WWE Roadblock 2016: When Did This Happen?

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From forgettable WWE Network Special to possible game-changer on the Road to WrestleMania, “Roadblock” has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Once Fastlane was in the books, we were led to believe that the main event for WrestleMania 32 had been set in stone. Despite earning his title shot at the Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns faced yet another challenge in his quest to regain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the form of his BFF Dean Ambrose and The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar. Reigns emerged victorious at Fastlane (as if there was really a doubt) and it seemed that Triple H vs. Reigns was once again the official main event for The Showcase of the Immortals.

That all changed on Monday, Feb. 29th, or earlier depending on how often you visit WWE.com. The rumors were put to rest and the match was made official when Dean Ambrose antagonized Triple H to the point where the King of Kings – possibly fueled by hubris and overconfidence – agreed to grant him a title shot before WrestleMania 32. It is my belief that this match was not planned well before the Royal Rumble but rather came about because of the negative reactions to both Roman Reigns and the prospect of Triple H competing in the main event of WrestleMania 32.

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WWE Roadblock was previously titled “March to WrestleMania: Toronto” and will take place at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Saturday, Mar. 12th from 8 pm – 10:30 pm EST. Besides the main event, the official website for the Ricoh Coliseum is advertising the following appearances:

– Brock Lesnar

– Bray Wyatt

– Sheamus

– King Barrett

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Other superstars listed to appear include The New Day, The Miz, The Usos, Paige, and Brie Bella. Noticeably absent is Roman Reigns.

What leads me to believe that Roadblock has been altered and revised to reflect fan hostility is the line-up for another official WWE event taking place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City that same night. The official Boardwalk Hall website advertises “Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose takes on Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship and Big Show, Demon Kane and the Dudley Boyz go up against Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family in an Eight-Man Tag Team Match*” (*Lineup subject to change).

These matches clearly reflect feuds that have long expired but would have likely taken place if the events of Roadblock had not been necessary. Not only that, but Roadblock is mentioned nowhere on the WWE.com official show page. I would think that any event which receives its own proper noun and where the most coveted prize is being contended would warrant inclusion on the official website.

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Other than the IC title confusion, both Ambrose and Wyatt are advertised to appear at Roadblock, a glorified house show that most fans would have skipped because no titles would change hands and no major storylines would be advanced. Now that the potential for Ambrose to walk into WrestleMania 32 as the new champion and face Roman Reigns has been dangled in front of us, our eyeballs will be glued to the WWE Network, and maybe that’s the goal. A Lesnar vs. Wyatt match would reignite a rivalry which began and ended at the Royal Rumble with little to no explanation. This had the potential to be a great storyline back then possibly leading to a handicap showdown at WrestleMania 32 and I say better late than never in going back to this well.

If Ambrose is victorious, will Triple H invoke his inevitable rematch clause before WrestleMania 32 or will he flex his Authority muscle and make it a triple threat match? If Triple H is victorious, then why was this match created in the first place? Are they trying to make Triple H into a super-heel and thereby force us into cheering for Reigns? Is this another example of the WWE trying to force our support on Reigns? It sure seems that way. While I surmised in a recent post that Vince is panicking as we get closer to WrestleMania 32, these changes in the landscape may be confirmation that he does take fan reaction into consideration, especially when that reaction has the potential to stand in the way of a record-breaking attendance feat.

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With all that in mind, we should never underestimate the stubbornness of Vince McMahon.