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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Have the Astros turned a corner? Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

After finishing up with the Guardians the Astros have a rather important series for early May with the Seattle Mariners heading to town for the weekend. While it’s still too early to be an absolute must-win series for the Astros, losing the series to drop seven or nine games off the division lead would make successfully defending their American League West title that much more unlikely.

Since their own stumble out of the gate to a 6-10 record the Mariners have been racking up series wins, including one this week over the Atlanta Braves. The M’s offense is largely Mmm Mmm Bad, but their pitching is sensational. In 18 games after a 4-8 start, the Mariners gave up five runs in a game once. In the other 17 games they only gave up four runs once. Over the 18 games their starting pitchers gave up 18 earned runs total with a 1.44 earned run average. That’s absurd. Coming into the season Seattle’s starting rotation was clearly better on paper than those of the Astros and Texas Rangers, and it has crystal clearly played out as such into the second month of the schedule.

While it’s natural to focus on and fret over one’s own team's woes when they are plentiful as they have been for the Astros, a reminder that not all grass is greener elsewhere. Alex Bregman has been awful so far. So has young Mariners’ superstar Julio Rodriguez (though not Breggy Bad). A meager four extra base hits over his first 30 games were all Julio produced down at the ballyard. That the Mariners are well ahead of the Astros with J-Rod significantly underperforming is good news for Seattle.

Caratini comes through!

So it turns out the Astros are allowed to have a Puerto Rican-born catcher who can hit a little bit. Victor Caratini’s pedigree is not that of a quality offensive player, but he has swung the bat well thus far in his limited playing time and provided the most exciting moment of the Astros’ season with his two-out two-run 10th inning game winning home run Tuesday night. I grant that one could certainly say “Hey! Ronel Blanco finishing off his no-hitter has been the most exciting moment.” I opt for the suddenness of Caratini’s blow turning near defeat into instant victory for a team that has been lousy overall to this point. Frittering away a game the Astros had led 8-3 would have been another blow. Instead, to the Victor belong the spoils.

Pudge Rodriguez is the greatest native Puerto Rican catcher, but he was no longer a good hitter when with the Astros for the majority of the 2009 season. Then there’s Martin Maldonado.

Maldonado’s hitting stats with the Astros look Mike Piazza-ian compared to what Jose Abreu was doing this season. Finally, mercifully for all, Abreu is off the roster as he accepts a stint at rookie-level ball in Florida to see if he can perform baseball-CPR on his swing and career. Until or unless he proves otherwise, Abreu is washed up and at some point the Astros will have to accept it and swallow whatever is left on his contract that runs through next season. For now Abreu makes over $120,000 per game to not be on the roster. At his level of performance, that’s a better deal than paying him that money to be on the roster.

Abreu’s seven hits in 71 at bats for an .099 batting average with a .269 OPS is a humiliating stat line. In 2018 George Springer went to sleep the night of June 13 batting .293 after going hitless in his last four at bats in a 13-5 Astros’ win over Oakland. At the time no one could have ever envisioned that Springer had started a deep, deep funk which would have him endure a nightmarish six for 78 stretch at the plate (.077 batting average). Springer then hit .293 the rest of the season.

Abreu’s exile opened the door for Joey Loperfido to begin his Major League career. Very cool for Loperfido to smack a two-run single in his first game. He also struck out twice. Loperfido will amass whiffs by the bushel, he had 37 strikeouts in 101 at bats at AAA Sugar Land. Still, if he can hit .225 with some walks mixed in (he drew 16 with the Space Cowboys) and deliver some of his obvious power (13 homers in 25 games for the ex-Skeeters) that’s an upgrade over Abreu/Jon Singleton, as well as over Jake Meyers and the awful showing Chas McCormick has posted so far. Frankly, it seems unwise that the Astros only had Loperfido play seven games at first base in the minors this year. If McCormick doesn’t pick it up soon and with Meyers displaying limited offensive upside, the next guy worth a call-up is outfielder Pedro Leon. In January 2021 the Astros gave Leon four million dollars to sign out of Cuba and called him a “rapid mover to the Major Leagues.” Well…

Over his first three minor league seasons Leon flashed tools but definitely underwhelmed. He has been substantially better so far this year. He turns 26 May 28. Just maybe the Astros offense could be the cause of fewer Ls with Loperfido at first and Leon in center field.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTube with the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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