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Scoreless minutes for Trail Blazers at start of Wednesday’s loss to Sixers

The Greek God of Wrestling previews WWE’s Battleground, which takes place Sunday night at Wells Fargo Center. Achilles Heels also tells you when tickets for next year’s Royal Rumble in Philly will be available, when and where you can meet Dolph Ziggler, and the implications of Jason Jordan being revealed as Kurt Angle’s son.

We examine five areas that could determine if the Flyers find playoff success or find themselves sitting at home during the postseason.

Carson Wentz put the Eagles in position to win the game, but rookie kicker Jake Elliott becomes the hero by drilling a franchise-record 61-yard field goal as time expires to lift the Eagles past the Giants, 27-24. Full story coming later.

Archive for the ‘Sports+’ Category

Heel Turns: Survivor Series filled with drama

Posted by Achilles Heel On November - 18 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Sunday’s Survivor Series is a stacked card containing loads of intrigue. Let’s get right to the action.

Survivor Series (7 p.m., WWE Network), which is up against the Eagles-Cowboys game, features two traditional Survivor Series 5-on-5 elimination matches. There will be a men’s match and women’s match. In keeping with the theme of the event, all matches (except the WWE Cruiserweight Championship bout between Enzo Amore and Kalisto on the kickoff show) will be battles between Raw and Smackdown.

The men’s 5-on-5 elimination match is the co-main event, along with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar squaring off with WWE champion A.J. Styles. The 5-on-5 elimination match is overflowing with storylines.

The Raw team consists of captain Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor and Triple H. Let’s start with Triple H being added to the team on Raw. More accurately, Triple H added himself to the team, replacing Jason Jordan. Angle had already decided to replace Jordan, his storyline son, due to an injury sustained in a match Monday with Bray Wyatt.

Angle, the Raw general manager, is under pressure to win the match from Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon. With Triple H added to the match, supposedly at Stephanie’s insistence, there could be tension between Triple H and Angle over who will be in charge during Survivor Series. Angle may also be upset that Triple H delivered a pedigree to Jordan before leaving the ring.

The potential for chaos on Team Raw is exacerbated by the presence of Balor and Samoa Joe, who have been feuding in recent weeks. And there is the question of whether Strowman can get along with anyone. There is a high risk of implosion for Team Raw.

There isn’t as much disharmony on Team Smackdown. Commissioner Shane McMahon is the captain. His teammates are John Cena, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura. There could be some tension between Orton and Nakamura, who were both pursuing the WWE Championship when Jinder Mahal held it, and Orton and Cena have a longstanding rivalry, but there doesn’t appear to be much possibility for dissension.

A more likely problem for Team Smackdown would be outside interference from within its own brand. Dolph Ziggler could attack Roode, who defeated him to qualify for Team Smackdown. Another possibility is interference by Rusev, who was denied a spot on Team Smackdown in a match with Orton, yet saw Cena added to the team without having a qualifying match.

Another possibility for interference comes from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who are upset with Shane. If you want a wild card, Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan, who wasn’t told of Shane’s invasion plans for Raw, could get involved in the match. And the Greek God of Wrestling hasn’t even touched on Angle’s anger at Shane for invading Raw, as well as Shane seeking revenge for the beatdown he received during Raw’s invasion of Smackdown this week.

There are numerous possibilities for twists and turns in this match. The final survivor could be Angle, Triple H, Shane, Balor, Orton, Cena or Strowman. The men’s 5-on-5 elimination match was one of the best matches of the year in 2016. The potential is there for it to attain that stature in 2017 as well.

The Lesnar-Styles match also has the potential to be a terrific match. Lesnar’s matches this year haven’t been championship-caliber matches. He has a wonderful opportunity to alter that trend against Styles, who has lived up to his phenomenal nickname. Styles’ size and skill-set should be a nice complement for Lesnar’s power game. Achilles Heel predicts that Lesnar will prevail, perhaps due to interference by Mahal.

There isn’t quite as much intrigue in the women’s 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match. As in the men’s match, a major question concerns how well Team Raw can work together.

