WKPWP - Mailbag - Keller & Fann talk WrestleMania line-up
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It’s the first Saturday night WWE Network special set for three hours on the Network. Triple H defends the WWE World Title against Dean Ambrose, plus Brock Lesnar takes the Wyatts to Suplex City…
“WWE Roadblock” Network Special Report
March 12, 2016
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
- WWE World Hvt. Title match: Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose
- Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Bray Wyatt
- WWE Tag Title match: New Day vs. League of Nations (Sheamus & King Barrett)
- NXT Tag Title match: The Revival vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
- Announcers: Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton
Michael Cole introduced the show from Toronto before Big E. introduced New Day to kick off the show. WWE retained the “WWE Live” house show set for the Network special.
The tag champions entered the ring to mainly cheers and there was a podium in the ring. Xavier Woods had a riddle for Toronto. What do you see when you look at New Day? Xavier listed their attributes, then noted they are the WWE World Tag Team Champions. As for the podium, New Day pulled back the curtain to reveal a “Booty-O’s” cereal box. Big E. played the role of child not wanting to eat his Booty-O’s. Papa Kingston asked what happens when you don’t eat your cereal. You suck like Del Rio, don’t have a kingdom like King Barrett, and look stupid like Sheamus. They had nothing for Rusev. So, they went to the finish of singing “New Day Rocks.”
The League of Nations’s music interrupted to bring out King Barrett and Sheamus to challenge for the Tag Titles.
1 — WWE tag champions NEW DAY (KOFI KINGSTON & BIG E. w/Xavier Woods) vs. LEAGUE OF NATIONS (SHEAMUS & KING BARRETT) — WWE Tag Title match
WWE signaled to the audience that they’re trying to make New Day babyfaces (at least for one night) since JBL heeled on their act after a year-plus of rooting for them. Late in the match, Barrett had Big E. pinned for a visual count, but Xavier did his heel tactics hopping on the ring apron to distract the ref. The crowd enjoyed the heel tactics in this instance since it meant The League was not going to win the titles. After the chaos, Big E. caught Barrett with Big Ending for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: New Day at 9:49 to retain the WWE Tag Titles.
Backstage: Paul Heyman was standing by to introduce himself and promote Brock Lesnar. He said Toronto will be the new capital of Suplex City tonight. Heyman told Bray Wyatt that he will be beaten down, victimized, suplexed, F5’ed, and conquered. The crowd cheered in the background.
Jericho Video Package: Chris Jericho accused A.J. Styles of burning him, so he lit a Y2AJ t-shirt on-fire on Smackdown.
In the arena, Jericho’s countdown clock played to bring out Jericho dressed to wrestle. Cole noted Jericho has a history of back-stabbings, and Styles is the latest example. Jericho stood in the ring listening to the crowd reaction in his home country. “Toronto, you can shut your filthy mouths right now,” he said to boos.
Jericho told the crowd they had their chance to chant his name for months, but they chanted for A.J. Styles instead. An “A-J-Styles” chant broke out. Jericho continued to heel on the Canadian fans, then called himself the greatest icon in the history of this country. A “We Want Bret” chant broke out. Jericho said you’re never getting him again. Jericho added that he’s ashamed to be Canadian. Jericho looked around the arena, then promoted his decision to move out of the country years ago. “I moved to Canada because Canada stinks,” Jericho said. “Literally stinks. And Toronto is the anus.”
Jericho said A.J. Styles is the flavor of the month, like when Jack Swagger beat him for the World Title (six years ago). Jericho heeled on Swagger, which the crowd agreed with, and said he is the only thing that matters. He repeated that he is the Best in the World at what he does. Suddenly, Swagger’s music played to very little reaction. Swagger tried to get the crowd behind him before facing Jericho in a house show-quality match after Jericho cut the local heel promo.
2 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. JACK SWAGGER
Swagger went on the offensive early on, trying to get some fan support. Jericho used the ref to cut him off, though. Jericho then knocked Swagger to the floor and ran him into the barricade. Jericho continued to work over Swagger in the ring as the crowd went through A.J. Styles, then C.M. Punk chants.
Swagger finally made a comeback, mainly to boos, before lining up Jericho for a Swagger Bomb, but Jericho got his knees up to block. A second try connected for a two count. Swagger then tried the Patriotlock, but Jericho blocked and nailed an enziguiri. Swagger went for it again, but Jericho grabbed the ref’s leg to leverage his way to the bottom rope. Jericho immediately capitalized with the Walls of Jericho for the win.
WINNER: Jericho via submission at 7:54. Basic enhancement match for Jericho leading into WrestleMania, using a lower-card babyface who had nothing to lose taking a clean loss.
