The Road to Wrestlemania, Episode Seventeen

This is the seventeenth episode in a series, retelling the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. This episode covers WWE Roadblock, originally aired on the WWE Network on Saturday March 12, 2016.

During the pre-show commentary, it is revealed that the card has changed slightly. Not the matches, but the order. Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar almost came to blows backstage, and after some debate, the match has been moved to the start of the card, before they disrupt the rest of the show.

Match #1: Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose

The opening match of the night is very similar to the televised Wrestlemania Street Fight, with a couple of very important differences.

Firstly, Barbie is absolutely used, on Brock Lesnar, and if the opportunity arises, Paul Heyman. Lesnar’s Hell in a Cell match showed he was willing to put it on the line, and Ambrose swinging Barbie with true anger and frustration is exactly what everyone wants to see.

Secondly, while Ambrose fails to hit his finisher, there is far more back and forth in the match, as Ambrose refuses to lie down, and Lesnar’s frustration provides opportunities for Ambrose to counter attack.

Finally, the finish. After retrieving Barbie from under the ring, and beating down on Heyman and Lesnar, Ambrose stands face to face with Lesnar. He swings Barbie at him, but Lesnar ducks beneath it, and as Ambrose turns, Lesnar wraps him AND Barbie up in his arms, pinning the bat to his chest between them. He throws Ambrose over his head, tosses Barbie from the ring, and finishes the Lunatic Fringe off with an F5.

Ambrose is left a mess in the centre of the ring, while Lesnar stalks off, bloodier than ever.

Unlike in the televised version, the handful of changes made here turn this match from a let down to a true rivalry ender. Despite losing the match, Dean Ambrose comes out looking like a true beast, standing toe to toe with the most dominant force in WWE, and almost getting the job done. Meanwhile, Lesnar looks like a true monster, and is ready to move on.

Match #2: Bull Dempsey vs Tye Dillinger

In the first Andre the Giant Battle Royal NXT qualifier, Bull Dempsey takes on the Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger. Despite dominating the majority of the match, Dempsey misses an attempted clothesline, and Dillinger reacts with a quick rollup, stealing the victory and the first spot in the Battle Royal.

Match #3: Heath Slater vs Sheamus

Before the break, footage of the Social Outcasts arguing is played. Despite Bo Dallas’ concerns that this is a trap, Heath Slater demands to be the one to face the League of Nations, as he is clearly the leader. He marches off, while the other two glance at Dallas. He shakes his head in disappointment. “We have to help our brother. For all of us”…

The Social Outcasts come down to the ring, and Heath Slater steps inside. He is his usual, over-confident self. Sheamus leads the League out, and they head to the ring with a quiet determination.

The two teams pace at ringside as the match begins.

When the bell rings, Sheamus goes right after Slater, overpowering him and driving him into a corner. Slater slips away, landing a couple of quick shots before Sheamus swarms him again. And that is the story of the match. Until Rusev attempts to charge the Outcasts, leading to a brawl at ringside.

The brawl distracts Sheamus and the referee long enough for Slater to cheap shot Sheamus. Bo Dallas gets up on the apron, seeing a brief opportunity to assist Slater. But the One Man Band has no interest in an assist, ignoring Dallas’ gestures to instead taunt his opponent.

Alberto Del Rio grabs Dallas by the foot, pulling him off the apron and into a Bull Hammer Elbow from King Barrett.

The sudden numbers advantage is all the League needs, and The Social Outcasts are overwhelmed. Slater, now surrounded, turns straight into a Brogue Kick for the victory.

With The Social Outcasts slumped around the ring, Sheamus tosses Heath Slater to the floor and demands a microphone.

He declares that the League will always be better than the WWE’s trash when they are united. He gestures to the others, and they drag Bo Dallas into the ring.

Barrett and Del Rio hold him up. Rusev slaps him, laughing in his face. Sheamus goes on and on about how he is sick of Mr “I Bolieve”, and couldn’t wait to make this choice. It fact, it was unanimous.

