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Consecutive games in which Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. has hit leadoff home run

In honor of Father’s Day, we bring you columns from Gordon Glantz and Eric Fisher remembering their fathers.

Even though the Phillies only won 71 games last season, there seems to be very little competition for spots in the starting lineup or rotation. Eric Fisher provides 10 questions to ponder as the Phillies begin spring training.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the dramatic change that can occur in a draft lottery, why rooting for Sidney Crosby — yes, Sidney Crosby — is OK under certain circumstances, and the impact of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Ring of Honor making waves

Posted by Eric Fisher On August - 13 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

In last week’s Heel Turns, the Greek God of Wrestling explained how WWE is using WWE Network to dominate professional wrestling. This week Achilles Heel is giving equal time to Ring of Honor.

Ring of Honor is making noise these days because many of its stars, most notably Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) have organized a show that sold out “All In,” which takes place at Sears Center just outside of Chicago on Sept. 1. Ring of Honor, in conjunction with New Japan Pro Wrestling, continued to make major news this past week when they sold out Madison Square Garden for their G1 Supercard on April 6, 2016.

In some ways, this is a challenge to WWE. Madison Square Garden was the crown jewel of WWE in its territory days, and it remains an important arena today. Furthermore, the G1 Supercard takes place one night before WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That means that the Ring of Honor-NJPW event will likely go head-to-head against NXT Takeover on the Saturday night before WrestleMania in the same market.

Before anyone goes overboard, Ring of Honor is not battling WWE for supremacy. WWE is light years ahead of Ring of Honor in the battle to be the No. 1 wrestling company. WWE holds most of its events in major arenas, with some in stadiums. WrestleMania attracts more fans than Ring of Honor draws in months of live events – even if “All In” and the G1 Supercard are included.

As the Greek God of Wrestling wrote last week, though, despite WWE’s dominance, there is still room for promotions other than WWE. With two sold-out events (and I’m counting All In even though, technically, it isn’t a Ring of Honor event) in major arenas, including the hallowed Madison Square Garden, Ring of Honor is solidifying its position as the No. 2 promotion in the United States.

Impact Wrestling has better television exposure than Ring of Honor. Other than television, however, Ring of Honor is superior to Impact. If Ring of Honor could get a television deal that is truly national, it may establish itself as the clear No. 2 company in the U.S.

By booking Madison Square Garden in the same region as WrestleMania, and selling out the building in advance, Ring of Honor is sending a message to WWE and NXT. Although it can’t be separated from WWE, in many ways, NXT is a top competitor to be the No. 2 wrestling company in the country. Many of the stars poached away from Ring of Honor and the independent scene end up in NXT, so, for all the bravado, Ring of Honor is competing more with NXT than with WWE’s main roster.

Give Ring of Honor credit. It is doing all of this without a television contract that allows it to be seen in all of the major metropolitan regions of the country. Some fans prefer an alternative to WWE, and Ring of Honor is happy to provide it.

                               *****                               

RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: After Ring of Honor conducts its tour of the United Kingdom this week, with stops in Edinburgh, Doncaster and London, it will return to Philadelphia on Sat., Aug. 25 (6 p.m.) at 2300 Arena for television tapings.

*****

PANDORA’S BOX: A recent post on an Internet site (the Greek God of Wrestling isn’t going to name the site) has resurrected a 2012 interview in which a former WWE writer claims that Randy Orton behaved inappropriately when greeting new writers. The former writer claims that Orton would hold his penis and then extend his hand. When the writer, who said this didn’t happen to him, would refuse to shake hands, Orton, with his penis still exposed, would then threat to tell Vince and Stephanie McMahon that the writer was “big-timing” Orton by refusing to shake hands.

Putting aside how this writer knows for certain that these things happened when he wasn’t present, let’s assume it’s true. If it happened, it was inappropriate, but WWE, which has said it is investigating the allegations, shouldn’t make a federal case over it.

The interview occurred in 2012, which means the alleged incidents occurred at least six years ago. Furthermore, there are different levels of transgressions. We’re not talking about attempted rape or trying to gain sexual favors. It seems as if Orton was making an inappropriate joke, or hazing new writers, rather than trying to force anyone to have sex with him. That doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it’s important to keep the alleged incidents in context.

As for Orton, his immaturity earlier in his career isn’t exactly a secret. In fact, Orton’s transformation from his earlier entitled and occasionally obnoxious behavior outside of the ring was a major theme in a WWE special about Orton’s career. It would be wrong to punish him years after he has altered his behavior.

Taking a wider view, WWE needs to be careful about opening a Pandora’s box by punishing Orton. Professional wrestling isn’t the most genteel business. Locker room humor is prevalent. In many ways, the wrestlers police their own. Without talking out of turn, the Greek God of Wrestling recalls the APA (Ron Simmons and JBL) beating the snot out of Public Enemy in the ring because of their violation of locker room protocol. That was an assault that took place before a national television audience. In terms of backstage actions, some bodily functions were “dumped,” if you’ll pardon the pun, into Jerry “The King” Lawler’s crown when he came to WWE as retribution for his actions as a promoter.

Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Trust the Greek God of Wrestling when he tells you that Orton isn’t the first male wrestler to expose his penis in a location other than the shower and locker room.

Today’s wrestling world is different, in part because of the larger female presence, but you can’t go back and apply today’s standards to the past. WWE would be going down a dangerous road if it gave Orton anything more than a slap on the wrist.

*****

SUMMERSLAM COMPLETE? It appears that the card for WWE’s SummerSlam is complete. With 12 matches, the Greek God of Wrestling hopes that the card is complete. The card is already getting close to having too many matches, particularly because there are a few matches which could benefit from receiving extensive time.

Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship yet again against Roman Reigns. In the co-main event, AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe. The secondary men’s titles are both on the line in what could be tremendous matches if given the time. Dolph Ziggler defends the Intercontinental Championship against former champion Seth Rollins, and Shinsuke Nakamura defends the United States Championship against former champion Jeff Hardy.

The women’s titles will also be on the line at SummerSlam. Alexis Bliss defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey, and Carmella defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a triple threat match with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.

The Smackdown Tag Team Championship will be on the line when The Bludgeon Brothers (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper) face the challengers, two member of The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods). Cedric Alexander defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Drew Gulak.

There also are some non-title matches set for SummerSlam. Daniel Bryan clashes with The Miz, Finn Balor meets Baron Corbin, and Kevin Owens faces Braun Strowman, with Strowman’s Money in the Bank opportunity going to Owens if he wins. The preshow features Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almos and Zelina Vega. The Greek God of Wrestling will have a full preview of SummerSlam later this week.

*****

BLACK OUT: Aleister Black, who suffered a groin injury that needed surgery, has been removed from the main event at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. NXT did an angle in which Black was attacked in the parking lot. The main event is now Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in a last man standing match for Ciampa’s NXT Championship instead of a triple-threat match involving Black.

Saturday’s card also features Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against Ricochet and the rest of the Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly) defending the NXT Tag Team Championship against Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven). Shayna Baszler defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Kairi Sane in a rematch of last year’s Mae Young Classic final. Velveteen Dream battles Ethan Carter III to round out what should be a tremendous card.

*****

FAREWELL TO NEIDHART: Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, the father of Natalya Neidhart and Bret Hart’s partner in the Hart Foundation, died early Monday at age 63. According to Ross Hart, his brother-in-law, Neidhart dies of a seizure related to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Neidhart, married to Ellie Hart, was a powerful wrestler who achieved some success on his own, but his greatest success occurred while teaming with Bret Hart as part of the Hart Foundation. The combination of Neidhart’s power and demented personality blended beautifully with Hart’s technical skill and quieter cool personality. They won the WWF Tag Team titles as both heels and good guys.

Achilles Heel offers his condolences to Natalya, the entire Hart/Neidhart family and all of “The Anvil’s” colleagues and friends.

*****

WWE IN A.C.: Local fans can can experience some of the SummerSlam when WWE presents a live event with the Smackdown crew in the Mark Etess Arena in Atlantic City the day after SummerSlam.

*****

NEW CHIKARA CHAMP: “Mr Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti defeated Juan Francisco de Coronado to capture CHIKARA’s Grand Championship last Saturday at Chikarasaurus Rex – a Deadly Secret. Also, Dasher Hatfield and his son, Boomer, who was making his CHIKARA debut, defeated Frightmare and Hallowicked. Boomer Hatfield will be back in action Saturday (3 p.m.) for the Hour of Power at The Wrestle Factory when he squares off with Volgar. Also on Saturday, Young Lions Cup winner Danjerhawk battles Cornelius Crummels.

*****

TRIOS TEAMS: CHIKARA will present King of Trios on Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at The Palmer Center (The Funplex) in Easton. This year’s King of Trios has a Star Wars them: Episode XI: The Saga Ends (which The Greek God of Trios hopes does not signal the end of CHIKARA’s signature event).

Newly crowned Grand champion Mark Angelosetti teams with his former partner Dasher Hatfield and his son, Boomer Hatfield to form The Millennium Throwbacks.  Fire Ant, Green Ant and Thief Ant form The Resistance. As always (almost), there is a team of former WWE wrestlers. The former Darren Young, Michael Tarver and Justin Gabriel form The Nexus Alliance. For old-school WWE fans, the former Jean-Pierre Lafitte teams with Katarina Waters (the former Katie Lea Burchill) and Rey Bucanero to form The Ohnaka Gang. There also will be three all-women teams and the usual mix of CHIKARA characters in the tournament, which I’ll examine more closely the last week of August.

