WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: The Greatest Royal Rumble takes the focus off Raw and SDL

Nakamura destroyed Styles’ old friend, Karl Anderson, ahead of their match on Friday. Photo by WWE.com

Raw

Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns previewed their match at The Greatest Royal Rumble that will take place this Friday.  Elias defeated Bobby Roode in the first match of the night with a roll up. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Ascension in preparation for their Raw Tag Title match against The Bar this Friday.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn debuted their new show, The Sami and Kevin Show. Their first guest was Kurt Angle. In typical fashion, the guys went overboard with their trolling and got punished by Kurt by being placed in a tag match against Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre defeated Titus World Wide. McIntyre grabbed the mic after the match and explained he’s not “ the man the WWE wants.” He’s “ the wake up call and reality check this company needs.” Chad Gable made his Raw debut upsetting Jinder Mahal with a Roll Up.

Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley bulldozed through Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in a brutal tag match. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins defeated the now abandoned Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. A Ten Women Tag Match saw Bayley, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, and Natalya team up against Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and the Riott Squad. The match would end in a DQ after Ronda Rousey get involved trying to help out her friend, Natalya, who had sustained an injury from a Sarah Logan chop block.

SmackDown Live

The Miz opened the show with intentions of hosting Miz TV with Daniel Bryan as his guest. Instead, Big Cass showed up and explained exactly why he holds so much disdain for Bryan. Backstage, Bryan was treated by the medical staff for an injury he appeared to have sustained while making his way to the ring for Miz TV. The Iconics defeated Becky Lynch and Auska after Peyton used the ropes for leverage when pinning Lynch. Jimmy Uso defeated Eric Rowan thanks to a distraction from Naomi.

In typical contract signing fashion, Carmella was attacked by her opponent, Charlotte, for being obnoxious. Charlotte ended the segment lunging a table on top of the Champion. Shelton Benjamin defeated Randy Orton thanks to a distraction from Sunil Singh. Daniel Bryan revealed to Renee Young that Paige accepted his request to challenge Big Cass at BackLash. The team of Nakamura, Rusev and Aiden English defeated AJ Styles, Gallows, and Anderson. Styles attacked Nakamura after the match, but ended up receiving another low blow. Nakamura, then, focused his attack on Styles’ friend, Karl Anderson. Styles could only watch along as Nakamura kneed Anderson in the face.

The Greatest Royal Rumble was the focus this week and that made the shows suffer a bit. Raw threw a bunch of tag matches together. Granted, there’s filler episodes all the time, but it felt really excessive on this week’s show. The most compelling thing about Raw, is Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt working together. Their chemistry and story all points to them winning the Raw Tag Titles. Meanwhile, the Authors of Pain and Ziggler and McIntyre continue to cause hell. The biggest issue with Raw prior to the shake up was the tag team division, it seems to have been addressed very well.

SmackDown continues on the roll it has been on for a few weeks now. The fact that the show was so good without Samoa Joe and with Andrade and Sanity still left to debut, is very encouraging. I do not know what the end game is with Cass, but, like it or not, he will be a focus on this iteration of SmackDown. From top to bottom, the show is absolutely refreshed. Styles and Nakamura are in a great main event program, the tag division has two interesting feuds, and Carmella is proving to be a great obnoxious heel champion. All in all, the steady pace the show has been on continues to impress me.

The Greatest Royal Rumble is a weird, and quite frankly unique, situation the WWE has placed itself in. It will air live on the WWE Network this Friday, at 11 am no less, but it hasn’t necessarily been built with the luster of a Pay-per-view. Perhaps it is because of the distance, since the event will take place in Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, in some cases, we are seeing far more interesting circumstances than the ones we saw a few weeks ago at 'Mania. All in all, I think the show will be fun. I expect there to be some surprises, but at this point, I am no longer convinced Brock Lesnar drops the Universal Title. Frankly, it will be kind of fun to wake up to live wrestling for once.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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