Roman Nation is Dead, and other observations from attending WWE Roadblock Live

This was my first WWE live show in my post-smark phase as a wrestling dad. That is, I took my ten-year-old son with me to his first WWE live show. I was not the only one. While an audible smark section attended the show, well over half the crowd were parents with their school age children. This gave me a whole new perspective from what I am use to from the Internet Wrestling Community.

- To begin, Roman Nation is dead. The crowd booed Roman Reigns whenever he appeared on the video screen. They also gave Triple H the third loudest pop and longest sustained pop of the night at the beginning of his match. (Loudest went to Nattie who as Brett Hart's niece is professional wrestling royalty in Canada, while second loudest--and most sustained throughout the night--went to New Day). Seth Rollins also got a loud pop with chants of "Thank-you Seth" when the video package showed him pinning Roman Reigns.

- Even the duelling chants at the start of the match were 60-40 for Trips over Ambrose, and it took the entire match for Ambrose to finally win over the crowd. This does not bode well for Roman Nation. Toronto was not Philly, Newark or even the traditional Toronto smark crowd. It was mostly the kids and family crowd. And they booed Roman and were tepid in their initial response to Dean while giving HHH a hero's welcome.

- That being said, the crowd marked out hard and gave Ambrose a standing ovation when he appeared to have won the belt. Followed by chants of "[Montreal] screwjob" when the ref reversed the win, allowing HHH to pin Ambrose in a near-fall. However, the action continued and folks accepted HHH's eventual win.

- A little background: My son loves live indy wrestling. From our local indy promotion Barrie Wrestling to Ring of Honour's annual show in Toronto with New Japan, he loves the live shows. He especially loves interacting with the talent. However he normally gets bored with television wrestling except when Brock Lesnar is on. So I was interested in seeing how he would deal with a WWE live show. The only three talent he really got into were Mark Henry (opening dark match), New Day and Brock Lesnar. He spent the rest of the show complaining it was too much like television wrestling and he would have preferred going to the indy show that was also running in a nearby city. That being said, Lesnar, Henry and New Day kept him mesmerized.

- Mark Henry is major over with kids.

- New Day was majorly over, but not the match with League of Nations. From the time we arrived at the venue, people lined up outside were chanting "New Day Rocks". In between matches people were chanting for New Day. There were more New Day t-shirts than any other talent. As people left after the show, they chanted for New Day. During the match people chanted for New Day independent of the match. In some ways it reminded me of the final days of ECW when everyone popped for Sandman's entrance but nobody really much cared for the match. In fact "Bootios" became the favourite chant of my son as well as the other kids in our section. There were glowing unicorn horns all over the arena. If WWE needs to move merchandize among kids, New Day is your new act.

- Brock really is a monster. It is one thing to see him on television. Quite another to see him live. He is as wide as he is tall.

- Ric Flair still has it. His ringside antics and reactions, though not captured on the television screens, really invested the crowd in the match. Charlotte got one of the few heel reactions of the night apart from Roman Reigns in various video packages.

- Speaking of heel reactions, Jericho came out to a hometown hero welcome (when the competition is American, all Canadians are considered hometown--especially in Toronto). He did a masterful job turning the crowd against him. Y2J chants became "asshole" in the only other real heel reaction of the night. Then out comes Jack Swagger all Stars & Stripes and Apple Pie. In Canada's most anti-American city when it comes to sport-related patriotism. It completely killed Jericho's heat. Y2J chants resumed. Not to mention "We don't want this" and "CM Punk". WWE might as well have succeeded in turning Paul Heyman heel in Philadelphia before sending out Eric Bischoff in a WCW t-shirt to make the save. Anyway, the match ended with fans alternatively chanting Y2J, Y2AJ and "We want Sasha!"

- Stardust was pretty over with the kids as well. I think this may be part of why his match with Sami Zayn did not work well live. It felt too much like a "face vs face" match that Verne Gagne would occasionally attempt at house shows back in the days of AWA. Kids wanted both to win and lost interest in the match as smarks started chanting "This is awkward." Though a fun chant started elsewhere during the match with everyone singing "Cody...cody," to the "ole" tune usually chanted for Sami.

- Enzo & Cass received a big initial pop with smarks with their entrance, then won over the other kids and family crowd throughout the match. Two biggest chants during the match were "N-X-T" and "This is awesome".

- Canadian fans may finally be over the Montreal Screwjob. There were no "You screwed Bret" chants tonight, nor any "screwjob" chants until the false ending in the closing match when the ref reversed Dean's win. These quickly dissipated once Dean kicked out of a near fall.

- Ron Truth made the save for Goldust against the Ascension during a pre-show dark match. Then he invited Goldust to dance with him. It appeared to be a tease for pairing the two up as a tag-team.

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