*****

DIFFICULT COMBAT: Combat Zone Wrestling has had a tough summer. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, the CZW world champion, has been sidelined by a knee injury. And then CZW Wired champion Zachary Wentz, who was supposed to defend his title against Myron Reed last Saturday at “Business as Usual,” was called away to take part in Impact Wrestling’s television tapings, leaving CZW to scramble to come up with a main event. CZW brought in Trent Barreta to face Alex Reynolds, and Reed battled Johnny Silver, but the absence of a title match couldn’t escape notice. CZW has to hope that Friedman and Wentz return for “Down with the Sickness” on Sept. 8.

*****

YOUNG AT HEART: The second Mae Young Classic has been taped, setting the stage for the finals at Evolution, the all-women’s pay-per-view on Oct. 28. But The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers and won’t reveal the final pairing.

*****

ROAD TRIP: At the end of August, WWE will head overseas for events in London (Aug. 29), Osaka, Japan (Aug. 31) and Shanghai, China (Sept. 1).

Heel Turns: WWE taking over wrestling world

Posted by Achilles Heel On August - 6 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

There was a time when fans not enamored with WWE would seek alternatives.

Now, WWE provides the alternative.

WWE is doing it all. Top-notch women’s wrestling? WWE has it. A more intimate experience with an independent feel? WWE has NXT. Smaller and more athletic wrestlers? WWE has 205 Live. WWE also is adding a United Kingdom organization, taking advantage of that hotbed of wrestling.

What we are witnessing is a transformation that is every bit as revolutionary as WWE’s takeover of rival territories during the 1980s. In those days, WWE (then WWF) used the expansion of cable television to become a national brand. WWE would then sign top talent away from local territories and, along with combination of a presence on television, would book events in arenas around the country, squeezing out the local promotions.

The vehicle for WWE’s current expansion is the Internet. More specifically, WWE is using the increased capability of people to stream programming as a means for expansion.

In economics terms (the Greek God of Wrestling will try to keep this as basic as possible for you simpletons), WWE is engaging in horizontal and vertical integration at the same time. Horizontal integration is what WWE did by taking over other wrestling territories during the 1980s. There aren’t as many companies to take over today, and WWE doesn’t have any true rivals on its level, but there isn’t any question that, by signing top talent away from independent promotions, WWE is making business more difficult for those companies.

In some ways, however, WWE is engaging in vertical integration. That’s when a company takes over all levels of its business, from production to distribution. Traditionally, the bigger promotions allowed talent to develop in the independent promotions. Today, WWE has its own development center for young wrestlers. Even wrestlers with a background on the independent scene sometimes go to the performance center. Young wrestlers also develop at NXT When they’re ready, they move to WWE.

WWE is also taking over distribution of its product. Many thought it was a mistake when WWE gave up its share of pay-per-view revenue from cable and satellite companies by putting events on WWE Network. DVD sales were also certain to suffer due to the content available on WWE Network. Instead, WWE Network has become the perfect way to increase the popularity of NXT and 205 Live.

WWE Network is also the home for special events such as the Mae Young Classic and Cruiserweight Classic. In a sense, WWE uses its own Internet network as a means for distributing its product. As demand for the product grows, more people subscribe to WWE Network. It’s a perfect symbiotic (look it up, jabronis!) relationship.

NXT is the best example of the power of WWE Network. NXT isn’t on network television. It’s only on WWE Network. Yet, it has grown into much more than a developmental organization. NXT has become a destination for top independent stars such as Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole and (coming soon) Matt Riddle. With only exposure on WWE Network, NXT recently ran split tours, which is indicative of the depth of its talent.

This doesn’t mean that WWE will wipe out all other promotions. There is still a place for independent organizations. The Mexican and Japanese wrestling organizations are unique enough to differentiate themselves from WWE. The extreme violence of Combat Zone Wrestling and the comic/cartoon character dimension of CHIKARA allow those organizations to operate in a niche that WWE isn’t likely to enter.

WWE Network is also crucial to WWE’s worldwide expansion. Its potential reach actually extends beyond the television networks.

The television networks are still important for WWE. The recent lucrative 5-year deals with USA Network (Raw) and FOX Sports (Smackdown, starting in 2019) are one reason WWE’s stock soared above $80 a share. WWE still needs television’s reach for its flagship shows, but it is building the rest of its global empire through WWE Network.

Regardless of which style of wrestling you prefer, you can probably find it under the WWE umbrella on WWE Network.

*****

MYSTERIO’S ALL IN: Add Rey Mysterio to the list of wrestlers who will participate in “All In,” the major independent card at the Sears Center just outside of Chicago on Sept. 1. Mysterio will team with Bandido and Fenix to battle The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Kota Ibushi.

