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Unanswered points by Eagles after Vikings take 7-0 lead in NFC Championship Game

The Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions, appear to have improved during the offseason. Can anyone prevent them from winning a second straight Super Bowl? Eric Fisher thinks he found a team to stop the Evil Empire — but he’s not happy about it.

In the first Sixers Notebook of the season, Eric Fisher looks for opportunities for the Sixers to get their first victory. He also expresses concern about Nerlens Noel (pictured), wonders how Tony Wroten will adjust once Michael Carter-Williams returns and suggests the Sixers may eventually regret trading away point guard Elfrid Payton on draft day.

Using the No. 2 selection in next week’s NHL Draft for whichever of the top two players — Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier — the Devils don’t pick at No. 1 is the easy part. Gordon Glantz wants general manager Ron Hextall to be aggressive in exploring other moves to improve the Flyers.

Archive for the ‘Heel Turns’ Category

Heel Turns: It’s Royal Rumble week in Philly

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 22 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

The Eagles may be the toast of the town, but, with the Super Bowl not taking place until Feb. 4, the Eagles will have to momentarily step aside as WWE takes over Philadelphia for four days of wrestling at Wells Fargo Center.

The main event, of course, is Sunday’s Royal Rumble. Before reaching Philadelphia, however, WWE has some warmup shows on Friday, with a Raw brand house show at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre (7:30 p.m.) and an NXT show at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, N.J.

Saturday kicks off with a pair of appearances by WWE and NXT stars. NXT’s Aleister Black and NXT Women’s champion Ember Moon will appear at Adventureland Store in Voorhees (10 a.m.-noon). Tickers are required for autograph and photo opportunities. WWE Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss will be appearing at Spencer’s Store in the Cherry Hill Mall (1-3 p.m.).

If you miss Black and Moon in Voorhees, you can catch them later that night (7:15 p.m.) at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, which will air on the WWE Network. Black will battle Adam Cole in an extreme rules match. Moon will defend her title against Shayna Baszler, who comes to NXT after an MMA career. In the main event, Johnny Gargano challenges Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT Championship. There also will be an NXT Tag Team Championship match, with The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) defending the titles against The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar).

Jimmy and Jey Uso, the Smackdown Tag Team champions, will appear for a meet-and-greet Sunday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Walmart in Bensalem. Sunday night (6:30 p.m.) is the Royal Rumble, featuring a men’s and, for the first time, women’s Royal Rumble match. Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship in a triple-threat match against Braun Strowman and Kane, and AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship in a handicapped match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The Raw and Smackdown tag team titles will also be on the line, as will the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

And that’s not all. Sasha Banks will be at the Cricket Wireless store at 2900 N.Broad St. on Monday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) for autographs and photos.  Raw will take place at Wells Fargo Center that night, with Smackdown appearing at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. (7:30 p.m.) that same night. The Smackdown crew returns to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (7:45 p.m.) for Smackdown Live, followed by a Mixed Match Challenge match and 205 Live.

Philly may be an Eagles town, but even amidst the euphoria surrounding the Birds’ victory over the Vikings, WWE is going to steal some of the spotlight for a few days.

Achilles Heel will be back later this week with a complete preview of the Royal Rumble.

*****

TICKETS AVAILABLE: The Royal Rumble is sold out, but, as of Monday, there are tickets available for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, Raw and Smackdown, although the only lower level seats remaining for Raw are club box seats.

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RAW ANNIVERSARY: With Raw celebrating its 25th anniversary Monday with simultaneous shows from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and The Manhattan Center, the original home of Raw, we should recognize how much Raw changed wrestling. Televised wrestling used to be on weekend mornings or late at night. WWE changed that dynamic with Prime Time Wrestling on USA Network, but that was a taped show featuring taped matches. It wasn’t live.

Raw changed all that. The big matches were now on Monday night instead of at house shows and pay-per-view events. The syndicated weekend television shows began to disappear, with the focus now directed to Raw. The show wasn’t simply a vehicle to promote pay-per-view events. Raw because destination viewing all on its own.

How much did Raw change wrestling? It led to the creation of Smackdown and Monday Nitro. Today, it is difficult to imagine wrestling without prime time television programs.

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RIGHT AGAIN: It didn’t take long for another of The Greek God of Wrestling’s predictions for 2018 to come true. Bobby Roode defeated Jinder Mahal on Smackdown last week to win the United States Championship. That match was originally scheduled for the Royal Rumble, but, as Achilles Heel suggested last week, there were too many matches on the Royal Rumble card. Now there’s one less match.

