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Strikeouts for Phillies pitchers during Monday’s 6-5 win over Cardinals

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on expectations for the Eagles’ rookies, the fatal auto racing incident and Rickie Fowler making golf history.

An eighth straight Eagles win would virtually wrap up the NFC East title. Taking a stranglehold on the division crown by beating the Cowboys would make the victory even sweeter.

With the Flyers Alumni facing the Penguins Alumni on Saturday (7 p.m.) as part of the Flyers’ 50th anniversary celebration, Eric Fisher put together a lineup featuring, in his opinion, the best players in franchise history. What do you think of the selections?

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Banking on top of card

Posted by Achilles Heel On June - 16 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

I know you missed me. I don’t know how you survived a month without me.

Where was I? None of your business. The Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t owe you an explanation. After years of providing insight and wisdom on nearly a weekly basis, I’m not going to apologize for taking a little time off.

Consider yourself luck that Achilles Heel is back and ready to share his knowledge with the unwashed masses.

And we start with Money in the Bank. First, don’t forget that WWE has moved up its start times an hour to 7 p.m. (pre-show begins at 6 p.m.). This change is the result of main events running far past 11 p.m.

Money in the Bank (Sunday, WWE Network) has a nearly guaranteed exciting top of the card. There are men’s and women’s Money in the Bank ladder matches, as well as AJ Styles defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing match. The question is whether the rest of the card will live up to expectations.

Styles and Nakamura have had a terrific feud. The question is whether this is the blowoff of the feud or will Nakamura win the title. It doesn’t make sense for Nakamura to continue to be the challenger. If Styles wins, it will be difficult to maintain the momentum of this feud until SummerSlam.

The last-man-standing stipulation opens this match up to numerous possibilities. There could be outside interference, which would cost Styles the match. Another possibility is for the winner of the Money in the Bank match – depending on where that match takes place on the card – cashing in the opportunity immediately after Styles and Nakamura beat the snot out of each other. If Nakamura wins the title, another possibility is for the feud to continue, only this time with Styles trying to regain the championship. Achilles Heel likes this last possibility, although anything is possible.

The men’s Money in the Bank ladder match is intriguing because there are many potential winners. The participants include Braun Strowman, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor from Raw, and The Miz, Rusev, Samoa Joe and a member of the New Day from Smackdown.

A case could be made for any of the participants to win. I don’t see Kofi Kingston or Xavier Woods winning Money in the Bank, but Big E could win it. This would set up an interesting dynamic with the New Day because Big E would have an eye on individual success rather than the team’s success. The fans would love to see Rusev with the Money in the Bank contract, and would explode whenever he cashes it in. Having the Money in the Bank opportunity would add relevance to Roode, whose early momentum in WWE has faded.

The idea of Braun Strowman possessing Money in the Bank would be frightening for any champions, but Strowman doesn’t need the Money in the Bank opportunity to be a No. 1 contender. The Miz and Kevin Owens have already successfully cashed in a Money in the Bank opportunity. Could they be the first wrestlers to have the contract for the second time?

The Greek God of Wrestling would have Finn Balor or Samoa Joe win Money in the Bank. Balor never lost the WWE Universal Championship, so it would make sense if he gained a title shot at the time of his choosing. But having Joe with the Money in the Bank briefcase, along with his attitude, makes him Achilles Heel’s choice to win Money in the Bank.

The women’s Money in the Bank ladder match also has numerous potential winners. Although Charlotte would be a worthy winner, and there would be the threat of turning the tables on Smackdown Women’s champion Carmella, Charlotte doesn’t need the Money in the Bank contract. Becky Lynch and Naomi are potential winners, but it doesn’t make much sense for either of them to have the Money in the Bank contract. The same is true of Ember Moon.

Having the Money in the Bank contract would fit Alexa Bliss’ personality. It would also fit the perception of Sasha Banks, as pushed by broadcaster Corey Graves, as someone out for herself.

The Greek God of Wrestling just thought of this: having Rusev and Lana as Mr. and Mrs. Money in the Bank would be tremendous! Imagine their discussions about when to cash in. Should they cash in on the same night? What if one cashes in before the other, or if one cashes in successfully and the other does not? Would there be jealousy?

