Consecutive wins for Ducks in Philadelphia

It’s unlikely the Flyers will be Stanley Cup contenders this season, but watching their prospects during the preseason convinced Eric Fisher that the Flyers’ future looks extremely bright.

With the Flyers caught in a downward spiral, head coach Craig Berube has started to scratch healthy players from the lineup and reduce ice time to send a message to his struggling team. In addition, Eric Fisher suggests some line combinations, reviews the Flyers’ futility at Madison Square Garden and looks at this week’s West Coast trip.

Braydon Coburn (pictured) and Andrew MacDonald, who form the Flyers’ top defense pairing, will both be sidelined for an estimated four weeks. Will the Flyers roll the dice by calling up young prospect Shayne Gostisbehere? Eric Fisher examines GM Ron Hextall’s options.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Titles on line at Backlash

Posted by Achilles Heel On September - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe era of brand-specific “special events” begins Sunday night (8 p.m.) with the Smackdown-only “Backlash” on WWE Network. Although there isn’t the pressure of pay-per-view purchases, it will be interesting to see if fans will be receptive to show without some of WWE’s major stars.

Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and fan favorites The New Day are on RAW. The lack of star power is compounded by the absence of John Cena, Smackdown’s most recognizable star.

Looking at the Backlash lineup, it’s fair to say that at least 25 percent of the participants wouldn’t appear in an all-WWE event. The silver lining in that statement is that limiting the “special events” to one brand presents opportunities for more wrestlers to shine.

Dean Ambrose and A.J. Styles would be involved in any major event. Ambrose is the WWE World Heavyweight champion. Styles, living up to his nickname, has truly been phenomenal since joining WWE.

A title change is possible Sunday. With Kevin Owens holding the WWE Universal Championship on RAW – after Finn Balor’s injury – WWE might not want two heels holding its two major titles. On the other hand, WWE might want to make a splash on its first brand-specific special event by having a major title change hands. The Styles-Ambrose feud should continue for several months, with rematches at Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series. The Greek God of Wrestling was planning to go out on a limb and predict that Styles will win the title Sunday, but, for reasons that will become clear later in this column, I’ll say that Ambrose will retain the championship.

Randy Orton, who hasn’t wrestled since being brutalized by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, will face the mysterious Bray Wyatt. With Orton scheduled for a rematch with Lesnar on Sept. 24 in Chicago, it’s possible that Lesnar interferes at Backlash. This could result in a victory for Wyatt or a disqualification win for Orton. If Orton wins clean, it’s important for Wyatt that he gets in plenty of offense during the match.

The Miz defends the Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler. The result of this match could depend on the outcome of the WWE Heavyweight Championship match. Generally, WWE doesn’t have two heels or two good guys hold both belts. On the other hand, there is a rivalry between Ziggler and Ambrose. The two met at SummerSlam, so it’s possible that Ziggler wins the championship – finally winning the big match – which would create a rivalry between the two champions. This rivalry would elevate the Intercontinental Championship. Instead, Achilles Heel sees Miz somehow escaping with the title, furthering the “Ziggler can’t win the big match” storyline.

Two new championships will be created at Backlash. Becky Lynch, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Naomi, Carmella and Alexa Bliss will battle in an elimination match to crown the first Smackdown Women’s champion. The Greek God of Wrestling believes Lynch will win the title, showing that she’s worthy of being the first woman drafted to Smackdown. Lynch also is the only member of the trio that launched the Divas revolution – Charlotte and Sasha Banks are the others – who hasn’t won a championship.

Smackdown Tag Team champions will also be crowned. Jimmy and Jey Uso will meet the Hype Brothers (Zack Ryder, Mojo Rawley) in a battle of semifinal losers. This match was created after the Usos injured Chad Gable after losing to American Alpha (Gable and Jason Jordan) on Smackdown. The winner of the Usos-Hype Brothers match will battle Rhyno and Heath Slater for the tag team titles later at Backlash. The Usos should beat the Hype Brothers – nobody is clamoring for a Hype Brothers rematch with Rhyno and Slater – and then defeat Rhyno and Slater in the tournament final. That would set up a championship feud between the Usos and American Alpha.

