Rumors of Shield getting the band back together are swirling. Photo by WWE.com
This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:
Braun Strowman vs Seth Rollins opened Raw from Denver, Colorado this week. Rollins would see an opening to bring down Strowman, but it would not be enough. Strowman would recover and defeat Rollins with a Running Power Slam. He would continue to attack Rollins until his tag team partner, Dean Ambrose ran down to attempt to save Rollins. Strowman would, eventually, get the best out of Ambrose and lay him out. The Bar, Cesaro and Sheamus, would, then, come out to beat Ambrose and Rollins while they were down to end the segment. Mickie James would hunt down Alexa Bliss backstage after she pranked her by leaving a walker and adult diapers for her in her locker room. Bliss would refuse to take on an “older woman” in the ring. Her friend, Nia Jax, on the other hand, had no problem with it at all. Elias’ feud with Titus World Wide continued this week as he defeated Titus O’Neil. Nia Jax vs. Mickie James would close the first hour. James would hit Jax with a Tornado DDT, but, before she could even go for a pin, Alexa Bliss would get involve to prevent James from winning. James would go on the outside of the ring and brawl with Bliss before walking away on top.
Renee Young attempted to interview Cruiserweight Champion, Enzo Amore. Instead, Amore would only stand there, speechless, reflecting on how Neville and the rest of the Cruiserweight division attacked him the week before. Matt Hardy and Jason Jordan tagged again. This time, it was against Gallows and Anderson. The latter team would go on to win via their Magic Killer finisher. Roman Reigns would challenge for The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship. The Miz continued to mock Reigns and The Shield by recreating the entrance of the faction. Reigns would eliminate The Mizterouge from the equation by attacking them before the match began, leaving him and Miz alone. Just when it looked like Reigns would win the title, The Bar came from the crowd and aided The Miz in his attack of Reigns. The Miz would, again, mock The Shield. This week, it was with the help of The Bar, though.
Finn Balor made his way to the ring to call out Bray Wyatt. He has been playing mind games with Balor for months now, and Balor is tired of it. Wyatt would respond via a video package. He would tell Balor that Sister Abagail never lied to him, and that she is dying to meet Balor. Bayley and Sasha Banks teamed up again this week to take on Emma and Alicia Fox. They would win the match after Emma would walk away on Fox leaving her to take the pin from Bayley. For the second week in a row, Enzo Amore closed Monday Night Raw. He made that known to the crowd and went on to criticize how weak the division is. The whole division made their way to the ring to attack Amore, but, before they could even touch him, Amore announced that any one who touched him would be fired. Kurt Angle made his way to the ring to confirm that not one of them could touch Amore, except for his newest signing to the Cruiserweight division. Kalisto raced to the ring and laid out Amore with the Salida del Sol. Raw would, then, close with Roman Reigns sitting in his locker room still recovering from his earlier attack. Suddenly, Ambrose and Rollins walk into his locker room and nod their heads leading fans to believe their reunion will in fact happen.
Highlight of the Night: The Bar getting involved in the match between The Miz and Roman Reigns. Their involvement was completely unexpected, and it finally gave Ambrose and Rollins a reason to help Reigns and reunite as The Shield.
SmackDown Live opened with Shinsuke Nakamura in the ring to talk about his match with WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal, at Hell in a Cell. Before he could get too far into his promo, he was interrupted by The Signh Brothers. As they “introduced” Mahal, he snuck up behind Nakamura attacking him. The first match of the night saw Becky Lynch and Charlotte tag against Natalya and Carmella. The latter team would end up victorious after Charlotte tapped out to Natalya’s Sharp Shooter. After a commercial break, a package aired to hype up Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens at Hell in a Cell. Bobby Roode defeated Mike Kanellis almost immediately with a Glorious DDT. Dolph Ziggler, then, made his way to the ring mocking Roode’s entrance. He explained to Roode that he would expose him for what he was, “nothing more than an entrance”. The Usos closed the first hour of the show shouting how they were the tag team to elevate the division on the blue brand. The New Day would, then, make their way to the ring to agree with The Usos. They have, in fact, elevated the division together, but that will not stop The New Day from retaining their Tag Team titles.
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal would talk backstage about his attack on Shinsuke Nakamura to open the show. He explained that this attack was very much a sign of the things that are to come. Tye Dillinger took on Baron Corbin while United States Champion, AJ Styles, watched from backstage. Dillinger would roll up Corbin and surprise him and win. Styles would then come on the big screen to explain how nothing will be handed to Corbin. He is not going to be able to take short cuts against AJ Styles. Rusev and Aiden English made their way to the ring to discuss what Orton did to them the week before. Orton would interrupt Rusev and make his way to the ring for his match against English. Orton would go on to win the match after hitting English with an RKO. Shane McMahon made his way to the ring to talk about his match against Kevin Owens. Owens came down through the crowd but would refuse to face him in the ring. So, McMahon followed him into the crowd where Owens blindsided him with an attack. Owens would go on to explain how he would destroy him this Sunday. All the while, McMahon struggled to make his way back to the ring. Owens would close the show with a Pop Up Power Bomb to a defenseless McMahon.
Highlight of the Night: Every once in a while, Orton will hit an awesome RKO on his opponent. This was definitely the case, for the second week in the row with the RKO that finished the match with Aiden English.
How do they compare?
Raw kept the ball rolling this week. Since they began to build for No Mercy, the show had been relatively good. The same cannot be said about SmackDown Live, though. The show has had some great moments, but it is unfortunate that they have not built up the feuds in the mid card as well as they did the main event scene. For a “go home” show, this weeks episode of SmackDown Live did not do as much as it should have to get Hell in a Cell over. It does not feel as big as No Mercy felt for Raw two weeks ago. For now, Raw has all the momentum. TLC is not scheduled until the end of the month, but I can already say I am more excited for it than I am for Hell in a Cell.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.