52

Points for Pelicans center Anthony Davis on Sunday, setting All-Star Game record

What if, like the participants in WWE’s Royal Rumble on Sunday, we could throw out all the people we’re sick of in the local sports scene? Eric Fisher gives his best effort to eliminate those who need to go.

Statistics indicate that Ryan Howard is having a decent season and Ben Revere is playing like an All-Star, but statistics can be misleading. Eric Fisher also examines Domonic Brown’s whining, the Owens Award winners and Vance Worley’s resurrection.

Although he doesn’t recall playing sports very often with his father, Eric Fisher has fond memories of watching sports with his Dad, who passed away this past Saturday.

Archive for the ‘Sports+’ Category

Heel Turns: Elimination Chamber surprise?

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

Achilles HeelLet’s put aside the Greek God of Wrestling’s usual complaints about there not being enough time between pay-per-view events. Surely, there wasn’t enough time to build some of the matches that will take place Sunday at WWE’s Elimination Chamber, which will take place just two weeks after the Royal Rumble.

However, Elimination Chamber, which features the Smackdown roster, is an intriguing event for several reasons. The first reason is the Phoenix crowd will be treated to three women’s matches, the first time Achilles Heel can recall that happening at a pay-per-view event. The second reason is the Elimination Chamber match.

The Elimination Chamber is a frightening contraption. There is a lot of metal, which means the ring itself can be used as a weapon. Furthermore, the competitors are locked in pods. The order in which the pods will open is unknown. This is an elimination-style match, so the order or release from the pods definitely matters.

The other element is an uncertainty regarding the outcome. John Cena is defending the WWE Championship against A.J. Styles, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, The Miz and Bray Wyatt.

The chalk choice is Cena. Having just won his 16th world championship by defeating Styles at the Royal Rumble, Cena is looking forward to defending that title at WrestleMania. A two-week title reign doesn’t seem long enough.

Baron Corbin’s star is rising, but he’s not ready to be in a WrestleMania main event. What could happen, though, is Corbin could eliminate Ambrose, the Intercontinental champion, setting him on a path to challenge for – and eventually win – that title.

Could The Miz, with Maryse, rise up to once again be the WWE champion? Unlikely. Miz has rejuvenated his career during the past year, but it doesn’t seem like he’s a serious championship threat right now. It would be more likely that he would eliminate Ambrose, which would put him in the role I gave to Corbin in the previous paragraph. And it makes no sense for Ambrose to add the WWE Championship to his Intercontinental Championship.

Styles could regain the title he represented so well. Styles lived up to his “phenomenal” nickname with a series of tremendous matches while WWE champion. But it’s more likely that he get revenge on Cena by eliminating him or by costing him the match.

And that leaves Wyatt. Could Wyatt become WWE champion? It’s possible. In fact, the Greek God of Wrestling is going to go out on a limb and say that it’s likely to happen.

Think about it. Randy Orton’s win at the Royal Rumble makes a lot more sense if Wyatt is the champion. An Orton-Cena feud is a good one, but we’ve seen it before. An Orton-Wyatt title match at WrestleMania would be fresh. The dynamic between the two members of the Wyatt family battling for the title should be extremely interesting.

Earlier in the night, Orton faces Luke Harper, the exiled member of the Wyatt family. Achilles Heel is a big Harper fan. The big man should have a terrific match with Orton. And if Wyatt wins the Elimination Chamber match, what role would Harper play during the WrestleMania storyline?

The three women’s matches include a title match and two grudge matches. Naomi challenges Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Naomi has never held the title. The Greek God of Wrestling would normally downplay the possibility of a title change, but, with February being Black History month, Naomi winning the championship for the first time could be a “feel-good” ending. Natalya and Nikki Bella continue their extremely intense personal battle, and Becky Lynch seeks revenge against Mickie James.

