Why? Achilles Heel doesn’t owe you an explanation. You don’t get to choose the content for Heel Turns, the best wrestling column on the Internet.
To be pleasant, I’ll give you a reason anyway. WWE is going to dominate the discussion leading up to WrestleMania 31. This was the final opportunity to devote a column mostly to the independent promotions. For those who can’t go without their WWE fix, there are a few notes at the end of this column.
Philly gets hardcore once again Saturday when Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore VIII comes to 2300 Arena (formerly known as the ECW Arena).
The last House of Hardcore show at 2300 Arena drew rave reviews, which may be why all the reserved seats for Saturday’s show are sold. As of Friday morning, general admission seats still remain, so, as “Mean” Gene Okerlund used to say, “Get your tickets now! Don’t you dare miss it!”
For those who can’t get to 2300 Arena, the show is also available on Internet pay-per-view. For more details, go to the House of Hardcore Web site. (As the Greek God of Wrestling has warned before, go to houseofhardcore.net, NOT .com – unless you’re looking for a very different experience.)
Saturday’s show is highlighted by a pair of tag team matches that should deliver fantastic action. Team 3D (Bubba Ray and D-Von) battles Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian). In the other tag team match, the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), who are making quite a reputation for themselves while appearing as a special attraction for numerous organizations, will square off with two of TNA’s best, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode.
The spirit of ECW will be alive and well as TNA’s Eric Young and Tommy Dreamer take part in a South Philly Street Fight. Matt Hardy, Carlito and Lance Hoyt will engage in a Three-Way Dance. In a match added this past week, Rhino will face Eddie Kingston in what should be a very physical match.
Others scheduled to appear include Mikey Whipwreck, Velvet Sky, Tone Nese and Matt Striker. The pre-show meet-and-greet includes the former WWE Divas known as Kelly Kelly – an Achilles Heel favorite – and Melina; Magnum T.A.; Mike Rotundo; Lanny Poffo; and former referee Earl Hebner.
Dreamer’s last show at 2300 Arena set the bar extremely high. It will be interesting to see if House of Hardcore VIII can approach the standard set by the previous show.
HONOR IN BALTIMORE: If you want to venture further South than 2300 Arena, Ring of Honor is having a television taping at the William J. Myers Pavilion in Baltimore on Saturday (6 p.m.).
Samoa Joe, the longest reigning world champion in Ring of Honor history, returns to face Kyle O’Reilly, one half of the tag team champions. Mark Briscoe, filling in for the injured Tommaso Ciampa, will battle A.J. Styles. Moose, who defeated Briscoe this past Sunday at Ring of Honor’s 13th Anniversary show, squares off with Caprice Coleman.
There will be an autograph signing event from 5-6 p.m., with Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles and the Young Bucks scheduled to appear.
YOUNG BUCKS DOUBLEHEADER? Saturday will be a busy night for the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). They are scheduled to sign autographs and wrestle at Ring of Honor’s television taping in Baltimore, and then face Austin Aries and Bobby Roode at Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore VIII at 2300 Arena.
The Young Bucks are lucky the snowstorm that hit the Mid-Atlantic on Thursday didn’t arrive 24-36 hours later.
WWE IN ALLENTOWN: While going through this weekend’s shows, let’s sneak in a quick WWE note. WWE will be at Allentown’s PPL Arena on Sunday (3 p.m.).
CAROLINA ON THEIR MIND: CHIKARA also avoided the worst of the inclement weather. CHIKARA is in North Carolina this weekend for shows on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday in “Out on a Limb” in Gibsonville, Devastation Corporation defends the tag team championships against The Osirian Portal, Icarus teams up with “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti to battle Frightmare and Silver Ant, and Chuck Taylor takes on Trevor Lee.
At “Altar Egos” in Norfolk on Sunday, Icarus defends the Grand Championship against Nokken, Hallowicked faces Oleg the Usurper, and UltraMantis Black battles Volgar. This is CHIKARA’s final show before embarking on a four-show tour of the United Kingdom the first week of April.
