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Prime time games for Eagles during 2018 regular season

The Greek God of Wrestling says the uncertainty surrounding Bound for Glory reveals the depths of TNA’s financial difficulties. Achilles Heel also praises Clash of Champions, tells you which Ring of Honor title changed hands in an incredible match, and lists some interesting teams competing in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

Gordon Glantz offers his first (and second) impressions, both positive and negative, of the Eagles midway through their preseason schedule.

Hector Neris (pictured) may be the third reliever to try the closer’s role if 39-year-old Joaquin Benoit, who replaced Jeanmar Gomez, can’t get the job done better than he did during Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Nationals. Eric Fisher also points out that the gamble on Clay Buchholz didn’t pay off, Aaron Nola is off to a good start and several Phillies hitters are off to poor starts.

Archive for the ‘Heel Turns’ Category

Heel Turns: WrestleMania card nearly final

Posted by Achilles Heel On April - 2 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

One week before WrestleMania 34, the card seems nearly complete. There are 13 scheduled matches, with the likely addition of John Cena vs. Undertaker to round out the event.

Additions last week included Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, with Owens and Zayn being rehired if they emerge victorious. Bryan fired Owens and Zayn two weeks ago, which led to a vicious attack on Bryan at the end of Smackdown.

Sheamus and Cesaro will defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against Braun Strowman and a partner of his choosing. The Greek God of Wrestling envisions Strowman ending up taking on Sheamus and Cesaro by himself.

The United States Championship match was tweaked, with Rusev added to the match. The triple threat match now becomes a fatal four-way match, with Randy Orton defending against Bobby Roode, Jinder Mahal and Rusev. The final of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament is also set, with Cedric Alexander battling Mustafa Ali.

Achilles Heel will return later this week with a complete preview of WrestleMania 34.

*****

HALL OF A NIGHT: The WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place Friday night in New Orleans. The headliner is Goldberg, who will be inducted by Paul Heyman. Other inductees, with the person introducing them in parentheses, are: the Dudley Boyz (Edge and Christian); Jeff Jarrett (Road Dogg Jesse James); Ivory (Molly Holly); Hillbilly Jim (Jimmy Hart) and Mark Henry. Jarrius “JJ” Robertson will receive the Warrior Award, and Kid Rock will be inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.

The Greek God of Wrestling is most looking forward to the induction of the Dudley Boyz, both because Edge and Christian are so awesome and you never know what Bubba Ray is going to say. Mark Henry’s induction could be very emotional. The wild card is Jeff Jarrett, who may speak about his substance abuse issues.

*****

SUPER CARD: Without space in the WrestleMania 34 preview for every promotion’s event, Achilles Heel will highlight some of the other non-WWE events taking place in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend.

Let’s begin with Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XII, which takes place on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at the UNO Lakefront Arena. The show is headlined by a double main event: Cody Rhodes vs. Kenny Omega and a Ring of Honor World Championship match, with Dalton Castle defending against Marty Scurll.

Other matches for this card include Mark and Jay Briscoe defending the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship against Jay Lethal and Hiroshi Tanahashi; SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio sky defending the Ring of Honor Six-Man Tag Team Championships against the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Flip Gordon in a ladder match; Kenny King defending the Ring of Honor World Television Championship against Silas Young in a last man standing match; Adam Page vs. Kota Ibushi; and Punishment Martinez vs. Tomohiro Ishii. The semifinals and final of the Woman of Honor Championship Tournament will also be crowned at Supercard of Honor.

*****

TRIPLE THREAT: EVOLVE is hosting shows in the New Orleans area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The action kicks off Thursday in Kenner, La., with EVOLVE 102. Zack Sabre Jr. defends the EVOLVE Championship against Matt Riddle in what should be a classic match. The card also includes Daisuke Sekimoto and Munenori Sawa vs. Timothy Thatcher and WALTER, WWN champion Keith Lee vs. Darby Allin in a non-title match, and AR Fox vs. Will Ospreay (although Osrpeay’s appearance is in doubt due to a neck injury suffered in Japan).