Raw captain Alicia Fox is joined by Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Bayley and Asuka. Jax is not a team player. Banks and Bayley have been teasing a split. There also seems to be a budding rivalry with Asuka, the heralded newcomer.

The intrigue for Team Smackdown is who will replace Charlotte, who won the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Natalya on Tuesday. Natalya could be the replacement, or it could be the returning Paige. Team Smackdown is captained by Becky Lynch, with Naomi, Carmela and Tamina rounding out the team.

Will Asuka be the survivor for Team Raw? Will it be Paige as the survivor for Smackdown? Or will one team fall apart, leading to domination by the other? There are many possibilities.

Charlotte will face Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss. Charlotte should pick up a win for Smackdown, but will Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank opportunity? (Probably not due to the upcoming rematch between Charlotte and Natalya at Starcade.) Countering that result, Intercontinental champion The Miz should defeat United States champion Baron Corbin, although there is the possibility of an inconclusive finish.

The Miz-Corbin match is one of two heel-vs.-heel matches at Survivor Series. Cesaro and Sheamus, who recently won the Raw Tag Team Championship from Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, will battle Jimmy and Jey Uso, the Smackdown Tag Team champions.

One match added to Survivor Series this past week is the reunited Shield (Ambrose, Rollins and Roman Reigns) against The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston). The Shield Reunion comes a month late due to Reigns’ illness, but Achilles Heel expects The Shield’s reunion to be a triumphant one.

*****

WAR GAMES: One night before Survivor Series in Houston, NXT presents NXT Takeover: WarGames. Like Survivor Series, Saturday night’s WarGames (8 p.m., WWE Network) is a loaded card.

The main event is a War Games match, with a huge steel cage surrounding two rings. The competing teams in this match, which has its roots in WCW, are NXT Tag Team champions SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain), The Undisputed ERA (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly) and The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Roderick Strong. One member from each team starts the match. Five minutes later, the other members of one team will be released from a “shark cage” to enter the match, followed by the other two teams at 3-minute intervals.

Drew McIntyre defends the NXT Championship against Andrade “Cien” Almas. Unless McIntyre’s call-up to WWE’s main roster is imminent, the Greek God of Wrestling expects McIntyre to retain the title.

There also will be a Fatal 4-way match for NXT Women’s Championship vacated by Asuka. Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Peton Royce and Kairi Sane, the winner of the Mae Young Classic, will compete for the title. Other matches include Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream, and Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan, who is receiving a big push.

*****

PREPARING FOR BATTLE: As Ring of Honor continues with its Survival of the Fittest competition this weekend, it is announcing matches for Final Battle on Dec. 15 at The Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom. In addition to the previously announced Ring of Honor World Championship match between Cody Rhodes and challenger Dalton Castle, Ring of Honor has added a Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship match between The Mator City Macine Guns (Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley) and Best Friends (Trent Beretta and Chuckie T.), as well as a non-title match between IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion Marty Scurll and Jay Lethal.

*****

FLAIR FOR VICTORY: Charlotte Flair captured the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Natalya on Tuesday in a hard-fought match. After the match, Charlotte was joined in celebration on the entrance ramp by her father, Ric Flair. This was Flair’s first WWE television appearance since nearly dying this summer. Needless to say, it was an emotional scene. The fact that the match took place in Charlotte, N.C., which is definitely Flair country, added to the emotion.

*****

HARDCORE IN PHILLY: House of Hardcore 35 takes place Saturday (Nov. 18) at 2300 Arena. Tommy Dreamer battles Joey Mercury in a first blood match in the main event. Other matches include Billy Gunn vs. Nick Aldis, and Matt Cross vs. Petey Williams. An in-ring promo by Austin Aries is also being promoted. Shane Douglas and MVP are also being advertised for the show.

If you can’t get to House of Hardcore, this is the first event for which you can follow the action online. Go to houseofhardcore.net to get more information. (If you go to houseofhardcore.com by accident, you will get a vastly different experience.)

