The unlikely pair of Orton and Nakamura gave Ownes and Zayn a taste of their own medicine. Photo by WWE.com
This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:
Jason Jordan tried to convince his father, Kurt Angle, to give him a shot at Roman Reigns’ Intercontinental Championship. Reigns came to the ring to explain why he would not be giving him a shot, but Jordan persuaded him after surprising him with a suplex as Reigns was distracted with Samoa Joe, who stood outside the ring. Jordan put on a valiant effort, but it was not enough to defeat the champion. After the match, Joe tried to attack Reigns, but Jordan hit him with a suplex causing him to cower away. Reigns thanked Jordan for his help by hitting him with a Superman Punch.
Paige won her first match in over a year defeating Sasha Banks, thanks to a distraction from Absolution. They didn’t stop there, though, as they continued to attack Banks after the match. Backstage, Elias warned Kurt Angle about his bias towards his “bastard son,” Jason Jordan. Enzo Amore hyped up Tony Neese and Drew Gulak before they participated in the second Fatal Fairway against Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali. Just like last week, the Cruiserweight’s delivered an awesome match that Gulak stole out of the hands of Cedric Alexander.
Elias rocked the Los Angeles crowd with his now notorious concerts. Unfortunately for him, there was a bigger reaction from the crowd when his opponent for the night, Braun Strowman, came to the ring. Elias tried to pump fake Strowman and pretended to run away, but he ended up attacking him from behind. This, of course, was a mistake as Strowman ended up destroying Elias. Kane appeared over the jumbotron and issued a challenge to Strowman on next week’s edition of Raw. Asuka defeated Alicia Fox via her Asuka Lock. Much like they did last week, Absolution surrounded Asuka in the ring, but they ended up letting her walk away from the ring. They didn't do the same for Fox, though, as Rose and Deville attacked Paige’s former best friend. Finn Balor got back to his winning ways defeating Bo Dallas via the Coup De Grace. Matt Hardy explained how he has been “woken,” alluding to the debut of the Broken Matt Hardy character in the WWE. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins challenged The Bar for the Tag Team Championships in the main event. Just when it looked like The Shield was going to get the upper hand, Sheamus got himself disqualified so that they could retain their championships. Kurt Angle came out and explained he was not going to allow the match to end that way, and he restarted the match as a No Disqualification match. Out of nowhere, Samoa Joe attacked Rollins and Ambrose prompting Reigns to come to the aide of his brothers. Sheamus used the distractions to hit Ambrose with a Brogue Kick allowing Cesaro to pin him for the win.
Highlight of the Night
He has AWOKEN! Matt Hardy had a career renascence in 2016. The “Broken” character he developed in his time in the independent circuit was, without a doubt, one of the biggest stories in wrestling last year. Since his return to the WWE, there was never any certainty we would be seeing this character. But an injury to Jeff and a feud with Bray Wyatt later, and here we are.
SmackDown Live opened with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn celebrating how they out smarted Shane McMahon and Randy Orton the week before. Randy Orton crashed their party by hitting Kevin Owens with an RKO out of nowhere. McMahon joined in crashing the party explaining that the pair will take on Randy Orton and a partner of his choosing at Clash of Champions. Plus, Zayn will be taking on Randy Orton in this week’s main event. The New Day took on Rusev and Aiden English in the first match of the night. Rusev Day this week was a happy one as Rusev and English went on to defeat the former Tag Team Champions. Backstage, Mojo Rawley explained that he attacked Zack Ryder last week because he is “dead weight” and reminded fans that he won The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal without him. Because of their win over New Day, Rusev and Aiden English were added to the tag team match for the Tag Team Championships at Clash of Champions. It will now be a Fatal 4-Way featuring New Day, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, Rusev and Aiden English, and the champs themselves, The Usos. Daniel Bryan announced that Natalya will be challenging Charlotte at Clash of Champions in a Lumberjack Match. The Bludgeon Brothers continued to display their dominance defeating an enhancement talent tag team in quick fashion.
Bobby Roode took on The United States Champion, Baron Corbin. The match wouldn’t get too far, though, as their opponent at Clash of Champions, Dolph Ziggler left the commentary table and hit both men with Zig Zags. The Woman’s Champion, Charlotte, defeated Tamina via her Figure Eight submission. After the match, The Riott Squad came out and instigated a brawl between the entire women’s division. Kevin Owens was handcuffed to the ring, so he wouldn’t get involved in the main event between Sami Zayn and Randy Orton. Of course, Owens and Zayn found a way to free him, but it was not enough to prevent Orton from winning the match. Before he could celebrate his victory, Owens and Zayn began attacking him. Shinsuke Nakamura raced down to save Orton, alluding to a possible team up between the two at Clash of Champions. Backstage, Shane McMahon revealed to Daniel Bryan that he will be the guest referee in Owens and Zayn’s match at Clash of Champions, and, if they lose to Orton and Nakamura, they will be fired from the WWE.
Highlight of the Night
The 12 days of Rusev song was pure gold. Aiden English and Rusev have made the absolute best with their time together. The Rusev Day gimmick has, quickly, become a fan favorite, and English made it just that much better this week.
How do they compare?
It was a big week for both shows. Per usual, Los Angeles got a good episode of Raw. The three hours flew by, and the main event delivered. SmackDown is quickly putting together a card for Clash of Champions on December 17th. This week’s episode was a vacuum. Many matches for the event just felt like they were quickly put together. Raw gets the edge this week, but I have faith the blue team will put together two good episodes before Clash of Champions.
While most of the Astros roster is returning for the 2024 season, there are still some areas of uncertainty for the club. Astros manager Joe Espada will have some tough decisions to make in his first season managing the team.
The Astros infield is set, so we know who will be playing on a nightly basis, assuming health. The outfield is where things get tricky. Espada told the Houston Chronicle last week that he hopes to play Alvarez more in left field this season, which would open up the DH spot for Chas McCormick and players he would like to rest while keeping their bat in the lineup (Yainer Diaz, Jose Altuve, etc).
Astros GM Dana Brown would like to see if Jake Meyers can hit well enough to play regularly in center field. This is a team that stresses defense, which Meyers provides. But if defense is the top priority, wouldn't that mean Chas McCormick should play left field with Yordan Alvarez hitting in the DH spot?
Certainly, there will be nights when that's the case. The reality of the situation is all these guys are going to play, but how much and where is yet to be seen.
Houston plays 20 games in 21 days to start the season, so it's not going to take long to see if Meyers is providing enough offense to play regularly. If we get into the month of May and Meyers is an offensive liability in the lineup, we won't be surprised if his playing time starts to decrease. But by how much?
Don't miss the video as we examine how Joe Espada will deploy his outfielders and get the most out of the DH this season!
Watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.