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Games between goals for Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored Saturday night

In one year, Domonic Brown has gone from an all-star to a player the Phillies might have trouble giving away. Brown symbolizes the Phillies’ failure to develop players and their tendency to hold on to players too long.

Jeremy Maclin’s health and explosiveness are concerns as he enters training camp as the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver for the first time. We’ve got 10 questions to consider as the Eagles begin their second training camp under Chip Kelly.

In his first news conference as Nittany Lions head coach, James Franklin made it clear that he’s committed to Penn State for the long haul. Following Bill O’Brien’s short reign, Franklin is exactly what Penn State needs.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Ready to Rumble

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 28 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe anticipation is already at a fever pitch for the Royal Rumble.

But we’ve got another year to talk about the Royal Rumble returning to Philadelphia. (More on that later in this edition of Heel Turns.) First, we will focus on Sunday’s Royal Rumble, which will be broadcast live (7 p.m., kickoff show 5 p.m.) on WWE Network from San Antonio, Texas.

There are a lot of highly anticipated matches at the Royal Rumble. A.J. Styles defends the WWE Championship against John Cena. Kevin Owens defends the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a no-disqualification match, with the added factor of United States champion Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage.

Bayley challenges Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley. Neville tries to snatch the WWE Cruiserweight Championship from Rich Swann. There are three matches slated for the kickoff show, including a Raw Tag Team Championship match and two women’s matches. But the marquee event of the Royal Rumble is the Royal Rumble match.

This is a loaded Royal Rumble. It’s also a big man’s Rumble. The Greek God of Wrestling can’t remember a Rumble that featured more talented big men.

The marquee big men are the three who closed this week’s Raw with a staredown in the ring: Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker. Big Show has slimmed down, but he’s still a huge man. Braun Strowman is another huge entrant. Baron Corbin, Big Cass, Luke Harper, Rusev and Big E are all large and powerful men.

That doesn’t mean a big man will necessarily win the Royal Rumble. Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Sheamus, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and Jericho aren’t slouches.

Storylines

The central storyline centers around the Lesnar-Goldberg feud. WWE didn’t take Achilles Heel’s advice in booking this feud, which would have played off Lesnar’s elimination of Goldberg in the 2004 Royal Rumble in Philadelphia after Goldberg entered as the Rumble’s final entrant.

There are two ways to go with this feud in the Rumble. WWE could have Goldberg and Lesnar enter as the first two combatants. They could battle each other, stopping only to throw out the next person to come down the aisle. This scenario could also take place in the middle of the match. Neither Goldberg nor Lesnar, however, is likely to win the Rumble. They’ll either take each other out, or one will prevent the other from winning the match. The latter scenario could occur if WWE keeps Lesnar and Goldberg apart. Whichever one is eliminated early could return to cost the other one the title.

Another storyline involves the Wyatt family. Randy Orton and Luke Harper have been feuding recently, with Orton defeating Harper on Smackdown this week. Bray Wyatt gave Harper a “Sister Abigail” after the loss to Orton, but does that mean that Harper is banished from the Wyatt family? We may find out Sunday during the Rumble.

The Undertaker returns to a WWE ring at the Royal Rumble. It doesn’t seem likely that Undertaker will win, but he appears poised to get involved with Lesnar and Goldberg.

A minor angle involves Sami Zayn tilting against windmills in his pursuit of Strowman. There’s also the intrigue over how many competitors will be thrown out by Strowman and Corbin.

Twenty-two wrestlers have been announced for the Royal Rumble. Here’s a rundown of some of the competitors.

No chance. No chance in hell: Mojo Rawley, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Big E. Kingston makes the highlight film every year at the Rumble, but he’s not going to win. I’ll add Sami Zayn to this list, although he would probably have a tremendous match against Owens at WrestleMania.

Long, long shots: Harper, Rusev, Cesaro, Sheamus, Big Cass. There aren’t any conceivable storylines under which any of these guys would win the Rumble.

Small chance: The Miz, Ziggler, Corbin, Strowman. Corbin and Strowman might make a major impact, but neither has the name recognition or is polished enough in the ring to be in a major match at WrestleMania. Throw Ambrose, the Intercontinental champion, in this category as well.

