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Goals in Flyers’ last 2 preseason games for defenseman Travis Sanheim

Younger drivers should take a more prominent role in this season of change for NASCAR, but a familiar face, Jimmie Johnson, should be in the thick of the race for the overall title, which would be his record-setting eighth championship.

Jeremy Hellickson’s struggles make it less likely the Phillies can acquire anything of value at the trade deadline. In this Phillies Notebook, Eric Fisher also examines the importance of top draft picks, Scott Kingery’s situation and the Phillies’ bench woes.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the declining interest in outdoor hockey games, the Phillies’ pitching depth and what should happen to Bryan Colangelo if a particular news report is accurate.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: SummerSlam fallout

Posted by Achilles Heel On August - 27 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelWWE used SummerSlam to move in some new directions. There were five title changes at SummerSlam, but the biggest change occurred in a match in which a title did not change hands.

Brock Lesnar retained the WWE Universal Championship in a fatal four-way match with Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, but the match established Strowman as the top challenger for the title. Strowman slammed Lesnar through two broadcast tables and them dumped another broadcast table on top of him, leading to Lesnar being carted off on a stretcher (he returned later in the match).

In case the point needed further emphasis, Strowman delivered a pair of running power slams to Lesnar the following night on Raw. Strowman will challenge Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at No Mercy on Sept. 24.

The excellent match for the Universal Championship was probably the highlight of SummerSlam. The other contenders for best match were a pair of tag team matches in which the titles changed hands. Jimmy and Jey Uso regained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship from The New Day in an entertaining bout during the SummerSlam kickoff show. But, in the Greek God of Wrestling’s not-so-humble opinion, the Raw Tag Team Championship was even better, with the reunited Shield team of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins defeating Sheamus and Cesaro in a terrific match.

Both women’s titles also changed hands. Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship; Natalya made Naomi tap out to the sharpshooter to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The first title change that took place at SummerSlam was Neville defeating Tozawa during the kickoff show to recapture the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

Titles changed hands in the first five championship matches at SummerSlam. The streak was broken when A.J. Styles retained the United States Championship against Kevin Owens, although there were controversy surrounding the actions of special referee Shane McMahon. Jinder Mahal then kept his WWE Championship when, with the help of the Singh brothers, he defeated Shinsuke Nakamura.

In other matches, John Cena beat Baron Corbin, Randy Orton defeated Rusev with an RKO in nine seconds (after Rusev beat up Orton before the bell rang), “The Demon” Finn Balor beat Bray Wyatt, Big Cass defeated Big Show despite Enzo Amore escaping the shark cage hanging above the ring, and The Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas defeated Jason Jordan and Matt and Jeff Hardy.

It will be interesting to see which direction WWE takes with its new champions, but the most intriguing development at SummerSlam was the elevation of Strowman to top-contender status.

*****

NXT DOES IT AGAIN! The best show of SummerSlam weekend was NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Longtime readers of Heel Turns know that Achilles Heel is not one of those Internet columnists who loves to rip WWE and proclaims every small promotion to be better than the, by far, largest wrestling organization on the planet. But NXT’s show was outstanding from start to finish.

Johnny Gargano’s lost to Andrade “Cien” Almas in a tremendous opening match that caused the crowd to go “banana,” as Pat Patterson used to say. Aleister Black defeated Hideo Itami in a physical match. SAnitY captured the NXT Tag Team Championship from the Authors of Pain in a well-constructed match that involved unique strategy and action. Asuka successfully defended the NXT Women’s Championship against Ember Moon, and then Drew McIntyre captured the NXT Championship by beat Bobby Roode in an excellent match.

In addition to the terrific action, there were storyline developments that ignited the crowd. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, both of whom made their televised singles debuts against Black, reunited (they were Ring of Honor tag team champions) to attack SAnitY after the tag team title match. They also came to the ring after the NXT Championship match, distracting McIntyre while former Ring of Honor World champion Adam Cole entered the ring from the opposite side and attacked McIntyre.

You couldn’t have hoped for anything more than what NXT delivered the night before SummerSlam.

