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Charlotte Flair decimates Ronda Rousey in a brawl

WWE SmackDown Scores, Grades: Charlotte Flair brutalizes Ronda Rousey on a car, Big E suffers an injury and Pete Dunne gets a new name. (Author: Gardener)

Charlotte FlairWWE Superstar Charlotte Flair decimated Ronda Rousey and sent her into a car during a wild brawl on SmackDown. Friday night's episode - which sadly also saw New Day favorite Big E break her neck in a horrific accident in the ring - ended with the Women's Champion battling her WrestleMania challenger in the arena parking lot. Rousey came out first and claimed the submission — which she says was passed to her by her former tag team partner Kurt Angle — shows she's more than a one-pull wonder. She promised to make Rousey tap out herself by the end of the night, and the champion really proved she was worth it by selling that match at WrestleMania with a great promo. Ronda shone in the end, issuing a final warning that if Flair doesn't submit, she will take her arm home. Before the show aired, the pair brawled backstage, with Flair slamming Rousey into a nearby car, hitting a suplex on the hood before the fish hooked Ronda's mouth and engaged in a fantastic new submission as the cameras stopped rolling . Following a recap of Roman Reigns and the Bloodlines' vicious attack on Brock Lesnar at Madison Square Garden, the WWE Champion stepped into the ring. Instead, Paul Heyman stepped into the ring and revealed that the Universal Champion wasn't in the arena, but his smug gaze quickly turned as the beast wondered who would be protecting him now. Lesnar went on the offensive, jumping after his former lawyer - and his getaway car - as he eliminated security forces along the way. In the first match of the night, Sheamus and Ridge Holland introduced Pete Dunne along with a new name (Butch) on SmackDown as The Celtic Warrior and Holland took on The New Day. The match was strong, with Sheamus and Ridge clinching the win, but everything is overshadowed by a horrific injury sustained by Big E following a Holland suplex. On SmackDown, Zayn ranted about the ridiculous amount of messages and calls he'd received, adding another hilarious layer to their upcoming WrestleMania showdown. Drew McIntyre took on Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss and Jinder Mahal with The Viking Raiders, but his partners were the victims of a backstage attack. The Scottish warrior appeared to meet a similar fate in the ring as the villains - plus Mahal's teammate Shanky - went on the attack, but McIntyre overcame the numbers game and stood tall as he and Corbin glared at each other. The newly united Sasha Banks and Naomi continued to roll towards the women's tag team title match at WrestleMania when they defeated Shayna Baszler and Natalya - despite interference from champions Carmella and Queen Zelina - in a decent match. The Usos came out to discuss next month's Dallas big weekend only to be interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs a week after they were attacked by Jimmy and Jey. It all led to Boogs defeating Jey in a fun match after his injury was revealed to be just a ruse, setting up our SmackDown Tag Team Title match for Mania. Austin Theory came down to insult Pat McAfee, but the commentator jumped over the commentary table, sparking an exciting brawl that immediately added some intensity to their WrestleMania feud. In the Main Event, Ricochet defended the Intercontinental Championship in a repeat of last week's title match against Sami Zayn. If you have a celebrity story, video or pictures, please contact the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us at [email protected], calling 020 3615 2145 or our page Visit to submit content - we'd love to hear from you. MORE : WWE star Big E suffers a broken neck and is hospitalized after a horrific accident in the ring

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Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey clash backstage

Flair transferred Rousey to a car when the show went off the air ahead of her title match at WrestleMania 38 (Author: Gardener)

Charlotte FlairCharlotte Flair finally got the better of her WrestleMania 38 opponent, Ronda Rousey. Flair and Rousey's feud has shifted gears on WWE SmackDown. SmackDown was Flair and Rousey's Friday night show as the rivals developed their WrestleMania rivalry over two segments throughout the evening. SmackDown Women's Champion Flair got some measure of revenge on Rousey after being beaten at last week's SmackDown and Elimination Chamber event. Big E suffered a very serious injury in the opening match of SmackDown, Ricochet defended the WWE Intercontinental Title, the Usos' WrestleMania opponents were revealed and Brock Lesnar gave Paul Heyman a serious scare. Tensions between Rousey and Flair continue to escalate on SmackDown. The WrestleMania opponents faced off in multiple segments over the course of two hours. Rousey's in-ring segment was interrupted by Flair making excuses for going after Rousey vs. The former UFC champion assured Flair that her only option at WrestleMania would be to drop out. After Friday's Main Event Intercontinental Title match between Ricochet and Zayn, the camera crew went backstage to find Flair and Rousey fighting in the loading dock. Flair threw Rousey into the hood of a car. Flair attempted to put Rousey into a sleeper hold, but referees and other witnesses pulled her off when SmackDown went off the air. ricochet def. Sami Zay via pinfall to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Zayn waived his rematch clause after losing the Intercontinental crown to Ricochet on last week's episode of SmackDown. Ricochet finished the match with an exhilarating 630 senton. A great call to give Flair some impetus in an otherwise one-sided feud that benefited Rousey. The attempted submission was a reminder that Flair has plenty of submission weapons in her arsenal against famed judoka and UFC champion Rousey. The Intercontinental title match also delivered. Ricochet and Zayn are extremely talented and the match benefitted from Johnny Knoxville's shenanigans not getting in the way. * Brock Lesnar chased Paul Heyman around the arena. Heyman interrupted Lesnar, claimed Reigns wasn't backstage, and subsequently fled from his former client. * Defeated Sheamus and Ridge Holland (with Butch). New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) via pinfall after Sheamus cracked Kingston with the brogue kick after interference from Butch. Sheamus and Holland introduced Butch, better known to fans as NXT's Pete Dunne, in a pre-match segment. * Big E suffered a broken neck during the game. The former WWE Champion took a belly-to-back suplex from ringside Ridge Holland and landed on his head. E was taken out of play. * Drew McIntyre fought Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, Jinder Mahal and Shanky. The Heels attacked Erik and Ivar backstage and tried to take down McIntyre in the ring. The segment ended with McIntyre landing a Michinoku driver on Shanky as Corbin fled. * Naomi and Sasha defeated Banks. * Defeated Rick Boogs. Jey Uso via pinfall after landing a pump grip power slam. Boogs and tag team partner Shinsuke Nakamura earned a shot at The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso)'s SmackDown Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania with the win. Jimmy offered Boogs and Nakamura the title shot in a pre-match segment. * Pat McAfee attacked Austin Theory after Theory hit the SmackDown announcer. McAfee was escorted away and built more excitement for their announced WrestleMania match.

