Receiving yards for Cowboys’ Amari Cooper during Sunday’s 29-23 win over Eagles

The Eagles trade quarterback Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a first-round pick in 2017 and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018. The trade means that rookie Carson Wentz is likely to be the starter at some point this season.

Other than their top line, the Flyers aren’t getting enough contributions on offense from their forwards. Eric Fisher also revisits the Flyers Hall of Fame ceremony for Eric Lindros (pictured) and John LeClair, cites problems with the penalty killing and examines the Flyers’ upcoming road-heavy schedule.

Gordon Glantz analyzes the Eagles’ draft, explaining why they made the picks they made and what he would have done instead.

Archive for the ‘Heel Turns’ Category

Heel Turns: 2300 Arena a Philly treasure

Posted by Achilles Heel On December - 8 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Philadelphia is known for its sports venues. The Palestra is revered for its atmosphere, with seats close to the action and its Big Five tradition. The Spectrum was known as one of the premier sports and concert facilities in the country, hosting a lengthy list of historic events. Veterans Stadium, with its rowdy crowds, rock-hard turf and on-site courtroom, has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most notorious NFL stadiums.

For wrestling fans, 2300 Arena belongs in that conversation. The former warehouse at Swanson and Ritner streets in South Philadelphia has become a wrestling institution during the past 25 years. Operating in the shadow of I-95, 2300 Arena has developed a worldwide reputation as a home for independent wrestling.

The arena rose to prominence with the rise of Extreme Championship Wrestling during the 1990s. Known as ECW Arena, the building’s reputation grew as rumors of the insane atmosphere during ECW tapings spread around the world. When ECW programming became more available, wrestling fans saw that the atmosphere in ECW Arena lived up to its reputation.

As is the case with the Spectrum and Veterans Stadium, the building’s reputation is mostly built upon its fans. The ECW Arena was a bare bones, concrete block with no amenities. There were folding chairs instead of seats, and fans were packed into every nook and cranny of the building. Even on a freezing winter night, the ECW Arena was hot, literally and figuratively, when ECW was in town.

The arena, previously known as Viking Hall, underwent several name changes after ECW, having been replaced on cable network TNN by WWE’s RAW and unable to secure a new national television deal, folded in 2001. It was called XPW Arena, Alhambra Arena, The Arena and Asylum Arena before becoming simply 2300 Arena, referring to its Swanson Street address, in 2013. In addition to numerous wrestling organizations holding events there, including a house show by the WWE’s version of ECW on June 24, 2006, there have been boxing and mixed-martial arts events at the arena.

But 2300 Arena’s reputation isn’t built solely upon its past. House of Hardcore has a show there tonight (Saturday). Combat Zone Wrestling hosts Cage of Death XX at 2300 Arena on Sunday. On Sat., Dec. 15, Ring of Honor will host Final Battle Fallout, an international television taping and its final event of 2018, at 2300 Arena.

The next 10 days will be a busy time at 2300 Arena, Philadelphia’s professional wrestling treasure. If you haven’t been there before, do yourself a favor and check it out. If you’ve been there before, you know why you have to go back.


PHILLY IS HARDCORE: In the spirit of 2300 Arena, the Greek God of Wrestling is going to continue this edition of Heel Turns with some independent wrestling items. Tommy Dreamer, who is an integral part of the history of 2300 Arena, brings House of Hardcore 52 to that arena tonight (Saturday) at 8 p.m. As of Saturday morning, there are tickets remaining in all except the VIP sections.

In the main event, Nick Aldis will defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Brian Cage. Dreamer will face PCO (Neville in WWE), Willie Mack will battle Shane Strickland and David Arquette teams with RJ City to meet Tyrus and Robert Strauss. There also will be a women’s match between Angelina Love and Britt Baker. Bully Ray, Rich Swann, the former Big Cass and Ethan Page are also scheduled to appear.


