Straight seasons Red Wings have qualified for NHL playoffs

Drew Brees is the best quarterback the Eagles have faced since Peyton Manning, but the Saints have struggled on the road this season and during their postseason history. Who will win Saturday (8 p.m.)? Eric Fisher breaks down the Eagles’ first-round playoff game.

Nobody knows how exactly how the Eagles’ season will play out. But we took our best shot with this tongue-in-cheek look at what Chip Kelly’s first season might look like.

The Greek god of wrestling examines the potential impact of the innovative WWE Network. In addition, Achilles Heel praises Randy Orton, tells us why Ric Flair didn’t attend the 49ers-Panthers game and criticizes TNA for ruining the title unification match between Magnus and A.J. Styles, who will challenge Drew Gulak for the CZW World Championship on Feb. 8.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Busy WrestleMania weekend

Posted by Achilles Heel On March - 29 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Since the next Heel Turns will be replaced by the best darn WrestleMania XXX preview on the Internet, I’ll spend some time this week examining the independent cards taking place in New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend. First, though, we’ll take a quick peek at WrestleMania XXX.

The Greek god of wrestling thinks the WrestleMania XXX card is looking pretty good. Barring another match being added, next weekend’s extravaganza should rise to the standard expected for the biggest wrestling show of the year.

The main event features Randy Orton defending the WWE Heavyweight Championship against Batista and either Triple H or Daniel Bryan, depending on which one wins their earlier match. Joining those two matches among the most anticipated bouts is Undertaker putting his 21-0 WrestleMania record on the line against Brock Lesnar.

Another intriguing bout pits John Cena against Bray Wyatt. The Wyatt Family, which also includes Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, has been playing head games with Cena lately. The scene at the end of an outstanding match between Cena and Luke Harper on RAW – Harper was tremendous in this match – was memorable. An unconscious or semi-conscious Cena, with his arms caught in the ropes, was wearing Rowan’s sheep mask as Rowan, Harper and Wyatt tormented him.

The rest of the card was filled out this past week. Los Matadores and The Real Americans were added to the tag team title match, which is now a four-way that includes Curtis Axel and Ryback and the champion Uso brothers. There will be a six-man tag team match involving The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose) and the team of Kane and the New Age Outlaws (Jesse James, Billy Gunn).

Vickie Guerrero announced that Divas champion A.J. Lee will defend her title against 13 Divas in the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational. Until the rules are explained, I’ll assume this is solely an attempt to get lots of Divas in the ring at the same time. And Achilles Heel isn’t complaining.

With the competitors in the tag team title match removed from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, there are four spots remaining from the 30-wrestler match. Don’t be surprised if (potential spoiler alert) a certain former extreme star fills one of the remaining four spots. Bad News Barrett is also conspicuous by his absence. Achilles Heel will have a breakdown of the battle royal, and all the matches, in his WrestleMania XXX preview.


HARPER EXCELS: As I stated in the opening item, Luke Harper was terrific in his RAW match with John Cena. He executed a dive through the ropes and other athletic moves you don’t expect to see from a man his size. Don’t be fooled by Harper’s appearance. He can wrestle.


BIG NAMES AT WRESTLECON: The largest non-WWE event in New Orleans will be WrestleCon, a combination of matches and wrestling-related events. Big names scheduled to appear are Sting, Kurt Angle, Adam Copeland (Edge), Goldberg and Terry Funk.

The wrestling card, featuring wrestlers from Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, PWG, WildKat and $5 wrestling, takes place Saturday night. The bouts include CZW champion Drew Gulak battling Chris Hero and Ring of Honor’s Michael Elgin in a triple-threat match. Jeff Jarrett takes on Colt Cabana, and Ring of Honor’s Kevin Steen faces Masato Tanaka. CZW owner D.J. Hyde battles former CZW champion Masada in an ultraviolent rules match. Sid Vicious is also scheduled to compete.

WrestleCon includes autograph and photograph sessions, question-and-answer sessions and live entertainment.


LADDER MATCH: Ring of Honor will hold two events in the New Orleans area next weekend. Friday’s Supercard of Honor VIII is headlined by a ladder match between Ring of Honor world champion Adam Cole and Jay Briscoe, the former champ who claims to be the real world heavyweight champion.

