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Sacks in 3 seasons for 2014 1st-round pick Marcus Smith, cut by Eagles on Wednesday

Take a look at Top 10 lists from the past, including our first and frighteningly prescient first Top 10 list: Players the Eagles can least afford to lose to injury

As the Eagles begin their preseason, Gordon Glantz breaks down the Birds’ roster, trying to determine how many players Chip Kelly will keep at each position and who is competing for spots which are truly up for grabs.

The Greek god of wrestling continues his Thanksgiving tradition of listing people and things for which wrestling fans should be thankful. (Yes, he includes himself on the list.) Achilles Heel also reviews an eventful Survivor Series (including the first WWE appearance by Sting!), highlights two wrestlers vastly underappreciated by WWE and tells you the new venue for Ring of Honor’s January event in Philadelphia.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: WWE goes to extremes

Posted by Achilles Heel On June - 1 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe success of Extreme Rules this Sunday (8 p.m.) on WWE Network depends on the main event. With five men involved in an Extreme Rules No. 1 contender’s match, that match should be given a lot of time. It also should be extremely good.

The combatants battling to be the No. 1 contender for the WWE Universal Championship are Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt. What makes this match so intriguing is that an argument could be made for almost any of the participants to win.

The least likely to win is Bray Wyatt. Given the other wrestlers involved, having Wyatt win and face Brock Lesnar doesn’t make much. Samoa Joe, however, would be an interesting physical matchup for Lesnar.

Having Balor win seems logical. Balor, the first WWE Universal champion, didn’t lose the title in the ring. He was forced to relinquish the title after injuring his shoulder in the championship match with Rollins. Reigns, who continues walk the line between babyface and heel, would also make sense as a challenger to Lesnar. Lesnar vs. Reigns would feature the two men who have defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Rollins is also a viable option, but the Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t see that happening. The prediction here is that Reigns wins the match Sunday and becomes the No. 1 contender.

Matt and Jeff Hardy defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against Cesaro and Sheamus inside a steel cage. Achilles Heel senses a potential title change. Not as strongly as my feeling that Jinder Mahal would defeat Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, but not too far removed from that level.

Dean Ambrose defends the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz, with the stipulation being that Ambrose can lose the championship by disqualification. That seems to be the antithesis of extreme rules, doesn’t it? (If you don’t know what antithesis means, look it up. Achilles Heel doesn’t have time to teach English to all the nimrods reading this column.) A loss by disqualification would seem like a cheap way to do a title change, but it would fit well with Miz’s persona.

The Greek God of Wrestling expects Alexa Bliss to find a way to retain the Raw Women’s Championship in a Kendo Stick on a Pole match. He also expects Neville to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Austin Aries in a submission match, although, if Aries is going to win the title, he might as well do it now.

A late addition to Extreme Rules is a mixed tag team match featuring Rich Swann and Sasha Banks against Noam Dar and Alicia Fox.

The undercard can enhance Extreme Rules, but the main event is the key to whether this is remembered as a special event. Achilles Heel expects that the main event will deliver.

*****

PHILLY IS A BATTLEGROUND: Tickets are available for Battleground, a WWE Smackdown pay-per-view event coming to Wells Fargo Center on Sun., July 23. A little birdie told the Greek God of Wrestling that tickets for the Royal Rumble may be put on sale during Battleground.

*****

WOMEN CLIMBING THE LADDER: The Money in the Bank pay-per-view on June 18 will include a historic match. After an out-of-control brawl on Smackdown, general manager Shane McMahon declared that there will be a women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, with the winner getting a title opportunity against Smackdown Women’s champion Naomi. The five participants in this first-of-its-kind match will be Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Carmella.

The traditional Money in the Bank Ladder match, with the winner receiving a title opportunity whenever he choose, will feature A.J. Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn. Styles seems to be the logical winner, although that could change if Randy Orton regains the WWE Championship from Jinder Mahal at Money in the Bank.

Another new match announced this past week features the returning New Day challenging Jimmy and Jey Uso for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

*****

IS RHODES THE BEST? The main event for Ring of Honor’s “Best in the World” pay-per-view on June 23 will pit Cody Rhodes against Ring of Honor World champion Christopher Daniels.

*****

FEEL THE POWER: CHIKARA will be at The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia on Sunday for be an “Hour of Power” show. CHIKARA will return to The Wrestle Factory on Sat., June 10 for “Hide.” Announced matches include the CHIKARA debut of Michinoku Pro’s Kenbai against Kobald, Juan Francisco de Coronado vs. Obariyon, and the Throwbacks vs. Hermit Crab and Cajun Crawdad.

*****

TOURNAMENT OF DEATH: Combat Zone Wrestling will present “Tournament of Death ‘16” on Sat., June 10 (3 p.m.) at the Ultraviolent Underground in Townsend, Del. First-round matches include a “Pains in the Glass” match between Rickey Shane Page, Jimmy Havoc and John Wayne Murdoch; a “light tubes and cinderblocks” match between Cannonball and G-Raver; a “Doorway to Death” match between Masada and Shlak; and a “Fans Bring the Weapons” match between Father Matthew Tremont and Mad Man Pondo.

