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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

The news that Kimmo Timonen’s career is probably over inspires Eric Fisher to look back with appreciation at the quietly effective career of one of the best, and classiest, Flyers in franchise history.

Instead of trading Jahlil Okafor, as many presumed would happen, the 76ers traded center Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks for center Andrew Bogut, swingman Justin Anderson and what will likely be a pair of second-round draft picks.

Jakub Voracek (pictured) finally started scoring, but he already was having a terrific season before he found the back of the net. Eric fisher also praises Sean Couturier’s excellent two-way play, points out the inconsistency in NHL officiating and replay reviews, and explains why Samuel Morin’s return to the NHL could come soon.

Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Best of WrestleMania

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 4 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

As the list of the best WrestleMania matches in history gets longer each year, you might think it would get easier to make the list. In reality, though, we’re adding one spot on the list after approximately 12 matches take place at WrestleMania. Last year, not one match from WrestleMania XXXIII (I’m a traditionalist; I like the Roman numerals) was added to my list of the best WrestleMania matches in history. But WrestleMania XXXIV, which featured several excellent matches is tough to keep off this list.

Last year’s WrestleMania started off so well, with three of the first four matches on the main card at least making honorable mention on this list, that it had the potential to be one of the best WrestleManias in history. But the momentum died with a bad Undertaker vs. John Cena match and the show never fully recovered.

This list is updated every year, with one match added for each year of WrestleMania’s existence. The list is subjective, so sometimes matches move up and down the list. Matches toward the bottom of the list have moved on and off the list. For example, the Chris Jericho-Christian match from WrestleMania X, which now ranks at No. 35, has been pushed into the honorable mention category and then returned to the list the following year.

Two matches from WrestleMania XXXIV found their way onto thos list. That doesn’t include Charlotte Flair handing Asuka her first loss in WWE, a match that made honorable mention. The most unlikely addition featured the in-ring debut of Ronda Rousey in a tag team match with Triple H and Kurt Angle, both of whom are already on this list, but are far past their prime, and Stephanie McMahon, who has never been accused of being a ring technician. The other match that made the list was the excellent triple threat Intercontinental Championship match between The Mix, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. It is the first appearance on the “best of” list for both Balor and Rollins, both of whom are outstanding competitors. Knocked off the list and down to honorable mention is a match between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon. Styles’ match with Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania XXXIV also made honorable mention. It’s only a matter of time until Styles makes it back on this list, perhaps with this year’s Wrestlemania opponent, Randy Orton.

It would be disappointing if the main event triple threat match between Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Rousey doesn’t make this list next year. Daniel Bryan defending the WWE Championhip against Kofi Kingston could also make the list, as could Rollins challenging for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Universal Championship. Unlikely to make the list are Triple H vs. Batista and Angle’s farewell match against Baron Corbin.

 

Please keep in mind that this list is subjective. It could change from month to month, week to week or even day to day. But it would not be surprising if at least two matches from WrestleMania XXXV don’t make next year’s list.

As for this year, in one man’s opinion, these are the top 35 WrestleMania matches of all-time:


(WrestleMania number and site in italics)

35. Chris Jericho vs. Christian (X, New York) An undercard match that mixes terrific technical wrestling with wonderful storytelling

34. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor (XXXIV, New Orleans) A fast-paced opening match in which every move has meaning

33. Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart (VIII, Indianapolis) A wonderful Intercontinental Championship match between friends, with Piper (now a good guy) fighting his bad-guy demons as well as fighting Hart

32. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker (XXX, New Orleans) The historic match in which Lesnar ends Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak at 21 matches, stunning wrestling fans all over the world. Paul Heyman’s facial expressions and encouragement of Lesnar are classic.

31. Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon  (XXXIV, New Orleans) With 2 past-their-primes Hall of Famers, Stephanie McMahon and someone making their in-ring debut, this is an unlikely entry on the best of Wrestlemania list, but everything about this match worked. It couldn’t have been executed any better.

30. Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (XXXII, Dallas) The first women’s match to make the list, this triple threat match — with Charlotte retaining the title — was excellent

29. Hulk Hogan/Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper/Paul Orndorff (I, N.Y.) The match that launched the WrestleMania rocket ship. Without the success of this match, WrestleMania may have been a one-year venture.

28. Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior (VIILos Angeles) A terrific “retirement” match with an emotional post-match surprise

27. Edge vs. Mick Foley (XXII, Chicago) Edge helps Foley attain his “WrestleMania moment” (below) with this fantastic hardcore match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26. Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (VIII, Indianapolis) The build-up to this WWF Championship match, with Flair implying he had a prior relationship with Savage’s girlfriend, Miss Elizabeth, was pure gold. Manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and executive assistant Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig added immensely to the story-telling, and Flair and Savage delivered in the ring.

25. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (XVII, Houston) A match that sometimes gets overlooked because of the other great matches on the same card. A wrestling clinic.

