Career points for Chris Pronger, who was selected for induction into Hockey Hall of Fame

Five days after saying “absolutely” Howie Roseman would remain the general manager and Chip Kelly would remain the head coach, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie shakes up the organization, removing Roseman as GM and giving Kelly power over personnel.

The Greek god of wrestling analyzes what Brock Lesnar’s dominating victory over John Cena at SummerSlam means for WWE. Achilles Heel also reviews SummerSlam, presents good news and bad news for TNA, and tells you which former WWE team is reuniting for CHIKARA’s King of Trios.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on Pat Quinn’s legacy, Peter Forsberg entering the Hockey Hall of Fame and Mo’ne Davis writing her memoir.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Game-changer for Ring of Honor

Posted by Achilles Heel On May - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

One man’s loss is another man’s gain. Or, in this instance, one organization’s loss is another organization’s gain.

One week after news leaked out that Destination America would be severing its relationship with TNA next fall, there was an announcement that Destination America will televise Ring of Honor’s weekly show for 26 weeks.

Ring of honor’s debut on Destination America will take place this Wednesday (June 3) at 8 p.m. Ring of Honor will be followed at 9 p.m. by TNA’s Impact Wrestling, which moves to Wednesday from its Friday night spot.

There are several interesting twists and potential repercussions in this story. First, it appears obvious to the Greek God of Wrestling that Destination America is grooming TNA’s replacement in its broadcast lineup.

What if, however, having Ring of Honor as a lead-in boosts TNA ratings? Would Destination America consider renewing TNA in order to have a three-hour wrestling block on Wednesday nights?

The wrestling doubleheader could also affect WWE’s NXT, which runs on WWE Network on Wednesday night (8 p.m.). Will some fans watch Ring of Honor and then watch NXT at a later time on WWE Network? If so, would this spur WWE to move NXT to Tuesday?

There are still a lot of moving pieces in this situation. The clear winner, though, is Ring of Honor. As Achilles Heel told you in last week’s Heel Turns, Ring of Honor recognized the need for a greater television presence. With Destination America, it has that presence.

Appearing on Destination America, which was a step down from Spike TV for TNA, is a major step up in television exposure for Ring of Honor. Its syndicated wrestling show was not available in many major markets – except by signing up to watch it on Ring of Honor’s Web site – and often was not broadcast in prime slots. Now, Ring of Honor will be available in prime time on a national cable network, exposing its product to potentially millions of more fans. More fans watching on television should lead to an increase in pay-per-view buy rates and more demand for Ring of Honor house shows across the country.

The Greek God of Wrestling’s only concern for Ring of Honor is how it will handle this opportunity. I do not have questions regarding the creative side. My concern is related to the logistics of running more events in a larger geographic area. Getting personnel and equipment to more places as the company expands requires more people and more money. Hopefully, Ring of Honor’s inevitable expansion won’t create more problems than it solves.

Ring of Honor appears to be in position to surpass TNA as the second-largest wrestling company in the United States.

To reverse what I wrote at the beginning of Heel Turns, one organization’s gain is another organization’s loss.


RING OF HONOR RETURNS: Following two sold-out shows that were co-promoted with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor will return to 2300 Arena on Fri., Aug. 21. Tickets are on sale now.


PROCESS OF ELIMINATION: WWE’s “Elimination Chamber” takes place Sunday (8 p.m.) on WWE Network. In a bit of irony, the two main events aren’t the elimination chamber matches.

Seth Rollins defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against former Shield teammate Dean Ambrose. Another highly anticipated match pits United States champion John Cena against NXT champion Kevin Owens.

The Rollins-Ambrose feud has been simmering off and on since Rollins turned on his Shield teammates a little more than a year ago. The heat has been turned up in recent weeks, elevating the feud to boil. Is it possible that Ambrose walks out of Elimination Chamber with the title? Yes. But it’s more likely that Rollins remains the champ, forcing Ambrose to enter Money in the Bank two weeks later to get another title opportunity. Having Ambrose lurking with the briefcase, haunting Rollins’ championship reign, would be a terrific way to extend this feud.

Achilles Heel may have jumped the gun before Payback in suggesting a Roman Reigns Heel Turn during the Fatal four-way with Rollins, Ambrose and Randy Orton. The commentary during this past week’s Smackdown, with several references to Reigns being Ambrose’s only friend in the world, indicates that heel turn might be coming Sunday. As I noted last week, Reigns and Orton are conspicuous by their absence from the Elimination Chamber card, so Reigns is likely to get involved in the championship match involving his two former Shield teammates.

