Career goals for Flyers captain Claude Giroux

After Allen Iverson didn’t show up for Sunday’s BIG3 event in Dallas, which comes two weeks after he didn’t play at the league’s event in Philadelphia, Eric Fisher expresses concern that Iverson is having difficulty handling the fact that, even in a 3-on-3 league for retired players, his days as a star player are over.

The growing gap between the Warriors and Cavaliers, who are meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight season, and the rest of the teams is bad for the NBA. The Finals could be great, but the league is suffering.

The Greek God of Wrestling praises Cesaro for his skill and toughness. Achilles Heel also expresses disappointment in main event of No Mercy, tells us who won the GFW tag team titles and why Jeff Hardy will be out of action for a while.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Awesome predictions for 2018

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 15 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

It’s time for another wonderful year of Heel Turns from your favorite professional wrestling columnist. The Greek God of Wrestling’s always-extraordinary predictions for 2018 were ready at the start of the year, but, instead, I devoted my first Heel Turns of the year to wrapping up some of the incredible developments at the end of 2017.

With the anticipation built to a near-fever pitch, it is now time for Achilles Heel to present his predictions for 2018  (if Eric Fisher can squeeze this column in between the wall-to-wall Eagles coverage).

Brock Lesnar will not remain WWE Universal champion beyond SummerSlam. He might not even make it past WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns will become WWE Universal champion.

Cody Rhodes will regain the Ring of Honor World Championship.

Charlotte Flair will have a long reign as Smackdown Women’s champion.

Jason Jordan will suplex Kurt Angle.

Eli Drake won’t make it to WrestleMania with the Impact Wrestling Global Championship – and, yes, the Greek God of Wrestling knows WrestleMania is for WWE, but couldn’t think of a noteworthy spring event for Impact Wrestling. (Spoiler alert: The prediction has come true)

Paige will win a women’s title in WWE. (This prediction apparently won’t come true. See the related item later in this column.)

Adam Cole will win the NXT Championship.

Daniel Bryan will wrestle again this year.

The Combat Zone Wrestling World Championship will change hands at least three times.

Bobby Roode will become the United States champion.

Drew McIntyre will return to WWE’s main roster.

Enzo Amore will remaining incredibly annoying.

With Don Callis and Scott D’Amore running the creative side of things for Impact Wrestling as executive vice presidents, expect major changes in just about everything, including personnel.

Callis and D’Amore will remain in charge through at least the end of August, which is a bold prediction for Impact Wrestling these days.

The Miz will win another championship.

Charlotte Flair and Bobby Roode will win WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook.

At least one title will change hands (not including the United States Championship tournament) will change hands at the Royal Rumble – and it won’t be the WWE Universal Championship.

The partnership between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor will continue to flourish – but there could be trouble on the horizon if New Japan runs its own shows in the U.S.

Juan Francisco de Corononado will lose the CHIKARA Grand Championship before July.

A former WWE star who appears at the Raw 25th anniversary show will enter the Royal Rumble.

Johnny Gargano will not win the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia.

Longtime readers know that my predictions usually come true, but this final prediction will definitely come true: Achilles Heel will remain the best professional wrestling columnist in the world.


PAIGE’S CAREER OVER? As the Greek God of Wrestling noted in his predictions, one prediction that is unlikely to come true is Paige winning the Raw Women’s Championship. Unfortunately, it appears that Paige’s in-ring career may be over at age 25.

Paige returned to Raw in November after recovering from neck surgery and enduring a tumultuous 1½ years that, in addition to the surgery and rehabilitation, included two suspensions for violating WWE’s wellness policy and a sometimes volatile relationship with Alberto Del Rio. But everything seemed to be looking up for Paige as she returned to WWE to form Absolution with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.

But Paige was injured when she was kicked in the back with both feet by Sasha Banks during a house show on Dec. 27 at Nassau Coliseum. The match was stopped, but initial reports didn’t reflect the seriousness of the injury. Reports are that Paige suffered another neck injury.