Having two new champions crowned might cause WWE to have Ambrose and Miz retain their respective titles. A world title change would dilute the impact of the crowing of new women’s and tag team champions.


ROLLINS’ TURN: The apparent face turn by Seth Rollins on RAW may signify that WWE has given up on making Roman Reigns the top good guy in WWE. Rollins was a terrific heel, but his in-ring repertoire works well for a fan favorite. The purpose of Triple H’s interference in the WWE Universal Championship match may have been to turn Rollins into a face as much as it was to elevate Kevin Owens.


TERRIFIC RIVALRY: With Kevin Owens as WWE Universal champion, WWE should begin to build up Sami Zayn to the point where he will be viewed as a legitimate threat to win the championship. Owens and Zayn tore down the house at Battleground with the latest in their series of terrific matches. Perhaps their Battleground match convinced WWE to realize how awesome it would be to see Owens and Zayn battle with a major championship on the line.


SMACKDOWN IN PHILLY: You can see all of the fallout from Backlash in person Tuesday when Smackdown comes to Wells Fargo Center. If you see the Greek God of Wrestling, don’t even think of disturbing me with your ignorant shouts or by asking for an autograph.


CRUISERWEIGHT SEMIS SET: The Greek God of Wrestling continues to be impressed by the Cruiserweight Classic. This past week Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Noam Dar, and T.J. Perkins beat Rich Swann. My guess is that more people preferred the Perkins-Swann match, which was tremendous, but Achilles Heel finds Sabre’s innovative style captivating. Sabre is a thinking man’s wrestler, finding all sorts of unique counters and transitions between moves.

The Cruiserweight Classic concludes on Wednesday (9 p.m.), with the semifinals and finals taking place during a live broadcast. Sabre will square off with Gran Metalik in one semifinal. Perkins will battle Kota Ibushi in the other semifinal. Ibushi should be a heavy favorite against Perkins. The other semifinal is a tossup. Achilles Heel wishes the tournament final would be given its own show, but that’s a minor complaint about an outstanding event.


EQUAL RIGHTS: CHIKARA, which had Princess KimberLee as its Grand Champion, continues to push women wrestlers. Team Sendai Girls (Meiko Satomura, Cassandra Miyagi and DASH Chisako) defeated Team JWAP (Manami Katsu, Command Bolshoi and Hanako Nakamori) to win the King of Trios tournament – or should that be Queen of Trios?

Katsu was pinned in the final after receiving a beatdown in the semifinals from Hallowicked, Jigsaw and Icarus, who were disqualified. By the way, Joey Styles did the broadcast for King of Trios, which should be reason enough to go out of your way to watch the tournament.


SICK FEELING: Combat Zone Wrestling presents “Down With Sickness” on Saturday (Sept. 10)  at 7:30 p.m. at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees as part of a doubleheader with Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU).

In the main event, Matt Tremont defends the CZW World Championship in a four-way dath match with Joe Gacy, Greg Excellent and Jonathan Gresham. Lio Rush defends the CZW Wired Championship against Joey Janela in the Chris Cash Memorial ladder match. Sami Callihan takes on Rickey Shane Page.

WSU presents Resurgence 2 earlier in the day (2 p.m.). Mia Yim challenges Cherry Bomb for the WSU World Championship, and Su Yung will face champion Chrissy Rivera for the WSU Spirit Championship.


PHILLY IS HARDCORE: House of Hardcore returns to 2300 Arena on Sat., Sept. 17 (7 p.m.).  Announced matches include Ricochet vs. Sami Callihan, Chris Hero vs. Tony Nese, and Tommy Dreamer vs. Broken Matt Hardy, with Terry Funk in Dreamer’s corner and Senor Benjamin in Hardy’s corner. Funk has had some legendary moments in the 2300 Arena, as, of course, has Dreamer in the building that used to be known as the ECW Arena.

