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Consecutive Mets retired by Cole Hamels before leaving 6-0 win Tuesday

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Flyers’ Stanley Cup drought, Chip Kelly’s post-draft reaction and the NCAA’s response to a lawsuit by the Paterno family.

The Phillies won two straight games against the Mets after a team meeting, but, win or lose, the Phillies still have major issues with their bullpen, their bench and their clutch hitting. In this edition of Phillies Notebook, Eric Fisher examines Jimmy Rollins’ improved patience, why Jonathan Papelon didn’t pitch Sunday and an idea for livening up the “seniors walk the bases” promotion.

The Greek god of wrestling previews WWE’s Extreme Rules. In addition, Achilles Heel tells you who won tag team gold at TNA’s Sacrifice, when Ring of Honor will return to Philly and reminds Flyers fans of how long it has been since their team won the Stanley Cup.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Cashing in on Money in the Bank

Posted by Achilles Heel On June - 28 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The Greek god of wrestling isn’t a big fan of building pay-per-views around a certain style of match. For example, TLC matches should occur because a feud merits that style of match, not because the calendar says it’s December. The same is true at TNA’s Lockdown, when every match takes place inside a steel cage.

Money in the Bank is the exception to that rule.

The reason Money in the Bank, which takes place Sunday in Boston, is the exception is there a purpose to the match. The ladder match determines who will have the championship contract, which can be cashed in at any time during the following year.

With one world champion, there was only supposed to be one ladder match at Money in the Bank this year. But the injury to Daniel Bryan created the need for a second ladder match, which will determine the new WWE World Heavyweight champion.

The competitors battling to become world champion are John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt and Kane. With the championship on the line, expect to see the wrestlers pull out all the stops. There isn’t a high flyer to provide highlight-reel moves off the ladders, so expect this to be an extremely physical match with painful ladder shots.

Who will win? Let’s first eliminate who won’t win. Alberto Del Rio, a favorite of Achilles Heel and a former world champion, won’t win. Neither will Sheamus, unless he turns heel. Cesaro and Bray Wyatt are long shots to win. Wyatt would be an interesting champion, especially if Luke Harper and Erick Rowan also win tag team gold, but I don’t think WWE is ready to pull the trigger on that scenario. Cesaro is terrific in the ring, but still needs a little more time with Paul Heyman before becoming a threat to win the championship.

Kane, a late addition to the match, is also a long shot to win. A Kane victory would set up a rematch with Bryan when he returns, but Kane’s role, as was evident in Smackdown’s main event Friday, appears to be to help Orton recapture the title he lost at WrestleMania XXX.

Could Orton regain the title? It’s possible. Although it hasn’t been brought up on television, Orton was never pinned in the WrestleMania main event. Bryan pinned Batista to win the title. As champion, Orton could claim that Bryan never beat him for the title, setting up another match between them. But I don’t think WWE is going down the Orton-Bryan road again.

The two most likely winners are Cena and Reigns. There are rumors that Brock Lesnar, who hasn’t appeared in WWE since ending the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak, will face Cena at SummerSlam, which would make a Cena victory Sunday make sense. But it would also make sense for Wyatt, who has been in an ongoing feud with Cena, to get the last laugh, literally and figuratively, by costing Cena the championship. Besides, a Lesnar-Cena match wouldn’t necessarily need a championship to make it an important match.

WWE could elect to have Reigns win the title. A quick title reign would validate Reigns’ elevation into a main event player.

The match for the championship contract, the traditional Money in the Bank ladder match, includes Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett, Seth Rollins and Deam Ambrose.

Barrett suffered a separated shoulder on Smackdown, so there is a question as to whether he will participate in Money in the Bank. That’s the wrong kind of match to be in with a bad shoulder. If Barrett can’t participate, that opens the door for a surprise addition to the match.

Achilles Heel won’t speculate on possible replacements, but he will tell you this match is set up for Rollins to win. Ziggler is a long shot to win – and I think there will be teases that he could win – but, unless Ambrose derails his former Shield teammate, I think Rollins wins the Money in the Bank contract.

