WWE WRAP-UP

This week in WWE: Shake-ups to the Survivor Series card with surprise title changes

The Phenomenal One captures his second WWE Championship. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw:

The Miz kicked off Monday Night Raw with a new episode of Miz TV. His frustrations were apparent when he called his opponent at Survivor Series, Baron Corbin, “ The bathroom break of SmackDown.” He invited Kurt Angle to the ring to discuss Kane’s attack on Daniel Bryan last week. Angle insisted that he had nothing to do with the attack. The Miz, then, accused Angle of setting him up for Strowman’s ambush at the end of Raw last week. Again, Angle insisted that he was not behind the attack. Angle explained to The Miz that Strowman will be representing the red team at Survivor Series, and he was only able to persuade him to participate because he promised him a match against Miz. Jason Jordan and Elias' feud peaked this week in a Guitar on a Pole match. Essentially, the only way to win this match is by striking your opponent with the guitar that is elevated over the ring. Elias pulled the guitar down, but Jordan would win the match after striking him in the back with the guitar. Backstage, The Bar asked Kurt Angle for one last chance at the Tag Titles. Angle agreed to their requested, but insisted that this will be their last chance. Asuka defeated another enhancement talent this week with her Asuka Lock finisher. Alicia Fox, captain of the Raw women’s team, announced that Asuka will be the third member of her team at Survivor Series. Titus O’Neil requested a match against Samoa Joe after he choked him out the week before. Unfortunately for him, the match never got started as Joe would, again, ambush him. Joe grabbed a microphone and asked for real competition to face off against him.

A loud ovation welcomed Joe’s challenger, Finn Balor. The history between these two allowed for an entertaining back and forth. The match ended in a double count out after the two fought outside the ring. The result frustrated both men, and they began to brawl. It took multiple referees and “security guards” to separate them. Kurt Angle, then, announced to both men that they will be joining him as representatives of Raw at Survivor Series. Backstage, Kurt Angle told Jason Jordan that he will be the final member of the Raw men’s team. Sasha Banks and Bayley defeated Alicia Fox and Nia Jax when Banks submitted Fox. After the match, Fox asked Banks to join the Raw team.

The Miz’s match against Braun Strowman started the last hour of the show. Early on, Miz did all he could to avoid Strowman, but Strowman would eventually catch up with him and began tossing him around. Kane came down to the ring and struck Strowman, causing a disqualification. The Miz and The Mizterauge attempted to attack Strowman from behind, but The Monster Among Men ended up laying out Miz. Enzo Amore explained to the audience why he is the most valuable champion in the WWE. Kalisto came down to the ring after Amore took shots at his expense in his promo. Instead of attacking him, he sat down, and WWE UK Champion, Pete Dunne, made his way to the ring for a surprise match against Amore. Despite Amore’s attempt to steal the match, all it took was one of Dunne’s Bitter End finishers to put the match away. The Bar came to the ring for their title match against Ambrose and Rollins. They took off their jackets to reveal they were wearing Liverpool jerseys, upsetting the crowd in Manchester. The Shield members dominated the match early on, but The Bar isolated Rollins after taking out Ambrose. To everyone’s surprise, The New Day’s music hit and caused the entire Raw roster to go into a frenzy in fear of another SmackDown Live invasion. The chaos allowed The New Day to get a rise out of the Raw roster and allowed Sheamus to pin Rollins. The Bar ended Raw as the new Tag Team Champions.

Highlight of the night:

Pete Dunne’s appearance on Raw was the highlight of the night. It was perfect, from Dunne’s appearance in his home country of England, to him whipping the floor with Amore. The UK tournament this past January was phenomenal. Let’s hope WWE uses the UK talent more often.

 

SmackDown Live

Just like Raw, SmackDown was live from Manchester, England. Shane McMahon looked ahead to Survivor Series, and The New Day recounted how they bamboozled Raw the night before. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn shamed New Day for their actions and called McMahon a hypocrite for celebrating them. McMahon, then, issued the first match of the night, Sami Zayn vs Kofi Kingston. The two athletic wrestlers had a great back and forth, but Kingston’s Cross Body surprised Zayn and allowed him to pick up the win. Owens attempted to attack Kingston after his win, but Big E and Xavier Woods jumped in to save their partner. Backstage, Jinder Mahal addressed AJ Styles, the man who he will be defending his WWE Championship in the main event. Aiden English serenaded Rusev before his match against Randy Orton. Rusev surprised Orton with a big kick to start the match, but one RKO out of nowhere was enough for The Viper to win. James Ellsworth confronted his opponent of the night, Becky Lynch. Yes, you read that right.

Their “War of the Sexes” match started the second hour. Ellsworth attempted to apologize to Lynch. Instead of accepting his apology, Lynch made him submit to her Disarmer. Carmella jumped into the ring after the match. It looked like she was about to brawl with Lynch, instead, she kicked Ellsworth in the face. Shane McMahon told Natalya backstage that she will be defending her Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair next week. The Usos defended their Tag Team Championships against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. The challengers would win via count out when Jimmy Uso could not get back into the ring because of what appeared to be a knee injury. AJ Styles challenged Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship. Styles used his speed to gain an advantage over the champion. He, then, had to take out the Singh Brothers after they pulled Mahal out of the ring. Finally, Styles saw an opening and hit Mahal with a Phenomenal Forearm to win The WWE Championship for the second time.