CAGE OF DEATH: Combat Zone Wrestling will crown a new champion Sunday night (8 p.m.) during Cage of Death XX at 2300 Arena. Maxwell Jacob Friedman was stripped of the CZW World Championship because he is sidelined by a fractured elbow. Rickey Shane Page and Mance Warner will compete for the vacant title Sunday inside of a the “cage of death.”

Other matches include CZW legend Masada teaming with DJ Hyde to face Atsushi Onita and Matt Tremont; BLK Out defending the CZW Tag Team Championship against The Rep; Jordan Oliver defending the CZW Wired Championship against KC Navarro; and Rich Swann, Shane Strickland and John Silver squaring off in a triple threat match.

CZW is also hosting “Afternoon Extravaganza” during the day. There will be a meet and greet with Atsushi Onita. Fans can also watch the Eagles-Cowboys game with CZW wrestlers. Wrestlers from CZW’s Dojo Wars will provide the halftime entertainment. There will be autograph sessions and photo opportunities ($20 if you take your own picture, $30 for a professionally taken 8×10 photo). Admission is just $5 or a Toy for Tots.


HONOR IN PHILLY: Three matches have been announced for Ring of Honor’s Final Battle Fallout on Sat., Dec. 15 at 2300 Arena. Zack Sabre Jr. will battle Tracy Williams, Juice Robinson will meet PJ Black (the former Justin Gabriel in WWE), and Luchasauras will face Ring of Honor World Television champion Jeff Cobb. If Luchasaurus lasts 15 minutes against Cobb, he will earn a World Television Championship match. Ring of Honor world champion Jay Lethal, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, The Briscoes, Ring of Honor Tag Team champions Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky among those scheduled to appear. These could be the final Ring of Honor appearances for Rhodes and The Young Bucks, whose contracts are expiring.


FINAL BATTLE: One night before Ring of Honor comes to Philly, it presents its Final Battle pay-per-view at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The main event features Jay Lethal defending the Ring of Honor World Championship against Cody Rhodes. The Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship is also on the line, with champions Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky defending against Mark and Jay Briscoe and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson).

Zack Sabre Jr. comes to Ring of Honor to answer Jonathan Gresham’s open challenge; Matt Taven meets Dalton Castle; Jeff Cobb defends the Ring of Honor Television Championship against Hangman Page; Bully Ray battles Flip Gordon in an “I Quit” match; Marty Scurll faces Christopher Daniels and Sumie Sakai defends the Women of Honor World Championship against Madison Rayne, Karen Q and Kelly Klein.


INVISIBLE CHIKARA: CHIKARA wraps up its year today (Sat., Dec. 8) with “Let’s Get Invisible” (3 p.m.) at the The Wrestle Factory. In the main event, Dasher Hatfield defends the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Ophidian. The Whisper and Princess KimberLee, who won the La Loteria Letal, take on CHIKARA tag team champions Sloan Caprice and Rick Roland. Other matches include Boomer Hatfield vs. Hallowicked, Green Ant vs. former Grand champion Juan Francisco de Coronado, and Solo Darling vs. Travis Huckabee in an inter-gender match. There also will be a six-man tag team, an eight-man tag team match, a four-way tag team match and another inter-gender match.


DYNAMITE DIES: Tom Billington, better known by wrestling fans as Dynamite Kid, died at age 60. Billington, who has been in a wheelchair for the past two decades, was one of the most innovative wrestlers of the 1980s and ‘90s. A combination of high-flying maneuvers and compact power, Billington was an exciting wrestler and a success wherever he went.

Billington and a young Bret Hart had an amazing ladder match for Stampede Wrestling prior to Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon introducing ladder matches to a wider North American audience at WrestleMania X. Billington delivered the first superplex off the top turnbuckle that Achilles Heel remembers seeing during the Wrestling Classic tournament from the Rosemont Horizon in 1985.