*****

NEW CHAMP: WWE wasn’t the only organization changing titles. Eli Drake won a gauntlet battle royal to become the new Global Force Wrestling champion. The title was vacant because GFW stripped Alberto El Patron of the championship because of a domestic abuse incident with Paige, his fiancée, at the Orlando airport.

Drake and Eddie Edwards were the first two and last two participants in the battle royal. Johnny Impact, the former Johnny Nitro and John Morrison, made his debut during this match. The Greek God of Wrestling wouldn’t have picked Drake to win the title, but that doesn’t mean elevating Drake by making him champion was a mistake. We’ll see how it works out.

*****

RING OF DISHONOR: Now that Ring of Honor has completed its tour of England, the next big date for the promotion will be Sept. 22, when “Death Before Dishonor XV” takes place in Las Vegas. Cody Rhodes will defend the Ring of Honor World Championship at Death Before Dishonor against Japanese legend Minoru Suzuki, who hasn’t wrestled in the United States in more than 25 years.

A bit closer to home, Ring of Honor will be in Pittsburgh on Oct. 13 as part of the Global Wars tour, and then will be doing a television taping at 2300 Arena on Oct. 20.

*****

KINGS OF ENGLAND: The top half of the bracket is loaded at Kings of Trios, the annual three-night CHIKARA major event which begins Friday in Wolverhampton, England. The House Sendais Girls (Maiko Satomura, Dash Chisako and Cassandra Miagi), the defending champions, are in the same half of the bracket as House Rot (Frightmare, Hallowicked and Kobald) and House Strong Style (WWE United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne, former WWE UK champion Tyler Bate and his former CHIKARA tag team championship partner Trent Seven). As you can see, all teams in this year’s tournament start with “House.”

Bate and Seven teamed up last year with Dasher Hatfield, who has reunited with Mark Angelosetti to former House Throwbacks with Simon Grimm. The Throwbacks are in what appears to be the easier side of the bracket. If Strong Style win their opening match, they could face House Rot in the second round. If the Sendai Girls win their opening match, they could face Casa Dorada, a team that includes CHIKARA Grand Champion Juan Francisco de Coronado, in the second round. Two wins by the Sendai Girls would likely lead to a match with either Strong Style or Rot in the semifinals.

It would make sense for Team Strong Style, with three British wrestlers, to excel in an event in England, but Achilles Heel wonders if CHIKARA will highlight a group of wrestlers who have all signed with WWE.

*****

YOUNG AT HEART: WWE will begin broadcasting the Mae Young Classic, a 32-woman single-elimination tournament, on Monday on WWE Network. The first four episodes will be available on demand at WWE Network on Monday. Episodes 5-8 will be available on Mon., Sept 4, with the final match to take place live on Tues., Sept 12.

*****

ASUKA INJURED: Asuka managed to successfully defend her NXT Women’s Championship against Ember Moon at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, but she broke her right collarbone during the match. The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoiler, but WWE has already put on its Web site that Asuka vacated the title during this past week’s NXT television tapings.

It is expected that Asuka will be moving to Raw or Smackdown. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if WWE ties the Mae Young Classic to the competition to crown a new NXT Women’s champion.

*****

FLAIR UPDATE: Ric Flair apparently has rallied from the depths of his medical crisis, but he still has a long road ahead of him. Achilles Heel continues to send The Nature Boy best wishes and prayers for a complete recovery.

*****

ROODE WELCOME: Three nights after losing the NXT Championship to Drew McIntyre, Bobby Roode made his Smackdown debut with a victory over Aiden English in a surprisingly competitive match. The Greek God of Wrestling expects Roode to make a significant impact on Smackdown.

*****

RUDE EXIT: The push for Big Cass came to a screeching halt on Raw when he tore his ACL during a match against former partner Enzo Amore. Cass, who defeated Big Show the previous night at SummerSlam, was visibly frustrated when his attempt to continue the match ended with his knee buckling as he attempted an empire elbow. A Royal Rumble return would be the most optimistic outlook for Big Cass.

Meanwhile, Amore made his 205 Live! debut on Tuesday as a challenger to Neville, who retained the WWE Cruiserweight Championship that night. Amore adds personality, but it’s uncertain that his style will mesh with the cruiserweight roster.

*****

A TEAM GUY: With Jason Jordan moving to Raw as Kurt Angle’s son, it was revealed on Smackdown that Shelton Benjamin, who served as a henchman for Angle and teamed with Charlie Haas to form The Worlds Greatest Tag Team, will replace Jordan as Chad Gable’s tag team partner. In the initial interview, Gable seemed more excited about the new tag team than Benjamin.

*****

SICK FEELING: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees on Sat., Sept. 9 with Down With The Sickness (7:30 p.m.), which is part of a doubleheader with Women’s Superstars Uncensored (WSU), which presents Queen and King of the Ring (4 p.m).

Down With the Sickness will include the Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Ladder match, in which The Rep will face Private Party in a No. 1 contenders match for the CZW Tag Team Championship, Danny Havoc’s retirement match against Alex Colon, and Sami Callihan vs. Jimmy Lloyd.

The Queen and King of the Ring Tournament features eight mixed tag teams. There also will be a WSU Championship match, with Mercedes Martinez defending against Jordynne Grace, and a WSU Tag Team Championship match, with Maria Manic and Penelope Ford defending the titles against The Sinister Sweethearts.

Heel Turns: SummerSlam could be hot

Posted by Achilles Heel On August - 17 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelEven with a four-hour show, it seems as if there are a lot of matches scheduled for SummerSlam. One match has been moved to the preshow, but the Greek God of Wrestling wouldn’t be surprised to see a second match moved to the preshow in order to give the other matches more time to develop (Update: a six-man tag team match has been added to the preshow).

Let’s take a look at the matches for SummerSlam, which takes place Sunday (7 p.m., WWE Network) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Brock Lesnar (WWE Universal champion) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe

This match could go in a lot of different directions, which is one reason that it’s the most intriguing match at SummerSlam. Lesnar could emerge as Universal champion, but it’s certainly possible that the title could change hands, especially because it could change hands without Lesnar getting pinned, which protects his reputation as “The Beast.”

If Lesnar loses the title, Reigns is the most likely to win it. He generates a tremendous reaction from fans – both positive and negative – and, in case you haven’t noticed, his matches have been terrific so far this year. He would have some immediate challengers in Joe and Strowman. Joe could fulfill a career-long dream by becoming WWE Universal champion, and that’s certainly a possibility. A long-shot scenario would be Strowman winning the title, with Paul Heyman switching allegiances from Lesnar to Strowman. (This scenario only makes sense if Lesnar is leaving WWE shortly.) Prediction: This match is difficult to predict, but Achilles Heel thinks it’s time to make Reigns the champion.

Jinder Mahal (WWE champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Mahal has started to grow into his championship, as JBL says on Smackdown. His matches have improved, although they’re far from great, and he’s beginning to develop as a heel personality. On the other hand, Nakamura has been on a roll, winning his feud with Baron Corbin and even defeating John Cena for the right to challenge Mahal at SummerSlam. The Brooklyn fans will certainly be rooted loudly for Nakamura, who should receive star treatment. Prediction: This may not seem fair to Nakamura, but I don’t think WWE would put the title on a wrestler with limited English skills. Nakamura has tremendous charisma, but the Greek God of Wrestling thinks Mahal will find another way, by hook or by crook, to once again retain his title.

A.J. Styles (United States champion) vs. Kevin Owens

Shane McMahon is the special guest referee, which adds another element to this grudge match. The feud between McMahon and Styles earlier this year, along with both Styles and Owens “accidentally” kicking McMahon the past two weeks, adds another layer to this terrific rivalry. Prediction: One prediction is this should compete with the WWE Universal Championship match to be the best match at SummerSlam. The outcome could depend on the WWE Championship match. If Mahal retains, Owens could win the U.S. Championship, leaving Styles to become a top challenger for Mahal. Conversely, if Nakamura captures the title, Styles should retain the U.S. Championship.

Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team champions) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins

This match was just added to SummerSlam on Monday, but it quickly became one of the most-anticipated matches on the card. Ambrose and Rollins forming a sort of Shield should ignite the crowd, as it did on Raw this week. Prediction: The easy call would be for Ambrose and Rollins to win the titles. If Reigns wins the main event, former members of the Shield would hold all of the men’s titles except the Intercontinental Championship. That would be cool. But Achilles Heel doesn’t think Ambrose and Rollins are together for the long haul. Cesaro and Sheamus will retain, with Ambrose and Rollins blaming the other for the defeat – and then possibly competing to challenge Reigns down the road for the Universal title.