If Reigns win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rollins cash in right away and become world champion.

As I mentioned earlier, Jimmy and Jey Uso will defend the tag team titles against the Wyatt Family’s Harper and Rowan. A title chance is very possible. I don’t think we’ll see a title change in the Divas Championship match between Paige and Naomi, the top challenger. This match almost certainly will end with Cameron, Naomi’s tag team partner, costing Naomi the title.

There also will be a tag team match between Goldust and Stardust (Cody Rhodes) and the team of Ryback and Curtis Axel. Other matches are Rusev vs. Big E and Summer Rae vs. Layla, with Fandango as the guest referee.

If the Boston crowd reacts to the mid-card matches the way the Chicago crowd did at Extreme Rules, Sunday’s event has the potential to match the quality of last year’s Money in the Bank in Philadelphia, which was tremendous.

*****

BRYAN SPEAKS: Instead of having a preshow match at Money in the Bank, WWE will present an interview with Daniel Bryan. Fans can send in questions for Bryan.

*****

NEW LORD OF THE RING: Michael Elgin, who lost to Adam Cole in the finals of Ring of Honor’s World Championship Tournament last year in Philadelphia, got revenge last Sunday be defeating Cole for the title at Best in the World 2014.

The more important result may be how Best in the World fared among those who bought it as a pay-per-view through the cable or satellite system. Achilles Heel thinks Ring of Honor put on a good enough show to merit return viewers.

*****

TNA RAISES PROFILE: TNA continues to build momentum off its strong Slammiversary show two weeks ago. TNA took its show on the road to New York, where it had three sold-out shows.

Achilles Heel’s contacts report that the boisterous crowd enhanced the quality of the shows, especially when compared to the usual studio crowd in Florida. The problem for TNA is that taking its show on the road costs a lot of money. The New York shows may have paid off financially, but TNA was hemorrhaging money trying to do shows on the road every two weeks.

Among the newsworthy events at the TNA events in New York, which followed Bobby Lashley winning the world championship the previous week in Bethlehem, were Kurt Angle being named director of wrestling operations, the return of Bobby Roode to the active roster and the reuniting of Matt and Jeff Hardy.

TNA also made a huge announcement: Bound for Glory will be held in Tokyo on Oct. 12.

*****

PHILLY CROWDS: Watching the NHL Draft on Friday – yes, Achilles Heel has interests other than professional wrestling – made the Greek god of wrestling smile. As I wrote in the Money in the Bank preview and in the TNA note directly above this one, an enthusiastic crowd can greatly enhance an event.

The Philly crowd at Wells Fargo Center made the NHL Draft entertaining. The loud booing of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Pittsburgh Penguins, balanced out by the “Let’s Go Flyers!” chants and the hero’s welcome for former Flyer Rod Brind’Amour created an electric atmosphere. I almost felt as if I were transported back to the ECW days in the ECW Arena.

The NHL Draft took place before a pro wrestling crowd – and Achilles Heel intends that as a major compliment.

*****

DRAFT MEMORIES: The NHL and NBA drafts reminded me of when WWE used to have drafts for RAW and Smackdown, which had exclusive rosters. The wrestlers were often not informed ahead of time who would be switching brands, so some of the looks of shock and surprise you saw were genuine.

*****

FUN IN READING: If you’re reading this on Saturday, don’t forget that Wrestling is Fun presents Bananastar Galactica tonight (7 p.m.) at Goodwill Beneficial Association Hall in Reading.

*****

BULLPEN’S SECRET? While trying to figure out the secret to the Phillies bullpen’s turnaround, csnphilly.com’s Jim Salisbury wrote an article explaining how closer – and noted pro wrestling aficionado – Jonathan Papelbon has given his bullpen mates names of pro wrestlers in order to bring them out of their shells and develop personas on the mound.

Jake Diekman is, not surprisingly, Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Justin De Fratus is Goldust. (Achilles Heel doesn’t want to know why.) B.J. Rosenberg is Stone Cold. Papelbon, who has a Ric Flair robe, is Flair. Ethan Martin is the Iron Sheik.