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Pat McAfee escorted from SmackDown, House of Black Eye her next target and more

Here's your post-WWE/AEW fight size update for Friday March 11, 2022. (Author: Gardener)

Pat McAfeeHere's your post-WWE/AEW fight size update for Friday March 11th, 2022 - After being attacked by The Bloodline at MSG last Saturday night, Brock Lesnar came to SmackDown to get his hands on Roman Reigns. The Beast chased Heyman into the parking lot, but Roman's special council escaped just before Brock could reach him. Brock and Roman will face off on SmackDown next week. - Ahead of their tag team match, Sheamus and Ridge Holland introduced the newest member of their group, Butch, formerly of Pete Dunne in NXT. - Sheamus and Ridge Holland would defeat Big E and Kofi Kingston, but the more pressing news to emerge from the match was the injury Big E sustained as a result of a belly-to-belly suplex gone awry. The former WWE Champion revealed he had broken his neck and shared the following news: - Drew McIntyre was supposed to team up with The Viking Raiders but they were attacked backstage by Happy Corbin, Jinder Mahal and Madcap Moss. They ambushed Drew on his way to the ring, but he was able to fend them off by glaring at Corbin and pointing at the WrestleMania sign to end the segment. - Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey exchanged words before their WrestleMania duel. Rousey offered to fight Flair tonight, but the Queen walked away. Rousey told her that at WrestleMania she would either make her tap out or walk with her arm. They will fight for the women's tag team titles in a triple threat match at WrestleMania. - The Usos were challenged by Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs to a SmackDown Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania but said they would only accept if Boogs, who sustained a knee injury the week before, could defeat Jey in a match . Once the bell rang in their match, Boogs showed his knee was perfectly fine and would defeat Jey and secure the WrestleMania match. However, he was attacked by Jimmy after the bell with his guitar. - Pat McAfee was being escorted out of the building during the early stages of the Main Event when he got into a fight with Austin Theory, who only came to the ring to piss off his WrestleMania opponent. - In the Main Event, Ricochet defeated Sami Zayn to successfully defend the WWE Intercontinental Championship. - The show ended with Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair fighting backstage. Flair would stand tall over Rousey after slamming her onto the hood of a car and applying a submission. - After defeating Marq Quen, Darby Allin and Sting wanted to be ambushed by the Andrade Family Office, but Matt and Jeff Hardy came out and sent them on the run. - Scorpio Sky confidently enters his TNT title match against Wardlow on Dynamite, saying Mr. Mayhem will be just another footnote in his unbeaten streak and a soon-to-be historic title run. Britt Baker and Rebel attempted to get involved in a post-match beatdown but were chased off by Thunder Rosa, who stormed into the ring with a steel chair in hand. - Hikaru Shida says she hasn't forgotten about Serena Deeb during her absence and shared a few words for her longtime rival. [email protected] didn't forget @serenadeeb for a moment while she was gone and has some choice words for her nemesis... - All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) March 12, 2022 - Keith Lee defeated QT Marshall on Rampage and was in able to fend off Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto after the bell, but Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs also got in the ring and were able to get the most out of AEW's new big man. - In his debut match for AEW, Swerve Strickland defeated Tony Nese in the Rampage Main Event.

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Winners, grades, reactions and highlights from March 11th

Tag team action dominated the headlines on Friday night's WWE SmackDown as the brand continued its march on the Road to WrestleMania... (Author: Gardener)

March 11thTag team action dominated the headlines on Friday night's WWE SmackDown as the brand continued its march on the Road to WrestleMania. New Day's Big E and Kofi Kingston squared off against Sheamus and Ridge Holland, while Naomi and Sasha Banks tried to get a message across to women's tag team champions Queen Zelina and Carmella before their title fight on the big stage. Who left the Fox presentation with momentum on their side? Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus and Ridge HollandNon-Title Match: Naomi and Sasha Banks vs. Women's Tag Team Champions Carmella and Zelina VegaBrock Lesnar on a rampage to kick off SmackDownWWE Champion Brock Lesnar kicked off SmackDown following a recap of the Beatdowns left him bleeding in Madison Square Garden. This was an intense, angry, angry Lesnar. Angry, screaming, snarling, Lesnar was on point, overcoming the anger he felt after his disastrous night in New York City. Lesnar asked who would protect his former advocate before hoisting after him, sprinting after his speeding car and smashing the security guards along the way, in a great image of a sprinting beast chasing its prey. "Roman Reigns! You changed the game!” was a great explanation from Lesnar to the chieftain that the tone of this feud had changed. Lesnar is ready to kick ass. The "oh s***" look on Heyman's face as he realized the seriousness of his admission that Reigns wasn't in the arena matched the excellent character work we usually see from the special Council and reminded fans remembering that Lesnar's vendetta is not only with the Universal Champion, but also with the man he once called his friend. Butch and New Day's debut against Sheamus and Ridge Holland The former North American and British NXT champion has renamed themselves "Butch" in Bad Creative's latest silly idea. The Celtic warrior and his ex-rugby player took on New Day's Big E and Kofi Kingston. A typical, high-energy tag team match between three former world champions and a solid young talent came to a scary end late on when Big E missed his trademark javelin to the ground and Holland followed with an overhead suplex. Back inside, Sheamus hit Kingston, who was on the ropes, with an ugly brogue kick for the win. A slap at Butch followed, but the apparent concern for Big E and the fact that the production team didn't pivot back to the ring area overshadowed this. Dunne's debut as Butch was most notable here. Worse still was the idea that we should pretend that the same guy was an accomplished wrestler under an entirely different name and even wrestled at the Survivor Series 2019 pay-per-view. That overhead suplex to Big E was terrifying. After Johnny Knoxville responded to Sami Zayn blowing up his phone by having the former Intercontinental champion's number flown in on a plane over Los Angeles, the conspiratorial Heel ranted about the obscene number of calls and texts he made in the later in the day, in a fun, harmless continuation of a feud that included both. Back in the arena, Drew McIntyre made his way to the ring for a six-man tag team match. His partners, The Viking Raiders, were knocked out before the game, preventing them from competing as history repeated itself. Replays and rematches, anyone? McIntyre defeated Jinder Mahal, Shanky and Madcap Moss, but before he could turn on Happy Corbin, the Scottish warrior found himself at the end of a beating. However, he built up, fending off heels and glaring at his WrestleMania opponent to end a segment that castrated all heels except Corbin of their credibility. The Zayn promo was awesome. A guy who came to WWE as an underdog from the underground has become one of the best heels of the past decade and is a guy the company trusts to have those high-profile matches and celebrity moments. That makes him invaluable. Corbin talking to McIntyre while being held back by the heels really should have been the end of that segment and helped build heat for the heels. Instead, McIntyre looks invincible as he steps into a WrestleMania match that no one expects to lose, still rediscovering her confidence on the mic. Charlotte Flair interrupted, wiping off the ankle lock and her tapout from last week and vowing to be the one to challenge Rousey at WrestleMania, speaking with the authority of a performer who knows how to sell a match in front of an audience. Rousey put an exclamation point on the promo, promising that Flair would either tap out or take home the Queen's arm. Rousey recalled her partnership with Angle in her first match at WrestleMania 34, which was great and added her totally logical addition of the ankle lock to her arsenal. Flair backed out of the ring like a coward but still talked trash to Rousey and the fans, proclaiming she's "still the SmackDown Women's Champion" in Gr Eat Heel Work and bluffing that she's very intimidated by her upcoming title defense . Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Natalya and Shayna BaszlerAlthough Naomi and Sasha Banks vs. Carmella and Queen Zelina were announced earlier in the day, it was Natalya and Shayna Baszler who got the Babyface tandem squared off in tag team action Friday night. The Queens of Harts and Spades respectively worked on Naomi early on, but a move to Banks sparked a comeback. The boss foiled attempted interference from the aforementioned Zelina and Carmella and pinned Natalya after a codebreaker to end an unassuming match. Natalya and Baslzer were not allowed in, which indicates how much management is thinking of them at this moment. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if the team was still in the WrestleMania match for Carmella and Zelina's Women's Tag Team Championship. Crowd reactions to Banks and Naomi at their performance and throughout the match make it clear that they are undoubtedly the most over-tag team in the women's division and should probably leave Dallas with the titles. The Usos set about finalizing their WrestleMania plans, but Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs interrupted at a moment that shouldn't have been too surprising to anyone paying attention to last week's broadcast. Boogs, his knee wrapped, sucked Jey Uso into a match with a title shot at WrestleMania on the line. In a neat little angle, Boogs revealed it was an act and went on to take the win in a sprint of a match featuring the Boogs cruise. Jimmy Uso rocked Boogs with a cheap Superkick to restore the Heat that WWE's most dominant tag team and two-thirds of The Bloodline didn't really lose in the loss. The Boogs fakeout was a nice touch and proved there was more to the former amateur wrestler than just a guitar. Speaking of which, Boogs' strength and what he can do between the ropes is impressive.

