WWE Wrap-Up

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

Raw

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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Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies have plenty of work to do this offseason. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

After an underwhelming win against one of the worst teams in the nation last Saturday against UMASS, the Aggies looked like they were poised to head into the final game of the year against LSU unmotivated and shorthanded. With rumors of star recruits rushing to the transfer portal, Jimbo Fisher was fighting an uphill battle to topple the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers. In his first year with the Tigers, head coach Brian Kelly has already gotten his squad to the SEC Championship game. That certainly has got to rub Coach Fisher the wrong way as his best finish in the SEC to this point has been second in 2020. But instead of laying down and dying, the Aggies capped off arguably the most disappointing season in program history on Saturday with a signature win for Jimbo Fisher and his program.

The win over LSU wasn't just some fluke win, that was caused by LSU shooting itself in the foot over and over again. The Aggies were just flat-out the better team on Saturday. They won the turnover battle, time of possession, had more passing and rushing yards and were more effective on third downs. The Ags took playing for the seniors like Demani Richardson, Connor Choate and Max Wright to heart and pulled out an impressive and gutsy win. Unfortunately, that performance left a question on the table, where was this all year? To answer that, I want to go back to the first article I wrote this year and dive into how the Maroon and White faired in what I thought would be the key areas.

The three main areas I was watching closely on this team were quarterback play, how many freshmen contributed and how DJ Durkin, the new defensive coordinator performed with his new schemes. First up, quarterback play. The Aggies saw three different starting quarterbacks in the 2022 season. First, Haynes King, who was benched due to performance and injuries. Then Max Johnson, who was knocked out for the season due to injury and finally, Connor Weigman. Weigman only missed one game due to illness but showed in every start that he is worth those five stars he got as a recruit. The position was overall a disappointment but the future is bright going forward with #15 taking the snaps.

Next up, freshman impact. Of the 30 total true freshman on A&M’s roster 16 of them saw significant playing time in 2022 and 23 of them got on the field at some point during the year. With a team so decimated with injuries, many of them got on the field maybe a little sooner than expected. However, they did not disappoint. Many of them had an instant impact, such as Connor Weigman, Donovan Green, Evan Stewart or Bryce Anderson. Not to mention that defensive line… if Jimbo can keep these guys on campus and keep them out of the transfer portal, this team will be dangerous in 2023.

Finally, the new defensive coordinator DJ Durkin had some big shoes to fill in 2022 with Mike Elko’s departure. His unit struggled at times during the year, mostly against the run. As of this writing, the Aggies rank 124th in the nation in run defense. That's not good. But against the pass, they are up in 1st. So for Durkin in his first year, it was the middle of the road. He was far from the biggest problem with the dismal 5-7 season.

With all that being said the 2022 season is in the books. A&M will not go bowling for the first time since 2008 and Jimbo Fisher will have a lot to work on this offseason to get the ship righted. He has already relieved offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey of his duties in what is expected to be the first of many staff changes. Recruiting will be interesting to follow as well, the Ags are not projected to have a recruiting class anywhere near as impressive as last year. All these factors aside, the Aggies will most likely be a preseason top-10 team in 2023 and believe me, I have already started counting down the days until the Aggies take to Kyle Field to face New Mexico on September 2nd.

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