Announcers: Cole and Co. transitioned to NXT discussion, focusing on The Revival’s Tag Title reign. NXT’s vibe is built on being an alternative, so “WWE TV voices” Cole, JBL, and Saxton calling an NXT Tag Title match on a main roster WWE show seems counter-productive. But, it is a way to introduce a new act from NXT in front of a knowledgable audience.
In-ring: Enzo Amore & Big Cass, along with Carmella, were introduced as the challengers to a big reaction. Enzo did his pre-match walk-up routine as WWE showed fans chanting along. In the ring, Carmella, Big Cass, and Enzo introduced themselves before cutting a promo on The Revival. Big Cass said there is only one word to describe The Revival – S-A-W-F-T. The Revival’s music played next to bring out the tag champs.
3 — NXT tag champions THE REVIVAL (DASH & DAWSON) vs. BIG CASS & ENZO AMORE (w/Carmella) — NXT Tag Title match
Cass & Amore knocked the tag champs out of the ring early on, then the tag champs hiddled on the floor. So, Enzo got a head of steam and Cass launched him clear over the top rope to splash the champs. Lots of energy from Enzo, who returned to the ring, only to get cut off when The Revival regrouped. Enzo made the isolation portion of the match interesting by coming up with innovative ways to try to tag Big Cass, only to have the tag champs “play defense” to retain control.
Enzo finally tagged in Big Cass, who cleaned house. Running elbow splash to Dash, then a chokeslam over the top rope to Dawson. Big Boot to Dash, then one for Dawson. Sidewalk Slam – the East River Crossing – and it looked like the tag champs were done. But, Dawson grabbed Enzo from behind before he could be launched onto Dash. Chaos broke out on the floor involving Carmella. Big Cass ended up taking a 3D on the floor.
Back in the ring, Enzo waited for his opening to nearly pin Dawson. Very close two count on a roll-up. The ref then pulled out gloves for a potential blood spot while Dawson and Enzo recovered. Cole noted Dawson was cut on the top of his head, then Dash & Dawson combined for a nasty-looking double-team Codebreaker on Enzo. Cover for the win.
WINNERS: Revival at 10:17 to retain the NXT Tag Titles. Enzo & Big Cass are such a refreshing act. They just never win the big match when gold is on the line.
Announcers: Cole transitioned to Divas action. Cole said this will have a twist.
Earlier Today: Greg Hamilton interviewed Natalya about wrestling back home in Canada. She said she is dedicating her match against Charlotte to Bret Hart. Charlotte and Ric Flair happened to be standing by to interrupt. Charlotte said Nattie has no shot of beating her tonight to get a title shot. Charlotte added that Natalya is no threat to her. Natalya pressed the issue about Bret being right that the Flairs are cowards. Flair wanted to respond, but Charlotte held her off. She said the title match is on, but she will never win the Divas Title, just like the Toronto Maple Leafs will never win the Stanley Cup.
In-ring: Divas champion Charlotte was introduced to the ring flanked by Ric Flair. Natalya’s Bret Hart-inspired theme music then played to bring out the challenger wearing a Bret & Owen t-shirt. The match received the formal ring introduction treatment from Jo-Jo before the opening bell.
4 — Divas champion CHARLOTTE (w/Ric Flair) vs. NATALYA — Divas Title match
Even match to start as Natalya and Charlotte traded control of matholds. Natalya eventually caught Charlotte in a surfboard stretch, drawing applause from the crowd. Charlotte then played chicken heel running away from Natalya, eventually yanking her out of the ring to the floor. Charlotte then went on a sustained attack, pausing every so often to gloat about her dominance.
Natalya tried to mount a comeback, but Charlotte sent her face-first into the turnbuckle before taking out her knee. Charlotte then nailed a bicycle kick to the face into the figure-eight submission. But, Natalya refused to tap. She even reversed the hold, then pushed Charlotte to the ropes to break free.
Charlotte and Natalya then battled to the top turnbuckle, where Natalya got the advantage and landed a sit-out powerbomb for a close two count. They went back to the mat teasing figure-eights and Sharpshooters until Natalya trapped Charlotte in the Sharpshooter. The crowd popped and came to their feet wanting a tap-out, but Charlotte reached for Papa Flair. A connection was briefly made, and Natalya dropped the hold to yell at Flair. That allowed Charlotte to roll up Flair from behind with her feet (kind of) on the ropes for the cheat-to-win.
WINNER: Charlotte at 13:37 to retain the Divas Title. Really strong battle. Natalya was solid as the scrappy challenger wrestling inspired in Canada. They did a good job trying to make it seem like Natalya had a chance to win, even when no one really expected WWE to change Mania plans with Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Becky already booked.
Video Package: Brock Lesnar vs. The Wyatts feud.