Highlight of the night:

The Phenomenal One does phenomenal things. Styles is without a doubt one of the best wrestlers in the company. Seeing him win the WWE title, on an episode of SmackDown no less, was an awesome moment.

How do they compare

This week was a great one. The title change on Raw was a surprise, and the possibility of it setting up The New Day vs The Shield has me on the edge. SmackDown took that ball and ran with it with a surprise title change of their own. It set up a match I never thought I would see, Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles. The best thing about these brands interacting is that they lift each other up; thus, giving fans a great build with consistently good shows. Survivor Series is a week from Sunday, and, boy, does this Pay Per View feel like a big deal.

 

WWE's Royal Rumble arrives this Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Photo by Paul Muth

I'm not a big sign guy.

You know sign guys. The people who write puns on posters. The ones who carry the letter "D" in one had and a cutout of a literal fence in the other. The "Houston, YOU have a problem" sign guys.

I tried it once when I was 14, was punched in the face, and sort of lost my appetite after that.

Let me explain.

It was April 1, 2001. Wrestlemania 17. I won't ask my parents how much it cost them, but my aunt and uncle scored floor seats to the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment in no better confines than the Astrodome herself and I got to tag along.

It was a hell of a show. Some say it was one of the best Wrestlemanias ever. The card was stacked, including a Triple-H match against the hometown hero The Undertaker that set the stage for the main event.

At precisely two hours and forty-eight minutes into the event, Undertaker sent Triple-H flying over the barricade and "INTO THE STANDS!"

"Holy crap," 14-year-old Paul thought. "They're headed right down my aisle."

Now I'm not sure how it works these days, but back then it was totally customary to bail on your seat and follow the fight as they weaved up and down the aisles. I wasn't about to miss the chance so I grabbed my poorly scribbled wrestling poster, glanced back and my Aunt for the OK, then darted after the action.

The fight snaked its way up to some scaffolding with a camera perched atop. There, the fight would stall as they battled their way to the top. Oblivious to anything but the action in front of me, I threw my sign up as high as I could, probably screamed at the top of my lungs, and my voice probably cracked in the process. I was 14.

Suddenly someone pushed me in the back of my shoulder. I turned around and there was an old lady, maybe five feet tall, standing on her chair. She had the quintessential cowgirl big hair and enough costume jewelry on to short-circuit a metal detector.

"GET THE @#$% OUT THE WAY, BOY," she commanded in the most east Texas accent you've ever heard in your life. I ignored her and turned back around.

Then she pushed me again.

I turned around again and before I had any clue what was happening, this knockoff mini Dolly Parton had already connected a stiff left hook to my temple. She then grabbed my sign and ripped it in half. Stunned, I retreated to my seat while tending to a now bleeding eyebrow thanks to what I assume was a Wal-Mart engagement ring.

Haven't really been a big sign guy since.

But this weekend the WWE takes over Minute Maid Park for their annual Pay-Per-View event known as the Royal Rumble. It will be the first time since that fateful night in the Astrodome 19 years ago that I've returned to a high profile wrestling event.

Now am I looking forward to this weekend as an opportunity to retake the dignity that was ripped away so long ago? Probably not. I'll most likely just drink a bunch of beer and yell at wrestlers with my friends. But I'm not ruling anything out.

Now instead of a power rankings this week, I figured that in the spirit of the Royal Rumble we could rehash some of the best sports fights Houston's served up:

#5 Charles Barkley throws man through window

Now I know this one didn't happen on a court, but the story is just too good. In a classic case of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes," a 5'2" Floridian by the name of Jorge Lugo decided to harrass the 6'6" then-power forward for the Houston Rockets at an Orlando bar . Barkley ignored and avoided the issue until a Lugo-thrown glass intended for Barkley missed and struck a nearby woman. Bad move. When judge presiding over the ensuing case asked Barkley if he had any regrets, The Round Mound of Rebound replied "Yeah, I regret we weren't on a higher floor."

#4 Chris Paul serves a two-piece to Rajon Rondo

This one is actually fairly recent and adds to what I discovered was a hefty list of Rockets throw downs. After breaking up a stare down between Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and James Harden, Paul and Rondo began a heated chest-to-chest exchange. From all replay indications it appeared as if Rondo then spit on Paul, which triggered a disrespectful finger push to Rondo's face, which then descended into a good old fashioned knuckle sandwich exchange. Paul was suspended for two games.

#3 Derrick Lewis verifies amateur of amateur status

Some dude actually had the nerve to walk in to UFC Heavyweight fighter and Houston native Derrick Lewis' gym and pick a fight. The amateur claimed that he would knock Lewis out because he was an MMA fighter, and not a real boxer. "The Black Beast" was more than happy to oblige, and swiftly teleported the no name into the shadow realm.

#2 Vernon Maxwell fights Portland man

Sometimes people forget that sporting events are intended to be family friendly. Some also forget that players are people with actual feelings. Maxwell claims that aside from general harassment, a Portland fan decided to bring Maxwell's wife's recent miscarriage to light as well. Maxwell stood up from the bench, calmly walked up the stairs, and knocked the crap out of the dude. Maxwell was suspended 10 games.

#1 Andre Johnson baptizes Courtland Finnegan

It had been seasons in the making. Finnegan had built a reputation out of adding cheap shots here and there, ripping helmets off at the end of plays, and various other dirty tactics. In late November of 2010 Johnson had reached the end of his rope. Schadenfreude was the flavor of the day for all Texans fans as Johnson manhandled Finnegan, reigning down fists of righteous justice.

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