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Completions this season by Carson Wentz and Eli Manning

The Greek God of Wrestling previews WWE’s Backlash, which he expects to be an entertaining event. Achilles Heel also previews NXT Takeover: Chicago, tells you which big stars sustained serious arm injuries and which rising star captured the CZW World Championship.

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

The draft indicates Sixers fans will be asked to sit through another season of bad basketball. Eric Fisher wonders if we’ll still be waiting for the future in 2017.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Paying tribute to ‘The Brain’

Posted by Achilles Heel On September - 22 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelBobby Heenan loved the wrestling business. And the wrestling business loved him back.

Wrestling gave Heenan a stage on which to display his unique talent. He dipped into a seemingly bottomless well of creativity and humor to entertain fans for more than 30 years.

Heenan, who died of organ failure earlier this week at age 72 after a 15-year battle with health issues, was the greatest manager in the history of professional wrestling. The Greek God of Wrestling wavers on who would be included in his Top 10 list of managers and where they would rank, but there is no doubt that “The Brain” would be No. 1.

NFL broadcaster John Madden certainly agreed, naming Heenan to his celebrated All-Madden team as a manager. It’s difficult to imagine a wrestling manager so “over” with a mainstream audience that he was included in a revered list compiled by the NFL’s best analyst.

But Heenan shouldn’t be limited to the manager category. Some have said, and not just in the wake of his death, that Heenan was among the best performers in professional wrestling.

Heenan wasn’t a great wrestler, but he could draw a crowd and then entertain them. Isn’t that what professional wrestling is all about?

The highlight for many fans in the AWA (American Wrestling Alliance) during the 1970s and early ‘80s was to chant “weasel!” at Heenan. The chant was sometimes deafening. Heenan managed Blackjack Lanza, Ray Stevens and Bobby Duncum in the AWA, but he was best-known for managing Nick Bockwinkel, who won the AWA World Championship on several occasions.

But the magnitude of Heenan’s impact was most obvious in WWE (then called WWF). It may sound strange to today’s fans, who don’t see many managers, but Heenan was instrumental in selling pay-per-view events.

Heenan played a major role in promoting the famous WrestleMania III main event between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, who turned heel and joined Heenan. That event, headlined by the Hogan-Andre match for the WWF World Championship, set North American indoor attendance records that stood for decades.

The promotion for WrestleMania VIII at the Hoosierdome was partially built around a preposterous campaign centered around Heenan. He proclaimed himself “Indiana’s favorite Bobby,” an obvious allusion to legendary Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight. Heenan was also an integral part of promoting the WrestleMania VIII main event, with Ric Flair defending the WWF world title against Randy “Macho Man” Savage. As part of the buildup to that event, Flair, Heenan and “executive assistant” Curt Hennig claimed that Flair had a sexual relationship with Miss Elizabeth, Savage’s wife and manager.

WrestleMania VIII was preceded by the 1992 Royal Rumble, considered among the best, if not the best, Royal Rumbles in history. One of the reasons the Royal Rumble match was so memorable was that the WWF World Championship was on the line. Another reason was Heenan.

Heenan was a broadcaster for the 1992 Royal Rumble. His reactions related to Flair, from his anguish at Flair entering the match at No. 3 to his joy at Flair’s victory, added immensely to the drama. Heenan’s performance during the 1992 Royal Rumble is up there with Jim Ross’ call of the famous Hell in Cell match between Undertaker and Mankind as among the best in wrestling history.

He could draw huge crowds, incite fans and enhance matches from the broadcast booth. When he started in the wrestling business, Heenan set up the ring, carried wrestlers’ jackets back to the locker room and sold concessions. What couldn’t Heenan do?

One thing he did better than anyone was make people laugh. If you’re making a list of the funniest people in professional wrestling, Heenan is the unquestionable king of comedy. He has no peers.

Heenan’s quick wit was on display on a weekly basis during “Prime Time Wrestling” on USA Network. At times, Heenan’s primary goal seemed to be to get co-host Gorilla Monsoon to laugh. He often succeeded. Heenan was a quick wit with impeccable comedic timing. He could do slapstick comedy and deliver clever verbal jabs.

Billed as being from Beverly Hills, Calif., Heenan would talk down to the “humanoids,” as he called the fans, and play up his wealth and intelligence. At the same time, he didn’t mind being the butt of jokes, just as he did while a manager when, as part of a match stipulation, he had to wear a weasel outfit.

