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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Heel Turns: Obstacles for Roadblock

Posted by Achilles Heel On December 17

Achilles HeelMaybe it’s simply a case of fatigue, but there doesn’t seem to be as much excitement surrounding WWE’s “Roadblock: End of the Line 2016” on Sunday as there has been for recent premier events.

The reduced anticipation could be attributed to having too many shows in too short a time. Roadblock is the third WWE premier event within the past month. That’s too many events – and that’s a shame. It’s a shame because Roadblock has the potential for some excellent in-ring action.

One problem with Roadblock is that there weren’t many people clamoring for the main event. Kevin Owens defends the WWE Universal Championship against United States champion Roman Reigns. Although this should be an intense hard-hitting physical match, only a small contingent of fans will be rooting for Reigns to capture the championship. That takes some of the magic out of the matchup. Unless Chris Jericho gets involved in the finish, costing Owens the title, the Greek God of Wrestling expects Owens to retain his championship.

Sasha Banks defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair in a 30-minute ironwoman match. Achilles Heel won’t complain about seeing these two fine competitors continue their riveting rivalry, but there is the feeling that we’ve seen this match before. I’m sure they’ll add some new twists and the match could be terrific, but this certainly isn’t a fresh matchup. This is the end of the line for this rivalry – at least for now. Banks should retain her title, although Charlotte would make more sense as champion if Bayley is going to be the next contender.

The match between Seth Rollins and Jericho has a chance to be the best match on the show. Both could be in line for feuds with Owens, which adds intrigue to the outcome of this match. Jericho will definitely have a portion of the fans behind him. If they’re going to save Jericho-Owens for WrestleMania, the Greek God of Wrestling sees a Rollins victory. Otherwise, a Jericho victory now makes sense.

New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods ringside) defends the Raw Tag Team Championship against Sheamus and Cesaro. New Day just passed Demolition for the longest tag team championship reign in WWE’s history. During the past week or two, broadcasters have been emphasizing how well former rivals Cesaro and Sheamus have been functioning as a tag team. That means either new champions this Sunday or that Sheamus will turn on Cesaro, breaking up the team.

A fourth championship match has Rich Swann defending the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against former champions T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick in a triple threat match. The cruiserweight title needs some stability, which would indicate a Swann victory. If the title changes hands again Sunday, either Kendrick or Perkins should hold onto that championship until at least WrestleMania.

Sami Zayn is going to take a beating Sunday. The only question is whether he can survive 10 minutes with Braun Strowman. Achilles Heel has a feeling that Zayn will make it – barely – through the 10 minutes. And then an angry Strowman will further destroy him. That will keep Strowman strong while highlighting Zayn’s toughness.

The pre-show match pits Big Cass against Rusev, who destroyed Enzo Amore, Cass’ tag team partner, in a hotel room recently on Raw. Rusev is being underutilized on Raw, especially if he puts over Big Cass in a kickoff match. But Achilles Heel has a feeling that Enzo will get involved, either helping Big Cass win or, as I would like to see, accidentally costing Cass the victory.

The Greek God of Wrestling knows there isn’t a ton of excitement surrounding Roadblock, but it should be worth checking out. Try it. You may find out that you like it.

*****

PHILLY FILE: Last Monday’s Raw at Wells Fargo Center was highlighted by a pair of triple-threat tag-team title matches. In both cases, The New Day retained their titles, enabling them to pass Demolition for the longest tag team title reign in WWE history. (New Day’s success is a rare instance of Achilles Heel being wrong about an individual’s or group’s success.)

New Day opened the show with a successful defense against Cesaro and Sheamus and the team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. After accidentally soaking Stephanie McMahon with champagne, New Day had to defend the title against Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens and a team consisting of former Shield members Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.

The Philly crowd was, as usual, tremendous, although Achilles Heel was a little disappointed in the response to the Brian Kendrick-T.J. Perkins match.

*****

HIT DELETE BUTTON: The Greek God of Wrestling appreciates the innovation involved in the Impact Wrestling shows held at the “Hardy compound” in Cameron, N.C. But he doesn’t particularly like it.

The first attempt at this type of show was awesome. First, it was just one match. Second, it was fresh. But the return to the well is resulting in diminishing returns.

Doing entire shows, like last Thursday’s Total Non-Stop Deletion, from the Hardy compound doesn’t work for Achilles Heel. Yes, it was cool to see the Rock ‘n Roll Express. But the special effects and video tricks get old after a while.

Professional wrestling is meant to take place before a live audience. Part of the skill is supposed to be drawing reactions from the audience and then adjusting the match according to the fans’ reaction. That doesn’t happen in these types of shows. (Yes, the Greek God of Wrestling is aware there was a small audience at ringside.)

As I said, I appreciate the attempt to be different. The style also fits in well with the Broken Matt Hardy persona. But professional wrestling is supposed to be live theatre, not a special-effects film.

*****

CRAZY LUKE SHINES: The fatal four-way elimination match on Smackdown concluded with Dolph Ziggler becoming the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Championship, but the star of the match, which also included Dean Ambrose and The Miz, was Luke Harper. Achilles Heel has long been a fan of the unorthodox Harper, so he’s pleased to see the talented big man excel on center stage in the Smackdown main event.

*****

UNITED CHAMPION: WWE is taking advantage of the resurgent United Kingdom wrestling scene by holding a 16-man tournament to crown a WWE United Kingdom champion. There tournament, which will be broadcast on WWE Network, will take place Jan. 14-15 in Blackpool. Triple H said the plan is to use this tournament to launch a show emanating from the United Kingdom.

Nigel McGuinness, a terrific independent wrestlers whose career was cut short by concussions, is leaving his role on Ring of Honor’s on-air matchmaker to join WWE’s broadcast team. McGuiness will be part of the broadcast team for this tournament. NXT commissioner William Regal is also expected to be part of the broadcast team.

*****

AGONY OF VICTORY: Zack Ryder was the survivor during Smackdown’s tag team battle royal, earn a No. 1 contenders position for himself and partner Mojo Rawley, who are known as the Hype Brothers. Unfortunately, Ryder injured his knee during this match and requires surgery. There’s no word yet whether Rawley will be able to pick a new partner or whether new top contenders will be chosen to challenge the champion Wyatt family (Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Luke Harper).

*****

CAGE BATTLE: Shinsuke Nakamura retained the NXT Championship that he regained from Samoa Joe in Japan during a steel cage match in Australia.

*****

CHIKARA IN 2017: CHIKARA will kick off its 2017 season at The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia on Feb. 4 as part of National Pro Wrestling Day. The early schedule released by CHIKARA also dates in Maine and Connecticut, a pair of shows in Florida during WrestleMania weekend and a return to Philadelphia in early May.

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