Friday’s EVOLVE 103 has an EVOLVE vs. The World theme. Riddle squares off with Sekimoto in the main event. .

The action culminates with Saturday’s WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 2018. Lee defends the WWN Championship against Sekimoto. In the co-main event, Sabre, if he’s still champion, defends the EVOLVE Championship against Sawa. Chris Dickinson and Jaka will defend the EVOLVE Tag Team Championship against WALTER and Timothy Thatcher. If Ospreay is healthy enough to wrestle, he will face Riddle in a dream match.

*****

WELCOME TO CZW: Combat Zone Wrestling will also have a big event in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend. CZW will present “Welcome to the Combat Zone on Saturday (3 p.m.) at the Sugar Mill. In the main event, Rickey Shane Page will defend the CZW World Championship against Ethan Page. There has been some shuffling of the card. David and Jake Crist will face Bandido and Flamita; Joey Ryan and Laura James will meet Joey Janela and Penelope Ford; Jeff Cobb battles Joe Gacy, and David Starr squares off with Juice Robinson. In a match that could steal the show if Will Ospreay is healthy, Ospreay squares off with Dezmond Xavier.

*****

HUGE CONVENTION: The WrestleCon Convention also takes place in New Orleans this week. As part of the events, which include tons of wrestling celebrities, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, there will be a “Super Show” Thursday (9:30 p.m.) at the Sugar Mill. Matches include Jeff Cobb vs. Romohiro Ishii and Joey Janela vs. Penta Om. Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are among the others advertised for this show.

*****

REVOLUTION: RevPro wrestling will present an event Friday (4 p.m.) from the Sugar Mill. The featured bout is a six-man tag team match pitting Kota Ibushi, Flip Gordon and Shane Strickland against Will Ospreay (if he’s cleared to compete), Rocky Romero and Chuckie T.

*****

OKADA FOILS SABRE: Kazuchika Okada successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Zack Sabre Jr. on Sunday at Sakura Genesis. It appears that Okada’s next challenger will be Hiroshi Tanahashi, who lost to Sabre in the finals of the New Japan Cup.

*****

OFF THE CASE: Not surprisingly, Ethan Carter III was revealed as having grabbed the “fired” case on Impact Wrestling. Carter made his official debut on NXT the previous night.

*****

NXT IN NEW ORLEANS: The NXT event on Saturday (8 p.m., WWE Network) is shaping up as a terrific card. The main event features Andrade “Cien” Almas defending the NXT Championship against Aleister Black.

In perhaps the most-anticipated match, Johnny Gargano will battle Tommaso Ciampa in an unsanctioned match. If Gargano wins, he is reinstated to NXT. If Ciampa wins, Gargano is banished forever. (If it’s an unsanctioned match, how can there be stipulations about reinstatement?)

There will also be a six-man ladder match to determine the first NXT North American champion, a singles title that will be a secondary title to the NXT Championship. The competitors will be Adam Cole, Ricochet, EC3 (Ethan Carter III), Velveteen Dream, Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan.

Two other title matches round out the card. Ember Moon defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler, and The Undisputed Era defend the NXT Tag Teacm Championship against the winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The finals of the Rhodes Classic pit The Authors of Pain against Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne. But there is also uncertainty about the match because Bobby Fish suffered a knee injury, believed to be a torn ACL, at a house show match. Cole would be the natural choice to fill in alongside Undisputed Era teammate Kyle O’Reilly, but Cole is already scheduled to be in the ladder match for the NXT North American Championship.

*****

GREATEST RUMBLE RUMBLINGS: The first five entrants for the 50-man Greatest Royal Rumble match in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, have been announced. Daniel Bryan, Big Show, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt and Kane will be in the match, which will take place on Fri., April 27 at King Abdulla Sports City Stadium.