Cena vs. Owens is another intriguing match. With neither the United States nor NXT title on the line, and with Owens about to move up to the main WWE roster, Owens should win. At the very least, if he loses, he should deliver a brutal beatdown of Cena after the match.

The elimination chamber match to crown a new Intercontinental Champion – Daniel Bryan, who will appear on “Miz TV” during the kickoff to Elimination Chamber, had to relinquish the title due to injuries – features six competitors. Sheamus, Rusev, King Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and R-Truth are scheduled to participate, although Rusev’s status is in doubt due to ankle injury suffered against Ryback on Smackdown from Wilkes-Barre.

Let’s look at the match using, appropriately, the process of elimination. R-Truth isn’t going to win. Barrett just lost the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 31, so it’s unlikely he’ll win it Sunday. Rusev is hurt, and Achilles Heel can’t think of a replacement (Luke Harper?) who would win the title. That leaves Ryback, Sheamus and Ziggler. I don’t think Ryback’s matches have the consistency required of an Intercontinental champion, so that narrows it down to Ziggler and Sheamus. Given his budding relationship with Lana, Achilles Heel predicts Ziggler will replace Bryan at Intercontinental champion.

The Greek God of Wrestling is somewhat befuddled by the Elimination Chamber match for the tag team titles. The Elimination Chamber is a physically brutal match supposedly reserved for high-stakes matches. Quite frankly, this collection of tag teams (The New Day, The Ascension, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, Los Matadores, The Lucha Dragons, The Prime Time Players) doesn’t rise to the level required for an Elimination Chamber match. This leads me to conclude that the chamber will be the true star of the match.

Quite frankly, the only reason to have this match is for the cool spots they can execute with multiple teams inside the chamber. One other possibility is to have Harper and Erick Rowan, a team left out of the chamber match, break into the chamber and destroy a bunch of other tag teams, with the match resulting in a no-contest.

Nikki Bella defends the Divas Championship in a triple threat match involving Paige and Naomi. Naomi, with some help from Tamina, may emerge as champion. The outcome of Adrian Neville’s match with Bo Dallas should be determined by the status of Neville’s knee. If he needs to be out of action for an extended period of time, Dallas should either win or injure Neville after the match. Otherwise, Neville should prevail.


WWE COMES TO TOWN: WWE will be coming to Southeastern Pennsylvania for a few shows during the next six weeks. There will be a house show in Reading at the Santander Arena on Sun., June 28. Two days later, WWE will tape Smackdown at the Giant Center in Hershey. WWE will be at Wells Fargo Center for a house show on Fri., July 10.


MR. PERFECT: Two more of the Greek God of Wrestling’s predictions for 2015 came true this past week. Kevin Owens was signed to WWE’s main roster, as I predicted would happen this year, and Ring of Honor’s television show will be available in the Delaware Valley.

Technically, I wrote that Ring of Honor would find a local television outlet, but I’m chalking that up as a correct prediction because Philly-area fans will be able to watch Ring of Honor’s weekly show. When announcing the new television deal, Ring of Honor Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff specifically mentioned Philadelphia as a place in which the show wasn’t airing through syndication but would be seen on Destination America.


WICKED DEFENSE: Hallowicked successfully defended the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Ashley Remington during the Anniversario 2015 show last weekend in Easton.


DEATH WATCH: Combat Zone Wrestling will host Tournament of Death 14 on Sat., June 13, at Ultraviolent Underground in Townsend, Del. In addition to the tournament, there will be a scaffold match and a ladder match.


OLD SCHOOL: While watching an old match between Tony Garea and Dean Ho and the Valiant brothers, who were the tag team champions, Achilles Heel was reminded of how big a reaction wrestlers could get with a simple move.

When Garea ducked a punch by Jimmy Valiant, causing Valiant to be launched over the top rope, the crowd reacted as if Garea had done a 450 splash off the top of the cage. When Garea punched Captain Lou Albano, the Valiants’ manager, later in the match, the roof almost blew off the building.

One negative to the athleticism and high-flying in today’s professional wrestling is it takes much more to get a reaction out of the crowd than it did in the old days, when big spots were used more judiciously and, I would argue, more effectively.


