Roadblock: End of the Line 2016 preview and predictions

 
 

Insert the usual “another show already?!” comment – it’s time to look ahead to this Sunday’s final WWE PPV of 2016, and the second Roadblock of the year.

Yes, WWE’s recycled the name of March’s pre-WrestleMania Network special, and they’ve stuck “End of the Line” onto it to make sure we’re not confused. Much like NXT’s “TakeOver: The End of The Beginning”, the tagline suggests that we’ll be starting some new chapters after this show, with one particular match currently set to conclude a long-running storyline.

WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owen (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Intriguingly, Roman’s United States championship isn’t on the line here, which creates a real chance of Roman leaving as WWE’s version of Connor McGregor. Except in recent weeks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the US title has been retired, given how often Roman forgets to wear it. Or mention it… This is Reigns’ first big shot at the title since his Wellness suspension earlier in the year, and yes, they’re still persisting with Roman as the next big thing, in spite of crowd reactions. Logically, there’s no way Roman’s getting the belt on a throwaway show – this is the sort of PPV they’d take the belt off of him on (see Sheamus at TLC 2009; or even Alexa Bliss earlier this year!). This’ll be a win for Kevin Owens, which ties into our next match… Prediction: Kevin Owens

Number One Contender’s Match: Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho
I’d expect the Royal Rumble to be where this match is “cashed in” on, and looking at the options, this should be fairly clear cut. If Seth wins, that telegraphs Roman Reigns as a “dream” match… if Jericho wins, that signals the break-up of the best friends will blow-off at the Royal Rumble. Of course, not everything online is true, but Jericho is supposedly heading towards the end of his latest WWE run; which would mean that appearing in the Royal Rumble would be a waste, especially when they can spend that time building up to a high profile match instead. Plus, you can sort-of get away with a heel vs. sort-of-heel match when you’re headlining with the Royal Rumble… Prediction: Chris Jericho

30-Minute Iron Man Match for WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
Tagged as the last match in the feud, WWE has two choices – end the Charlotte winning streak on PPV, or risk killing Sasha’s credibility… Had WWE not already done this last month, this could have been a fine match to main event with, especially had they advertised it as such. As it is, this just feels like one match too far in a feud that has up to now seen Sasha portrayed as someone who is capable of beating Charlotte… just not on the bigger stages.

For me, the winner of this match wholly depends on what’s going to happen next. At Survivor Series, they strongly teased Charlotte vs. Bayley in a feud that’s since been forgotten about. If Sasha wins, there’s no obvious next challenger, unless Emmalina’s given the Gail Kim push, which isn’t a bad thing, but also would be bad for that new character’s longevity. Of course, this could end in a draw, which serves both masters: keeps Charlotte undefeated, and keeps the title on Sasha. So I’m going to sit on the fence. Prediction: Draw

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann (c) vs. TJ Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick
Classic modern-day booking here, as the first, second and third champions have wins over each other, and should therefore create some degree of intrigue for this match. This may well be the first test of how effective 205 Live has been as a standalone show… but be warned, the PPV is in Pittsburgh, a city notorious for not reacting. Having another title change so soon after Kendrick dropped it would make no sense, but then again I can see WWE swapping the title back given that Swann’s win was done to create a memorable end to the start of 205 Live’s debut. Either way, turning the belt into a hot potato this early in its life isn’t going to be good… so I’m going for a successful defence. Prediction: Rich Swann

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
New Day have their record… so now we can easily slip back into booking as usual for WWE. Had Sheamus and Cesaro only just been formed, I could easily see WWE swapping the titles here. That’s not to say they won’t here, but a part of me feels that the title change won’t come so soon after the record was smashed. Most of the tag teams on Raw have been beaten handily, and that leaves the New Day almost in an Undertaker-like situation – you want the team to beat the streak to be memorable, and not some throwaway act that’ll dissolve weeks later. Simply for that reason, I’m going for the New Day to retain, ahead of a future dethroning… Prediction: New Day

Ten Minute Challenge: Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman
Officially added on the go-home Raw for this show, Sami Zayn finally got his wish to face Braun Strowman after Mick Foley trolled him by saying he was going to be traded to SmackDown for Eva Marie. Yeah… this isn’t going to be a standard match, with Sami Zayn “winning” if he can pin Braun… or make him submit… or if he lasts ten minutes. Given that Braun’s been on a tear, save for that Survivor Series spot where James Ellsworth caused for his elimination, I don’t see him squashing Zayn, but I can see them teasing going to the time limit, only for Braun to get his win. Prediction: Braun Strowman

Rusev vs. Big Cass
This pre-show outing comes as a pay-off to a polarising storyline that saw Enzo Amore get beaten within an inch of his life for trying to sleep with a married woman. Yeah… As a match, Cass winning does nothing for either guy, nor should they bring back Enzo unannounced, so the only result that we should see is Rusev going over. Prediction: Rusev

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ian Hamilton has been a wrestling fan since 1992, and when he’s not watching WWE, New Japan or his latest wrestling love, PROGRESS, he’s usually suffering through Sunderland AFC and the New York Jets. He’s got a couple of books out on Amazon – “Wrestling’s Sinking Ship” and “Gone Too Soon”, and can be reached via his website, BackBodyDrop.com, or on Twitter @theianhamilton