Heenan could make you laugh, but he also make you cry. His emotional improvised speech in 2004 when he was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame, two years after being diagnosed with throat cancer, is a perfect example. When Harley Race didn’t react immediately to a comment by Heenan, he said, “Wake up Harley! … or they’ll throw dirt on you.” But he concludes his jest-filled speech with an emotional salute to Monsoon, who had died. Heenan also nearly broke down while paying tribute to Monsoon on WCW Nitro after Monsoon died.

Heenan and Monsoon has amazing chemistry. They were the most entertaining broadcasting duo in wrestling history.

There seems to be a trend throughout Heenan’s career. He was the best manager. The most hilarious person. Part of the most entertaining broadcasting duo. Among the best at drawing heat. Among the best at promoting matches. Turning in one of the best broadcast performances during a match (1992 Royal Rumble).

No wonder some consider Heenan among the best performers in professional wrestling history.

There will never be another Bobby Heenan.

*****

HEENAN COLLECTION: WWE Network has put together a Bobby Heenan Collection. It’s impossible to capture Heenan’s entire career in one collection, but this collection, which The Greek God of Wrestling will certainly watch, appears to include many memorable moments.

*****

NO MERCY: Due to the tribute to Bobby Heenan, Achilles Heel will present an abridged preview of “No Mercy,” which will take place Sunday (8 p.m.) on WWE Network.

The main event features Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Braun Strowman. There is a feel that Strowman is a legitimate challenger to Lesnar. A title change certainly is possible, although, unless Lesnar is taking some time off, The Greek God of Wrestling thinks Lesnar will find a way to escape with the title.

The other huge match involves John Cena and Roman Reigns, who have quickly built a nasty rivalry. This match could go either way, with a Cena victory further enraging Reigns, or a Reigns victory causing Cena to seek revenge.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose should successfully defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against former champions Sheamus and Cesaro. It’s too soon for a Shield breakup.

Bayley has been added to Raw Women’s Championship, which continues to grow. It started as Alexa Bliss defending the title against Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Emma were added to make it a fatal four-way match, and now Bayley has been added to the match. This match should add to tension between Bayley and Banks that was building before Bayley’s shoulder injury. Either Bliss will retain the title, with Bayley somehow costing Banks the match, or Banks will hit a big move, only to see Bayley get the pin and win the championship.

Another added match is The Miz defending the Intercontinental Championship against Jason Jordan. Unless WWE wants Jordan to be booed for being pushed too fast, Miz should win. I can see the storyline shifting to Jordan being frustrated at failing to win the big matches, leading to a confrontation with his “father,” Kurt Angle.

One title more likely to change hands is the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, with the possibility of Enzo Amore using heel tactics to defeat Neville. If the feud between Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor is to continue, a Wyatt victory makes sense.

*****

RING OF DISHONOR: Ring of Honor’s “Death Before Dishonor XV” pay-per-view takes place tonight (Friday) in Las Vegas. In the main event, Cody Rhodes defends the Ring of Honor World Championship against Minoru Suzuki. Kushida defends the Ring of Honor World Television Championship against Kenny King.

Other matches include Marty Scurll vs. Chuck Taylor, a last man standing match between Silas Young and Jay Lethal, a Las Vegas street fight between Jay White and Punishment Martinez, and a six-man tag team match between The Kingdom (Matt Taven, T.K. O’Ryan and Vinny Marsegia) and Bully Ray and Mark and Jay Briscoe, with the winner to face Adam Page and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) for the Ring of Honor Six-Man Tag Team Championship later that night.

*****

FLAIR FOR LIFE: After surviving life-threatening medical complications, including some organ failure, Ric Flair has given a few interviews about his travails. Flair has admitted to being an alcoholic, although it’s always possible that “The Nature Boy” is embellishing some of his stories. Then again, those that know Flair might say he’s downplaying the extent of his partying. After all, Bobby Heenan referred to Flair as Larry Flynt, the publisher of “Hustler” magazine, during his 2004 Hall of Fame speech.

Flair still has a long road of physical therapy ahead of him, but it’s wonderful that Flair is on the road to recovery.

*****

WRESTLING WAVE: Chris Jericho and Ring of honor are teaming up for Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N Wrestling Rager at Sea, a cruise from Miami to the Bahamas from Oct. 27-31, 2018. As part of the cruise, Ring of Honor will present a “Sea of Honor” tournament. There also will be musical performances, including, of course, Jericho’s band Fozzy. Special guests advertised as being on the cruise include Mick Foley, Ricky Steamboat, Rey Mysterio, Diamond Dallas Page, Raven, Lance Storm, Hurricane Helms and Cyrus.

