WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Sasha Banks and Samoa Joe earn the final spots in their respective MITB matches

Banks qualified for MITB after a thrilling performance in the Gauntlet match. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Braun came to the ring to explain his plan to win the MITB match, so he can cash in on Brock Lesnar to become Universal Champion. Finn Balor followed him out to remind him who was the first Universal Champion. Strowman stated that Balor was, in fact, good, for a little guy. A disrespectful slap from Balor led to a match between the two. Balor looked like he was going to win the match until Kevin Owens got involved forcing a DQ. Seth Rollins interrupted Elias’ song in order to start his IC Title defense against Jinder Mahal. Rollins dominated the match until Samir Singh distracted the referee, allowing Mahal to attack Rollins with a chair. Rollins was not happy as he retaliated with a chair of his own causing a DQ. Elias surprised Rolllins by breaking his guitar on his back.

Nia Jax took an interesting approach in her match against an enhancement talent. Ronda Rousey, her opponent at MITB, watched from the stage, all the while, Jax explained just how she will defeat Rousey in Chicago. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Ascension as The B Team looked on in laughter. Kevin Owens surprised Bobby Roode with a roll up to win a match. Braun Strowman did not forget about his actions earlier in the night, though, as he congratulated him with a Running Power Slam. He, then, surprised Roode with one, as well.

Sami Zayn came to the ring to “apologize” to Bobby Lashley for his antics last week. Ashley challenged Zayn to a match at MITB, which he accepted. Chad Gable got his chance at redemption against Drew McIntyre. Unfortunately, Drew was not having it and defeated him with a Claymore. The B Team held a Memorial Day BBQ which ended with all the irrelevant tag teams having a food fight. An upset B Team put Rhyno through a table to end an excruciating segment. A Women’s Gauntlet match to decide the final entrant in the Women’s MITB match saw Bayley start the match and handle Liv Morgan quickly. She, then, rolled up Sarah Logan to eliminate her. Unfortunately for her, the two Riott Squad members teamed up to attack her and leave her on a silver platter for Ruby Riott, who eliminated Bayley. She continued on a roll eliminating Dana Brooke and Mickie James. The final entrant was Sasha Banks. Despite The Riott Squad’s efforts to help Ruby, Banks was able to put her away with The Banks Statement.

SmackDown Live

Samoa Joe opened the show name-dropping Daniel Bryan’s family. This, of course, upset Bryan who came down to the ring. Before the two even began scrapping, Big Cass made his return and attacked both of them with a crutch. Backstage, Paige announced the Daniel Bryan vs Samoa Joe qualifier would now be a Triple Threat featuring Big Cass. Nakamura defeated Tye Dillinger in the first match of the night after hitting him with a Kinshasa. He kneed Dillinger again after the match to ensure he would stay down for a ten count, just like he hopes Styles will at MITB. For some reason, Lana and Naomi had a dance off. It ended when Lana attacked the former Women’s Champion. Naomi got the last laugh, though, as The Usos and herself cleared the ring of Lana, Rusev and Aiden English.

The New Day took on The Miz and The Bar. Bodies flew everywhere, and Big E eventually pinned The Miz to win the match. Sonya Deville attacked Asuka on her way to the ring for her match against Mandy Rose. Unfortunately for Rose, that did not stop Asuka from submitting her via the Asuka Lock. The Triple Threat match for the last qualifying spot in the MITB match closed the show. The crowd exploded after Bryan hit Cass with a Running Knee, it appeared to be over. Joe snuck behind Bryan and chocked him out with a Coquina Clutch to qualify for the match.

After the final two qualifiers, we finally know who will be in the MITB matches. Well, sort of. The New Day probably will not reveal which of their members will be in the match, but I do not expect whoever it is to win anyway. My hope is that it is Kofi Kingston, we are all aware of what he can do around a ladder. The addition of Samoa Joe was the right call. I do not care to see Bryan in this match if he is not going to win it. His redemption story is still getting heated up. I can not even wrap my head around who I think will win this match yet. I just know anyone in it would be a great contract holder.

The Gauntlet match was my favorite match of the week. Sasha winning was going to happen, but the way she did it in that match was great. Ruby and Sasha absolutely stole the show.

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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