WWE Wrap-Up

This week in WWE: The WWE closes out the year with two great shows

The unlikely team of Rollins and Jordan raised the bar and won the Tag Titles. Photo by WWE.com

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

RAW

John Cena welcomed the Chicago crowd to a very special Christmas edition of Raw. He was soon interrupted by Elias, who decided that this week he would be the interrupter not the interrupted. He got John Cena involved in his performance, and ended up surprising him with a punch to the face. Elias, then, issued a challenge to Cena. The two faced off in the first match of the night. Elias got a lot of offense in, but Cena proved to be too much putting him away with an Attitude Adjustment. Brian Kendrick returned to Raw to issue a challenge to the cruiserweight division’s newest competitor, Hideo Itami. Kendrick, smartly, grounded Itami in the early parts of the match. Eventually, Itami took over and put away Kendrick with a GTS. Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins made a case to Kurt Angle backstage; they both want to get their hands on Samoa Joe. Angle explained that it was not going to happen. Instead, they will be challenging The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Championships. He, then, told Roman Reigns that he will be the one facing Samoa Joe, and it will be for his Intercontinental Championship. Absolution took on Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Mickie James. Just when it looked like the faces were finally going to top Absolution, Paige knocked Bayley off the top rope and pinned her after hitting her with a Rampage.

Backstage, Samoa Joe bragged about injuring Dean Ambrose the week before, and explained how he will become the next Intercontinental Champion. Heath Slater tried to “toughen up” by challenging Kane to a match. The match did not go as well as he may have hoped, though, as Kane easily defeated him with a Choke Slam. After the match, Kane hit Rhyno with a Choke Slam, as well. Curt Hawkins issued an open challenge in hopes of ending his losing streak. Unfortunately for him, it was answered by Finn Balor who defeated him with a Coupe de Grace. Bray Wyatt made his way to the ring, and he was ambushed by Matt Hardy. A “Miracle on 34th Street” Fight saw Ali, Tozawa, and Alexander defeat Amore, Gulak, and Daivari.

Samoa Joe challenged Roman Reigns for his Intercontinental Championship. Joe looked like he was going to win the match when he placed Reigns in a Coquina Clutch, but Reigns was able to get to the ropes. Reigns shoved the official causing disqualification, but that did not stop Reigns from attacking Joe, targeting his arms as payback for injuring his brother, Dean Ambrose. The Mizterouge came to the ring for their handicap match against Braun Strowman. Of course, Strowman had his absolute way with them and won the match. Alexa Bliss explained that she does not care who wins the Women’s Royal Rumble next month. That, of course, changed when Asuka announced she will be entering the match. Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins challenged The Bar for their Tag Team Championships. It was clear these guys were not on the same page, but some way, somehow, Jordan and Rollins pulled the upset and won the Tag Team Championships.

Highlight of the night:

Rollins and Jordan winning the tag team championships was an absolute surprise. Ambrose’s injury might have thrown a wrench in the WWE’s plans, and it is clear they are going another direction.

SmackDown Live

Daniel Bryan opened SmackDown addressing Dolph Ziggler leaving the United States Championship the week before. He announced that a tournament will be held to determine the new United States Champion. Jason Jordan and Shelton Benjamin demanded their chance at the Tag Team Championships. Aiden English made a case for Rusev and himself by singing a new rendition of The Rusev Day song. The New Day tossed pancakes and facts as they explained why they should be challenging The Usos. Eventually, Bryan issued a Triple Threat between all three teams to determine the next number one contenders. The match absolutely rocked the house, and Benjamin and Gable proved to be victorious after pinning Big E. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon continue to butt heads over Bryan’s “favoritism” for Owens and Zayn. The Ascension got Breezango the worst possible gift ever, a rematch against The Bludgeon Brothers. They quickly realized their mistake, though; as they raced to the ring to cause a disqualification in order to save them. Riott Squad used the numbers game in order to help Ruby Riott defeat Naomi. After the match, they attacked Naomi. Charlotte attempted to save her, but the group made quick work of her. Natalya, Carmella, Tamina, and Lana raced down and cleared the ring of the Riott Squad.

Bobby Roode rolled up Baron Corbin and advanced to the next round of the United States Championship tournament. Jinder Mahal advanced as well defeating Tye Dillinger. Backstage, both Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura announced they will be entering the Royal Rumble. AJ Styles came out on all cylinders in his match against Kevin Owens. The challenger was able to turn the tables after throwing Styles out of the ring, though.  What ensued was an absolute train wreck. Shane McMahon came to the ring to eject Sami Zayn after he tried to get involved in the match. Owens used this distraction to roll up Styles and upset the champion.

Highlight of the night

The tag teams absolutely killed it. At one point, the tag team division was the weakest division on SmackDown Live. Now, it’s undoubtedly the best. The Triple Threat match to start the show was great.

How do they compare?

I honestly had a really bad feeling about this week. WWE loves to do get really cheesy when it comes to Holiday themed shows. Both shows proved to be good, though. Raw delivered two awesome title matches. SmackDown did the same with two awesome matches, themselves. The United States Tournament spiced things up for the blue brand. Rollins and Jordan winning the titles was a genuine surprise. All in all, both shows were entertaining. SmackDown felt better than usual, so it probably should get the edge. With a new year comes new shows, and it will finally be time for the build to the Royal Rumble, and I cannot wait.

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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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