WRESTLING REPORT

Solid RAW followed by shaky Smackdown highlights WWE; All Elite makes a move

WWE.com

…And Polyphemus shouted "Nobody kills me!"

As the first complete week of 2019 came to a close for WWE, the other shoe dropped and All Elite Wrestling made itself known.

RAW went over fairly well, the six man tag brought excitement to the opening and while Brock Lesnar and Braun Stroman's stare off wasn't exactly everything advertised it at least happened. Which is an improvement considering usually Brock can't be bothered to come the regularly televised show he is the champion of. It's like a movie star being talked about on a sitcom every episode but only showing up for the premieres and finales; it's exasperating. Hopefully this is something they're going to work on over this year and either book him more or have him drop the title and take some more time off.

Smackdown however ended all possible momentum that one good show could have given them, with the opening four man tag match just being completely botched and the Daniel Bryan angle is still obnoxiously unwatchable. It's one thing for a heel champion to be elitist, it's another for him to criticize American fandom in a fan driven sport; it's cannibalistic in a way. Miz and Shane vs. The Bar for the tag titles is the match no one asked for. Are people asking for more Shane McMahon matches in lieu of actual wrestlers? Where is this coming from? The saving grace is still the women's division, although the hyper insulting Mandy Rose wants to bang an Uso storyline continues. The triple threat match was awesome and surprisingly Carmella came to play and landed some great spots with the big dogs Becky and Charlotte. For god's sake give this division REAL screen time.

Now the elephant in the room: All Elite Wrestling chose Tuesday in Jacksonville, just down the road from the Smackdown taping in Orlando, to announce a bunch of things. For starters, they announced a May event in Vegas, Double or Nothing, building off the homerun that was the first wrestler owned event of this scale - All or Nothing - that ran last year. Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks also announced some new behind the scenes talent and some new in ring talent, WWE pros like Billy Gunn and Chris Jericho are going into the office to help shepherd this thing in the right direction and former WWE cruiserweight champ, Neville, is coming to AEW as PAC and some other top indy guys like Hangman Page also announced signing with the brand. This is the worst possible time for the WWE to have competition, with the Fox Sports deal kicking in later this year and there being clear directional issues internally at WWE. A young upstart with talent, structure and money could steal some thunder from the big brand.

2019 is shaping up to be a rather interesting year for sports entertainment, and how all this plays out is up in the air.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 preview, picks

Watch out for Ryan Blaney this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s a Memorial Day Tradition; The NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for the annual Coca-Cola 600. This race is probably the third most crucial race all season, behind the Daytona 500 and the Season Finale at Phoenix. Anyone who wins this race will always be able to say that they were Coke 600 champions. No race on the schedule is as long as this one, because of this there will be a 4th stage added to the race. Teams will be provided 13 sets of tires, and if the last few weeks have been any indication, they will need all the tires they can get. With the race being as long as it is, there is a good possibility this could be an attrition race and the driver that survives will more than likely win. The record for the most cautions in NASCAR history was 22 cautions, at this same race in 2005. Come Sunday, I bet we get close to that number.

What's the deal with all of these tire failures? Last week in the All-Star race we saw drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Erik Jones all crash out because they had a flat. There are many factors that could be contributing to this, for one the tires are much wider and the sidewalls are much more narrow. Because of this, the tire falloff is much shorter, so now instead of going maybe 40-45 laps on one set of tires, drivers can now only go 25-30 laps. The other major facet is that a lot of teams are running much lower air pressures to get the car to handle better by being closer to the ground. Goodyear and NASCAR usually require the right side tires to run around 51-52 PSI, the rule however isn’t enforced for the left side tires, so drivers will push the limits to see how much they can take out to make the car faster. The fact that we were seeing such tire ware on smooth surfaces like Texas and Atlanta is a clear sign that there is a problem, but not all of it is on Goodyear. Only time will tell how this develops on tracks with old abrasive surfaces, like when they go back to Bristol in the fall.

One of NASCAR’s newest teams, Trackhouse racing, made a bit of a surprise announcement this week. Starting at Watkins Glenn in August, the team will run a third car with a series of international drivers, starting with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is something that I think is interesting for the sport. I am a bit surprised that another team hasn’t already done this before. Having drivers like Kimi, one of the more world renowned racers in F1, can really bring a whole new audience to NASCAR. There have been rumors on whom some of the other drivers might be, from Daniel Riccardo to even Lewis Hamilton. There will be a lot of intrigue about who will be the next driver.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. After winning the All-Star race, it seems like Roger Penske and the rest of the Ford camp are picking up steam. Overall, Blaney tends to struggle at this track with an 18.8 average finish, but if last week is any indication of how his car will run on mile and halves like Charlotte, he will be a fierce contender for the win.

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