*****

DUNNE DEAL: Pete Dunne, the new WWE United Kingdom champion, has the chance to be a big star. He has the “it” factor.

His match with Tyler Bate may have been the best of the night at NXT Takeover: Chicago. He had another good match Wednesday on NXT. Dunne will likely be featured on NXT’s upcoming European tour.

*****

POSITIVE SIGN: If you’re looking for some encouragement to watch Extreme Rules on Sunday, look no further than this week’s RAW. There were two terrific matches involving the participants in the fatal 5-way main event at Extreme Rules. Samoa Joe, Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor participated in an excellent triple threat match, with Joe prevailing. At the end of Raw, Roman Reigns defeated former Shield teammate Seth Rollins in a tremendous match.

Heel Turns: NXT steals the show

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

Achilles HeelThere are people who like everything that isn’t mainstream. You know these people. They think bands nobody has heard of are superior to bands selling out arenas and stadiums. In the wrestling world, they think every independent or small promotion is filled with wrestlers better than those in WWE.

The Greek God of Wrestling isn’t one of those people. But he will tell you that NXT stole the show last weekend in Chicago. Backlash didn’t quite live up to its potential on Sunday night, but it was more a case of NXT rising to the occasion on Saturday night that leads Achilles Heel to declare it was the best show of the weekend.

The standout match of the NXT Takeover: Chicago was the WWE United Kingdom Championship match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. Part of the appeal was the uniqueness of the match. The British style is a little different than the North American style. The second element is that both Bate, the defending champion, and Dunne were tremendous. The third part of the equation is that the crowd was completely invested in the match, which created an awesome atmosphere. Dunne won the title in an incredible match that was the best of the weekend.

NXT also had the best angle of the weekend, with Tommaso Ciampa turning on partner Johnny Gargano after they lost a ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championship against The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar). This show-closing angle caught fans by surprise and made Ciampa an instant heel. As this storyline unfolds – Gargano was taken out on a stretcher and his condition was not disclosed on NXT this week – expect the roots of the feud to go back to Gargano’s victory over Ciampa in an outstanding match at the Cruiserweight Classic.

The Greek God of Wrestling is extolling the virtues of NXT Takeover: Chicago, and has even mentioned the NXT Championship match between Bobby Roode and Hideo Itami. Roode retained the title in a very good match. After the match, there was a backstage angle with Kassius Ohno that apparently is leading to an Itami heel turn.

The opening match between Roderick Strong and Eric Young, with Strong prevailing, was terrific. Asuka successfully defended the NXT Women’s Championship against Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross in a good match.

Every match at NXT Takeover: Chicago was at least good. And some of the matches and angles were way better than good.

If you haven’t checked out NXT, it’s time you do so. The Greek God of Wrestling is confident you will keep coming back for more.

Triple H has spoken of NXT becoming more of a third brand than a developmental territory. Watching NXT Takeover: Chicago, the idea of NXT as a third brand nearly on par with Raw and Smackdown seems to be a realistic possibility.

*****

MAHAL WINS AT BACKLASH: Although WWE’s Backlash was overshadowed in the ring by NXT Takeover: Chicago, it will be remembered for two events. First, Jinder Mahal upset Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship. Second, it was the in-ring television debut of Shinsuke Nakamura.

Achilles Heel told you in last week’s Heel Turns that Mahal winning the title was a possibility. Mahal is in the right place at the right time as WWE makes a concerted push into India. His twist on the anti-American theme seems like a nice fit for today’s world.

The question is whether Mahal hangs on to the title for a little while, possibly through SummerSlam, or he is a short-term champion, with Orton regaining the championship in June. Mahal’s own performance may determine the answer to that question. His character is headed in the right direction, but we haven’t seen him reach an elite level in an extended match. To be fair, Mahal hasn’t had many of those opportunities, but he will now.

Backlash started with Nakamura defeating Dolph Ziggler in a good match that saw fans legitimately buy into Ziggler winning. Nakamura taking all the punishment doled out by Ziggler and still emerging victorious may have done more for him than a match in which he dominates by hitting all of his key moves.

Nothing overly exciting happened during the rest of Backlash. Kevin Owens beat A.J. Styles by countout in a very good match, Sami Zayn upset Baron Corbin before being destroyed by a frustrated Corbin after the match, and Jimmy and Jey Uso retained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship in a fun match with Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze) that featured some funny moments. Breeze dressed as an old janitor before, in mid-match, changing into a grandmother outfit.

The funniest moment of the tag team title match was unintentional. One of the Usos threw Breeze’s grandmom dress out of the ring. The dress landed on JBL, who, with his quick wit, uttered the hilarious line, “The last time that happened to me I paid for it.”

