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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions about the relative importance of Eagles minicamp, the Warriors’ potential dynasty and why the Penguins winning the Cup is so painful for Flyers fans.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Eagles’ offseason challenge, Penn State’s future and two changes in the sports broadcast landscape.

Temple quarterback Phillip Walker throws for 199 yards and two touchdown passes while the Owls’ defense shuts down Navy’s triple-option rushing attack as the Owls triumph, 34-10, to capture the American Athletic Conference title.

Archive for January, 2019

Heel Turns: Ready to Rumble

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 26 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

The Greek God of Wrestling looks forward to the Royal Rumble every year. The way the Rumble is constructed, with a new participant entering match at predetermined intervals (generally ranging from 1½ to 2 minutes), it is fast-paced and exciting. The stories told within the match usually make the Rumble even better.

Last year a Women’s Royal Rumble was added to the event, which means fans get double the pleasure. The non-Rumble matches this Sunday (7 p.m., kickoff show at 5 p.m.) from Glendale, Ariz, should add to the awesomeness of this event.

Since the women have been receiving a lot of attention in WWE lately, let’s start with the women’s Royal Rumble match. Bayley, Natalya, Nix Jax and the returning Alexa Bliss will receive a lot of attention in this match, but Achilles Heel thinks the logical winner is Charlotte Flair.

Flair will then challenge Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch – assuming she defeats Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at the Rumble or at Elimination Chamber – for a match that may headline WrestleMania. Within the women’s match, look for Naomi to try to get revenge on Mandy Rose and for the Riott Squad to battle with Natalya, but Flair should be standing tall at the end.

The men’s Royal Rumble match is much more wide open. Of the 20 announced participants (as of Saturday morning), there truly isn’t a logical winner. Seth Rollins seems the most likely winner of the 20 announced participants. John Cena is a possibility – if he’s healthy enough to wrestle. Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre and Samoa Joe are all appealing in their own way, but that would set up a heel vs. heel championship match at WrestleMania.

Because there’s no shortage of logical winners, the Greek God of Wrestling had to go elsewhere to find a more sure-fire choice. There is room for 10 more participants to the Royal Rumble – surprise appearances is part of the fun – and it is my belief that Braun Strowman will be added to the Royal Rumble and will emerge victorious. He will finally get his return match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, with Strowman capturing the title.

That assumes, of course, that Lesnar defeats challenger Finn Balor in a Universal Championship match at Royal Rumble. Balor, the first Universal champion, should give Lesnar a run for his money in a classic big man vs. little man match, but Lesnar should retain his title.

The most intriguing match might be the WWE Championship match Daniel Bryan and former champion AJ Styles. Achilles Heel expects Bryan to somehow hold onto the title, setting up a rematch at WrestleMania.

The women’s title matches at Royal Rumble also are promising Rousey battle challenger Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship. Lynch challenges Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Both of these matches should deliver, with the Greek God of Wrestling expecting Rousey to retain her title and Lynch to regain the Smackdown title. If Asuka, retains, Lynch will regain it before WrestleMania to set up the big women’s main event.

The other match on the main card features Sheamus and Cesaro defending the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against Shane McMahon and The Miz. Somehow I think that Shane and Miz capture the titles, although where the storyline goes from there is uncertain. Obviously, Miz will eventually turn on Shane – or bail out on him – but first they’ll have a little fun as the tag team champs.

The kickoff show is also worth watching. Rusev defends the United States Championship against former champion Shinsuke Nakamura, with a title change possible. Buddy Murphy defends the WWE Cruiserweight title in what should be an action-packed fatal four-way match with Akira Tozawa, Hideo Itami and Kalisto.

The Royal Rumble appears to be a loaded card from top to bottom. The Greek God of Wrestling strongly endorses checking it out.

*****

NXT TAKES OVER: As always, it appear that NXT will present a terrific card. The NXT shows usually only have five matches, which seems to be the perfect number in order for each match to receive enough time.

