RAW Deal: The end of the line for many things

Before I get to my final predictions for Monday morning’s Roadblock: End of the Line (absolutely hate saying the whole thing—the Boyz II Men song always plays in my head, even if the title was “The End of the Road”) I just have to address one thing I haven’t spoken about yet because there was no RAW Deal last week.

If you’re a wrestling fan but you don’t follow any other companies other than WWE, and you also happen to be a fan of Cody Rhodes, man, you’re missing out. What started in his and wife Brandi (formerly known as Eden Stiles, WWE ring announcer)’s appearance at TNA’s WrestleMania, Bound For Glory a couple of months ago and a bunch of UK indies has now ballooned into the grandson of a plumber dominating pretty much all wrestling not named World Wrestling Entertainment.

Rhodes has now managed to leverage his stardom and sheer desire to just wrestle into high-profile appearances in TNA, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, to name the 3 biggest deals outside of the WWE. (And there’s also EVOLVE, who is curiously working with the WWE as well.) In one master stroke (comprising of many little deals, but still), Rhodes has not only proven that even though everyone wants to make it to the biggest wrestling company in the world, it’s really not all that, and it’s starting to show. More importantly, the business seems to be in a climbing boom right now, as a talented enough wrestler can now have a viable career outside the WWE—Rhodes or not.

Quite frankly, Cody Rhodes deserves all this airtime. Not just because he’s the biggest WWE alumnus since CM Punk, not simply because he is the son of Dusty Rhodes (ask Goldust how that went for him), but because he really is that good. This is how you know how good Rhodes really was: he’s said a lot of times that he hated playing the Stardust character, even though he was so good at it that many of us believed he was all in. That’s a consummate and talented professional, who just needed a big break his peers were lucky enough to have. If—when, because they always do—he ever returns to the WWE, his time spent outside has to be the break that pushes him to the top.

And whether you like Rhodes or not, take this opportunity to follow him wherever he goes. His stardom is helping out the industry, shining a light on companies many people would never have discovered on their own. If you’re not a fan, just keep watching anyway, if only to observe how his presence impacts all the different status quos around the world. Cody Rhodes is all set to become the AJ Styles of 2017, the rogue American who’s happy to work at the top spots he’s wanted in. Watch him thrive and help make the wrestling world better.

Roadblock predictions

It now seems a bit of a drag to have to watch one last pay-per-view event for the year a little late in December, and even more so when you realize that it has to be a RAW PPV. For what it’s worth, however, even though Roadblock: End of the Line seems a little pedestrian on paper, the card reflects a bit more effort toward some decent storytelling on the red side. I daresay the last few weeks of RAW after Survivor Series has been decent to good, even though 3 hours of RAW is still tough to get through, so someone’s managed to figure things out somehow. 

Big Cass vs. Rusev in a kickoff match

This may be the lone dud on a card that’s otherwise not that bad, considering that it’s another mishandled storyline involving a misunderstood Rusev. Basically: Enzo Amore publicly exposes himself to Lana, and Rusev once again has to defend his wife’s honor. Rusev is still the bad guy because he still hates America and Americans. This is insulting, really.

Winner: Rusev

Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman in a singles match with a 10-minute time limit

When I say that they’re putting a little more thought into their storylines, this is what I mean, not the Cass/Rusev match. Zayn is feeling a little down in the dumps after losing to the Miz at Survivor Series, and now the Underdog from the Underground has a chip on his shoulder. What better way to deal with that chip than to try and prove himself against the biggest dog in the yard, Braun Strowman, and try to see if he can last 10 minutes with him in the ring. This may be the angle that puts Zayn back on the map, and if not, the fact that they’ve even given this some effort is a good thing for him.

Winner: Sami Zayn

Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The New Day (c) for the RAW Tag Team Championship

This is it. This is finally it. This should be finally it. I know I’ve been saying this for the past couple of RAW pay-per-views, but if this isn’t finally it, then there is absolutely no point in having a tag team division on RAW.

Winner: Cesaro and Sheamus (new RAW Tag Team Champions)

The Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins vs. Rich Swann (c) in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

The Cruiserweight division post-Cruiserweight Classic still isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be, even with the addition of 205 Live (which has its own inherent problems) but this should prove to be a better match than the title matches we’ve seen on PPV so far. The division still needs a lot of work, but this should be a fun match to represent them. I also hate to say it, but Rich Swann is a better standard-bearer for them than Perkins was—the more we see our Fil-Am Flash, the less he comes off as a believable babyface. Just hope that this match gets at least 10 minutes. At least.

Winner: Rich Swann

Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks (c) in a 30-minute Iron Man match for the RAW Women’s Championship

I see what they’re trying to do here: they’re going for that NXT magic, doing for Sasha Banks what worked for Bayley last year. The undefeated-in-PPVs Charlotte is going into Roadblock with some very good odds, so they need to have the underdog Banks defeat her in decisive fashion, much like the underdog Bayley had to do against her back in NXT Takeover: Respect. The only problem I can see here is that Charlotte really isn’t as good as Bayley, and anyone expecting a classic should hedge their bets just a little bit. Especially after what happened at Hell in a Cell.

Winner: Sasha Banks

Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins

Not a bad match on paper, considering it’s the logical offshoot of Rollins’s feud against Kevin Owens, and that it’s two ring generals going to war with each other. It’s acceptable, but you just get the feeling that there could be more—now that the friendship between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho has deteriorated further. I mean, not even a #1 contendership match? But if there was ever a good time for Triple H to return and finally make himself understood after costing Rollins the vacant Universal Championship, this is it.

Winner: Chris Jericho

Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens (c) for the WWE Universal Championship

This all seems perfunctory, for two reasons: 1) Roman Reigns is the United States Champion, and 2) Roman Reigns is still Roman Reigns. His star is still tarnished, and he’s not going to get it back by beating Kevin Owens. This better be a set-up for a hotter Owens/Jericho feud for the title heading into the Royal Rumble. Anything else will be ridiculous and stupid.

Winner: Kevin Owens

*****

Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, the boys have 99.5 Play FM DJ Renzo back on the show to take the seat for a vacationing Ro Moran! – Rappler.com