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Years since last time Capitals reached Stanley Cup Finals

Heel Turns: Loading up for the holidays

Posted by Achilles Heel On December 27

Achilles HeelWWE isn’t taking a break for the holidays. Instead of showing “best of” shows or year-in-review compilations, WWE is presenting Raw and Smackdown from Chicago on consecutive nights.

Raw continued the buildup of Braun Strowman as a monster. Last week Strowman took out his anger at Sami Zayn lasting 10 minutes with him at Roadblock on Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in last week’s Raw main event. This week Zayn interfered in Strowman’s match with Rollins, setting up a falls-count-anywhere match with Zayn. Strowman is clearly being built into the guy who throws out a ton of wrestlers at the Royal Rumble.

There were also additional developments in the Kevin Owens-Chris Jericho relationship, but the bigger show this week appears to be Smackdown, which features three title matches and the return of John Cena. Technically, Cena returned at Madison Square Garden on Monday, but Smackdown will be his first televised appearance since his return.

In Smackdown’s main event, A.J. Styles will defend the WWE World Championships against Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin in a triple-threat match. Achilles Heel doesn’t expect a title change, but it will be interesting to see which direction this match takes.

A title change is possible in the Smackdown Women’s Championship match between Alexa Bliss and former champion Becky Lynch. Bliss won the title in a tables match. More importantly, she doesn’t have the in-ring ability to have top-level matches against a variety of opponents. They may wait until the Royal Rumble to get the title back in Lynch’s hands, but the Greek God of Wrestling predicts a title change this week.

The third title match was supposed to be the new Wyatt family vs. The Hype Brothers, but a knee injury to Zack Ryder knocked Ryder and Mojo Rawley out of the No. 1 contenders position. Consequently, the Wyatt family, which I’ll assume will be Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton (Luke Harper is also eligible to defend the titles under “Freebirds rules”), will defend the belts against Jimmy and Jey Uso, former champions Heath Slater and Rhyno and likely future champions American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) in an elimination style match. Wyatt and Orton are a powerful team. It makes no sense to take the titles from them now. The longer they hold the championship, the more important it will seem when Gable and Jordan eventually beat them.

WWE certainly seems to be sending 2016 out with a bang.

*****

ROADBLOCK REVIEW: There were two title changes at WWE’s Roadblock. Charlotte Flair defeated Sasha Banks in a 30-minute ironwoman match to capture the Raw Women’s Championship. Flair made Banks tap out just before time expired to even the match at two falls apiece. Flair then won in overtime, regaining the title in this back-and-forth rivalry.

Cesaro and Sheamus won the Raw Tag Team Championship from The New Day in an entertaining match. New Day had just passed Demolition for the longest tag team reign in WWE history, but Cesaro and Sheamus ended New Day’s time at the top.

Kevin Owens retained the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns when Chris Jericho delivered a codebreaker — to Owens. This led to Reigns being disqualified. After the match, though, Jericho raised Owens’ hand in victory and made it clear that he was still on Owens’ side. This had been called into question when Jericho blamed Owens’ appearance earlier in the show for his loss to Seth Rollins.

Rich Swann retained the Cruiserweight Championship against Brian Kendrick and T.J. Perkins in a triple threat match. This match set up an angle in which Neville came to the ring and beat up Perkins and Swann. Calling himself the king of the cruiserweights, Neville established himself as the top heel in the cruiserweight division.

*****

IT’S A SETUP: Although Achilles Heel enjoys the cruiserweights, he feels as if the cruiserweight matches on Raw are merely being used to promote 205 Live on WWE Network (Tuesday, 10 p.m.).

*****

TNA TAPINGS: TNA returns to Orlando in January for seven days of television taping. TNA will tape Impact Wrestling from Jan. 5-8 and 10-12. The Greek God of Wrestling understands the concept of planning ahead so you know where you’re going, but it must be difficult to write so many weeks of television at one time.

*****

ESTABLISHING A LEGACY: Ring of Honor has announced three matches for Undisputed Legacy, which takes place Feb. 3 in San Antonio. Former Ring of Honor world champion Adam Cole teams up with Hangman Page and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), the Ring of Honor Tag Team champions, to face The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley), Lio Rush and Jay White.

There also will be a top contenders triple-threat match featuring Jay Lethal, Bobby Fish and Dalton Castle. It seems inevitable that Fish will face his former tag team partner, Kyle O’Reilly, for the Ring of Honor World Championship. Cody Rhodes will face Donovan Dijak in what seems like a good test for Dijak’s prospects in WWE down the road.

The following night in Dallas, Rhodes teams with Cole to battle The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian).

*****

TURNING JAPANESE: NXT this Wednesday (8 p.m., WWE Network) will feature the card from Japan on which Shinsuke Nakamura regained the NXT Championship from Samoa Joe. Tajiri, who took part in last summer’s Cruiserweight Classic, makes his NXT return during this event.

*****

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR: That’s it for an abbreviated edition of Heel Turns. The Greek God of Wrestling has to hit the beach.

Which beach? You’ll never know — and you wouldn’t be allowed on this private beach anyway. See you in 2017, which Achilles Heel will start with his always accurate prediction column.

 

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