*****

BAD BOOKING: The previous week’s Impact Wrestling climaxed with a huge brawl between Alberto El Patron and Johnny Impact. The brawl, which was sparked by El Patron costing Impact the Impact Wrestling World Championship at Bound for Glory, went all over the arena.

So naturally, as a follow-up, on this past Thursday’s Impact Wrestling, El Patron and Impact were … nowhere to be found. Huh?

The explanation was that both wrestlers were banned from the building, but how can a follow-up show to a crazy brawl between two of the promotions most well-known wrestlers not include an appearance by either one of them?

*****

HONOR TO TRYOUT: Ring of Honor’s next try-out camp/wrestling seminar will take place Dec. 2-3. The location of the camp, which used to be in Bristol, Pa., is not listed on the announcement. The deadline for applications is Nov. 28. For more information, go to Ring of Honor’s Web site.

*****

STARCADE RETURNS: WarGames isn’t the only old WCW show being resurrected by WWE. Starcade will take place next Saturday (Nov. 25) in Greensboro, N.C.

The main event will be a steel cage match between Jinder Mahal and A.J. Styles for the WWE Championship, which Styles won from Mahal earlier this month in Manchester, England. There also will be a steel cage match between Charlotte Flair and Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, which Flair won from Natalya on Tuesday.

There also will be a Fatal 4-way match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, with Jimmy and Jey Uso defending against The New Day, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Shinsuke Nakamura will challenge Baron Corbin for the United States Championship.

Not-title matches include Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler, and Dustin Rhodes, in honor of his father Dusty Rhodes, facing Dash Wilder. Among those scheduled to appear at Starcade are Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Matt and Jeff Hardy and The Rock ‘n Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson).

Heel Turns: Styles back on top

Posted by Achilles Heel On November - 12 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

A.J. Styles’ historic victory over Jinder Mahal on Smackdown has added some juice to Survivor Series. With no disrespect to Jinder Mahal – all right, with a small dose of disrespect – far more people want to see Styles face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series than Mahal.

By winning the WWE Championship at Smackdown in Manchester, England, Styles takes Mahal’s place in the champion vs. champion non-title match at Survivor Series.

Styles also made history. This was the first WWE Championship title change on Smackdown since 2003, and it was the first time the title has ever changed hands in a match held outside of North America.

Looking ahead to Sun., Nov. 19, the title change elevates the champion vs. champion bout. Mahal has not produced championship-level matches as champion. His best title defenses have been good. None of them has been great. And, to be honest, Lesnar’s defenses of the WWE Universal Championship haven’t been all that great, either.

Replacing Mahal with Styles, who has lived up to his “phenomenal” nickname in the ring, should make the Survivor Series match much better. The smaller Styles can bump all over the place for Lesnar, which Mahal is not as well-equipped to do. Styles will also make the match faster-paced, with much more action, than it would be with Mahal.

One problem with the match is that the buildup has been all about Mahal challenging Lesnar. It was a bold challenge on Mahal’s part. And the Singh brothers have been mocking Paul Heyman’s introduction of Lesnar. All of that is wasted now. WWE will have to quickly change gears this week and give fans a reason, other the potential for an exceptional match, to watch Lesnar vs. Styles.

One has to wonder why WWE switched directions. Adding to the impression that the title change was not the original plan were reports the previous week that John Cena might be named guest referee for the Mahal-Lesnar match. The Greek God of Wrestling is going to avoid speculation about Mahal. Without evidence, that is unfair to Mahal.

A possibility is that this is a reward for Styles. As was mentioned in Heel Turns two weeks ago, Styles flew back from the South American tour to face Finn Balor at the TLC pay-per-view after illness knocked Bray Wyatt out of the match. Despite the difficult travel schedule, Styles than wrestled the next night on Raw and again the following night on Smackdown.

Putting the title on Styles makes sense. Taking it off Mahal at this moment doesn’t make sense. As Achilles Heel mentioned several paragraphs ago, the buildup for the Survivor Series match centered on Mahal having the, as Heyman might refer to it, chutzpah to challenge Lesnar. Mahal also is supposed to headline a WWE tour of India in December. He’s a better headliner as WWE champion. (On its Web site, WWE is teasing that Mahal will face Triple H in India on Dec. 9!)

