WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Raw’s woes continue and SDL is reaping the benefits

The Mixed Tag match gave us the match of the week. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Elias opened the show taking jabs at the Houston fans for the Rockets recent elimination in the WCF. He also mocked Seth Rollins after he attacked him the week before. Rollins raced down with a chair to get some retribution. Before he could get his hands on Elias, Jinder Mahal blindsided him. Reigns came down for the save. Of course, this lead to a tag match which Elias and Mahal won after Elias somehow got away with using a chair right in front of the referee. Kurt Hawkins tried to end his losing streak by facing an enhancement talent named James Harden. Baron Corbin spoiled it for Hawkins, though, attacking his opponent causing a DQ. Hawkins’ streak has now reached 200 losses. Natalya sustained an injury in her loss to Nia Jax. Ronda Rousey and a referee had to carry her to the back as she could not put pressure on her knee.

Braun Strowman took on Bobby Roode, or should I say, Strowman absolutely destroyed Roode with a Running Power Slam. A Tag Team Battle Royal was held to determine the number one contenders for the Raw Tag Titles. Surprisingly enough, the first team eliminated was Ziggler and McIntyre. The surprises continued, as The B Team, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, won the Battle Royal.

Sami Zayn continued to poke the bear that is Bobby Lashley. This week, he accused Lashley of never serving his country like he claims to have. Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal had another backstage brawl this week. The Riott Squad took on Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, and Alexa Bliss. To no one’s surprise, Bliss eventually bailed on Banks and Moon. Bailey replaced Bliss, and picked up the win pinning Sarah Logan. Kurt Angle found the winning team backstage to inform them that their win did not count because he did not authorize Bayley joining the match. Finn Balor and Kevin Owens closed the show. Balor hit Owens with a Coup De Grace from the top a ladder, which Owens had brought into the ring earlier. For some reason, he did not pin him. Instead, he grabbed the display briefcase elevated over the ring. Ultimately, Raw just ended there. No decision on the match, just Balor celebrating with fans. Okay then…

SmackDown Live

Women’s Champion, Carmella, poked the bear that is Asuka. She reiterated that Asuka has not been the same since losing at ‘Mania. For some reason, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose butted in. Paige, hearing the standoff from backstage, asked Asuka if she was interested in facing off against either Sonya or Mandy. Instead, Asuka chose to take on both in a Handicap Match. Asuka won after submitting Deville with an Asuka Lock. Carmella got the last laugh as she, with the help of Mandy Rose, attacked Asuka. In a preview to MITB, Karl Anderson took on Luke Gallows. To everyone’s surprise, Anderson won the match after rolling up Harper. Jimmy Uso and Naomi defeated Aiden English and Lana in an awesome Mixed Tag match.

Paige held a backstage contract signing with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura for their MITB matchup. Best friends Becky Lynch and Charlotte faced off. Lynch psyched out the former champion defeating her after countering a Figure Four into a Disarmer. Andrade Cien Almas attacked his former friend and role model, Sin Cara, backstage. The New Day took on The Miz, Samoa Joe and Rusev in a Six Man Tag match. Bodies flew everywhere. The heels looked like they were going to steal the win, but Miz got greedy and decided to use the New Day’s pancakes against them. Instead, he accidentally hit Joe and Rusev with the pancakes and his partners bailed. One Midnight Hour later, the New Day pinned Miz to win the match.

What the hell is going on with Raw?

You mean to tell me, the show with undoubtedly the better roster and the assumed priority is struggling? Overall, I think the Houston crowd was treated to a fun show. But some of what occurred on Raw this week made no sense. Elias somehow uses a chair in front of the referee to no reaction. Finn Balor suddenly just stopping the match to grab the briefcase. These are just two major, head scratching, blunders.

I do not typically like to harp too much on what happens on a show-to-show basis. WWE has to write, produce, and televise more TV than damn near anyone else. That being said, it is starting to become a trend for Raw to leave the audience scratching their heads confused. Let us hope the winner of one, if not both, MITB matches is someone from the red brand. That would open the door for more possibilities and more surprises on a show that is lagging behind SDL.  

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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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