WWE Wrap-Up

Houston hosted an action-packed Raw and SmackDown Live this week

Paige's return was the highlight of Monday Night Raw. Photo by WWE.com

This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:

Raw

Stephanie McMahon opened the show congratulating Raw for winning the most matches at Survivor Series. She proceeded to invite her husband, Triple H, to the ring. Before he could even speak, an angry Kurt Angle raced to the ring to confront him for attacking him at Survivor Series. Kurt’s son, Jason Jordan, came out to ask his father to let him have a match against Triple H. Stephanie explained that Angle was not authorized to make that match, even though her husband is not scared of anyone on the roster. That, of course, prompted Braun Strowman to come to the ring. Triple H backed away, and McMahon explained to Jordan and Strowman that they would be facing each other later that night. “You’re a coward” chants serenaded Triple H as he made his way backstage. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor lit a fire under the Houston crowd. Balor did all he could to stay in the match, including escaping a Coquina Clutch. Joe caught Balor as he was making his way to the top rope and placed him in a second Coquina Clutch to win the match. Asuka made Dana Brooke pay for her cheap shot on last week’s Raw. Throughout the match, Asuka mocked Brooke and hit her with stiff kicks and chops. She knocked her lights out with a stiff kick to win the match.

The Miz shared a great Miz TV segment with The Shield. The crowd got really involved with this segment, making it even more entertaining. “Miz is awesome” chants filled the arena. Seth Rollins mentioned they’ve traveled around the world, and Houston was the first place ever where they heard that chant. The segment closed with Reigns issuing a challenge to Miz for his Intercontinental Championship. Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus despite Cesaro’s efforts to spoil the match for Ambrose. Alexa Bliss came to the ring to express her displeasure for the fans who insulted her after her loss to Charlotte. Mickie James, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Alicia Fox faced off in a Fatal Four Way to determine Bliss’ next opponent. A surprise return a year in the making occurred when Paige showed up. She didn’t come alone, though. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, formerly of NXT, joined Paige in spoiling the match.

Braun Strowman’s match with Jason Jordan was short-lived thanks to a brutal attack from Kane. The Big Red Machine used a chair and steel steps to jam Strowman’s throat. The team of Rich Swann, Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, and Mustafa Ali defeated Davari, Drew Gulak, Noam Dar, and Tony Neese.  Elias Samson’s “concert” was cut short by Matt Hardy who forced The Drifter to cower away from the ring. The Miz defended his Intercontinental Championship against Roman Reigns in the main event. Reigns was in control of the match until The Bar got involved. Ambrose and Rollins raced to the ring to even out the playing field. One spear later, Reigns sealed the Intercontinental Championship win. This meant Reigns collected his fourth championship, a wrestling grand slam.  After the show went off-air, The Shield sent fans home happy by Triple Powerbombing The Miz through the announcer table.

Highlight of the night:

Paige’s return has been speculated for weeks now.  The way it was done, though, was a genuine surprise. She’s had very weird year, and it is great to see her back in the WWE.

SmackDown Live

SmackDown Live opened with Shane McMahon thanking the blue team roster for their efforts at Survivor Series. He, then, asked Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to come down to the ring. Just when he was about to fire them, Daniel Bryan came out and persuaded McMahon to place them in a Lumberjack Match against The New Day, instead. Shelton Benjamin upset Jey Uso thanks to the distractions of his tag team partner, Chad Gable. Backstage, Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, formerly of NXT, introduced themselves to Naomi and Becky Lynch by brutally attacking them. The Bludgeon Brothers, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, finally made their TV debut in a dominating win over The Hype Bros.

The Champ that runs the camp, AJ Styles came to the ring to talk to the fans about his loss to Brock Lesnar. Before he could even speak, fans comforted him with chants. He expressed his disappointment with his loss, but explained that he had to move on to deal with Jinder Mahal. He asked Mahal to come down and take his title like he said he would. Instead, Mahal appeared via the monitor because he was not about to waste his time in Texas. The Singh Brothers attempted to surprise Styles from behind, but the champion ended up having the last laugh hitting one with The Styles Clash. Natalya invoked her rematch clause to attempt to recover the Women’s Championship from Charlotte. Riot, Morgan, and Logan returned to spoil Natalya’s rematch by attacking both her and Charlotte. The main event of SmackDown Live was the Lumberjack Match between The New Day and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Typically, whenever one gets out of the ring in a Lumberjack Match, the lumberjacks attack them until they get back into the ring. The rule only seemed to apply for Owens and Zayn as everyone wanted to get their hands on them after what they did at Survivor Series. Of course, a brawl eventually broke out between the lumberjacks, and this distraction helped Owens and Zayn win the match. Afterwards, Owens bailed from the ring, leaving Zayn alone to suffer a beatdown from The New Day to close the show.

Highlight of the night

The introduction of Riot, Morgan, and Logan, especially how it happened, was the highlight of the night.  The SmackDown women's roster definitely needed a boost. They have it now with these additions.

How do they compare?

The post pay-per-view live shows really came with surprises for fans in Houston. Paige’s return was, without a doubt, the best one of the week. The Raw Women’s roster was already in good shape, but the addition of Paige, Rose, and Deville only bolster it. The return of Harper and Rowan is great, no matter how cheesy their gimmick may be. The most necessary addition, though, was that of Riot, Morgan, and Logan. The SmackDown Live Women’s roster was in need of new faces, now they have them. Raw gets the edge this week, not because SmackDown was not good, but because it did more to push forward and beyond Survivor Series.

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Composite photo by Jack Brame

Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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