3

Consecutive games in which Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. has hit leadoff home run

Media reports that Mike Babcock was likely to be the Flyers’ next coach were as inaccurate and irresponsible as the multitude of stories suggesting the Eagles were likely to acquire Marcus Mariota during the NFL Draft.

With candidates to fill their head coaching vacancy dropping left and right, the Eagles decide to hire Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, a former Eagles quarterback and assistant coach who will be hired when the Chiefs are eliminated from the playoffs.

The Greek God of Wrestling explains how TNA’s financial situation has gone from bad to worse. Achilles Heel also expresses concern that Survivor Series will overshadow Hell in a Cell, tells you when you can see Zack Sabre Jr. in Philadelphia, and tries to keep up with a whirlwind of events in Paige’s life.

Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

Heel Turns: Ring of Honor making waves

Posted by Eric Fisher On August - 13 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

In last week’s Heel Turns, the Greek God of Wrestling explained how WWE is using WWE Network to dominate professional wrestling. This week Achilles Heel is giving equal time to Ring of Honor.

Ring of Honor is making noise these days because many of its stars, most notably Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) have organized a show that sold out “All In,” which takes place at Sears Center just outside of Chicago on Sept. 1. Ring of Honor, in conjunction with New Japan Pro Wrestling, continued to make major news this past week when they sold out Madison Square Garden for their G1 Supercard on April 6, 2016.

In some ways, this is a challenge to WWE. Madison Square Garden was the crown jewel of WWE in its territory days, and it remains an important arena today. Furthermore, the G1 Supercard takes place one night before WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That means that the Ring of Honor-NJPW event will likely go head-to-head against NXT Takeover on the Saturday night before WrestleMania in the same market.

Before anyone goes overboard, Ring of Honor is not battling WWE for supremacy. WWE is light years ahead of Ring of Honor in the battle to be the No. 1 wrestling company. WWE holds most of its events in major arenas, with some in stadiums. WrestleMania attracts more fans than Ring of Honor draws in months of live events – even if “All In” and the G1 Supercard are included.

As the Greek God of Wrestling wrote last week, though, despite WWE’s dominance, there is still room for promotions other than WWE. With two sold-out events (and I’m counting All In even though, technically, it isn’t a Ring of Honor event) in major arenas, including the hallowed Madison Square Garden, Ring of Honor is solidifying its position as the No. 2 promotion in the United States.

Impact Wrestling has better television exposure than Ring of Honor. Other than television, however, Ring of Honor is superior to Impact. If Ring of Honor could get a television deal that is truly national, it may establish itself as the clear No. 2 company in the U.S.

By booking Madison Square Garden in the same region as WrestleMania, and selling out the building in advance, Ring of Honor is sending a message to WWE and NXT. Although it can’t be separated from WWE, in many ways, NXT is a top competitor to be the No. 2 wrestling company in the country. Many of the stars poached away from Ring of Honor and the independent scene end up in NXT, so, for all the bravado, Ring of Honor is competing more with NXT than with WWE’s main roster.

Give Ring of Honor credit. It is doing all of this without a television contract that allows it to be seen in all of the major metropolitan regions of the country. Some fans prefer an alternative to WWE, and Ring of Honor is happy to provide it.

                               *****                               

RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: After Ring of Honor conducts its tour of the United Kingdom this week, with stops in Edinburgh, Doncaster and London, it will return to Philadelphia on Sat., Aug. 25 (6 p.m.) at 2300 Arena for television tapings.

*****

PANDORA’S BOX: A recent post on an Internet site (the Greek God of Wrestling isn’t going to name the site) has resurrected a 2012 interview in which a former WWE writer claims that Randy Orton behaved inappropriately when greeting new writers. The former writer claims that Orton would hold his penis and then extend his hand. When the writer, who said this didn’t happen to him, would refuse to shake hands, Orton, with his penis still exposed, would then threat to tell Vince and Stephanie McMahon that the writer was “big-timing” Orton by refusing to shake hands.

Putting aside how this writer knows for certain that these things happened when he wasn’t present, let’s assume it’s true. If it happened, it was inappropriate, but WWE, which has said it is investigating the allegations, shouldn’t make a federal case over it.

The interview occurred in 2012, which means the alleged incidents occurred at least six years ago. Furthermore, there are different levels of transgressions. We’re not talking about attempted rape or trying to gain sexual favors. It seems as if Orton was making an inappropriate joke, or hazing new writers, rather than trying to force anyone to have sex with him. That doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it’s important to keep the alleged incidents in context.

As for Orton, his immaturity earlier in his career isn’t exactly a secret. In fact, Orton’s transformation from his earlier entitled and occasionally obnoxious behavior outside of the ring was a major theme in a WWE special about Orton’s career. It would be wrong to punish him years after he has altered his behavior.

Taking a wider view, WWE needs to be careful about opening a Pandora’s box by punishing Orton. Professional wrestling isn’t the most genteel business. Locker room humor is prevalent. In many ways, the wrestlers police their own. Without talking out of turn, the Greek God of Wrestling recalls the APA (Ron Simmons and JBL) beating the snot out of Public Enemy in the ring because of their violation of locker room protocol. That was an assault that took place before a national television audience. In terms of backstage actions, some bodily functions were “dumped,” if you’ll pardon the pun, into Jerry “The King” Lawler’s crown when he came to WWE as retribution for his actions as a promoter.

Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Trust the Greek God of Wrestling when he tells you that Orton isn’t the first male wrestler to expose his penis in a location other than the shower and locker room.

Today’s wrestling world is different, in part because of the larger female presence, but you can’t go back and apply today’s standards to the past. WWE would be going down a dangerous road if it gave Orton anything more than a slap on the wrist.

*****

SUMMERSLAM COMPLETE? It appears that the card for WWE’s SummerSlam is complete. With 12 matches, the Greek God of Wrestling hopes that the card is complete. The card is already getting close to having too many matches, particularly because there are a few matches which could benefit from receiving extensive time.

Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship yet again against Roman Reigns. In the co-main event, AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe. The secondary men’s titles are both on the line in what could be tremendous matches if given the time. Dolph Ziggler defends the Intercontinental Championship against former champion Seth Rollins, and Shinsuke Nakamura defends the United States Championship against former champion Jeff Hardy.

The women’s titles will also be on the line at SummerSlam. Alexis Bliss defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey, and Carmella defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a triple threat match with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.

The Smackdown Tag Team Championship will be on the line when The Bludgeon Brothers (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper) face the challengers, two member of The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods). Cedric Alexander defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Drew Gulak.

There also are some non-title matches set for SummerSlam. Daniel Bryan clashes with The Miz, Finn Balor meets Baron Corbin, and Kevin Owens faces Braun Strowman, with Strowman’s Money in the Bank opportunity going to Owens if he wins. The preshow features Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almos and Zelina Vega. The Greek God of Wrestling will have a full preview of SummerSlam later this week.

*****

BLACK OUT: Aleister Black, who suffered a groin injury that needed surgery, has been removed from the main event at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. NXT did an angle in which Black was attacked in the parking lot. The main event is now Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in a last man standing match for Ciampa’s NXT Championship instead of a triple-threat match involving Black.

Saturday’s card also features Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against Ricochet and the rest of the Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly) defending the NXT Tag Team Championship against Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven). Shayna Baszler defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Kairi Sane in a rematch of last year’s Mae Young Classic final. Velveteen Dream battles Ethan Carter III to round out what should be a tremendous card.

*****

FAREWELL TO NEIDHART: Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, the father of Natalya Neidhart and Bret Hart’s partner in the Hart Foundation, died early Monday at age 63. According to Ross Hart, his brother-in-law, Neidhart dies of a seizure related to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Neidhart, married to Ellie Hart, was a powerful wrestler who achieved some success on his own, but his greatest success occurred while teaming with Bret Hart as part of the Hart Foundation. The combination of Neidhart’s power and demented personality blended beautifully with Hart’s technical skill and quieter cool personality. They won the WWF Tag Team titles as both heels and good guys.

Achilles Heel offers his condolences to Natalya, the entire Hart/Neidhart family and all of “The Anvil’s” colleagues and friends.

*****

WWE IN A.C.: Local fans can can experience some of the SummerSlam when WWE presents a live event with the Smackdown crew in the Mark Etess Arena in Atlantic City the day after SummerSlam.

*****

NEW CHIKARA CHAMP: “Mr Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti defeated Juan Francisco de Coronado to capture CHIKARA’s Grand Championship last Saturday at Chikarasaurus Rex – a Deadly Secret. Also, Dasher Hatfield and his son, Boomer, who was making his CHIKARA debut, defeated Frightmare and Hallowicked. Boomer Hatfield will be back in action Saturday (3 p.m.) for the Hour of Power at The Wrestle Factory when he squares off with Volgar. Also on Saturday, Young Lions Cup winner Danjerhawk battles Cornelius Crummels.

*****

TRIOS TEAMS: CHIKARA will present King of Trios on Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at The Palmer Center (The Funplex) in Easton. This year’s King of Trios has a Star Wars them: Episode XI: The Saga Ends (which The Greek God of Trios hopes does not signal the end of CHIKARA’s signature event).

Newly crowned Grand champion Mark Angelosetti teams with his former partner Dasher Hatfield and his son, Boomer Hatfield to form The Millennium Throwbacks.  Fire Ant, Green Ant and Thief Ant form The Resistance. As always (almost), there is a team of former WWE wrestlers. The former Darren Young, Michael Tarver and Justin Gabriel form The Nexus Alliance. For old-school WWE fans, the former Jean-Pierre Lafitte teams with Katarina Waters (the former Katie Lea Burchill) and Rey Bucanero to form The Ohnaka Gang. There also will be three all-women teams and the usual mix of CHIKARA characters in the tournament, which I’ll examine more closely the last week of August.