MUST-SEE TV: Don’t forget that Monday, the night after Elimination Chamber, Stone Cold Steve Austin will interview Paul Heyman on WWE Network. That should be a fascinating interview featuring two of the best talkers in the business.


LESNAR RETURNING: Heyman’s interview may be connected to the return of Brock Lesnar, who is scheduled to return after Money in the Bank. Lesnar is scheduled for RAW, a match in Japan on July 4 and the Battleground pay-per-view in July. Lesnar has not appeared with WWE since taking out the broadcast team, including delivering an F-5 to Michael Cole, the night after WrestleMania 31.


Heel Turns: Major trouble for TNA

Posted by Achilles Heel On May - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelTNA announced a return tour of the United Kingdom next January at the beginning of the week.

By the middle of the week, there were doubts as to whether TNA would still be in business next January.

One week after the announcement that TNA’s Impact Wrestling would be switching nights from Friday to Wednesday, the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported that Destination American would be dropping TNA in September.

There has been some quibbling over the proper word choice. Some call it a cancellation. Some simply say Impact Wrestling isn’t being renewed. Regardless of what you call it, the bottom line is the same: TNA will no longer be on Destination America by October.

You don’t need the Greek God of Wrestling to tell you that this is a severe blow to TNA’s future.

With very little house show business, TNA is essentially a television wrestling company. And it’s nearly impossible to be a television wrestling company without television.

TNA found a home on Destination American in January after being dropped by Spike. Barely five months into their relationship with Destination America, TNA needs to start searching for a new television home – if it can find one.

The news isn’t a complete surprise. Considering that Destination America has a far lower profile than Spike, TNA’s ratings have been decent. But TNA has been achieving those ratings by loading up Impact Wrestling as if it’s a weekly pay-per-view. In last week’s Heel Turns, I questioned whether that formula would work in the long run.

Another bad sign was the departure of Tazz, who reportedly left after refusing to do a show until a late paycheck arrived. A late paycheck wouldn’t be a major issue unless the employee was concerned he wouldn’t eventually be paid.

Perhaps Tazz was aware of the claims of Eric and Garett Bischoff and business partner Jason Hervey, who recently filed a lawsuit against TNA for alleged non-payment from October of 2014 through March.

TNA doesn’t have many choices. It can try to find a new television partner, but, with two networks dropping TNA within one year, it’s going to be difficult for TNA to find a favorable deal.

With or without a television deal, TNA is going to have to cut expenses, which includes cutting salaries. Without well-known wrestlers, it will be more difficult for TNA to receive good ratings and attract house show business.

If TNA scales back, one problem is that there is a crowded field in the competition to be the alternative No. 2 company to WWE. Ring of Honor is the most well-known company relying on house shows and Internet (mostly) pay-per-view events. And Ring of Honor certainly recognizes the need for a greater television presence.

NXT is also cutting into the market for “independent” wrestling. Although owned and marketed by WWE, NXT has supplemented its home-grown talent with well-known wrestlers on the independent circuit, such as Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, Finn Balor and, most recently, former TNA stalwart Samoa Joe.

Look for future developments regarding TNA’s future.

But Achilles Heel warns that TNA’s future doesn’t look bright.


CHIKARA DOUBLEHEADER: Before the Greek God of Wrestling gets to WWE and NXT this week, I’m going to take a moment to remind you of CHIKARA’s two events this weekend. CHIKARA presents “Back to Skull” at The Wrestle Factor at 4711 Wingate Ave. in Philadelphia tonight (Saturday) at 7 p.m., then has its anniversary show Sunday (3 p.m.) at The Palmer Center in Easton.

Matches for Back to Skull are: Kevin Condron vs. “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti; Princess KimberLee vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado; the team of Ophidian and Argus against Fire Ant and Worker Ant; Amasis vs. Missile Assault Ant; and Dasher Hatfield vs. Blaster McMassive.

The main event of the anniversary show features Hallowicked defending the Grand Championship against Ashley Remington. Other matches include United Nations vs. Dasher Hatfield, Mr. Touchdown, Icarus and Heidi Lovelace; Oleg the Usurper vs. Missile Assault Ant; The Wrecking Crew vs. Eddie Kingston, Ophidian, Shyrnon and Argus; Jervis Cottonbelley and Princess KimberLee vs. Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy; Arcane Horde vs. Jakob Hammermeier, Nokken and Pinkie Sanchez; and Oleg the Usurper vs. Missile Assault Ant.