Possibilities: Orton, Wyatt, Jericho, Big Show. Big Show is a feel-good story. He’s lost a ton of weight and he’s never won the Rumble. But the Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t see that happening. What I could see happening is Orton either helping Wyatt win the Rumble or turning on Wyatt to try to win it himself. The second scenario is more likely, which could lead to an Orton-Wyatt match at WrestleMania. Jericho is an interesting choice because of his friendship with Owens, the WWE Universal champion.

Favorites: Based on the end of Raw, the favorites are Undertaker, Lesnar and Goldberg. But the Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t believe that any of the favorites will win.

Pick: The Greek God of Wrestling is going out on a limb and choosing Jericho as a dark horse. Jericho has never won the Rumble. His relationship with Owens has been one of the most entertaining things on WWE television during the past year. Jericho is on an incredible roll. Why not go with it?

Dream scenario: What if Kurt Angle, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during WrestleMania weekend, entered and won the Rumble? Angle never won the Rumble. He also is in good enough shape to pull out a top-notch match, especially with someone like Styles.  

There are eight spots open for Sunday’s Rumble. Angle could be one choice. James Ellsworth is probably another. Kane would fit the “big man” theme of this year’s Rumble. Plus, there’s the added bonus of Kane teaming up with Undertaker to toss out some opponents.

*****

PHILLY READY TO RUMBLE: If you haven’t heard the big news this week, the Royal Rumble will be coming to Philadelphia in 2018. As is the case with WWE’s four major premiere events, the Rumble will be accompanied by NXT Takeover the night before the Rumble and Raw and Smackdown on the two nights after the Rumble. Wells Fargo Center will be a busy place for four straight nights next January.

The choice is a little bit surprising because Philly hosted the Rumble in 2015. But it might be a bit of a consolation prize because the City of Brotherly Love has been in the mix for WrestleMania recently without being awarded the biggest show of the year.

*****

TAKING OVER SAN ANTONIO: One night before the Royal Rumble, WWE presents NXT Takeover: San Antonio, which takes place on the WWE Network (8 p.m., preshow at 7 p.m.). The main event features Shinsuke Nakamura defending the NXT Championship against Bobby Roode. Achilles Heel expects Nakamura to retain his title.

The NXT Tag Team Championship will also be on the line, with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa defending the title against the Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar). Asuka will defend the NXT Women’s Championship in a fatal four-way with Nikki Cross, Billy Kay and Peyton Royce. In non-title matches, Tye Dillinger battles Eric Young and Roderick Strong squares off with Andrade Almas.

*****

NXT IN PHILLY: If you don’t want to wait until next year’s Royal Rumble weekend to see NXT in person, you have an opportunity on Thurs., Feb. 9, when NXT comes to the Twoer Theater.

*****

LASHLEY REGAINS GOLD: Bobby Lashley regained the TNA World Championship from Eddie Edwards in a 30-minute ironman match on “Genesis,” which was the title of this week’s Impact Wrestling.

*****

ROLLINS OUT OF RUMBLE: The buildup for the projected WrestleMania match between Seth Rollins and Triple H continued on Raw, with Seth Rollins losing his spot in the Royal Rumble. Stephanie McMahon, via telephone, set up a match between Rollins and Sami Zayn. The original stipulation was that Zayn needed to defeat Rollins to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble, but Stephanie added that if Zayn wins, he would take Rollins’ spot in the Rumble.

Rollins appeared to have victory in his sights after delivering a pedigree to Zayn on the ring apron. But Triple H’s music started to play just before Rollins pinned Zayn. The delay as Rollins gazed around the arena in search of Triple H allowed Zayn to roll Rollins up for the small package and knock him out of the Rumble.

*****

DANIELS GETS TITLE SHOT: Christopher Daniels will receive a long-awaited shot at the Ring of Honor World Championship at Ring of honor’s 15th Anniversary show on March 10 in Las Vegas. Daniels, a 24-year veteran who was in the main event of Ring of Honor’s first show, hasn’t had a world title shot since 2011. The Greek God of Wrestling will have more on this matchup in upcoming weeks, but he does not want to spoil future Ring of Honor shows for any fans by revealing results from television tapings.

*****

TEXAS OVERLOAD: The Royal Rumble and NXT Takeover aren’t the only shows in San Antonio this weekend. EVOLVE has a pair of shows, which feature Chris Hero’s final independent matches before joining WWE/NXT. Hero defeated Keith Lee on Friday night. On Saturday night he will face Zack Sabre Jr. in an intriguing matchup.

If you stick around San Antonio until Friday, you can see Ring of Honor’s “Undisputed Legacy. Matches include a top contenders triple threat match between Jay Lethal, Dalton Castle and Bobby Fish (based on his title shot at Supercard of Honor, Castle should win); Cody Rhodes vs. Donovan Dijak; The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) vs. Tempura Boyz (Sho and Yo); and an 8-man tag team match pitting Adam Cole, Hangman Adam Page and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) vs. Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Lio Rush and Jay White.

If you want to venture away from San Antonio in between shows, Raw will be in Hidalgo on Monday, and Smackdown will be in Corpus Christi on Tuesday.

*****

RAW IN PHILLY: The last Raw before WrestleMania will take place on Mon., March 27 at Wells Fargo Center. The timing alone should make this an exciting show.

*****

TAKING OVER SAN ANTONIO: The Young Lions Cup Tournament will highlight CHIKARA’s first event of 2016, which will take place next Saturday (2 p.m.) at CHIKARA’s Wrestle Factory as part of National Pro Wrestling Day. The event is free. Announced matches include Dasher Hatfield vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado, Missile Assault Man vs. Race Jaxon, and Fire Ant, Worker Ant and Silver Ant vs. the Legion of ROT.

*****

POPULAR WAR: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees on Sat., Feb. 11 with CZW Eighteen: Still Like Nothing Else! The main event features Joe Gacy defending the CZW World Championship against Shigehiro Irie. Other matches include Progress Atlas champion Matt Riddle, one of the fastest-rising independent stars, against WXW Shotgun champion David Star, and a “fans bring the weapons match” match pitting Danny Havoc and Conor Claxton against Notorious Inc.

Heel Turns: Angle ‘coming home’

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

Achilles HeelWWE hit a home run with its first announced inductee for the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class. Kurt Angle is one of the best wrestlers of my lifetime.

Few, if any, made the transition from amateur wrestling to professional wrestling any faster, or any better, than Angle. The Olympic gold medalist could have a good match with practically anyone.

Angle has several matches on PhillyPhanatics.com’s list of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, including a classic with Shawn Michaels that ranks fourth. The Greek God of Wrestling still maintains that the ongoing Smackdown mix-and-match battles earlier this century between the teams of Edge and Christian, Eddie and Chavo Guerrero, and Chris Benoit and Angle featured some of the best televised wrestling in history.

Angle also developed the personality necessary to be at the top of the pro wrestling mountain. His skits with Steve Austin when he was trying to suck up to Mr. McMahon were classics. Anything Angle did with Edge was pure gold.

Angle’s departure from WWE was acrimonious, which is partly why his induction will be such a nice moment. In response being selected for the WWE Hall of Fame, Angle tweeted “I’m coming home.”

After leaving WWE, Angle continued his career with TNA. His presence gave TNA added legitimacy. But it’s fitting that he will return to WWE for his Hall of Fame induction.

Could Angle play a larger role in the next few months? A Royal Rumble guest spot and, possibly, one final WrestleMania match aren’t out of the question.

*****

HISTORY LESSON: If Achilles Heel were promoting the Goldberg-Brock Lesnar feud, I would highlight the confrontation between the two men at the 2004 Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.

Goldberg, whose stated goal was to win the Royal Rumble and then beat Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, entered the Rumble at No. 30. He spears several opponents, including Big Show. Goldberg throws three competitors out of the ring and then tries to suplex Big Show. But Lesnar, who exchanged words with Goldberg earlier in the evening in a locker-room-area interview after he successfully defended the title against Bob Holly, races to the ring and hits Goldberg with an F-5. Kurt Angle then dumps Goldberg over the top rope, eliminating him from the match.

WWE should bring this up with Goldberg this week on Raw. We know Lesnar’s motivation for wanting revenge on Goldberg. The clip from the Philly Rumble would explain Goldberg’s motivation to get Lesnar at this year’s Rumble.

*****

TAG TEAM DREAM: A tag team dream match of sorts will take place on Sat., April 1 in Lakeland, Fla., when The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) will battle Matt and Jeff Hardy at Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XI. The Young Bucks are the Ring of Honor Tag Team champions. The Hardys are the TNA Tag Team champions.

Another match announced for Supercard of Honor is Adam Cole, or whomever is Ring of Honor World champion at the time, defending the title against Dalton Castle.