The Greek god of wrestling laughs just thinking about the Sheik throwing a baseball, but, hey, if the wrestling nickname trick is working, there’s no reason to stop.

 

Heel Turns: Important day for Ring of Honor

Posted by Achilles Heel On June - 21 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The WWE is in the Delaware Valley this weekend and TNA made major news during an event in Bethlehem on Thursday, but the Greek god of wrestling is going to start this edition of Heel Turns with Ring of Honor.

Why? Let’s first make it clear that Achilles Heel does not need to give you jabronis any explanation. It’s my column. I write it the way I want. But I’ll give you an explanation anyway.

Sunday is a historic moment for Ring of Honor. Sunday’s “Best in the World 14” from Nashville (8 p.m.) will be broadcast on pay-per-view by cable and satellite providers. This is a major step for Ring of Honor, which had all sorts of problems with Internet pay-per-views last year. If enough people purchase Best in the World, it could establish a new revenue stream for Ring of Honor.

Best in the world is headlined by Adam Cole defending his Ring of Honor World Championship against Michael Elgin. This is a rematch of the championship tournament final at Death Before Dishonor XI last September in Philadelphia.

The tag team championships will be on the line as reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish) defend against Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, one of the hottest tag teams on the independent circuit. Another tag team match pits Matt Hardy and Michael Bennett against Jay and Mark Briscoe.

The World TV Championship will also be in the spotlight. Not only will Matt Taven challenge Jay Lethal for the title, but there will be a six-man match to determine who will get a future opportunity to wrestle for the TV title. The participants in the “6-Man Mayhem” are ACH, Takaaki Watanabe, Caprice Coleman, Tadarius Thomas, B.J. Whitmer and Tommaso Ciampa.

Other matches include Roderick Strong vs. Cedric Alexander in a submission match, and Kevin Steen vs. Silas Young.

If Ring of Honor can deliver a strong enough showing to make people think it’s worth the price, which, at a suggest price of $24.95, is considerably less than WWE’s pay-per-views on cable and satellite systems, it will entice people to buy future shows and solidify the company’s finances.

This is an extremely important weekend for Ring of Honor.

*****

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: Expectations weren’t very high for last Sunday’s Slammiversary pay-per-view, but to simply say TNA’s pay-per-view exceeded expectations wouldn’t do it justice.

Although the Greek god of wrestling feels some of the praise for Slammiversary has been excessive, perhaps due to how far it exceeded the low expectations, it was a very enjoyable event.

Eric Young, making what turned out to be his final title defense (more on that later), successfully defended the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match against Austin Aries and Bobby Lashley inside a steel cage. Lashley qualified for the title match with a win earlier in the night against Samoa Joe. Aries qualified with win over Kenny King in a terrific match.

The main event didn’t equal the Aries-King match, but it was very good. The event started with an insane ladder match for the X Division Championship, which Sanada retained. Achilles Heel doesn’t like seeing the risks Sanada, Tigre Uno, Manik, Crazzy Steve, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards took for a match without a storyline buildup, but this match was unquestionably exciting. All the other matches ranged from average to good, which meant nothing was bad, so the show didn’t drag.

One highlight was Kurt Angle announcing that Team 3-D (Bully Ray and Devon) will be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame at Bound for Glory. An even bigger highlight was the cheer Kevin Von Erich received from the Texas crowd for clearing the ring after his sons, Ross and Marshall, beat Jessie Godderz and DJ Zema Ion. When Von Erich applied the claw hold on Ion, the arena erupted like it was 25 years ago and the Freebirds-Von Erich angle was still hot.

*****

TITLE CHANGE: At Impact Wrestling tapings Thursday in Bethlehem, Bobby Lashley defeated Eric Young to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

Achilles Heel feels badly for Young. He was a comedy act before he surprisingly captured the world title. Young has battled hard to re-establish his credibility, including Sunday’s pay-per-view title defense against Lashley and Austin Aries. Just as he’s re-establishing his credibility, Lashley takes away the championship.

