The last WWE pay-per-view of 2016 takes place this Sunday night as the Raw brand presents Roadblock: End of the Line. The show is headlined by Kevin Owens defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns while Sasha Banks defends the Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair in a 30 Minute Iron Man match.
Most WWE PPVs have a simple title, but for whatever reason, the company decided to add “End of the Line” to this one. I’m not sure why WWE decided to add a tag line to this show, although perhaps it was because there was a Roadblock event earlier in the year. However, that was more of a televised house show instead of a PPV.
It’s a show that doesn’t feel like a major event, but some of the matches have a chance to be awesome. There are some repeats too. My concern is that there might some PPV fatigue for the audience because this is the third pay-per-view in less than a month since Survivor Series on Nov. 20 and TLC on Dec. 4. The good news is that WWE Network is only $9.99, so it’s not like it’s costing us more money. It’s a just a lot of content that makes it difficult for even the most hardcore fans to consume.
When Raw was last on PPV at October’s Hell in a Cell, the main event was Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks. That could be the main event again, but I think it will be Owens vs. Reigns.
Here’s a breakdown of the WWE Universal Championship match using five different categories in order to tackle it from different angles.
There isn’t that much of a story heading into this match. On the Nov. 28 episode of Raw, Roman Reigns challenged Kevin Owens to a non-title match. The stipulation was that if Reigns won the match then he gets a shot at the Universal Title at Roadblock. It was a 15-minute match that Reigns won clean, which was pretty obvious. I’m not a fan of having champions losing non-title matches, but that’s what WWE does all the time.
Other than that, it’s been basic stuff with a lot of trash talk from both guys. Owens is the heel champion that wants to prove he’s the best performer on Raw, while Reigns doesn’t believe that Owens is as good as he thinks.
In addition to their rivalry, Owens has had a falling out with his “best friend” Chris Jericho over the last month. While they are not fully split up as allies, it’s certainly heading that way due to a lot of bickering between them. The main story is whether or not Owens can win without Jericho at his side because when Owens retained the Universal Title against Seth Rollins multiple times, it was usually due to the help of Jericho.
It should be noted also that even though Roman Reigns is the United States Champion, that title will not be on the line in this match. The only title up for grabs is KO’s Universal Championship.
Any time Roman Reigns is in a match, there’s going to be a mixed reaction. A lot of fans hate him for being shoved down their throats as a top face for the last couple of years. Even though he gets booed by the fans, he’s still booked as a Hulk Hogan/John Cena type superman kind of face that rarely loses matches and if he does, it’s not going to be clean. The only reason he had some clean losses in the summer is because he was suspended for the Wellness Policy violation. Once that passed, it’s been back to being booked strong.
Kevin Owens is supposed to be a heel, but he gets a lot of cheers because he’s a cool heel who makes a lot of jokes and is very entertaining in everything that he does. He’ll probably get cheered by a lot of fans that don’t like Reigns. Owens is very old school, though. He’ll still be that cheap heel that loves to cheat at every opportunity, which makes him one of WWE’s best performers.
They had a non-title match on Nov. 28, so we already have a good idea of what they can do in the ring. The match was good with Reigns getting the clean win. There have been other matches too, but that was the most recent match.
There were some believable near-falls for Owens in the match, although I don’t think anybody believed he was going to win. When they have the match at Roadblock, there should be more big moments where they are kicking out of finishing moves in order to build up to the finish.
In a PPV setting, they might get more than 15 minutes and if that happens they could end up with a better match. Reigns is usually better if he can use weapons around the ring leading to big spots using chairs or tables. Owens is great in any environment and has shown that all year.
If they didn’t have that Raw match, then I’d be more excited about it. Since we already saw what they can do, there is less anticipation for the match. I do expect it to be pretty good too.
This feels like the first match in a series for them. That doesn’t mean it’s going to carry all the way until January’s Royal Rumble. I just think there will be a major match on Raw between them at some point because the rivalry is only a few weeks old.
For Owens, the rivalry that makes sense is Jericho, assuming Jericho turns into a full-fledged babyface in the next few weeks or months. The fans are cheering for Jericho’s many catchphrases, so he’s obviously on his way to being a good guy. Their friendship has been fun to watch, but as we know in wrestling, those friendships always end at some point. It would make sense to have them in a feud in early 2016 whether that’s at the Royal Rumble or some other show.