Billington achieved his greatest fame as one half of the British Bulldogs, teaming with Davey Boy Smith. They won the WWF Tag Team Championship from Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake at WrestleMania II, with the match also taking place at Rosemont Horizo. The Greek God of Wrestling offers his condolence to Billington’s family and friends.


HENNIG DIES AT 82: Larry Hennig, a star in his own right before becoming known as the father of “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, died Thursday age 82. Larry Hennig was a state wrestling champion for Robbindale High School in Minneapolis. His greatest fame came in the Midwest-based AWA, teaming for many years with Harley Race. Later, he also teamed with Dusty Rhodes.

Hennig, the grandfather of WWE’s Curtis Axel, also had a run as a powerhouse heel in WWWF, receiving world title opportunities against both Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino. He returned to AWA, where he became a fan favorite. He even had the opportunity to team with his son, Curt, in AWA. The Greek God of Wrestling extends his condolence to the Hennig family and all of the friends and colleagues of Larry “The Axe” Hennig.


TLC TAKES SHAPE: WWE’s TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs), which takes place on Sun., Dec. 16, is shaping up as a terrific event. Daniel Bryan defends the WWE Championship against AJ Styles in what should be a fantastic match. Seth Rollins defends the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose in what also should be an amazing match.

Speaking of terrific matches, perhaps the most highly anticipated match at TLC is the first-even women’s tables, ladders and chairs match, with Becky Lynch defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair and Asuka. Women will play a large role at TLC. Ronda Rousey defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Nia Jax, and Natalya battles Ruby Riott in a tables match.

A tables, ladders and chairs match between Braun Strowman and interim Raw general manager Baron Corbin may not take place because Strowman underwent elbow surgery. There is a triple threat match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, with Sheamus and Cesaro defending against The New Day and Jimmy and Jey Uso. In singles matches, Finn Balor takes on Drew McIntyre, and Elias meets Bobby Lashley.


SURVIVOR SERIES DELIVERS: Survivor Series was a strong show, with the top of the card delivering terrific matches. Universal champion Brock Lesnar defeated WWE champion Daniel Bryan in an interesting match. Lesnar dominated Bryan until the underdog-turned-heel delivered a low blow, which transformed the match into an even affair that had fans believing Bryan would pull off the upset.

The most memorable match from Survivor Series, however, may have been Ronda Rousey’s disqualification victory over Charlotte Flair. The match was very good, drawing a “This is awesome!” chant, but it will be remembered for the brutal post-match beatdown Flair applied to Rousey. Fans hadn’t seen Rousey destroyed in that manner. Achilles Heel believes this will build toward a triple threat match with Flair, Rousey and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. Could it even be the main event?

The victory for Team Raw, with Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley surviving, in the Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown traditional Survivor  Series 5-on-5 elimination match was very good. The same is true of Seth Rollins’ victory over Shinsuke Nakamura in a champion vs. champion match and WWE Cruiserweight champion Buddy Murphy’s victory over Mustafa Ali.


RAW DOMINATION: The Greek God of Wrestling has no idea why Raw won every Raw vs. Smackdown match at Survivor Series. The only exception was the traditional Survivor Series 5-on-5 elimination tag team match, which took place during the pre-show. Unless it becomes part of a story line, with Smackdown seeking revenge, having one brand dominate the other makes no sense.


WWE COMES TO TOWN: Tickets went on sale Friday for an episode of Raw at Wells Fargo Center on March 4, which places it firmly on the road to WrestleMania. Tickets also went on sale Friday for a Smackdown house show at PPL Arena in Allentown on Mon., March 25, just two weeks before WrestleMania.


XFL CITIES: Philadelphia is not among the cities selected for franchise for the revived XFL, which begins play on Feb. 8-9, 2020. The markets selected were New York (East Rutherford, N.J.), Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles (Carson, Calif.), Tampa Bay, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.


