SmackDown Takeaways

SmackDown Live closes Survivor Series weekend with exciting debuts

Riot, Morgan and Logan made an impressive debut in Houston. Photo by WWE.com

Four days of awesome wrestling in our very city came to an end with SmackDown Live. Before the show even began, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven, The Mustache Mountain, teamed up in a dark match against WWE UK Champion, Pete Dunne, and Mark Andrews. Mustache Mountain won the match to great reaction from the crowd.

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.

After taping 205 Live, Styles, Nakamura, and Bobby Roode took on Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin, and Rusev in a dark match. These matches are always great because the talent can get really loose since they are not being televised. This was definitely the case for this match. Rusev and Aiden English informed the Houston crowd that every day is Rusev Day. The crowd chanted along with English. Styles explained that if every day was Rusev day, then those cheering will not be eating turkey on Thursday. The match eventually got started, and it was won by the team of Roode, Nakamura, and Styles. After the match, they celebrated with Rusev, and thanked fans for coming out.

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.

As fans began leaving Greg Hamilton, SmackDown Live’s ring announcer, thanked them for showing their southern hospitality. The Toyota Center became the home of the WWE these last four days. From War Games to SmackDown, the venue was filled with fans showing their support. The WWE repaid those loyal fans with four unforgettable nights of wrestling.

 

*I want to break down the fourth wall for a minute to personally thank a couple of people for this week. Never in my life did I think I’d cover a wrestling weekend of the magnitude of this one. Thank you to Kristina Anderson for helping me get credentials to every event. Thank you to Joshua Jordan giving me the freedom to write these recaps in whatever form I saw fit. Finally, thank you to Fred Faour for allowing me the opportunity to cover Survivor Series weekend in the first place. It was an unforgettable experience.

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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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