I’m not sure what the direction is for Reigns. He’s only defended the US Title a couple of times in the last few months and it’s not on the line here. They need to get the title off him because it’s hurting the title more than it’s helping. If he’s in the Royal Rumble, then he’s obviously going to be a big favorite to win. I’m not sure who his WrestleMania opponent would be, though. Braun Strowman is possible because WWE has high hopes for him. It could be somebody we aren’t even thinking about too.
My hope is that Owens gets to hold the Universal Title until at least WrestleMania for a match against long time rival Sami Zayn or perhaps the Jericho feud can last until then. A returning Finn Balor is a possible matchup for him there too. There are options for KO, so it’s going to be interesting to see how long he holds the title.
I’m going with Kevin Owens winning the match in some sort of cheap way, but it’s not an easy match to call. It wouldn’t surprise me if Reigns won simply because WWE loves putting him over and they may feel that it’s a good idea to have Reigns going into WrestleMania as the Universal Champion, rather than as the guy chasing the champion like he was the last two years. I wouldn’t do that, though. I’m just saying that WWE might go that route.
I think Jericho is going to factor into the finish. I know that the story has been that Owens has had problems with Jericho, but we know heels are crafty and they lie. Maybe all of it has been a swerve just to throw off Reigns and Rollins. They can still have Jericho show up at ringside, tease the idea that he’s going to cost Owens or something of that sort and then do something behind the ref’s back leading to an Owens victory. They can still have the Owens/Jericho split happen in January leading to a match between them.
My official prediction is that Owens finds a way to retain the title. It might be a Disqualification win for Reigns, but if that happens then Owens is still the champ. This doesn’t feel like the right time for a title change. I’m going with my fellow Canadian Owens to retain although, as I said, it’s not a sure thing by any means.
Here’s the rest of the lineup for Roadblock: End of the Line. All images are from the fine folks at WWE.com.
Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair (30 Minute Iron Man Match)
The “End of the Line” phrase apparently fits here because it is likely going to be their last match since the announcers on Raw mentioned that there’s no rematch clause in place here. Whoever wins leaves with the title while moving onto another opponent, and the loser has to suck it up by feuding with somebody else.
The Iron Man stipulation is unique. If you’re wondering, the reason why it’s called Iron Man instead of Iron Woman in this case is just because that’s the name of the match. There’s no need to change the name with two women in the match. Last October, Banks lost an Iron Man match to Bayley at NXT Takeover, which is a show I attended. We were standing for about 20 minutes of the match because of how great it was. Doing it on the main roster is awesome. It also shows how much faith WWE has in these two women because it’s rare to see WWE women getting 30 minutes in a match. Kudos to these women for continuing to raise the bar.
It’s worth noting that Charlotte is undefeated in PPV title matches. That’s something WWE likes to mention every time there’s a PPV. It would make sense for Banks to beat her in this match to end that streak of Charlotte and put an end to the rivalry at the same time. I’m not sure if it’s going to happen, though.
I think the match will be 2-2 heading into the final few minutes. Ric Flair may show up to show support to Sasha Banks, which has been part of the story in the last month. It was also reported in the last month that Flair signed a contract to be a regular on Raw again. With that in mind, the logical finish is seeing Flair costing Banks a fall and giving his daughter Charlotte the win. She ripped on Ric six months ago and was very mean in doing so, but in the end family matters more than anything. I think it’s going to be an evil Flair ending to this storyline as Charlotte remains undefeated while Banks is screwed out of her title with no rematch in sight.
Charlotte can move on to a feud with Bayley while Banks can deal with the likes of Nia Jax or perhaps Emmalina, if they actually put her on TV again.
My Prediction: Charlotte Flair wins Women’s Title thanks to help from Ric Flair
Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho
In terms of predictions, I feel like this is the easiest match to call. Jericho’s a great performer who is doing amazing things at 46 years of age, but Rollins is the younger face on the rise that is trying to get revenge after Jericho cost him the Universal Title on multiple occasions. It should be a match where Jericho controls most of it, Rollins makes the comeback and wins emphatically with a Pedigree in a 15-minute match.