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WWE SmackDown Live Scores, Your Feedback and Spectator Party

Welcome to our WrestlingINC.com Live WWE SmackDown Viewing Party. Tonight's show comes from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, AL. (Author: Gardener)

WWE- Today's WWE SmackDown on FOX begins with a video pack showing The Bloodline destroying WWE Champion Brock Lesnar at last Saturday's WWE Live event at Madison Square Garden. We're live from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama as Michael Cole welcomes us to the Road to WrestleMania 38. - We go straight to the ring and out comes WWE Champion Brock Lesnar with a big bang. Lesnar appears to be in a fighting mood when he stops as the pyro goes off. Lesnar marches to the ring as Samantha Irvin introduces. Cole cheers the Winner Takes All Title Unification Match between Lesnar and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns on Night Two of WrestleMania 38. Lesnar takes the mic and calls out Reigns. Lesnar says Reigns changed the rules, boy, and changed the game. Lesnar says that for the last 6 days he's been pulling his ass out of bed and looking in the mirror... Lesnar shows us the glow next to his eye and tells Reigns to take a good look. Lesnar says you don't take first blood from Brock Lesnar and survive to tell about it, so Reigns changed the rules. Lesnar says he's here tonight for blood and doesn't care about WrestleMania contracts or WWE titles. Lesnar has now thrown away his cowboy hat, jacket and title. He starts yelling for Reigns to come out, saying that Reins screwed it up and he wants Reigns' blood. Paul Heyman interrupts from the stage and the fans boo. Heyman tells her to stop booing. Heyman says if Lesnar hasn't listened to him, listen now, because Lesnar was bled by The Bloodline, crushed by The Tribal Chief. Heyman points to the entrance for Reigns to come out of, but pauses and says Reigns isn't here tonight. The boos get louder and Lesnar is now pacing the ring. Heyman starts talking about how he knows Lesnar so well, but Lesnar tells him to shut up. Lesnar says if what's coming out of Heyman's fat jaws is true, then who's going to protect you, Paul? Lesnar drops the mic and leaves the ring, then rushes to the stage as Heyman runs to the back. Heyman yells for security to stop Lesnar, but he fends them off. Lesnar keeps running, but Heyman jumps into an SUV and it speeds away. - Cole and McAfee show us how Sheamus and Ridge Holland destroyed Kofi Kingston and Big E's four-wheeler last week. Megan Morant is now backstage with Sheamus and Holland asking why they destroyed the quad and what their chances are for tonight's tag team match. Holland says tonight will be a real fight night. Sheamus and Holland go on to tell how they brought someone better than sledgehammers, someone more dangerous. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus and Ridge Holland We go back to the ring and out comes Kofi Kingston and Big E. Back off the break and out comes Sheamus and Ridge Holland with Butch. Sheamus enters the ring but is immediately double teamed. The bell rings and Sheamus now goes off with Kofi. Holland tagged Kingston and equalized with a strike. Holland drops Kofi with a shoulder. They guide the ropes and Kofi drops Holland one shoulder. Holland blocks a roll up and knees Kofi in the face. Kofi holds Holland and Big E comes in to take over. Holland is quick to tag Sheamus. Big E pushes Sheamus off the apron, but Sheamus charges back. Big E unloads his fists in the corner and then knocks him out in the corner when the referee warns him. Sheamus comes out of the corner with a clothesline, then kicks in the stomach. They run the ropes and Big E drops Sheamus with a back elbow. Sheamus rolls to the apron and continues to resist. Sheamus fights back and delivers Big E 10 Beats of the Bodhrán. Sheamus comes off the top rope but Big E catches him with a big belly to belly throw for a quick 1 count. Big E drags Sheamus to the apron, but Holland comes over and talks to him. Kofi jumps off the steel stairs to trip Holland. Big E goes to splash on the edge of the apron but Sheamus moves and Big E lands hard. Sheamus goes back out and drops Big E again with a jumping knee kick. Sheamus and Holland pose ringside as we return to the commercial. Back from the break and Holland bangs Big E around. Big E catches Holland with a belly to belly throw. Sheamus and Kofi enter at the same time. Kofi flies and rocks Sheamus, unloading and dropkicking him. Sheamus kicks Kofi, but that doesn't help as he flies off the top again. Kofi with a running kick to keep Sheamus down. Kofi with the Boom Drop now in the middle of the ring. Kofi pushes Holland off the apron as he tries to distract. Kofi with an SOS to Sheamus, but Holland breaks the pin. Big E knocks Holland down but he gets caught on the apron. Big E attacks after a spear but Holland moves and Big E is sent down and then dropped on his head at ringside. Cole says Big E may be injured. More back and forth between Sheamus and Kofi. Kofi goes upstairs, but Butch climbs onto the apron and distracts him, allowing Sheamus to brogue kick Kofi off the top. Sheamus drags Kofi to the center of the ring to win the pin. - After the match, paramedics attend to Big E at ringside as Butch enters the ring and steps on Kofi and discharges on him. Butch, Sheamus and Holland pose together, but Butch punches Kofi again. Sheamus' music resumes as the new trio pose together. - We see Kevin Owens challenge WWE Hall of Famer Steve Austin this week on RAW. - Back from intermission and we're getting a video package on WWE Hall of Famers Steve Austin and Kevin Owens to hype their KO Show segment at WrestleMania 38. - We're getting a video package showing Sami Zayn relinquishing the WWE Intercontinental Championship to Ricochet last week. He's not happy with how she introduced him as a former champion and says he has a lot on his mind tonight. Kayla shows us a TMZ video of Johnny Knoxville flying Sami's phone number on the back of a plane over Los Angeles today and asks how he prepared for Ricochet's title shot today. Sami says he didn't have time to prepare because he received thousands of text messages and calls, his phone blew up all day so he didn't do any preparation. Sami says he's not worried because he's learned he can overcome anything thrown at him no matter what, just like WWE management conspired against him, but he still has his IC title recovered. Sami goes on to say that Ricochet isn't that good and he's not worried for tonight because Knoxville isn't here, so he'll win his title back. Sami says Knoxville wants Sami Zayn so bad at WrestleMania, well he's going to make Sami Zayn Intercontinental Champion instead. We go back to the ring and out comes Drew McIntyre with Pyro and a pop. We're going to a WWE 2K22 promo and commercial break. Back from the break, McIntyre waits in the ring as The Viking Raiders music begins. The camera cuts backstage and we see Jinder Mahal, Shanky, Madcap Moss and Happy Baron Corbin beating up Erik and Ivar. They