*****

VICTORY ROAD: Next Thursday’s Impact Wrestling, billed as “Victory Road,” will feature three championship matches. Eli Drake defends the Global Force Wrestling Global Championship against Johnny Impact; Trevor Lee defends the X Division Championship against Petey Williams; and LAX defends the GFW Global Tag Team Championship against OVE (Jake and Dave Crist). There also will be a six-woman tag team match, with Gail Kim, Allie and Rosemary squaring off against Sienna, Taryn Terrell and Taya Valkyrie..

*****

INJURY NEWS: Kid Lykos, one half of Combat Zone Wrestling’s tag team champions, is sidelined by a broken wrist. It’s uncertain whether Lykos and Chris Brookes will have to vacate the titles. The Rep (Dave McCall and Nate Carter) became the No. 1 contenders for the tag team titles by defeating The Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy and Marq Quen) in the Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Ladder match at “Down with the Sickness.”

*****

BATTLING TOOTH AND CLAW: CHIKARA will return to The Wrestle Factory on Sat., Sept. 30 for “Tooth and Claw,” featuring “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti challenging Juan Francisco Coronado for the CHIKARA Grand Championship, Hallowicked battling Rory Gulak, a four-way tag team elimination match, and a pair of inter-gender matches. Plus, in a battle between two of The Greek God of Wrestling’s favorite names, Oleg the Usurper takes on the Proletariat Boar of Moldova.

Heel Turns: Owens making major impact

Posted by Achilles Heel On September - 16 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe shocking attack on Vince McMahon on Smackdown was the latest highlight in Kevin Owens’ awesome WWE career.

Owens has made a tremendous impact in less than 2½ years in WWE. He has held the United States, Intercontinental and WWE Universal championships. Upon entering WWE, he immediately became embroiled in a feud with John Cena. Owens and Chris Jericho were the most entertaining duo in WWE for nearly a year before Owens turned on him in a spectacular breakup. Owens was involved into a feud with A.J. Styles, which has led to his feud with Shane McMahon.

Perhaps Owens is making up for lost time. He wrestled professionally for 14 years before signing with WWE. After starting his career with former WWE star Jacques Rougeau’s promotion in Canada, Owens made his mark in Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, International Wrestling Syndicated and Combat Zone Wrestling.

Owens, wrestling as Kevin Steen, which is his real name, frequently crossed paths with El Generico, known to WWE fans as Sami Zayn. Owens wrestled against El Generico in IWS, CZW and Ring of Honor. He and El Generico formed a successful tag team, which dissolved after Steen turned on his partner, leading to a legendary feud in Ring of Honor.

Some thought that Steen, who certainly doesn’t possess the physique typical of most of WWE’s stars, was going to spend the rest of his career on the independent scene. But his hard work paid off in an opportunity with WWE.

Zayn/Generico preceded Owens in signing with WWE and arriving in NXT, which Owens, who changed his ring name from Steen, cited as motivation when, on his first night on television, he attacked Zayn after Zayn won the NXT Championship. Two months later, Owens won the NXT Championship from Zayn. Owens held the title for more than four months before losing it to Finn Balor, in full “Demon” mode, during a WWE Network special from Tokyo.

Owens was promoted to the WWE main roster while holding the NXT Championship. He defeated United States champion John Cena, with a clean pin, on his first pay-per-view match. He also defended the NXT Championship on Raw and Smackdown. Cena came out on top in their feud, but Owens earned a lot of respect by holding his own with Cena in some terrific matches.

Owens won the WWE Universal Championship one year later, with some assistance from Triple H. His successful title defenses often were aided by Jericho, who formed a friendship with the champion. But, after their breakup, Jericho turned the tables on Owens by distracting him at the start of his title defense against Goldberg, which led to an abrupt end to Owens’ six-month reign as champion. Goldberg’s title victory set up the WrestleMania match at which Brock Lesnar gained revenge on Goldberg by taking the title.

Rather than fade away after losing the Universal Championship, Owens, who was drafted to Smackdown, remained hot by feuding with Jericho, who had won the United States Championship. Owens captured that title from Jericho and then was drafted to Smackdown, where he traded the title back and forth with Styles.

The feud with Styles led to a SummerSlam match, with Shane McMahon as special guest referee. Styles won that match, as well as another match in which Shane inserted himself as guest referee when Baron Corbin, the original referee, walked out. Owens blamed Shane for his losses to Styles, which led to a confrontation on Smackdown in which Owens goaded Shane into attacking him. With Owens threatening to sue WWE, Vince McMahon appeared on this past week’s Smackdown and proclaimed that Owens would face Shane in a Hell in a Cell match. That prompted Owens to attack Mr. McMahon.