Achilles Heel doesn’t see any purpose to the Smackdown Tag Team Championship turmoil match other than to build up American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable). Jimmy and Jey Uso seem like the only tag team with even a remote chance of winning the championship. A more likely scenario is that Jordan and Gable enter the match early, a bad position, yet survive all the way until the end, defeating team after team. The only other realistic possibility is that a surprise team, likely The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder), enters the match at the end and takes the titles. The Revival and American Alpha had a tremendous feud in NXT.

Dolph Ziggler battles Apollo Crews and Kalisto in a handicapped match that makes no sense unless Ziggler destroys them with chairs after losing or Crews turns heel. Mojo Rawley and Curt Hawkins are being thrown out for the kickoff match without barely any promotion, which probably means the fans will crap all over it.

Elimination Chamber doesn’t appear to have the potential to be an awesome card. But the intrigue of the main event, the Orton-Harper match and the uniqueness of having three women’s matches make Elimination Chamber worth checking out.

*****

RICHARDS TURNS HEEL: For those who missed Impact Wrestling this week, Davey Richards turned on long-time tag team partner Eddie Edwards while Edwards was trying to regain the TNA World Championship from Bobby Lashley.

For those keeping track, that’s the sixth of the Greek God of Wrestling’s predictions for 2017 to come true – and we’re not even halfway through February. Sometimes I get tired of being right all the time.

*****

SKATE ZONE DOUBLEHEADER: There will be a doubleheader today (Saturday, Feb. 11) at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. Women’s Superstars Uncensored (WSU) celebrates its 10th anniversary at 4 p.m. Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) follows with “Eighteen: And Still Like Nothing Else” at 7:30 p.m.

At WSU 10, Mercedes Martinez, who will be inducted into the WSU Hall of Fame, will challenge Allie for the WSU Championship. WSU Spirit champion Su Yung will defend the title in a triple threat match against Veda Scott and Kiera Hogan. The Fella Twins have issued an open challenge for their WSU Tag Team Championship.

Martinez, who will have a busy day, will also team with Homicide to battle Greg Excellent and Crissy Rivera in an intergender tag team match at CZW Eighteen. The main event of CZW Eighteen features Joe Gacy defending the CZW World Championship against Shigehiro Irie. Another featured match pits Progress Atlas champion and rising star Matt Riddle, who trained at the famous Monster Factory in Paulsboro, N.J., against WXW Shotgun champion David Starr. Other matches include Joey Janela defending the CZW Wired Championship against Stockade, Shane Strickland against Jake Crist, and a “fans bring the weapons” match between Notorious Inc. and the team of Danny Havoc and Conor Claxton.

*****

ROCK ‘N ROLL: The Rock ‘n Roll Express will join Kurt Angle as inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31. The Rock ‘n Roll Express, consisting of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, was a consistently entertaining and innovative team throughout a long career. Although the Express only appeared briefly in WWE, Gibson and Morton were tag team champions for numerous promotions, including Smoky Mountain Wrestling, the United States Wrestling Association and the NWA. Most recently, Gibson and Morton reunited to battle Matt and Jeff Hardy in TNA’s Tag Team Apocalypto open invitational, in which the Hardys want to face the best tag teams from all over the world.

Despite their size, Morton and Gibson more than held their own against the bigger teams of the 1980s and ‘90s. In fact, the size disparity to their advantage, perhaps perfecting the “babyface in peril” act. The Rock ‘n Roll Express is a worthy addition to the WWE Hall of Fame.

*****

NXT IS HOT (CHOCOLATE): In a cool gesture, NXT’s Tye Dillinger, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins brought hot chocolate out to the fans waiting in line Thursday prior to the NXT event at the Tower Theater. That trio certainly had the fans on their side later. Dillinger defeated Eric Young, but Dawkins and Ford lost to Sanity’s Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain.

In the main event, Shinsuke Nakamura, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa defeated new NXT champion Bobby Roode and NXT Tag Team champions The Authors of Pain. Kassius Ohno, the former Chris Hero, defeated Patrick Clark in the opener.