destroy The Viking Raiders while Drew watches from ringside on the big screen. Moss, Mahal, and Shanky run to attack, but Drew meets them at the entrance and takes them both out. Corbin takes off his hat but Jinder grabs his leg. Moss, Corbin, Jinder and Shanky all now knock Drew down, take him to the ring and send him into the ring post. They get Drew in the ring and keep the attack going while the fans boo. Moss laughs and Corbin grabs Drew's face and yells at him while Jinder and Shanky hold him up. Drew appears ready to attack Corbin, but Corbin backs out of the ring. Drew takes out Moss and Jinder and hits Shanky with a big Michinoku Driver. Now drew kips-up for a big bang. Drew grabs his sword while Shanky tries to recover. Drew stares at Corbin and points to the WrestleMania 38 sign while shouting a warning to Corbin. Drew's music resumes as he and Corbin stare at each other. - We see Ronda Rousey's win over Sonya Deville last week and how Rousey used the ankle lock on SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair after the match. – We go back to the ring and out comes Ronda Rousey with a bang. She marches to the ring, greeting fans along the way. Cole says Rousey has a message for SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair. Rousey comes in the ring and we go back to the commercial. Back from break we get a short video for Women's History Month honoring WWE Hall of Fame Lita. We go back to the ring and Rousey has the mic. Rousey mentions the WrestleMania 38 match with Flair and says Flair revealed her ignorance of grappling last week when she called her a one-trick armbar pony. Rousey says where Flair sees an armbar, she sees thousands of ways to get there. Rousey talks about honing the ankle lock she learned from her first mentor in that ring, WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, and she can't think of a better way to thank Kurt than to throw it at Flair at WrestleMania subdue. The music stops and out comes Flair. Flair makes his way outside and stops at the entrance to pose as the Pyro goes off. Cole overdoes Rousey vs. Flair at WrestleMania Saturday. Flair points to the WrestleMania sign and says their match will be the biggest fight of Rousey's life. Flair accuses Rousey of taking advantage of her last week. Flair says she should care less about honoring her mentor and more about winning on the biggest stage. Flair promises that Rousey won't tap her out. Flair continues to talk trash, promising to embarrass and humiliate Rousey and make her tap at WrestleMania by the end of the night. A crew member climbs onto the apron and unties the ropes to allow Flair to exit. Flair says, but she's still champion. Rousey says Flair can't just walk away at WrestleMania, and she promises to leave WrestleMania with Flair's title and her arm. Rousey's music resumes as they stare at each other. - We see what happened tonight with Paul Heyman and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. Cole says an angry Lesnar is no longer here. We go back to the ring and out comes Sasha Banks and Naomi to a bang. They pose on the apron as the Pyro goes off. Cole sends us to another episode of the Toyota Tundra commercial starring Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura. Back from the break and Shayna Baszler and Natalya are out. Baszler starts with Naomi and gets to work. Natalya comes on and they double up on Team Naomi. Natalya takes over for a 2 count. WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega watch from ringside. Banks and Natalya now get in at the same time. Banks rocks Natalya and hits Meteora on the top rope. Banks fends off a double team and sends Natalya down. Banks blocks a baseball slide from Natalya sending her into the ringside champions. Naomi comes over and takes out Baszler before she can hit Banks. Natalya took advantage of the distraction and leveled Banks with a big clothesline for 2. This allowed Banks to finish off Natalya to win the pin. - After the match, Banks and Naomi celebrate in the ring while the music plays. We see Natalya and Baszler down at ringside trying to recover. Cole overdoes Banks and Naomi vs. - We see the Usos attacking Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs last week and falling behind against The Viking Raiders later in the show. - We go back to the ring and out comes the SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos - Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. Cole says they are here for a Penitentiary Unlocked segment where they will reveal their WrestleMania 38 plans. The Usos pose in the corners as we return to the commercial. Back from break, The Usos take the mics in the ring. They brag about their title reign and say that WWE management has no one to face at WrestleMania because it is them. Shinsuke Nakamura's music interrupts and he comes out with Rick Boogs. Boogs announces that they want the title shot. The Usos can't believe Boogs and Nakamura want to challenge them at WrestleMania. The Usos rule that if Boogs, who has his leg wrapped, can beat Jey, they can have the title shot. The bell rings and Jey Uso goes straight for Rick Boogs' injured leg. Boogs begins to unwrap the tape from his leg. Apparently Boogs faked the injury and beat the Usos at their own game. Jey attacks, but Boogs gives a bear hug in the middle of the ring. Boogs picks Uso up for a suplex, holds him, then drops him. Boogs pushes Jey high in the air over his head, squeezes him a few times while the fans keep a count, and then drops him to the mat as Jimmy Uso yells from the apron. Boogs throws Jimmy off the apron and Jey rolls up Boogs for a 2 count. Boogs with the big Boogs Cruise powerslam for the pin to win and earn the title shot. - After the bell, Boogs stands tall and celebrates as the music hits, but Jey comes in and smashes Boogs' guitar over Boogs' back while pointing at the WrestleMania 38 sign. Nakamura checks on Boogs in the ring as the Usos ramp up the ramp and lift their titles in the air. – We see Ricochet win the WWE Intercontinental Title from Sami Zayn last week. We go back to the ring and Sami Zayn comes out to boo. Back from break and out comes the new WWE Intercontinental Champion Ricochet. Before they can begin, the music stops and Austin Theory comes on. Samantha Irvin conducts formal ring performances while Theory watches from the ring and sits right next to McAfee. Before the game starts, Theory gets up from his chair and moves to the other side of the announce table to talk to McAfee. McAfee attacks, jumping over the table and tripping Theory. McAfee freaks out and destroys Theory ringside while Cole asks him to stop. McAfee throws Theory over the commentary table and rides him with more punches. Cole tells McAfee that he's a pro and not to get hooked on this punk theory. Security guards and officers come over to tell Theory and McAfee apart while Theory rants and yells. Fans boo as Theory now backtracks. Theory tries to attack McAfee again, but security holds him back. We're going to the commercial as Theory is really going backwards this time.

