WWE WRAP-UP

This week in the WWE: The Shield reunites and crashes The Mizzie awards

This week in the WWE: The Shield reunites and crashes The Mizzie awards
The Shield reunites on Raw and punishes anyone in their path. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

This week’s Raw opened with The Miz handing out his “The Mizzie” awards.  These awards were, of course, given only to The Mizterouge, The Bar, and himself. Roman Reigns made his way to the ring. To Miz’s surprise, he wasn’t alone as Ambrose and Rollins came down with him. The Shield reunited and ended The Mizzies celebration. Jason Jordan defeated Karl Anderson despite Luke Gallows’ attempt to get involved in the match. Kurt Angle found The Miz backstage recovering from The Shield’s attack. Angle would go on to tell Miz that he and The Bar would be in the main event at TLC against The Shield in the very match that the event is named after: a tables, ladders, and chairs match. Elias was interrupted by Titus O’Neil as he tried to play a song for the crowd in Indianapolis. O’Neil’s client, Apollo Crews, would follow him down to the ring for his match against Elias. Elias would go on to defeat Crews to end the first hour.

Enzo Amore came down to the ring to voice his displeasure with Kurt Angle. He was upset that he allowed Kalisto to attack him, and that he went as far as rewarding Kalisto with a title match at TLC. Angle made his way to the ring to talk with Amore. After Amore made an argument that Angle does not respect him as a champion, Angle decided to cancel the match at TLC. Instead, Amore would be taking on him in the main event of Raw in a Lumberjack Match. Braun Strowman took on Matt Hardy. Hardy would hit Strowman with his Twist of Fate finisher, but it would not be enough as Strowman would go on to win with a Running Power Slam. After the match, Strowman would attempt to carry Hardy backstage, but The Shield would come out to save Hardy as they slammed Strowman through the announcer’s table. Mickie James made her way to the ring to explain that her age shouldn’t matter to Alexa Bliss. The only number Bliss should be worried about is seven, since she will be a seven-time champion after she defeats Bliss. This, of course, prompted Bliss to make her way to the ring. James would get the upper hand over the champion before she ran away from James. Kurt Angle was confronted by the rest of the Women’s Division since he has not chosen an opponent for Asuka, who will be debuting at TLC. Angle announced that they would all be facing off with the winner taking on Asuka.

The Miz would find Kurt Angle in his office to try to persuade him to let him add another member to his team at TLC. Angle would agree, and Braun Strowman would enter his office revealing himself as Miz’s newest partner. Finn Balor would be introduced to Bray Wyatt’s Sister Abagail. She would explain that she would be feeding Wyatt with the strength to defeat Balor.  The Woman’s Fatal Five Way turned out to be an elimination match. Bayley would eliminate Dana Brooke, but would be eliminated by Alecia Fox.  Sasha Banks would submit Fox, but would be rolled up by the winner of the match, Emma. The Cruiserweight Division made their way to the ring for The Lumberjack match between Enzo Amore and Kalisto. The lumberjacks would begin to brawl amongst each other, and Kalisto would see an opening to Suplex Amore through the lumberjacks. Amore would regain himself and would attempt to pin Kalisto, but Mustafa Ali would stop it. Kalisto would go on to win the match and The Cruiserweight Championship via the Salida del Sol.

Highlight of the Night: The Shield attacking Braun Strowman. Sure, the group officially reunited in the opening segment of the show, but it was this moment that really made it seem like The Shield were really back.

SmackDown Live

The blue brand’s show opened with a recap of Hell in a Cell. A package showed how Sami Zayn helped Kevin Owens beat Shane McMahon. Tom Phillips, then, promised Zayn would be addressing it later in the show. The Usos made their way to the ring with their newly acquired Tag Team championships. They invited The New Day to come down to the ring, and, to The New Day’s surprise, offer them a handshake in a sign of truce. Before they could shake hands, though, the entire Tag Team division came down to ask for an opportunity at the titles. Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring to announce that every team would get a chance, except The New Day.  The Ascension, Breezango, The Hype Bros, and Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable would participate in a Fatal Fairway with the team of Benjamin and Gable winning. Backstage, Natalya was confronted by Tamina, Lana, and Carmella. The Women’s Champion began talking about Charlotte Flair, and, unfortunately for her, Charlotte was close enough to hear her.  A brawl then broke out between the entire division. After a commercial break, Becky Lynch took on Carmella. Lynch would submit Carmella with her Disarmer finisher.

Kevin Owens came down to the ring to start the second hour. He welcomed the fans to “Kevin’s Heaven”, a place without Shane McMahon. He, then, introduced Sami Zayn. Zayn went on to explain how being a good guy only lead to mediocrity, and that saving his “brother," Kevin Owens, was the right thing to do. Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton teamed up and defeated Rusev and Aiden English. A promo package aired showing a repackaged Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Bobby Roode, then, made his way to the ring to talk about his win over Dolph Ziggler at Hell in a Cell. Ziggler came out to announce to Roode that he’d be wanting his rematch, but only when he's ready. SmackDown Live closed with Baron Corbin retaining his United States Championship over AJ Styles.