The attack on Mr. McMahon was a memorable segment. That shouldn’t be surprising. Owens has been involved in numerous memorable segments and matches in his relatively short time in WWE.

It took a long time for Owens to reach the top of the mountain. He’s given no indication that he will begin his descent any time soon.

*****

RING OF DISHONOR: Ring of Honor’s “Death Before Dishonor XV” pay-per-view takes place Friday in Las Vegas. In the main event, Cody Rhodes defends the Ring of Honor World Championship against Minoru Suzuki. Kushida defends the Ring of Honor World Television Championship against Kenny King.

Other matches include Marty Scurll vs. Chuck Taylor, a last man standing match between Silas Young and Jay Lethal, a Las Vegas street fight between Jay White and Punishment Martinez, and a six-man tag team match between The Kingdom (Matt Taven, T.K. O’Ryan and Vinny Marsegia) and Bully Ray and Mark and Jay Briscoe, with the winner to face Adam Page and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) for the Ring of Honor Six-Man Tag Team Championship later that night.

*****

HAVE MERCY! “No Mercy,” which will take place on Sept. 24 and will be broadcast on WWE Network, is shaping up to be a pretty good card. The main event features Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Braun Strowman, a match the crowd clearly was clamoring for at SummerSlam.

John Cena and Roman Reigns have quickly built heat for their grudge match at No Mercy. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against former champions Sheamus and Cesaro. Alexa Bliss will defend the Raw Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Emma in fatal four-way match. Finn Balor will face Bray Wyatt, and Neville will defend the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Enzo Amore, who has been using heel tactics to win since joining the cruiserweights. Look for a complete preview of No Mercy in the next edition of Heel Turns.

*****

IN-SANE: Congratulations to Kairi Sane, who defeated the much larger Shayna Bazzler in the final of the Mae Young Classic. Expect to see more of Sane, and possibly Bazzler, in NXT or WWE in the near future. (There could have been a spoiler in there, but The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers.) 

*****

GLORY ON THE MOVE: Global Force Wrestling has announced that Bound for Glory, which will take place on Nov. 5, will take place somewhere other than the Impact Zone studio in Florida. Early rumors are that it will take place in Toronto. The “big” announcement is supposed to be made Monday.

*****

UNLUCKY IN VEGAS: There reportedly was a disappointing crowd in Las Vegas a loaded Smackdown show that included three title matches and Vince McMahon’s return to television. The New Day regained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship from Jimmy and Jey Uso in a Las Vegas street fight, but, apparently, that and title defense by United States champion A.J. Styles and Smackdown Women’s champion Natalya weren’t enough to attract a large audience.

*****

TRAVEL DILEMMA: Although the Greek God of Wrestling didn’t make it to Las Vegas, he had a difficult time deciding where to go during WWE’s overseas tours. Hawaii, Australia, Japan and China were all on WWE’s itinerary. Where I went is none of your business, but you can be certain that I traveled first class all the way.

Achilles Heel took advantage of the trip to make a few stops in other places in Southeast Asia. One hotel had a rooftop pool that went right to the edge of the building. Another hotel had the best fitness club I have ever seen that wasn’t associated with a professional or college sports team. Living in luxury is something you peons will never experience.

*****

MASADA CHALLENGES MJF: Combat Zone Wrestling legend Masada, who defeated Stockade last Saturday at “Down with the Sickness,” will challenge Maxwell Jacob Feinstein, now known as MJF, for the CZW Wired Championship on Oct. 14 at “The Wolf of Wrestling,” which will take place at CZW’s new home, Rastelli’s Complex in Sewell, N.J.

In some of the other matches at Down with the Sickness, Shane Strickland retained the CZW World Championship against Jason Cade; Connor Claxton defeated Matt Tremont, Sami Callihan beat Jimmy Lloyd; Jake and Dave Crist, who have been appearing in GFW, beat the Ugly Ducklings; and The Rep (Dave McCall and Nate Carter) beat The Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy and Marq Quen) in the Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Ladder match to become the top contenders for the CZW Tag Team Championship.

*****

CHIKARA IN PHILLY: With King of Trios, its biggest event of the year, behind it, CHIKARA returns to Philadelphia for a pair of shows. Fire Ant will battle Sloan Caprice on Sunday (3 p.m.) during an Hour of Power show at The Wrestle Factory.

CHIKARA will return to The Wrestle Factory on Sat., Sept. 30 for “Tooth and Claw,” featuring “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti challenging Juan Francisco Coronado for the CHIKARA Grand Championship, Hallowicked battling Rory Gulak, and a pair of inter-gender matches.

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R.I.P. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan