WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: Cena tries to get a response from Undertaker as Nakamura plays mind games with Styles

Cena used the Undertaker’s patented Chokeslam on Kane, but it was not enough to force a response from the Deadman. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman opened the show discussing Lesnar’s attack on Roman Reigns. Suddenly, Reigns appeared from the crowd in hopes of getting some payback, but ended up a victim of another vicious attack from Lesnar. Nia Jax soundly handled Alexa Bliss’ friend, Mickie James, in the first match of the night. Bliss tried attacking Jax but ended up running away from her ‘Mania opponent.

The Miz aired out his dirty laundry with the Mizterauge and their inabilities to “get the job done.” Rollins and Balor did a great job instigating and causing Axel and Dallas to turn on Miz, or so they thought. The two, suddenly, began attacking Balor and Rollins. An assist from Gallows and Anderson helped Balor get the last laugh. The tensions between Bayley and Sasha Banks finally erupted when the two fought backstage after Bayley hit Sasha where it hurts reminding her that she never held the Women’s Title in a lengthy title reign.

Kurt Angle took to the ring to explain to Ronda that ‘Mania will be fun, but it will not be easy. Absolution tried to attack Rousey after she refused to join the group, but Rousey handled them swiftly. John Cena took on Kane in a No DQ match to close the show. Cena mocked Undertaker with his patented death throat slash and even smashed Kane with a Chokeslam.  Cena defeated Kane after hitting him with an AA through a table. “ No lightning, no bells of terror, no Undertaker?” asked Cena after the match. “ I know you’re not deaf, you’re just a coward! I hope, for the sake of all that is good in this ring, I see you next week,” exclaimed Cena.

SmackDown Live

SmackDown opened with  Randy Orton and Bobby Roode tagging against Jinder Mahal and Rusev. Orton and Roode, of course, could not work well together and Rusev was able to pin the champion to win for his team. This lead to Rusev being added to the match for the US Title at ‘Mania. Becky Lynch defeated Ruby Riott via a roll up pin. The Riott Squad tried spoiling her win, but Lynch handled them easily enough and threw them out of the ring, much like she hopes to at ‘Mania in the Women’s Battle Royal.

Daniel Bryan shared his proposal with the WWE crowd in Pittsburgh. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan will tag against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania. If Owens and Zayn win, they will be reinstated. Otherwise, if they lose, they will remain fired. The Bludgeon Brothers tried to use their mallets on the New Day during their tag match, but The Usos raced down to the ring to prevent the attack from happening. Shinsuke Nakamura, with AJ Styles in his corner, defeated Shelton Benjamin. Nakamura called Styles into the ring to tell him he did not need him in his corner. He just wanted him to see how he plans beat him at ‘Mania. Benjamin and Gable tried attacking Styles, leading Nakamura to race back down to the ring to save him. He teased Styles, acting as he was going to hit him with a knee. Instead, he degraded him by patting him on the head.

Boy, oh boy, was this week full of promo packages.

Granted, this is a given, it is WrestleMania season, after all. It felt extremely excessive, especially on Raw. This can quickly be explained by the fact that Raw has an additional hour to fill, but having meaningless matches like Balor Club vs Mizterouge and Elias vs Rhyno feels completely meaningless a week out from ‘Mania.

SmackDown, too, had filler matches, but Ziggler and Breeze did not really go on for long, and the show, simply flowed a lot better. Perhaps it was the lengthy matches, or the excellent placement of Bryan’s promo at the top of the second hour, but, for once, the show flew by.

Last year, ‘Mania had a problem. The matches on the blue show, simply, did not feel like they mattered as much as the matches from the red show. This is absolutely not the case this year, though. Bryan tagging with Shane will be memorable for years to come, Styles and Nakamura should absolutely tear the house down, and Charlotte and Asuka, the clash of the titans, will bring a much-needed important match to the SmackDown Women’s Division. All in all, I can genuinely say I am more excited for this year’s WrestleMania than I was for last year’s, and the event last year ended up being a good one.

If you’ve been casually watching the last few months, next week is an absolutely “can’t miss” week. Go home shows always tend to deliver some excitement, this will especially be the case for the ‘Mania go homes. Roman will probably get his hands on Lesnar, we could possibly find out who Braun’s partner will be, and we will get some sort of sign from Undertaker. On SmackDown, we are sure to see a pair of uninvited superstars from Owens and Zayn, a face off from Asuka and Charlotte, and things between Styles and Nakamura may finally get physical. As intriguing as the build to the biggest event has been, it all needs to be validated next week during the go home shows. If recent times are any indication, we are in for a treat in the final stops before WrestleMania.

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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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