15

Rebounds in season opener by Ben Simmons, who also scores 19 points

Eric Fisher imagines a place where you can escape all the bad news about the Phillies.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on Nelson Agholor’s troubles, Temple and Penn State pursuing conference titles, Penn’s Ivy League title, and Jimmie Johnson’s place in NASCAR history.

The Greek God of Wrestling explains how the Hardys and other wrestlers are taking control of their careers. Achilles Heel also tells you who became Ring of Honor’s new world champion, wonders what’s next for Goldberg after winning the WWE Universal Championship, and marvels at the reaction Undertaker can generate without saying a word.

Archive for the ‘Heel Turns’ Category

Heel Turns: Busy times in Philly

Posted by Achilles Heel On October - 14 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

 With no Eagles game this weekend, professional wrestling takes center stage in Philadelphia, with Ring of Honor and WWE hosting events in the city.

Ring of Honor is hosting “Glory by Honor,” a set of television tapings Sunday at 2300 Arena. WWE comes to town on Monday for Raw at Wells Fargo Center.

Ring of Honor will hold a meet-and-greet session at 4 p.m. The tapings officially get underway at 6 p.m.

The main event is a triple-threat match for the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship. The match features three of Ring of Honor’s most highly decorated teams. Mark and Jay Briscoe defended the titles against The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian).

The other announced matches include a pair of non-title matches, with NWA World Heavyweight champion Cody Rhodes facing Kenny King, and Ring of Honor Television champion Jeff Cobb battling Shane Taylor. Ring of Honor World champion Jay Lethal will team up with Jonathan Gresham and a mystery partner to face The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia). There also will be a seven-woman tag team match, with Women of Honor World champion Sumie Sakai teaming Madison Rayne and Jenny Rose to face Kelly Klein, Dr. Britt Baker, DMD and Karen Q. Shane “Hurricane” Helms, Adam Page and Marty Scurll are also scheduled to appear.

There only match announced for Raw on Monday is a six-man tag team match pitting The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) against Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, but that match only being promoted locally, so it could be a dark match – or it might not happen at all. WWE is teasing that Undertaker and Kane will respond to the challenge from Triple H and Shawn Michaels for a tag team match at WWE’s Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2. Other storylines to watch include Nikki and Brie Bella turning on Ronda Rousey, as well as Dean Ambrose feeling uncomfortable as a member of The Shield. There also should be qualifying matches for the World Cup Tournament at Crown Jewel. WWE is simultaneously building toward Crown Jewel and Evolution, the all-women’s event that will take place on Oct. 28.

As always, if you spot the Greek God of Wrestling at one of these events, please do not approach me for autographs and don’t touch me. In fact, don’t even speak to me. Basking in the glory of my presence should be enough of a reward for you.

*****

GLORY DAYS: Bound for Glory, which takes place Monday at the sold-out Melrose Ballroom in Manhattan, doesn’t seem like an overly impressive card. The lack of depth on the Impact Wrestling roster is brought to the forefront at major events. On the other hand, Impact Wrestling overcame the same situation to put on an impressive event at Slammiversary earlier this year, so we shouldn’t prejudge the quality of Bound for Glory.

The main event, which features Austin Aries defending the Impact Wrestling World Championship against Johnny Impact, should be terrific. Aries made the right move by leaving WWE for Impact Wrestling, where his talent is at center stage. Impact (the former Johnny Morrison) has always been good in the ring, so expect a fast-moving match. Achilles Heel has a feeling that Impact may capture the title.

The match that received the main event slot Thursday on the final Impact Wrestling show before Bound for Glory was the LAX vs. OGz match, which is now going to be a Concrete Jungle match, which supposedly means it will be held on concrete, with no ropes or ring. Perhaps Impact Wrestling put them in the Thursday’s main event slot because the television tapings were in Mexico, but this old and tired feud doesn’t feel like main event material.

The six-man tag team match between Brian Cage, Fenix and Pentagon Jr. against Sami Callihan and Dave and Jake Crist feels much fresher. So does the matchup between Eddie Edwards and Moose and the Knockouts Championship match between Tessa Blanchard and challenger Taya Valkyrie. There also will be a tag team match pitting Matt Sydal and Ethan Page against Rich Swann and Willie Mack.

Impact Wrestling will also be doing television tapings at Melrose Ballroom on Monday and Tuesday.

