By Haydn Gleed
At the risk of sounding like an old man, the road to WrestleMania was so much easier back in my day. When I started watching wrestling in the early ’90s, you would have the Royal Rumble and then a three month wait/buildup to the big one, WrestleMania. In 2016, we had the Royal Rumble, then Fastlane and now Roadblock, and in this writer’s opinion, it has watered down what used to be the premium season for any WWE fan.
In regards to the concept of having a live event on the network this close to WrestleMania, I don’t in theory have anything wrong with it. For me, showing what are essentially glorified house shows on the network is a tremendous perk, but what I object to is the fact that it feels that everything WrestleMania related is in a holding pattern until after this event. Of course, it’s highly doubtful that anything that will dramatically change WrestleMania will happen at the event, but WWE are playing up the fact that the title match could change with the possibility that Dean Ambrose could be your champion heading into the showcase of the immortals. In the WWE universe, nothing is currently more important than Saturday night, meaning everything else is simply put on the back burner, and that leads to the product suffering as a consequence.
Because WWE are only halfheartedly pushing an event which, accordingly to storylines, could have consequences for WrestleMania, you can’t find yourself excited about what is coming up in April. Again, harping back to my day, by now the matches would be set in stone, and everything would be building to a crescendo. With less than a month to go, only Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker has officially been announced for WrestleMania. Because of Roadblock, I understand why they can’t, because in theory the Intercontinental Championship will be defended and could change hands, the U.S. Title could be defended and change hands, etc. Because of this WWE can’t begin the hype let alone aim for the crescendo. How much more evidence do you need in regards to how half-hearted Roadblock is being pushed than the fact that only three matches are being advertised, and one of them is essentially an NXT exhibition tag team match (or at least that’s how the casual fans will see it). Essentially, WWE is holding back on telling stories for the biggest show of the year for an event that they can’t even be bothered to advertise more than three matches for. Makes sense, right?!
I understand why WWE is putting on this show. It will drive people to the network in time for WrestleMania and the increase in subscribers heading into the end of the quarter financials, but if you are going to do this, then they need to own that decision. Why not make Roadblock part of the journey to WrestleMania instead of – excuse this term as I simply don’t know how else to put it – a roadblock holding everything up until you get past it? If you are holding back on programs such as the IC Title match until after the show to confirm who the champion will be, why not have a title match, but also a number one contenders match to face the champion whoever it might be at WrestleMania? Why not hold off on big events like the Chris Jericho heel turn until the show? You could tease the possibility leading up to the show on Raw and/or Smackdown and then when it happens you would generate a buzz with the people who saw it and make people who didn’t have the network regret not witnessing the event live and possibly not make the same mistake again by subscribing for future shows?
At the end of the day, I understand why WWE is doing this. It’s a great perk to becoming or being a network subscriber, but if they do this again either in the build up to SummerSlam or next year’s WrestleMania, they need to make the show part of the tale instead of a reason to hold off on telling the stories in the buildup to the next big show. Otherwise, as viewers, we will always be left frustrated by marathon episodes of Raw that feel like nothing is progressing at a time of the year when we should all be getting excited.
As always, feel free to get in touch via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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