WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Post-WrestleMania shows were a breath of fresh air

This week in WWE: Post-WrestleMania shows were a breath of fresh air
Paige had an interesting week as she retired on Monday and became the GM of SmackDown on Tuesday. Photo by WWE.com


Stephanie McMahon opened the show with a sling on her arm after sustaining an injury from her match with Ronda Rousey. She then brought out Ronda to congratulate her and tried to recruit and put her in her corner. Ronda responded by putting her in an Arm Bar on the same arm she injured at WrestleMania. “You deserve it” chants welcomed Nia Jax. Bliss and James antagonized Jax explaining she has a bad attitude which explained why she did not have a partner for their tag match. Jax proved she was wrong though, revealing her partner was NXT call up, Ember Moon. The two would win after Moon hit Bliss with her captivating finisher, The Eclipse. Braun and Nicholas, the 10-year old, relinquished their tag titles. The Bar asked for their titles back. Kurt explained they’ll get a shot at the title against which ever tag team came out of his “Tag Team Eliminator.” The Revival defeated Gallows and Anderson in the first match of said tournament.

Seth Rollins celebrated winning the IC and becoming a Grand Slam Champion. Finn Balor congratulated him, but explained that he wanted a chance to challenge him for his IC title. Rollins accepted, much to Miz’s distain. The former champ raced down to the ring explaining he will get his title back at Backlash, but the two of them can face him and the Mizterouge then, if they were still in the mood to fight. Jeff Hardy made his triumphant return to back up Rollins and Balor. Mandy Rose defeated Sasha Banks with a monstrous knee to the face. Bayley was in Sasha’s corner  and accidentally struck her. Paige, the leader of Absolution, then, announced her retirement from in ring competition. Elias performed a new song for New Orleans. Bobby Lashley made his return to WWE. For the first time in a decade, Lashley stepped into a WWE ring and destroyed Elias. The Authors of Pain defeated Slater and Rhyno after the two made the mistake of calling out any tag team in the back.

Samoa Joe made his return from injury verbally assaulting Roman Reigns, who was out there giving Brock Lesnar the business about his part-time contract. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated Titus Worldwide in the Tag Team Eliminator. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens face off after Angle promised a job to the winner of a match between the two on Raw. The match ended in a double count out leaving neither men with a job. The team of Finn Balor, Jeff Hardy, and Seth Rollins defeated Miz and The Mizterouge to close out the Raw after ‘ Mania.

SmackDown Live

Shane opened the show giving fans some updates. Daniel Bryan will be stepping down as the GM in order to become a full time wrestler. In his place, Paige will be the new GM of SmackDown Live. As her first order of business, she issued Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles as the main event of the night. The Usos defeated The New Day to win a shot to challenge The Bludgeon Brothers for their newly acquired Tag Titles. Naomi defeated Natalya in an electric match of two underrated wrestlers.

Charlotte thanked Asuka for the magic they made at WrestleMania before wondering who she will be making magic with next. This prompted the debut of The Iconic, Peyton Royce and Bilie Kay. The two brutally assaulted the champion, and opened the door for Carmella to cash in her MITB contract to finally win the Women’s Championship. Randy Orton defeated Bobby Roode and Rusev to win a shot to challenge Jinder Mahal for the United States Championship at Backlash. A dream match in Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles closed the show. Nakamura would eventually crash the party, though, hitting Bryan with a knee before focusing his attack entirely on AJ Styles.

Boy, were the post ‘Mania shows a breath of fresh air.

Raw needed improvement in their tag division, so they add one of the most dominant teams from  NXT in the Authors of Pain. The SmackDown roster needed new faces in the women's division, and, boy, did The Iconics deliver on their first night. Returns like that of Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley, and a full time Daniel Bryan add so much to the table.

It has been a long time since I have said this, but SmackDown felt like it was above and beyond what Raw did this week. It was quick, it was surprising, and, frankly, every segment felt like it mattered. Having Bryan as a full-time wrestler will do wonders for the show. Not to mention, turning Nakamura heel was perhaps the best decision to come out of WrestleMania. It has given him the edge he has so desperately needed on the main roster.

Of course, all this considered, things could look drastically different a month from now. Next week, The Super Star Shakeup will take place on both shows. Stephanie and Kurt will do their best to one up SmackDown Live, as Shane and Paige try to do the same. I have been an advocate for another shake up for a while now, I just hope it does not disturb what appears to be a newly acquired balance on SmackDown Live.

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With their closer revealed, here are the Astros top bullpen X-factors

Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.

Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.

Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.

Who pitches the sixth inning?

Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”

While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.

And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.

But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!

Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!

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