WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Sami Zayn makes a statement before Fastlane

Sami Zayn surprised everyone when he pinned Kevin Owens in the main event of SDL. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

An upset Kurt Angle opened Raw. He wants an apology for Triple H’s sucker punch last week. Of course, Stephanie McMahon came out instead and insisted Angle “use his head” and “know his role.” Ronda Rousey came to the defense of her friend. McMahon tried to get back on Rousey’s good side, but the former UFC Champion was not having it. Rousey revealed that her contract states she can have whatever opponent she wants at ‘Mania, and she wants Stephanie McMahon. Triple H rushed to the ring to try to prevent that match from happening. Angle, then, used his pull as GM to issue a tag match-Triple H and McMahon vs Angle and Rousey. The “Power Couple” tried cheap shots, but Rousey got the upper hand after hitting McMahon with a Samoan Drop. Asuka defeated Nia Jax after trapping her in an Arm Bar that Jax could not break, despite her best efforts. The Bar defeated The Revival after Cesaro hit Dawson with the Goch Neutralizer.

John Cena came to Raw to explain how he will break Ric Flair’s record for World Championship titles at Fastlane. That will be his path to WrestleMania. For some reason, Goldust interrupted Cena, and it led into a match that Cena won after an Attitude Adjustment. Bayley came out to explain her issues with her friend Sasha Banks, but was interrupted by Absolution and her opponent of the night, Mandy Rose. Bayley defeated Rose with a roll up. Absolution began attacking Bayley after her match as Banks raced down to the ring to save her friend. Banks tried to embrace her, but was rejected by Bayley who chose to leave the ring instead. Alexa Bliss consoled an upset Nia Jax backstage.

A “Symphony of Destruction” match between Elias and Braun Strowman was scheduled to begin the last hour. Elias tried to escape the arena, instead. Strowman caught him and chased him back. Strowman defeated Elias after collapsing a piano over him and pinning him at the top of the ramp. Matt Hardy teased a visit to the Hardy compound for Bray Wyatt. The Mizzies made their triumphant return. Of course, Miz used these awards to insult people like Balor, Rollins, and Angle. Rollins, followed by Balor, crashed the award show, much to Miz’s chagrin. The Intercontinental Champ, therefore, challenged them to a Handicap Match against Him and the Mizterouge. The two had issues working together, but were eventually able to defeat Miz and the gang. Angle came out after the match to announce Miz will be defending his Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania in a Triple Threat Match against Rollins and Balor. Paul Heyman responded to Roman Reigns’ comments last week. He explained Brock is not the “bitch,” but the Universal Title is “Brock’s bitch.” Reigns, then, closed the show telling Heyman to inform Brock to show up to Raw next week ready to fight, not to talk.

SmackDown Live

Ruby Riott and Charlotte opened the show exchanging words before their championship match at Fastlane. Riott called for her squad when things began getting too personal, but nothing came from it as the Riott Squad left the ring when Bobby Roode came out to watch the first match of the night, Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal. Orton shoved Mahal into Roode when the two were brawling outside. As Orton was trying to set up for the RKO, Roode pulled up to the rope and caused a distraction allowing Mahal to win the match. Sami Zayn reiterated that he will allow Owens to win at Fastlane if the opportunity presents itself. Backstage, Rusev challenged Nakamura to a match on Sunday. Nakamura accepted, claiming that Fastlane will be Nakamura Day. Becky Lynch submitted Carmella with a Disarmer. Backstage, Naomi challenged Natalya to a tag match at Fastlane, Naomi and Becky Lynch vs Natalya and Carmella.

AJ Styles came to the ring to talk about Cena’s promo on Raw about taking his WWE Championship at Fastlane. He explained that he will walk into ‘Mania a champion, so he can have his dream match against Nakamura. Dolph Ziggler came to the ring to tell Styles he was full of it. The two were scheduled for a match in the main event, but Styles decided he wanted to fight Ziggler then and there. Owens and Zayn raced down to the ring to attack the two. The attack was successful, but it lead to Shane McMahon scheduling a Fatal Fiveway featuring those four men and Baron Corbin. Bodies flew around and eventually the match was won by Sami Zayn, who pinned none other than his best friend, Kevin Owens.

Boy, oh boy, was this week about scheduling matches.

Raw started the week scheduling two huge matches for WrestleMania. I am not sure I want to see anybody wrestle in the tag match with Rousey and Angle, but there is no denying it is a big match. On the other hand, the Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship should be one of the biggest matches on the card. Raw did a great job at beginning to form the ‘Mania card, and, man was it exciting.

SmackDown did the same thing, only for the less anticipated Fastlane. The show should be fine, but, frankly, I am ready for the show to catch up to Raw and begin building to WrestleMania. The matches on the card will be good, but except for a few of them, they will not matter in the grand scheme of WrestleMania.

Come next Monday, we will be getting down to the nitty-gritty. More matches will be announced for 'Mania as we turn our heads to New Orleans. Hopefully, SmackDown finds momentum the way Raw has.

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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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