Kevin Steen battles Michael Elgin, with the winner earning a shot at the IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada at “War of the Worlds” on May 10 in Toronto. Tommaso Ciampa will defend the Ring of Honor World Television title against Jay Lethal in a best-2-out-of-3-falls match. Other matches include Mark Briscoe vs. Michael Bennett in a no-disqualification match, Roderick Strong vs. Cederic Alexander, and a three-way match featuring former tag team champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) and Hanson and Raymond Rowe, with the winner to receive a tag team title shot against the Young Bucks at War of the Worlds.

Ring of Honor will also do a television taping Saturday. The main event is a six-man tag team match pitting the team of Cole, Bennett and Matt Hardy against Steen and the Briscoe brothers. Both events will be held at the John A. Alario Sr. Event Center in Westwego, La.


EVOLVING IN NEW ORLEANS: EVOLVE and DragonGate will be running shows three straight nights at Tulane University, starting with Thursday night. On Thursday, Chris Hero defnds the EVOLVE Championship against Trent Baretta Other matches Thursday include Johnny Gargano vs. Rich Swann, Ricochet vs. Anthony Nese and Drew Gulak vs. Biff Busick. Green Ant and A.R. Fox also in action.

Hero is back in action Friday for a non-title match against Masato Tanaka. Gargano battles Ricochet for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. There will also be a tag team match pitting Chuck Taylor and Gulak against The Colony’s Fire Ant and Green Ant. Saturday’s event, named Mercury Rising, will feature a six-man tag team tournament.


TRIPLE THREAT: If you were hoping for three straight nights of wrestling closer to home, you’re going to get it during the final weekend of April at the former ECW Arena in South Philadelphia. Extreme Rising will run events on April 25-26, with the Friday “Springtime Beatdown” event having been rescheduled from an earlier date. On Sun., April 27, there will be a Lucha Libre Mexicano event at the same location.


MAIN EVENT: TNA somehow found time between all of its backstage vignettes on Impact Wrestling for a terrific main event between James Storm and Gunner, who won the no-disqualification match. The Greek god of wrestling knows he’s sounding like a broken record, but TNA would benefit from more in-ring action and less backstage crap.


TEAMING UP FOR TRYOUT: Ring of Honor and New Japan Wrestling will be teaming up for a tryout/seminar on May 13-14 in Bristol, Pa. At least one participant will be selected to take part in a Future of Honor event. The seminar will last from 5-10 p.m.. The cost is $250.

These are two one-day seminars. Twenty-six applicants will be selected for each day. Wrestlers must have at least one year of experience in order to attend the seminar/tryout.


SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Ring of Honor’s history of problems with live streaming of of events has been well-documented. Ring of Honor hopes it has found the solution in USStream, which will be streaming Ring of Honor’s joint events with New Japan Wrestling on May 10 in Toronto and May 17 in New York. As I’ve mentioned before, streaming live events is an important revenue source for smaller wrestling organizations. Let’s hope this partnership helps Ring of Honor put its live streaming problems behind it.


WWE BACK IN PHILLY: Coming off shows in Atlantic City and Trenton last weekend, tickets for WWE’s return to Wells Fargo Center on June 22 go on sale today (Saturday).


WWE NETWORK HAS HART: The Greek god of wrestling didn’t have to search for a gem on WWE Network this week. WrestleMania Rewind featured the awesome opening match of WrestleMania X between brothers Bret and Owen Hart. Bret and Owen put on a wrestling clinic, which was surprisingly won by Owen. Later that night, Bret beat Yokozuna to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship.


Heel Turns: Triple H twist adds intrigue

Posted by Achilles Heel On March - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A new twist was added to the WrestleMania XXX match between Daniel Bryan and Triple H this past week. When this match was made, the stipulation was that if Bryan won, he would be added to the WWE Heavyweight Championship match involving Randy Orton and Batista.

This was a terrific idea. But there was one problem with it. Nobody believed that Bryan would lose to Triple H.

Leaving Bryan out of the main event would likely cause the crowd to turn on Orton vs. Batista. Based on his appearances thus far, there is also serious doubt whether Batista could put together a main event-quality match for a pay-per-view, even with someone as talented as Orton.

WWE solved that problem this past week by taking a terrific idea and making it even better.

Triple H announced on RAW that if he beats Bryan at WrestleMania XXX, he will be added to the WWE Heavyweight Championship match. The prospect of a championship match between three former members of Evolution, combined with the history of Triple H screwing Daniel Bryan out of title opportunities, raises the prospects that, by hook or by crook, Triple H might beat Bryan.

