WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Raw continues to show why it's the best show

Braun Strowman took his savageness to another level when he laid out Kane and Lesnar. Photo by WWE.com

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

RAW

Roman Reigns opened Raw recounting his victory over Samoa Joe. Jason Jordan, who cannot seem to get a clue, came to the ring to congratulate Reigns, and to say that the two, along with Rollins, are the three most dominant men in WWE. This prompted a reunited Balor Club to come to the ring. Jordan and Balor exchanged words prompting Kurt Angle to schedule a six man tag between these men as the main event. Sasha Banks and Bayley defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville of Absolution after Banks trapped Rose in the Banks Statement. Broken Matt Hardy deleted Hurt Hawkins. After his win, Bray Wyatt appeared in the ring and the two shared a stare off where the two just laughed like the lunatics they are.

Elias performed a new song for the Memphis crowd to welcome back The Miz. The former Intercontinental Champion went on to talk about how Reigns is a bad champion, and how he made the championship what it was. Enzo Amore explained how Cedric Alexander tagging with Goldust was “the closest he is ever gonna get to Gold.” Sure enough, his statement proved to be right as Amore was able to retain his Cruiserweight Championship over Alexander via a count out. Backstage, Amore was tended to by the medical staff. It appears he sustained a leg injury in his match against Alexander. The Bar confronted Kurt Angle. He has not given them their proper rematch against Rollins and Jordan. Angle then explained that they will get their rematch at the Royal Rumble. The Miz, then, asked Angle for the opportunity to challenge Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship at the 25-year anniversary edition of Raw in two weeks. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews absolutely upset The Bar after O’Neil rolled up Sheamus.

Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar hyped up the Royal Rumble main event. As they were leaving the ring, Kane attacked Lesnar and dragged him backstage where Strowman was waiting for them. Strowman attempted to murder the two when he dragged down production towers on top of them, much to Heyman’s horror. Rhyno tried to teach his partner, Heath Slater, another lesson in “toughening up” when he challenged Samoa Joe. It did not end well, though, as Joe submitted him via the Coquina Clutch. After the match, Joe announced he will be entering the Royal Rumble. Alexa Bliss instigated a fight between Nia Jax and Asuka. This resulted in Jax attacking Asuka as she made her way to the ring for a match. Jason Jordan’s hot headedness cost his team the loss in the main event when he distracted the referee and prevented him from seeing a tag between Rollins and Reigns. Balor hit Rollins with a Coup De Grace to win the match. As the losing team tried to make sense of the loss, The Miz and The Mizterouge attacked them. The Miz hit Reigns with a Skull Crushing Finale, and they mocked him by hitting him with the Triple Power Bomb.

Highlight of the Night:

Braun’s attempted murder. Braun Strowman is a monster. Paul Heyman’s dramatics made Strowman’s attack that much better. It seems every polarizing attack is either by Strowman or it involves him somehow. The best part about it is that they seem to get better every time.

Smackdown Live

Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles to get his reaction to last week’s announcement that he will be facing both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Of course, he was interrupted by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who promised they will become the first Co-Champions. Shane McMahon came out and explained that since Styles will have to defend his title in a handicap match at The Royal Rumble, then Zayn and Owens can handle being in one themselves. Therefore, they will be taking on Nakamura, Orton, and Styles in the main event. Becky Lynch took on Ruby Riott in her first TV match since being written off in November. Her comeback would be a sweet one as she submitted Riott with a Disarmer. The Bludgeon Brothers absolutely destroyed the Ascension in their tag match. Mojo Rawley defeated his former partner, Zack Ryder, to advance in the United States Championship Tournament, where he will face Bobby Roode.

Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin came to the ring to talk about how they were robbed last week go the Tag Titles. Daniel Bryan addressed their concerns, and, eventually, Gable’s mouth got them put in a Two out of Three Falls match at the Royal Rumble. Aiden English announced him and Rusev will be entering the Royal Rumble. They would then go on to lose against Breezango after Fandango rolled up Rusev. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens tried to escape their Handicap Match by getting counted out. McMahon raced to the ring to restart the match, with the added stipulation of no count outs. Owens found another way around the match by using a chair to get them disqualified. McMahon came back out and restarted the match, now a no disqualifications match. Orton and Nakamura teamed up to take apart Zayn to pick up the win.

