Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio
Where’s the hype?
Wrestlemania season is now truly underway now that we’ve gotten past the do-nothing WWE Roadblock presented last weekend. Truly, this “network special” was what I expected it to be: a showcase for Triple H to show that he still has “it.”
Quick rundown of WWE Roadblock:
Triple H def. Dean Ambrose to retain the WWE World Title – one of Dean’s best singles matches, by far. It had a little bit of drama with some nearfalls and Dean did look like the scruffy, never-say-die competitor they have tried to portray him as, but the finish was still what we expected. What was unexpected was no appearance by Roman and no shenanigans throughout this hard-hitting match.
Brock def. Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt in a handicap match – Luke Harper got in a little bit of offense, but this was still the Brock show. Wyatt not getting involved in this match means either an injury or WWE being wary to give away a potential matchup between Brock and Bray.
New Day def. League of Nations to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles – This match felt off and I really didn’t have any interest going into it. Unfortunately, this match did nothing to stoke a fire under me. More on this later.
Charlotte def. Natalya to retain the WWE Divas Championship – It was a reminder of how two technically gifted wrestlers can step their game up, but the stakes weren’t there to make this feel special.
The Revival def. Enzo and Cass to retain the NXT Tag Team titles – A good showcase to put some newer guys in front of a bigger crowd. They gelled well and delivered a good tag match. It bodes well for other teams in NXT like American Alpha that these guys are getting better opportunities than guys like The Ascension.
Sami Zayn vs. Stardust – This was a good, technical match that allowed these guys to shine in the ring. Even if the match didn’t feel like a huge one, it was a great opportunity for these guys to get some exposure in something more than a brief segment on Raw.
Chris Jericho def. Jack Swagger – Eh. This felt like a waste of time, but considering the event and the lack of real importance, this was house show filler.
Now, feeding into last Monday’s Raw, it just felt like a continuation of Roadblock. The show just feels lethargic when it should be firing on all cylinders heading into Wrestlemania.
Ziggler interrupting The Authority was a refreshing change for him. He’s been cutting these “I’m the hardest worker” promos on WWE’s YouTube channel for a while now, so it felt natural for him to use them here. I’m convinced he’s going to play a role in one of the major matches, whether it’s helping Shane win or attacking Triple H. Dolph needs to hurt The Authority to finally cash in on his Survivor Series win two years ago. I could see them “suspending” him just before Wrestlemania only for him to come back.
Reigns finally made his triumphant (?) return to a chorus of boos as he beat up The Game. HHH, who is supposed to be the bad guy here, had an impromptu match against Ziggler, secured a hard-fought clean win and then was ambushed by WWE’s knight-in-black-vest. Best moment of this beat-down was seeing Jack Swagger break up a fight while his luxurious wallet chain jangled into frame. This feud feels unnatural and forced.
Speaking of forced, Shane McMahon had a rough night on the stick, stumbling and bumbling through his lines when selling his match with Undertaker. It felt as forced as the match itself feels. There is no reason Undertaker should be doing this match, it doesn’t fit his shtick for Wrestlemania. If he wanted to be heel, he’d best be used running down some young guy before finally acquiescing to a match at Wrestlemania.
Also, Shane…your punches, bro. Don’t. Please. Don’t.
Ambrose was presented as a Mick Foley-esque brawler, using a crowbar to fight off Brock like he was in Half-Life. Mick Foley himself then presented Dean with “Barbie the Barbed Wire Baseball Bat” and Dean smiled boorishly. Their match at Wrestlemania will be brutal and violent, but I wonder how un-PG it will get. I don’t loathe Dean being presented as the “do anything to win” guy and it doesn’t hurt that his opponent is the most vicious dude in WWE at this time. This story can still build well and I am so very curious to see how much more violence will be teased.
Zayn defeated Miz and I applauded. Glad to see Kevin Owens come out to keep this feud going. I want this singles match more than anything else simply because of the history between them. Not sure it translates to the general audience, but screw it, give me my match.
The rest of the “meh”st:
New Day defeated the League of Nations and I still don’t care about it. Then, WWE announced these teams will fight at Wrestlemania. Of all the tag teams you could put in a marquee match, that’s the one? Meanwhile, The Dudleys and the Usos are also facing off in a match over…stuff. TLC for the titles, please.
Ryback defeated Sin Cara and kept the Kalisto/Ryback program going. Ryback is awkward on the mic and Kalisto is worse. These two hopefully will have a great match that surpasses any talking they have to do to push this match for Wrestlemania.
Team BAD defeated Team Bella and I still don’t care about any of these women. They don’t feel developed or working to serve a purpose. The Divas Revolution only truly extends to Charlotte, Becky and Sasha.
Neville defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification after he was injured and Jericho pulled an audible. Neville, who fractured his ankle after attempting a baseball slide, still performed a spin kick and a hurricanrana before Jericho recognized he was hurt. I wish Neville all the best on a quick recovery. I was hoping to see him do something spectacular at Wrestlemania.
The Social Outcasts lost to the Usos. I didn’t glean anything pleasing from this match. I feel like WWE keeps these guys around just to populate their YouTube channel with videos of them playing board games.
In Other News:
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Lucha Underground, this week’s show was something incredible. We had a fantastic trios match between the Disciples of Death and Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc. This was chaos at its best and it gave me the similar kind of warm and fuzzy feelings I used to get for The Shield.
Fenix versus Mil Muertes is one of my matches of the year. Not a fan of the chairshots to the head, but I loved these two putting in something special through brutality and aerial beauty. This match was what I’ve been waiting for since the season finale last year.
That’s it for this week, we’ll be back with a Wrestlemania preview next week.
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