WRESTLING REPORT

The WWE strengthens its programming while shadow boxing with AEW

FINN BALOR SOURCE: WWE IMAGES

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and the sister show Ball Control. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows at www.nerdthugradio.com or www.facebook.com/nerdthugradio!

This week some interesting information came out in the form of rumors. Rumor one, the WWE offered the Young Bucks a top money deal along the lines of WWE Smackdown headliner AJ Styles with a penalty free exit clause in the first six months – which is unheard of in the industry, the purpose of a contract is control - trying to cripple the All Elite Wrestling deal before it ever happened. Obviously they declined the offer. The other big rumor is that the WWE has shifted strategy and is trying to give pushes to their unhappier stars in an effort to convince them that there's no need to find greener pastures. Already All Elite Wrestling is having an effect on WWE with wrestlers even taking their gimmick names off their twitter accounts and making veiled comments about where they'll be in the future.

RAW continues its trend of putting forth strong programming although Vince McMahon's lack of faith in Finn Balor is as subtle as a sledgehammer as they build up to what is likely a Brock Lesnar title loss at Royal Rumble this coming Sunday. The Revival, one of those allegedly unhappy WWE acts, received some solid programming and also found a way to give Curt Hawkins a good push as a special guest referee- this is the kind of creativity WWE needs to harness in this coming wrestling "talent" war. Ronda Rousey still shows her amateurish nature by having one or two botched spots in her matches, having an odd beat with Bailey during the Sasha/Bailey vs Natasha/Ronda tag team match. The announcement of Alexa Bliss entering The Women's Royal Rumble was a pleasant surprise, as her mic skills are amazing and she is a great heel for the women's division and her absence has been felt.

Smackdown lead again with Becky Lynch, being The Man has it's perks. The build up for Asuka vs Becky has been great and this is the future of women in the WWE, it's a main event worthy match and the screen time has been amazing. If you assume that you lead your programming with your strongest draw, it's intriguing that the women's title and not Daniel Bryan's championship programming is what they lead with. Naomi and Mandy Rose finally fought and the payoff was terrible, hopefully they are done with this storyline and they an use Jimmy Uso and Naomi somewhere else. The Miz and Cesaro are steady superstars and their match saved the momentum of Smackdown in the middle half of the show, giving some hope to the Shane/Miz vs The Bar tag match at Royal Rumble, especially with the post match action ending with The Miz and Shane going through the announcer's table. The entire second half of Smackdown featured another annoying Daniel Bryan promo, a terrible Samoa Joe vs Mustafa Ali match, and an uninspiring Rey Mysterio vs Cian Almas match, with not one but two surprise interruptions, cue the eye roll. Essentially if your power was out the last hour of Smackdown, you didn't miss anything but a decent New Day promo.

Over the next few months in the build up to All Elite Wrestling's event in Vegas, the rumors will continue to swirl and the WWE has to struggle with a threat that sort of doesn't exist, because just the promise of AEW's success will force WWE's hand in programming and handling of talent. All of this pressure will hopefully cause stronger programming over that time.

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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