WWE Wrap-Up

Houston hosted an action-packed Raw and SmackDown Live this week

Paige's return was the highlight of Monday Night Raw. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Stephanie McMahon opened the show congratulating Raw for winning the most matches at Survivor Series. She proceeded to invite her husband, Triple H, to the ring. Before he could even speak, an angry Kurt Angle raced to the ring to confront him for attacking him at Survivor Series. Kurt’s son, Jason Jordan, came out to ask his father to let him have a match against Triple H. Stephanie explained that Angle was not authorized to make that match, even though her husband is not scared of anyone on the roster. That, of course, prompted Braun Strowman to come to the ring. Triple H backed away, and McMahon explained to Jordan and Strowman that they would be facing each other later that night. “You’re a coward” chants serenaded Triple H as he made his way backstage. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor lit a fire under the Houston crowd. Balor did all he could to stay in the match, including escaping a Coquina Clutch. Joe caught Balor as he was making his way to the top rope and placed him in a second Coquina Clutch to win the match. Asuka made Dana Brooke pay for her cheap shot on last week’s Raw. Throughout the match, Asuka mocked Brooke and hit her with stiff kicks and chops. She knocked her lights out with a stiff kick to win the match.

The Miz shared a great Miz TV segment with The Shield. The crowd got really involved with this segment, making it even more entertaining. “Miz is awesome” chants filled the arena. Seth Rollins mentioned they’ve traveled around the world, and Houston was the first place ever where they heard that chant. The segment closed with Reigns issuing a challenge to Miz for his Intercontinental Championship. Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus despite Cesaro’s efforts to spoil the match for Ambrose. Alexa Bliss came to the ring to express her displeasure for the fans who insulted her after her loss to Charlotte. Mickie James, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Alicia Fox faced off in a Fatal Four Way to determine Bliss’ next opponent. A surprise return a year in the making occurred when Paige showed up. She didn’t come alone, though. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, formerly of NXT, joined Paige in spoiling the match.

Braun Strowman’s match with Jason Jordan was short-lived thanks to a brutal attack from Kane. The Big Red Machine used a chair and steel steps to jam Strowman’s throat. The team of Rich Swann, Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, and Mustafa Ali defeated Davari, Drew Gulak, Noam Dar, and Tony Neese.  Elias Samson’s “concert” was cut short by Matt Hardy who forced The Drifter to cower away from the ring. The Miz defended his Intercontinental Championship against Roman Reigns in the main event. Reigns was in control of the match until The Bar got involved. Ambrose and Rollins raced to the ring to even out the playing field. One spear later, Reigns sealed the Intercontinental Championship win. This meant Reigns collected his fourth championship, a wrestling grand slam.  After the show went off-air, The Shield sent fans home happy by Triple Powerbombing The Miz through the announcer table.

Highlight of the night:

Paige’s return has been speculated for weeks now.  The way it was done, though, was a genuine surprise. She’s had very weird year, and it is great to see her back in the WWE.

SmackDown Live

SmackDown Live opened with Shane McMahon thanking the blue team roster for their efforts at Survivor Series. He, then, asked Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to come down to the ring. Just when he was about to fire them, Daniel Bryan came out and persuaded McMahon to place them in a Lumberjack Match against The New Day, instead. Shelton Benjamin upset Jey Uso thanks to the distractions of his tag team partner, Chad Gable. Backstage, Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, formerly of NXT, introduced themselves to Naomi and Becky Lynch by brutally attacking them. The Bludgeon Brothers, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, finally made their TV debut in a dominating win over The Hype Bros.

The Champ that runs the camp, AJ Styles came to the ring to talk to the fans about his loss to Brock Lesnar. Before he could even speak, fans comforted him with chants. He expressed his disappointment with his loss, but explained that he had to move on to deal with Jinder Mahal. He asked Mahal to come down and take his title like he said he would. Instead, Mahal appeared via the monitor because he was not about to waste his time in Texas. The Singh Brothers attempted to surprise Styles from behind, but the champion ended up having the last laugh hitting one with The Styles Clash. Natalya invoked her rematch clause to attempt to recover the Women’s Championship from Charlotte. Riot, Morgan, and Logan returned to spoil Natalya’s rematch by attacking both her and Charlotte. The main event of SmackDown Live was the Lumberjack Match between The New Day and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Typically, whenever one gets out of the ring in a Lumberjack Match, the lumberjacks attack them until they get back into the ring. The rule only seemed to apply for Owens and Zayn as everyone wanted to get their hands on them after what they did at Survivor Series. Of course, a brawl eventually broke out between the lumberjacks, and this distraction helped Owens and Zayn win the match. Afterwards, Owens bailed from the ring, leaving Zayn alone to suffer a beatdown from The New Day to close the show.

Highlight of the night

The introduction of Riot, Morgan, and Logan, especially how it happened, was the highlight of the night.  The SmackDown women's roster definitely needed a boost. They have it now with these additions.

How do they compare?

The post pay-per-view live shows really came with surprises for fans in Houston. Paige’s return was, without a doubt, the best one of the week. The Raw Women’s roster was already in good shape, but the addition of Paige, Rose, and Deville only bolster it. The return of Harper and Rowan is great, no matter how cheesy their gimmick may be. The most necessary addition, though, was that of Riot, Morgan, and Logan. The SmackDown Live Women’s roster was in need of new faces, now they have them. Raw gets the edge this week, not because SmackDown was not good, but because it did more to push forward and beyond Survivor Series.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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