NXT Takevoer: Phoenix, which takes place on Saturday (7 p.m.) is headlined by Tommaso Ciampa defending the NXT Championship against former champion Aleister Black. The back story is that Black has fought back from injury to get this rematch. Don’t be surprised if Johnny Gargano is involving the finish of this match.

Gargano also will be in action, challenging Ricochet for the NXT North American Championship. The Greek God of Wrestling expects Ricochet to retain the title. Shayna Baszler should also retain the NXT Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair.

The best chance for a title change may the NXT Tag Team Championship match, with The War Raiders (Hanson and Rowe) challenging The Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong. The other match on the card features Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno in a feud that began with Riddle beating Ohno in seconds in an impromptu match at the last Takeover show.

*****

WORLDS COLLIDE: WWE is taping its Worlds Collide tournament, featuring wrestlers from NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live, this week at Royal Rumble Axxess. The winner of the tournament receives a title shot against the champion of their choosing on any of these three brands. The tournament special will air on WWE Network next Saturday (8-10 p.m.).

*****

MAJOR CARD AT 2300: Major League Wrestling (MLW) will present MLW Superfight, a Fusion television taping for beIN Sports at 2300 Arena next Saturday (7 p.m.). The main event features Low Ki defending the MLW World Heavyweight Championship against “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Other matches include the Lucha Bros defending the MLW World Tag Team Championship against the Hart Foundation (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and MLW Middleweight champion Teddy Hart), Tommy Dreamer and a mystery partner vs. Brian Pillman Jr. and a mystery partner, Rich Swann vs. Ace Austin, and DJZ vs. Myron Reed in a middleweight match.

*****

PAIGE MOVIE IN PHILLY: There will be a free screening of “Fighting With My Family,” the Dwayne Johnson-produced movie based upon Paige’s life story, Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) at the UA Riverview Plaza Stadium in Philadelphia. HOWEVER (Achilles Heel is using capital letters for effect), all passes have already been distributed for the movie. They were gone within hours, so don’t go to the theatre without a ticket. If you already have a pass, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. In other words, get there early.

*****

REIGNS IS FURIOUS: Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, he found a role for his cousin, Roman Reigns, in “Hobbs and Shaw,” a spinoff of the Fast and Furious franchise. Reigns, of course, had to leave WWE this past year when his leukemia, which had been in remission, returned.

*****

DOUBLING DOWN: All Elite Wrestling (AEW) will host a ticket announcement party on Feb. 7 (9 p.m.) at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. It is expected that the announcement will be for the Double or Nothing debut event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 25.

*****

PRO WRESTLING DAY: CHIKARA will take part in National Pro Wrestling Day on Sun., Feb. 10 (2 p.m.) at Tellus360 in Lancaster. Admission is free, but a minimum of $10 donation is suggested, with proceeds benefitting Arch Street Center, an organization that provides meals, bathroom facilities and social, moral and material support to adults living with mental illness. Matches include Hallowicked vs. Officer Barksdale, and Missile Assault Man vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado.

*****

JUSTICE IS BLIND: After watching the end of the NFC Championship Game, all the Greek God of Wrestling can say is that the NFL should learn from professional wrestling. If a referee is going to blatantly miss a call, as was the case with the failure to call pass interference on the Rams at the 5-yard line within the final two minutes, there should at least be some sort of distraction to take away the referee’s attention from the infraction.

Sixers Notebook: Road test

Posted by Eric Fisher On January - 26 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

The 76ers hit the road this week with a point to prove. Despite an impressive 32-17 record, the Sixers still have a losing record (11-12) on the road.

The Sixers currently are fourth in the Eastern Conference. That means that if the season were to end today, they would, barring a first-round upset of the top seed, only have homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Consequently, they would have to be able to win on the road.

The Sixers picked up a big road win on Thurs., Jan. 17 against the Pacers. The Sixers were dominant in a 120-96 victory. But they will be severely tested during their upcoming four-game road trip.

The four-game western swing includes games against the Warriors and Nuggets, the top two teams in the Western Conference. The trip also includes the Lakers and Kings, both of whom are 25-24 following Friday’s games.