Alexa Bliss (Raw Women’s champion) vs. Sasha Banks

Banks earned this title shot by forcing Nia Jax to tap out on Raw this week. She replaces Bayley, who had to relinquish her title shot because of a separated shoulder. Prediction: Either Banks wins the title or Bliss retains when Bayley inadvertently costs Banks the title.

Naomi (Smackdown Women’s champion) vs. Natalya

Natalya earned this title shot by winning a five-women elimination match at Battleground. There isn’t much more to this story. Prediction: Natalya is deserving of a run with the women’s title, but the Greek God of Wrestling prediction Naomi will retain her title. Carmella cashing in her Money in the Bank opportunity afterward is very likely.

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin will undoubtedly blame Cena for preventing him from successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity on Smackdown. This will only add to Corbin’s rage. Prediction: Cena wins, further enraging Corbin, who delivers a hellacious beatdown to Cena after the match.

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

Rusev was looking for a challenge, and he got one from Orton. Prediction: An Orton victory doesn’t make sense unless it’s going to lead to a Rusev-Lana reunion. Unless this feud is going to continue, the main storyline coming out of this match will be about the loser.

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

To counter the supernatural evil of Wyatt, Balor is becoming his “demon” character. This adds another element to a match previously lacking in reasons for fans to care. Prediction: Chalk up a victory for the Demon.

Big Cass vs. Big Show

Enzo Amore, Big Cass’ former tag team partner, will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring. It’s not clear how that stipulation plays into this match, but you figure that Amore will get involved at some point. Prediction: The beating Big Cass gave Big Show, particularly with the punishment to Big Show’s right hand and wrist, makes it seem as if, with Show’s big punch neutralized, Big Cass will prevail. But Achilles Heel thinks Enzo will somehow get involved, gaining a measure of revenge by helping Big Show win.

Tozawa (WWE Cruiserweight champion) vs. Neville

Tozawa won the Cruiserweight Championship from Neville on Raw. As part of the “Titus brand,” Tozawa is part of a larger storyline, but Neville has been a terrific Cruiserweight champion. Prediction: Tozawa retains the title.

New Day (Smackdown Tag Team champion) vs. the Usos

These teams have engaged in a solid feud this summer since the New Day came over from Raw. Their matches have been excellent, and this one shouldn’t be any different. Prediction: This match was moved to the preshow, which tells the Greek God of Wrestling that New Day will please the crowd with a victory. It would be surprising to see a tag team title change during the preshow.

Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and Jason Jordan vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel

This late addition to SummerSlam finds a place for the Hardys, who were probably slated to face The Revival before Dash Wilder suffered a biceps injury, and The Miz, who is the Intercontinental champion. Prediction: The Hardys, making their first SummerSlam appearance together since a tables, ladders and chairs match with Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boyz in 2000, will probably celebrate with a victory. It’s possible that Jordan could pin Miz, setting up a challenge for the Intercontinental Championship.

There are two or three more matches than Achilles Heel would prefer to see on this card, but, if the featured matches deliver and the fans stay engaged for the other matches, this could be an particularly entertaining event.

*****

PRAYERS FOR FLAIR: I don’t have to go any further without wishing a complete recovery for Ric Flair. The Nature Boy was rushed to the hospital last Friday and had surgery on Saturday (the nature of the surgery hasn’t been disclosed). It has been reported that some of his organs, including his kidneys, failed. Achilles Heel extends his heart-felt best wishes and prayers to Flair.

*****

NXT INVADES BROOKLYN: One night before SummerSlam, NXT takes over Barclays Center for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. The main event features Bobby Roode, who has been a fantastic champion, defending the NXT Championship against Drew McIntyre. Both Roode and McIntyre are destined for the main WWE roster. It’s possible that McIntyre captures the title, with Roode moving to Raw or Smackdown in the near future. But it’s equally possible that Roode stick around NXT to continue his feud with Roderick Strong while McIntyre quickly moves to the main WWE roster.