The next few months will be big for Rollins. I think WWE needs to do a better job of making him more likable. He needs to do more than just calling out Triple H or trying to be funny by calling Jericho “sparkle crotch.” Fans like him because he’s a great in-ring performer that is fun to watch. He needs more than that, though. I expect him to beat Triple H at WrestleMania. After that, a title reign could follow.
My Prediction: Seth Rollins wins
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
Is it time for the Europeans to end the record-setting title reign of The New Day? Perhaps. Following the great story on Monday’s Raw with New Day winning two tag title matches, Cesaro & Sheamus earned another title shot at the Tribute to the Troops show that aired on Wednesday.
It’s a tough match to call because now that New Day has the coveted record, the expectation from a lot of people is that they will just lose them right away. I’m not sure if WWE wants it to be that easy. Why not extend the reign to more than 500 days? It sounds like a good idea to me.
I feel like the team that should beat them is Gallows & Anderson because they really need it. I know that Cesaro & Sheamus is a duo that Mick Foley put together, so if they win he’ll be justified in making them team up. However, I just think Gallows & Anderson are more of a long-term team. It makes sense to have them win and then drop them to Enzo & Cass at WrestleMania. I’ll pick New Day here, although it’s definitely a tough call.
My Prediction: New Day wins
Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman (Ten Minute Time Limit)
There’s a unique stipulation to this match. Sami Zayn doesn’t have to win. All he has to do is survive 10 minutes against Braun Strowman without losing. I like the stipulation because it’s something we haven’t seen in WWE in a long time, so it will feel fresh to newer fans.
I think WWE went with this stipulation because they want to keep Strowman as an undefeated monster (on Raw since the brand split) heading into the Royal Rumble, but WWE is finally getting behind Zayn. After five months, he has a storyline that could lead to him being built up as a top guy that overcomes the odds. He can be the new Daniel Bryan, although he doesn’t have the connection with the crowd that Bryan had. I think he’s got the potential, though. With that in mind, I expect Zayn to take a pounding for the majority of the match, keep coming back and finding a way to last the 10 minutes. He won’t pin Strowman, but he’ll last the 10 minutes and win over some fans that way.
My Prediction: Sami Zayn survives for 10 minutes
Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann vs. T.J. Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
This seems like an easy match to predict because Swann just won the title from Kendrick a few weeks ago. Putting him in a three-way match against the two former champions stacks the odds against Swann as a test to see if he can overcome them. I like that Perkins is growing thicker skin and perhaps turning heel soon because his character was too nice. Swann should get the win in a match that gets about 10 minutes. After this match, Swann should move on to a new rival because it’s the right time for it.
My Prediction: Rich Swann wins
Big Cass vs. Rusev (Kickoff Match)
Poor Rusev. I’m a huge fan of the guy and feel like he should be at a main event level or at least near the main event. Instead, he lost so many matches to Roman Reigns over the last four months that he’s been relegated to Kickoff Match duty. If they have him lose this match, then I have to wonder if he’s being punished for something because he needs to be used better.
I really hope WWE goes into 2017 with a goal of trying to elevate Rusev to become the Universal or WWE Champion because he is a main event talent. They just have to use him better.
I have nothing against Big Cass, but at this point he’s just a tag team wrestler that watches his buddy Enzo Amore get beat up all the time. The fact that he’s seven feet tall (and you can’t teach that) means that he’ll probably get a massive singles push in the next year or two. Cass rarely gets pinned, so if Rusev wins it won’t be clean. I’m not sure if Enzo will be at ringside for the match or if he’ll still be selling the beating that Rusev gave him two weeks ago. I’m still going to pick Rusev winning perhaps because Enzo accidentally distracts Cass or Lana gets involved to help her husband Rusev.
My Prediction: Rusev wins in a cheap manner
I think Roadblock will be a good night of wrestling action. The Women’s Championship match between Sasha and Charlotte will likely be the longest match on the show and probably the best match too. I like Owens/Reigns and Rollins/Jericho as well even though they have been done before. The booking of Zayn is important. Here’s hoping he doesn’t look like too much of a loser coming out of the match with Strowman. The rest of the card is okay.
I don’t expect this to be an amazing show that we remember for years to come, but it should be a solid night of wrestling action.
You can watch Raw’s Roadblock End of the Line show on WWE Network this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET with an expected run time of three hours. There’s a Kickoff Show starting at 7 p.m. ET as well.