*****

TIME CHANGE: Beginning Oct. 25, Impact Wrestling will move from 8 p.m. to the 10 p.m.-midnight slot on Pop TV.

*****

WWE COMES TO ALLENTOWN: For those of you closer to the Lehigh Valley than Philadelphia, or if you prefer WWE to Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling, WWE will present a house show at PPL Arena in Allentown on Sunday (7 p.m.).

*****

GRAND NIGHT FOR SMACKDOWN: This busy week of wrestling continues Tuesday with WWE presenting the 1,000th episode of Smackdown. WWE is bringing in some big names for the grand celebration. Edge will be hosting a Cutting Edge Segment, Evolution (Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Bautista) will reunite and the Undertaker is scheduled to appear.

Rey Mysterio will make his return on Tuesday, wrestling Shinsuke Nakamura for a berth in WWE’s World Cup Tournament, which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 2 as part of Crown Jewel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Orton and Jeff Hardy have already secured two of the four Smackdown spots in the World Cup Tournament.

*****

JONATHAN DIES AT 87: Don Leo Jonathan, one of professional wrestling’s greatest giants, died Saturday at age 87. Jonathan, who stood 6-foot-6-inches tall and weighed in the vicinity of 300 pounds, had incredible athletic ability.

A star in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Jonathan was actually past his prime by the time the Greek God of Wrestling first saw him, but even then he was an amazing talent. Despite his size, Johnson could pull off incredibly athletic maneuvers. Jonathan had a terrific feud with Andre the Giant and won several versions of the world title.

Jonathan would have been a star in any era. Achilles Heel extends his condolences to Jonathan’s friends and family.

*****

BIG CHANGES DOWN UNDER: The big news coming out of WWE’s Super-Showdown in Melbourne, Australia was Undertaker and Kane turning on Triple H and Shawn Michaels after Triple H defeated Undertaker in the main event. The four wrestlers were celebrating afterward, with all four raising their arms in the air, when the attack occurred.

This angle set up the tag team match scheduled to take place at Crown Jewel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2. The reformation of Degeneration X, with Shawn Michaels coming out of retirement, is the biggest surprise. It should be noted that Kane tore his Achilles tendon earlier this year.

The Triple H-Undertaker match was as good as can be expected from two stars well past their primes. In fact, it was a good match by any standard. The best matches were AJ Styles successfully defending the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe and the six-man match in which The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins) defeated Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre.

The other big news from Australia was Buddy Murphy winning the WWE Cruiserweight Championship from Cedric Alexander. The Australian crowd was loudly behind Murphy, who is from Melbourne.

Other than the Cruiserweight match, the six-man tag team match, the main event and Ronda Rousey’s appearance in a six-woman match, the crowd was fairly quiet. It even took time for the crowd to warm up to the excellent Styles-Joe match. As we saw at the card earlier this year in Saudi Arabia, it seems as if foreign crowds react differently than American crowds.

*****

JEWEL IN JEOPARDY? The “Crown Jewel” event, part of a long-term deal between WWE and Saudi Arabia, is in jeopardy due to controversy surrounding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist in Turkey. There are reports that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. WWE released a statement saying it is monitoring the situation, but there is already pressure on WWE to cancel the event.

*****

NXT UK READY TO ROLL: The long-awaited debut of NXT UK will take place on WWE Network beginning this Wednesday (3 p.m.). This is part of WWE’s extension as a global brand. The legendary Johnny Saint will serve as the on-air general manager.

*****

NEW JAPAN WATCH: If you have AXS on your cable or dish package, it’s worth checking out New Japan Wrestling. Jim Ross handles the play-by-play. The show features IWGP champion Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada and many more.

*****

CRAZY FOR CONQUISTADORS: Continuing our international theme (sort of), the Conquistador won the Worldwide Battle Royal on Raw. Set up by Raw interim general manager Baron Corbin to secure himself a spot in the World Cup Tournament, the battle royal ended in surprise when the Conquistador – after hiding outside the ring for most of this very short battle royal – re-entered the ring to deliver several textbook suplexes and an Angle slam on Corbin before throwing him over the top rope. The Conquistador then removed his mask to reveal himself as Kurt Angle.

The Greek God of Wrestling admits to having a soft spot for Conquistadors. He liked the original team, loved it when Edge and Christian wrestled as The Conquistadors (and then did commentary the following week while The Conquistadors wrestled to prove that they weren’t The Conquistadors), and enjoyed Angle’s Conquistador portrayal last week on Raw.

