WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Cena tries to get a response from Undertaker as Nakamura plays mind games with Styles

Cena used the Undertaker’s patented Chokeslam on Kane, but it was not enough to force a response from the Deadman. Photo by WWE.com

This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:

Raw

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman opened the show discussing Lesnar’s attack on Roman Reigns. Suddenly, Reigns appeared from the crowd in hopes of getting some payback, but ended up a victim of another vicious attack from Lesnar. Nia Jax soundly handled Alexa Bliss’ friend, Mickie James, in the first match of the night. Bliss tried attacking Jax but ended up running away from her ‘Mania opponent.

The Miz aired out his dirty laundry with the Mizterauge and their inabilities to “get the job done.” Rollins and Balor did a great job instigating and causing Axel and Dallas to turn on Miz, or so they thought. The two, suddenly, began attacking Balor and Rollins. An assist from Gallows and Anderson helped Balor get the last laugh. The tensions between Bayley and Sasha Banks finally erupted when the two fought backstage after Bayley hit Sasha where it hurts reminding her that she never held the Women’s Title in a lengthy title reign.

Kurt Angle took to the ring to explain to Ronda that ‘Mania will be fun, but it will not be easy. Absolution tried to attack Rousey after she refused to join the group, but Rousey handled them swiftly. John Cena took on Kane in a No DQ match to close the show. Cena mocked Undertaker with his patented death throat slash and even smashed Kane with a Chokeslam.  Cena defeated Kane after hitting him with an AA through a table. “ No lightning, no bells of terror, no Undertaker?” asked Cena after the match. “ I know you’re not deaf, you’re just a coward! I hope, for the sake of all that is good in this ring, I see you next week,” exclaimed Cena.

SmackDown Live

SmackDown opened with  Randy Orton and Bobby Roode tagging against Jinder Mahal and Rusev. Orton and Roode, of course, could not work well together and Rusev was able to pin the champion to win for his team. This lead to Rusev being added to the match for the US Title at ‘Mania. Becky Lynch defeated Ruby Riott via a roll up pin. The Riott Squad tried spoiling her win, but Lynch handled them easily enough and threw them out of the ring, much like she hopes to at ‘Mania in the Women’s Battle Royal.

Daniel Bryan shared his proposal with the WWE crowd in Pittsburgh. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan will tag against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania. If Owens and Zayn win, they will be reinstated. Otherwise, if they lose, they will remain fired. The Bludgeon Brothers tried to use their mallets on the New Day during their tag match, but The Usos raced down to the ring to prevent the attack from happening. Shinsuke Nakamura, with AJ Styles in his corner, defeated Shelton Benjamin. Nakamura called Styles into the ring to tell him he did not need him in his corner. He just wanted him to see how he plans beat him at ‘Mania. Benjamin and Gable tried attacking Styles, leading Nakamura to race back down to the ring to save him. He teased Styles, acting as he was going to hit him with a knee. Instead, he degraded him by patting him on the head.

Boy, oh boy, was this week full of promo packages.

Granted, this is a given, it is WrestleMania season, after all. It felt extremely excessive, especially on Raw. This can quickly be explained by the fact that Raw has an additional hour to fill, but having meaningless matches like Balor Club vs Mizterouge and Elias vs Rhyno feels completely meaningless a week out from ‘Mania.

SmackDown, too, had filler matches, but Ziggler and Breeze did not really go on for long, and the show, simply flowed a lot better. Perhaps it was the lengthy matches, or the excellent placement of Bryan’s promo at the top of the second hour, but, for once, the show flew by.

Last year, ‘Mania had a problem. The matches on the blue show, simply, did not feel like they mattered as much as the matches from the red show. This is absolutely not the case this year, though. Bryan tagging with Shane will be memorable for years to come, Styles and Nakamura should absolutely tear the house down, and Charlotte and Asuka, the clash of the titans, will bring a much-needed important match to the SmackDown Women’s Division. All in all, I can genuinely say I am more excited for this year’s WrestleMania than I was for last year’s, and the event last year ended up being a good one.

If you’ve been casually watching the last few months, next week is an absolutely “can’t miss” week. Go home shows always tend to deliver some excitement, this will especially be the case for the ‘Mania go homes. Roman will probably get his hands on Lesnar, we could possibly find out who Braun’s partner will be, and we will get some sort of sign from Undertaker. On SmackDown, we are sure to see a pair of uninvited superstars from Owens and Zayn, a face off from Asuka and Charlotte, and things between Styles and Nakamura may finally get physical. As intriguing as the build to the biggest event has been, it all needs to be validated next week during the go home shows. If recent times are any indication, we are in for a treat in the final stops before WrestleMania.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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