In-ring: Bray Wyatt talked as he walked down to the ring, saying Brock Lesnar has conquered The Rock, John Cena, and even the mighty Undertaker. But, Brock has never conquered him. Bray, now in the ring, said he has made a deal with the devil himself. (So, Kane is still the invisible booker?) Bray said he and his brother, Luke Harper, will slay The Beast together. Basically the same change to a handicap match as the Montreal house show last night.
After a pause, Brock Lesnar’s music played to bring out Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Lesnar bounced up and down on the stage, then marched to the ring. Lesnar circled the ring waiting to make a decision on when to enter the ring. Before the match started, Heyman cut a promo from the ring apron. Heyman said it is his honor to present the man fighting out of the conqueror’s corner, The Beast, The Conqueror, Brock Lesnar.
5 — BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) vs. BRAY WYATT & LUKE HARPER — handicap match
Harper took Suplex #1 about 20 seconds into the match. Harper bailed to the floor, so Lesnar stalked both Wyatts. Lesnar locked eyes on Wyatt, losing focus on Harper, who surprised him with a running splash. Harper did more damage back in the ring as Wyatt watched comfortably from the floor. Harper nailed a discus clothesline for a close two count, stunning the crowd.
Lesnar fired back with multiple suplexes to Harper before staring down Wyatt. Another release German suplex to Harper. A few more as Heyman laughed at ringside and Wyatt started backing away from ringside. Lesnar then hoisted Harper into the air and nailed the F5 for the pin and win.
Post-match, Lesnar stalked Wyatt out of the arena as Harper recovered in the ring. Lesnar then stopped half-way up the ramp and thought about returning to the ring to get more of Harper, but opted to keep on waking to the back. Meanwhile, Harper was slow to recover in the ring.
WINNER: Lesnar at 4:03. Half-way satisfying since Lesnar got in his moves, but not on the desired target.
In-ring: Sami Zayn’s music played next, surprising the crowd. Zayn bounced down to the ring returning home to Canada. WWE hyped the new Zayn vs. Kevin Owens feud as Cole noted Zayn wants a shot at the IC Title at WrestleMania. Stardust’s music played to bring out Zayn’s opponent.
6 — SAMI ZAYN vs. STARDUST
Zayn and Stardust felt each other out early on, then Stardust sold for “Cody, Cody” chants. The crowd followed with “Ole!” chants for Zayn. Zayn wanted a springboard move, but Stardust cut him off with a right hand blow. Stardust went to work on Zayn, prompting “Let’s Go Sami” chants. Stardust continued to dominate Zayn as the crowd grew restless.
Stardust took Zayn to the top turnbuckle looking to inflict more punishment, but Zayn blocked and knocked Stardust down to the mat. Except, Stardust sprung to his feet and dropped Zayn with a superplex for a two count. Stardust grew tired of dealing with Zayn, so he slapped him around a bit. That woke up Zayn, who fired up with a clothesline and ten punches in the corner. Zayn then low-bridged Stardust to the floor before flying over the top rope with a flip dive to Stardust.
Back in the ring, Zayn nailed the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Stardust answered with the Disaster Kick for a nearfall of his own. Stardust tried to follow up in the corner, but Zayn blocked and nailed the Helluva Kick. Zayn covered Stardust for the win. The crowd was more relieved than excited about the outcome.
WINNER: Zayn at 12:33. Talk about misaligned expectations. Crowd reaction: Great, Sami Zayn is wrestling. Who is he facing? Um, Stardust, a tired main roster act who lacks credibility in the ring. And he’s going to be dominated for the majority of a 13-minute match? Fortunately this was not in front of a TV audience, but WWE defined down an exciting new act in one match by having him look soft against a weak heel. There was nothing “underdog” about this based on the opposition.
Video Package: Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose feud with Roman Reigns hanging out in the background before WrestleMania.
In-ring: Triple H’s music played to bring out the WWE champion first. Hunter, appearing to be in good shape for WrestleMania Season, made the slow march to the ring before posing with the WWE Title belt around his waist. WWE then cut backstage to show Dean Ambrose walking down the hallway gearing up to challenge for the WWE Title. Hunter and Ambrose came face-to-face in the ring as Cole said Roman Reigns will be watching this match closely. That’s assuming he’s managed to check out of the hospital three weeks after “getting his nose broken” by Triple H.
7 — WWE World Hvt. champion TRIPLE H vs. DEAN AMBROSE — WWE World Title match
After formal ring introductions, the bell sounded to begin the main event. Cole carried over his WWE website interview with Ambrose from Wednesday by reiterating Dean’s comment about WWE being his company because he “goes around the world entertaining fans” while Hunter sits in his office. There had to be a better way to paraphrase Dean’s comment than making a supposed b.a. character seem like a circus animal.
