RtWR 2016 Part Two Summary
I'll be honest: I haven't really been looking forward to writing this post.
It isn't that there aren't some things I'd like to discuss about the storylines that I'm building, or the way some of the changes have affected wrestlers, or even how this platform will allow the stories to be pushed towards Wrestlemania.
No, the reason is fairly simple: It means I have to talk about WWE Roadblock.
The televised version was not a pay-per-view. It was a glorified house show, with barely any thematic structure to it, and numerous holes in the card filled in by random matches that made little sense, or were there for cheap pops. Exactly what you would expect from a house show. Jericho vs Swagger with no build up? The NXT championship being defended just to remove Enzo and Cass from the title picture?
Essentially what I'm saying is that this version of Roadblock completely undermined future attempts to make "WWE Roadblock" a legitimate pay per view. And because of that, only one match (!) was kept from the original televised version for the rewrite.
The New Day and The League of Nations (continued)
I said it in the review of part one: the League need purpose before they can take on The New Day in a compelling way. This isn't it, and neither is the match they televised at Wrestlemania. The tag team division is stagnant, and so are the League of Nations. So we need to give them drive and purpose (or end them entirely), before they can step up to the champions.
Chris Jericho and Jack Swagger
Why? Just... why? You are trying to drag on a feud with AJ Styles that has been going on for too long, you've shown little interest in pushing Swagger in recent months, and now you use a... yeah. No. I'm sorry, but this was just pointless.
The Revival vs Enzo and Cass (NXT Tag Team Championship
Ending the rivalry in NXT between these two teams, this match's purpose is purely to move Enzo and Cass on to the main roster, to allow for American Alpha to have their run. And while that is fine... Enzo and Cass should have moved on from NXT to the main roster much earlier, and it wasted a spot on this card. It was a solid match, but again. Lots could have been done better about this show.
Sami Zayn and Stardust
Why is this the only real time we got Sami Zayn/Cody Rhodes time?
Because nothing you like matters in WWE.
Dean Ambrose and Triple H
As I've discussed previously, this match was flipped with the Brock Lesnar storyline, so while the match will happen at Wrestlemania, it has been dropped here. I liked a lot about the match. They did a great job selling the potential win (even though we knew how it was going to end). But losing didn't cost Ambrose anything, so it wasn't really a Roadblock for him, which makes it a "Roadblock" for Triple H... and why would you choose to have one of those?
Basically, it was a drawcard match, not a storyline one.
Next up is the one and only match I kept:
Charlotte and Natalya
This match is pretty close to the same one televised. The difference here though is in the lead up. There was no lead up in the televised version, as all the focus was on the Wrestlemania triple threat. Instead, I used the continued interference by Ric Flair, and the general chaos that has been swamping the cards, to create a scenario where Charlotte caused this match to happen as punishment for her actions, furthering two aspects of the story - building a wedge between Ric and Charlotte, and setting her up as a stronger champion going into Wrestlemania.
So... well... If you read the original card, you might have noticed that there is a match missing from the list above.
So yeah. Let's talk about that match.
Brock Lesnar and the Wyatt Family
Don't get me wrong. We all want this match. We want a fantastic storyline between Bray Wyatt and Paul Heyman on the mic, and a final blow off match at Wrestlmania or Survivor Series that establishes Bray Wyatt as the true monster of WWE, and the natural successor for The Undertaker.
But no build up? Just as/after Bray Wyatt gets injured? And the match ends up being Luke Harper vs Brock Lesnar, with the match changed at the last minute to a handicap match so that Bray doesn't actually have to participate?
Please. Would you like me to write the stories for you?
This match was a pointless waste of time, that did nothing for build up. And if you ever had any questions as to whether WWE Roadblock was a glorified house show, I have four words for you:
"Card subject to change."
So now that we have all that out of the way, let's talk about all of the stuff I added to make this an actual pay per view.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal Qualifiers
Wrestlemania matches should have meaning. They shouldn't just be gifted to wrestlers. Granted, some wrestlers earn a spot because they don't have another match and they've done well throughout the year, but why fill the space with a few celebrity spots when you can give some younger talent a moment in the sun.
There will be more later in the series, but for now, four spots have been earned: Tye Dillinger, Murphy, and the Ascension. Now it is starting to feel like maybe it isn't just a "and everyone else" match. Cause someone is going to miss out on a Wrestlemania spot...
The United States Championship
I always felt that there was something wrong with having two mid card belts that were essentially the same. There is no definitive line between the Intercontinental Championship and the United States Championship, as we've seen wrestlers move between the two plenty of times before. While my approach would be different were the brand split to take place, in this rewrite, I'm moving the United Championship belt to be a little more aerobatic and Lucha style, while the Intercontinental Championship shifts into the old school/technical division. The United States Championship loses some of the logic behind its name (not that there is any right now anyway), but it will provide a clearer delineation between the halves of the mid card.
Announcing the Ladder Match for Wrestlemania, and bringing both Usos in to compete as individuals, makes it a compelling story from the beginning. Now we know where the end goal is, but there are still four spots to be earned. Meanwhile, The Ascension are in the Battle Royal, but the real question is what will The Dudley Boyz do now...
Sheamus and Heath Slater
League of Nations vs Social Outcasts. The elite vs the commoners. This matchup is so perfectly set up... and yet it needed a little twist. Kicking the Englishman out of the group, a month earlier than he was on the televised version, after a series of losses that provided plenty of division within the group, makes sense. The League was unbalanced, with no real direction. Now for the moment we have a clear leader (Sheamus), and a belief that they are the elite of the company.
King Barrett is gone, the League is outnumbered, and they believe that they are better regardless. Now we have a story to build upon to Wrestlemania.
Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose
Bringing an end to a rivalry that doesn't help either wrestler (as fun as it has been at times), Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose go to war, and now it is settled. Ambrose took Lesnar as far as anyone else has, if not further, proved that he was the heir to Mick Foley/Stone Cold Steve Austin, and elevated his presence in the ring and on the mic to match the quality of Paul Heyman.
Even with the loss, a successful story.
Enzo and Cass and the Wyatt Family
Vengeance is a dish best served with a rampaging Beast.
Enzo and Cass are the heart and soul of the NXT tag team division. Now, on the main roster, they have a chance to help build a strong division with far more variety than has been present in the last year or so. The New Day is incredibly popular, whether as Faces or Heels, but their opponents have made them stale. New opponents, and better story arcs, will drag the division into a better place (a place where we don't end up with the titles not being defended at Wrestlemania for one).
On the other side of things, the Wyatt Family have reaped what they sowed. Going after the Beast for little reason than to make a statement at the Royal Rumble has cost them a title opportunity at Wrestlemania, and left them in tatters. How they will rebuild themselves, we will have to wait and see. But Lesnar has made his mark, and can now move on.
And with that, part two is complete. Part three is coming soon, with a fan favourite coming to the rescue, and a new twist on a former hero...
Let me know what you think so far, or tweet me @kauyin.