The reason for the title change is unclear. But the Greek God of Wrestling is pleased that, with Styles as WWE champion, the champion vs. champion match with Lesnar at Survivor Series should feel like a main event.

*****

TAG TITLE CHANGE: The WWE Championship wasn’t the only title to change hands last week. On Raw, aided by a distraction by The New Day, who teased another Smackdown invasion, Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to win the Raw Tag Team Championship.

The title change makes the Survivor Series match between the Raw and Smackdown tag team champions a heels vs. heels match. Jimmy and Jey Uso are also heels, so, from that standpoint, this title change doesn’t make sense to Achilles Heel.

The result also leaves Rollins and Ambrose out of Survivor Series. If Roman Reigns remains sidelined by illness, no members of the Shield will be involved in a match at Survivor Series. It seems hard to believe that is going to happen.

*****

CENA JOINS SMACKDOWN TEAM: John Cena, who hasn’t been on WWE shows for a few months, returns at Survivor Series as the fifth member of Team Smackdown for the traditional Survivor Series 5-on-5 elimination match. Earlier in the week, the Raw team was completed with the addition of Samoa Joe, Finn Balor and Jason Jordan (although Achilles Heel wouldn’t be shocked to see Jordan taken out and replaced with, if he’s healthy, Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose).

Team Smackdown consists of Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and Cena. Team Raw consists of Kurt Angle, Braun Stroman, Jordan, Balor and Samoa Joe.

*****

ADDING MEMBERS: Two members were added to Team Raw for the 5-on-5 elimination style match at Survivor Series. Asuka and Shasha Banks were added to the team, which already had captain Alicia Fox and Nia Jax. Bayley is the obvious woman left out, but there is one spot remaining on the team. Expect the drama over whether Bayley will fill that final spot to be an issue on Raw this week. (This is a long shot, but perhaps Paige is ready to return.)

Team Smackdown has been set for several weeks. Becky Lynch will be the captain for a team that includes Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Carmella and Tamina.

*****

NOT-SO-GLORIOUS: No match at Bound for Glory, which Impact Wrestling describes as its biggest show of the year, was better than good. From an in-ring action perspective, the show peaked with the six-man X Division Championship match that opened the show.

But Bound for Glory was built around the return of Alberto El Patron rather the matches. This was a wise move because, as the Greek God of Wrestling suggested last week, the return of El Patron was more intriguing than any match on the show. El Patron cut a promo earlier in the show and then interfered in the main event, knocking out both Eli Drake and Johnny Impact before placing Drake on top of Impact for the pinfall, enabling Drake to retain his title. This led to a huge brawl between Impact and El Patron in the main event slot of Impact Wrestling on Thursday.

*****

KIM ACHIEVES GLORY: One noteworthy moment from Bound for Glory was Gail Kim winning the Knockouts Championship from Sienna in a triple threat match that also included Allie. Kim is a terrific wrestling who never achieved the heights she should have in WWE, but has been the class of the women’s division in TNA/Impact.

*****

OWENS, ZAYN IN TROUBLE: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are linked together on television. Now, they’re linked together in a way they would prefer not to be linked. Owens and Zayn were sent home from WWE’s European tour after the ending of a match on Smackdown.

In the match, Kofi Kingston defeated Zayn. Apparently, New Day was supposed to fight off Zayn and Owens in the ring after the match. Instead, Zayn rolled to the outside. According to The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, there is some confusion about whether Owens and Zayn intentionally didn’t take part in the post-match plans or whether there was a misunderstanding about what was going to happen. What’s perfectly clear, though, is that, whether it was a misunderstanding or intentional disregard of plans, Owens and Zayn are being held responsible for the mistake.

