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- Week 5 Two Start Pitchers
- 2017 NFL Draft First Round IDP Reactions
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WWE: Road Block and Raw Review
WrestleMania season is in full swing for WWE right now, putting on a WWE Network special this past Saturday titled Road Block. In addition, I was able to attend this past edition of Monday Night Raw. This seemed like the perfect time to do a bonus article to update readers on what direction WrestleMania is headed. Although Monday Night Raw was slightly disappointing in that I didn’t get to see acts like Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks and AJ Styles wrestle, it was still a fun show.
The Road Block event kicked off with the New Day promoting their new “cereal”, Booty-O’s. While it may not come with real cereal, you can actually buy a collector’s cereal box along with shirt on the WWE website. The New Day defended their Tag Team Titles against the League of Nation Saturday and Monday nights. This seems to signal that WWE has shifted New Day to a baby face act, as the League is the clear heel team. Both matches were high quality, and the League finally drew some heat with a post-match beating of New Day Monday night. It remains unclear what the exact match between these teams will be at WrestleMania, but it’s a smart move to have New Day be the baby face. It’s extremely lucrative for WWE as New Day will sell a ton of merchandise. It also makes sense as a large portion of the crowd cheered for them as heels.
Chris Jericho was up next at Road Block, doing a wonderful job during his promo turning the Canadian crowd against him in a matter of minutes. Jericho battled Jack Swagger since Styles was a different WWE show, and Jericho picked up the victory. Monday Night saw Jericho lose to Neville via disqualification, but Jericho had to audible the end of the match because Neville suffered a serious injury during the match. Jericho continued to trash Styles after the match until Styles himself came to the ring to deliver a flying forearm. These two have had a fine feud, but it’s time to have their final match at WrestleMania. It would also be nice to see and hear Styles presented as something else than a “rookie” who’s accomplishments outside WWE mean little.
Next up was an NXT Tag Title match with Enzo Amore and Big Cass challenging Dash and Dawson. Admittedly, the first time I saw Enzo and Cass, I thought it was one of the worst gimmicks I’ve ever seen. But these two guys have completely won me over, and won over the crowd in this match. It was fantastic to see NXT get a spotlight on a show outside of their own. They lost this match, but that would line up with the rumors of them moving to the main roster. The key with this act moving from NXT to the main roster is going to be patience. Some fans will not recognize the Enzo and Cass, but they have potential to inject some new life into the tag division after WrestleMania.
The women were next, as Divas Champion Charlotte faced off against Natalya. While the match was good, it was difficult to have any faith that Charlotte was not going to win. WWE has an excellent match lined up at WrestleMania in the Triple Threat Divas match. Raw felt a little incomplete by not having Sasha and Becky Lynch to further sell the match, but it’s understandable that not every performer can be on every show.
Brock Lesnar versus Bray Wyatt was advertised long in advance for this show, but WWE switched to Lesnar vs Luke Harper. While some fans were upset, WWE made the right call here. Bray Wyatt cannot beat Lesnar right now. It ould sabotage too many stories, and protects both guys. Wyatt made a small tease by touching the World Heavyweight Title last week, he can’t turn around and lose immediately. We can hope WWE finally has big plans ahead for Wyatt. As for Lesnar, he and Paul Heyman showed up to intimidate WrestleMania opponent Dean Ambrose. This segment fell a little flat Monday night. While it’s always very cool to see Lesnar up close, he added nothing this time around. I don’t blame him, it’s good work when you can get it. Speaking of Ambrose, he had a very nice segment backstage with legend Mick Foley. It ended with Foley giving Ambrose his old baseball bat covered in barbed wire for the Street Fight at WrestleMania.
Sami Zayn continued is transition to the main roster on both shows, defeating StarDust on Saturday and the Miz on Monday. Zayn is going to be immensely popular as fans see him. He’s going to be a good fit for the fans looking for the “next Daniel Bryan”. WWE continues to build a multi man match for the Intercontinental Title with Zayn and Owens being the main stars. Hopefully, Zayn wins the title without beating Owens. This would lead to a great feud between these two all summer long(ideally, anyways).
The one marquee match that continued to build on Raw only was Shane McMahon vs the Undertaker. While it’s a real treat to see both these performers and the one and only Vince McMahon live, the build to this match is an absolute wreck. After the initial pop for the music, fans quickly realize there is no substance to be found. Shane was tripping over his lines and dancing in the middle of the fight, Vince was clearly just reciting his material, and Undertaker just seems completely out of place. I truthfully have no clue how this plays out the next three weeks, and I’m not sure WWE does either.
The main event of Road Block was Champion HHH vs Dean Ambrose. They gave a great false finish with Ambrose getting a three count only to have the referee wave it off because Ambrose had his foot under the ropes. Ambrose is clearly the most over baby face in the company, and he could be primed for huge things this summer. Seeing HHH wrestle Monday night was quite the surprise. He and Dolph Ziggler getting the live crowd believe in the near falls towards the end of the match deserve high marks. HHH won, only to have Roman Reigns gain revenge for the beating HHH gave him a couple weeks ago. The only problem was the crowd once again turned on Reigns, booing him the whole time. I cannot remember a time when WWE has been so stubborn in trying to cast a performer as a face or heel while the crowd constantly rejected it. If WWE thinks Pittsburgh booed Reigns, it will be nothing compared to him winning at WrestleMania.
These past two events were encouraging for how heavy they were with in-ring action. However, WWE still is having issue stringing together their storylines in a logical and compelling fashion. For every thing they get right, they get another wrong. Time is running out to make WrestleMania as great as it should be every year.