The crowd broke into dueling chants, then transitioned to a C.M. Punk chant, which drew some boos in response. Meanwhile, Dean raked Hunter’s nose, trying to open up his nostrils, apparently looking for nasal revenge after Hunter’s attack on Reigns three weeks ago. Dean then knocked Hunter to the floor and nailed him with a knock-down clothesline.
Back in the ring, Dean continued to attack Hunter, targeting Hunter’s left knee. Ambrose repeatedly wrapped Hunter’s knee around the ringpost, then delivered another blow to the knee. Hunter eventually rolled to the floor and hobbled around ringside. But, Dean walked right into a Pedigree teaser. Hunter adjusted when Dean blocked and kicked him hard into the ring steps.
Back in the ring, Hunter attacked Ambrose and continued the assault until applying a Crossface submission. Ambrose writhed in pain, then Hunter transitioned to modified crossface trying to hyper-extend Dean’s arms. Hunter eventually released and delivered hard elbow smashes to the back. But, Dean came back with a flying elbow to put both men on the mat.
Hunter came to his feet first and delivered a knock down punch. They traded right hand punches and slaps until Dean drove Hunter into the corner. Ambrose fired off repeated blows into a running bulldog for a two count. He teased Dirty Deeds, but Hunter blocked. Hunter followed with a knee smash, but Dean rebounded off the ring ropes for a big lariat resulting in another nearfall.
Reset at 16:00. Dean wanted to finish Hunter, but Hunter exploded on him with a running clothesline. Hunter teased the Pedigree, but Dean dumped Hunter over the top rope to the floor. Dean tried to fly to the outside, but Hunter blocked with a stiff right hand to the face. Hunter then staggered to the announce table and began removing items. But, Dean slammed Hunter into the ring steps.
Back in the ring, Hunter crotched Ambrose and wanted the Pedigree again, but Dean blocked and slapped on the figure-four leglock after working on Hunter’s knee earlier in the match. Cole declared that Dean is going to tap Hunter and win the title, which of course meant he was not. Cole said Dean was moments away from winning, but Hunter fought back with right hand strikes. So, Dean adjusted and applied the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Cole painted a picture of Hunter tapping to the Sharpshooter in Toronto, making it a “magical night.” Hunter started to fade, but then used the last of his energy tank to crawl across the ring to break the hold.
Reset at 20:00 with both men selling the effects of the match. Hunter yanked Dean across the top rope, then walked across the ring, but walked right into Dirty Deeds. Dean covered Hunter and got a clear three count, but the ref suddenly stopped his count for some reason. Apparently the deal was Dean’s feet were under the ropes or something, “breaking the plane” to be out-of-bounds making a cover. The crowd freaked out and Dean argued with the ref, then Hunter rolled up Dean from behind and tried to use his feet on the ropes, but Dean kicked out at two.
Dean, incensed, went after Hunter with a flying attack. Ambrose knocked Hunter to the floor and landed a big splash before doing Shawn Michaels’s old-school DX crotch chop while on his back. Ambrose then pounded Hunter onto the announce table before climbing back into the ring. Ambrose contemplated his next move with a big smile on his face.
Ambrose left the ring and climbed onto the barricade to deliver a Cactus Jack-style elbow drop onto the table, but Hunter moved and Ambrose crashed through the table. As Dean sold, Hunter slowly returned to the ring looking for a count-out win. Dean made it back at nine, but walked right into The Pedigree. Hunter covered Dean for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Cole quickly covered for Ambrose taking the loss as Hunter crawled across his belly out of the ring, selling exhaustion from the match. WWE went back to Dean’s apparent three count, showing a replay of the referee’s angle seeing Dean’s feet kinda sliding near the ropes as he pinned Hunter. Back live, Hunter eventually made it to his feet on the outside and stumbled backwards with possession of the title belt as Dean continued to recover in the ring. Cole said Hunter’s final “roadblock” before WrestleMania is clear as the Network special signed off at 10:25, ending the special around the two-and-a-half-hour mark.
WINNER: Triple H at 24:43 to retain the WWE Title; Dean’s three count was at 20:45. WWE went a step further than Charlotte-Natalya trying to make it seem like a title change was possible even though WWE already made WrestleMania plans. The false finish for Dean was interesting in that WWE is lacking goodwill heading into Mania and going that far with a false finish straddled the line of being more of a turn-off than heat-generator. Overall, Dean got a lot of offense to look strong in defeat, while Hunter played the role of an aging champion struggling to keep up with the next generation.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: A glorified house show for the most part, but the toned-down, less-corporate production value was refreshing for a WWE broadcast. You could make a list of 10 pros and 10 cons from this show as WWE tried something new with a Saturday night Network special three weeks before WrestleMania.
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