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Home runs for Rhys Hoskins in 11 games since being called up by Phillies

The Greek God of Wrestling previews WWE’s Roadblock. Achilles Heel also reflects on last week’s Raw in Philly, TNA’s latest show from the “Hardy compound” and why Zack Ryder had a bad night on Smackdown despite winning a tag team battle royal.

The whispers have already started after Nick Foles threw two interceptions in the Eagles’ preseason opener. Gordon Glantz says everyone should relax. Foles will be fine.

After the dust settles following the NFL Draft’s first round, the Eagles will try to build depth and find future starters, such as Iowa DB Desmond King (pictured), in rounds 2-7. Gordon Glantz presents his final Eagles mock draft, and throws in some rookie free agents as a bonus.

Archive for the ‘Heel Turns’ Category

Heel Turns: SummerSlam could be hot

Posted by Achilles Heel On August - 17 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelEven with a four-hour show, it seems as if there are a lot of matches scheduled for SummerSlam. One match has been moved to the preshow, but the Greek God of Wrestling wouldn’t be surprised to see a second match moved to the preshow in order to give the other matches more time to develop (Update: a six-man tag team match has been added to the preshow).

Let’s take a look at the matches for SummerSlam, which takes place Sunday (7 p.m., WWE Network) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Brock Lesnar (WWE Universal champion) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe

This match could go in a lot of different directions, which is one reason that it’s the most intriguing match at SummerSlam. Lesnar could emerge as Universal champion, but it’s certainly possible that the title could change hands, especially because it could change hands without Lesnar getting pinned, which protects his reputation as “The Beast.”

If Lesnar loses the title, Reigns is the most likely to win it. He generates a tremendous reaction from fans – both positive and negative – and, in case you haven’t noticed, his matches have been terrific so far this year. He would have some immediate challengers in Joe and Strowman. Joe could fulfill a career-long dream by becoming WWE Universal champion, and that’s certainly a possibility. A long-shot scenario would be Strowman winning the title, with Paul Heyman switching allegiances from Lesnar to Strowman. (This scenario only makes sense if Lesnar is leaving WWE shortly.) Prediction: This match is difficult to predict, but Achilles Heel thinks it’s time to make Reigns the champion.

Jinder Mahal (WWE champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Mahal has started to grow into his championship, as JBL says on Smackdown. His matches have improved, although they’re far from great, and he’s beginning to develop as a heel personality. On the other hand, Nakamura has been on a roll, winning his feud with Baron Corbin and even defeating John Cena for the right to challenge Mahal at SummerSlam. The Brooklyn fans will certainly be rooted loudly for Nakamura, who should receive star treatment. Prediction: This may not seem fair to Nakamura, but I don’t think WWE would put the title on a wrestler with limited English skills. Nakamura has tremendous charisma, but the Greek God of Wrestling thinks Mahal will find another way, by hook or by crook, to once again retain his title.

A.J. Styles (United States champion) vs. Kevin Owens

Shane McMahon is the special guest referee, which adds another element to this grudge match. The feud between McMahon and Styles earlier this year, along with both Styles and Owens “accidentally” kicking McMahon the past two weeks, adds another layer to this terrific rivalry. Prediction: One prediction is this should compete with the WWE Universal Championship match to be the best match at SummerSlam. The outcome could depend on the WWE Championship match. If Mahal retains, Owens could win the U.S. Championship, leaving Styles to become a top challenger for Mahal. Conversely, if Nakamura captures the title, Styles should retain the U.S. Championship.

Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team champions) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins

This match was just added to SummerSlam on Monday, but it quickly became one of the most-anticipated matches on the card. Ambrose and Rollins forming a sort of Shield should ignite the crowd, as it did on Raw this week. Prediction: The easy call would be for Ambrose and Rollins to win the titles. If Reigns wins the main event, former members of the Shield would hold all of the men’s titles except the Intercontinental Championship. That would be cool. But Achilles Heel doesn’t think Ambrose and Rollins are together for the long haul. Cesaro and Sheamus will retain, with Ambrose and Rollins blaming the other for the defeat – and then possibly competing to challenge Reigns down the road for the Universal title.

Alexa Bliss (Raw Women’s champion) vs. Sasha Banks

Banks earned this title shot by forcing Nia Jax to tap out on Raw this week. She replaces Bayley, who had to relinquish her title shot because of a separated shoulder. Prediction: Either Banks wins the title or Bliss retains when Bayley inadvertently costs Banks the title.

