WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Asuka and Sasha deliver a classic as tensions between Zayn and Owens begin to build

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:

 

Raw

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 Chamber qualifier 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.

SmackDown Live

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.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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