Congratulations are in order for Roode, who was a very credible world champion in TNA and then was NXT champion before coming to Smackdown.

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CHIKARA’S SNOWMAN: CHIKARA provides a warmup of sorts for the Royal Rumble when it presents “Beware of Snowman” on Sunday (2 p.m.). In the main event Juan Francisco Coronado defends the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Hype Rockwell.

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GENESIS: Impact Wrestling presents “Genesis” on Thursday. IIn the main event, Impact Wrestling World champion Eli Drakes faces Johnny Impact and Alberto El Patriot in a triple-threat steel cage match. Ethan Carter defends the Grand Chmpionship against Matt Sydal and Knockouts champion Laurel Van Ness defends her title against Allie. In a non-title match Bobby Lashley battles Moose.

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NEW ARRIVALS: WWE and NXT fans can look forward to some familiar faces making their debuts. Among the new WWE signees are Ricochet, War Machine (Hanson and Rowe) and Candice LeRae. Ricochet has been an independent star known for producing excellent matches. He could be a huge asset in NXT or on 205 Live. War Machine, which starred in Ring of Honor and has competed in Japan, could feud with The Authors of Pain in NXT or make an impact on Raw or Smackdown. LeRae is the wife of Johnny Gargano, who challenges for the NXT Championship on Saturday at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia.

Heel Turns: Awesome predictions for 2018

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 15 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

It’s time for another wonderful year of Heel Turns from your favorite professional wrestling columnist. The Greek God of Wrestling’s always-extraordinary predictions for 2018 were ready at the start of the year, but, instead, I devoted my first Heel Turns of the year to wrapping up some of the incredible developments at the end of 2017.

With the anticipation built to a near-fever pitch, it is now time for Achilles Heel to present his predictions for 2018  (if Eric Fisher can squeeze this column in between the wall-to-wall Eagles coverage).

Brock Lesnar will not remain WWE Universal champion beyond SummerSlam. He might not even make it past WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns will become WWE Universal champion.

Cody Rhodes will regain the Ring of Honor World Championship.

Charlotte Flair will have a long reign as Smackdown Women’s champion.

Jason Jordan will suplex Kurt Angle.

Eli Drake won’t make it to WrestleMania with the Impact Wrestling Global Championship – and, yes, the Greek God of Wrestling knows WrestleMania is for WWE, but couldn’t think of a noteworthy spring event for Impact Wrestling. (Spoiler alert: The prediction has come true)

Paige will win a women’s title in WWE. (This prediction apparently won’t come true. See the related item later in this column.)

Adam Cole will win the NXT Championship.

Daniel Bryan will wrestle again this year.

The Combat Zone Wrestling World Championship will change hands at least three times.

Bobby Roode will become the United States champion.

Drew McIntyre will return to WWE’s main roster.

Enzo Amore will remaining incredibly annoying.

With Don Callis and Scott D’Amore running the creative side of things for Impact Wrestling as executive vice presidents, expect major changes in just about everything, including personnel.

Callis and D’Amore will remain in charge through at least the end of August, which is a bold prediction for Impact Wrestling these days.

The Miz will win another championship.

Charlotte Flair and Bobby Roode will win WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook.

At least one title will change hands (not including the United States Championship tournament) will change hands at the Royal Rumble – and it won’t be the WWE Universal Championship.

The partnership between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor will continue to flourish – but there could be trouble on the horizon if New Japan runs its own shows in the U.S.

Juan Francisco de Corononado will lose the CHIKARA Grand Championship before July.

A former WWE star who appears at the Raw 25th anniversary show will enter the Royal Rumble.

Johnny Gargano will not win the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia.

Longtime readers know that my predictions usually come true, but this final prediction will definitely come true: Achilles Heel will remain the best professional wrestling columnist in the world.

*****

PAIGE’S CAREER OVER? As the Greek God of Wrestling noted in his predictions, one prediction that is unlikely to come true is Paige winning the Raw Women’s Championship. Unfortunately, it appears that Paige’s in-ring career may be over at age 25.

Paige returned to Raw in November after recovering from neck surgery and enduring a tumultuous 1½ years that, in addition to the surgery and rehabilitation, included two suspensions for violating WWE’s wellness policy and a sometimes volatile relationship with Alberto Del Rio. But everything seemed to be looking up for Paige as she returned to WWE to form Absolution with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.

But Paige was injured when she was kicked in the back with both feet by Sasha Banks during a house show on Dec. 27 at Nassau Coliseum. The match was stopped, but initial reports didn’t reflect the seriousness of the injury. Reports are that Paige suffered another neck injury.

