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 stays hot at the plate

Astros overpower White Sox in series opener

Abraham Toro made a loud return to the Astros' lineup on Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a two-game sweep of the struggling Rangers behind them, the Astros welcomed in a much fiercer opponent in the Chicago White Sox, owners of the best record in the AL, for an exciting four-game set. It was all Astros in this one, as their offense would once again propel them to a lopsided win.

Final Score: Astros 10, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 40-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dylan Cease (5-3)

Houston builds a big lead

Houston wasted no time in the bottom of the first, getting two on base on a single and an error to set up a three-run home run for Michael Brantley, putting them ahead 3-0 before Chicago and Dylan Cease could record an out. They extended the lead in the bottom of the fourth, putting two on base on a walk and hit batter before an RBI ground-rule double by Carlos Correa brought in one. That left runners on second and third, and Abraham Toro took advantage by scoring both on a two-RBI single, then with one out, Jose Altuve hit a sac fly to make it a 7-0 lead.

Urquidy brings the good stuff

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was cruising through Chicago's lineup. He allowed just one hit through the first five scoreless innings but would let the White sox get on the board in the top of the sixth after a leadoff double and two-out RBI single. They added one more on another single, making it 7-2 before Urquidy could get out of the inning.

Jose Altuve got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, hitting his fourth home run in three games to make it a six-run game at 8-2. Urquidy returned to the mound in the top of the seventh, getting a quick 1-2-3 frame to end his successful night. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 93 P.

Astros take the opener

In the bottom of the seventh, Houston pushed the lead to eight runs with a leadoff single, setting up a two-out two-run homer by Toro, bringing him to four RBI on the night. With Urquidy's night over, Brandon Bielak came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen, sitting down Chicago in order. Ralph Garza Jr. came in to get an inning of work to finish off the game with Houston's large lead. He made it a quick one, with Chicago going down in order one more time as the Astros took the opener and notched their fourth-straight win.

Up Next: Game two of this entertaining series will be another 7:10 PM Central Start on Friday. Carlos Rodon (6-2, 1.89 ERA) will try to help Chicago even the series, while Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.98 ERA) will try to put Houston up 2-0.

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