WWE Wrap-Up

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

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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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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