Naomi (Smackdown Women’s champion) vs. Natalya

Natalya earned this title shot by winning a five-women elimination match at Battleground. There isn’t much more to this story. Prediction: Natalya is deserving of a run with the women’s title, but the Greek God of Wrestling prediction Naomi will retain her title. Carmella cashing in her Money in the Bank opportunity afterward is very likely.

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin will undoubtedly blame Cena for preventing him from successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity on Smackdown. This will only add to Corbin’s rage. Prediction: Cena wins, further enraging Corbin, who delivers a hellacious beatdown to Cena after the match.

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

Rusev was looking for a challenge, and he got one from Orton. Prediction: An Orton victory doesn’t make sense unless it’s going to lead to a Rusev-Lana reunion. Unless this feud is going to continue, the main storyline coming out of this match will be about the loser.

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

To counter the supernatural evil of Wyatt, Balor is becoming his “demon” character. This adds another element to a match previously lacking in reasons for fans to care. Prediction: Chalk up a victory for the Demon.

Big Cass vs. Big Show

Enzo Amore, Big Cass’ former tag team partner, will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring. It’s not clear how that stipulation plays into this match, but you figure that Amore will get involved at some point. Prediction: The beating Big Cass gave Big Show, particularly with the punishment to Big Show’s right hand and wrist, makes it seem as if, with Show’s big punch neutralized, Big Cass will prevail. But Achilles Heel thinks Enzo will somehow get involved, gaining a measure of revenge by helping Big Show win.

Tozawa (WWE Cruiserweight champion) vs. Neville

Tozawa won the Cruiserweight Championship from Neville on Raw. As part of the “Titus brand,” Tozawa is part of a larger storyline, but Neville has been a terrific Cruiserweight champion. Prediction: Tozawa retains the title.

New Day (Smackdown Tag Team champion) vs. the Usos

These teams have engaged in a solid feud this summer since the New Day came over from Raw. Their matches have been excellent, and this one shouldn’t be any different. Prediction: This match was moved to the preshow, which tells the Greek God of Wrestling that New Day will please the crowd with a victory. It would be surprising to see a tag team title change during the preshow.

Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and Jason Jordan vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel

This late addition to SummerSlam finds a place for the Hardys, who were probably slated to face The Revival before Dash Wilder suffered a biceps injury, and The Miz, who is the Intercontinental champion. Prediction: The Hardys, making their first SummerSlam appearance together since a tables, ladders and chairs match with Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boyz in 2000, will probably celebrate with a victory. It’s possible that Jordan could pin Miz, setting up a challenge for the Intercontinental Championship.

There are two or three more matches than Achilles Heel would prefer to see on this card, but, if the featured matches deliver and the fans stay engaged for the other matches, this could be an particularly entertaining event.

*****

PRAYERS FOR FLAIR: I don’t have to go any further without wishing a complete recovery for Ric Flair. The Nature Boy was rushed to the hospital last Friday and had surgery on Saturday (the nature of the surgery hasn’t been disclosed). It has been reported that some of his organs, including his kidneys, failed. Achilles Heel extends his heart-felt best wishes and prayers to Flair.

*****

NXT INVADES BROOKLYN: One night before SummerSlam, NXT takes over Barclays Center for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. The main event features Bobby Roode, who has been a fantastic champion, defending the NXT Championship against Drew McIntyre. Both Roode and McIntyre are destined for the main WWE roster. It’s possible that McIntyre captures the title, with Roode moving to Raw or Smackdown in the near future. But it’s equally possible that Roode stick around NXT to continue his feud with Roderick Strong while McIntyre quickly moves to the main WWE roster.

Asuka, the longest reigning champion in a WWE organization since Hulk Hogan’s first reign as WWE champion, faces a challenge from Ember Moon. This could be the end of Asuka’s championship reign.

Much like the NXT Championship match, the outcome of the NXT Tag Team title match could be determined by which team is headed to WWE’s main roster first, the Authors of Pain or SAnitY. Raw is pretty stacked with tag teams, especially when The Revival are included, but Smackdown could use some new challengers for the New Day, assuming New Day beats the Usos at SummerSlam.

In other matches at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn: Aleister Black battles Hideo Itami in what should be a hard-hitting match, and Johnny Gargano faces Andrade “Cien” Almas.

