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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Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After dropping the middle game to the Rangers to split the first two games, the Astros looked for an improved offensive showing in the finale on Thursday night to take the series. Here is a rundown of the rubber game:

Final Score: Astros 2, Rangers 1.

Record: 25-25, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07 ERA).

Valdez another Houston pitcher to thrive against Rangers

Much like Jose Urquidy on Tuesday and Lance McCullers JR. on Wednesday, Framber Valdez put up an excellent pitching line on Thursday against the Rangers. After allowing two singles in the first and a single in the second, he would settle in and hold the Rangers to just one baserunner, which came via a walk through six frames.

He would try to get through the seventh, but after a long at-bat and one-out double, Dusty Baker would stop his night and go to the bullpen. Unfortunately, that double would end up scoring as Josh James would allow an RBI-single, charged to Valdez, before finishing the inning. Along the way, Valdez was able to ring up eleven Rangers. His final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, 100 P.

Kyle Tucker gets the big hit of the night

Luckily, Houston was still in the lead after the Rangers' run, thanks to a big hit by Kyle Tucker back in the second inning. After Alex Bregman reached base on a walk to become the first runner for the Astros, Kyle Tucker would break out of his recent slump with a two-run home run, putting Houston ahead 2-0 at the time.

Jordan Lyles was otherwise handling the Astros just like Kyle Gibson the night prior, who threw a complete-game shutout. Other than the Tucker homer, Lyles allowed another hit in the second and one in the third before retiring the next 12 Astros in order before an error in the seventh broke that streak, giving Houston their first baserunner since two outs in the third.

Houston takes the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James returned to the mound to start the eighth, and he would get a 1-2-3 inning against the top of Texas' lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it. After another scoreless inning by Houston at the plate, that would set up a save opportunity in the top of the ninth. The opportunity would go to Brooks Raley, and he would notch the save with a scoreless inning, giving Houston the series and moving them back up to .500 at 25-25.

Up Next: The Astros' final three regular-season games played at Minute Maid Park in 2020 are this weekend in a series against the Diamondbacks. In Friday's 7:10 PM opener, Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston while Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will be the starter for Arizona.

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