WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Charlotte shows some Flair

Charlotte Flair will challenge Natalya at WWE: Hell In a Cell Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Raw kicked off this week with general manager, Kurt Angle, hyping up No Mercy. The Miz would make his way to the ring, and demand a match in which he would defend his Intercontinental Championship. After a back and forth, Jason Jordan, Kurt’s son, came out to defend his father. Eventually, Kurt declared a six pack challenge would be tonight's main event. The winner of said challenge would be The Miz’s opponent at No Mercy. The first match of the night saw “friends” Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax facing off before their Fatal Four-Way match this Sunday. Alexa tried to walk away from the match, but Sasha Banks made her way to the ring to stop that. Jax would go on to win the match but would get laid out by Bliss, Banks, and a returning Bayley to end the segment. Raw returned from the commercial break with a package hyping up Brock Lesnar vs Bruan Strowman, who will main event No Mercy this Sunday. The package focused, mostly, on the parallels between the two’s careers. Just as much as Strowman dominates the WWE now, we were reminded by this package just how dominant Lesnar was in 2002. The Bar, Sheamus and Cesaro made there way to the ring to hype up their match against Ambrose and Rollins for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Their promo was interrupted by Ambrose and Rollins, then, by Gallows and Anderson. The three teams, then, faced off in a match that The Bar stole after Ambrose failed to realize Sheamus tagged himself into the match.

The second hour picked back up with another package. This time, it was for the highly anticipated match between John Cena vs Roman Reigns. Much like the package in the first hour, this one examined how similar the career paths of Cena and Reigns have been before getting into why these guys have come to dislike each other so much.  The Titus Brand got a victory in San Jose after Apollo Crews defeated Curt Hawkins with a spinning power bomb. Raw’s main voice, Michael Cole, then, went on to interview both Brock Lesnar and Bruan Strowman. Unfortunately for those in attendance, Cole conducted the interview on the big screen as neither men were in the ring. Paul Heyman, Lesnar’s advocate, did most of the speaking for his “client”. But, before Cole ended the interview, Lesnar thanked Strowman for pushing him into a corner.

Roman Reigns started the third hour by calling John Cena a hypocrite. Reigns reminded viewers of how much John Cena dogged The Rock in 2012 for being a “part timer”. Now, Cena has paved his way through Hollywood, and, thus, become a part time competitor for the WWE.  Reigns left the ring mocking Cena to end the segment. Bray Wyatt made his way to the ring for his rematch against Goldust. This week, though, Goldust wrestled without his traditional face paint because he “would not be a pawn in the mind games” of Bray Wyatt. Wyatt would again defeat Goldust. After his match, Balor made an appearance on the big screen to explain to Wyatt we he should be more afraid of the man than he was of the demon.  Enzo Amore would make his way to the ring to hype his No Mercy match against Neville, but Braun Strowman would attack him before he could even start. Neville, then, made his way to the ring to continue what Strowman had started. Raw closed with the six pack challenge to determine who would be facing The Miz at No Mercy.  Jason Jordan would go on to win the match. Raw ended with The Miz and The Miztourage attacking the new number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship.

Highlight of the Night:  Roman Reigns dropping an s- bomb on live TV. Every once in a while, WWE loosens up a bit and allows their performers to use profanity in a promo to heat up their feuds. Of course, the words are dumped before they make it on air, but allowing them to do it gives the audience a better idea of how much these guys do not like each other.

SmackDown Live

Shane McMahon opened this week’s episode of SmackDown Live. He  explained his disgust towards Kevin Owens after he attacked his father last Tuesday. McMahon promised Owens “life time of pain” next month when they face off in the Hell in a Cell pay per view. Our first match of the night saw Randy Orton defeat Aiden English when Orton caught English off the middle rope with an RKO. After the match, Rusev made his way down to the ring for a match against Orton. Rusev won the match almost immediately thanks to a distraction from English. Rusev proceeded to celebrate backstage as he claimed he would be returning to his country as a hero. The Singh brothers would, then, come to the ring to introduce the WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal. Mahal would, again, share with Shinsuke Nakamura how hard it is to be from another country and be champion. He explained that if Nakamura were to beat him, the fans would turn on him just like they turned on Mahal. The United States Champion, AJ Styles, made his way to the ring for his match with Baron Corbin. Before the announcer could finish introducing the champion, Corbin would attack him from behind to try to gain an advantage. Tye Dillinger would, then, run down to the ring and chop block Corbin to the ground and throw him out of the ring. The match would never happen, as Corbin was unable to stand when he made it back of the ring, thanks to Dillinger’s attack. Styles would take advantage of that injured leg, though, as he placed Corbin in a calf crusher to end the segment.

Charlotte Flair made her way to the ring to start the second hour. She thanked fans for their support during her father’s time in the hospital and promised to make every moment going forward big for her and her dad. SmackDown Live Women’s Champion, Natalya would make her way to the ring to explain why they should be celebrating her. This, of course, would prompt the entire SmackDown Live women’s roster to make their way to the ring and demand an opportunity to challenge for her championship. Daniel Bryan would go on to schedule a fatal four way between Becky Lynch, Naomi, Tamina, and Charlotte Flair. The winner, of course, would be granted an opportunity to challenge Natalya. The New Day defeated The Hype Bros with their Midnight Hour finisher. Former tag champions, The Usos, were on commentary to hype up their rematch with The New day at Hell in a Cell. Kevin Owens finally got the opportunity to address his attack on Mr. McMahon last week. Owens blamed Shane for making him do what he did to his father and explained that people like Shane “don’t go to hell, they go to heaven," alluding to the fact that their match next month will not end well for Shane.  Dolph Ziggler continued his new gimmick of stealing other wrestlers entrances and making a point that flashy entrances do not make a great wrestler. This week, his latest victims were Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and their DX faction. The main event this week was the fatal four way to determine who will be challenging for Natalya’s SmackDown Live Women’s Championship. The returning Charlotte Flair would go on to win the match after she booted Tamina in the face.