All seven men’s titles will be defended during the event. There won’t be any women’s wrestlers on the card, but what did you expect in a country that is going to allow womenen to drive for the first time this year?

The Miz, if he’s still champion, will defend the Intercontinental Championship against Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe in a ladder match. Matt and Jeff Hardy will challenge Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championship. John Cena is slated to battle Triple H. Expect Mustafa Ali to either defend or win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

*****

MIXED TAG FINAL: With Becky Lynch filling in for Charlotte Flair, who had dental surgery, Bobby Roode and Lynch defeated Sasha Banks and Finn Balor in the semifinals of the Mixed Tag Challenge, a Facebook-only tournament. They will face Asuka and Miz in the finals.

This means that Flair and Asuka would face each other five days before they meet for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 34. What if Asuka pinned Flair five days before WrestleMania? What if Flair pinned the undefeated Asuka five days before WrestleMania? Both possibilities would add intrigue to WrestleMania.

Heel Turns: Bryan is back!

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

In professional wrestling, we’ve become accustomed to retirements being temporary. But the end of Daniel Bryan’s retirement is different.

Bryan’s retirement wasn’t an angle. And his emergence from retirement isn’t simply a case of a wrestler missing the spotlight – or the money.

Bryan retired from wrestling more than two years ago because of concussion-related injuries. He hasn’t wrestled since May of 2015, when the concussion-related injuries forced him to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship that he had won in a tremendous seven-man ladder match at WrestleMania 31.

Winning the Intercontinental Championship was a comeback of sorts for Bryan, who had been forced to give up the WWE Championship in June of 2014 because he needed neck surgery. Winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX seemed to be the culmination of all of Bryan’s hard work during his career, but the joy was cut short by the death of his father two weeks later and the injury that ended his championship reign.

As was the case with his career, Bryan never gave up hope of returning to the ring. He underwent unique treatments, such as breathing oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber to promote healing, and visited specialist after specialist in an attempt to get WWE to clear him for a return to the ring.

That clearance came Tuesday. And the wrestling world rejoiced.

After WWE announced that it had cleared Bryan, the Smackdown general manager gave an emotional speech at the start of Tuesday’s show. The live crowd, as expected, went crazy.

But that wasn’t the only memorable segment for Bryan on Tuesday. In the final segment of Smackdown, Bryan fired Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for their vicious attack on Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon the previous week. Owens and Zayn responded with a similar beatdown of Bryan, resulting in Bryan being carried out on a stretcher.

During the assault on Bryan, however, the general manager mounted a comeback. The crowd response as Bryan ran from corner to corner to deliver running drop kicks on Owens and Zayn was deafening. It served as a reminder of how much the fans love Bryan.

The way this angle is being set up, it appears that Bryan will team up with McMahon to face Owens and Zayn at WrestleMania 34, which will be held April 8 in New Orleans, where Bryan won the WWE Championship in an outstanding triple threat match with Randy Orton and Batista.

This storyline has been building for more than six months, starting with Kevin Owens’ feud with Shane McMahon, which included Owens’ savage attack Vince McMahon. Zayn got involved by saving Owens during his subsequent Hell in the Cell match with Shane McMahon. Bryan got involved in the storyline by seeming to take the side of Owens and Zayn against repeated retribution by McMahon against the duo.

Regardless of where this storyline goes at WrestleMania, it is awesome to know that Bryan will be able to wrestle again.

*****

CRYSTAL BALL: Nobody should be completely surprised by Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring. After all, the Greek God of Wrestling predicted it in his 2018 predictions edition of Heel Turns. My only regret is in not being more specific by predicting his return would come at WrestleMania.

*****

FASTLANE RECAP: As was the case in the previous item, Fastlane provides Achilles Heel with yet another opportunity to say “I told you so.”

