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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Composite photo by Jack Brame

Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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