The women’s six-person tag team match, with Natalya, Carmella and Tamina defeating Charlotte Flair, Naomi and Becky Lynch, was fine, but it wasn’t anything special. Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan in a decent match. In the kickoff match, Tye Dillinger beat Aiden English.

Nothing at Backlash was bad, but nothing was special, either. When compared with the amazing NXT Takeover: Chicago show the previous night, Backlash felt like a bit of a letdown.

*****

INDIA IS HOT: In discussing the rise of Jinder Mahal in recent weeks, the Greek God of Wrestling has pointed to WWE’s efforts to make inroads in India. Impact Wrestling is also trying to gain fans in the huge Indian market. Impact Wrestling will be taping television shows in Mumbai on Tuesday and Wednesday.

India is second only to China in population. If birthrate trends continue, India will pass China in population within the next 20 years; therefore, it’s understandable that both WWE and Impact Wrestling want a share of this market. Imagine how much money they can make from t-shirt sales alone.

The Asian market as a whole has vast potential, particularly with the Internet making programming easier to deliver. Expect to see more wrestlers from Asia on the WWE and NXT rosters, where Jinder Mahal (technically from Canada but ethnically Punjabi), Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka and Hideo Itami already have prominent roles.

*****

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE IMPACT: Ethan Carter III won a triple-threat match with James Storm and Magnus to earn the right to challenge for the Impact World Heavyweight Championship – the TNA name is no longer used – at Slammiversary on July 2. Bobby Lashley is the current champion, but the Greek God of Wrestling has a feeling that Global Force Wrestling champion Alberto El Patron will be involved in this situation during the next five weeks.

The triple-threat match was a positive moment on Impact, but there were two – at least two that I will mention – moments that were negative developments. Why is there a tournament for the Global Force Tag Team Championship when there already was a tournament for the Impact Tag Team Championship? If the two brands have merged, why establish a second title? The roster isn’t deep enough to justify two different tag team champions.

My second complaint involves the rivalry between broadcasters Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash. As the Greek God of Wrestling has said on numerous occasions, nobody cares about a broadcaster feud. The only way to justify the feud is if it leads to a development that moves the company forward. Having Scott Steiner join Mathews for a Slammiversary match against Borash and Joseph Parks isn’t a positive or forward-looking development. Back in his prime, Steiner was an incredible combination of power and agility. But he hasn’t been mobile for at least a decade. This tag team match could be awful, and, even if it’s OK, it doesn’t justify months of this ridiculous broadcaster feud.

*****

CHIKARA BACK-TO-BACK: CHIKARA will be at The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia during the first two weekends in June. There will be an “Hour of Power” show on Sun., June 4 (4 p.m.). CHIKARA will return to The Wrestle Factory on Sat., June 10 for “Hide.” Announced matches include the CHIKARA debut of Michinoku Pro’s Kenbai against Kobald, and Juan Francisco de Coronado vs. Obariyon.

*****

WORLD WARS SPREAD: After a successful tour in North America, including a stop at 2300 Arena, Ring of Honor and New Japan Professional Wrestling are taking the War of the Worlds tour to England. Events will take place on August 18 in London and the following night in Liverpool.

*****

TOURNAMENT OF DEATH: Combat Zone Wrestling will present “Tournament of Death ‘16” on Sat., June 10 (3 p.m.) at the Ultraviolent Underground in Townsend, Del. First-round matches include a “Pains in the Glass” match between Rickey Shane Page, Jimmy Havoc and John Wayne Murdoch; a “light tubes and cinderblocks” match between Cannonball and G-Raver; a “Doorway to Death” match between Masada and Shlak; and a “Fans Bring the Weapons” match between Father Matthew Tremont and Mad Man Pondo.

*****

BALTIMORE GETS EXTREME: A five-man No. 1 contender’s match to determine the top challenger for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Universal Championship will headline Extreme Rules next Sunday at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The particpants are Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe.

Other matches include Dean Ambrose defending the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz, with the stipulation being that Ambrose loses the title if he is disqualified; Alexa Bliss defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley in a Kendo Stick on a Pole match; Matt and Jeff Hardy defending the Raw Tag Team Championship against Cesaro and Sheamus in a Steel Cage match; and Neville defending the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Austin Aries in a submission match.

*****

RETURN OF ROSS: Another wonderful aspect of the Pete Dunne-Tyler Bate match for the WWE United Kingdom Championship was that Jim Ross was the play-by-play announcer. Ross, who returned to WWE at WrestleMania, will also be the lead broadcaster for the Mae Young Classic, a women’s tournament that will take place on July 13-14.

*****

PREDATORS ARE GLORIOUS: The Nashville Predators, who open the Stanley Cup Finals against the Penguins on Monday, have played “Glorious Domination,” the theme music for NXT champion Bobby Roode, after major victories.

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