WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: John Cena tries to find his road to WrestleMania

This week in WWE: John Cena tries to find his road to WrestleMania
Cena did whatever it took to be added to the main event at Fastlane. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

A braggadocios Alexa Bliss opened the show recounting her victory at Elimination Chamber. Her insults to her WrestleMania opponent, Asuka, prompted her to come to the ring. Unfortunately, it was a trap as Nia Jax, Mickie James and Bliss attacked her. Bailey and Sasha Banks came down to help out Asuka, but the heels would walk laughing after laying them out.  This lead into a six women’s tag match, because of course it did. Banks spent a long time in the ring. When she tried to tag Bayley, she jumped off of the ring so Banks could not tag her. Eventually, Banks tagged Asuka who submitted James to win the match. “I have failed”, John Cena opened his long rant about his inability to get a high profile match for WrestleMania. He teased the fans by “issuing a challenge to Undertaker”, but he clarified that the match could never happen. Before leaving the ring, he explained that he will find his opportunity at SmackDown Live. Bray Wyatt ambushed Heath Slater before their match. After his attack, he took to the mic to tell Matt Hardy that they will be meeting again.

The Miz was heated at Kurt Angle, who did not give him a clear answer about who his WrestleMania opponent will be. He explained how, as Intercontinental Champion, he must be respected. He promised whoever came to the ring would receive a beating. Seth Rollins answered the call, and defeated him with a ridiculous Frog Splash from all the way on the other side of the ring. Finn Balor came to the ring. He, too, has a match with Miz. The Mizterouge stopped the match from happening as they attacked Balor, causing Gallows and Anderson to race down to save their good brother. Kurt Angle settled things by banning everyone from ringside and restarting the match. If Miz causes a DQ, he will not be participating at ‘Mania. The champ tried picking the bones of Balor after the attack, but Balor would be able to steal one from Miz.

Roman Reigns explained how he is a man of his word. He said he would win the Elimination Chamber match, and he did. Brock Lesnar was scheduled to have a face off with him that night, but he did not show. Reigns called out Lesnar for hiding behind is contract, and even called his advocate, Paul Heyman, a bitch. The Bar retained their tag titles defeating Titus Worldwide in a Two out of Three Falls match. Braun Strowman and Elias faced off in the last match of the night. Strowman dominated the match, but Elias grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed him with it. Stroman tried to chase Elias backstage but after the attack to his eyes, Elias was able to escape. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H closed the show demanding an apology from Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey. Angle apologized, Rousey, too, demanded an apology from McMahon for slapping her at Elimination Chamber. McMahon apologized, but Triple H’s actions spoke clearly as he sucker punched Angle as they were leaving the ring.

SmackDown 

Just as he promised, John Cena came to the blue brand in search of a match at WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon agreed to add him to the match at Fastlane if he defeats AJ Styles in the main event. Baron Corbin defeated Sami Zayn in the opening match. Kevin Owens was on commentary when, suddenly, Ziggler surprised him with a super kick that distracted Zayn allowing Corbin to pick up the win. For good measure, Ziggler surprised Corbin with a Zig Zag after the match. Ruby Riott defeated Naomi with a Riott Kick. She mocked Charlotte, “two down, one to go.”

The New Day, too, wondered what they will be doing at WrestleMania. They explained their desire to face their longtime rivals, The Usos. The Tag Champions came to the ring to express their frustrations about missing out ‘Mania after ‘Mania while New Day got hand out after hand out. This, of course, upset Big E who explained they worked their ass off and were not there “because of their daddy”. Backstage, Roode and Orton faced off. Orton explained that their feud was nothing personal; he simply wants what he has never had, The United States Championship. Nakamura defeated Aiden English. As he began to walk to the back, John Cena came out to the ring and stared down who he hopes he will be facing at WrestleMania. His main event match against Styles was a doozy. Cena put the champion through the table, and eventually hit him with a third Attitude Adjustment to pick up the win. This meant that the match at Fastlane is now a Six Pack Challenge. Owens, Zayn, Corbin and Ziggler were not pleased about this as they came out to the ring and a brawl ensued to close the show.

The big theme of the week is “what is x competitor doing at WrestleMania?”

The uncertainty, frankly, entertains me. For a lot of people, this part of the year is the best. Finding out who will face who at WrestleMania is one of my favorite parts of the year. Whether it was Miz, The New Day, or Rollins trying to figure out their path, it’s exciting to see the pieces start to fall together.

Of course, the most exciting one of them all was Cena’s week. His “I need to find my way in this new generation” promo is getting a bit repetitive, but the matches he delivers when he is in this mode have not. We now know he’ll be at Fastlane. I do not expect him to win that match, which makes his future that much more exciting.

Next week, the build to Fastlane will hopefully heat up. After that, it is a straight path to New Orleans and WrestleMania.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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