Paige burst on the scene in WWE when she won what was called the Divas Championship in her WWE debut, becoming the youngest women’s champion in WWE history. Her return in November seemed to indicate a bright future, which included an upcoming film entitled “Fight with My Family” about Paige’s life as a wrestler.

Why make a movie about Paige’s career? It’s an amazing story. Both of her parents were professional wrestlers. She started wrestling in England with her family’s promotion when she was 13 years old. But it appears that Paige’s wrestling story has a most unfortunate ending.


KINGDOM MATCHES: The first major show of 2018 was New Japan Professional Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4. In the main event, Kazuchika Okada, who has been champion for one-and-a-half years, successfully defended his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito. In the match with the most interest in the United States, Kenny Omega successfully defended his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against Chris Jericho. In another bout, Kota Ibushi beat Cody Rhodes.


WRESTLING FOR CHARITY: The WWE Mixed Match Challenge, which kicks off Tuesday (10 p.m.) on Facebook, will benefit a dozen charities. Each mixed tag team will represent a charity. Each charity will receive $10,000, with the charity represented by the winning team to receive $100,000.

Tuesday’s debut episode pits the team of Finn Balor and Sasha Banks against Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya. That’s quite an opener. Other first-round matchups are The Miz/Asuka vs. Big E/Carmella; Braun Strowman/Alexa Bliss vs. Sami Zayn/Becky Lynch; Goldust/Alicia Fox vs. Jimmy Uso/Naomi; Elias/Bayley vs. Rusev/Lana; Apollo Crews/Nia Jax vs. Bobby Roode/Charlotte Flair. It should be noted that two real-life married couples, Jimmy Uso and Naomi and Rusev and Lana, are teaming up on the show.


INTERNAL COMPETITION: Although it’s a shorter show, it should be noted that the Mixed Match Challenge will compete directly with 205 Live, the cruiserweight show, on WWE Network. 205 Live has been hurt by weak reactions from live audiences. The Greek God of Wrestling would like to see 205 Live not be live. Instead, it should be taped before a smaller audience there just to see the cruiserweights instead of before large audiences who view the cruiserweights as secondary to the main Smackdown show.


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Anticipation is building for Raw’s 25th anniversary show, which will take place on Mon., Jan. 22, at both the Barclays Center and the Manhattan Center, the original home of what was then called Monday Night Raw. Many former stars are advertised for what should be a fun show.


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY II: Combat Zone Wrestling will celebrate its 19th anniversary show, appropriately titled “Nineteen,” on Sat., Feb. 10 (8 p.m.) at Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees. In the main event, CZW World champion Rickey Shane Page will team with Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M to battle the team of Dave Crist, Jake Crist and Sami Callihan, a trio that has made quite a bit of noise on Impact Wrestling.

There also will be a battle royal to determine a new No. 1 contender for the CZW World Championship. Other matches include Joey Janela vs. Brandon Kirk, Joe Gacy vs. Anthony Gangone, and Ace Romero vs. Greg Excellent in a dog collar match.


ROYAL RUMBLINGS: It appears that the card has been set for both the Royal Rumble and NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. The Greek God of Wrestling thinks there are too many matches slated for the Rumble, meaning at least two of the matches, with the Cruiserweight Championship match between Enzo Amore and challenger Cedric Alexander likely being one of them, moved to the preshow.

Check out the next Heel Turns for more details on the card. Although the matches seem to be finalized, there are still numerous openings in both the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches.


PHILLY GUYS: CHIKARA’s first event of 2019, “Beware the Snowman,” will take place on the afternoon of the Royal Rumble at The Wrestle Factory. In the main event, Juan Francisco de Coronado will defend the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Hype Rockwell. With a 2 p.m. start, there is plenty of time to attend the show and then get home in time to watch the Royal Rumble.

All of CHIKARA’s announced shows for 2019 are in Pennsylvania, with all except one taking place in Philadelphia. However, the site of King of Trios has not been announced yet, so more dates are expected to be added. But it appears that CHIKARA is going to cut down on its travel costs by sticking close to its home base.