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Mason Rudolph knows Steelers is stuck with him

While Aaron Rodgers stayed in place, the much-mocked Mason Rudolph was smiling and throwing soccer balls on social media, knowing the Steelers were hanging on to him. (Author: Gardener)

SteelersMason Rudolph smiles, posts his practices on Instagram, and pushes back all of Pittsburgh's "barbershop talk" about his shaky status as a Steelers starter. The much-mocked Rudolph seems to know that Steelers Nation is sticking by him in 2022. That became all too clear after Aaron Rodgers' Pittsburgh whistle dream evaporated like a ring of smoke in a Steelers uniform. There, for a hot second, it really looked like the Steelers were in the running to land Rodgers as their 2022 QB. That's if you believe NBC NFL guru Mike Florio, who picked up last week's column of yours to argue that the Steelers should go all-in to sign Rodgers to fill all those empty yellow spots at Heinz field to fill. In fact, Florio called the Steelers' pursuit of Rodgers a "no-brainer" and hinted that a deal to bring the Packer to Pittsburgh is not only a definite possibility but is actually in the works. Now, $200 million later collected by the Packers, Rodgers to Pittsburgh is a punch line, not a plan. That same day, the blockbuster trade of sending Russell Wilson from Seattle to Denver for a boatload of draft picks highlighted the high cost of landing a franchise quarterback. Talk about inflation! Now unconfirmed reports are swirling about the Steelers' alleged interest in signing DeShaun Watson despite his mountain of legal troubles. Don't be fooled again, Steelers fans. These monumental moves show a growing rift in the NFL. The dividing line between arguments or pretense is the franchise quarterback. "It was all a vivid reminder that success (and failure) in the NFL is more determined by quarterback play than ever. That means NFL teams are increasingly falling into one of two classifications: those with an elite franchise quarterback and those without one. The Steelers are on the wrong side of this NFL dividing line. We've collected the best expert analysis assessing the Steelers' quarterback options for 2022 -- and the rude reality of Mason Rudolph as a likely starter -- all in this sobering installment of your Steelers Update Podcast. NOTE: New episodes of the Steelers update are available every Wednesday afternoon on PennLive.com and everywhere Podcasts can be found, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Podcasts. Fresh off the NFL combine, top QB prospects Malik Willis and Pitt's Kenny Pickett may not be ready for primetime. However, that probably won't stop either of them shooting NFL draft boards. Is this the draft output of the Pittsburgh pipe dream reminiscent of the Rodgers' fantasy?: On pick 20, the Steelers could find both top QB prospects out of reach. To make the leap, the Steelers would have to part with many other draft picks, hampering efforts to fill roster holes in several places with the talented rookies that are plentiful in this draft. Even wild rumors are hard to root out when it comes to the Steelers and a star QB: That's why Mitch Trubisky is the front-runner for the Steelers' future QB target. NFL quarterback inflation even applies to retreads. He's in the quarterback Catbird seat, and the Steelers aren't his first choice: And talk about your skyrocketing inflation these days. Gas has nothing on NFL QBs. No wonder a grinning Freemason Rudolph has taken to posting his practices on Instagram. He also speaks much louder and more confidently to dismiss all the Yinzer hatred he would face as a Steelers starter after stumbling under the middle in years past. "Shoot, I totally get the barbershop talk," Rudolph said to Jim Rome. And I think I have a lot of evidence, and that motivates me.” Unfortunately, the prospect of Mediocre Mason as Pittsburgh's top passer isn't doing much to motivate the rest of the Steelers fan base. Mason can't read defenses like Tom Brady. But Rudolph sure can read the room at Steelers HQ. Given the team's lack of good options as a quarterback, Mason's confidence is growing that he'll be the man under center this fall. Yes, Steelers fans will freak out. Your favorite football team will rank at the end of the passer-heavy AFC in terms of quarterback quality. But the always vigilant Pittsburgh pro football team won't pounce on a quarterback until the right one comes along. Then, and only then, will your portly, lumbering Steelers strike like lightning. Boy, have those 18 stellar Steelers seasons flown by: now the franchise depends more than ever on a franchise quarterback. The Steelers recognize this and will act accordingly. Even if it means doing very little in 2022 to improve their quarterback space. Who knows, maybe the once-prolific Oklahoma State Cowboy is finally evolving into a whole new Rudolph for 2022. A full offseason prep as the Steelers' starter, not Big Ben's reinforcement, can't hurt. As for the rest of Steelers Nation, fans may have little choice. After all of Aaron Rodgers' dreams, this is the cold, hard Pittsburgh reality for the upcoming season: There will be no Steelers saviors at quarterback. WANT MORE: New podcast episodes are available every Wednesday afternoon on PennLive or earlier for our podcast subscribers on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Podcasts. So log in, Steelers fans. John Luciew is an award-winning reporter for PennLive and a 25-year Steelers season ticket holder. His column and podcast are presented from the obsessively overinformed perspective of an avid Steelers fan. Catch his latest Steelers podcast every Wednesday afternoon, wherever podcasts are.

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Auburn rebounded from Texas A&M's SEC tournament

Takeaways from Auburn's quarterfinal loss to Texas A&M. (Author: Gardener)

Texas A&M'sThe Auburn guard nearly scored a steal in the backcourt. It was just moments after Walker Kessler nearly stole the ball from Texas A&M at the top of the key on the same possession. Instead of forcing a turnover and setting up a potential fast break, Johnson failed to quite lock in the ball. The ensuing scramble ended with Texas A&M's Tyrece Radford getting an open 3-point look off the wing. Read More Auburn Basketball: Rewinding Auburn's SEC tournament loss to Texas A&M, Radford seized the opportunity and drilled the shot to give the Aggies a double-digit lead late in the first half at the Amalie Arena. Johnson couldn't believe it as he jogged up the square and looked up at the sky for answers. The capricious guard was a barometer of sorts for this Auburn team, his insane facial expressions and fiery outbursts being a hallmark of the team's overarching personality throughout the season. His hushed desperation at that moment spoke volumes and summed up the day for top seed Auburn in their SEC Tournament Quarterfinals game. The Tigers came to Tampa, Fla. with a view to a championship double-dip after going wire to wire to win the SEC regular-season crown. Their stay in Tampa was short-lived, however, as they went cold in a 67-62 loss to the Aggies on Friday afternoon. "They just beat one of the best teams in the country and beat us from start to finish," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. The Tigers dug themselves a 20-point hole, and despite a furious rally in the final 10 minutes that reduced that deficit to four, it wasn't enough to extend Auburn's stay in Tampa. "There were two pretty good teams out there," Pearl said. Auburn is now awaiting his NCAA tournament goal and whether his oh-fer in the SEC tournament will cost the program a potential No. 1 seed for March Madness. From the opening tip, very little went in Auburn's direction. Texas A&M managed to steal the tip and get a quick layup out of goal by Quenton Jackson in what turned out to be a sign of Auburn's future. The Tigers' only lead of the game came about a minute later when Jabari Smith knocked down a 3-pointer. Texas A&M led by 16 at halftime after Auburn had just 16.2 percent in the opening period. The Tigers failed to buy a basket in the first half, hitting just 6 of 37 shots, including just 3 of 20 from 3-point range. Outside of Smith, who was 3 of 7 in the first half, the rest of Auburn's squad was a combined 3 of 30 shooting. "They left us wide open in the first half and we missed, so we had to hit open shots," said Auburn guard Wendell Green Jr. Auburn just couldn't drop anything, even when it looked good — of which there were plenty , thanks in part to 11 offensive rebounds in the first half. However, the Tigers converted those boards into just three second-chance points in the first half. Auburn's offensive struggles in the first half were best summed up by his final possession before halftime. The tall substitute tried to bat the ball in the basket to beat the game clock, but even that close-range attempt rattled the buzzer. Auburn's shooting improved in the second half, connecting 46.9 percent of his shots after the half. Pearl adjusted offense to put Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler more in the perimeter and roll down the guards to play four out and try to create better offense space. It paid off, and Auburn began to find his rhythm offensively in the second half, but by the time the Tigers finally got on the stretch, it was too late. The Aggies' lead grew to as much as 20 midway through the second half, and the Tigers' late run failed to overcome it. The team finished the game with 30.4 percent overall, hitting just 9 of 36 3-pointers and 12 of 33 shots from the arc. "We would have liked to have gotten a few more coats of paint, but once we got that ball in paint, they blocked it and changed it," Pearl said. Look at our shot rates of two and three, we were struggling.” Twenty-point deficits are never easy to overcome, but Auburn still gave his best. Texas A&M secured the biggest lead of the day by 11:14 to play 53:33 against a knight from Radford. The lead floated around for a few minutes before Auburn ran down the track in anger. The Tigers were down with 9:40 to play with 19, but then released a 21-6 run to get to four with 37 seconds left. During this run, Wendell Green Jr. fell unconscious. The Tigers' sixth man connected with four deep 3-pointers - three of them within 2 ½ minutes - before fouling in the final minute. He finished with 15 points, all of which came from 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc. Jabari Smith drilled a 3-pointer that put Auburn within four with 37 ticks remaining, but the Tigers couldn't string together enough stops to complete the late-game comeback as Texas A&M napped their free throws late to close the game seal. "They are arguably one of the most talented teams not only in our league but in our country," said Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams. Auburn's frontcourt was among the best in the nation this year; That's no secret, as Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler — the former the SEC Freshman of the Year, the latter the league's Defensive Player of the Year — hold the front line. Smith had 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks while Kessler had 16 points, nine boards, four blocks and three steals. But the guard game is what gets you games and possibly championships in March. If Auburn hopes to avoid repeating his SEC tournament when the NCAA tournament begins, his guards will have to deliver. "We had two or three guys that played really well, and you just need more than that," Pearl said. Green finished the game with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, and he was a catalyst for that late-game run before fouling. Before heating up on the track, however, he started shooting 1-of-7. Johnson was goalless for the first time all season, shooting 0-of-14 on the day, including 0-of-6 from within 3-point range. He grabbed six rebounds, a team-high three turnovers, and went without an assist in 26 minutes, making him the worst team at minus nine against the Aggies. He is the third player in the country since the 2010/11 season to remain goalless in a game while attempting at least 14 shots, according to sports reference data, and he is the first to do so in the last decade. "I didn't think he took a lot of bad shots," Pearl said. Zep Jasper had seven points but only shot 2 of 8 for the game, including 1 of 4 from deep. While Jasper didn't play badly by any means, he was also on the wrong end in one of the game's pivotal moments. Jasper stole the ball with 1:02 to play and Auburn was seven outside time-out after an emphatic dunk from Quenton Jackson. Jasper sped down the pitch trying to further reduce the Aggies' lead and keep the Tigers' hopes alive. As he drove to the basket for a layup, Jackson chased him from behind and knocked his shot attempt off the backboard with 58 seconds remaining. Instead of cutting the lead to five, Auburn stayed behind at seven, and although Texas A&M missed the front end of a one-and-one on subsequent possession -- which then led to Smith's late 3-pointer to reduce it to four -- the missed fastbreak opportunity felt draining, especially after Jackson's thunderous dunk just before. “I knew at that point in the game with the time, the score and the momentum, I had to make up (the turnover),” Jackson said.