*****

SAN ANTONIO SHOWDOWN: Ring of Honor and NXT go head-to-head Friday night in San Antonio. Ring of Honor’s Survival of the Fittest tournament kicks off Friday in San Antonio before moving on to Dallas and Oklahoma City the following two nights. In addition to first-round tournament matches, Ring of Honor world champion Cody Rhodes teams with IWGP United States champion Kenny Omega to battle The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian). Another match pits Dalton Castle, who will challenge Rhodes for the world title at Final Battle on Dec. 15, against IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion Marty Scurll in a non-title match.

NXT is in San Antonio the same night. NXT’s main event pits former Ring of Honor champion Adam Cole against Drew McIntyre for the NXT Championship. Raising the promotional battle stakes even higher is that Shawn Michaels will be the special guest referee for the Cole-McIntyre championship match.

*****

WAR GAMES: One night after the San Antonio showdown with Ring of Honor, and one night before Survivor Series, NXT presents NXT Takeover: War Games on WWE Network (Saturday, 8 p.m.). The main event is a War Games-style match, which means there will be two rings inside a giant steel cage. The teams are NXT Tag Team champions SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolf, Killian Dain), Undisputed ERA (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly) and The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Rodney Strong.

In this modified War Games match, which has different rules than the classic WCW version, one member for each team begins the match. The other members of the teams are locked in “shark cages” outside the steel cage. After five minutes, the other members of one group are released and allowed to enter the match. Three minutes later, a second team’s other two members are allowed into the match, with the final team to be completed three minutes later.

Also on the NXT Takeover: War Games show, Drew McIntyre defends the NXT Championship – if he still has it – against Andrade “Cien” Almas. There will be a Fatal 4-way match between Kairi Sane, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross and Peyton Royce for the NXT Women’s Championship vacated by Asuka. Other matches are Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream and Kassius Oho vs. Lars Sullivan.

*****

OMEGA VS. JERICHO: Chris Jericho will face Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4. Jericho challenged Omega via video at last weekend’s Power Struggle show after Omega defeated Trent Barreta. Also on the Power Struggle show, Hiroshi Tanahashi retained the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Kota Ibushi in what was supposedly a fantastic match.

*****

TITLE CHANGES: The Combat Zone Wrestling World Championship changed hands twice Saturday Night at Night of Infamy. Joe Gacy defeated Shane Strickland to win the title, and then Ricky Shane Page cashed in his championship opportunity to capture the title. Also on the card, Jimmy Jacobs made his return to the ring by defeating Sami Callihan.

*****

PHILLY IS HARDCORE: Tommy Dreamer presents House of Hardcore 35 next Saturday (8 p.m.) at 2300 Arena. Dreamer will face Joey Mercury in a first blood match in the main event. Billy Gunn will meet Nick Aldis, and Austin Aries will deliver a message.

*****

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Achilles Heel has always enjoyed the inventiveness of CHIKARA, which names each of its events. Friday’s event at Kennebunk Elementary School in Kennebunk, Maine, has one of the best names I’ve seen: Silence in the Library. Icarus battle Rory Gulak in what the Greek God of Wrestling considers the main event. “Mr. Touchdown “ Mark Angelosetti battles Missile Assault Man.

Saturday’s event in Haverhill, Mass., titled “Dark Water,” features the return to the ring of Mike Quackenbush, who will battle Max Smashmaster. “Mr. Touchdown “ Mark Angelosetti squares off with Hallowicked, and Icarus meets Missile Assault Man. At Sunday’s “Kill the Moon” in Enfield, Ct., Grand champion Juan Francisco de Coronado faces the Proletariat Boar of Moldova. Also, Dasher Hatfield meets Keith Lee.

CHIKARA will wrap up its 18th year with “Closing Time” on Dec. 2 at The Wrestle Factory, its home base in Philadelphia.

*****

WHAT’S IN A NAME II? Did rap mogul Diddy really just change his name to Brother Love? Sorry, P-Diddy, there is only one Brother Love – and it’s not you!

*****

SCREWJOB ANNIVERSARY: Last Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of one of the most infamous incidents in wrestling history: the Survivor Series screwjob in which Shawn Michaels won the WWE World Championship from Bret Hart.

Every out of Roy Halladay's playoff no-hitter