Highlight of the Night:

The Rusev Rumble!  Rusev and Aiden English are two of the most creative talents on SmackDown. They showed that again when they announced their entrance in the Royal, I mean Rusev, Rumble.

How Do They Compare?

This week was not even close. Raw continues to show us why it is the better show. SmackDown feels like a rehash every week, and it is taking his toll. What was once the best show in the WWE is now damn near unwatchable. With Raw’s 25 Year Anniversary Show coming up, I do not see them giving up any of this momentum. I am not sure what SmackDown can do to get the momentum back. Not rehashing the same thing every week would be a good start, though.

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Bringing NIL deals to high schools will have some challenges. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Name, image, and likeness, or NIL as it has been known, has been a hotly debated topic. When some states allowed college athletes to start getting paid through NIL deals, others had to follow suit. NIL deals basically allow athletes to get paid from endorsements and the like. They can make appearances, sign autographs, and get endorsements. No longer can schools make a king's ransom off the backs of these athletes without the athletes themselves benefitting from their popularity.

Sponsorships are also allowed, which started some of this years ago when Jeremy Bloom was a pro skier who also played college football at Colorado. Bloom wasn't allowed to have sponsorships, which was a HUGE part of his skiing career, if he wanted to continue to play college football. After fighting a losing battle when the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible, Bloom went on to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He went on to have a couple short stints in the NFL, but his football career never materialized.

When a few states took the NIL law and opened it to high school student athletes, they REALLY opened a can of worms! Other states are now in full scramble mode trying to figure out how can they make this work, do they want to make this work, and wondering if this will open Pandora's Box. Newsflash: Pandora's Box has been open longer than your local grocery store chain. Schools have been paying for play ever since time began. SMU got the dreaded "Death Penalty" in the 80s behind it. Teams have seemingly had wink-wink agreements not to out one another. But high schools? This is a bit much.

AAU, club, and travel sports have had a shady undertone that's been more intense over the last 20 years or so. This is especially true in AAU basketball, where shoe companies and the like have long been "sponsors" of teams. Follow your favorite NBA player's career from high school to the league, then see what shoe company he signs with. I guarantee there's a pipeline in most cases straight from the sponsors of his AAU/high school team to his shoe deal.

Bringing NIL deals to high schools will have some challenges. For example: I heard this past weekend that a prominent high school player has an NIL deal in place with Bentley. What if said school sees a kid at another school, possibly in another state that may not have NIL deals for high schoolers. What's stopping said school from relocating this kid and family by offering them new jobs as well as an NIL deal? Private schools and charter schools aren't regulated like public schools. What's going to stop them from using funds to create a factory of college athletes by offering what other schools can't as far as NIL is concerned?

Here in Texas, football is king. Specifically, high school football. You can go to any town on a Friday night, and the local high school stadium is packed to the brim. If any of you think those towns won't band together to offer kids the best NIL deals they can in order to gain any advantage, you're crazy. States will need to hurry and approve this to stay competitive, but they'll also need to regulate it as best and as fast as they can to prevent a wild west scenario. I can see this getting out of hand quickly, but then some will step in to regulate it as soon as the scales no longer tilt in favor of the rich and powerful.

Texas is an oil rich state. New tech companies are moving here in droves because of the state tax laws. That's why the housing market is looking the way it is now. With the way high school football is like a religion here, imagine if NIL deals are allowed? What's stopping a powerhouse program from becoming invincible and cranking out 10-20 or more top tier D1 athletes from a single graduating class on a single team? We already see it with these human athlete factories masquerading as high schools.

I'm all for student athletes taking advantage of NIL. However, it has to be regulated. Why not have agents get trained and certified like pros do. Then also have them register in each state and pass a state certification, similar to the way lawyers or real estate agents have to. Now everyone is state and/or federally certified to help kids get what they can above board in NIL deals. This could've helped prevent Nick Saban's ignorant comments from last week by bringing much needed law and order to the wild west of NIL deals. Until it happens, we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I'll sit and watch the utter CHAOS (in my Khal voice)!

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