Perhaps the Sixers are trying to take some of the pressure off of this trip by basically conceding the first game (Saturday, 9 p.m.) against the Nuggets. Joel Embiid has a scheduled rest day on Saturday, according to head coach Brett Brown. Why Embiid would need a rest day three days after the Sixers beat the Spurs and three days before their next game is a bit of a mystery. One possibility is that having six days between games would give Embiid an opportunity to give his lower back, which has been a source of tightness, extended time to heal.

Another possibility is that having Embiid sit out the game would give the Sixers an excuse, more for themselves than for outsiders, if they lose to the Nuggets, who are tied with the Raptors for the NBA’s second-best home record (21-4). Yes, the Nuggets’ home record is even better than the Sixers’ home record (21-5). With starters Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler likely to miss Saturday’s game due to injuries, a Sixers victory on Saturday would be a miraculous triumph while a loss could be dismissed as being the result of being undermanned. The Sixers could then proclaim their rematch with the Nuggets at Wells Fargo Center on Fri., Feb. 8 as the true test of superiority.

A win over the defending-champion Warriors, who have won nine straight games, would be a big deal regardless of where it occurs. But a win over the Warriors on their home court would be a huge psychological boost.

A 3-1 trip would wipe out many questions about the Sixers ability to win on the road, but the Sixers have set themselves up so that a 2-2 road trip would be considered satisfactory, especially when a loss to the Nuggets could be dismissed as being a product of the Sixers being shorthanded. A 1-3 trip would still leave the Sixers’ ability to win on the road a pressing question. Only an 0-4 trip would be considered a disaster.

It’s likely that the Sixers’ ability to win on the road will remain an unanswered question after this road trip.

*****

STAR GAZING: Joel Embiid was selected to the All-Star Game for the second straight season. Embiid, averaging 27.2 points and 13.3 rebounds, was selected as a starter from the Eastern Conference for the game, which will take place on Feb. 17 in Charlotte. He is the first Sixer selected in consecutive years since Allen Iverson.

Reserves for the All-Star Game will be announced Thursday. Ben Simmons, who finished fourth in the voting among Eastern Conference guards, has a good shot at being named as a reserve. It’s also possible that Jimmy Butler could be picked for the team.

*****

SIGH OF RELIEF: After guard Jimmy Butler saw a specialist in Los Angeles, head coach Brett Brown said the Sixers expect Butler to be ready to play Tuesday against the Lakers. Butler was sidelined from the Sixers’ wins over the Rockets and Spurs this past week due to a sprained right wrist, and he is expected to miss Saturday’s road game against the Nuggets.

*****

WELCOME ADDITION: With Jimmy Butler sidelined, Corey Brewer started against the Rockets and Spurs. The Sixers won both games, with Brewer playing a crucial role against the Rockets, guarding James Harden. Although Harden scored 37 points, Brewer did an admirable job. The veteran swingman was rewarded Friday with a second 10-day contract.

*****

THIRTY SOMETHING: If it sounds strange to praise Corey Brewer for his defensive effort on a night that James Harden scored 37 points, consider that Harden has scored at least 30 points in 32 straight games, an NBA record.

*****

BOLD(EN) MOVE: Another player who has seen his minutes increase lately is rookie forward Jonah Bolden. After sitting out most games earlier this season, Bolden has played in 14 straight games, playing at least 10:58 in each of those games. Bolden’s versatility on defense makes him a valuable player for the Sixers, who need more contributions from their bench.

*****

TIME REDUCED: In contrast to Bolden, Furkan Korkmaz has seen his playing time reduced. Korkmaz has only played 10 minutes in two of the past seven games. He also didn’t play at all in two games during that stretch. Korkmaz is a good shooter which led to calls to increase his playing time earlier this season, but he doesn’t add much else, and he is a liability on defense.

*****

ROUGH SCHEDULE: After completing their western swing, the Sixers’ schedule doesn’t get much easier. They will host the first-place Raptors on Tues., Feb. 5, and then continue their homestand with games against the Nuggets, Lakers and Celtics before visiting the lowly Knicks at Madison Square Garden in their final game before the All-Star break.

Harper hits 1st home run as Phillie