*****

EL PATRON STRIPPED OF TITLE: Global Force Wrestling has stripped Alberto El Patron of the GFW Championship for his actions relating to a dispute with Paige, his fiancée, in an Orlando airport. El Patron was not charged with a crime in the incident, but GFW expressed disappointment in his actions.

The decision to strip El Patron of the title and how a new champion will be the focus of Bruce Prichard’s big announcement at tonight’s (Thursday’s) Destination X edition of Impact Wrestling. With El Patron still suspended indefinitely, his match with Low Ki is probably off. Will Low Ki challenge someone else for the GFW Championship or will there be a tournament? (A very recognizable wrestler is coming to GFW. Without giving it away, the Greek God of Wrestling wonders if that individual will immediately become champion.)

Remaining matches for Destination X included Bobby Lashley vs. Matt Sydal, Sonjay Dutt defending the X Division Championship against Trevor Lee in a ladder match, Sienna defending the Knockouts Championship against Gail Kim, and the Super X Cup final between Taiji Ishimori and Dezmond Xavier.

*****

HONOR IN ENGLAND: Ring of Honor kicks off its three-night “War of the Worlds: UK” tour on Friday in London. The main event in London is a 10-man tag team match pitting New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Bushi, Evil and Sanada against the Bullet Club (Ring of Honor World champion Cody Rhodes, Ring of Honor World Tag Team champions Matt and Nick Jackson, Adam Page and Marty Scurll).

Cody (WWE won’t let him use “Cody Rhodes”) will defend his title against Sanada on Saturday in Liverpool. That event also features the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defending the tag team titles against The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) and a four-way match for the Ring of Honor World Television Championship. Sunday’s card in Edinburgh is headlined by Cody teaming with Scurll to battle Daniels and Kazarian.

*****

KINGS OF ENGLAND: CHIKARA will be heading to Wolverhampton, England, for the King of Trios from Sept. 1-3. Among the interesting teams are House Strong Style (all the teams start with “House”), which consists of WWE’s United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne, former WWE UK champion Tyler Bate and his former CHIKARA tag team championship partner Trent Seven. House Sendai Girls (Maiko Satomura, Dash Chisako and Cassandra Miyagi) is an all-woman entry.

From CHIKARA are House Throwbacks (the reunited Dash Hatfield and Mark Angelosetti, as well as Simon Grimm) and House Rot (Frightmare, Hallowicked and Kobald).

*****

MONEY DOESN’T PAY OFF: By losing to Jinder Mahal on Smackdown, Baron Corbin joins John Cena, Damien Sandow and Mr. Kennedy as wrestlers who failed to successfully cash in their Money in the Bank opportunity and win the WWE Championship. Kennedy lost his opportunity in 2007 in a subsequent match with Edge, who then cashed in and won the title.

*****

SUMMER HEAT: The heat, or crowd reaction, for Monday’s opening segment of Raw with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins was off the charts. Both guys were excellent in their roles and exhibited masterful timing in playing to the crowd.

*****

NXT COMES TO BETHLEHEM: Tickets go on sale Friday (10 a.m.) for an NXT show at the Sands Bethlehem Events Center on Sept. 23.

*****

BRACKETS REVEALED: The Mae Young Classic, a 32-woman tournament modeled after the successful cruiserweight classic, begins on WWE Network on Aug. 28 (the tournament has already been taped). The brackets for the tournament will be revealed Sunday after SummerSlam.

 

Heel Turns: In need of better broadcasters

Posted by Achilles Heel On August - 11 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelEveryone loves to complain about wrestling broadcasters. Perhaps that’s because everyone thinks they can do that job.

Only the truly delusional fans – and there is a significant segment of them – think they can be professional wrestlers. But a large percentage probably think they could be good broadcasters. But being a good broadcaster is much more difficult that it appears. And it’s also more important than many people realize.

The broadcaster’s job is to describe the action, inform the audience of the storylines and get the talent “over” with the fans. Oh, yeah. You also have to be entertaining while not stepping on the toes of your broadcast partners. All of that has to be done while listening to instructions coming through your head set and, in the case of WWE’s live shows, making sure you hit your cues for commercial breaks, video clips and backstage interviews.

One of WWE’s problems is it doesn’t have a truly great broadcaster on its flagship shows. Given that I just described how difficult it is to be a broadcaster, it may seem hypocritical for the Greek God of Wrestling to criticize the broadcasters, but my critique reflects how important I think the broadcasters are to the promotion.