*****

EVOLUTION NEWS: Two matches were added to WWE’s Evolution, the all-women’s pay-per-view on Oct. 28. After Nikki and Brie Bella turned on Ronda Rousey on aw following their victory over the Riott Squad on Raw, it was announced that Nikki Bella will challenge Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship at Evolution.

The following night, after a double countout in their match on Smackdown, it was announced that Becky Lynch will defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair at Evolution in a last woman standing match.

As if that weren’t enough, Trish Stratus and Lita will team up to face Alexa Bliss and Mickie James instead of what was expected to be a singles match between Bliss and Stratus.

Heel Turns: WWE going global

Posted by Achilles Heel On September - 29 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

WWE Super Showdown, which will air on WWE Network next Saturday (5 a.m. EST), is the latest example of WWE’s increasingly global profile.

In November, WWE will return to Saudi Arabia for its second major stadium show this year. Next Saturday it’s Australia’s turn to host a major stadium show, with WWE coming to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

These major cards across the world enable WWE to become a presence in these countries. Once the WWE is established there, it can increase the number of subscribers to WWE Network and, of course, sell more merchandise.

With perhaps only marginal gains to be made in the United States, WWE is increasing its revenue through its global growth. Perhaps this is one reason that its stock has soared to all-time highs, going beyond $90 in value.

From an in-ring standpoint, WWE has lined up a card that’s almost WrestleMania worthy. The main event is Undertaker vs. Triple H. This match is billed as the final meeting in a legendary rivalry. It would be expecting too much to see Undertaker and Triple H, both of whom are semi-retired as in-ring performers, put on a five-star classic. Or even a 4-star classic. There should be a lot of interference and gimmicks – think Triple H vs. Sting at WrestleMania 31 – to give the combatants time to recover at various moments during their match. Unless there is a rematch planned, Undertaker should win in what could be a great spectacle, but not a great match.

One match that should pay off in the ring is the WWE Championship match between Samoa Joe and AJ Styles. Their Hell in a Cell match ended in controversial fashion, with Styles, out of the referees sight, appearing to tap out before Joe’s shoulders were down for a 3-count. This has been an intense rivalry. Expect another hard-hitting excellent match on Saturday.

Another heated rivalry that could boil over during a title match is Smackdown Women’s champion Becky Lynch defending the title against former champion Charlotte. A third Smackdown title match features The New Day defending the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against Sheamus and Cesaro.

Although three of Smackdown’s titles are on the line at WWE Super Showdown, none of the Raw championship will be defended. That doesn’t mean, however, that the champions won’t be featured in major matches. WWE Universal champion Seth Rollins and Intercontinental champion Seth Rollins join Dean Ambrose in reforming The Shield. Their opponents are Braun Strowman and Raw tag team champions Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. After watching McIntyre, Ziggler, Rollins and Ambrose burn the house down during a tag team title match at Hell in a Cell, the Greek God of Wrestling is confident in predicting this should be one hell of a match.

Instead of defending her title, Raw Women’s champion Ronda Rousey will team up with Nikki and Brie Bella to face The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan). In another women’s match, Asuka and Naomi will battle The Iconics (Billie Kay, Peyton Royce) on their home turf.

Daniel Bryan and The Miz continue their long-time rivalry at Super Showdown. In addition, John Cena returns to action for the first time since the “Greatest Royal Rumble” in Saudi Arabia, team with Bobby Lashley against Kevin Owens and Elias, and Cedric Alexander defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Buddy Murphy.

You’ll have to get up early to see this loaded card live. But the intended audience stretches far beyond the shores of the United States.

*****

DISHONOR IN VEGAS: In the main event of Friday’s Death Before Dishonor in Las Vegas, Jay Lethal retained the Ring of Honor World Championship by defeating Will Ospreay, who is definitely one of the rising stars on the international scene. The end of the match seemed destined to create new challengers for Lethal, most notably Matt Taven.

In what was sort of the co-main event, Cody Rhodes, Marty Schurll, Adam Page and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defeated Kazuchika Okada, Tomohior Ishii, Chucke T, Baretta and Romero. Jay and Mark Briscoe defeated Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian to retain the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship, and Sumie Sakai retained the Women of Honor Championship by defeating Tenille Dashwood.