KICKOFF: If a kick to the head can be a thing of beauty, Harper (formerly Luke Harper) delivered it to Viktor last week on Smackdown as The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) cut short an early attack by The Ascension en route to a quick victory. Harper has always been a favorite of The Greek God of Wrestling. Harper, who is excellent in the ring, never received the singles push he deserved, but it’s good to see him in a featured tag team.

Heel Turns: Wrapping up 2017

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 1 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

I know you missed me. But the Greek God of Wrestling isn’t going to apologize for taking a well-deserved vacation.

Warm weather. Beautiful beaches. Beautiful women. Achilles Heel enjoyed all of these things during his vacation – and not necessarily in that order.

The beginning of the year is when I normally present my always-accurate predictions for the upcoming year. However, because so much happened during the final two weeks of 2017, the Greek God of Wrestling is going to use this edition of Heel Turns to recap the numerous developments, saving the predictions column for next week.

The major headline from the Clash of Champions was the continuation of the feud between Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon and Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan. They were the guest referees for the match between Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura and the team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The stipulation was that if Owens and Zayn lost, they would be fired from WWE.

The action in the match was good, but the focus was on the referees. After some initial confusion, Bryan and McMahon divided the ring in half, with each one counting pins on his half of the ring. This arrangement worked until the end of the match. While McMahon was counting a pin by Orton, Bryan was knocked backward onto McMahon. Not realizing it was an accident, McMahon became angry with Bryan. McMahon then stopped a Zayn pin of Orton in midcount. Angered by McMahon’s actions, Bryan fast-counted a pin on Orton on McMahon’s half of the ring.

The end was presented as if Bryan’s quick-count was retaliation against McMahon rather than as being supportive of Owens and Zayn, but the consequence was still the same. Owens and Zayn kept their jobs. (Although the dynamic is slightly different, Achilles Heel appreciates how effective Owens is in these buddy tandems, first with Chris Jericho and now with Zayn.)

Although the tag team match was the real main event, Clash of Champions also featured A.J. Styles successfully defending the WWE Championship against former champion Jinder Mahal in a match that took a little while to generate excitement. The greatest failure of Mahal’s major push during 2017 was his failure to produce memorable matches – or better than average matches – against top stars such as Styles, Orton and Nakamura.

Charlotte retained the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Natalya in a lumberjack match. The post-match angle featured Natalya walking off as if she were quitting WWE. Jimmy and Jey Uso successfully defended the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against The New Day, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin and the increasingly popular team of Rusev and Aiden English.

The only championship that changed hands was the United States Championship. Dolph Ziggler captured the title in a triple-threat match with Bobby Roode and champion Baron Corbin. Ziggler then apparently gave up the title on Smackdown, resulting in a U.S. Championship tournament (more on that later in Heel Turns).

In other matches at Clash of Champions, the Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) obliterated Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango), and Mojo Rawley beat Zack Ryder in the kickoff match.


NEW HONOR CHAMPION: In a surprise, Dalton Castle defeated Cody Rhodes to win the Ring of Honor World Championship at Final Battle. It’s possible that the decision to have Rhodes lose the title is to avoid having this week’s match with Kota Ibushi from the Tokyo Dome being a Ring of Honor world title match, but this was a good surprise. Don’t be surprised if Rhodes gets back in the championship picture after his match with Ibushi.

Another title that changed hands at Final Battle was the World Television Championship, with Silas Young capturing the gold from Kenny King in a four-corners elimination match that also included Shane Taylor and Punishment Martinez.


KINGDOM MATCHES: The first major wrestling event of 2018 takes place Thursday (late Wednesday night on the East Coast) in Tokyo. In addition to the Cody Rhodes-Kota Ibushi match mentioned in the previous note, WrestleKingdom 12 features Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship in the main event. Another advertised event for Tokyo Dome is Kazuchika Okada defending his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito.


ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? Vince McMahon sold more than three million shares of WWE stock, worth nearly $100 million, to fund a separate company, Alpha Entertainment LLC. According to the SEC filing, McMahon created the new company in order “to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football.”

There have been rumors that McMahon is looking to revive the XFL, his ill-fated football league from early this century. Alpha Entertainment has applied for XFL-related trademarks, spurring speculation that McMahon is going to bring back the XFL or start a similar football organization.


