WWE Wrap-Up

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’s team. 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 Grace finisher. 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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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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