Rusev steps out of the way, and Sheamus Brogue Kicks King Barrett.

While the crowd try to come to terms with it, Dallas is thrown dismissively from the ring, where he tries to check on his teammates.

In the ring thoguh, Sheamus, Rusev, and Del Rio beat down on Barrett. As Rusev locks in The Accolade, Sheamus kneels down, mic in hand, and slaps Barrett.

“You’re done, Wade. Every time we lose it’s been your fault. Bloody English boy. The League doesn’t need you, and them? They don’t want you. So guess what: You’re. Fired. Boyo.”

Stretching his head up, Rusev holds him in The Accolade, as Sheamus makes way for Del Rio, who delivers a Snap Kick to Barrett’s head.

Barrett collapses to the floor, while the new League stand united, arms raised.

There is obviously a lot going on here. The rivalry has not been resolved, but instead there was a swerve in the betrayal and excommunication of King Barrett. This has been being built to for some time, with each failure on the League’s part sowing more discord as they tried to hold onto what little advantage the group provided them. Now they are outnumbered in their fight with the Outcasts, but believe themselves stronger. Meanwhile, Heath Slater has once again been proven lesser to Bo Dallas. How he responds may shape the future of the One Man Band, and the Social Outcasts as well…

Match #4: The Ascension vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Usos

With a championship opportunity on the line, an all in brawl erupts between the three tag teams. Viktor and Konnor look to take D-Von Dudley out of the match entirely, leaving Bubba Ray Dudley facing both of the Usos alone.

As the match reaches its peak, the Ascension set Bubba Ray up for the Fall of Man, but The Usos return to hit each of them with Superkicks. D-Von climbs the turnbuckle to leap high, taking Jey Uso and himself out of the ring, leaving Bubba Ray free to knock Jimmy Uso down, setting him up for a Bubba Bomb.

He hits it, and goes for the pin. But Jey Uso, having sent D-Von crashing into the barricade, scrambles to the top of the turnbuckle and leaps high, hitting Bubba Ray and his brother with a Splash. He then drags his brother over Bubba Ray, and cuts off a surging Viktor before he can stop the pin.

Match #5: Blake vs Murphy

In the second NXT qualifier, former tag champions Blake and Murphy come to blows. With so much knowledge about their opponent, very few openings are available. Murphy resorts to a thumb to the eye, catching Blake off guard and leaving him open for a DDT. With his former tag partner on the ground, Murphy hits a Frog Splash for the victory.

Having qualifying matches for the Battle Royal gives it real meaning. It gives wrestlers who would not otherwise get some time in front of the cameras a chance to shine, and helps build some rivalries and stories into it, rather than just having whoever doesn’t have a different match thrown into it.

The Usos celebrate their victory backstage, excited that they have once again earned a Tag Team Championship shot. They are interrupted by The Ascension, who tell them they got lucky, and don’t deserve a shot at the Tag Titles.

“Who said anything about a tag team title shot?”

Stephanie steps in between them, as they all go silent. She turns to The Ascension and tells them that, as they weren’t pinned tonight, she would add them both to the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. So they could still get their Wrestlemania moment.

As for the Usos, well. Congratulations. She looks forward to seeing them compete against each other.

Confused, the Usos declare they won’t ever fight each other. They want the tag team title shot they were promised.

“You were promised a title shot if you won. I never specified which title. No, The New Day will face the winner of tonight’s main even for that. But you will get a title shot. In a seven man ladder match for the United States Championship.

“Good luck.”

Stephanie walks off, leaving the Usos dumbstruck.

A Wrestlemania match and a swerve. The Usos, believing they were fighting for another Tag Team Championship opportunity, now find themselves facing each other on the grandest stage of them all…

Match #6: Charlotte vs Natalya (Women’s Championship)

This match is the same match as was televised on WWE Roadblock, with one exception. Charlotte has an opportunity to look strong against a quality opponent, so Ric Flair’s interference once again almost costs her the match, rather than assisting.