*****

NWA NEWS: Former NWA champion Nick Aldis was doing commentary at Death Before Dishonor. He proposed – and Cody Rhodes later accepted – making the NWA World Championship match at NWA’s 70th Anniversary show on Oct. 21 a best-two-out-of-three falls match.

*****

HEAVEN AND HELL: It’s been nearly two weeks since WWE’s Hell in a Cell, but the Greek God of Wrestling didn’t want to miss his opportunity to praise this event. As Achilles Heel suggested, having fewer matches allowed for longer and better matches.

The event got off on the right foot in the opening match (not counting the preshow match) between Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy. Orton was at his sadistic best, even inserting a screwdriver in the hole in Hardy’s ear and twisting it, causing fans to cringe and turn their heads away to avoid seeing the sickening moment. As I predicted, Hardy tried a daredevil maneuver while hanging from the top of the cage. He went through a table face-first, leading to an injury angle that appears as if it will keep Hardy out of action for a while. This was a terrific match.

The Greek God of Wrestling won’t recount every match – and I’ve already praised the WWE Championship match between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe and the outstanding Raw Tag Teach Championship match in which Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler retained the titles against Seth Rollins and Drew Ambrose. But the main event can’t go without mention.

The Hell in a Cell match main event between WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman ended with Brock Lesnar making a surprising return. Lesnar broke down the door of the cage and then proceeded to attack Reigns and Strowman, who already were laid out due to the punishment they inflicted upon each other. It will be interesting to see how much Lesnar is involved as this storyline progresses.

In other matches at Hell in a Cell, Raw Women’s champion Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss in a match that was much more competitive than their SummerSlam bout, The Miz and Maryse beat Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella (Maryse pinned Brie) and, in the preshow, The New Day defeated Rusev and Aiden English to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

*****

IN SEARCH OF GLORY: Impact Wrestling will present Bound for Glory on Sun., Oct. 14 at the Melrose Ballroom in New York City. The main event features Johnny Impact challenging Austin Aries for the Impact Wrestling World Championship.

Moose will battle Eddie Edwards, and Tessa Blanchard will defend the Impact Wrestling Knockouts title against Taya Valkyrie. There also will be a six-man tag team match, with X-Division champion Brian Cage teaming with Pentagon Jr. and Fenix to face Sami Callihan and oVe (Dave and Jake Crist).

Bound for Glory is sold out, but tickets remain for the television tapings the following two nights.

                              *****                               

REVIVAL’S REVIVAL: It was nice to see the resurrection of The Revival this past week on Raw. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, who hadn’t been seen since Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler assaulted them in order to get their shot at the Raw Tag Team Championship, challenged McIntyre and Ziggler for the titles. Although they lost, Dawson and Wilder were impressive.

*****

EVOLUTION REUNION: Evolution, one of the greatest groups in wrestling history, will reunited for Smackdown’s 1,000th episode on Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C. Evolution featured Ric Flair as the legend, serving as mentor to the already established main eventer in Triple H, and rising stars Randy Orton and Bautista. Orton is the only member of Evolution who is a full-time wrestler.

*****

BEST IS YET TO COME? Maxwell Jacob Friedman will defend the Combat Zone Wrestling Heavyweight Championship against David Starr at “Better than our Best” on Sat., Oct. 13 at the Colossal Sports Academy in Voorhees. In another title match, Blackwater will defend his recently won CZW Wired Television Championship against Jordan Oliver.

*****

HATFIELD DEFENDS TITLE: Dasher Hatfield, who became interim Grand Champion after Mark Angelosetti, his partner in The Throwbacks, broke his fibula during a first-round match King of Trios, made a successful title defense against Travis Huckabee last Saturday at “It Came From Beneath the Sink.”

Boomer Hatfield, Dasher’s son, will be in action on Sun., Oct. 7 at Hour of Power at the Wrestle Factory. Boomer will face Sloan Caprice. In other announced matches, Thief Ang will battle Volgar, and Officer Warren Barksdale faces Frantik. Six days later, CHIKARA returns to The Wrestle Factory for the wonderfully titled “Piano Lessons Can be Murder.”

*****                               

RAW IN PHILLY: Don’t forget that Raw is coming to Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 15. If you’re looking for a double-shot of WWE, the Raw crew will be at PPL Center in Allentown the previous night.

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