By The Rick / @RickyMixon
2016 has been an overall decent year of WWE action. After a subpar Wrestlemania caused by roster injuries and a never ending show (trust me I was there), the vibe changed the night after Wrestlemania and has carried on throughout the year. Just to list off a few of the highlights this year:
- Shane McMahon remained on the scene after his Wrestlemania match with the Undertaker was thought to be a one-off appearance.
- The debut of several fan favorite superstars from the indies and other promotions including, A.J. Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode.
- A.J. Styles was immediately (and deservedly I might add) pushed into the main event scene where he has undoubtedly thrived.
- The Woman's Evolution has continued to shine as we've seen the ladies slotted in several main events and our first ever Woman's Hell in a Cell Match.
- The return from injury of many top superstars including John Cena, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Cesaro, and Neville.
- A second iteration of the WWE brand split with distinct rosters for both Raw and Smackdown.
- The call-up of NXT Superstars highlighted by Finn Balor (could we get one more before the year? Keep reading.).
- The Cruiserweight Classic showcasing some of the best high-flying wrestlers around the world and the reengagement of the Cruiserweight division.
- The Jericho List amongst the many great things/catchphrases Chris Jericho created while he continually stays relevant and reinvents himself.
With that, we have arrived, appropriately titled, to Roadblock: End of the Line and the final pay per view before The Royal Rumble and the official kickoff of Wrestlemania season! The buildup for the pay per view has solid and I think the Pittsburgh fans will be in for a good show. Let's breakdown each of the matches and see my predictions:
Big Cass vs. Rusev
This is likely a one-off filler match to give these two something to do prior to entering the Royal Rumble but I've actually found this feud compelling. It's easy to get heat anytime you have Lana involved. Rusev's character is infinitely better with her by his side and there's a feud in waiting anytime another WWE Superstar interacts with her. Rusev's beating of Enzo in the hotel room for trying to get with his woman was an old school Attitude Era segment/beatdown and now Big Cass has to stick up for his tag team partner.
The last time Big Cass got a singles opportunity was when Enzo had an unfortunate concussion and was out for a month. He shined big time in that scenario and in the fatal four-way match for the vacant Universal Championship. His mic and in ring work continue to improve, and I'm sure he'll have a great singles run down the road.
Prediction Winner: Rusev. Rusev is an established monster and needs some momentum coming off the Roman Reigns feud. The loss won't hurt Big Cass who I'm sure will have some good spots in the match but is ultimately a tag team wrestler who will be going in a different direction after this match.
Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman (10 minute time limit match)
The WWE has done a good job with this David versus Goliath storyline. Braun has wanted better competition, Sami Zayn has stepped up several times but continues to come up short. Mick Foley's role in this story has been great as he has given some of the most passionate promos detailing what it will take to beat the undefeated Braun Strowman.
Prediction Winner: Draw. I think Sami Zayn will take a beating for the entire 10 minutes but last until the end. Sami gets a nice rub for enduring a monster while Braun continues to be an up and coming beast.
TJ Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick vs. Rich Swann (champ) for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Remember when I mentioned the Cruiserweight Classic as one of the WWE highlights this year? Unfortunately just about everything the WWE has done since then with the cruiserweights has been awful. The 205 Live show has somewhat brought back some of the momentum, but overall the excitement brought by the CWC is no longer there. The booking has been random, the feuds haven't been compelling, and in my mind, the WWE has not given us a reason to care about these wrestlers. I blame this solely on the writing and booking rather than the wrestlers themselves.
Prediction Winner: Rich Swann. This is honestly a complete guess given how they have booked the division since its inception. Here's to hoping for less 50/50 booking and more compelling storylines.
Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The New Day (champs) for the Raw Tag Team Championships
Congrats to The New Day for breaking the Tag Team Titles record held by Demolition. While we all know this is scripted entertainment, the company's decision to let them hold the belts for this long is a testament to the work, the three members have put in to make this gimmick work. They were given lemons (sour ones at that) and have made the best tasting lemonade the WWE has had in a long time.