*****

STYLE POINTS: The Greek God of Wrestling feels the need to point out what an amazing first year A.J. Styles had in WWE. He made his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, had terrific matches against virtually everyone he faced, and represented the company well as WWE champion. For those who doubted whether Styles could make the transition from being a star on the independence scene to WWE, those questions have been emphatically answered.

*****

BIG SHOW VS. SHAQ? Shaquille O’Neal has been involved in WWE before, but it may be time for him to step into the ring for a match at WrestleMania. While featuring the slimmed-down Big Show training, WWE’s Web site mentions a Big Show-Shaq rivalry. Considering that WrestleMania is in Orlando, where O’Neal played for many years, Achilles Heel sees a Big Show-Shaq showdown at WrestleMania as a distinct possibility.

*****

FAN FRIENDLY: Ring of Honor is presenting “The Experience,” a uniquely fan friendly event Sunday in Columbus, Ohio. Fans voted on the stipulations for matches between Ring of Honor World Television champion Marty Scurll and Lio Rush (2-out-of-3 falls) and a the team of Adam Cole and Hangman Page against Jay Lethal and Bobby Fish (falss count anywhere). During the event, fans will choose the opponents for Six-Man Tag Team champions Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia and T.K. O’Ryan.

Other matches include The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defending the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship against War Machine (Ray Rowe and Hanson), Cody Rohodes against Dalton Castle, and the Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark) against the Tempura Boyz (Sho and Yo).

*****

TRIOS GOES OVERSEAS: CHIKARA announced that it will take King of Trios, its biggest event of the year, to the United Kingdom. The three-night, six-man tag team tournament will be held Sept. 1-3 in Birmingham, England.

Heel Turns: Royal Rumble delivered

Posted by Achilles Heel On February - 4 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelDelaware Valley wrestling fans should already have been stoked for next year’s Royal Rumble. Sunday’s Rumble in San Antonio should have further whetted that appetite.

The Royal Rumble featured two outstanding championship matches. John Cena’s triumph over A.J. Styles to capture the WWE Championship in a 26-minute classic is an early candidate for match of the year. The crowd was buzzing throughout this match, rising to a fever pitch for numerous big moves and near-falls.

Kevin Owens’ defense of the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, with Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage, was also a terrific match. With assistance from Braun Strowman, Owens retained his title. (Reigns returned the “favor” the next night on RAW by interfering as Strowman challenged Owens for the WWE Universal Championship.)

Strowman was the featured performer during the first portion of an excellent Royal Rumble match. At one point, Strowman had seven straight eliminations, including Big Cass, Mark Henry and Big Show, whom Strowman eliminated for the second straight year.

Another big man who looked good during the Rumble was Baron Corbin. The Greek God of Wrestling has been on the fence about whether Corbin was worthy of the push he is receiving, but he looked good during the Rumble. He looked quick and powerful, eliminating Strowman and sticking around for a long time until he was eliminated by the Undertaker, who entered at No. 29.

The featured confrontation during the Rumble was between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. And WWE made the fans wait for it, building the anticipation.

Lesnar entered at No. 26. He suplexed Corbin and Rusev, delivered F-5s to Randy Orton and the Miz. There was carnage everywhere. Lesnar eliminated Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, then quickly disposed of Enzo Amore, who entered at No. 27.

And then came Goldberg! The showdown ended quickly, with Goldberg eliminating Lesnar. Goldberg has had Lesnar’s number throughout this rivalry, which is why Lesnar challenged Goldberg to a match at WrestleMania the following night on RAW.

Goldberg didn’t last too much longer, though. Undertaker entered at No. 29. He had a staredown with Goldberg. A minute or two later, he eliminated Goldberg, which drew a stare from Goldberg toward the reaper of souls.

