WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: The road to WrestleMania comes to its final stops

AJ Styles gave Nakamura a taste of his own medicine after teasing him with a pat to the head. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

The opening promo featured a “Q&A” between one of the marquee matchups of WrestleMania, Triple H and Stephanie vs Angle and Rousey. Of course, things got rather personal rather quickly. McMahon took a stab at Rousey telling her she needs to be mentally prepared as she is “not good and handling losses.” As the teams posed for a photo op, Triple H blindsided Angle leading Rousey to come to the defense of her partner. This gave Stephanie the perfect opportunity to attack her and put her through a table. Bayley defeated Sonya Deville with a roll up. To no one’s surprise, Absolution attacked Bayley after the match. Sasha Banks raced down to the ring to save her former friend. The two argued opening the chance to another attack from Absolution.

Seth Rollins and Finn Balor gave us the quality TV match that has been missing for weeks. Rollins got his revenge for last week defeating Balor with a Stomp. Braun, or should I say Brains, Strowman came to attack The Bar. Strowman teased the champions, telling them that they would finally meet his tag partner. Instead, it was Braun dressed in glasses and a white shirt.

John Cena asked for Atlanta’s help one last time, he wants to “summon the Undertaker.” “It’s obvious you left your hat here in the ring, and it’s pretty clear you left your balls at home,” stated a  frustrated Cena. Nia Jax sat with Renee Young for a sit-down interview. She spoke about her vulnerabilities and how toxic her friendship with Bliss was. She, then, spoke to Bliss directly as she promised to take her championship Sunday. Asuka and Dana Brook defeated Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. The sore losers attacked Asuka and Brook as Jax raced to the ring to get her hands on Bliss. Unfortunately, she had to settle for destroying James instead, as Bliss was able to escape from her grasps. In typical Paul Heyman fashion, the advocate antagonized Lesnar’s opponent, going as far as calling Reigns Lesnar’s bitch. Reigns got through the wall of superstars separating him from his ‘Mania opponent and hit Lesnar with a barrage of Super Man Punches. Lesnar would get the final rise, though, hitting Reigns with an F5 to close the show.

SmackDown Live

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan opened the show talking their match at ‘Mania. The two embraced in a hug and set their differences aside. Charlotte had her hands full with Natalya when Carmella raced to the ring to try to cash her Money in the Bank Contract. Charlotte punted the briefcase away before hitting Carmella with a big kick and submitting Natalya with the Figure Eight. Her WrestleMania opponent, Asuka, gave her no chance to celebrate, though, as she came down to the ring and the two exchanged words about their match on Sunday.

Rusev defeated Jinder Mahal with a monster Machka Kick. Orton congratulated him with an RKO out of nowhere. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn snuck to the stage to “apologize” to Brie Bella and the McMahon family for what they will do to Shane and Bryan. In typical fashion, the two vacated the area when their opponents came to the stage. Styles and Nakamura tagged and defeated Benjamin and Gable. Styles refused to tag Nakamura at the end and hit Gable with a Phenomenal Forearm. Nakamura handled an attack from Benjamin but was completely caught off guard by Styles who teased him by acting like he was going to hit him with a Phenomenal Forearm. A little deja vu to close the show.

So there we have it, our stops on the road to WrestleMania end in anticlimactic fashion. Is that bad, though?

This card, without a doubt, is one of the best cards in a while. With the exception of 32, I have fondly enjoyed these past few ‘Manias, and none of them come close to the card we have this weekend.

Sure, they could have done more to build up their matches, but would that honestly make that much more of a difference to what is announced on the card? What could possibly have been done to heat up the Fatal Fourway for the US Title? The SmackDown Tag Titles? The Raw Women’s Title? SmackDown Women’s Title? Aside from those, I feel like every other match has been properly built towards.

The element of surprise is still intact. Who is tagging with Strowman? Will Cena have a match or some sort of face off with Taker? Not to mention we have no idea who will win the Battle Royals and what legends are going to make a surprise return.

All in all, I will say that I am a little disappointed with the go home shows. But it does not at all deter from my excitement for Sunday’s show. We get the dream match for the WWE Title, the return of Daniel Bryan to the ring, a smash for the IC title, the debut of Ronda Rousey, and what should be a worthy main event in Reigns vs Lesnar.

Last years card was very gloomy, and it turned out to be a memorable show. There is no way you can convince me that this card will not be better than last year's.

Stay tuned to SportsMap this weekend as Jermaine Every and I will share our predictions for WrestleMania 34!

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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