As Natalya locks in the Sharpshooter, Ric Flair starts panicking. Charlotte reverses the hold, but Flair is already up on the apron, and distracts the referee as Natalya starts tapping. Charlotte releases the hold and yells at her father, then turns, ducks underneath a clothesline attempt from Natalya, who crashes into Ric Flair, and taking two steps before kicking Natalya in the head with a Big Boot.

Dismissively glancing at her father collapsed at ringside, Charlotte locks in the Figure Eight, wrenching Natalya until she taps out a second time.

Rather than the continued weak finishes for Charlotte, now we start really building her towards Wrestlemania. She is going to be facing two of the best wrestlers in the division, so having a strong champion is absolutely necessary. Ric Flair almost costs her the match once again, furthering the discord between them, but for now they are united.

Match #7: Enzo and Cass vs The Wyatt Family

Four versus Two. No Holds Barred.

The Realest Guys in the Room may not have been afraid, but Stephanie McMahon’s definition of an opportunity may need a little work.

Enzo and Cass stand waiting in the ring, chairs in hand, as The Wyatt Family descend. Bray Wyatt, amused as much as anything, takes a seat at commentary as the rest of the family rush the ring, overwhelming Enzo and Cass despite the chairs, and soon no matter how many punches Enzo and Cass throw, they quickly find themselves covering their heads, opening themselves up for more powerful moves.

Big Cass is hit by a thunderous Bicycle Kick from Erick Rowan, as Luke Harper directs traffic. But as Braun Strowman is about to pick Enzo up to toss him over the ropes, entrance music blares.

Brock. Lesnar.

The Beast stalks to the ring, Paul Heyman at his side. He charges the Wyatts, a ball of furious energy. Bray remains calmly seated at commentary, silent now as Lesnar systematically destroys his disciples. Rowan is sent flying by a clothesline. Strowman crashes to the mat after being caught in a German Suplex. Harper goes toe to toe with Lesnar for a moment, but the Beast hits an F5 and Harper is motionless.

Enzo, barely conscious, sees the fallen Harper and drags himself close enough to drape an arm over him.

The referee counts, as Lesnar stands guard. 1, 2, 3.

Lesnar stares at Bray, who smiles a sad, reflective smile, then chuckles. The message is clear: You took Wrestlemania gold from me. Now I took it from you.

Retribution. Lesnar takes a running step forward towards Bray, and the lights go out.

Several weeks ago, Paul Heyman said that Roadblock would ensure that his client got retribution. While most thought he meant Dean Ambrose, he really meant both Ambrose and The Wyatt Family. Two birds, one very angry stone.

Summary

And with that, part two comes to an end. The Wrestlemania card is starting to take shape, and the pieces are in place to reveal the rest of the card over the next six episodes.

But what about the now fired King Barrett? How will Dean Ambrose rebound from Brock Lesnar’s beating? And where do the Wyatt Family go from here…

The next post will be a summary of the storylines I’ve created, the ones that I’ve removed from development, or moved, and an overall look at the creative platform leading into Part Three.

Part three will start with Episode Eighteen. Time to play the game…

Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

Episode Card
Original Schedule Revised Schedule
The New Day def. The League of Nations Brock Lesnar def. Dean Ambrose
Chris Jericho def. Jack Swagger Tye Dillinger def. Bull Dempsey
The Revival def. Enzo and Cass Sheamus def. Heath Slater
Charlotte def. Natalya The Usos def. The Dudley Boyz and The Ascension
Brock Lesnar def. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper Murphy def. Blake
Sami Zayn def. Stardust US Championship Promo
Triple H def. Dean Ambrose Charlotte def. Natalya
  Enzo and Cass def. The Wyatt Family