Heel Turns: Better late than never

Posted by Achilles Heel On September - 2 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelHere’s what the Greek God of Wrestling wrote in the original version of this edition of Heel Turns: “An interesting choice would be to put the belt on (Kevin) Owens. … Owens has a good dynamic working with Chris Jericho. It would be interesting to see Jericho’s jealousy come out if Owens captured the title.”

Owens, of course, won the WWE Universal Championship during a fatal four-way match with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Big Cass on RAW.

Unfortunately, you didn’t have the benefit of Achilles Heel’s wisdom before you watched this match on RAW.

Why not? Because Eric Fisher didn’t post the story in a timely fashion. Yes, Fisher was busy during the past week, with stops in four different states. (The Greek God of Wrestling does his research.) But somehow he found time to write a story from the Eagles-Steelers game. I guess he didn’t consider Heel Turns, the best wrestling column on the Internet, to be worth his precious time.

Consequently, the Greek God of Wrestling has had to update and rewrite this edition of Heel Turns, which originally included a detailed review of SummerSlam. That delayed the column another day or two.

I would apologize for the wait, but Achilles Heel has no reason to apologize. The fault is all Fisher’s.


HIGHS AND LOWS: The fatal four-way for the WWE Universal Championship, preceded by four qualifying matches, was made necessary by a shoulder injury to Finn Balor, who experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of relinquishing a championship within 24 hours.

Balor defeated Seth Rollins at SummerSlam to win the newly created WWE Universal Championship, the top title on RAW, but had to give up the belt the next day due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The injury occurred when Rollins sent Balor flying into the ringside barricade with a power bomb.

How badly did Balor want to win the WWE Universal Championship? The shoulder injury occurred early in the match. Balor reportedly popped his shoulder back in place, wrestling the majority of the match after sustaining the painful injury.

The surgery was more complicated than anticipated, according to Balor. He is expected to miss at least six months of action. It’s difficult not to feel badly for Balor, who worked extremely hard to reach the point where he wins a WWE championship. Achilles Heel wishes Balor a complete recovery.


WHAT THE H? The Greek God of Wrestling will be patient while waiting for the storyline to play out, but my initial reaction is that I would have preferred that Owens win the WWE Universal Championship without any assistance from Triple H.

The pedigree Triple H applied to Seth Rollins would seem to turn Rollins, who is RAW’s best heel, into a bit of a babyface. Based on Stephanie McMahon’s reaction, it also appeared that Triple H interfered on his own – or possibly conspired with Stephanie while cutting general manager Mick Foley out of the loop. Owens doesn’t seem to fit the image of a champion that Triple H professed to favor during the past few years. Let’s wait and see where this story goes.


BRUTAL FINISH: SummerSlam ended in shocking fashion, with Brock Lesnar stopping Randy Orton via TKO. Orton was a bloody mess on the canvas, causing the referee to stop the match.

It’s unclear if the match was supposed to end at that point. Was this the plan or did Lesnar become overzealous while delivering forearms and elbows to Orton while he was prone on the mat? Either way, the ending was gruesome – and disturbing. Orton received 10 staples in his head to close the wound.

Orton and Lesnar will have a rematch in Chicago on Sept. 24. It will be interesting to see where WWE takes this storyline.


INJURY ALERT: The injuries to Finn Balor and Orton at SummerSlam were troublesome. The Greek God of Wrestling is fine with a little blood, but the damage Brock Lesnar inflicted on Orton was unnecessary.

Bret Hart weighed in – and not for the first time – about Seth Rollins injuring other wrestlers. Hart, who is proud that he never injured an opponent during his storied career, points out that Rollins has broken John Cena’s nose, injured Sting badly enough to send him into retirement, and now has injured Balor. Rollins is an excellent wrestler, but it certainly appears that he needs to be more careful with his opponents.

Sasha Banks may have sustained a back injury when dropped in the corner by Charlotte during their Women’s Championship match. There are rumors that Banks already had an injured back, which is why the title change took place. But Banks almost suffered a more serious injury when she reversed Charlotte’s attempt at a Razor’s edge off the top turnbuckle. Sasha reversed the move into a hurricanrana, but almost landed on her head, which could have severely injured her neck. The reaction the move received was not worth the risk Banks took to her long-term health.


STYLES POINTS: Achilles Heel has nothing except praise for A.J. Styles, who truly was phenomenal in defeat John Cena in an awesome match at SummerSlam and, then again, while beating Dolph Ziggler in the main event at Smackdown.

Styles will challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash on Sept. 11. This Smackdown-only event will also feature the crowning of Smackdown women’s champion and Smackdown tag team champions.


COLE IN YOUR STOCKING: Congratulations to Adam Cole, touted by Achilles Heel for several years, for defeating Jay Lethal at “Death Before Dishonor XIV” in Las Vegas to win Ring of Honor’s World Championship. Cole successfully defended the title a week later at “Field of Honor” at MCU Park in Brooklyn against Lethal, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito in four corner survival match.

Cole is scheduled to defend the title against International Grand Prix Wrestling (IGPW) champion Michael Elgin, a former Ring of Honor world champion, on Sept. 30 at All-Star Extravaganza 8 in Lowell, Mass. Cole has a tough act to follow. Lethal was a terrific champion, holding the title for more than a year.


NAKAMURA TAKES OVER: One night before SummerSlam, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Samoa Joe in Brooklyn to capture the NXT Championship. As expected, this was a physical match. It will be interesting to see how the charismatic Nakamura fares as champion.

NXT Takeover: Brooklyn also featured Asuka defeating Bayley, who joined the RAW roster the following Monday, and the in-ring NXT debut of Bobby Roode, who beat Andrade “Cien” Almas. The best match of the night, however, may have been The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) retaining the NXT Tag Team Championship against Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. Dawson and Wilder are an outstanding “old school” tag team.


QUITE AN ENTRANCE: Ring entrances can set the tone for a match. A special ring entrance can confirm for the crowd that a particular match is a special occasion. The most obvious example of this is Finn Balor’s “Demon King” entrance. At NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, the violin solo version of Shinsuke Nakamura’s theme music was awesome, setting the mood for the already hot crowd before the NXT Championship match.


FAREWELL TO FUJI: The Greek God of Wrestling feels badly about putting Mr. Fuji’s death this far down in the column. Unfortunately, Fuji, who was 82, died during an extremely busy week.

Fuji was a multi-time tag team champion, winning the titles with Professor Toru Tanaka and Mr. Saito on several occasions. After retiring as a full-time wrestler, Fuji became a manager, most memorably for Yokozuna, Demolition and the Magnificent Muraco. He managed Yokozuna to the world title, which he captured from Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX and, subsequently, from Hulk Hogan. As a manager, Fuji wore a tuxedo and top hat, with a cane that frequently found its way into matches.

As Muraco’s manager, Fuji appeared in a series of classic skits, including “Fuji Chan,” “Fuji Hospital” and “Fuji Vice,” which featured Fuji and Muraco filling the roles of Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice. Muraco and Fuji also performed a standup comedy routine on TNT that still makes me laugh out loud. Farewell to Mr. Fuji.


KING OF TRIOS: King of Trios, CHIKARA’s major three-day tournament, is this weekend at The Palmer Center in Easton. The action kicks off Friday night with the first round.