A few years ago, Achilles Heel listed his top 10 broadcasters, with Jim Ross and Gordon Solie occupying the top two spots. Even though broadcasters from territories I did not hear regularly were omitted – some were placed in honorable mention – it would be difficult to argue that anyone from WWE, Global Force Wrestling or Ring of Honor today belongs in the top 10.

If we use the terms we use for wrestlers, none of the current broadcasters are above the upper mid-card. None of them are main eventers.There isn’t a Ross or Solie among the current lead broadcasters. There isn’t a Bobby Heenan or Jesse Ventura among the analysts.

WWE’s “play-by-play” broadcasters on Raw and Smackdown are far from great. Michael Cole probably takes too much crap from fans, partly because he took over from Ross as the lead broadcaster on Raw, so the Greek God of Wrestling is hesitant to pile on. Cole is good at his job. But he’s not great. And he’s certainly not exceptional.

Booker T has improved significantly since his last stint as an analyst. Achilles Heel was a big fan of Booker T as a wrestler, but not as a broadcaster. Although he’s improved dramatically – and WWE made the right decision by making Booker T’s “temporary” role as David Otunga’s fill-in a permanent move – Booker T still isn’t better than average. There are still too many occasions when it appears that Booker T starts talking without knowing exactly what he’s going to say.

The gem on Raw could be Corey Graves. He still needs something distinct to hang his hat on, so to speak, but he seems like a sharp guy and he doesn’t run off at the mouth and he doesn’t scream and yell to overhype a situation. He’s not a top guy yet, but he demonstrates the potential to get there some day.

The lead broadcaster on Smackdown is Tom Phillips. He is solid. If he were a wrestler, he would consistently produce solid matches from a technical standpoint, but his matches wouldn’t be overly exciting. But Phillips is relatively new to Smackdown, so let’s give him time.

JBL is Achilles Heel’s favorite broadcaster on Raw or Smackdown. In addition to his “old school” references, JBL is quick with a quip and provides interesting analysis. For example, during the Smackdown Tag Team Championship match between the Uso and New Day at Battleground, JBL discussed the strategy of New Day using Xavier Woods as Kofi Kingston’s partner instead of Big E. JBL returned to this strategy several times, including how it affected the Usos, who, according to JBL, prepared for the larger and more physical Big E.

Byron Saxton, the third member of the Smackdown broadcast team, adds almost nothing.

The best play-by-play broadcasters on WWE’s roster are Ross, who only does special projects, and Mauro Ranallo, who broadcasts NXT after his controversial departure from Smackdown earlier this year.

Shifting our focus to other organizations, Global Force Wrestling is in worse shape. The first question is how fans are supposed to forget that Jeremy Borash and Josh Matthews were feuding for months earlier this year? Regardless of any edict or warning from management, you can’t pretend that these guys weren’t on opposing teams at Slammiversary.

The bigger problem is that Mathews, Borash and “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero constantly scream and yell to overhype moves. Even on moves that generate little reaction from the live audience, Borash uses a tone that should be reserved for a hurricanrana off the top of Hell in a Cell through a stack of three tables. Mathews and The Pope, who used to be much better, generally join in the exaggerated tone.

It has been difficult to judge Ring of Honor because Ian Riccaboni has had a rotating list of commentators since replacing Kevin Kelly as the promotion’s main voice, so it’s tough to develop any chemistry. The Greek God of Wrestling generally likes Colt Cabana, but Ring of Honor has returned to rotating analysts again the past few weeks.

Terrific broadcasters are essential to promoting a wrestling organization’s main asset, which is the wrestlers. Right now, though, there aren’t any Ric Flair’s, Bret Hart’s or Kurt Angle’s – or anyone even approaching superstar level – among the broadcast ranks, and that’s an underrated weakness for the major companies.

*****

NEW MATCHES FOR SUMMERSLAM: Four matches were added to the SummerSlam card this past week. John Cena will face Baron Corbin, Finn Balor will battle Bray Wyatt, and The New Day will defending the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against former champions Jimmy and Jey Uso. The Raw Women’s Championship match will be changed due to Bayley’s separated shoulder, with the winner of the match between Sasha Banks and Nia Jax on Raw this Monday challenging Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam.