Highlight of the Night: The Usos showing props to The New Day. Without a doubt, their feud has been one of the best ones of the year. Knowing how much these teams have elevated each other, it was pretty cool to see both teams embrace with a handshake.

How do they compare?

This is perhaps the easiest decision I’ve made when trying to decide who had the better show. SmackDown Live is just not there right now. The alarming thing is the fact they just came off a pay-per-view. Typically, the first show after an event delivers, this was not the case. Raw is still full steam ahead for TLC. They put in a lot of work tying in different stories to build their main event for TLC, and it is definitely paying off.

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Jose Abreu looks lost at the plate. Composite Getty Image.

It’s a long baseball season, sure the Astros have started 4-8, and there are plenty of fingers to point around. But there’s no need to push the panic button.

Not yet.

Last year, the Astros didn’t start much better – they were 5-7 after a dozen games. It just seemed different, though. Nobody was wringing hands over the slow start. After all, the Astros were the defending World Series champions, coming off a 106-win season and figured to make mincemeat of the American League West again. Business as usual.

This year is different. The Astros are losing games in very un-Astros-like fashion. While the starting pitching has been surprisingly fine, at least the starters healthy enough to take the field, the bullpen has been a mess. The back end relievers, supposedly the strongest in all of baseball, have been disappointing. Bryan Abreu’s earned run average is 5.79. Ryan Pressly’s ERA is a sky-high 11.57 and closer Josh Hader, the best shutdown in the bigs, is at 6.00. The Astros are losing games late.

The Astros starting rotation is comprised mostly of seat-fillers. The Astros are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers to be declared fit for battle. McCullers’ contribution to the team in recent years has primarily been confined to H-E-B commercials.

Impatient fans and copy-hungry media need a target to blame for the Astros’ slow start and they’ve zero’d in on first baseman Jose Abreu.

For good reason. Abreu, 37, a former American League MVP, is being paid 19.5 million this year and next. He is having a miserable time at the plate. Originally slated for No. 5 in the batting order, now dropped to No. 7 and sinking in the west, Abreu is hitting a paltry .088. But that number actually is deceptively positive. He has three hits (all singles) in 34 at bats, with 12 strikeouts, no home runs and no RBI. Frankly one of Abreu's singles was a pity hit from a friendly scorekeeper who could have given Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. an error on Abreu’s weak grounder Tuesday night.

We can go all-analytics and brain-busting stats to explain Abreu’s troubles at the plate. But let’s use simple baseball language: Abreu is horrible. He’s done. Maybe it’s time for the Astros to cut bait. He is untradeable.

Abreu had a disastrous 2023 season, batting .237, the lowest average of his 11-year career. But after 12 games last year, he was hitting .271, not bad at all. Or as Larry David would say, pret-tay, pret-tay, pre-tay good.

This year he’s fallen off the end of the Earth. Fans groan as he swings meekly at breaking balls outside the zone. Or he fails to catch up to 95 mph-plus. Or he can’t connect on low inside pitches. Look, when you’re batting .088, it’s all bad.

Last year, the Astros actually had two, as Little Leaguers put it, automatic outs in the lineup. Abreu hit .237 and catcher Martin Maldonado blasted .191.

This year, it’s a tight battle between who’s the worst of the worst. Maldy is hitting .091 with two hits in 22 at bats and no RBI for Abreu’s old team, the Chicago White Sox. Abreu is hitting .088 for Maldonado’s old team, the Astros. This could go down to the last week of the season.

If Abreu is still with the Astros at season’s end. The Astros are no longer the high exalted dominant force in the American League West. They can’t afford an .088 hitter in the lineup. They can’t play eight against nine.

It didn’t help when manager Joe Espada recently said, “I got a ton of confidence in Abreu. I'm not going to talk about strategy. José Abreu has been a really good hitter for a very long time, and I have 100 percent confidence in José that, at some point, he's going to start hitting.”

How long is at some point? Didn’t Astros fans go through this last year with manager Dusty Baker refusing to sit Maldonado despite Maldy killing rallies in a tight pennant race?

The Astros don’t have a strong support system, especially backing Abreu at first base. But there are options. Mauricio Dubon is a jack of all trades. He could play first. Despite the funny line in Moneyball, first base statistically is the easiest position to play in baseball. Backup catcher Victor Caratini can fill the gap until the Astros sign a free agent first baseman.

Or the Astros could do something that would light a fire under fans: call up rookie Joey Loperfido, who’s belted five homers and driven in 13 RBI in 10 games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

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