WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: The Superstar Shake made some much needed changes

Jeff Hardy won the US Title on Raw on Monday and debuted with it on SmackDown on Tuesday. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Kurt Angle welcomed the fans to the Superstar Shakeup, a week full of surprises. Jinder Mahal was the first to be moved from SmackDown Live to Raw, and he was welcomed to Raw having to defend his US Title. Mahal’s arrival would be spoiled by Jeff Hardy who defeated him to become United States Champion. Bayley and Sasha Banks tried to settle their differences in the ring, but were interrupted by an attack from former SmackDown faction, The Riott Squad.

The Miz welcomed Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to Raw, and explained to the audience how they would be joining him in creating the best faction. Kurt Angle crashed the party, though, revealing to Miz that he will now be part of SmackDown Live. He offered Miz a going away present, a ten man tag in the main event. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Revival to win a chance to challenge The Bar for the Raw Tag Titles. Dolph Ziggler made his arrival, and Titus World Wide raced to the ring in attempts to recruit him. Ziggler explained he did not need to be recruited, as he did not come to Raw alone. Drew McIntyre surprised Titus and Apollo with a brutal attack.

The newest Raw member, Natalya, defeated Mandy Rose with a Sharpshooter. Sonya Deville spoiled Natalya’s victory by attacking her. This prompted Ronda Rousey to come down for the save. Breezango had a nice debut as they upset The Bar after Tyler Breeze rolled up Cesaro. The Miz, Mizterouge, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn challenged Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, and the new member of Raw, Bobby Roode in the main event. Strowman sent Miz to SmackDown with a loss after hitting him with a  Running Power Slam and pinning him for the win.  

SmackDown Live

AJ Styles opened the show expressing his frustrations with Nakamura’s recent behavior. He demanded Nakamura come and face him. Instead, he was confronted by Rusev and Aiden English. AJ Styles accepted Rusev’s challenge, though their match did not go for long as Aiden English got involved. Daniel Bryan raced to the ring for the save. Paige, the new SmackDown GM, announced a tag main event featuring all four men. Shelton Benjamin demanded an opponent worthy of his level. Randy Orton appeared to answer his call, instead, the new United States Champion, Jeff Hardy did. Hardy defeated Benjamin after a Swanton Bomb. Samoa Joe made an impactful debut on SmackDown defeating Sin Cara. He, then, took to the mic to explain things are about to change in “the land of hand outs.”

Carmella celebrated winning the SmackDown Women’s Title. Her party was spoiled by Charlotte, and the Iconics. This led to a match between Charlotte and Billie Kay which Charlotte won. The Iconics tried ambushing Flair, but Becky Lynch and a debuting Asuka saved the former champion. Nakamura once again spoiled a main event as he lowbrowed Styles. His attack distracted Styles’ partner, Daniel Bryan, who was, then in turn, surprised by a monster kick from a returning Big Cass.

Boy, did the Superstar Shake Up do a lot of good for both shows.

Raw’s tag division finally looks in good shape, and Bobby Roode desperately needed a change in the cards. Ziggler getting paired with McIntyre makes him the most interesting he has been in years. Also, the seeds have been planted for Ronda Rousey’s first solo feud with Natalya. All in all, Raw got a plethora of talent to rebuild their mid card. Getting guys like Corbin and Roode allows two guys the opportunity to be freshened up.

SmackDown Live, though, absolutely left the week with a better roster. It’s clear there was no space for people like Samoa Joe and Asuka at the top of the cards, where they belonged, on Raw. Moving them to the blue show was absolutely brilliant. Moving Absolution to SmackDown can lead to a future story where Paige starts to favor her girls. Not to mention, it freshens up the Women’s Division. Where I think SmackDown really got elevated, though, was with the wrestlers they added via NXT. Former Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega will add so much to the blue show, especially considering what Zelina can do on the mic to elevate Almas’ feuds. The call up of Sanity, too, adds another dimension as there is absolutely no telling what the faction will get themselves into when they arrive on SmackDown.

All in all, the Superstar Shake Up did exactly what it should have for both shows. For the better part of last year, SmackDown was clearly behind Raw. These moves, at least on paper, give us the impression that SmackDown will once again be the dominant force it was when the brand split first happened almost two years ago.

Also, worth mentioning is the fact that WWE will go back to sharing their Pay-per-views. This was something that was definitely needed. The excess of shows was definitely taking its toll last year with the story lines. Combining them again allows the PPVs to be focused. There is no need to fill a card with filler matches. So long as they do not fall into a trap where every title has to be defended at every show, this effort should pay off.   

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Composite photo by Jack Brame

Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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