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Repair of power lines begins in Chernobyl

The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war: (Author: Gardener)

ChernobylThe latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war: BERLIN -- Ukraine told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday that technicians have begun repairing damaged power lines at the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant in a bid to restore power, the U said on Wednesday, Ukrainian Tue Authorities said Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, was unplugged and emergency generators were providing emergency power. Ukraine's nuclear regulator said Friday workers had repaired a section of the lines, but damage appeared to remain elsewhere, the IAEA said. Repair efforts would continue despite "the difficult situation" outside the facility, which was captured by Russian forces at the start of the invasion, it said. Ukraine's regulator said additional fuel for generators has been delivered, but it remains important to repair power lines as soon as possible. N. Nuclear Watchdog said it is still not receiving data from surveillance systems installed to monitor nuclear materials and activities at Chernobyl, but transmission from the Zaporizhia facility - Ukraine's largest, seized by Russian forces last week was restored after being lost earlier this week. PARIS -- Interpol restricts Russia's ability to feed information directly into the global police organization's vast network, ruling the communications must first be verified by the Secretariat-General in Lyon, France. France's foreign ministry said on Friday that the increased surveillance measures follow "multiple suspected cases of attempted fraudulent use" of the Interpol system in recent days, but it did not elaborate. Interpol stressed in a statement Thursday that it was maintaining its pledge of neutrality amid the war between two of its members sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, it said that "enhanced oversight and surveillance measures" by Moscow's National Central Bureau were needed "to prevent any potential abuse of Interpol's channels," such as B. Targeting people in or outside of Ukraine. The ministry noted that Interpol's decision has multiple implications, from communications to issuing so-called "red notices" to criminals at large or even feeding data on lost or stolen documents - all of which must now be handled by Interpol - Headquarters are checked for compliance with the regulations. Interpol, which has 195 members, said it has received calls to ban Russia from the network, along with calls from law enforcement agencies looking for continued cooperation to better fight crime. "In addition to the tragic loss of life, conflict inevitably leads to a rise in crime" as organized crime groups seek to exploit desperation, Interpol said. BOSTON -- YouTube announced on Friday that it has begun blocking access to channels linked to state-funded Russian media outlets worldwide. Google-owned YouTube announced the move in a Twitter post, saying that while the change is effective immediately, "we anticipate our systems will take some time to ramp up." YouTube also said it is now removing content about Russia's invasion of Ukraine that violates its policy of "minimising or trivializing well-documented violent events." The Kremlin describes the invasion as a "special military operation" and not a war. Ukraine's Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov predicted on his Telegram channel that the Kremlin would soon move to blocking YouTube in Russia. ANTALYA, Turkey -- With the Ukrainian refugee crisis, European countries that had previously been reluctant to share the burden for the refugees have turned in search of solidarity and burden-sharing, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Friday. Grandi was speaking at a diplomatic forum near the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya as the number of refugees from Ukraine surpassed 2.5 million. "European countries, including countries that have historically been reluctant to share that responsibility, are now ... in a position to hold hundreds of thousands," Grandi said. Grandi said: "I think we need to capitalize on what is happening now to reinforce this notion that everyone should be responsible when refugees move. WARSAW, Poland -- Ukraine's president and NATO chief met remotely with Poland's leaders and lawmakers on Friday for a meeting marking Poland's 23-year existence in the defensive military alliance, at a time when neighboring Ukraine was fighting a Russian invasion fights. In a video link to the gathering in the Polish parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Poland for supporting his country's fight against the aggressor and also for opening its borders to refugees fleeing the war. Over 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the February 24 invasion. Zelenskyi veiledly said he hopes Ukraine will eventually receive Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland. "I am grateful for the efforts you are making so that we can protect the skies of Ukraine," said Zelenskyy. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Poland is safer because it is a member of the alliance and stressed that the task now is to ensure that the armed conflict does not spread but ends. Polish President Andrzej Duda condemned the Russian bombings of Ukrainian cities and residential areas as "war crimes". UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations human rights office has received "credible reports" that Russian forces are using cluster munitions in Ukraine, including in populated areas, which is prohibited under international humanitarian law, the United Nations political chief said on Friday. N. Security Council meeting that shelled residential areas and civilian infrastructure in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv and "the utter devastation that afflicts these cities is appalling". N. Human Rights Office -- 564 dead and 982 injured on Thursday -- "were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact range, including heavy artillery and multi-launch missile systems, as well as rocket and air strikes," she said. "Indiscriminate attacks, including those using cluster munitions, intended to strike indiscriminately military targets and civilians or civilian objects are prohibited under international humanitarian law," DiCarlo said. "Aimed attacks on civilian and civilian objects and so-called carpet bombing in towns and villages are also prohibited under international law and may constitute war crimes." 12 people died and 34 were injured, DiCarlo said. Any alleged violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and those responsible held accountable, she said. DiCarlo stressed that "the need for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine could not be more urgent." Footage taken by Radio Free Europe on the outskirts of Kyiv on Wednesday shows Ukrainian soldiers with rifles and grenade launchers slung over their shoulders crossing snow-covered fields and forests, expressing their contempt for the Russians. Another soldier said they plan to kill all their enemies because of the bombing of Mariupol. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened an online portal to gather evidence of war crimes in Ukraine as he reiterated his call for combatants to obey the laws of war. Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a written statement on Friday that he was "closely following the deeply disturbing developments in hostilities". In recent days there have been reports of Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian cities, including the deadly attack on a Mariupol maternity hospital earlier this week. Khan notes in a written statement that "when attacks are deliberately directed against civilians: that is a crime. Deliberately targeting civilian objects is a crime. I urge parties to the conflict to avoid using heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.” He says there is no legal justification or excuse “for attacks that are indiscriminate or that have a disproportionate impact on civilian populations.” Khan also said two other World Court member states, Japan and North Macedonia, had formally asked him to investigate in Ukraine, bringing the number of so-called referrals to state parties to 41. Neither Russia nor Ukraine are member states of the International Criminal Court. but Kyiv has recognized the court's jurisdiction and allowed Khan to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. BELGRADE, Serbia -- A flight from Belgrade to Moscow was turned around and evacuated after a bomb alert, Serbian police said on Friday. Belgrade Airport received an email saying an explosive device was planted on Air Serbia's flight to Moscow, police said in an email. The plane was then turned back shortly after takeoff and is being controlled by police, the statement said. Air Serbia is the only airline in Europe still flying to and from Russia as Serbia has refused to join Western sanctions against its traditional ally in Ukraine. Air Serbia has increased the number of flights to Russia due to high demand. ATHENS, Greece - The head of the Greek Orthodox Church has contacted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to offer assistance in housing refugees fleeing the war-torn country. Archbishop Ieronymos, who heads the Greek Church, said in a statement on Friday that he had called Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and promised "full support" for Ukraine, adding that communities across Greece had received a request to provide assistance. So far, only several thousand refugees have traveled to Greece from Ukraine - out of the 2.5 million who have fled the country - but Greek authorities expect that number to increase in the coming weeks. The Greek Church has recognized the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine despite strong opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church. ISTANBUL - Turkey evacuated its embassy in Kyiv on Friday, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The order to leave Kyiv came as Russian forces were spreading through the city and likely stepping up artillery and rocket attacks. Many countries ordered diplomatic personnel out of Kyiv before Russia launched its February 24 invasion. Turkey has close ties with both Ukraine and Russia and is trying to mediate between its warring Black Sea neighbors. VERSAILLES, France - Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed the importance of staying in touch with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but stressed that "we will not make any decisions for Ukrainians." Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, who has spoken frequently with the Russian head of state, spoke together with Putin on Thursday. After an EU summit on Friday, Scholz said: "It is absolutely necessary that we do not let the conversation break." The Elysee announced on Friday that Macron and Scholz would speak to Putin again on Saturday. Scholz emphasized that he and Macron would coordinate closely with each other and with the Ukrainian leadership - and that a ceasefire was the top priority. Scholz said it's good that talks are happening, but they shouldn't drag on while "guns are destroying people's lives, buildings, infrastructure and dreams every day." The chancellor said there was “a very clear principle: we will not make any decisions for the Ukrainians. BELGRADE, Serbia -- Germany's foreign minister has urged Serbia, which has not imposed sanctions on traditional ally Russia over the war in Ukraine, to align its policies with the European Union if it wants to join the bloc. Annalena Baerbock said in Serbia's capital Belgrade on Friday that "we all need to have a clear position" on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Baerbock said, launched a "shameless campaign of destruction" targeting "maternity wards, schools, (people's) houses." While Serbia has criticized the attack on Ukraine and voted to condemn the attack in the United Nations, Belgrade has declined to join Western sanctions against Moscow. Historically considered a friendly nation, Russia remains popular with Serbs, particularly for Moscow's support for Serbia's resistance to Western-backed independence of the breakaway former province of Kosovo. N. Vote and offer to accept Ukrainian refugees. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that "Serbia has a very firm and clear position" and has "done nothing that would harm Ukraine". MOSCOW - Russia's communications and media regulator says it is restricting national access to Instagram because the platform "spreads calls for acts of violence against Russian citizens, including military personnel." The regulator, called Roskomnadzor, took the step on Friday as Russia ramps up its invasion of Ukraine. Earlier Friday, Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, said in a statement tweeted by its spokesman Andy Stone that it had "accounted for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules on violent speech, like e.g. Death to the Russian invaders". The statement stressed that the company "still will not allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians." PRAGUE - Prague City Hall has started preparing temporary shelters for a surge in refugees from Ukraine after the Czech capital ran out of accommodation for them. The government estimates that up to 200,000 refugees - 55% of them children - have arrived in the Czech Republic, an EU and NATO member that does not border Ukraine. About 25% of the refugees entering the country have gone to Prague. Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib has asked the heads of 22 districts to set up at least 100 beds in school gyms and to provide the refugees with food there. Hrib compared the current situation in Prague to Germany, which faced waves of refugees during a European migrant crisis in 2015-16. "The difference is that Germany had months to react, we only have days," said Hrib. ANTALYA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that the war in Ukraine could have been avoided had the world spoken out against Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Erdogan was speaking at a diplomatic forum on Friday near Turkey's Mediterranean city of Antalya, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met a day earlier for talks moderated by Turkey's foreign minister. Erdogan said Turkey will continue its peace efforts. COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Finnish President Sauli Niinistö discussed the war in Ukraine in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. Niinistö's office said in a statement that it had informed Putin that earlier in the day he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the phone and that Zelenskyy was ready to speak to Putin directly. The statement said Niinistö called for an immediate ceasefire and the safe evacuation of civilians, but also spoke with Putin about the safety of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Hungary's prime minister said on Friday that sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union would not include a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas. In a video posted to his social media channels after a meeting of EU leaders in Versailles, France, Viktor Orban said it was possible that the war in Ukraine "would drag on", but that "the most important thing "There will be no sanctions on oil and gas, which means that Hungary's energy supply is guaranteed for the foreseeable future," Orban said. Orban, widely considered the Kremlin's closest ally in the EU, has backed the bloc's sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Hungary's neighbor. But he still insists that the energy sector be exempted from the sanctions, arguing that such a move would hurt EU countries more than Russia. Last year, Hungary extended a natural gas deal with Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom by 15 years and secured a 12 billion euro ($13.6 billion) Russian construction and financing deal to add two nuclear reactors to Hungary's only nuclear power plant . Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukraine's president says his country's armed forces have reached "a strategic turning point," while Russia's president says there are "certain positive developments" in talks between the warring countries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday: "It is impossible to say how many more days it will take us to liberate our country, but it is possible to say that we will do it because ... we are reaching a strategic turning point have." He didn't elaborate. He said authorities are working on 12 humanitarian corridors and trying to ensure people in need get food, medicine and basic necessities. Speaking on video showing him in front of the Presidential Administration in Kyiv, he spoke about the 16th day of the war in both Ukrainian and Russian. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there had been positive developments in talks between the warring countries, but he did not give details on what those developments were. Putin met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for talks on Friday and told him that negotiations with Ukraine are "now going on almost daily".