Team CWC, consisting of Cruiserweight Classic participants Cederic Alexander, Johnny Gargano and Drew Gulak, square off against The Warriors Three (Princess KimberLee, Oleg the Usurper and ThunderFrog). In a women’s matchup, Team Shimmer (Candice LeRae, Crazy Mary Dobson and Solo Darling) battle Team Original Divas Revolution (Mickie James, Victoria and Jazz).

Other teams include The Colony (Fire Ant, Silver Ant and Soldier Ant), Team Sendai Girls (Cassandra Miyagi, Dash Chisako and Meiko Satomura); The Batiri (Kobald, Kodama and Obariyon); and Major League Moustache (Dasher Hatfield, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate).


CRUISERWEIGHT CLASSICS: This past Wednesday’s episode of Cruiserweight Classic was outstanding. In quarterfinal action, Gran Metalik defeated Akira Tozawa in a tremendous match. That match was followed by Kota Ibushi topping Brian Kendrick in an excellent and emotional match. After Ibushi prevailed, the fans chanted “Thank you, Brian!” bringing the 37-year-old veteran to tears. The emotion kicked up another notch when Daniel Bryan left the broadcast location to embrace Kendrick, his good friend, in the ring. This is yet another moment when wrestling is real.

Achilles Heel doesn’t think next week’s show can match this week’s show, but the Cruiserweight Classic always seems to deliver. Zack Sabre Jr. will face Noam Gar in one quarterfinal. T.J. Perkins and Rich Swann square off in the other quarterfinal.


SUMMER SLAM: Because Fisher forced this column to be delayed so long, it no longer makes sense to provide a detailed review of SummerSlam. There were tremendous moments, such as the John Cena-A.J. Styles match, and shocking moments, such as the ending of the Brock Lesnar-Randy Orton match. But the show seemed too long. The show hit a lull that lasted for an hour after the Cena-Styles match.

Perhaps a four-hour show, with a two-hour kickoff show, is simply too much wrestling. When you consider that some of those fans were also at either NXT Takeover: Brooklyn or the EVOLVE show in Brooklyn, that’s too long to expect them to remain loud and enthusiastic.


FAREWELL TO DUDLEYS: As is the case with Mr. Fuji’s death, the Greek God of Wrestling feels badly that there isn’t more space to devote to the departure of the Dudleys from WWE. After a final one-year run, the future Hall of Famers said goodbye on RAW the night after SummerSlam. They were given time for a dignified goodbye before following tradition and receiving a beatdown from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, adding heat to the relatively new team.


DEL RIO GONE: Alberto Del Rio, serving a 30-day suspension for a first violation of WWE’ wellness policy, won’t be returning after his suspension ends. That’s a shame.

Del Rio is a talented wrestler who was saddled with relationships that didn’t help his character. First, he was paired with manager Zeb Coulter, which made no sense because Coulter was a xenophobic (look it up, jabronis!) manager and Del Rio is Mexican. Del Rio was later part of The League of Nations, a coalition that damaged the reputation of all four men involved.

Del Rio could always get the job done in the ring. He recently had a pair of tremendous high-profile matches against Randy Orton and John Cena on Smackdown and appeared to be putting the failed League of Nations behind him. It’s a shame WWE didn’t fully take advantage of Del Rio’s skills.


BACKLASH LINEUP: The Smackdown-only “Backlash” will take place on Sept. 11. The main event features Dean Ambrose defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against A.J. Styles. Randy Orton will battle Bray Wyatt, and The Miz will defend the Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler.

Two new championships will be decided at Backlash. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, Naomi, Natalya, Carmella and Alexa Bliss will compete in a six-pack challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The finals of the Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tournament, with the finalists to be decided next week on Smackdown, will also be held at Backlash.

A full preview will appear in next week’s Heel Turns (if Fisher decides to post it in time).


SMACKDOWN COMES TO PHILLY: The fallout from Backlash will be evident two nights later, on Tues., Sept. 13, when Smackdown will be broadcast from the Wells Fargo Center.



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