24. Edge vs. Undertaker (XXIV, Orlando) An excellent match between two of the best. Undertaker improves his unblemished WrestleMania record to 16-0 and captures the World Heavyweight Championship.

23. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (XVIII, Toronto) The emotion in this match is absolutely incredible. The crowd makes this match, but Hogan and Rock deserve tons of credit for adjusting to the crowd’s reaction and turning this into a memorable match.

22. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (XXX, New Orleans) A tremendous opening match to WrestleMania XXX, and it needed to be in order to follow an entertaining segment featuring three icons — The Rock, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin — in the ring together. Bryan and Triple H are excellent. Stephanie McMahon’s reactions ringside enhance the match.

21. Money In the Bank Ladder Match (XXI, Los Angeles) This ranks at the top of the MITB WrestleMania matches because, as the first one, it was so innovative

20. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior (VI, Toronto) An exciting face vs. face WWF Championship match in which Hogan passes the torch to the Warrior

19. The Rock vs. Steve Austin (XVII, Houston) A terrific WWF Championship match featuring a surprising ending. This is the best of the Austin-Rock WrestleMania encounters, all of which were very good.

18. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (XIX, Seattle) An often-overlooked match because no title was on the line and it is on the same card as Angle vs. Lesnar and Steve Austin vs. The Rock (which turns out to be Austin’s final match)

17. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (XIX, Seattle) Two former NCAA wrestling champions battle it out in this tremendous WWE Championship match. Angle is an Olympic gold medalist. Lesnar later won the Ultimate Fighting heavyweight championship.

16. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H (XXN.Y.This WWE Championship match may have ranked higher except the feel-good moment of seeing Benoit finally win the world title is spoiled by the knowledge that Benoit kills himself and his family a few years later.

15. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (XXIV, Orlando) Flair’s retirement match (left). An incredibly emotional match that might bring a tear to your eye.

14. Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk (XXIX, East Rutherford, N.J.) Punk and Undertaker put on a dramatic match that convinced fans Punk could win, causing them to pop for many of the near-falls before Undertaker improved his WrestleMania record to 21-0

13. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (XII, Anaheim) What do you do with two of the best wrestlers of all-time? Give them an hour to entertain the fans on your biggest show of the year. An excellent iron man match between two real-life rivals for the WWF Championship.

12. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (X, N.Y.) Michaels and Ramon brought ladder matches to the masses with this dramatic confrontation

11. Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVII, Atlanta) The Undertaker takes a brutal beating from HHH, but still pulls out the victory to extend his WrestleMania winning streak to 19-0

10. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (X, N.Y.) The Hart brothers put on a wrestling clinic in the opening match of WrestleMania X. Perfect execution, with younger brother Owen pulling off the upset of Bret, who won the world title later that night.

9. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (XXX, New Orleans) Daniel Bryan captures the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton in a triple threat match that hits all the right notes as the ultimate underdog overcomes incredible odds to win the coveted championship

8. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (IIIPontiacMich.) The match that arguably sold the most tickets in wrestling history. Not a technical masterpiece, but the magnitude of this WWF Championship match earns it a top-10 ranking.

7. Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVIII, Miami) The Undertaker survives Hell in a Cell, extending his WrestleMania winning streak to 20-0. Shawn Michaels does a tremendous job as guest referee. Seriously.

6. TLC (XVII, Houston) Edge and Christian, Matt and Jeff Hardy, and D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley brought the house down with this innovative Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the Tag Team Championship. (You thought TLC stood for Tender Loving Care?)

5. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (XXVI, GlendaleAz.) Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak vs. Michaels’ career (Michaels loses and retires)

4. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (XXI, Los Angeles) A tremendous example of story-telling in the ring. An amazing match.

3. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (XXV, Houston) An outstanding match featuring two of the all-time best. Fantastic series of big moves, near-falls toward the end.

2. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (IIIPontiacMich.) An all-time classic for the Intercontinental title that still holds up after all these years.

1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (XIII, Chicago) An outstanding brawl featuring a perfectly executed double heel/face (bad guy/good guy) turn. By the end of this match, the fans are vociferously booing Hart and wildly cheering for Austin. Hart and Austin use their actions to tell a story, which is what professional wrestling is all about.