BUSY SCHEDULE: WWE has three events within four weeks. Last Sunday was Payback. The Elimination Chamber takes place on May 31. Two weeks later is Money in the Bank. If you throw in NXT Takeover: Unstoppable from this past Wednesday, that’s four major events in four weeks.

Four events in four weeks is oversaturation, as is evident by WWE starting to build toward Money in the Bank even though the Elimination Chamber hasn’t even taken place.


PAYBACK REVIEW: Payback provided plenty of action. Achilles Heel doesn’t know if anything was great, but nothing was bad.

The two best matches were the two main events, which is the way it should be. Seth Rollins retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a fatal four-way with Randy Orton and former Shield teammates Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Perhaps the highlight of the match was a brief Shield Reunion, with the three former Shield members teaming up to power bomb Orton through the announcers table. In the end, with a lot of assistance from Kane and J&J Security, Rollins pinned Orton.

Cena defeated Rusev in an “I Quit” match that the Greek God of Wrestling and the live crowd apparently enjoyed more than some Internet critics. Cena and Rusev engaged in an extremely physical match that had the crowd chanting “This is Awesome!”

Bray Wyatt beat Ryback in another physical match. Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler in a match in which they seemed to quickly move to the finish after Ziggler got busted wide open delivering a head butt to Sheamus. Neville beat “King” Wade Barrett by countout, but appeared to injure his left knee and absorbed a post-match beatdown. Naomi and Tamina beat the Bella twins and New Day retained the tag team titles by beating Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a two-out-of-three-falls match.


(NEARLY) PERFECT PREDICTIONS: You shouldn’t be surprised by now, but Achilles Heel correctly predicted all but one match from Payback. Not only did I get the predictions correct, but I told you Lana would be involved in the finish of the John Cena-Rusev match. She translated Rusev’s Bulgarian screaming, telling the referee Rusev quit.

The Greek God of Wrestling also told you New Day would try to switch partners between falls. This is exactly what Xavier Woods tried to do after the first fall, proclaiming “Freebird rules,” but his efforts were rebuffed. Woods, however, inserted himself into the match and gained the pinfall (illegally) in the deciding fall.


UNSTOPPABLE NXT: NXT, fresh off house shows in Upper Darby and Albany, N.Y., continued its momentum with NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. This two-hour special didn’t have as much outstanding wrestling as some previous NXT two-hour specials on WWE Network, but it was an entertaining and newsworthy show.

Finn Balor’s ring entrance before his match with Tyler Breeze is worth going out of your way to watch. The Greek God of Wrestling has never seen a crowd chant “This is awesome!” for a ring entrance, but they did it for Balor’s entrance – and it was well-deserved.

The best match from a pure wrestling standpoint was Sasha Banks successfully defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch. It was the best women’s match I’ve seen in NXT not involving Charlotte.

The main event contained two noteworthy developments. First, Kevin Owens re-injured Sami Zayn, which will allow Zayn time off to get shoulder surgery. The second development was the surprise appearance of Samoa Joe, who emerged at the end of the match, causing Owens to leave the ring. The crowd’s reaction to Joe’s appearance was tremendous.


LOVING LANA: Regarding the budding relationship between Lana and Dolph Ziggler, the Greek God of Wrestling has one thing to say: Dolph is a lucky, lucky man.


ELIMINATION CHAMBER: Achilles Heel will have a full preview of the Elimination Chamber event on May 31 in the next edition of Heel Turns. There will be Elimination Chamber matches for the Intercontinental and tag team championships. In addition, Seth Rollins will defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Dean Ambrose, John Cena will battle NXT champion Kevin Owens – the angle was set up on this past Monday’s RAW – and Nikki Bella will defend the Divas Championship against Paige and Naomi in a triple threat match.

Conspicuous by their absence, thus far, are Roman Reigns and Randy Orton, who were in the main event at Payback.


GOLDEN INTERVIEW PAIRING: The late addition of the Elimination Chamber event makes sense when you consider that it takes place on May 31, the final day of the free trial for WWE Network. You’ll have to pay for the network if you want to see Money in the Bank or the June 1 interview of Paul Heyman by Stone Cold Austin.

Austin and Heyman together in an interview setting? That alone might be worth the price of one month of WWE Network.


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