Lashley has never fulfilled his potential. I can’t remember a single good match in which Lashley carried the action. Now he’s got the ball and has an opportunity to run with it. It appears he’ll have a good first challenger in the returning Bobby Roode, who can have a good match with practically anyone.

*****

TAKE IT TO THE BANK: Only three matches have been announced for next Sunday’s (June 29) Money in the Bank pay-per-view from WWE. The main event is a traditional Money in the Bank ladder match, except that instead of an opportunity to challenge for the world title going to the winner, the winner will win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The title is up for grabs because Daniel Bryan had neck surgery and is unable to defend the championship he won at WrestleMania XXX.

The seven participants announced for the Money in the Bank match are John Cena, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Alberto Del Rio. A second Money in the Bank ladder match has been added. So far Seth Rollins is the only entrant, although Dolph Ziggler and Bad News Barrett requested to be included in the match. The third announced match features the Jimmy and Jey Uso defending the WWE Tag Team Championship against the Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.

Achilles Heel can envision former Shield members Rollins and Reigns winning the Money in the Bank matches, with Rollins, perhaps after an Orton RKO on Reigns, immediately cashing in his championship opportunity and winning the title. I’ll have a full preview in the next edition of Heel Turns.

*****

DEATH SELLS: Combat Zone Wrestling announced that advance tickets for Saturday’s Tournament of Death 13 have sold out. Tickets will still be available at the door for the event in Townsend, Del., which CZW is advertising as “the bloodiest afternoon in professional wrestling.

The event, which takes place in Townsend, Del., starts with four first-round matches. The first-round matches are a Light Tube Bundles match between Matt Tremon “Crazy Monkey” Jun Kasai; a Barbed Wire Madness match between former CZW champion Masada and Aero Boy, an Ultraviolent Pits match between Danny Havoc and Masashi Takeda, and (children stop reading!) – I swear I’m not making this up – a Fans Bring the Dildos match between Jaki Numazawa and Lucky 13. (The Greek god of wrestling feels dirty just typing that.) Round two will feature a Fans Bring the Weapons match.

*****

WWE IN TOWN: This is a busy time for local wrestling fans. TNA taped two Impact programs in Bethlehem on Thursday, including the one in which Bobby Lashley won the world title. WWE is in Reading tonight (Saturday) at the Santander Arena (former Sovereign Bank Center), and then will be at Wells Fargo Center and Newark, Del., on Sunday, with both events starting at 5 p.m.

*****

WWE AT COMIC CON: The arenas aren’t the only places to find WWE superstars this weekend. Batista appears at Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con today (Saturday) from 2-5:15 p.m. in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. John Cena will be appearing at Philadelphia Comic Con on Sunday (10:45-3:15 p.m.).

If you missed the appearance of the Brie and Nikki Bella on Friday, Achilles Heel feels sorry for you. (Not!!!)

*****

DISASTER AT ECW ARENA: 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Sabu and Afa Jr. in the main event of Wresting With Disaster’s “The Final Cut” last weekend at ECW Arena. In other action, Gary Wolf and Shane Douglas brawled to a time-limit draw in a dog collar match, and the team of Alofa, Cliff Compton and Headshrinker Samu defeat Angel and the Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord).

There was also a Hall of Fame ceremony. Inductees were Douglas, 2 Cold Scorpio, Pit Bulls Gary Wolf and the late Anthony Durante, and the Blue Meanie.

*****

TOURNAMENT OF DEATH: Jun Kasai won Combat Zone Wrestling’s Tournament of Death last weekend in Delaware.Kasai deafeat Mat Tremont in a Light Tube Bundles match and Danny Havoc in the semifinals before defeat former CZW World Champion Masada in the final. Masada reached the final with victories over Aero Boy in Barbed Wire Madness and Lucky 14 in a Panes of Glass match.

*****

TOURNAMENT OF DEATH: Wrestling is Fun presents Bananastar Galactica on Sat., June 28 (7 p.m.) at the Goodwill Beneficial Association Hall in Reading. CHIKARA is in Chicago this weekend for a pair of shows on Saturday, then will go to Detroit for an event Sunday.

 

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