In my Heel Turns preceding Fastlane, I told you that despite little buildup for some of the matches, Fastlane could be a terrific event. Hopefully, you’ve learned by now to take the Greek God of Wrestling’s advice.

The six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship was tremendous. AJ Styles retained the title in a fantastic match. Everybody played a major role in this match, including John Cena, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Owens and Zayn feuded during the match, with Zayn faking laying down for Owens, as he said he would, and turning it into a small package.

Owens tried to kick Zayn outside the ring, but Zayn moved, causing Owens’ foot to connect with Shane McMahon’s jaw. McMahon later retaliated by pulling the referee out of the ring to prevent him from counting to three on an Owens pin attempt, and then yanking Zayn out of the ring while he had Owens pinned.

Randy Orton won the United State Championship from Bobby Roode in a match that built beautifully to its climax. Thankfully, Jinder Mahal’s interference was saved for after the match, allowing Orton to get a clean win.

Charlotte Flair won a hard-fought match against Ruby Riott. The post-match angle was the most important part of this match. Asuka came down after the match and challenged Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, just as Achilles Heel suggested might happen.

Jimmy and Jey Uso were having a stellar Smackdown Tag Team Championship match with the New Day when the Bludgeon Brothers, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, interrupted. Harper and Rowan crushed both teams with a series of power moves that left carnage in their wake all around the ringside area.

The show started off with Shinsuke Nakamura defeating Rusev in an entertaining match. The women’s tag team match, with Natalya and Carmella defeating Becky Lynch and Naomi, was solid. Fastlane turned out to be a terrific event with interesting matches and angles, proving once again why you should always listen to the Greek God of Wrestling’s advice.

*****

LESNAR IN BEAST-MODE: WWE probably shouldn’t have had people carried out on stretchers on consecutive nights, but Brock Lesnar’s attack on Roman Reigns was as vicious as Kevin Owens’ and Sami Zayn’s attack on Daniel Bryan. The key development was that Reigns had been handcuffed by U.S. marshals. That left Reigns defenseless as Lesnar hit him with a steel chair and delivered suplexes and an F-5. Lesnar also turned over the stretcher with Reigns on it and resumed his attack.

WWE is trying very hard to get as many people as possible to cheer Reigns instead of booing him at WrestleMania. On this night, there were definitely people booing Lesnar, which is a good start toward getting the desired reaction.

*****

SUPER CARD: Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XII, which takes place in New Orleans on April 7, the night before WrestleMania, continues to get better. The event is headlined by Cody Rhodes vs. Kenny Omega and a Ring of Honor World Championship match, with Dalton Castle defending against Marty Scurll.

Matches added to this card include Mark and Jay Briscoe defending the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship against Jay Lethal and Hiroshi Tanahashi, Adam Page vs. Kota Ibushi, Punishment Martinez vs. Tomohiro Ishii, and SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) defending the Ring of Honor Six-Man Tag Team Championship against former six-man champions The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Maseglia). The first Woman of Honor champion will also be crowned at Supercard of Honor.

*****

SABRE IS SHARP: Speaking of Japanese wrestlers, Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the New Japan Cup in Nagaoka, Japan. Sabre, a wonderful technical wrestler, will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on April 1 at Sakura Genesis.

*****

ON THE CASE: Impact Wrestling had a Feast or Fired match last week. Petey Williams, Moose, Ethan Carter III and Eli Drake grabbed the briefcases. Tonight (Thursday) we will find out who is fired and who will receive title shots.

*****

WELCOME TO CZW: Combat Zone Wrestling will also have a big event in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend. CZW will present “Welcome to the Combat Zone on Sat., April 7 (3 p.m.) at the Sugar Mill. In the main event, Rickey Shane Page will defend the CZW World Championship against Ethan Page. Maxwell Jacob Friedman will defend the CZW Wired Championship against Joey Ryan. Other announced matches include Sami Callihan vs. Joey Janela, Will Ospreay vs. Dezmond Xavier, Jeff Cobb vs. Joe Gacy, David Starr vs. Juice Robinson, and Rich Swann vs. Zachary Wentz.

