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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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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