Honorable mention: 20-man Battle Royal featuring NFL players (II, Chicago); the British Bulldogs vs. Greg Valentine/Brutus Beefcake (II, Chicago); Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (V, Atlantic City); Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel (XI, Hartford); Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels (XIV, Boston); Triangle Ladder Match (XVI, Anaheim); Undertaker vs. HHH (XVII, Houston); Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (XX, N.Y.); Randy Orton/Batista/Ric Flair vs. The Rock/Mick Foley (XX, N.Y.); Randy Orton vs. Undertaker (XXI, Los Angeles); John Cena vs. HHH (XXII, Chicago); Undertaker vs. Batista (XXIII, Pontiac, Mich.), Edge vs. Chris Jericho (XXVI, Glendale, Ariz.); Randy Orton vs. C.M Punk (XXVII, Atlanta); Rock vs. John Cena (XXVIII, Miami); C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho (XXVIII, Miami); John Cena vs. The Rock (XXIX, East Rutherford, N.J.); Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (XXIX, East Rutherford, N.J.); Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (XXXI, Santa Clara); Triple H vs. Sting (XXXI, Santa Clara); Intercontinental Championship ladder match (XXXI, Santa Clara); Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Los Matadores vs. Usos (XXXI, Santa Clara); Chris Jericho vs. A.J. Styles (XXXII, Dallas); Intercontinental Championship ladder match (XXXII, Dallas); Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon (XXXII, Dallas); Austin Aries vs. Neville (XXXIII, Orlando); AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon (XXXIII, Orlando); AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (XXXIV, New Orleans);Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (XXXIV, New Orleans) 

Tournament runs

Posted by Ron Opher On March - 21 - 2019 3 COMMENTS

With its third national championship last season, Villanova earned another spot on PhillyPhanatics.com’s top 10 list of men’s college basketball postseason runs by local teams. How high does last year’s championship run rank? Check out the list (below) to find out.

10.(tie) 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001 Temple (NCAA Elite Eight) – John Chaney’s teams often knocked at the door, but never made it to the Final Four;  1981, 2004 St. Joseph’s (NCAA Elite Eight) – The 1981 Hawks team, coached by Jimmy Lynam, shocked the nation by how far it went.  Phil Martelli’s 2004 St. Joe’s team shocked the nation by going undefeated in the regular season, but fell one win short of the Final Four at the hands of Eddie Sutton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys; 2013 La Salle (NCAA Sweet Sixteen) – La Salle was a bubble team that had to win a “play-in” game to claim the #13 seed, but ended up being a Sweet 16 team before losing to Wichita State in the tournament’s second week;

9.(tie) 1956, 1958 Temple; 1961 St. Joseph’s (NCAA Final Four) – we’ll admit we were not born yet at that time, and the tournament field was smaller back then, but to make it to the “National Semifinal” (as that round was called) was a significant achievement.

8. 2009 Villanova (NCAA Final Four) – Jay Wright set the bar high for the Wildcats in 2009, and they delivered Villanova’s first-ever 30-win season, falling to North Carolina on the tournament’s final Saturday.

7. 1979 Penn (NCAA Final Four) – the furthest an Ivy League team has gone in the NCAA tournament, Bob Weinhauer’s Quakers were seeded #9 out of 10 teams in the East Regional, beat Iona in a play-in game, stunned top seed North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum 72-71, beat Syracuse and then improbably wore white when defeating St. John’s (the #10 seed) to get to Salt Lake City before being dismantled by Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team.

6. 1971 Villanova (NCAA runner-up) – This memorable run (which ended as did most teams’ runs of that era – with a loss to UCLA in the final game) was tainted by later revelations that star forward Howard Porter had signed a pro contract with the ABA during his senior season at Villanova.  Not only was Porter stripped of his tournament Most Outstanding Player award, Villanova had to forfeit wins going back to December of 1970 when Porter signed the contract, and return $72,000 of NCAA tournament proceeds.

5. 1938 Temple (NIT champs) – The NIT was the pre-eminent tournament in its early days, and predated the NCAA tournament, which began in 1939.

4. (tie) 1954 La Salle (NCAA champs), 1952 La Salle (NIT champs) – One of each for the Explorers, in the day when the NCAA and NIT competed for teams with postseason invitations.  Yes, Tom Gola was that great a player – they did later name La Salle’s arena after him, after all.

3. 2018 Villanova (NCAA champs) – The Wildcats won all of their NCAA Tournament games by at least 12 points. But the lack of any drama to compare to Kris’ Jenkins’ buzzer-beater in the 2016 national championship game, leaves this championship run a shade behind the 2016 championship team.

2. 2016 Villanova (NCAA champs) – Villanova won four games by double digits, including a record-setting 95-51 win over Oklahoma in the Final Four, beat top-ranked Kansas in the Elite 8, and capped off magnificent run with Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer in dramatic 77-74 triumph over North Carolina in championship game.

1.  1985 Villanova (NCAA champs) – Only 6 years after Penn’s improbable run, Villanova, which did have more firepower but also was a low seed (#8), rode their Cinderella story all the way to the championship.  Villanova went on a run which included victories over Dayton on Dayton’s home court, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina, Memphis State and finally over Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas, 66-64, in last NCAA game played without a shot clock.

Honorable Mention – NIT appearances of note:

1969 Temple (NIT champs)
1994 Villanova (NIT champs)
1965 Villanova (NIT runner-up)
1967 La Salle (NIT runner-up)
1996 St. Joseph’s (NIT runner-up)
2005 St. Joseph’s (NIT runner-up)


 

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Harper hits 1st home run as Phillie