Prediction Winner: The New Day. I believe this match was a last minute slot in and with that I don't see the point of taking the belts off of The New Day for a makeshift tag team. If the WWE wasn't going to give the belts to Gallows and Anderson, I can't see them giving the belts to Cesaro and Sheamus. It'd be nice to see The New Day hold onto the belts for a while longer and call up The Revival from NXT for the big match at Wrestlemania.
Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho
After HHH screwed Seth Rollins and helped Kevin Owens win The Universal Championship, we all knew an eventual match between Seth Rollins and HHH was coming and most likely at Wrestlemania. The interesting part of this story was the chapters between and how we would get to the inevitable ending. I was surprised after a few months of matches between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, with no mention of HHH that Seth Rollins randomly brought his name up again. I would have thought a surprise HHH interference down the road would have reinitiated the feud, but nonetheless, Seth called him out but first we have this match with Chris Jericho.
Prediction Winner: Seth Rollins. With the HHH feud looming, the WWE needs to keep him strong so I can't see him losing to Jericho at this point. I could also see Kevin Owens interfering and inadvertently costing Chris Jericho the match continuing their friendship riff and setting up an eventual feud between the two for The Universal Championship.
Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens (champ) for the WWE Universal Championship
Champion versus champion matches are always fun, but in the case of Roman Reigns, it's another forced push. Don't get me wrong, I think the fan treatment of Reigns has been a bit unfair, but I also see why he's getting booed. WWE can't seem to get out of its way with Roman and let him create his own path with The United States Championship. They continue to insert him into the main event picture and even with a mini-Shield reunion with Seth Rollins he continues to get booed.
Kevin Owens is having a great run as champion. When Finn Balor had to vacate the championship belt because of injury, the WWE went with a bit of a surprise pick in Owens, but he certainly has not disappointed. He knows how to get heat despite being the "cool" heel wrestler and his in-ring work has been stellar.
The interesting development with this feud is more about the relationship between Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens more so than is Roman Reigns a worthy adversary.
Prediction Winner: Kevin Owens. It makes no sense to give Roman Reigns two belts when he's still being resented by too many fans. I'm sure Reigns will look strong throughout the match but lose in the end with a nonclean ending. My prediction: a Samoa Joe run-in. With him losing his rematch on Wednesday's NXT and the WWE advertising that match as the final chapter, Joe is going to be on the main roster soon. Why not bring him in strong against one of the biggest figures in the company, and fellow Samoan. This is an easy storyline to build with a big payoff match at Wrestlemania.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (champ) for the Raw Women's Championship in a 30 minute Ironman Match
The culmination of a nearly year-long feud ends with the second ever Woman's Ironman Match. Give both of these ladies a ton of credit. The WWE gave them every opportunity possible to show what women wrestlers can do and have stepped up every time. While I still think the main roster wrestling lacks the compelling storytelling wrestling seen in NXT, the matches have all been solid, and the storyline has been very compelling. I'm looking forward to seeing how this final chapter of the story unfolds.
Prediction Winner: Sasha Banks. Tough call here as Charlotte is undefeated in pay per view matches and Sasha lost the only other Woman's Ironman Match. I'm hoping this match resembles the Brett Hart-Shawn Michaels match and goes into overtime at 0-0. Sasha eventually hits the Banks Statement and wins the match. Looking at this from a future booking perspective, I could see Sasha holding the belt and fighting Nia Jax at Wrestlemania more so than I could see Charlotte winning the belt back, and then fighting Bayley.
So there you have it. I see this largely as a placeholder pay per view since I don't see any of the title belts changing hands. You never know when Vince will throw a curve ball at us, but regardless, this should be a great event and solid show to end the 2016 pay per view schedule.
From Yardbarker: Why Sasha Banks and Charlotte Are The Real MVP's of Monday Night Raw
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