The card is pretty full, although there is the possibility of a Raw Tag Team Championship match, with Sheamus and Cesaro defending the titles against a Shield reunion of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Matt and Jeff Hardy could be added to this match, as could Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Intercontinental champion Miz also does not have a match.

SummerSlam (Sun., Aug. 20) is headlined by Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman in a fatal four-way. Shinsuke Nakamura will challenge Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship. A.J. Styles will defend the United States championship against Kevin Owens, with Shane McMahon as the special guest referee. Other matches include Natalya challenging Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, Randy Orton vs. Rusev, and Akira Tozawa challenging Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

The Greek God of Wrestling will have a complete review of SummerSlam in next week’s Heel Turns.

*****

LAST-MINUTE CHANGES: The name of the company may have changed, but other things have not. Global Force Wrestling is still booking matches at the last minute, which doesn’t allow for proper buildup. Destination X, which is supposed to be one of the company’s biggest shows of the year, is next Thursday (in the Impact Wrestling time slot), but three big matches weren’t announced until one week before the show.

Alberton El Patron will defend the GFW Unified World Championship against Low Ki, the newest member of LAX. The storyline makes sense, and there’s a chance that El Patron and Low Ki could produce a terrific match, but there should be another week or two to promote the match. It was also revealed on Thursday that Gail Kim will challenge Sienna for the GFW Knockouts Championship. I’ll give GFW a pass on the Super X Cup final between Taiji Ishimori and Dezmond Xavier because the semifinals were just last week, but not on the other two matches.

The card also includes Bobby Lashley vs. Matt Sydal and Sonjay Dutt defending the X Division Championship against Trevor Lee in a ladder match. By the way, there’s also the promise of Bruce Prichard making a “major announcement that will shock GFW,” a trademark tactic of TNA.

*****

PHILLY IS HARDCORE: Speaking of not announcing matches until the last minute, no matches have been announced for Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore on Saturday (8 p.m.) at 2300 Arena. In addition to Dreamer, Bully Ray, Jake Hager (Jack Swagger), the Rock ‘n Roll Express and Sami Callihan are scheduled to be there.

*****

INJURY BUG SHORT-CIRCUITS REVIVAL: In last week’s Heel Turns, the Greek God of Wrestling touted the Revival’s chances of being the most successful tag team to emerge out of NXT. They had already overcome Dash Wilder’s broken jaw, but not they have been sidetracked by injury once again. Scott Dawson ruptured a biceps tendon, which could cause him to miss up to six months.

*****

HISTORY MATTERS: The Greek God of Wrestling is pleased that the history between A.J. Styles and Shane McMahon, including their excellent match at WrestleMania this year, was brought up rather than ignored on Smackdown while promoting Styles’ defense of the United States Championship – with McMahon as the guest referee – against Kevin Owens at SummerSlam.

*****

RESULTS-ORIENTED: In the main events from two Delaware Valley wrestling cards last Saturday, CHIKARA Grand Champion Juan Francisco de Coronado defeated Rory Gulak, and Shane Strickland retained the Combat Zone Wrestling World Championship against CZW legend Masada.

*****

PHILLY TICKETS: If you got shut out trying to get tickets for January’s Royal Rumble, which was an immediate sellout, you can still be part of the action by getting tickets for Raw and Smackdown at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 29 and 30, respectively. Tickets for both events are on sale now. With the Rumble getting the most attention, there are still good seats available for both Raw and Smackdown.

Tickets for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, which takes place the night before the Royal Rumble, will go on sale on Dec. 1.

*****

NXT IN BROOKLYN: A match between Johnny Gargano and Andrade “Cien” Almas has been added to NXT Takeover: Brooklyn on Aug. 19, the night before SummerSlam, at Barclays Center. Bobby Roode will defend the NXT Championship against Drew McIntyre in the main event. Other title matches include Asuka defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Ember Moon and The Authors of Pain defending the NXT Tag Team Championship against SAnitY. Both of those tag teams may eventually end up in WWE. Aleister Black will square off with Hideo Itami.

McIntyre will face Roderick Strong this week, with Strong earning a title shot if he defeats McIntyre. What incentive is there for McIntyre to win this match? Roode will obviously play a role in this match. Tune in to NXT on Wednesday (8 p.m., WWE Network) to watch the match, or you can find out what happens right here in Heel Turns.

*****

MEET WWE STARS: There are numerous opportunities to meet WWE superstars all over the New York metropolitan area during the week before SummerSlam. Check the WWE Web site for details.

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