Banks suffered a nasty fall in her brutal match against Asuka. Photo by WWE.com
This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:
Stephanie McMahon celebrated the success of the Royal Rumble and invited the winner of the Women’s match, Asuka, to the ring. She explained to Asuka that she may want to hold off selecting who she wants to face at WrestleMania because Alexa Bliss will have to defend her championship in the first ever Women’s Elimination Chamber match. Sasha Banks came to the ring to “get a few things off her chest.” She explained how she felt participating in the Royal Rumble and challenged Asuka to a match later that night. The announce team revealed that there would be qualifying matches for the men’s Elimination Chamber match. The winner of the Elimination Chamber will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. The first qualifying match was the Last Man Standing match where Braun Strowman defeated Kane after flipping the announce team’s platform over him. Elias sang a new song in Philly, “Elias’ Night,” per usual, but Elias did not get to finish his song thanks to an interruption from his opponent, Matt Hardy. Elias won the match after Bray Wyatt caused a distraction.
Speaking of distractions, a distraction from the Mizterouge and a pull of the tights allowed The Miz to retain his Intercontinental Championship over Roman Reigns. The Revival earned a much needed win over Heath Slater and Rhyno. Michael Cole revealed that The Dudley Boyz will be entering the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame Class.
Asuka and Sasha Banks started the final hour with an instantly memorable match. It was as brutal as you would have expected a match between the two to be. Banks placed Asuka into the Banks Statement, but Asuka was able to counter it into an Asuka Lock submitting The Boss. The Bar retained their Tag Team Championships over Titus World Wide. The WWE gave themselves a pat on the back, in the form of a promo package for Ronda Rousey’s debut at Royal Rumble. John Cena took on Finn Balor in the main event and the final Elimination Chamberqualifier of the night. The Philadelphia crowd was behind Balor hard, and it began causing a distraction to Cena. Balor did all he could, but Big Match John was determined and won the match after hitting Balor with a Super Attitude Adjustment from the middle rope.
Highlight of the Night
Asuka and Sasha put on a PPV caliber match. The knees to the face, the dives to the outside, the submissions—this match had so many hard hitting highlights. Banks lost, but the match reiterated why she is one of the top wrestlers in the women's division.
Shinsuke Nakamura celebrated winning the Royal Rumble to open the show. Unfortunately for him, the celebration was cut short by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, who are still furious about the way they lost last Sunday. They claimed Nakamura should be preparing to face them at WrestleMania, not AJ Styles. This prompted Styles to come to the ring and issue a challenge: Styles and Nakamura vs Zayn and Owens. Backstage, Daniel Bryan decided to make the match the main event to tonight’s show. Tuesday proved to be a happy Rusev Day after Rusev defeated Kofi Kingston, Jinder Mahal, and Zack Ryder to become the number one contender to the United States Championship. The Usos shared a promo where they explained how they have “locked down” the Tag Team Division. The Bludgeon Brothers defeated another enhancement tag team.
Charlotte was furious. She wanted to know who she will be facing at Wrestlemania, whether it will be Asuka or Ronda Rousey. The Riott Squad jumped the Champion, and Carmella raced down to attempt to cash in her Money in the Bank contract. In attempts to kick Charlotte back down, Carmella ended up kicking the referee, who was unable to officiate her match and “cash in” her contract. Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger with an End of Days. Backstage, tensions rose between Zayn and Owens. The two will tag this week, but will face each other next week for a chance to challenge for the WWE Championship. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated Breezango. The tensions between Owens and Zayn carried over to their match against Styles and Nakamura, and eventually they ended up costing them the match after Zayn left Owens to fight them, and lose, on his own.
Highlight of the night
Carmella’s attempt to cash in was hilarious. It had been a while since we even got wind of her trying to cash in. This week’s attempt was perfect, up until she actually made it to the ring. The reaction to the crowd proved people still want to see her cash in. Although it is what makes her feel so relevant, she is going to have to cash it in eventually.
The post Royal Rumble shows this week delivered like they should have. Raw gave us a first ever match between Balor and Cena that reminded us Balor can hang with the top guys. But, without a doubt, the match of the weekend, and perhaps the best match of the year so far, was Asuka vs Sasha Banks. The women’s division has been stale for months now, and this match, along with the Women’s Rumble, felt like a sort of reboot, on Raw at least. SmackDown seems to be moving forward with their stories, and, what do you know, they built two awesome matches for next week. Things are looking up, other than the ridiculous graphics. Who the hell thought those were a good idea? The Elimination Chamber and Fastlane will be the last stops before WrestleMania. With the card still taking shape, they should be some good ones.
Luka Doncic had 41 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and the Dallas Mavericks prevented the Houston Rockets from advancing to the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 121-115 victory on Tuesday night.
Kyrie Irving added 22 of his 27 points in the second half for the Mavericks, who had already been eliminated. Their victory allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to win Group B in the Western Conference with a 3-1 record.
Doncic fell just short of his 59th career triple-double. That would have tied him for ninth place all-time with Larry Bird. He shot 15 of 29, 3 of 10 on 3-pointers.
“Sometimes we take him for granted, and we shouldn’t,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s about winning, but it just so happens he’s a walking triple-double.
”The Mavericks, who trailed by nine points in the third quarter, grabbed the lead for good at 99-98 with 6:25 to play on a drive by Irving. Leading 103-100 with 5:25 left, they went on an 8-2 run that included three free throws by Derrick Jones Jr. when he was fouled by Dillon Brooks on a 25-footer with the shot clock about to expire.
Jabari Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 8 seconds left pulled the Rockets within 119-115 before Dallas closed it out.
Doncic played after sustaining a low-grade sprain of his left thumb on his non-shooting hand early in Saturday’s game. He wore a wrap on the thumb.
Doncic made a hook shot from the free throw line after recovering a loose ball near the baseline.
“I’m 2 for 2 in my career on the hooks,” Doncic said, saying the other came while playing for the Slovenian national team against Sweden.
Irving shot 2 for 11 in the first half, 1 for 5 on 3-pointers, with no free-throw attempts. He was 6 for 11 in the second half, hitting 1 of 2 behind the arc, and sank all nine free throws.
“I told the team, ‘Played well enough to win, not smart enough to win,’” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We were extra-aggressive, especially at the end of the third quarter. Had multiple players make a few dumb fouls, put Kyrie at the line and got him going when he didn’t have a lot going. You can be aggressive, obviously, but slapping somebody on a 3-point shot on the arm is an unintelligent play. It has nothing to do with aggression.”
Alperen Sengun had a season-best 31 points for the Rockets, who had six scorers in double figures. Fred VanVleet had 10 points and 12 assists.
The Rockets have lost all six of their road games this season. They went into play leading the NBA by allowing an average of 104.4 points per game.
The Mavericks didn’t use the specially built court for either of their home tournament games, citing dissatisfaction with the quality.
Rockets: Will finish a back-to-back at Denver on Wednesday.
Mavericks: Host Memphis on Friday.