Having said all that, the Achilles Heel is picking Natalya. With Ronda Rousey seemingly destined to become champion, having her storyline good friend as the Money in the Bank winner would create an interesting relationship, both before and after Rousey becomes champion.

Having said that, it seems too soon for Rousey to become Raw Women’s champion, so Nia Jax will find some way to hang on to her title on Sunday. Carmella is terrible in the ring, so Asuka should defeat her for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, but the Greek God of Wrestling, unfortunately, believes that Carmella will get disqualified to retain her title.

Seth Rollins should successfully defend the Intercontinental Championship against Elias – unless Rollins is going to immediately be moved into a program with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar. Roman Reigns should defeat Jinder Mahal. Does Big Cass need a win over Daniel Bryan to keep that feud alive? Achilles Heel thinks so. And Sami Zayn will do all he can do to make Bobby Lashley look good, including losing to him at Money in the Bank. In the preshow match, there’s no reading to have Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson beat the Bludgeon Brothers (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper) for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

The top three matches should deliver. But will the rest of the matches keep the Chicago crowd’s attention.

                                                                    *****                               

NXT TAKES OVER: Perhaps no organization has delivered more consistently at big events than NXT. That track record should continue Saturday (8 p.m.) at NXT Takeover: Chicago.

The featured match is a Chicago Street Fight between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. This feud, which has been the best of the best year, started in Chicago on May 20, 2017. After a loss to the Authors of Pain at NXT Takeover: Chicago, Ciampa turned on Gargano, touching off a bitter feud that has included Ciampa interfering in Philadelphia in January to prevent Gargano from capturing the NXT Championship and a a match of the year candidate in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend.

In the co-main event, Aleister Black defends the NXT Championship against Lars Sullivan. In other title matches, Shayna Baszler defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Nikki Cross and the Undisputed ERA (Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly) defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Achilles Heel doesn’t envision any of the titles changing hands.

In a non-title match that, if it weren’t for the Gargano-Ciampa match, could steal the show, Ricochet battles Velveteen Dream.

*****

ALL IN FOR ALL IN: During my absence, “All In” was announced for Sears Center Arena outside Chicago on Sept. 1. Without any matches announced, the event, which is being put on by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), sold out.

The only match announced is that Cody Rhodes will challenge for the NWA Heavyweight Championship. The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and, in the latest news, Kota Ibushi have been confirmed for “All In.”

*****

BEST IN WORLD: Ring of Honor will present “Best in the World” on Fri., June 29 (9 p.m.) at the UMBC Event Center in Baltimore. In the main event, Dalton Castle, who has been sidelined by an injury for a significant portion of time this spring, will defend the Ring of Honor World Championships against Cody Rhodes and Marty Scurll. If Rhodes wins the title, it will set up a title vs. title match at “All In.”

In a Ring of Honor dream match of sorts, Mark and Jay Briscoe will defend the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against the Young Bucks. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, T.K. O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia) will defend the Ring of Honor Six-Man Tag Team Championship against Bushi, Evil and Sanada. In other matches Adam Page battles Punishment Martinez, and Bully Ray takes on Flip Gordon.

*****

CAGE SUFFERS LOSS: X-Division champion Matt Sydal handed Brian Cage his first loss since joining Impact Wrestling when he beat him by countout, with the help of outside interference. Also on Thursday’s Impact Wrestling, Moose beat Eli Drake, earning a shot at Austin Aries and the Impact Wrestling World Championship at Slammiversary.

*****

XAVIER CHALLENGES FOR TITLE: Combat Zone Wrestling presents “Dark City” on Fri., June 29 at House of Independents in Asbury Park, N.J. In the main event, MJF (Maxwell Jacob Friedman) defends the CZW World Championship against Dezmond Xavier. There will also be a four-way match for the CZW Tag Team Championships and a six-person tag team match.

