THE WRESTLING REPORT

WWE continues its backslide into mediocrity

WWE continues its backslide into mediocrity
Photo via WWE.com

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows www.nerdthugradio.com!

In the aftermath of one of the most disastrous WWE events in recent memory, Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia, WWE struggled yet again this week. With an incredibly tepid response to AEW's Double or Nothing, the WWE has fallen well below their own usual standards of quality, the match between Undertaker and Goldberg was easily the worst match in recent history as both wrestlers nearly killed each other doing their finishers with a botched jackhammer and tombstone piledriver, there was literally no way the match could have been worse. Beyond that, there was a 50 man battle royal and the only Saudi on the entire WWE roster won it, a guy who has been on the roster for over a year and has never appeared on either Raw or Smackdown.

Coming into Raw, the bookings made even less sense, with Baron Corbin announcing he has another match against Seth Rollins after losing just three days earlier. So apparently losing a title shot means you get another title shot now? Cool. Kevin Owens came out of nowhere and wanted a match against the champion and got it for no reason either. The Iconics fought a couple of local jobbers for no reason, and then WWE ripped off ESPN and did a split screen interview of Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans, were they scared they might fight?

It's fake. There were other matches, including the Revival getting their titles back, which it never made sense for them to get but at least this time it was a real match. The 24/7 is now officially a joke, it's just a running gag where R Truth just runs around from a bunch of people who also are a joke, this thing is quickly coming off the rails.

Smackdown hasn't gotten much better though, there was another tag match against local jobbers, a meaningless women's match and another awful run between The Miz and Shane and Elias and Drew. The whole best in the World Thing is getting annoying. Big E returns and they book a 3 man tag match against Sami, Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler who Kofi will be facing again in Stomping Ground, another loser rematch.


Meanwhile in the Indy scene, Jon Moxley just won a title in New Japan Wrestling in one of his first matches as an Indy wrestler, further hitting home that the WWE is underutilizing it's wrestlers severely. With the WWE going in one direction and the upstart going in the other, it's not inconceivable that change could be on the horizon.

Feel free to check out my digital short story The Wilson House or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help fight cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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How significant Astros spring training revelation highlights even more reasons for optimism

The Houston Astros had a very successful season in 2023 which led them back to the ALCS for the seventh-straight season, but despite another deep playoff run, their pitching did regress from the prior year.

While many would point to their historic bullpen in 2022 and say they had nowhere to go but down, that doesn't paint the full picture. It was the starting rotation that really fell off in 2023. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, and Jose Urquidy all saw a spike in their ERAs from the previous season.

According to a recent report from The Athletic's Chandler Rome, we might have an explanation for Jose Urquidy's down year.

The Astros and Urquidy believe he was tipping his pitches. Which would explain why the slugging percentage against his fastball jumped from .482 in 2022 to .632 in 2023.

When hitters know a pitcher is tipping, they often start hunting fastballs. Also, his strikeout percentage went down last year and his walks went way up. He had 2 more walks per nine innings in 2023 than he had in 2021.

Part of that could be him aiming for corners and refusing to give in to hitters because his fastball wasn't performing up to expectations.

His WHIP in 2023 really jumped off the page as well. He finished with a WHIP over 1.4. While his career WHIP is 1.143. That's a huge difference.

Back to the big picture

Until last season, Urquidy never finished with an ERA over 3.95. He recorded a 5.29 ERA last year. So when we factor in his shoulder injury that cost him three months of the season, and the fact he was tipping pitches, we believe he's in store for a bounce-back season.

And the Astros are going to need him, especially with Justin Verlander and JP France possibly not being available for the start of the season.

What will the rotation look like early on?

The Astros haven't ruled Verlander out yet, so he could be ready to go. But if not, and we base this off what we saw last season. The rotation will likely include Valdez, Javier, Brown, Urquidy, Ronel Blanco, and Brandon Bielak.

Don't miss the video above for the full discussion!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

We'll continue to drop videos throughout the week!


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