The Greek god of wrestling doesn’t think this will happen. The fans want to see Bryan challenge for the title, not Triple H. But the mere prospect of Triple H defeating Bryan adds intrigue to the main event. The stipulation also complicates the relationship between The Authority and Orton – and I mean that in a positive way.

If Bryan defeats Triple H, as he should, fans will anticipate Triple H getting involved in the championship match to avenge the loss of a title shot. The anticipation that Triple H, with sufficient motivation, will try to screw Bryan out of the championship once again adds another layer of intrigue to the main event.


BATTLE ROYAL FILLING UP: Seventeen of the 30 participants in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal have been announced.

Big Show would have to be the favorite. As a giant himself, Big Show would be a fitting winner for the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Achilles Heel refers to it as the inaugural Andre battle royal because I want this to become an annual WrestleMania tradition.

Other participants with a legitimate chance to win are Sheamus, Mark Henry and Alberto Del Rio. Those with an outside shot at winning include Big E, Dolph Ziggler and Christian. Also entered are Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, Fandango, Damien Sandow, Titus O’Neil and 3MB (Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal).


TOURNAMENT TIME: Didn’t you know better than to pick against Stephen F. Austin in your NCAA men’s basketball tournament pools? The Lumberjacks stunned VCU. And that’s the bottom line … because Achilles Heel said so!


TOURNAMENT TIME II: I hope you had Penn State’s David Taylor in your NCAA wrestling pool.


LOW IMPACT: How can TNA only fit four matches into its two-hour Impact Wrestling program. Believe me, the backstage interviews and skits aren’t good enough to justify sacrificing ring action.


WEEPING WILLOW: While I’m criticizing TNA, what is the deal with Jeff Hardy’s Willow character? Everyone knows it’s Hardy under the mask. I’m willing to give the gimmick time, but I don’t understand how this benefits Hardy or is supposed to interest the fans.


YOU SOLD OUT! The return of CHIKARA is still two months away, yet it can already be deemed a success. The Palmer Center in Easton reconfigured the seating to add seating after CHIKARA’s initial May 25 return date sold out – without a single match announced.

CHIKARA also sold out Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago on June 21. To meet the demand, CHIKARA added an afternoon show to go with its sold-out evening show.


WWE WEEKEND: If you’re reading this on Saturday, you may still have time to get to WWE’s house show tonight (March 22) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Bell time is 7:30 p.m. WWE will be at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton on Sunday (5 p.m.).


TURNING POINT? Are all the members of The Shield turning babyface instead of just Roman Reigns? That’s the impression one would get watching them refuse to do Kane’s bidding on RAW.


MATCH OF NIGHT: The best match on RAW, not surprisingly, featured Daniel Bryan battling Randy Orton in a non-title match. Batista’s interference – the match was “no disqualification” – at the end, costing Orton the match, also made perfect sense because Orton nailed him with an RKO at the end of RAW’s opening segment.


IRISH WHIP: Having Sheamus battle Titus O’Neil in a St. Patrick Day’s showdown on RAW made the Greek god of wrestling laugh. For those missing the joke, O’Neil is probably not Irish.


RING FUTURE: Ring of Honor will host Future of Honor on April 18. The event, which presents an opportunity for Ring of Honor prospects to compete before a live audience, will be held in the appropriately named Newville, Pa., which is just a little past Carlisle. Ring of Honor world champion Adam Cole, Jay Lethal and Jay and Mark Briscoe also are scheduled to appear.


MAIN EVENT: I wondered if showing Main Event live on WWE Network would have a negative impact on the show’s ratings on ION on Wednesday nights. This past week, when Undertaker made an appearance, made me realize that the publicity over a match or interview watched live on WWE Network could lead to higher ratings on ION as word of mouth spreads the news about whatever happened.


OLD SCHOOL: Achilles Heel is trying to provide interesting choices to watch on WWE Network. Although this isn’t necessarily a great match, a 1981 tag team match pitting Tony Garea and Rick Martel against “The Unpredictable” Johnny Rodz and “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe provided a glimpse into wrestling’s past.

The main event of house shows often took place in the middle of the card. A co-main event often took place later in the card or, to avoid running into a curfew issue if matches ran long, a match like the aforementioned tag team match would be scheduled at the end of the show.


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