AMBROSE INJURY: Dean Ambrose suffered a triceps injury that will keep him out of action for at least a few months. To explain the absence of Ambrose, one of WWE’s most durable performers, Samoa Joe inflicted the injury on Ambrose with attacks at ringside and backstage.

The beneficiary of Ambrose’s injury is Jason Jordan, who teamed with Seth Rollins on Christmas to win the Raw Tag Team Championship from Sheamus and Cesaro. Winning the tag team titles with Rollins may be exactly the type of opportunity Jordan needs to advance his character and elevate himself on the card. He certainly should be able to learn from the talented Rollins.


INJURY CORNER: Dean Ambrose wasn’t the only wrestling injured toward the end of 2017. Cruiserweights Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar sustained injuries, with Kendrick suffering a broken nose and orbital bone from Hideo Itami’s GTS on the Christmas edition of Raw, and Dar undergoing knee surgery that is expected to sideline him for five months. Paige was injured after being kicked in the back at a house show at Nassau Coliseum. She was kept off subsequent house shows, but the severity of her injury hasn’t been revealed.


ZENK DIES: The first time Achilles Heel remembers seeing Tom Zenk was in 1984 when he faced veteran Nick Bockwinkel on AWA’s weekly television program. You couldn’t help but be impressed by how smooth the young Zenk was in the ring. Unfortunately, Zenk died just before Christmas at age 59.

After a stint with the AWA, the handsome and well-built Zenk seemed destined for success as he teamed with Rick Martel in WWF. But Zenk left the promotion and was replaced as Martel’s partner by Tito Santana. Martel and Santana won the WWF Tag Team Championship. Meanwhile, Zenk ended up in WCW and was never able to reach the potential projected for him.


U.S. TITLE TOURNAMENT: With Dolph Ziggler apparently vacating the United States Championship he won at Clash of Champions – an angle that perhaps would have been more effective if Natalya hadn’t done a similar “I don’t get any respect” angle the same week – Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan announced a tournament to crown a new United States champion.

Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon disagreed with this decision, saying Bobby Roode and former champion Baron Corbin, who were involved in the triple-threat match in which Ziggler captured the title, shouldn’t have to go through a tournament to get an opportunity to win the title. Instead, Bryan matched Roode and Corbin in the first round, with Roode emerging victorious.

Roode will face the winner of a first-round match between recently split tag team partners Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley. In the other half of the bracket, Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger. Mahal’s semifinal opponent will be the winner of a first-round bout between Xavier Woods and Aiden English. This tournament seems destined for a Roode-Mahal final.


WOMEN SEEK BRASS RING: At Final Battle, Ring of Honor announced that there will be a tournament in 2018 to crown the first Women of Honor champion.


WOMEN READY TO RUMBLE: Philadelphia will be the site of the first Women’s Royal Rumble match. The announcement came at the end of the Dec. 18 edition of Raw. Already announced as participants in the match are Naomi, Asuka, Ruby Riott and Natalya. Expect many more to join this ground-breaking match.


NXT CHALLENGER: The final NXT event of 2017 revealed the challenger for the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia at Wells Fargo Center on Sat., Jan. 27, one night before the Royal Rumble. Underdog Johnny Gargano survived an action-packed fatal four-way match with Lars Sullivan, Aleister Black and Killian Dain to earn a shot at NXT champion Andrade “Cien” Almas in Philadelphia. Expect to hear chants of “Johnny Wrestling” throughout Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 27.


MONSTER MATCH: Brock Lesnar will put the WWE Universal Championship on the line in a triple-threat match against Kane and Braun Strowman at the 30th Royal Rumble in Philadelphia on Jan. 28. Entries for the Royal Rumble match thus far are Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura and Elias.


FACEBOOK CHALLENGE: As if WWE doesn’t have enough shows, it will be hosting a mixed match challenge on Tuesday, which will be shown exclusively on Facebook. Fans will reportedly be able to influence the matchups and stipulations on this interactive show. The first matches will occur on Jan. 16.


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