*****

CHIKARA MARCHES ON: CHIKARA will host a members-only Hour of Power event at the Wrestle Factory on Saturday before returning on Sat., March 31 with “Young Lions Cup XIV,” which is open to the public. Omari will face Cam Zagami in the Young Lions Cup final. The event also features Juan Francisco de Coronado defending the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Ophidian, The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield and “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti) vs. Legion of Rot, and former tag champions Los Ice Creams vs. The Nouveau Aesthetic.

*****

INNOVATION: After watching Matt “Wokken” Hardy’s match against Bray Wyatt on RAW, Achilles Heel will repeat what he said when the Hardys put together these types of matches with Impact Wrestling. Although I appreciate the attempt at innovation, I don’t like pre-recorded matches with special effects. Part of the art of professional wrestling is reacting to the live crowd. You can’t do that if the match is pre-recorded – and it also means the crowd isn’t part of the match.

*****

CRUISERWEIGHT FINAL SET: Mustafa Ali defeated Drew Gulak on 205 Live!, earning a berth in the finals of the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Ali will battle Cedric Alexander for the title at WrestleMania 34 in what should be an action-packed match.

It seems logical that having Ali defend the Cruiserweight Championship or challenge for it at the big event in Saudi Arabia would be a good idea. But it would be wrong to think that Ali is getting this opportunity solely because of his ethnicity. Ali has been consistently good in the ring, and his recent promos have been outstanding.

*****

MIXED TAG NEWS: Asuka and The Miz defeated Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss to reach the finals of the Mixed Tag Challenge in the Facebook-only tournament. Their opponents will be determined next Tuesday, with Charlotte Flair and Bobby Roode meeting Sasha Banks and Finn Balor, who were voted back into the tournament by fans in the second-chance voting.

Banks and Balor were eliminated by Asuka and Miz, so a rematch makes sense. That match would also pit Balor against Miz five days before they square off, along with Seth Rollins, in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship. On the other hand, if Charlotte and Flair reach the finals, Flair and Asuka would face each other five days before they meet for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Imagine if Asuka pinned Flair five days before WrestleMania – or if Flair pinned the undefeated Asuka five days before WrestleMania.

The Greek God of Wrestling predicted that Flair and Roode would win the tournament. It’s possible, however, that WWE throws a curveball by having the semifinal match end in a draw. Miz would declare his team the winner of the tournament, but WWE could instead make the final a triple-threat match, which brings the Flair-Asuka and Balor-Miz dynamic into play.

*****

HALL NEWS: WWE announced Monday that Mark Henry will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It was also announced that Edge and Christian would present the Dudley Boyz at the induction ceremony on Fri., April 6 in New Orleans.

*****

WRESTLEMANIA: The WrestleMania 34 card appears to be complete, with perhaps one or two more matches to be added. The main event features Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns. AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura.

The match that is likely to attract the most mainstream media attention pits MMA star Ronda Rousey and former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The Miz defends the Intercontinental Championship in a triple threat match with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, and Randy Orton defends the United States Championship in a triple threat match with Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal.

Charlotte Flair defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship against the undefeated Asuka. Alexa Bliss defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Nia Jax. Sheamus and Cesaro will defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against Braun Strowman and a partner of his choice. The Smackdown Tag Team title match hasn’t been announced, but the Greek God of Wrestling expects a triple threat match between the Usos (Jimmy and Jey), the New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E, with Xavier Woods selling an injury) and the Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan).

There also will be a WWE Cruiserweight Championship match between Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali. The Andre the Giant Battle Royal and the first WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal round out the card. A tag team match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and the team of Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan is also likely to be added to the card. Achilles Heel will have more information about WrestleMania and a detailed preview during the next two weeks.

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