The main event for “All In” features Nick Aldis defending the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Cody Rhodes. Other announced matchers are Marty Scurll vs. Kazuchika Okada, Joey Janela vs. Hangman Page, and Christopher Daniels vs. actor Stephen Amell (Rhodes appears on Amell’s “Arrow” series). All In sold out with only one match announced, which demonstrates that there is still room for other promotions besides WWE.

                              *****                               

SUMMERSLAM HEATING UP: A few more matches were added to the SummerSlam card this past week. Shinsuke Nakamura will defend the United States Championship against Jeff Hardy, although don’t be surprised if Randy Orton is added to this match. Cedrick Alexander will defend the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Drew Gulak, one of Achilles’ Heel’s favorite underrated wrestlers. The Miz laughed off Daniel Bryan’s challenge for a match at SummerSlam, but expect that match happen. In an alteration to an existing match, Charlotte Flair has been added to the Smackdown Women’s Championship match, with Carmella defending against Flair and Becky Lynch.

In the SummerSlam main event, Roman Reigns challenge WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar. Samoa Joe challenges AJ Styales for the WWE Championship by choking out AJ Styles. Ronda Rousey challenges Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship.

Two other Raw brand matches have been announced for SummerSlam. Seth Rollins will try to regain the Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler. Kevin Owens will battle Braun Strowman, with Strowman’s Money in the Bank championship opportunity on the line. SummerSlam will take place on Aug. 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

*****

MAYOR FROM HELL: Congratulations to Glenn Jacobs (Kane), who was elected mayor Knox County, Tenn.

*****

ANSWER TO RIDDLE: Matt Riddle, who is rumored to be headed to WWE (or NXT) dropped the EVOLVE Championship to Shane Strickland in a hardcore rules match last Saturday at 2300 Arena. If you haven’t seen Riddle wrestle, there are plenty of matches on youtube. The Greek God of Wrestling recommends Riddle’s match with Will Ospreay earlier this year in Dublin, Ireland.

*****

BLACK OUT: Aleister Black, who recently dropped the NXT Championship to Tommaso Ciampa, recently underwent surgery after suffering a groin injury during a house show match against Ciampa. It’s uncertain if he will be ready for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, where he is scheduled to join Johnny Gargano and Ciampa in a triple threat match for the NXT Championship.

*****

CHIKARA’S SECRET: CHIKARA returns to The Wrestle Factory on Saturday (3 p.m.) for Chikarasaurus Rex – A Deadly Secret. The early card appears to be loaded, with “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti challenging Juan Francisco de Coronado for the CHIKARA Grand Championship. Achilles Heel smells a potential title change. Dasher Hatfield, Angelosetti’s former tag team partner, will team with his son, Boomer Hatfield, who is making his debut, against Hallowicked and Frightmare. Danjerhawk will face Sage Philips in a Young Lions Cup match, and Solo Darling battles Ophidian in an inter-gender match.

*****

CZW’S BUSINESS: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to The Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees on Saturday (8 p.m.) for “Business as Usual.” It appears that Maxwell Jacob Friedman, who did not wrestle at New Heights due to a knee injury, will be unable to defend the CZW World Championship. Announced matches include Zachary Wentz defending the CZW Wired Championship against Myron Reed, Joey Ryan taking on Anthony Greene, Joe Gacy meeting Wheeler Yuta, and KC Navarro facing Jordan Oliver.

*****

RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: With Ring of Honor presenting a United Kingdom tour in mid-August, the only chance to see Ring of Honor in the United States before Labor Day will be at Philadelphia Excellence, a television taping at 2300 Arena on Sat., Aug. 25 (6 p.m.). There will be a meet and greet prior to the show.

*****

CONVENTION IN A.C.: If you’re looking for something to do before the Ring of Honor tapings, there will be a huge convention in Atlantic City on Sat., Aug. 25 at the Claridge Hotel. Goldberg, Sting and The Bullet Club are being advertised as the headliners for The Boardwalk Beatdown Pro Wrestling Experience. Other attendees to include Demolition, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Sunny, Fred Ottman (Tugboat/Typhoon), Brian Cage, Melissa Santos and “The Bulldozer” Matt Tremont.

There also will be a Stand Alone Wrestling Boardwalk Beatdown card at 7 p.m. on Saturday, followed by an after-party at the Tennessee Ave. Beer Hall, which is also the site for a dinner on Friday. There will be a question-and-answer session and photo opportunities at the Friday dinner, but there won’t be any autographs at the after-party.

*****

LESNAR GOES ROGUE: There are only two explanations for Brock Lesnar’s mistreatment of Paul Heyman during Raw last week. Either Lesnar being out of control and not listening to Heyman will be cited as an explanation if he loses to Roman Reigns at SummerSlam or Lesnar and Heyman are putting on an elaborate deception – which doesn’t mean that Reigns won’t win the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam.

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