WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Chamber card begins to take shape and Fastlane gets its main event

AJ Styles’ involvement in the main event got him placed in a Triple Threat Match at Fastlane. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

For once, Raw opened with a match, rather than a 20 minute promo. Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns faced off in a qualifying match for the Elimination Chamber. Wyatt’s Sister Abigail was countered into a Spear, and Reigns picked up the win to qualify for the Chamber. Matt Hardy appeared in the ring to congratulate Wyatt with a Twist of Fate. Finn Balor and Karl Anderson defeated The Revival after Balor fit Dawson with a Coup De Grace. Backstage, the passive aggressive tension between best friends, Bayley and Sasha Banks, rose after Bayley reminded Banks that she can beat her. Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali defeated Tony Nese and Drew Gulak in some awesome cruiserweight action. New 205 General Manager, Drake Maverick, sat on commentary to promote the tournament to crown a new Cruiserweight Champion.

Kurt Angle announced that Bayley, Mandy Rose, Mickie James, Sonya Deville, and Sasha Banks will be Alexa Bliss’ opponents in the first ever Women’s Elimination Chamber match. Alexa Bliss was not at all happy with Angle’s decision to place her in that match, and claimed that she should be treated like Brock Lesnar, who does not have to defend his championship that PPV. Angle, simply, reminded her that she has not defended her championship since October. Bayley put up a valiant effort against Asuka, but, unfortunately, she was unable to upset the Empress of Tomorrow. Asuka defeated Bayley after locking her up in a second Arm Bar. Apollo Crews’ athleticism kept him in a very competitive match against The Miz in a qualifier for the Elimination Chamber. It would eventually burn him, though, after getting caught up on the ropes, the Miz hit him with a Skull Crushing Finally to qualify for the Chamber.

Jason Jordan was unable to compete in his tag team title rematch with Seth Rollins, so Angle allowed Roman Reigns to take Jordan’s place, much to the chagrin of The Bar. Reigns and Rollins were on an absolute roll, and The Bar realized it, so they tried to leave the ring. Jordan came down to try to force them back into the ring, and struck Sheamus causing a disqualification for Rollins and Reigns. Nia Jax defeated an enhancement talent. She had a message for Asuka after the match, when she’s done with her, she’ll be “The Empress of Yesterday.” Alexa Bliss, of all people, rushed to save Mickie James after Absolution tried jumping her. A Triple Threat Match between Cena, Elias, and Strowman closed the show. The winner of the match would win the right to enter the Elimination Chamber match last. Elias was able to steal the match from Strowman, but The Monster Among Men got the last laugh after hitting both men with a mirage of Running Power Slams.

Highlight of the night

The animosity between Bayley and Sasha Banks is building. Banks eliminated her best friend from the Rumble, and now Bayley got the chance to throw some shade at her backstage. Both of them losing to Asuka seems to be the beginning to a story where they turn on each other.

SmackDown

McMahon and Bryan opened the show with the same disagreement they have been having for months. McMahon accused Bryan of trying to vicariously live through the careers of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. AJ Styles explained to both that he is tired of dealing with them, and asked them to stay out of the way. Nakamura found Styles backstage and, simply, told him that he is “gonna beat him at Wrestlemania.” Charlotte Flair defeated Liv Morgan, submitting her with the Figure Eight. The Bludgeon Brothers destroyed another enhancement tag team. Daniel Bryan revealed the first “Top 10 list” of the SmackDown roster. Both Zayn and Owens were not on the list, nor was Rusev.

Bobby Roode defended his United States Championship against Rusev. It looked like the challenger would steal it from the Glorious One, but the champion countered a Accolade into a Glorious DDT for the win. After the match, Randy Orton surprised Roode, English and Rusev with RKOs. Benjamin and Gable continued their journey to “bring prestige back” to the tag team division by defeated The Ascension. Owens and Zayn put on a hell of a main event match. Zayn provoked Styles, who was sitting at ring side, and the Champion got up and attacked both men causing a disqualification. Thus, Bryan announced that BOTH Owens and Zayn will be challenging Styles at Fastlane for his WWE Championship.