Highlight of the Night:  Charlotte Flair winning the main event. Her father’s illness forced Charlotte to step away from the ring before she could ever make a big impact on the blue brand. Now, as the number one contender, we’re sure to see great things to come.

 

How do they compare?

Raw this week had a typical “go home” show. The show did not feature many matches, but, rather, focused on hyping up the main events it will put on for No Mercy. On the other hand, the card to Hell in a Cell is still taking shape. Many of the matches for that event are still being set up. Both shows this week closed with a multi person match, and, both nights, these matches ended up being the best match. Again, though, Raw really had no reason to put on too many matches, as everything is already set up for this Sunday.

All of these things considered, it is the second week in a row in which I think both shows delivered greatly. If you were tuning in this week to watch some great wrestling, SmackDown certainly did more with their two hour slot. That being said, Raw did a great job hyping up their pay per view. I think those who are really invested in the Raw brand truly got a great go home show.

I can honestly say that this is my favorite build for a pay per view that the Raw brand has done this year. Considering how great they’ve built No Mercy, and how well they promoted those marquee matches this week, I have to give this week to Raw. WWE is doing something special with the red brand right now, and I cannot wait for No Mercy this Sunday.

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Baseball is right around the corner. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The Texans and Rockets are disasters, so bring on the Astros! Even if they weren't disasters, bring on the Astros! Their spring training opener is Sunday, their regular season opener one month from Monday. Alexander Pope wrote "hope springs eternal." I hear he played a pretty decent shortstop. All 30 Major League Baseball teams can be hopeful in March. The Astros have plenty to be hopeful about and plenty about which to be wary. A couple of early storylines: 1. Yuli Gurriel admitted he was unacceptably overweight last season. It would be great for the Astros if that explains most of Gurriel's pathetic performance as opposed to age catching up with him. 2. Jose Altuve is in great spirits and health. His MVP level days of 2016 and 2017 are likely gone for good, but getting the Altuve of 2018 or 2019 would be a tremendous boost. The Altuve of 2020 was one of the worst players in MLB.

And now to the dueling debacles…

Rough stretch for the Rockets

The Rockets are awful. They sit with 11 wins and 19 losses. Just three seasons ago they lost 17 games the entire season. They are routinely non-competitive. They lug a nine game losing streak to the court Friday night in Tampa against the Toronto Raptors. Among the losses are blowouts by 20, 22, 25, and 29 points. All of those routs came against teams with losing records. By NBA standards the Rockets' roster stinks. The injured Christian Wood is the only player they have who is or projects to be an average or better starter. John Wall's contract is an anvil.

That they are this bad is actually one of the few silver linings to the Rockets' near term future. The Rockets only retain their first round pick this summer if it falls in the top four of the draft. The Rockets currently have the fourth worst record in the NBA, just one half game ahead of third worst! Where the pick falls comes down to which draft lottery ping pong ball combination is drawn, but the worse their record the better shot the Rockets have of being in the top four. If not in the top four, the Rockets settle for the lowest of their own, Oklahoma City's, or Miami's first rounder. That's probably the Heat pick, and probably not in the top 15.

The longest losing streak in Rockets' franchise history is 17. During their expansion season the San Diego Rockets lost 17 straight. The longest losing streak in Houston Rockets' history is 15 games during the 2001-02 season. They finished the season 28-54. How many of their five most frequent 2001-02 starters can you name? Answer below.

The worst team in Rockets' history was the tanking and awful 1982-83 club that finished 14-68. Longest losing streak that season? 10. The first 10 games of the season.

Releasing JJ Watt might have been a mistake

The Texans are poised to add yet another feather to their dunce cap if J.J. Watt signs with the Packers, Bills, Titans, Roughnecks, Inmates (The Longest Yard) or anybody else for 15-plus million dollars per season. Such a deal would indicate at least one team would have been willing to give up a decent draft pick (say a third rounder) for Watt and the one year 17.5 million that was left on his contract. If the Texans think they score points for doing Watt "a solid" in setting him free they are absurdly mistaken. The Texans need all the draft capital they can get. J.J. Watt will always have a hallowed place in Texans' lore but they owed Watt nothing. Over the last five seasons he played just three seasons worth of football and was paid 82.5 million dollars for them.

More Deshaun Watson drama

Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson reportedly directly told new Texans Head Coach Edward Smith that Watson has no interest in playing for him. It's nothing personal against David Culley (Edward Smith captained the Titanic) but Watson wants the Texans' organization permanently in his rearview mirror. We'll see if Cal McNair and new General Manager Nick Caserio have the stomach to not trade Watson through the draft. If the Dolphins offer Tua Tagavailoa, the third and eighteenth picks in the first round, the fourth pick in the second round, and their first round pick in 2022, the Texans should make the trade and move on.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Rockets' starters by most starts in 2001-02: Cuttino Mobley (74) Kelvin Cato (73) Kenny Thomas (71) Steve Francis (56) Moochie Norris (26).

2. It can't soothe Rocket fan nerves that the best bet for the Eastern Conference Final matchup is James Harden's Nets vs. Daryl Morey's 76ers.

3. Most frustrating 2021 Houston-visiting player appearances: Bronze-Harden the Net Wednesday Silver-George Springer the Blue Jay in May Gold-Watt the Titan this fall? Would he really sign with the Titans?

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