*****

DIFFICULT COMBAT: Combat Zone Wrestling has had a tough summer. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, the CZW world champion, has been sidelined by a knee injury. And then CZW Wired champion Zachary Wentz, who was supposed to defend his title against Myron Reed last Saturday at “Business as Usual,” was called away to take part in Impact Wrestling’s television tapings, leaving CZW to scramble to come up with a main event. CZW brought in Trent Barreta to face Alex Reynolds, and Reed battled Johnny Silver, but the absence of a title match couldn’t escape notice. CZW has to hope that Friedman and Wentz return for “Down with the Sickness” on Sept. 8.

*****

YOUNG AT HEART: The second Mae Young Classic has been taped, setting the stage for the finals at Evolution, the all-women’s pay-per-view on Oct. 28. But The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers and won’t reveal the final pairing.

*****

ROAD TRIP: At the end of August, WWE will head overseas for events in London (Aug. 29), Osaka, Japan (Aug. 31) and Shanghai, China (Sept. 1).

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On August - 13 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Eagles enthusiasm is already at a fever pitch. Based on estimates, the average crowd at the Eagles’ two open practices was between 35,000 and 40,000.

In between the two open practices, an enthusiastic crowd turned out to watch the Eagles play their preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field. Yes, the Eagles lost to the Steelers, 31-14, but it was obvious that the fans couldn’t wait to see the defending Super Bowl champions.

There should be plenty of additional hype this week as the Eagles prepare for a Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots. This might be one preseason game where the outcome matters – at least a little bit.

The bottom line is that, even with the Phillies battling for the division lead, the Eagles are the No. 1 story in local sports. As if we needed a reminder, Eagles fans are demonstrating that, although there’s enthusiasm for all of our sports teams, Philadelphia is a football town.

 

                             *****                               

SPECTACULAR SPEECH: Although I already wrote a column about it, I’ll reiterate that Brian Dawkins’ speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was outstanding in every way. It was powerful, emotional and intense – just like Dawkins.

*****

HALL OF A DRAFT: Has a team ever made a better pair of late-round draft choices than the Eagles made in 1986? The Eagles selected linebacker Seth Joyner in the eighth round and defensive end Clyde Simmons in the ninth round. The Eagles announced last Thursday that Simmons and Joyner will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame during halftime of the Sept. 23 game against the Colts.

Joyner played his first eight NFL seasons with the Eagles, registering 37 sacks and 17 interceptions. Furthermore, Joyner played a large role in establishing the attitude of the ferocious Eagles defense of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Simmons finished his career with 121½ sacks. Although there’s no question that Simmons benefited from having Reggie White lining up at the other defensive end spot, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that Simmons was a terrific player. It’s proper that the Eagles honor him with a pace in their hall of fame.

*****

OVERSHADOWED: Brooks Koepka is on top of the golfing world. His PGA Championship is his third triumph in the past six major tournaments. Yet his PGA victory was almost completely overshadowed by the runner-up.

The runner-up, of course, was Tiger Woods. The media coverage, from television to newspapers to the Internet, was primarily about Woods.

Woods hasn’t won a major championship since 2008. After a decade-long drought, fans and many media members were salivating at the prospect of Woods winning his 15th major title and resurrecting his run at Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. But that storyline was ruined by the best golfer in the world: Brooks Koepka.

I guess it’s better to have the PGA Championship than the bulk of the media attention.

*****

MAJOR UNION VICTORY: The Union picked up a huge victory Saturday, defeating New England, 3-2, to jump over the Revolution and into playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The top three spots in the conference are out of the Union’s reach, and even fourth-place Columbus has a nine-point edge. That leaves the Union (9-11-3) in a three-team battle with Montreal and New England for two playoff berths.

The Union are tied with Montreal, although the Impact have played two more games. New England is one point behind. The Union have two key upcoming home games, one Saturday (7 p.m.) against New York City FC and then the following Saturday in a rematch with the Revolution.

*****

NO UNDERSTANDING: I admit that I don’t understand soccer. No, not the game. I understand the game. But I don’t understand the sport.

The Union announced that they agreed to terms with an individual to become the club’s next sporting director a week before they announced that they hired Ernst Tanner to replace Earnie Stewart, who left to take charge of the United States Men’s National Team. Why make the first announcement if the contract isn’t finalized and you’re not ready to release the name of the person you’ve hired?

Can you imagine the Phillies announcing that they’ve selected a new general manager but they’re not ready to say who it is? These things don’t happen in “normal” sports in the United States.

*****

FREEDOMS COME UP SHORT: After dominating the World Team Tennis scene all season, the Freedoms lost to Springfield, 19-18, in the championship match at Drexel University. The Freedoms won all three regular-season matches with the Lasers, who captured their first WTT title after losing the first five championship matches in franchise history. That’s a disappointing ending for a terrific season.

*****

CHASE BREAKS THROUGH: Prior to the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway two weeks ago, I pointed out that the once-dominant Hendrick Motorsports team had yet to win a race this year. Chase Elliott changed that the following week with a victory at Watkins Glen, virtually assuring himself a place in NASCAR’s playoffs. With three races left before the playoffs, Hendrick’s Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman are still holding down the final two playoff spots.

Eric Fisher, who has been writing about sports for nearly 30 years, has won as many major championships as Tiger Woods during the past decade.

Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame speech