MLW COMES TO 2300: Achilles Heel is going to finish this edition of Heel Turns the same way he started it – with an item about 2300 Arena. Major League Wrestling (MLW) will conduct a television taping for MLW: Fusion on Sat., Feb. 2 (6 p.m.) at 2300 Arena. Perhaps MLW will add to the legend and reputation of 2300 Arena by holding events there on a regular basis.

Heel Turns: Brands battle for survival

Posted by Achilles Heel On November - 18 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

It’s been a few weeks since the Greek God of Wrestling shared his wisdom with you, so we have a lot of catching up to do.

Let’s start by looking ahead to Survivor Series, which takes place Sunday (7 p.m., preshow at 5 p.m.) at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Survivor Series, which is set up as a Raw vs. Smackdown event, has undergone some major changes

The first major change involves the main event, which pits the WWE Universal champion against the WWE champion. Brock Lesnar is the Universal champion, having won that title, vacated by Roman Reigns due to his leukemia diagnosis, by defeating Braun Strowman at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. It appeared that Lesnar would be facing AJ Styles in a rematch from last year’s Survivor Series; however, that matchup changed when Daniel Bryan defeated Styles on Smackdown this week to win the WWE Championship.

Lesnar vs. Bryan is a fresh matchup. It’s the classic big man vs. little man match. Achilles Heel isn’t sure how Bryan’s apparent heel turn – he used a low blow to beat Styles and attacked him after the match – fits with his major underdog role against Lesnar, but that’s the dynamic of this match. One intriguing side story involves the role of Paul Heyman, whose instigation led to the Styles-Bryan match. Barring something crazy happening, it’s difficult to imagine Bryan winning this matchup.

The battle of the Raw and Smackdown women’s champions also underwent a major change. Raw champion Ronda Rousey was slated to battle Smackdown champion Becky Lynch, a feud that caught fire during Smackdown’s invasion of Raw this past Monday, which included Lynch applying an arm bar to Rousey in the locker room. Unfortunately, Lynch suffered a broken nose and concussion – due to a blow from Nia Jax – during the wild in-ring brawl at the end of Raw.

Lynch selected Charlotte, her top rival, to face Rousey in her place at Survivor Series. Having Charlotte instead of Lynch in this matchup is a bit of a disappointment, but Charlotte should produce a terrific match with Rousey. Given that Rousey is being presented as the unbeatable champion, and with the prospect of a Lynch vs. Rousey match down the road at WrestleMania, a Rousey victory seems to be in the cards.

There also will be traditional Survivor Series elimination matches on Sunday’s card. In the Raw vs. Smackdown men’s matchup, Team Raw consists of Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor and Bobby Lashley. Team Smackdown consists of The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and Shane McMahon. Team Raw appears to be completely dysfunctional. Strowman’s alliance with McIntyre and Ziggler has been blown up, and Balor and Lashley have been feuding. With Bryan off the team after winning the WWE Championship, Smackdown no longer has the dysfunctional co-captain, so unity appears to give an edge to Smackdown. On the other hand, Ziggler should pin McMahon as retribution for the loss in the finals of the World Cup Tournament. Could this be another Raw victory?

There also is a traditional Survivor Series women’s match. Team Raw consists of Nia Jax, Ruby Riott, Tamina, Mickie James and Natalya. This is nearly an all-heel team, and it’s difficult to imagine Natalya, the lone babyface, co-existing with Riott after the Riott Squad beat her down during Raw, one week after Riott smashed the glasses belonging to Jim Neidhart, Natalya’s late father. The Smackdown team consists of Asuka, Naomi, Carmella and Sonya Deville. The fifth spot was supposed to be filled by Charlotte, but now the identity of the fifth team member remains a mystery. The Greek God of Wrestling envisions a win for Team Smackdown.

There also will be a tag team Survivor Series elimination match. When one member is eliminated, so is his tag team partner. Team Raw consists of Bobby Roode and Dan Gable, The Ascension, the B-team, Revival and the Lucha House Party. Team Smackdown consists of Jimmy and Jey Uso, the New Day, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, the Colons and Sanity. This should be an overwhelming victory for Smackdown, which has the superior tag teams.

