Friday, April 19, 2024

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Roadblock in Review: End of the Road

“You need a good opponent to see how far your limits go…to test yourself. Iron sharpens iron. I’m coming back for my crown.” These were the words tweeted by Charlotte Flair, that lead to Roadblock’s Ironman match for the RAW Women’s Championship. A feud that has ruled the RAW women’s division for the whole of 2016, coming to an end at the final PPV of the year.

In the warm up to the big match, WWE camera caught up with the Champion, Sasha Banks, as she arrives in the arena. She reminds us that Pittsburgh was the first place where she won the Women’s Championship, describing that it feels ‘eerie’. She mentions her match against Bayley last year and recognises Charlotte’s PPV streak, but lets us know that she has a different game plan in store for tonight’s match.

So for the 6th time in one on one action, with the title on the line, both Charlotte and Sasha Banks make their way to the ring and Jojo begins the match with a traditional ring announcement.

Now, while I’d love to give you and in-depth move by move analysis of a 30+ minute match, I would be writing forever. So for a brief overview, this match was a much slower pace in comparison to the other 5 battles that they’ve had over the year. Clearly trying to save their energy and endurance for the duration of the match, the match is more technical and uses more mat psychology as opposed to the big brawls and hardcore action we’ve seen from the last encounters.

The first fall happens 19 minutes into the match, with Charlotte nailing a Natural Selection from the top rope.

Sasha manages to even the score about 3 minutes later, after using a slightly sloppy roll up for a cheeky three count.

Sasha then takes the lead 24 minutes into the match by locking in a Banks Statement, a move that has caught Charlotte out several times during their series!

During the last 5 minutes, Charlotte begins to turn things around and begins working on Sasha’s knee. Twisting it into all sorts of shapes, smashing it against the ring post and eventually the Figure 4… which she turns into a Figure 8! With only 2 seconds to go!

Amidst the shock of the crowd, the referee tells Jojo that due to the no-rematch clause, the match will continue at a Sudden Death stipulation. The next pinfall or submission wins the match!

Off the bat, Charlotte goes right for Sasha’s already worn down leg. After attempts to roll her up and a Banks Statement cinched in, Charlotte is able to wrangle into the Figure 4. By this point, Sasha has been busted open and is bleeding across her face as she desperately tries to grab the rope, but it’s all too much as the Figure 4 turns to Figure 8 one more time and the Boss is forced to tap. Despite a valiant effort, Sasha has fallen short just at the very end.

Charlotte Flair has become the 4 time RAW Women’s Champion and the record remains intact!

On RAW Talk after the PPV, Charly Caruso and Booker T catch up with the new Champion following her win. Speaking a lot softer, she talks about the long 4 year history that runs deep between herself and Sasha from their time in NXT. She holds back the tears as she mentions that she always wants to be better than Sasha.

Although she’s quick to snap back onto character once Booker mentions Bayley and she retorts that this is the big leagues. When asked who’s going to be her next challenger, Charlotte does her best Mariah Carey impression and doesn’t answer! The hosts anger her more when they ask about her Dad, Ric Flair, she replies “He didn’t pass the torch, I took it… and I ran.”

Thoughts: Dear WWE… please make this actually be the end. I am so impressed with both these women and how much they’ve bust their asses all year, but the time to move on has been long overdue. Much like with Hell In a Cell, my mind is completely split in two here.

On one hand, I could be really positive and see how this whole feud has come to a really hardworking and well deserved ending. The approach to this match was definitely needed – as mentioned in the review, these two have been going ‘hardcore’ lately, so to see them slow things all the way down was a really nice touch. It would have been nice to see Sasha get more offence in, but that tends to be the flow of these matches with the bigger Charlotte dominating for most of the match.

On the other hand, Sasha has been cut short for another lengthy and legitimate title reign. Unlike Charlotte, she has never had a long reign on the main roster, so by this time, it’s pretty much killed any credibility to be a Champion that can hold it for longer than 3 weeks. I honestly can’t see her winning the title again unless she gets drafted to SmackDown – which is an issue in itself to have someone like her come in and just take over that up and coming division.

Furthermore, we can now see that Charlotte’s record is going to make the next couple of PPV matches very predictable. It’s a great record and yes, I know it’s just singles matches, so there will be ample chance for tag matches etc, but it’s not going to happen. Charlotte is now going to be more protected than Sasha in 2015, heck even more protected than Trish Stratus in 2006. We have a good 4 months to go until WrestleMania… that’s 4 months of very predictable outcomes coming our way, which makes for really bland booking.

Don’t get me started on why this match wasn’t Main Event too? Again, I’ve always been skeptical about Vince’s actual thoughts on the women being main draws, but if there was a time for them to make them the main event and really end this groundbreaking feud… this would have been the place. The RAW ratings alone from their main event match shows that these women can draw, so it’s a shame that they weren’t given that chance.

Anyway, enough of me being negative. Seeing Charlotte break character on RAW Talk is what we should have seen on the show following the match. If this really was the last time, the crowd would have given a complete standing ovation and we would have got such a warm moment if Charlotte hugged or at least raised the hand of the fallen and bloody Sasha. Again, I don’t know whether this is a Triple H VS Vinnie Mac decision, but these are the reasons why we really resonated with these girls all the way back in NXT. Remember when Sasha won her first NXT Championship? And the hugged, but still kept in character after? That’s the gold that we were robbed of last night and it’s what would have ended this on a perfect note.

Do you agree with the kayfabe breaking moments that we’ve seen in the past? Are you happy that this is the end? Or do you think we’re going to get Sasha VS Charlotte again tonight anyway? Let me know!

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