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WWE ROADBLOCK – HOLT REPORT
DECEMBER 18, 2016
PITTSBURGH, PA. AT PPG PAINTS ARENA
REPORT BY KEN ARNOLD, PWTORCH VIP MEMBER
Estimated Attendance: The entire lower bowl was about 80% full, excluding the tarps for the camera side, and the upper level and luxury boxes were full as well. There were quite a few empty seats on the floor section. My Dad and I sat three rows back of the time keeper area and there were a few empty rows to our right where the ringside announce desks was.
(1) Cass vs. Rusev: Crowd was into Enzo and Cass and it was quite fun to hear the crowd follow along with the introductions and chants also Lana and Rusev received good heat, but, as expected, the crowd did not like the count out finish. Decent match in my eyes and Cass continues to improve, but still has a long way to go.
(1) New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus: Crowd liked New Day and also liked the “odd couple” in Cesaro and Sheamus and as the match progressed the energy from the crowd got better which made the match itself more enjoyable. The crowd definitely got into the near falls during the latter part of the match and was very pleased with Cesaro and Sheamus winning the titles.
(2) Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman: The live crowd just didn’t get into this match and while they were happy to see Sami survive the full ten minutes with Strowman, they just didn’t buy into the notion that Sami was going to have his career end nor the story they were trying to tell with Mick Foley, Sami and Strowman.
(3) Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho: Outside of the usual chants for Jericho and Rollins, the crowd just wasn’t into what was going on between them. To formulaic and it seemed like they never got out of second gear. Expected finish with Rollins winning, but a match between these should have had more at stake then just Rollins getting his revenge.
(4) Rich Swann vs. T.J. Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick: Decent cruiserweight match, but the crowd didn’t seem to care. The crowd was more into what came after with Neville than the actual match – which says a lot about how the audience views the cruiserweights since the end of CWC. Why cheer or boo when you can’t connect with any of the wrestlers on any level outside of the highspots?
(5) Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte: The crowd was into both women and enjoyed the entire match. Dueling chants of ‘Let’s go Sasha’ and ‘Let’s go Charlotte’ and it was clear that the crowd was into Sasha. Charlotte received a ton of heat throughout the match. The match itself was great to witness in-person and its amazing how small Sasha looks and how big and tall Charlotte is. Charlotte is so much better to watch in-person and I feel is far superior to Sasha when it comes to wrestling and mic work. I also hope this is the end of all the trading back-and-forth with the title and both ladies can move on to new feuds.
(6) Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns: The boos were loud for Reigns and WWE clearly turned up the volume on his entrance music to try and drown it out, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. Owens got a good reaction and was cheered at times. People were into the match and knew that Jericho was going to come out and interfere. The live crowd did cheer when Jericho hit the Codebreaker on Owens and were pretty happy to see both hug it out and be friends again. The Seth Rollins appearance at the end and the Shield mini-reunion got a good reaction and crowd did seem satisfied with the ending of Reigns and Rollins power bombing Jericho and Owens through the announce tables.
-A return date to Pittsburgh was announced for Tuesday March 14th, when WWE brings Smackdown Live to PPG Paints Arena.
-Once in awhile I’d peak over to the Raw announce desk – and while it came across like Corey Graves was into what was going on and Michael Cole was focused on calling the matches, Byron Saxton leaned back in his chair and slouched most of the time and it came across like he didn’t care about what was going on and was going through the motions. My assumption is that since they’re next to the stage and there are no lights on them nor are they sitting at ringside with a camera or crowd watching them, the Raw team or Saxton can sit back and relax more.
-Whenever a WWE camera crew came by our section and stood behind the time keeper we knew right away that there going to be some sort of big spot. Strowman plowing through the time keeper barricade or Owens splashing Reigns through the announce desk were the obvious two.
-I went with my Dad and, while he doesn’t watch Raw or Smackdown, he did enjoy the show and appreciated the athleticism and what they were doing in the ring, but he did laugh at the Owens-Jericho drama and thought Owens was a chicken and a crybaby during all of that. He was also one of the few who cheered and chanted for Reigns and that was probably because of his feelings about Owens and his character throughout the night. He was also very impressed by Sasha and what she could do in the ring despite how small she was and was also amazed by how big and talented Charlotte was as well. My Dad didn’t quite get what the crowd was chanting at Enzo and Cass in the beginning, but picked up on it fairly quick. He told me afterwards that he liked the show and enjoyed everything, but he admitted he prefers MMA over wrestling, but he also understand that WWE is simulating a real sport and that it’s all entertainment.
Final Score: 6 out of 10. Average show with a solid Women’s Championship match, an okay Universal Championship match, and a nice tag title match and title switch, but I got the feeling like they were going through the motions during the show as if they were counting down the days until they can take time off for Christmas. Though it moreso had to do with the crowd, I think the crowd’s reaction to everything tonight had do with the inconsistencies of the booking and storytelling aspects on Raw these last few months.
Finally, I want to point out that it’s not just Smackdown with the roster depth issues, but also Raw. Even with the supposed “more star power” on the Monday show, there are still issues with the main event and the mid-card is barren when it comes to the number of options available. Everything feels more stale and dragged out on Raw and that being three hours every week continues to expose that.
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