WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: The chase is on as the build to MITB continues

The Daniel Bryan vs Samoa Joe dream match happens next week on SDL. Photo by WWE.com

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

Raw

Kurt Angel opened the show but was quickly interrupted by Stephanie McMahon, opening the flood gates for interruptions. Roman interrupted Steph demanding answers for the way management has been screwing him. This lead to Kevin Owens interrupting Roman who interrupted Steph who interrupted Kurt. His sarcasm got him put into a match with Reigns. The theme of interruption continued as Jinder Mahal surprised Reigns with an attack. Seth Rollins raced to save his friend, and the match was restarted as a tag team match. Rollins hit Owens with a stomp to win the match for his team. Mahal got the last laugh, though, as he attacked both Reigns and Rollins with a chair.

Hour two opened with an atrocity of a segment with Sami Zayn and three men dressed up as women who were “Bobby Lashley’s sisters.” Credit should go to Sami Zayn, who tried his best to make the best out of one the worst segments of the year. Lashley came to the ring and handled Zayn and his “sisters.” Ember Moon continued her impressive run on Raw as she defeated the former champion, Alexa Bliss. The B team, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, defeated Breezango.

Stephanie instigated the contract signing between Women’s Champion, Nia Jax, and Ronda Rousey. Although it did not lead to blows, Jax explained to Rousey that she would never be able to put an ArmBar on her. Dolph Ziggler defeated Chad Gable with a Super Kick. Drew McIntyre attacked Gable after the match. Natalya, Dana Brooke, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan faced off in a qualifier for MITB. Natalya won the match after submitting Logan with a Sharpshooter. Bobby Roode’s gamble on the top rope did not pay off as Elias caught him up and pinned him for the win. The short-lived tag team of Braun Strowman and Finn Balor main-evented the show. No matter what Balor did to try to stop Braun, nothing worked. Strowman won the match hitting him with a Running Powerslam.  

SmackDown Live

Miz TV opened the show with the Miz’s exclusive sit down with The New Day. Miz’s intention was to get the scoop on which New Day member is going to represent the team at MITB. Of course, the New Day did not reveal to him who will represent the team. Instead, Big E challenged him to a match. Thanks to a distraction from The Bar, Miz defeated Big E with a Skull Crushing Finale. Lana upset Billie Kay to qualify for the Women’s MITB match. Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated, no, destroyed another enhancement talent pinning him with a Hammerlock DDT.

AJ Styles had enough, he no longer wanted to wait to find out what stipulation Nakamura would choose for their match at MITB. Nakamura refused to tell him, which lead to a brawl that Styles dominated until Nakamura used a chair as an equalizer. It was not until after he laid Styles out that he revealed their match at MITB will be a Last Man Standing match. Gallows and Anderson defeated The Usos to win number one contender-ship to the tag team tittles. Naomi defeated Sonya Deville to qualify for the Women’s MITB match. Daniel Bryan defeated Jeff Hardy for the opportunity to face Samoa Joe, the winner of the match qualifies to MITB.

Man oh man, what a week for the WWE.

In terms of preparing for MITB, we received another solid week of build. The interesting thing to me is where the company stands with Seth Rollins. Currently, he is the most relevant baby face on Raw. He has the best matches and gets the best reactions. He currently does not have a match announced for MITB, but I cannot imagine the biggest baby face on Raw not stealing the show on MITB.

As far as SmackDown is concerned, we are getting a Daniel Bryan vs Samoa Joe match next week. Boy, what a time to be a fan of WWE.

Of course, the biggest story of the week came from outside of the TV product. Fox and the WWE have reached an agreement for the rights of SmackDown Live. The deal is for over a Billion dollars. At a time when the blue show is at an edge over Raw, this is absolutely great news. There are many rumors on the direction the WWE will go with SmackDown, but one thing is for certain, the deal with FOX means more people will have access to SDL and the WWE Product. Growing up, we did not have cable television. The only reason I was able to watch wrestling was because SDL was on UPN or CW on Thursday or Friday nights. I am ecstatic for the brand and for fans who are in a similar situation as the one I was in.

In case you guys did not know, I produce a pretty good show with Patrick Creighton called Straight Heat. It airs Monday through Friday from 9 pm to Midnight on SB Nation Radio, locally on SportsMap 94.1. Earlier this week, the one, the only, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer joined the show to talk all about the WWE’s deal with FOX.

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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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