WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Houston is in for a treat as the final card for Survivor Series is set

This week in WWE: Houston is in for a treat as the final card for Survivor Series is set
Kurt Angle and the Raw roster retaliate by invading SmackDown Live. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Stephanie McMahon opened Raw berating Kurt Angle for allowing The New Day to embarrass the show the week before. Angle attempted to defend himself by explaining how he will show the team the way at Survivor Series, but it was not until The Shield came to his defense that McMahon backed off. She, then, proceeded to mock The Shield for losing their Tag Team Championships after The New Day’s invasion. The Shield responded my challenging the SmackDown Live team to a match at Survivor Series. The first match of the night saw Bayley earn the fifth and final spot on the Raw women’s team after defeating Mickie James and Dana Brooke in a Triple Threat Match. Enzo Amore and Drew Gulak teamed up against Kalisto and Tozawa. The high flying offense of Kalisto and Tozawa allowed them to gain the upper hand, but one mistake was enough for Amore to shove Kalisto into Tozawa and pin him to win the match.

Backstage, Kurt Angle spoke with the Raw men’steam. He scheduled them for different matches later that night to get them ready for Survivor Series. The Miz and The Bar hosted a new episode of Miz TV in which they promised to end the “reunion tour” of The Shield later that night. Michael Cole revealed that The New Day took to Twitter to accept The Shields challenge for a match at Survivor Series. Jason Jordan took on Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds used every single one of his tricks to try to gain the upper hand over Jordan, but it would not be enough as Jordan won the match. Wyatt blindsided Jordan after the match. He targeted the knee Jordan appeared to have injured in the match leaving him unable to walk without assistance. Backstage, Angle checked up on Jordan and informed him that he will not be competing at Survivor Series. Jordan begged Angle to leave him in the match since it will “be his big break”. Paul Heyman and the WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, hyped up The Beast’s match against WWE Champion, AJ Styles. Heyman complimented Styles, calling him “the best in ring performer of this generation” and explained why he is the perfect opponent for Lesnar at Survivor Series.

The Six Man tag between The Shield against The Miz and The Bar opened the last hour of Raw. With Roman Reigns back with Ambrose and Rollins, The Shield looked as strong as ever. After taking out The Bar, a Triple Power Bomb put The Miz away for the win. Kurt Angle came to the ring to announce Jason Jordan’s replacement at Survivor Series. Jordan attempted to talk him out of replacing him, but Triple H made a surprise return to announce he will be replacing Jordan. Adding insult to injury, Triple H vanished him with a pedigree. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe attempted to coexist in a tag match against Gallows and Anderson. Samoa Joe’s suicide dive eliminated Gallows from the equation and allowed Balor to pin Anderson after hitting him with his Coup De Gracefinisher. Braun Strowman raced to the ring for his main event against Kane. The match never got started, though. The two brawled outside, teased a table spot, and fought along the top rope. Raw ended after a monstrous Running Power Slam that sent both men through the ring.

Highlight of the night:

Triple H hitting Jason Jordan with a pedigree. The “Jason Jordan is my son” storyline with Kurt Angle has been a train wreck. The fans, clearly, are not buying it. Hearing them cheer the heel, Triple H, attacking Jordan was classic fan rejection.

 

SmackDown Live

The “Go Home” edition of SmackDown opened with Shane McMahon addressing the entire roster. He prepared them for the possibility of a retaliation from Raw. Becky Lynch, Baron Corbin, and The New Day took turns hyping up the rest of the roster. Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring to explain why SmackDown Live is a better show than Raw. He, then, invited AJ Styles to the ring. Bryan praised Styles for winning the WWE Championship. He asked Styles to let him be his “advocate,” the same way Paul Heyman is for Brock Lesnar. Bryan mocked Heyman, and explained how Styles will make Lesnar quit, like he did from the WWE, and like he did “to a half ass knee bar at a UFC event.” Baron Corbin defended his United States Championship against Sin Cara. He would win via his End of Days finisher. A recap aired showing every moment that has led up to the men’s Five on Five match at Survivor Series. Shane McMahon welcomed Daniel Bryan back to SmackDown. He had not been on the show since Kane attacked him when he visited Raw. Bryan thanked him, but explained to McMahon that he was not happy with SmackDown’s invasion of Raw.

Charlotte challenged Natalya for her Women’s Championship. Natalya gained the upper hand after slamming Charlotte into the ring post. She placed the challenger in a sharpshooter twice, but Charlotte was able to escape. Natalya got caught off guard by a big kick. Charlotte, then, placed her in the Figure Eight finisher to win the championship. After the match, she expressed to the crowd how much it meant for her to win the championship in her home town, especially considering everything that has happened with her dad. To her surprise, Ric Flair came out and congratulated her with a big hug. Jimmy Uso took on Chad Gable after their match the week before ended inconclusively. Gable attempted to use his athleticism to upset the champion, but one Super Kick was enough for Uso to win the match. The New Day hyped up their match against The Shield. Big E explained how the bond of The Shield will soon fall apart like it did before.  The New Day, though, will remain as strong as it’s been for over two years. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came to the ring for their main event match against The New Day. Before it got too far, The Shield showed up. Zayn and Owens walked out of the ring, allowing The Shield to lay them out. The Usos raced down the ring in attempt to help out their SmackDown brothers. The Bar opened the floodgates. Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Titus O’Neil, and others attacked whoever was in sight. Backstage, the women of Raw ambushed whoever they could find from the SmackDown roster. The brawl continued in the ring until Braun Strowman and Kurt Angle came out to end it. “How does it feel?” Kurt Angle asked Shane McMahon before The Shield Triple PowerBombed him. Angle, then, hit McMahon with an Angle Slam. The Shield hit McMahon with one last Triple Power Bomb. The red team stood tall over the carnage of the blue team to end the show.

Highlight of the Night:

Ric Flair coming out to celebrate with Charlotte. Maybe my heart is still tender from the Nature Boy 30 for 30, but when Ric cries, I cry. Realistically, the Raw invasion is probably the true highlight, but that moment was too special to not be mentioned again.

How Do They Compare?

Both shows this week were pretty balanced “Go Home” shows. There was, perhaps, too much emphasis in promo packages, but that seems to be the norm now. The element of surprise was present on both shows with the return of Triple H and Charlotte winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship. All that being considered, the Raw invasion was a treat. From The Shield damn near murdering Shane McMahon, to Alexa Bliss hitting Charlotte with a cheap shot. This, technically, gives the edge to SmackDown. Survivor Series is this weekend, and I have to commend the WWE for putting together a great card for the fans in Houston.

 

* Note, this Friday I will be releasing a preview of the WWE weekend ahead of us. Additionally, I will provide a review for every show from NXT War Games to SmackDown Live next Tuesday. 

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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