Highlight of the night

Sami and Kevin were putting on a great match, as they should have. I am honestly a little burned out by their bickering with Styles, but a Triple Threat Match at Fastlane will be a worthy payoff.

As we get closer to Wrestlemania, more grains of salt are sprinkled in. This week did its job because it made things just a little more clear. There’s animosity between Banks and Bayley, Randy Orton made some new enemies, Styles placed himself in a predicament. These could all be red herring, but I think, as the weeks continue to pass us, we will get a clearer sense of direction.

As far as Elimination Chamber is concerned, this week did a great job of putting more of the pieces together. Asuka got in a match, we know who will challenge Alexa, and Elias got the nod. The PPV, which will air on February 25th, will be Raw’s last PPV before ‘Mania. So far, it looks like it will do the job to get us there. Fastlane, the last PPV for the blue brand, is still over a month away, but we already know what our main event will be. It should be the match that finally gets us to Styles vs Nakamura, but I have a feeling we may be getting a swerve. We will have to wait and see.

This is always my favorite time of the year. Speculating on what is next is fun, and even our predictions do not pan out, the WWE always finds a way to put on a compelling show for Wrestlemania. This year should be no exception.

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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans remain winless as the team comes up short against the Bears in Chicago. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Davis Mills made two costly mistakes with interceptions. The first one took points off the board and the second allowed the Bears to kick a game-winning field goal. These were the first two of the season and they highlight the need for near perfection from the offense.

2. Davis Mills claimed he made the correct read on the second interception. He said the tip is the reason the Bears intercepted it. I disagree. It looks like Roquan Smith read it like a book and might have been there anyway.

3. The other interception from Davis Mills wasn’t a good read either. Mills made a quick decision and rifled the ball to Brandin Cooks but the defensive back basically had his whole body between Cooks and the ball. The Bears made a nice play to come down with the deflection.

4. Davis Mills is not to be trusted in moments where most quarterbacks can move the football. The Texans failed to get into field goal range at the end of both halves. Mills has consistently failed in those spots this season.

5. There were some curious calls from Pep Hamilton. The Texans don’t have much talent, but Hamilton has had some unique moments. There was a screen to Pharaoh Brown on third and long. The team called a screen on third and one. There was a telegraph on third and short in the red zone.

6. Why can’t this team get the wideouts more heavily involved? Rex Burkhead shouldn’t be getting the second greatest number of targets. Brandin Cooks shouldn’t leave a game where he has less than 10 targets. It would be worth scheming the ball to Cooks a few more times than he is currently getting the ball.

7. Kamu Grugier-Hill is not playing well right now. The veteran just bounced right off a Bears running back at one point. He is also a liability in coverage. Christian Harris is hopefully back after next week but it would be worth seeing if Garrett Wallow has anything more to his game than the veteran.

8. The rushing defense was assaulted again. This time by running wideouts and a backup running back. Lovie Smith needs to look at playing time and the depth chart to see if something can get corrected here. This can’t keep happening earlier and earlier in games each week.

9. Jerry Hughes has been one of the best players on this team through three games. The veteran has been consistent and flashed more than a few times. A nice addition by the team this offseason.

10. Jalen Pitre is so damn good. He’s already one of the best players on this team. He had two interceptions today to go along with a sack. He wasn’t fooled on play action and nailed Justin Fields for the sack. When it felt like the Bears were getting whatever they wanted, Pitre darted in for a tackle in the backfield. He’s been awesome.

11. There must be some evaluation from the Texans. The team might need to ask if everything they’ve put together at this point is the right direction. There is a sound argument the team should be 3-0. Instead, the team is winless, and closing in on hopelessness

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