*****

UNEARTHING WORMS: CHIKARA returns to action next Saturday (June 23) at The Wrestle Factory (3 p.m.). Among the announced matches are Mr. Touchdown Mark Angelosetti meets Matt Riddele, Dasher Hatfield faces Fire Ant, Johnny Kidd Invitational winner Travis Huckabee teams up with Icarus to battle Xyberhawx2000.

*****

ORTON SIDELINED: In case you’re wondering why Randy Orton isn’t involved in Money in the Bank, the Viper took time off to get surgery on an injured knee.

*****

WWE OVERSEAS I: The WWE Universal Kingdom Championship Tournament will be held on Monday at London’s Royal Albert Hall, with the winner to receive a title shot against WWE United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne on Tuesday. The event will be broadcast on WWE Network on June 25-26.

The tournament has already started, with first-round matches held in different locales. The quarterfinal matchups are: Zach Gibson vs. Gentleman Jack Gallagher, Flash Morgan Webster vs. Jordan Devlin, Joe Coffey vs. Dave Mastiff, and Travis Banks vs. Ashton Smith.In addition to tournament matches on Monday, Dunne will team with Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate, the original WWE U.K. champion) to face the Undisputed Era (NXT North American champion Adam Cole and NXT Tag Team champions Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly).

*****

WWE OVERSEAS II: WWE has officially announced that it will be going to Melbourne, Australia, to present WWE Super Show-Down on Oct. 6 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The only announced match thus far is Undertaker vs. Triple H, which is billed as their final match against each other.

            *****

REBEL TRAGEDY: Charles Williams, who starred with the Philadelphia-based Tri-State Wrestling Alliance in the early 1990s, killed his wife and them committed suicide at their West Chester home, according to the West Goshen Township Police Department. Wrestling as the Rockin’ Rebel, Williams was the first Tri-State Wrestling Alliance champion. The organization was reborn in 1992 as Eastern Championship Wrestling, which then became Extreme Championship Wrestling under the leadership of Paul Heyman. Williams later appeared in other promotions, including Combat Zone Wrestling.

Heel Turns: Backlash could sizzle

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

Dedicated Heel Turns readers know that the Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t approve of the mixed brand pay-per-views. The major problem with having wrestlers from both Smackdown and Raw on each pay-per-view is that it reduces the opportunities for wrestlers to appear on these events.

Despite my objection, Achilles Heel recognizes that Sunday’s “Backlash,” the first of the mixed brand pay-per-views, shapes up to be a pretty good show. With WWE Universal  champion Brock Lesnar not on the card, the main event features AJ Styles defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura in a no-disqualification match. The no-disqualification stipulation results from Nakamura, who turned heel with a post-match attack at WrestleMania, repeatedly delivering low blows to Styles. The stipulation could lead to a title change, but Achilles Heel finds it more likely that Styles uses a low blow of his own to defeat Nakamura.

The mixed-brand pay-per-view, along with the superstar shakeup, leads to several matches with wrestlers from both brands. Roman Reigns faces Samoa Joe, and Seth Rollins defends the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz. Rollins has elevated his game lately, and he should retain the Intercontinental title against Miz, the former champion who is now on Smackdown. Samoa Joe also is now on Smackdown. He could defeat Reigns, but it shouldn’t be clean. There should be some sort of interference, which allows Joe to use a win over Reigns to bolster his credentials if he challenges Styles for the WWE Championship, while, at the same time, building sympathy for Reigns in yet another attempt to rally WWE fans to support him.

A particularly interesting match features Jeff Hardy defending the United States Championship against Randy Orton. The storyline is that Orton lost the United States title at WrestleMania without being pinned. Hardy then won the title from Jinder Mahal on Raw, then brought the title back to Smackdown as part of the superstar shakeup. The Greek God of Wrestling’s only fear is that outside interference could taint the finish of this match.