Roman Reigns entered at No. 30. He has a staredown with Undertaker similar to the one between Undertaker and Goldberg. After Undertaker eliminated The Miz and Sami Zayn, Reigns dumped Undertaker over the top rope and, while staring down at the dead man, said, “This is my yard.” It will be interesting to see how Undertaker fits into the feuds between Lesnar and Goldberg and Reigns and Strowman at WrestleMania.

Another interesting story involved Luke Harper. He immediately got into a confrontation with Orton, who defeated him on Smackdown. Bray Wyatt tried to serve as a peacemaker, but Harper delivered a clothesline to Wyatt and a big boot to Orton. Harper was about to execute “sister Abigail” on Wyatt, but Orton caught him with an RKO. (On the Smackdown following the Rumble, Harper teamed with Cena against Wyatt and Orton, but would not fight Wyatt.)

Orton, as almost all of you already know, won the Rumble. The final four were Orton, Wyatt, Reigns and Jericho, who has entered at No. 2, starting the match with Big Cass. Reigns eliminated Jericho and Wyatt, but Orton eliminated Reigns to notch his second Royal Rumble and earn a title shot at WrestleMania.

In other matches, Charlotte successfully defended the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley, and Neville captured the WWE Cruiserweight Championship from Rich Swann. Both were good matches.

During the preshow, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows defeated Cesaro and Sheamus to win the Raw Tag Team Championship. In women’s matches, Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks, and the team of Naomi, Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch beat Natalya, Mickie James and Alexa, with Naomi pinning Alexa to move into contention for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.

*****

PREVIEW PRAISE: Although Achilles Heel admits that he didn’t pick the winner of the Royal Rumble, he was correct in predicting that none of the favorites – Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Undertaker – would win. And I will pat myself on the back for the gutsy dark horse pick of Chris Jericho, who lasted from No. 2 until the Final Four. Although I chose Jericho as the winner, Orton was prominently mentioned as another strong possibility to win the Rumble.

*****

ORTON’S RISE: The Greek God of Wrestling is looking forward to seeing how the Randy Orton storyline plays out. Orton is affiliated with Bray Wyatt, which adds another dimension to his title chase. At some point, the Greek God of Wrestling suspects that Wyatt is going to intimate that Orton will turn the title over to him after defeating John Cena, which will lead to tension between Wyatt and Orton. Or, if Orton wins the title at WrestleMania, this storyline could be saved for afterward, with Wyatt ordering Orton to turn over the title – and Orton refusing.

Some were surprised by Orton winning the Royal Rumble. The Greek God of Wrestling was not. First, the Rumble was wide open. Second, the storyline should elevate Wyatt into the upper echelon of WWE. And, finally, Achilles Heel wonders if Orton’s Rumble victory and WrestleMania title shot isn’t a reward for the savage beating Orton took from Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.

*****

PHILLY READY TO RUMBLE: Don’t forget that the Royal Rumble will be coming to Philadelphia in 2018. The Rumble will be accompanied by NXT Takeover the night before the Rumble and Raw and Smackdown on the two nights after the Rumble. Wells Fargo Center will be a busy place for four straight nights next January.

*****

BAD NEWS FOR ROLLINS: Seth Rollins experienced an awful eight-day stretch. First, he lost to Sami Zayn on the Raw before the Royal Rumble, knocking him out of the Royal Rumble but furthering his feud with Triple H, whose music distracted Rollins when he had the upper hand on Zayn. When he confronted Triple H on the Raw following the Rumble, he was attacked by Samoa Joe. During that attack, Rollins reinjured his right knee. That’s the same knee that required reconstructive surgery, causing him to relinquish the WWE Championship.

There hasn’t been an update on Rollins’ condition, but expect one on Raw. Rollins left last week’s Raw on crutches. Achilles Heel hopes that Rollins’ injury is not severe enough to require major surgery, which would prevent him from facing Triple H at WrestleMania.

*****

CARELESS JOE? Samoa Joe has waited a long time to get to WWE, but he needs to be more careful if he wants that tenure to last. The Greek God of Wrestling isn’t saying that Seth Rollins’ knee injury is Joe’s fault. It may have been a freak accident. But, considering that Tyson Kidd sustained a devastating injury during a dark match with Joe when he first arrived in WWE/NXT, Joe needs to be careful about injuring his opponents.

*****

CHIKARA KICKS OFF YEAR: If you’re reading this on Saturday morning or early afternoon, you still have time to get to CHIKARA’s first event of 2016, which will take place today (2 p.m.) at CHIKARA’s Wrestle Factory as part of National Pro Wrestling Day. The event, which is highlights by the Young Lions Cup, is free. In addition to the Young Lions Cup, announced matches include Dasher Hatfield vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado, Missile Assault Man vs. Race Jaxon, and Fire Ant, Worker Ant and Silver Ant vs. the Legion of ROT.

*****

NXT TITLE CHANGES: Bobby Roode defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to win the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: San Antonio, which took place the night before the Royal Rumble. The Greek God of Wrestling is a big fan or Roode, who was one of TNA’s best world champions. By the way, Roode winning gold is yet another of my 2017 predictions, along with John Cena winning a world title and Braun Strowman throwing out a bunch of competitors at the Royal Rumble, that have come true during the first month of the year.

In another title match, The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) defeated Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa to win the NXT Tag Team Championship. Asuka bucked the trend by successfully defending the NXT Women’s Championship in a fatal four-way with Nikki Cross, Billy Kay and Peyton Royce. In non-title matches, Eric Young beat Tye Dillinger, who was the 10th entrant in the Royal Rumble the next night, and Roderick Strong beat Andrade Almas.

*****

ROODE WELCOME IN PHILLY: Bobby Roode will make one of his first appearances as NXT champion on Thursday (7:30 p.m.) when NXT comes to the Tower Theater in Upper Darby.

*****

FLAIR FOR WINGS: Ric Flair is rarely anyone’s wing man, but he was a celebrity guest Friday morning during Wing Bowl 25 at Wells Fargo Center. Some may question why Flair was at Wing Bowl, but an arena floor full of scantily-clad women is right up the Nature Boy’s alley.

*****

RING OF HONOR LOSES VOICE: Broadcasters are an underrated part of the wrestling business. Ring of Honor has lost three of its voices this year. Steve Corino left to be a trainer for WWE, Nigel McGuinness left to be involved with WWE’s United Kingdom Championship Tournament and to replace Corey Graves on NXT broadcasts, and now Kevin Kelly has given up his full-time job with Ring of Honor so he can also work for New Japan Wrestling.

*****

EARLY ELIMINATION: The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view comes way too soon after the Royal Rumble. The Smackdown brand event will take place on Feb. 12, just two weeks after the Royal Rumble. This doesn’t leave enough time to build storylines.

John Cena will defend the WWE Championship in an elimination chamber against former champion A.J. Styles, Intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt and The Miz. In other matches, Naomi will challenge Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, Natalya and Nikki Bella will continue their feud, and American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Dan Gable) will defend the Smackdown Tag Team Championship in a tag team turmoil match that highlights the weakness of the Smackdown tag team division. I’ll have a complete preview of Elimination Chamber in the next edition of Heel Turns.

*****

RAW IN PHILLY: The last Raw before WrestleMania will take place on Mon., March 27 at Wells Fargo Center. The timing alone should make this an exciting show.

*****

CZW RETURNS: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees next Saturday with CZW Eighteen: Still Like Nothing Else! The main event features Joe Gacy defending the CZW World Championship against Shigehiro Irie. Other matches include Progress Atlas champion Matt Riddle, one of the fastest-rising independent stars, against WXW Shotgun champion David Star, a “fans bring the weapons match” match pitting Danny Havoc and Conor Claxton against Notorious Inc, and an intergender match pitting Greg Excellent and Crissy Rivera against Homicide and Mercedes Martinez.

Classic George Steele (RIP) match, interview