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Two men were injured by gunfire in Roanoke on Friday morning

The shots were reported just after 7:05 a.m. at Block 3900 of Greenlawn Avenue Northwest. (Author: Gardener)

FridaySign up for our newsletter to continue reading. You are the owner of this item. You have permission to edit this article. Russia expands its offensive to western parts of Ukraine. Two men were injured in a shooting in a residential area on Friday morning, according to the Roanoke Police Department. The shots were reported just after 7:05 a.m. at Block 3900 of Greenlawn Avenue Northwest. First responders arrived and found two men with what were believed to be non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Police said their investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators by calling (540) 344-8500 or texting 274637 for safety updates included with this weekly email. Get the latest local public safety news with this weekly email. * I understand and agree that registering on or using this website constitutes acceptance of their User Agreement and Privacy Policy. Alicia Petska deals with crime and public safety. She can be reached at (540) 981-3319 or [email protected] Your notification has been saved. There was a problem saving your notification. Email notifications are only sent once a day and only when there are new matching items. Please log in to use this feature. Sign in The shots were reported shortly after 4:45 p.m. on the 3800 block of Panorama Ave Northwest. Trespassing turned into meth case turned into five years in prison When called for trespassers in a Montgomery County field last year, officers found a backpack containing a safe – containing a quarter pound of methamphetamine. Jeremiah Henderson, a member of an ATM-stealing gang targeting the Roanoke area who was convicted in federal court, had claimed the Roanoke Police Department did not have the authority to issue a letter directing him to return after an altercation in Not returning to Walmart at Valley View Mall in 2018. A man was injured in a shooting in a Roanoke business corridor on Wednesday night, police said. Jonathan Robert Wooddall-Gainey was killed Tuesday afternoon when gunfire erupted in a residential area on Panorama Avenue Northwest, police said. Former Montgomery County schools cadet teacher charged with sexually assaulting student ends seven-year sentence The latest of three men charged after a home invasion in Radford in January 2021 has pleaded guilty. War in Ukraine: 'Pressure is mounting' over Kyiv War in Ukraine: 'Pressure is mounting' over Kyiv Watch Now: Rallies around the world show their support for Ukraine Watch Now: Rallies around the world show their support for Ukraine They do not have any notifications. Get the latest news straight to your device.

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‘Thursday was pretty cool. But the semi-final on Friday is even better'

The UConn men's basketball team defeated Seton Hall in a Big East tournament on Thursday... (Author: Gardener)

ThursdayJ. Cole (2) and Isaiah Whaley (5) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game against Seton Hall at the Big East Conference Tournament on Thursday, March 10, 2022 in New York. Connecticut's Tyler Polley, right, during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game against Seton Hall at the Big East Conference Tournament on Thursday, March 10, 2022 in New York. Connecticut's Tyrese Martin (4) during the second half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game against Seton Hall at the Big East Conference Tournament on Thursday, March 10, 2022, in New York. Connecticut's Tyrese Martin (4) saves the ball from Seton Hall's Jared Rhoden during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game at the Big East Conference Tournament on Thursday, March 10, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Head coach Dan Hurley of the Connecticut Huskies reacts in the first half against the Seton Hall Pirates during the 2022 Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) NEW YORK -- To appreciate everything that will become of Madison Square Garden during the Big East Tournament -- how it feels, how it sounds, what it means -- takes more than one night and more than one game. This event always has a must-for-Friday feel, something Jim Calhoun talked about for years, something Dan Hurley certainly thought of both before and after the UConn men's basketball team with a 62-52 extended stay in Manhattan had earned a quarterfinal win over Seton Hall. "I got out of here a little earlier than usual just because I wanted to experience it," Hurley said well past midnight, walking across the plaza, the garden finally empty after being packed all Thursday. Because it's special.” The Garden really is a beautiful basketball contradiction. It's a museum and a zoo. It's sophisticated and obnoxious. It's great. It's rough. It's huge. It's stuffy. More for youWhat UConn's Dan Hurley said after Seton Hall's winHow UConn women could end up in the NCAA Bridgeport Regional A team can lose at the Garden in March and leave New York after feeling like they've seen it all. One and one at the Big East tournament? That's what the Huskies did on Thursday with perhaps their best defensive display of the season, smearing Seton Hall into a court surrounded by cheers and pushing the Pirates back to South Orange, N. UConn, is in the semis on Friday against Villanova, who erased from a 17-point deficit to defeat St. John's and open Thursday night's doubleheader. It really is all gravy now. Everything that makes the garden unique is only boosted on Friday, and just participating in this stage is meaningful, both reward and opportunity. UConn-Villanova is a marquee event. Every team still involved, no matter what the experience gets from here, triggered the depressurization knowing there were at least two hours left on this wild stage. "Not necessarily pressure from UConn," Hurley said. “I think there's pressure to validate the very good regular season we've had, to come in and beat a very good Seton Hall team. This group deserves to see a semi-final on Friday. … Thursday was pretty cool. But Friday's semifinals are even better.” A quarterfinal win over Seton Hall, Hurley's alma mater, is hardly something that would show up on a program highlights montage, signal a new direction in marketing, or slow traffic when the news of the Times Square tickers were running. After all, UConn has won this tournament seven times. But his special version of the huskies had never attempted such an environment in this new era. This was a new platform made so alive by everything that UConn fans had grown accustomed to for 30 years. UConn has gone back to its roots with its return to the great east. Now it's returning to something it first tasted and thrived on Thursday. The Huskies reached the semifinals last season — in a practically empty gym. Two years ago they got going late in the season and headed to Forth Worth, Tex. for a UK tournament that was canceled early in the pandemic. Three years ago, Hurley's freshman season, UConn defeated South Florida in an AAC first-round game in Memphis and was blown out by Houston 84-45 in the quarterfinals. After that game on the FedEx Forum, Hurley held a press conference and spoke about how far the program needed to go. "There was nobody at that game," Hurley said. After more than two weeks of war, the Russian military is pushing ahead at great cost. That depends on how much hardship the Russian elites will endure. Outside the West, Putin is less isolated than you might think. The Stamford man has been charged after allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover cop, police say Thursday's Big East sessions sold out. "This is our first Big East tournament, legit and authentic," Hurley said. “This was our first true live conference tournament game in front of fans in a few years. That's why you come to a place like UConn to play. The big dogs play in the quarters and semifinals. The place rocked with so many UConn fans. On Thursday was the welcome party. UConn fans hit Manhattan on buses and trains and made their presence felt. "Welcome to a packed Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world," the announcer said during the final warm-up. Eleven years to the day after Cardiac Kemba Walker made his famous step backwards to beat Pitt, the defining moment of a five-win-five-day run that set the stage for the 2011 national championship, UConn reached another level back. The Huskies last played in front of fans at this tournament in 2012. UConn wasn't fooling around on the pitch. That wasn't pretty basketball. Andre Jackson (six points, six rebounds, four assists) influenced the game in ways that don't do box-score justice. Cole and Tyrese Martin each had 17 points. UConn held Seton Hall in 7-for-28 shooting in the first half to lead 29-18. The lead was extended to 16 midway through the second half. The party started hours before the game and stretched from the sidelines to the upper bowl, down the tower's escalators and onto the downtown streets. UConn was back in New York for the first time in a long time. "We have the best fans in the world," said Cole. The garden is a special place.” Especially on a Friday evening in March. It's not a must-win game. It's a game to be experienced. Thoroughly beaten by Villanova in Philadelphia in early February, UConn won a Thriller in Hartford later in the month. The rubber match in the semifinals will not define the Huskies' season. It will feel like it has that power, for two hours on a stage that UConn has been absent from for so long.

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