WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Stephanie McMahon announces the first ever Women's Royal Rumble match

Stephanie McMahon made the historic announcement at the close of Raw. Photo by WWE.com

Raw

Before Kurt Angle could discuss the fall out to last week’s Raw, Braun Strowman raced to the ring to make a claim for himself—he wants Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Of course, Kane came to make a case himself. Then, The Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, confronted both of them in the center of the ring. Then and there, Angle announced Lesnar will be taking on both men at the Royal Rumble. Seth Rollins defeated Jason Jordan with Samoa Joe at ringside. At one point, Jordan and Rollins worked together to beat up Joe. He would get the last laugh, though, laying out both Jordan and Rollins. Backstage, Angle told Ambrose, Rollins, and Jordan that they are going to be tagging against Samoa Joe and The Bar later that night.

Finn Balor took on both Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in a handicap match. He won via disqualification after both men attacked him. Hideo Itami made his debut on Raw when he raced to the ring to save his buddy Finn Balor. The two, then, tagged in a match and defeated The Mizterouge after Itami hit Axel with a GTS. Drew Gulak took on Cedric Alexander in a match to determine who the number one contender to the Cruiserweight Championship. Gulak, who has become a fan favorite, put up a valiant effort, but Alexander defeated him after a Lumbar Check. Alicia Fox finally got the chance to lose to the undefeated Asuka.

The Six Man tag match between The Bar and Samoa Joe vs Ambrose Rollins and Jason Jordan started the final hour of the show. The victory went to the heels after Sheamus hit Rollins with a big boot. Ambrose was tended to in the outside after it appeared he sustained an injury. Samoa Joe made matters worse when he attacked Rollins and Ambrose backstage with The Bar. He slammed Ambrose’s trapped arm into a crate in what appeared to be a way to write Ambrose off. The Revival made their return to Raw defeating Heath Slater and Rhyno. Elias’ concert was cut short by Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Bayley who did not want to sit around and wait before their match against Absolution. Rose and Deville never allowed the match to develop as they began attacking Banks. Nia Jax came down and absolutely wrecked Absolution. Paige blindsided Jax prompting the entire roster to run down to the ring. Stephanie McMahon, then, came down to stop the brawl and to announce that, for the first time ever, there will be a Women’s Royal Rumble match.

Highlight of the Night:

As awkward as this segment was, without a doubt, the announcement of the Women’s Royal Rumble will live forever. It has been a long time coming.

SmackDown Live

Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon opened the show airing out their differences after the fall out from Clash of Champions. The two threw passive aggressive shots at each other. Bryan explained why he used a fast count on Sunday, and how it was done to guarantee the land of opportunity. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin upset the Tag Team Champions, The Usos, in a non-title match. Charlotte Flair expressed how happy she is that there will be a Women’s Royal Rumble match next month. The Champion explained that, no matter who wins, she will be ready to defend her title against her. Naomi congratulated Charlotte for retaining her championship at Clash of Champions and announced that the two will be facing each other after she wins at the Royal Rumble. Riott Squad came to the ring, and Naomi issued a challenge—two of them vs. Charlotte and her. The latter team handed Riott Squad their first loss after Logan accidentally took out Morgan allowing Naomi to pin Logan.

The new United States Champion, Dolph Ziggler, took fans down memory lane airing highlights of his accolades. He explained that the fans are not worthy of him before walking out of the ring leaving his United States Championship in the middle of the ring. The New Day, Rusev, and Aiden English faced off in a very festive tag team match as they all wore different Christmas themed costumes. Rusev and English got too cute setting up a pancake and whip cream pie for Xavier Woods. Of course, English ended up going through the pie, and The New Day won the match. The main event of the night was a Six Man Tag Match between AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Jinder Mahal. The faces sent the crowd home happy after Nakamura hit Sami Zayn with a Kinshasa to win the match.

Highlight of the night

The slow dissension between McMahon and Bryan continues. It has been a long time coming. I am unsure whether it will lead to a match between the two or not, but, if it does, it will be one of the best, longest, builds to a feud in a while.

How do they compare?

This week was a weird one, in the sense that a lot happened, but it was surrounded and smothered by a reiteration of what we’ve seen the last few weeks. Rollins and Ambrose against The Bar, Orton dealing with Zayn and Owens, The Usos dealing Gable and Benjamin, rinse and repeat. It is clear, we are at that point of the year where it is a little early to start building for next year and things are just coasting along. That being said, the announcement of the Women’s Royal Rumble was huge. Sure, fans have telegraphed it, but seeing the moment actually materialize is nothing short of great. The Women’s Revolution is here to stay. The debut of Hideo Itami was well done. 205 Live is a hidden gem on the WWE Network, but him debuting there could have been inconsequential. Itami showing up on Raw was a great moment because it allowed fans unfamiliar with him to be introduced to a dynamic wrestler. Michael Cole putting him over on commentary shows those watching at home that this guy matters. Rusev and Aiden English are shining bright on SmackDown Live, but this week, again, goes to Raw.

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Could James Harden end up in Philly? Composite image by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday, the sports world inside Houston went ballistic after Daryl Morey signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers to become their new President of Basketball Operations. After Morey signed with the 76ers, Tilman Fertitta and Rockets new GM Rafael Stone decided on the Houston Rockets next head coach, which is Stephen Silas. Could Morey and Fertitta be playing chess?

It was reported that the 76ers' office was in contact with Morey after his departure from the Rockets. When leaving the Rockets, Fertitta told Tim MacMahon of ESPN that Morey wanted to go to the Eastern Conference. Now that Morey is with the 76ers, he could possibly be looking to trade for James Harden. Bringing Harden to the 76ers could open a better pathway to the NBA Finals.

Stephen A. Smith believes Harden is the key piece to pair with Joel Embiid for a Finals appearance. Morey has pulled off countless trades for the Rockets' organization so his negotiation skills are not in question.

"I'm Daryl Morey, the first thing I'm trying to do is get [James] Harden to become a [Philadelphia] 76er," as Smith told co-host Max Kellerman on ESPN's First Take. "Even if it means trading Ben Simmons."

Although 76er fans would get excited about Harden coming to Philly, Stone and Fertitta shut the idea down. As MacMahon reported that it would be a hard no from the Rockets' front office. Honestly, it's a wise decision that the Rockets hold on to Harden, as he has three more years left on his contract. MacMahon explained more of the reasoning on why the Rockets are cashing in on Harden's prime on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast.

"What I can say is right now the Rockets are 100 percent committed to cash in on [James] Harden's prime," as MacMahon told Woj on his podcast. "They consider him the best player in the league."

Keeping an eye on Fertitta and Morey's relationship is critical because of their past rapport. Fertitta did mention to MacMahon that they will keep in touch when it comes to strategizing towards the Finals. So it won't come as a surprise if a trade happens between the Rockets and 76ers at a later time.

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