WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Roman Reigns and Cesaro steal the show

Reigns defended his Intercontinental Championship against Cesaro in the best match of the week. Photo by WWE.com

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

 

Raw

Samoa Joe opened Raw explaining that he’s not impressed with The Shield, no matter how impressive they have been throughout the years.  He continued to instigate Reigns until he finally made his way to the ring, and the two proceeded to brawl in what turned out to be a trap. The Bar ran through to crowd and aided Joe in his assault on Reigns. Ambrose and Rollins raced down in attempt to save their brother, but the ambush proved to be too much as Joe and The Bar stood tall at the end of their brawl. Paige and Mady Rose defeated Mickie James and Bayley continuing Absolution's dominance in the Women’s Division. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt shared a promo as animated as their on screen personas. The Mizterouge mocked Finn Balor as they traveled to the ring before Axel’s match against Balor. The former Universal Champion got the last laugh, though, when he defeated Axel vis his Coup De Grace.

Seth Rollins took on Sheamus in the first of three matches between those in the brawl in the opening segment. Michael Cole made a point to explain that no one else could get involved in any of these matches. Rollin’s Superkick and knee combo helped him seal the win. Due to Rich Swann’s indefinite suspension, a new Cruiserweight Fatal 4-Way between Neese, Alexander, Ali, and Daivari occurred to determine who will take on Drew Gulak in a number one contender match. Alexander won the match after hitting Daivari with a Lumbar Check. He will be facing Drew Gulak next week on Raw.

Roman Reigns defended his Intercontinental Championship match against Cesaro. The Swiss Superman worked Reign’s shoulder the whole match. The near falls were timed perfectly, but Reigns is THE BIG DAWG for a reason. A spear later, he defeated Cesaro to retain the Intercontinental Championship. Absolution, finally, gave Asuka the beating they’ve been threatening her with for weeks. The entire women’s roster came down to the ring to help Asuka, they have had enough of Absolution. Samoa Joe took on Dean Ambrose. Jason Jordan would stick his nose where it did not belong and cost Ambrose the win when he distracted the referee. One Coquina Clutch was all Joe needed to defeat The Shield Member. The ring crew reinforced the ring before the monstrous main event between Braun Strowman and Kane. As it turned out, the reinforcement was not really necessary as both men got counted out after brawling outside the ring. Strowman hit Kane with a Running Power Slam as Corey Graves wondered who will be facing Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble since there was no winner to this match.

Highlight of the night

Roman Reigns vs Cesaro was a really, really, great match. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Cesaro is an extremely talented performer, but let’s stop pretending like that is not the case with Reigns as well. This was the most memorable TV match in a while.

 

SmackDown Live

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens passed out fliers for their Occupy SmackDown Movement, a protest to Shane McMahon. AJ Styles welcomed fans and explained why he cannot wait to defend the WWE Championship at Clash of Champions. The Singh Brothers came to the ring to ask AJ Styles to allow them to support him at Clash of Champions. Styles, of course, did not fall for their antics and beat them out of the ring, much to Mahal’s dismay. Charlotte took on Ruby Riott. Charlotte’s challenger at Clash of Champions, Natalya, interfered with the match causing it to end. Riott Squad began attacking Charlotte as Natalya watched. Naomi returned and raced down to save Charlotte. As the Riott Squad retreated, Carmella, Tamina, and Lana attacked them from behind. Bobby Roode gave Dolph Ziggler a taste of his own medicine when he interrupted his match and hit him with a Glorious DDT. He gave one to Baron Corbin, too, for good measure. The Bludgeon Brothers defeated another enhancement tag team. Before their match, it was announced that they will be taking on Breezango at Clash of Champions.

Zayn and Owens started the second hour with their Occupy SmackDown protest. Daniel Bryan came to the ring and addressed their “protest”. They tried to explain how Bryan’s 2014 Occupy Raw inspired them. Bryan explained that his protest was for the people, not like their protest. He announced, he too, would be a guest referee in their match at Clash of Champions against Orton and Nakamura. Rusev and Aiden English followed up last week's upset this week when they defeated the Tag Team Champions, The Usos. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens closed the show with shenanigans. Somehow, the referee got knocked out, and Daniel Bryan gave fans a preview of Sunday as he refereed the remainder of the match—which Kevin Owens won.

Highlight of the Night

Daniel Bryan inserting himself into the Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn match at Clash of Champions. Does it make any sense for their to be two refs? Absolutely not. This seems to be the beginning of the dissension between McMahon and Bryan, though. I would be lying if I were to say I was not intrigued.

How do they Compare?

Raw is on an absolute roll. The Shield anchored the show with three awesome matches. Strowman and Kane delivered an awesome brawl, and, with Royal Rumble still over a month away, it was fine that there was no decision. SmackDown, on the other hand, has a Pay Per View this Sunday with Clash of Champions. For a “Go Home Show,” this felt like major rehash of last week. Sure, Rusev and Aiden English picking up another win is cool, but it only makes sense to give them a couple of wins before losing on Sunday. Clash of Champions will be this year’s last Pay Per View, and I do not think it will be a proper indication of the good year WWE has had. Raw gets the win this week, and I think I am ready for another superstar shakeup, SmackDown needs it.

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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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