The Raw tag team champions, Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar), will battle Cesaro and Sheamus, the Smackdown tag team champions. Achilles Heel will take Authors of Pain, who need the win more than the more established team of Sheamus and Cesaro. Similarly, United States champion Shinsuke Nakamura needs a victory more than Intercontinental champion Seth Rollins, so possibly with some interference by Dean Ambrose, Achilles Heel selects Nakamura as the winner.

In the only match not involving Raw vs. Smackdown, WWE Cruiserweight champion Buddy Murphy defends that title against Mustafa Ali.

Even with changes to the top two matches on the card, Survivor Series appears to be an appealing event.


MISSING IN ACTION: There are several big names missing from Survivor Series. Among them are AJ Styles, Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose. We could see Ambrose interfere in the match between Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura. Orton has a history of success in the traditional Survivor Series elimination matches. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Orton, who has targeted Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio this year, interject himself in the Raw vs. Smackdown match, sabotaging his own team. Could we see Styles involved in the finish of the match between Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan? It’s difficult to imagine Styles, Orton and Ambrose not playing a role at Survivor Series.


NXT TAKES OVER: As always seems to be the case with its Takeover events, NXT delivered the goods with NXT Takeover: War Games. In the main event, Pete Dunne, Richochet, Hanson and Rowe emerged from the carnage of the War Games match with a victory over the Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly). At the end of a creative and brutally physical match, Ricochet and Dunne combined to pin Cole, provided an added twist to the Dunne-Ricochet rivalry.

Aleister Black defeated Johnny Gargano is a tremendous match that blended physicality, strategic wrestling and excellent psychology, drawing well-deserved “This is awesome!” chants. That chant also echoed throughout Staples Center as Tommaso Ciampa defeated Velveteen Dream to retain the NXT Championship.

Shayna Baszler, with the help of outside interference, defeated Kairi Sane in a best-two-out-of-three falls match to retain the NXT Women’s Championship. In an unscheduled match, Matt Riddle beat Kassius Ohno in seconds to open the show.


PHENOMENAL YEAR: It should be noted that AJ Styles’ reign as WWE champion lasted a little more than one year. Styles had a truly phenomenal run as champion.


INJURY CORNER: Several notable wrestlers have undergone, or will require, surgery. Cody Rhodes needs surgery to repair two tears in his meniscus. Rhodes is putting off the knee surgery until he battles Jay Lethal for the Ring of Honor World Championship at Final Battle on Dec. 14 and appears on the Wrestle Kingdom 13 show at the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4. Rhodes is expected to miss six weeks. Interestingly, the Final Battle match with Lethal is supposedly Rhodes’ final match in Ring of Honor.

Triple H is sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Triple H sustained the injury during the main event match in which he teamed with Shawn Michaels to defeat Undertaker and Kane.

Joey Ryan also needs surgery to repair a torn pectoral. Meanwhile, Marko Stunt needs surgery to repair a broken fibula sustained during a violent match with Eli Everfly, with the match being stopped after Stunt’s injury. One the same card, actor David Arquette, who infamously won the WCW World Championship during the Vince Russo era, sustained a deep cut in his neck during a death match with Nick Cage in which the injury seemed to play a role in the finish.


HONOR IN PHILLY: Ring of Honor’s final show of 2015 will take place at 2300 Arena on Dec. 15 (6 p.m.). Tickets are on sale for the show, which comes one day after Final Battle in New York. In addition to Jay Lethal vs. Cody Rhodes for the Ring of honor World Championship, Final Battle includes Matt Taven vs. Dalton Castle, Jeff Cobb defending the Ring of Honor Television title against Hangman Page, and a Four Corner Survival match for the Women of Honor World Championship featuring champion Sumie Sakai, Madison Rayne, Karen Q and the winner of a match between Kelly Klein and Jenny Rose.