*****

WYATT BREAKUP: The Greek God of Wrestling is on record as wishing the Wyatt Family would have held the Smackdown Tag Team Championship for a longer period of time before transitioning to its inevitable breakup with Randy Orton. However, I’m guessing the breakup is necessary to begin a buildup for a potential WrestleMania match between Orton and Bray Wyatt. If that’s the reason, I’m OK with the loss of the tag team titles.

So what should be done with the Orton-Luke Harper match on Smackdown? Achilles Heel would have Orton win, with Wyatt then banishing Harper. After a dejected Harper slinks away, Orton should hit an RKO on Wyatt. Next week he can reveal that his plan all along was to infiltrate the Wyatt Family in order to split it up.

*****

AWESOME PREDICTIONS: It didn’t take long for some of The Greek God of Wrestling’s predictions for 2017 to come true. In addition to Adam Cole regaining the Ring of Honor World Championship, Drew Galloway defeated Moose to win TNA’s Grand Championship. I predicted Galloway would capture gold this year. That’s two corrected predictions – and the year is barely three weeks old.

*****

GENESIS: Next Thursday’s Impact Wrestling is being billed as Genesis. Eddie Edwards defends the TNA World Championship against former champion Bobby Lashley in the main event.

*****

RUMBLE RUNDOWN: The list of Royal Rumble participants has grown to 18. Added during the past week were Cesaro, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. Previously announced participants were Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, and Chris Jericho.

In addition to the Royal Rumble match, the Royal Rumble includes Kevin Owens defending the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns (with Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage), A.J. Styles defending the WWE World Championship against John Cena, Charlotte Flair defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley, and Rich Swann defending the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Neville.

*****

RAW IN PHILLY: The last Raw before WrestleMania will take place on Mon., March 27 at Wells Fargo Center. As “Mean” Gene Okerlund used to say, “Get your tickets now!”

*****

TAKING OVER SAN ANTONIO: NXT Takeover: San Antonio, which takes place on Saturday on WWE Network, features Shinsuke Nakamura defending the NXT Championship against Bobby Roode. At the very least, it’s a battle between two of the greatest entrance songs in wrestling today.

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa will defned the NXT Tag Team Championship against the Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar), and Asuka will defend the NXT Women’s Championship in a fatal four-way with Nikki Cross, Billy Kay and Peyton Royce. In non-title matches, Tye Dillinger battles Eric Young and Roderick Strong squares off with Andrade Almas.

*****

POPULAR WAR: Some of the premium tickets for Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds Tour, which comes to Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena on Sun., May 14, are already sold out. The tour features wrestlers from Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. The 2300 event will be a television taping.

*****

TAG TEAM TURMOIL: Last week Achilles Heel mentioned that 19-year-old Tyler Bate, who defeated Pete Dunne in the tournament final, will likely have to vacate CHIKARA’s Campeonatos de Parejas, which means tag team champions. But I also should have mentioned that Trent Seven, his partner in Moustache Mountain, also took part in WWE’s UK Tournament and is expected to take part in WWE’s show focusing on British wrestling.

You can almost always see the stars of tomorrow at the local independent wrestling events. That’s not the only reason to support CHIKARA, Combat Zone Wrestling and similar organizations, but it’s an added bonus.

*****

JAMES RETURNS: Mickie James made her return to WWE on Smackdown, interfering in the steel cage match between Becky Lynch and Smackdown Women’s champion Alexa Bliss as La Luchadora.  James, who challenge Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship, is a welcome addition to the Smackdown women’s division, which could use n additional veteran presence.

Having said that, Achilles Heel loves the intensity of the Natalya-Nikki Bella feud. Their brawl at the merchandise stand on last week’s Smackdown was tremendous.

*****

WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT: After successful cruiserweight and British tournaments, Triple H says WWE will put together a women’s tournament. It will be interesting to see if the tournament features women from around the world or involves WWE talent.

*****

YOUNG LIONS IN PHILLY: The Young Lions Cup Tournament will highlight CHIKARA’s first event of 2016, which will take place at CHIKARA’s Wrestle Factory as part of National Pro Wrestling Day.

*****

BIG MAN ON THE STREET: While flipping channels this weekend, The Greek God of Wrestling stumbled upon TNA’s Tyrus, the former Brodus Clay, doing man (and woman)-on-the-street interviews at the inauguration for The Greg Gutfeld Show on FOX News. Tyrus was funny, engaging, and quick with responses while doing his interviews. He’s obviously a fairly intelligent guy.

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