CHIKARA EASTON DATES: CHIKARA will return to Easton for two marquee events. CHIKARA’s anniversary show is on May 24. CHIKARA will return to Easton during Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-6) for King of Trios.
TNA’S DESTINATION: TNA will tape more episodes of Impact Wrestling from March 13-16 at Universal Studios in Orlando. It’s difficult to preview the tapings without giving away the results of matches which have already been taped but haven’t been on TV yet. If you’re reading this on Friday, tonight’s Impact Wrestling features Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode and Eric Young battling in a No. 1 contender’s match for a shot at Bobby Lashley’s world title, Taryn Terrell defending the Knockouts Championship against Awesome Kong, and Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards try to recapture the tag team titles from James Storm and Abyss.
YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to Flyers Skate Zone next Saturday (March 14) for “Déjà vu.” Danny Havoc and Devon Moore will challenge Dave and Jake Crist for the tag team titles they retained against The Young Bucks, Matt Tremont will battle Stockade in a No Ropes Barbed Wire match, and Sozio will face Eric Corvis.
BUILDING TOWARD WRESTLEMANIA: Kane and Big Show have been added to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31. The budding tension between Kane and Big Show, which the Greek God of Wrestling told you about before it started to happen, could boil over at WrestleMania.
Luke Harper and, apparently, Stardust, have been added to the Intercontinental Championship equation. Wade Barrett will defend the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania in a multi-wrestler ladder match.
Achilles Heel loves the slow build the matches at WrestleMania receive. I’ll probably have more on this next week.
IT SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES: WWE Network took me on a trip down memory lane this past week, reminding the Greek God of Wrestling of some of the best and worst of professional wrestling’s past.
On the positive side, I caught an episode of TNT, a campy WWE talk show hosted by Vince McMahon. (Achilles Heel suggested WWE put TNT on its network, and the WWE complied with one week.)
The TNT episode was prior to the first WrestleMania. The guests included the trip of Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff and Bob Orton Jr., tag team champions Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham and Intercontinental champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. But the segment that stood out was the opening one with Andre the Giant.
After McMahon said several times that some have suggested Andre had a yellow streak because he refused to put anything of his own up against the $15,000 Bobby Heenan put for the Body Slam Challenge with Big John Studd at WrestleMania, Andre gets up and angrily grabs McMahon by the shirt collar before walking out on the interview. That segment beautifully built to the WrestleMania match, with the jovial gentle giant, who wouldn’t turn heel for another two years, flashing anger and intensity.
IT SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES II: Then there was the bad side of memory lane. The Clash of Champions: Fall Brawl from 1991 was a reminder of a down period in WCW. Ric Flair had left the company, but that wasn’t the only problem with WCW.
The Clash opened with a “Georgia Brawl,” which was basically a battle royal. Almost everyone had a gimmick. One of the more ridiculous and unnecessary gimmick were the name changes associated wrestlers who joined The (Alexandra) York Foundation. Terry Taylor became Terrence Taylor, Bobby Eaton became Sir Robert Eaton, Tommy Rich became Thomas Rich, etc. If you still don’t believe me, I cite as evidence Firebreaker Chip, who gimmick was that he was a firefighter. The Greek God of Wrestling rests his case. The highlight of the Georgia Brawl was a brawl outside the ring between Stunning Steve Austin and Barry (one of the few guys without a nickname) Windham after both men had been eliminated.
The winner of the Georgia Brawl was El Gigante. His match-winning double clothesline to One Man Gang and Oz (Kevin Nash, billed as being from the Emerald City, with white-blond hair and fluorescent green full-legged trunks) was so bad that Nash practically had to throw himself over the top rope. Listed at 7-foot-7, El Gigante, who later stunk up WrestleMania IX against Undertaker, almost made The Great Khali look like Rey Mysterio.
Another case of an unnecessary rebranding was Scott Hall, who had already had success in the AWA, being called “The Diamond Studd.” Positives from the Clash were a surprise appearance by Cactus Jack, who brawled with Sting twice, the Austin-Windham brawl, interviews by Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman) and promotional videos featuring Ron Simmons. Even the great Jim Ross, who was the lead broadcaster, couldn’t shine this turd.