Asuka, the longest reigning champion in a WWE organization since Hulk Hogan’s first reign as WWE champion, faces a challenge from Ember Moon. This could be the end of Asuka’s championship reign.

Much like the NXT Championship match, the outcome of the NXT Tag Team title match could be determined by which team is headed to WWE’s main roster first, the Authors of Pain or SAnitY. Raw is pretty stacked with tag teams, especially when The Revival are included, but Smackdown could use some new challengers for the New Day, assuming New Day beats the Usos at SummerSlam.

In other matches at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn: Aleister Black battles Hideo Itami in what should be a hard-hitting match, and Johnny Gargano faces Andrade “Cien” Almas.

*****

EL PATRON STRIPPED OF TITLE: Global Force Wrestling has stripped Alberto El Patron of the GFW Championship for his actions relating to a dispute with Paige, his fiancée, in an Orlando airport. El Patron was not charged with a crime in the incident, but GFW expressed disappointment in his actions.

The decision to strip El Patron of the title and how a new champion will be the focus of Bruce Prichard’s big announcement at tonight’s (Thursday’s) Destination X edition of Impact Wrestling. With El Patron still suspended indefinitely, his match with Low Ki is probably off. Will Low Ki challenge someone else for the GFW Championship or will there be a tournament? (A very recognizable wrestler is coming to GFW. Without giving it away, the Greek God of Wrestling wonders if that individual will immediately become champion.)

Remaining matches for Destination X included Bobby Lashley vs. Matt Sydal, Sonjay Dutt defending the X Division Championship against Trevor Lee in a ladder match, Sienna defending the Knockouts Championship against Gail Kim, and the Super X Cup final between Taiji Ishimori and Dezmond Xavier.

*****

HONOR IN ENGLAND: Ring of Honor kicks off its three-night “War of the Worlds: UK” tour on Friday in London. The main event in London is a 10-man tag team match pitting New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Bushi, Evil and Sanada against the Bullet Club (Ring of Honor World champion Cody Rhodes, Ring of Honor World Tag Team champions Matt and Nick Jackson, Adam Page and Marty Scurll).

Cody (WWE won’t let him use “Cody Rhodes”) will defend his title against Sanada on Saturday in Liverpool. That event also features the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defending the tag team titles against The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) and a four-way match for the Ring of Honor World Television Championship. Sunday’s card in Edinburgh is headlined by Cody teaming with Scurll to battle Daniels and Kazarian.

*****

KINGS OF ENGLAND: CHIKARA will be heading to Wolverhampton, England, for the King of Trios from Sept. 1-3. Among the interesting teams are House Strong Style (all the teams start with “House”), which consists of WWE’s United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne, former WWE UK champion Tyler Bate and his former CHIKARA tag team championship partner Trent Seven. House Sendai Girls (Maiko Satomura, Dash Chisako and Cassandra Miyagi) is an all-woman entry.

From CHIKARA are House Throwbacks (the reunited Dash Hatfield and Mark Angelosetti, as well as Simon Grimm) and House Rot (Frightmare, Hallowicked and Kobald).

*****

MONEY DOESN’T PAY OFF: By losing to Jinder Mahal on Smackdown, Baron Corbin joins John Cena, Damien Sandow and Mr. Kennedy as wrestlers who failed to successfully cash in their Money in the Bank opportunity and win the WWE Championship. Kennedy lost his opportunity in 2007 in a subsequent match with Edge, who then cashed in and won the title.

*****

SUMMER HEAT: The heat, or crowd reaction, for Monday’s opening segment of Raw with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins was off the charts. Both guys were excellent in their roles and exhibited masterful timing in playing to the crowd.

*****

NXT COMES TO BETHLEHEM: Tickets go on sale Friday (10 a.m.) for an NXT show at the Sands Bethlehem Events Center on Sept. 23.

*****

BRACKETS REVEALED: The Mae Young Classic, a 32-woman tournament modeled after the successful cruiserweight classic, begins on WWE Network on Aug. 28 (the tournament has already been taped). The brackets for the tournament will be revealed Sunday after SummerSlam.

 

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