Survivor Series Observations

Survivor Series: The stars shone bright, deep in the heart of Texas

Survivor Series closed with an eventful Men’s 5-on-5 match. Photo by WWE.com

Toyota Center was the home for Survivor Series last night, and the talent showed just why this event is considered one of “the big four”.

There were some fun matches on the pre-show, but once the main card got started, there was no slowing down.

The Shield took on The New Day in a match between the two most important factions of this generation. Of course, Kofi and The New Day made jokes about “neutering” The Hounds of Justice, but The Shield got the last laugh when they Triple Power Bombed him from the middle rope to win the match. Everything considered, this match lived up to its hype. Could it have been better? Probably, but it did its job setting up the rest of the show.

The first of the two 5-on-5 matches saw the Raw women’s team defeat that of SmackDown. From Becky Lynch being the first wrestler eliminated to Tamina coming out looking like the strongest woman on the blue team, this match was full of surprises. The big star of this match was, of course, Asuka. The Empress of Tomorrow submitted both the former SmackDown champion, Natalya, and the woman who contributed to three eliminations, Tamina, for her team to win the match.   

Baron Corbin’s victory over The Miz was the first win for SmackDown Live for the night. Afterwards, he mocked Miz and the fans saying that he shut all of them up.

The Bar and The Usos faced off in another clash of champions. Personally, this match was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. These two tag teams have developed great characters and have, without a doubt, earned their respective Tag Team Championships. The false finishes sold the match, and the ultimate payoff was the diving tag by The Usos that sealed their win.

Charlotte took on Alexa Bliss in the match between the two women’s champions. Bliss attempted to go for the Twisted Bliss, but she would miss and end up submitting to Charlotte. This win gave SmackDown the lead over Raw three wins to two.

That score, and considering who he was facing, made it obvious AJ Styles was going to lose his match against Brock Lesnar. That being said, this match delivered. Of course, Lesnar dominated the early parts, but Styles saw an opening and completely took over. Unfortunately for him, he went to the cookie jar one time too many, as he was caught midair by Lesnar who, then, put him over his shoulders and hit him with an F5 to win the match.

Survivor Series closed with the Traditional Men’s 5-on-5 match. Entrance after entrance, the crowd erupted for the participants of this match. They kept fans on the edge by teasing them with different face-offs. Strowman eliminated both Nakamura and Roode and things got rolling for the Raw team. The tension between partners like Samoa Joe and Finn Balor, or Angle and Triple H, caused them to get in each other’s way. Eventually, Shane McMahon was the final competitor left for SmackDown. He faced the tough task of trying to win against Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Braun Strowman. Triple H got frustrated with Angle’s inability to put away McMahon, so he hit him with a Pedigree and placed McMahon on top of him. Once Angle was eliminated, Triple H took matters into his own hands and eliminated McMahon to win the match for Team Raw. His partner, Braun Strowman, was not impressed with Triple H's actions. Strowman hit him with two Running PowerSlams to close out the show. After Survivor Series was off air, Stephanie McMahon came out to help her husband back up after Strowman’s attack. To the delight of the crowd, Triple H could not stand up straight, and eventually crashed into a teleprompter.

Highlight of the night

Braun Strowman was not having any of Triple H’s shenanigans. Him Powerslaming his teammate was awesome. Triple H’s commitment after the show, though, was the moment that went viral. His commitment to sell Strowman’s attack led to him throwing himself into a teleprompter. It was truly memorable.

Survivor Series proved to be a good show. Although there was never a real moment where it felt like it peaked, there was more than enough to remember this show by. What sticks out the most to me is how much this proves to fans the brand split that started in 2016 is still working. Matches like The Bar vs The Usos, or Charlotte vs Alexa Bliss showed us how far these entertainers have come since then. The Usos would have never grown their “Uso Penitentiary” characters without the brand split. The Bar would never exist, period. Alexa Bliss’ rise probably does not happen as quickly as it did without the brand split. The fact of the matter is, having two brands has allowed the two shows to develop new stars, and those new stars helped Survivor Series feel as important as it did.

Monday Night Raw will be live from Toyota Center tonight. If you haven’t bought tickets, you should. The post Pay-Per-View Raw’s always deliver, tonight should be no exception.

 

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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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