almost had it won, but tapped out to a 2 minute Figure Four Leg Lock with only two seconds left on the clock. Really hate that, makes it feel 100% false.
The finish came after the match had gone to sudden death, Flair bridging a Figure Four into a Figure Eight, causing Banks to tap out. Flair becomes a 4-time women’s champion, whilst Banks now has the undesirable record of being a 3-time women’s champion who has never successfully retained her championship. It doesn’t matter how you want to spin that fact, it’s 100% truthful, and could have some long-lasting consequences for Banks, who will not be seen as a credible champion any more.
Banks should have retained at WWE Hell In A Cell 2016, and moved onto a new challenger. Instead, she’s got a whole lot of “first time ever” gimmick match records under her belt, but a fanbase that genuinely will start to become nonchalant towards her title chases.
Quality-wise, it’s a shame this feud signed off with its weakest match. However, it doesn’t take away from some of the superb contests they’ve had these past few months.
Kevin Owens (C)
(WWE Universal Championship)
Started with Kevin Owens in complete control. It stayed that way for a while, and was surprisingly slow for a WWE PPV main event in 2016.
Owens was very slick throughout, delivering a great Senton off the steps onto a downed Reigns. The latter would fight back for control, and got it, until Owens’ blocked an attempted Superman Punch. He would soon manage to deliver two Superman Punch’s to Owens though, neither leading to a successful pin fall, which sits wrong with me. I wish that punch was a finishing move, not just one of his signature moves that gets over used every night/week.
Despite appearing very weak in all his backstage and ringside segments at the Roadblock: End of the Line event, Owens had control for the vast majority of this match, and looked strong. Only downside was, it’s rather jarring to see him being a tough SOB in the ring after witnessing him being anything but that earlier on the show.
Just when it looked as though Owens was about to take his title belt and leave early, he instead stepped up onto a chair, and delivered a big splash to Reigns who was sprawled across one of the announce tables. The table did not break, which made the splash look even more brutal, so Owens decided to deliver a second frog splash. The table broke this time, and Reigns was in serious trouble.
Chris Jericho’s arrival was anticipated, as was his Codebreaker to Owens. The attack led to Owens winning the match via disqualification, which we soon discovered was Jericho’s plan. I suspect we’ll find out differently soon though, as this Owens/Jericho friendship is most certainly headed toward a title match at an upcoming PPV or RAW televised event.
Match of the Night:
Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
WWE Roadblock: End of the Line 2016 Rating: