Thursday, 31 March 2016

Then, Now, Whatever: WWE Roadblock 2016

Hello everyone. Welcome to Then, Now, Whatever: The Wrestling Podcast Blog. Yeah, we were going to cover Roadblock in a proper episode originally but we couldn't find a time when we were both free to meet up and record. So instead I've taken my notes and turned them into a written review. Kyle will also show up with his thoughts along the way too. Alright, let's get crackin' with the knackin'!

WWE Roadblock 2016
March 16th 2016
Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Attendance: 9,333

* Yes, another house show converted into a Network Special because Brock is there. As such, the show still shows lots of the traits of house show I'll highlight with my HOUSE SHOW KLAXON.

* Quote used in the opening video: "It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness" Seneca the Younger. Fun fact: he was a Roman Stoicist who was forced into committing suicide for allegedly being complicit in an assassination attempt on Emperor Nero. Loads of shots of Toronto's roads and mountains are spliced between hype for the lead two matches.

* Fuck yeah the theme song is Royal Blood's "Out of the Black". Also HOUSE SHOW KLAXON the set is the same as they use at regular house shows.

* The New Day are out to cut a fun word association promo and unveil a genuine box of Booty-Os! It turns out it's bundled with their latest T-Shirt.

Big E role plays being a kid refusing to eat his cereal until he realises he could end up like the League of Booty (they couldn't think of an insult for Rusev, pretty funny).

Match 1: WWE Tag Team Championship Match - The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston w/ Xavier Woods) (C) vs League of Nations (Sheamus & King Barrett)

It's weird hearing Americans saying "lads". Does Wade have some grey in his hair? Sheamus again thinks the crowd are saying New Day look stupid, not him.

Kofi & Sheamo work nicely together to start. HOUSE SHOW KLAXON Kofi slaps Sheamo while in control. Sheamo & Wade have very generic teamwork considering Cole is putting over how long they've known each other. The crowd popped big when Big E tagged in, impressively catching Wade in mid-air. Unicorn Stampede time! The League get control of Kofi with a HUGE Winds of Change and Irish Curse. JBL shoehorns in a Six Nations reference - we get it, you like rugby - and fans chant "You can't wrestle". At who?

Barrett's punt gets a big near fall - I love that. Sheamo's top rope jump is dropkicked out of mid-air & E gets the tag! He hits an impressive series of belly to bellies. Barrett replies with a tornado suplex(!). Nice double jump crossbody by Kofi gets 2 on Sheamus, but Trouble in Paradise is countered to a cloverleaf. An SOS allows E to tag in again. Kofi doesn't leapfrog Sheamo's Big Ending counter properly - his feet land on Sheamo's shoulders & his head on the mat, drawing "Botchamania" chants.

 A kneeling superkick by Wade got a phantom pinfall as Xavier distracted the ref & lures Sheamo into a bulldog off the steps by Kofi. E then finishes Wade with the Big Ending for 3.

Winners: New Day (still champs) @9:49
Verdict: 6.5/10. Good fun. It was nice seeing Wade wrestle again - while Kofi & Sheamo had decent chemistry, it was him & Big E who impressed me most. Other than Woods' distraction, New Day seem to have transitioned to the babyface role smoothly.

* Backstage, Paul Heyman declares Toronto the capital of Suplex City. How can a city have a capital? HOUSE SHOW KLAXON this is basically the antithesis of the "your local sports teams suck" promo as Heyman sucks up to the Toronto Raptors.

* Recap of Y2J turning on AJ, stuffing the Y2AJ shirt in his mouth, then burning one on Smackdown (in his jacket with no shirt again! You need a layer under that thing Chris, and no, that scarf doesn't count!).

What not to wear

* Jericho comes out for ANOTHER promo HOUSE SHOW KLAXON. Why show clips of the Smackdown one if he's cutting a fresh one now? JBL: "AJ Styles should have shut his Southern Fried mouth". Who's he to talk? Y2J: "You had your chance to chant for me [well, not these specific fans], instead you chanted for AJ." Fans: "AJ STYLES!" Y2J: "I am the greatest living icon in the history of the country." Fans: "We want Bret!"
Kyle's thoughts: Ouch! Jericho going hard on Canada with the "You want Bret? You're never getting him again" speech. Jeez that could have gone so wrong. 
Great Canadian twang on the "aahsshole" chants. Nicely, Jericho ties in his opponent to his current feud, as he calls Swagger another flavour of the month who beat him.
Kyle's thoughts: Who, why and what is the point of Jack Swagger? It didn't make sense for his All American face character to come and save the day against a heel Canadian. because heel or not everyone loves Jericho.
Agreed. Imagine at a UK TNA show with Spud trying to cut a heel promo on England, then out comes Galloway with the Saltire plastered all over his Titantron and getting announced as "a proud Scotsman".

Match 2: Chris Jericho vs Jack Swagger

HOUSE SHOW KLAXON Y2J slaps Swag, but gets knocked down and Jack hot dogs to the crowd. Cole: "It's Wrestlemania season folks!" He lists the Canadian promotions Jericho worked for! Network Special Cole = Intelligent Cole. HOUSE SHOW KLAXON Jack gets a corner ten punch, but Y2J sneak attacks around the ref to regain control with HOUSE SHOW KLAXON punch kick offence and RESTHOLDS ("ASK HIM!"). A nice dropkick looked great on the replay & got 2. A random CM Punk breaks out, and weirdly the fans seem to turn on Swagger more and more the more he wrestles.

Y2J gets his feet up from the Swagger Bomb and hits the bulldog, but the Lionsault misses and the Swagger Bomb gets 2. Both try their submissions and Jack blocks the Codebreaker with the amateur spinebuster for 2. This is much more like it. The Patriot Lock is applied, but Y2J grabbed the ref to help get the rope break, allowing him to hook the Walls for the tap out.

Winner: Chris Jericho @7:54
Verdict: 5/10. Bland punch kick first half but a much better closing stretch with the counters.

* JBL's post match "You've still got it" chant is super annoying. Jericho goes full on heel ripping up a fan's "Get Well Bret" sign.

* A Wrestlemania commercial airs focused solely on The Rock. What's he actually doing though?

* Smart move here, as a video package airs showcasing the rivalry for the NXT Tag Title match and putting over The Revival's old school tactics and Enzo & Big Cass' togetherness.

* Enzo & Big Cass get a GREAT reaction coming out and doing their schtick. Lots of "How you doin'?" chants. One guy in a leather jacket marks out for them while two kids behind him look stone faced, unsure what's going on. Carmella quotes Drake and Cass says there's only ONE WORD to describe Dash & Dawson. S-A-W-F-T. Cole is great going over the rivalry, sounding really invested in NXT.

Match 3: NXT Tag Team Championship Match - The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (C) vs Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady (w/Carmella)

Great headscissors by Enzo to start. Cole calls it a "hurricanrana" then describes Enzo as "unorthodox". If everyone is unorthodox then WTF is an orthodox style? Cass is HUGE. JBL says he's from Queens like Trump. Way to put him over! He gets a big sideslam (a "side suplex" according to JBL) and backdrop. For once the ref didn't call a tag between the heels he didn't see! Cass throws his own partner around, press slams Dash into Dawson then LAUNCHES Enzo over the top onto the champs. This is what teamwork looks like League of Nations.

The champs get control working Enzo's arm. Barely a minute after he's isolated fans are desperate for Enzo to tag. He tried to scurry away but a brilliant flying cut off by Dawson prevents the tag. Great "Enzo Amore" chants to the tune of "Seven Nation Army". Cass gets the hot tag, running wild with simple, fast big man offence. He nearly got rolled up after choking Dawson over the top but scores a GIANT East River Crossing. Tag to Enzo to try the rocket launcher but he's still knackered from being isolated & Dawson takes him out, hiding behind Carmella. She slaps him (DQ?) but Cass gets taken out with a Shatter Machine on the outside! Great hope spot for Enzo as he jumping DDTs Dash & rolls up Dawson for 2, but gets finished off with the SUPER Shatter Machine for 3.

Winners: The Revival (still champs) @10:17
Verdict: 7.5/10. Really good match. I loved the way the champs isolated Enzo, they do the little things so well. Enzo & Cass' teamwork was good and I liked the story of Cass taking out the champs too quickly for Enzo to have recovered enough for their finisher.
Kyle's Thoughts: I loved how Dash & Dawson put over Enzo & Big Cass, the four worked really well together.

Post match you can see the fan who had their Bret Hart sign ripped up still try to hold it together. Bless.

* Natalya dedicates her match to Bret in a backstage interview. The Flairs interrupt, Charlotte calling her a warm up and below her level. Nattie successfully goads them into putting the title on the line by calling them cowards. HOUSE SHOW KLAXON "Local sports teams suck" cheap heat from Charlotte. I thought the Maple Leafs were good?

Match 4: WWE Divas Championship Match - Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) (C) vs Natalya

Native is SO thin. Like "push me now" thin. Cole recalls their NXT Women's Title match (it was ace) and mention's Nattie's experience in Stampede, England & Japan!

Pretty solid wrestling to start as a Sharpshooter gets teased early. Charlotte proclaims "I'm the champ now!" & Nattie promptly chops the fuck out of her. She hooks a surfboard that gets the loudest pop for a surfboard I've ever heard. Cool spot where Nattie runs up Charlie's back to dropkick her. The champ calls Nattie a has-been and goes through her headscissor routine. Cole: "The thing I like about Charlotte is she's always in control [sees Naitch jitter & strut]... unlike her Dad." Nice neckbreaker counter to the discus lariat. Charlie works the leg to prep for the Figure 8, but getting posted by Nattie causes her to lose focus and brawl instead.

Great Russian Legsweep and discus lariat by Nattie. Both girls try their submissions and Charlotte has to settle for a regular Figure 4. At one point she hung from the apron with the hold applied. Natural Selection by Charlotte gets a near fall & JBL points out that's how she beat Nattie for the NXT Women's Title. Naitch: "Give her the old Moonsault, baby!" But it's blocked with a Powerbomb for a CLOSE near fall. They trade submission counters & Nattie finally hooks the Sharpshooter! Charlie grabs her Dad's hands crawling for the ropes, which is somehow enough for Nattie to break the hold, jaw-jack with Naitch and get rolled up for 3.

Winner: Charlotte (still champ) @13:37
Verdict: 7/10. Probably Charlotte's best wrestled main roster match. Sound technical work to start and a pretty good built to the false finishes. Despite the lame finish this was very enjoyable.

* A video package recaps the Wyatts eliminating Brock at the Rumble, then, HOUSE SHOW KLAXON, Bray cuts a promo on the walk to the ring. Brock may have conquered Rock, Cena & Taker, but he's never conquered Bray. He's "made a deal with the Devil himself" (Triple H?) to make this a handicap match teaming with Harper. Brock looks huge. Fans are so hyped for him they pop just for him hopping on the ramp. Cole: "John, we've been sat nearly 20 years at ringside." Er, no. Paul introduces Brock again.

Match 5: Handicap Match - Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper vs Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)

Bray immediately tags out & leaves the apron. Brock slaughters Luke with shoulders & Germans, but Harper actually got a nice bit of shine, hitting a Suicide Dive, BLOCKING a German, then getting a big boot, superkick and discus lariat in quick succession. Brock soon dominates again though, with a total of seven Germans then the F-5 dispatches Harper quickly for 3.

Winner: Brock Lesnar @4:03
Verdict: 5/10. While Harper did get a decent flurry of offence, I'm getting a bit bored of the Suplex City gimmick really.

Brock follows Bray up the ramp & Bray RUNS AWAY WTF!?
Kyle's thoughts: Did not fighting Lesnar do Bray Wyatt some harm? Is he scared? Surely not!
In reality Bray had a bit of a back injury they were trying to protect, hence the bait and switch, but you categorically cannot have the super evil Walking Dead swamp villain run away from ANYONE, it kills his gimmick.

Match 6: Sami Zayn vs Stardust

I'm still not sure how I feel about Sami's "golfer lad" entrance gear. Fans chat Cody at Stardust and he hisses at them - I love it. Cole name drops Sami's spell in IWS & explains the "Ole" chants are due to his "former persona". Kayfabe Michael! Generico's looking after the orphans in Mexico, remember?
I love Sami's arm wringer counter and wacky arm drag.

Stardust gets control by punching Sami mid-springboard. He cartwheels & grimaces. Cole to Byron: "I can see you and Stardust getting along." Byron: "He's an acquired taste." Cole: "As are you." Stardust is literally doing nothing of note to control, so fans chant "JBL". He positions his legs on a bearhug like he's trying to bum Sami, then a weird inverted crab gets "This is awkward" chants. A side effect and massive run up superplex get near falls between a Zayn roll up. Cody takes his glove off & slaps Sami with it, ha.

FINALLY Sami makes a comeback, including a HOUSE SHOW KLAXON corner 10 punch. We then see the SIGN OF THE NIGHT, as two fans walk across screen with Trump/McMahon 2016 voting tickets! Awesome. Sami lures Cody out for a big Tope Con Heelo and gets a Blue Thunder Bomb for 2. Some nice switches as the Queen's Crossbow is countered only for Zayn to eat a Disaster Kick for 2. This is a bit more like it. Oh, wait - exploder in the corner & Helluva Kick get Sami 3.

Winner: Sami Zayn @12:33
Verdict: 4/10. Congratulations WWE, you've succeeded in making Canadians bored during a Sami Zayn match. Sami's usually at his best working from underneath, but you can't have him do that against someone at Stardust's level, especially when he was so boring working Sami over. When they finally started working in some trademark stuff the match just ended.
Kyle's Thoughts: This was nothing special. I really like Zayn but felt match was wasted. Please bring back Cody.

* Man, the Photoshopping of the title onto Triple H in the match graphic for the main event is terrible. Anyway, the video package covers Dean promising to hijack Wrestlemania, H beating him up at the announce table and Dean laying him out with Dirty Deeds.

Main Event: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match - Triple H (C) vs Dean Ambrose

H's lip wobbles so much when he does his water spit pose. Another neat sign: "When it Reigns it bores". The crowd are very vocal, mostly for Dean but some for Triple H.

Hunter schools Dean with chain wrestling early, ala Mania 22 with Cena. Blatant bullshit from Cole: "Triple H, I don't know if he's ever looks better, at least from a physical standpoint." He then calls his match with Sting "legendary". Dean gets some nice arm work before HOUSE SHOW KLAXON he slaps H's head & lazy boys in the corner. Another random CM Punk chant actually gets some boos. Dean does the "got your nose" pinch & tries to split H's fingers. H then makes the mistake of letting Dean pick up the pace and hitting the apron spin clothesline.

Dean targets the leg (after working the arm?). Cole & JBL point out it's unusual for Dean to have a gameplan. Byron thinks they're on about how he got the title match rather than what he's doing in ring. He sounds equally clueless trying to correct himself. This is what you get for years of teaching people to focus on storylines over in ring action. A desperation Pedigree outside is blocked, but Dean winds up sent to the steps & H zones in in the midsection with Gordbusters & the Crossface - in Canada! Risky. He turns it into the Rings of Saturn too.

Lovely spinebuster for 2. Dean hits an elbow then gets the better of a slugfest (JBL: "Haha, these guys are just hitting each other in the face.") and HOUSE SHOW KLAXON corner punching. A running theme is Dean has loads of counters to the Pedigree (like the jackknife here), like Batista in 2005. They repeat the Facebreaker to the rebound lariat spot from the Rumble. Cole: "Dean Ambrose says... it's my time." No, that's what Hunter's old music used to say.

Trips punches away Dean's Suicide Dive ala Mania 30 with Bryan, but his injured knee gets driven to the steps & Dean goes for the tap out with a Figure 4 & a Sharpshooter. H gets the ropes & tries to spit, but it kinda stays hanging from his lip. Dirty Deeds by Dean! THE REF COUNTS 3!!! But apparently Dean's feet were under the ropes. That gets some "bullshit" chants. H then rolls Dean up with his feet ON the ropes... for 2! Fans bought that. Dean fights back with a Suicide Dive & elbow to the outside, then mocks the crotch chops.

Cole says the phantom pin proves Dean can beat Triple H, but JBL says H stayed down because he knew Dean's feet were under the ropes. Dean tries to elbow H through the table from the barricade, but H moves! Dean BARELY answers the 10 count to get back inside, but when he does he scurries right in to a Pedigree for 3.

Winner: Triple H (still champion) @24:43
Verdict: 8/10. I loved this match. It was great to have Dean try to throw Hunter off by actually wrestling with a strategy for once, and how it took him focusing on breaking the count out for him to have no reply to the Pedigree. The references to H's past funds were all great too. Dean really rose to the occasion & H showed once again that he can still mix it up with the younger talent.
Kyle's Thoughts: Loved the main event, and not because HHH won.
... No actually, that's exactly why haha! It's great how Ambrose keeps getting these "should have won the belt" moments.

Kyle's Final Thoughts: Mediocre show but it was good enough to keep us hungry for Wrestlemania.
Duncan's Final Thoughts: Inconsequential though this was, I think I enjoyed this a smidgen more than Fastlane. All the in ring work was solid to the point where the worst parts of the show were "just there" rather than actively bad. Watch the NXT tag match, the Divas match and the main event - everything else was perfectly skippable.

We should be with you again soon covering the Grand Daddy of them all, the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment that refuses to admit its age, Wrestlemania. Be on the look out for us in all the usual places (Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud). We are also now available on Stitcher for those who like their podcasts on the go, so go find our channel here.

See you soon.