UNDERDOG HEELS: It’s interesting to see two classic underdogs, Daniel Bryan and Johnny Gargano, make the transition to being heels. Their size and move set are consistent with being fan favorites. It’s unclear if the fans will buy into them as heels. The Gargano turn seems to be working. We’ll see about if WWE fans will boo Bryan.


CROWN JEWEL FALLOUT: The Greek God of Wrestling wasn’t impressed with Crown Jewel, which took place in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2. The biggest disappointment is with the World Cup Tournament. A tournament like that should feature at least a few long, competitive matches. Unfortunately, other than the Seth Rollins-Dolph Ziggler semifinal match, that didn’t happen. To make matters worse, after Miz suffered an injury prior to his tournament final match with Ziggler, Shane McMahon inserted himself into the tournament and defeated Ziggler in the final. It was ridiculous for McMahon to win this tournament, although WWE could salvage this travesty by having it be the beginning of a McMahon heel turn.

The WWE Championship match was very good, with AJ Styles retaining the title by defeating Samoa Joe, but the battle for the vacant WWE Universal Championship was disappointing. Acting Raw general manager Baron Corbin hit Braun Strowman with a chair before the match, setting up Brock Lesnar for a quick victory, although it took five F-5s to put away Strowman. It’s fair to wonder why so many of Lesnar’s matches are so short. If he has stamina issues, that doesn’t bode well for his rumored return to UFC.

The main event between Degeneration X and Undertaker and Kane was a mixed bag. Considering this was a match between four men who are either retired or don’t wrestle regularly, it was a darn good match. Michaels deserves special mention because, after eight years of retirement, the nearly bald Michaels played a larger role than expected after Triple H tore his pectoral muscle. He looked as if he barely missed a step. Kudos also go out to Triple H, who proved his toughness by finishing the match.


EVOLUTION THOUGHTS: Evolution, the historic all-women’s pay-per-view was a fun show. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair had a terrific Last Women Standing match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Otherwise, everything was good, but nothing else, from a wrestling standpoint, was great. Ronda Rousey won an entertaining match against Nikki Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship, and the six-woman tag team match pitting Natalya, Sasha Banks and Bailey and The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan) was very good. The battle royal, won by Nia Jax, was fine, and Trish Stratus and Lita turned back the clock to electrify the crowd during their win over Mickie James and Alicia Fox .


CHIKARA VS. BEYOND: CHIKARA Grand champion Dasher Hatfield will serve as captain of Team CHIKARA against Team Beyound in the 7-on-7 Cibernetico match as part of Cibernetico-7-Man Army at The Wrestle Factory on Saturday (3 p.m.). In another match, The Colony will take on The Proteus Wheel.


DEATH ZONE: Combat Zone Wrestling will present Cage of Death 20 on Sun., Dec. 9 at 2300 Arena. The main event will feature Maxwell Jacob Friedman defending the Combat Zone Wrestling World Championship against Rickey Shane Page. In another match, Mance Warner will battle David Starr. CZW will be collecting Toys for Tots at the event.


PHILLY IS HARDCORE: One night before Cage of Death 20, Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore presents House of Hardcore 52: Indie Darlings. NWA champion Nick Aldis battles Impact X Division champion Brian Cage, Willie Mack meets Shane Strickland, and Tommy Dreamer faces PCO. Bully Ray, Edge, Big Cass, Tyrus and James Ellsworth are also scheduled to be at the event.


MIXED CHALLENGE TWIST: WWE has given fans a reason to care about the Mixed Match Challenge. The winners of the tournament will have the option to enter the Royal Rumble (the men’s and women’s) at the coveted No. 30 position.


LOOKING AHEAD: What if Charlotte wins the Women’s Royal Rumble match and then challenges both Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch for their respective titles at WrestleMania? That triple threat match could possibly headline the card, marking the first time a women’s match will headline WrestleMania. Even if it’s not the main event, this could be one heckuva match.


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