WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: The MITB build begins with several surprises

Ember Moon upset Banks and Riott to qualify for the MITB match Hour 1. Photo by WWE.com

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


Kurt Angle opened the show announcing two Triple Threat Matches that would work as qualifiers for the Money in the Bank (MITB) Ladder match. Both Kevin Owens and Braun Strowman were upset to have not been placed in the men’s match, so Angle placed both men in a singles match with the winner qualifying. Braun Strowman bulldozed Kevin Owens in said match to qualify for the MITB match. Baron Corbin and the Revival defeated Titus World Wide and No Way Jose.

Ember Moon defeated Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott to qualify to the Women’s MITB match. A video package and interview of Bobby Lashley aired to give the fans a better idea of who Bobby is, and where he’s been in the last decade. Jinder Mahal defeated Chad Gable and viciously attacked him after the match. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno. Bobby Roode defeated Elias. After the match, he expressed his desire to be in the MITB ladder match.

Seth Rollins issued an open challenge that was answered by Mojo Rawley. The Champion retained the title after hitting Rawley with his signature Stomp. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Finn Balor defeated Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns after Reigns got taken out of the equation by Jinder Mahal. A Coup De Grace to Zayn sealed the win for Balor, and qualified him for the MITB ladder match.

SmackDown Live

Paige opened the show explaining how, much like on Raw, there will be qualifying matches for MITB on the show. The Miz and Jeff Hardy were the first match of the night, and the first qualifier of the night. The US Champion gave it all he had, but Miz stole it from Hardy rolling him up. Nakamura remembered enough English to promise AJ Styles that they are not done. Payton Royce of The Iconics met with Charlotte in the first match of the night to qualify for the Women’s MITB match. Charlotte picked up the win submitting Royce with the Figure Eight.

The New Day stuffed The Bar’s bags with pancakes. Naturally, this led to a match between Cesaro and Xavier Woods, who defeated Sheamus last week. Woods came off the top rope and was caught by an uppercut from Cesaro, allowing him to pick up the win. Paige proved she is not going to show any favoritism to her former friends as she banned Sonya Deville from ring side for Mandy Rose’s match against Becky Lynch. Lucky for Mandy, she did not need Sonya as she upset Lynch with a roll up. Rusev pulled off the biggest upset of the night when he defeated Daniel Bryan in the main event to qualify for the MITB ladder match.

Money in the Bank, which will air on June 17th, is still over a month away and the build is off to a great start.

For the Men’s match, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, The Miz and Rusev have qualified. Balor and Miz have both proved in the last few years that they are great in WWE ladder matches. Both being in this match will hopefully allow us moments where they showcase their talents. Rusev will be an interesting case. He’s obviously a fan favorite, but that has not changed the way the company perceives him, yet. He will be great in this match, though I do not see him winning it. It goes without saying, but Strowman being in this match is absolutely hilarious. He has a clear height advantage over every man that has qualified so far. He probably only has to climb the ladder half-way to reach the briefcase. We’re only half-way though the men’s qualifiers, and I think Miz should be the favorite to win.

The women’s MITB match has two qualified in Ember Moon and Charlotte. It is no surprise to see the former SmackDown champion in this match, though I was surprised to see Moon. Looking at who she defeated, Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott, it is a little surprising that she won. It is an awesome opportunity for the newly ascended Moon. If we get an Eclipse from the top of the ladder, I will be completely satisfied with the match no matter who wins.

I make no gripes about it, MITB is one of my favorite PPV’s. The rest of the card be dammed. The ladder matches always deliver, and this year should not be an exception considering who has been announced so far.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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