Paige burst on the scene in WWE when she won what was called the Divas Championship in her WWE debut, becoming the youngest women’s champion in WWE history. Her return in November seemed to indicate a bright future, which included an upcoming film entitled “Fight with My Family” about Paige’s life as a wrestler.

Why make a movie about Paige’s career? It’s an amazing story. Both of her parents were professional wrestlers. She started wrestling in England with her family’s promotion when she was 13 years old. But it appears that Paige’s wrestling story has a most unfortunate ending.

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KINGDOM MATCHES: The first major show of 2018 was New Japan Professional Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4. In the main event, Kazuchika Okada, who has been champion for one-and-a-half years, successfully defended his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito. In the match with the most interest in the United States, Kenny Omega successfully defended his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against Chris Jericho. In another bout, Kota Ibushi beat Cody Rhodes.

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WRESTLING FOR CHARITY: The WWE Mixed Match Challenge, which kicks off Tuesday (10 p.m.) on Facebook, will benefit a dozen charities. Each mixed tag team will represent a charity. Each charity will receive $10,000, with the charity represented by the winning team to receive $100,000.

Tuesday’s debut episode pits the team of Finn Balor and Sasha Banks against Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya. That’s quite an opener. Other first-round matchups are The Miz/Asuka vs. Big E/Carmella; Braun Strowman/Alexa Bliss vs. Sami Zayn/Becky Lynch; Goldust/Alicia Fox vs. Jimmy Uso/Naomi; Elias/Bayley vs. Rusev/Lana; Apollo Crews/Nia Jax vs. Bobby Roode/Charlotte Flair. It should be noted that two real-life married couples, Jimmy Uso and Naomi and Rusev and Lana, are teaming up on the show.

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INTERNAL COMPETITION: Although it’s a shorter show, it should be noted that the Mixed Match Challenge will compete directly with 205 Live, the cruiserweight show, on WWE Network. 205 Live has been hurt by weak reactions from live audiences. The Greek God of Wrestling would like to see 205 Live not be live. Instead, it should be taped before a smaller audience there just to see the cruiserweights instead of before large audiences who view the cruiserweights as secondary to the main Smackdown show.

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Anticipation is building for Raw’s 25th anniversary show, which will take place on Mon., Jan. 22, at both the Barclays Center and the Manhattan Center, the original home of what was then called Monday Night Raw. Many former stars are advertised for what should be a fun show.

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY II: Combat Zone Wrestling will celebrate its 19th anniversary show, appropriately titled “Nineteen,” on Sat., Feb. 10 (8 p.m.) at Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees. In the main event, CZW World champion Rickey Shane Page will team with Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M to battle the team of Dave Crist, Jake Crist and Sami Callihan, a trio that has made quite a bit of noise on Impact Wrestling.

There also will be a battle royal to determine a new No. 1 contender for the CZW World Championship. Other matches include Joey Janela vs. Brandon Kirk, Joe Gacy vs. Anthony Gangone, and Ace Romero vs. Greg Excellent in a dog collar match.

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ROYAL RUMBLINGS: It appears that the card has been set for both the Royal Rumble and NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. The Greek God of Wrestling thinks there are too many matches slated for the Rumble, meaning at least two of the matches, with the Cruiserweight Championship match between Enzo Amore and challenger Cedric Alexander likely being one of them, moved to the preshow.

Check out the next Heel Turns for more details on the card. Although the matches seem to be finalized, there are still numerous openings in both the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches.

*****

PHILLY GUYS: CHIKARA’s first event of 2019, “Beware the Snowman,” will take place on the afternoon of the Royal Rumble at The Wrestle Factory. In the main event, Juan Francisco de Coronado will defend the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Hype Rockwell. With a 2 p.m. start, there is plenty of time to attend the show and then get home in time to watch the Royal Rumble.

All of CHIKARA’s announced shows for 2019 are in Pennsylvania, with all except one taking place in Philadelphia. However, the site of King of Trios has not been announced yet, so more dates are expected to be added. But it appears that CHIKARA is going to cut down on its travel costs by sticking close to its home base.

*****

KICKOFF: If a kick to the head can be a thing of beauty, Harper (formerly Luke Harper) delivered it to Viktor last week on Smackdown as The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) cut short an early attack by The Ascension en route to a quick victory. Harper has always been a favorite of The Greek God of Wrestling. Harper, who is excellent in the ring, never received the singles push he deserved, but it’s good to see him in a featured tag team.

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