There are two women’s title matches at Backlash (8 p.m., WWE Network). Charlotte Flair gets a shot to regain the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Carmella, who cashed in her Money in the Bank opportunity to take the title from an injured Flair. Nia Jax defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss. Achilles Heel doesn’t see a title change in either match, although Carmella pales in comparison to Flair in terms of being championship material. There are three women’s matches on the card, with Bayley battling Ruby Riott during the kickoff show.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn take on the powerful duo of Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. It’s difficult to figure out how Owens and Zayn can win this match – unless there is dissension between Strowman and Lashley. There also is an interesting contrast in styles between Big Cass and Daniel Bryan. A win by Bryan would stop Cass’ upward push almost before it begins, so Big Cass might pick up a big victory.

Backlash should be a good show if the matches are given time to develop. The back-stage stuff should be kept to a minimum in order to allow the in-ring action to shine.

*****

GREATEST RUMBLE: The Greek God of Wrestling, whose moniker might be considered blasphemy in Saudi Arabia, won’t go through the entire card from The Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Instead, he will make some general observations.

The most obvious thing for viewers is that the front few rows were reserved for VIPs rather than regular fans. Instead of regular seats, the VIPs sat in large comfortable chairs more appropriate for a luxury hotel suite than for ringside. Dressed in the traditional long white robes and kaffiyehs, the VIPs, who were all men, didn’t appear to be as involved in the matches as regular fans. Although the camera cut away quickly when it happened, there were times when VIPs got up and left, seemingly always on their cell phones, in the middle of a match. They were there because they are “important” instead of being there because they are huge fans of WWE.

It was also interesting to see what caused the biggest reactions from the crowds. High-flying moves drew big reactions. Standard signature moves of competitors often didn’t draw much of a reaction, as if the fans weren’t familiar with the wrestlers’ move sets.

As has been mentioned before, a concession WWE made in return for holding this major event in Saudi Arabia is that women didn’t wrestle on the show. Women in Saudi Arabia are just getting the right to drive in Saudi Arabia this year, so many in this country are not close to being ready to see women wrestle.

In the signature match, Braun Strowman won the 50-man Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan set a record for the longest time in a Royal Rumble, but he was eliminated near the end by Big Cass. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated Cesaro and Sheamus to capture the vacant Raw Tag Team Championships. No other titles changed hands, with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar defeating Roman Reigns in a steel cage match.

*****

WORLD WARS: Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds Tour is skipping Philladelphia this year. The North American events, featuring wrestlers from Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, will be held in Lowell, Mass. (Wednesday), Toronto (Friday), Royal Oak, Mich. (Saturday) and Chicago (Sun., May. 13).

In Lowell, Dalton Castle defends the Ring of Honor World Championship against Matt Taven. In Toronto, Cody Rhodes will square off with Jushin “Thunder” Liger. The main event in Michigan features Mark and Jay Briscoe defending the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship against Bushi and Naito. The Chicago main events pits Los Ingobernables de Japan (Naito, EVIL, Sanada, Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi) against the Bullet Club (Cody Rhodes, Marty Scurll, Adam Page and Matt and Nick Jackson).

*****

LONDON CALLING: WWE and Ring of Honor are headed to Europe. WWE leaves this week for a two-week tour covering many European countries, including England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and the Czech Republic. Ring of Honor travels across the pond for events in Edinburgh (May 24), London (May 26) and Doncaster (May 27).

*****

WOMEN IN PRIME ROLE: Achilles Heel applauds Impact Wrestling for giving women a larger role. An angle with Su Yung, Rosemary and Allie was in the main event slot during Thursday’s show; however, the women’s matches in Impact Wrestling pale in comparison to the matches in WWE. Honestly, not a lot of what’s happening on Impact is capturing the Greek God of Wrestling’s attention.

*****

WWE COMES TO ALLENTOWN: Before departing for Europe, WWE will be in Allentown on Monday (7:30 p.m.) for a Smackdown house show at PPL Arena.

*****

HIDDEN GEM: The main event so Combat Zone Wrestling’s “Prelude to Violence” show on Saturday at the Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees is a 4-wa elimination match for the CZW Wired Championship. There also will be a doors, ladders and chairs match, but the hidden gem may be a match between Rich Swann and Dezmond Xavier. It’s good to see that Swann has reconsidered retiring after his legal issues stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident.

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