Home runs as Phillies for Pat Burrell, who goes into Phillies Wall of Fame on Friday

The much-maligned Flyers defense has held steady despite the absence Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald, who combine to form the No. 1 pairing. Eric Fisher takes a closer look at Nicklas Grossmann (pictured) and the other defensemen who have stepped up and kept the team afloat.

The news that Kimmo Timonen’s career is probably over inspires Eric Fisher to look back with appreciation at the quietly effective career of one of the best, and classiest, Flyers in franchise history.

Mo’Ne Davis and Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons are the media darlings as the Little League World Series begins. But Eric Fisher says the Dragons’ success or failure should not be played out on national television.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Slamming TNA

Posted by Achilles Heel On June - 28 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe Greek God of Wrestling truly intended to do a Slammiversary preview. But it seems obvious that TNA cares more about “Bell to Bell,” its free offering Wednesday on Destination America, a network that has announced it is canceling Impact Wrestling, than about Sunday’s pay-per-view.

Why should I feature Slammiversary in Heel Turns when TNA doesn’t seem to care about it?

What makes me think TNA cares much more about Bell to Bell than Slammiversary?

There aren’t any title matches during Slammiversary. Bell to Bell features Kurt Angle defending TNA’s World Championship against Ethan Carter III and the final of the best-of-five series for the tag team championship between Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards and the team of Bobby Roode and Austin Aries.

In fact, Richards meets Aries at Slammiversary, with the winner choosing the stipulation for the final match in the best-of-five tag team championship series – a match that already took place.

Yes, you read that correctly. TNA is having a match at Slammiversary to determine the stipulation for a match that was already taped.

Don’t worry. Achilles Heel detests spoilers. I won’t give away the stipulation (or some other spoilers later on in this column). But the logic of TNA – even with all the extenuating circumstances surrounding their television product – defies belief.

TNA didn’t even bother to announce nearly half the Slammiversary card until a few days before the event. The participants in Slammiversary’s main event, a King of the Mountain match, weren’t announced until Thursday, the day after Impact Wrestling aired.

As a service to TNA, the Greek God of Wrestling is letting his legions of readers know that Matt Hardy, Eric Young, Roode and the seemingly forgotten Drew Galloway will join the returning Jeff Jarrett in the King of the Mountain match.

Jarrett’s return on Impact Wrestling this past week was a huge surprise. Jarrett owns Global Force Wrestling, which, in some ways, is trying to compete with TNA. His speech about why he was appearing in TNA was excellent television. Instead of capitalizing on it, however, TNA didn’t give fans any reason for the other wrestlers’ appearance in King of the Mountain.

Furthermore, TNA didn’t even bother to explain the rules for King of the Mountain, although that might be a good thing. The rules for King of the Mountain are so convoluted – they involve a belt hanging above the ring, a ladder, penalty boxes – that explaining the rules might cause people to not watch Slammiversary.

By the way, which belt will be hanging above the ring? There isn’t a championship on the line. At least TNA hasn’t informed us there will be a title on the line. In TNA, that could always change between now and the start of the match.

Other matches thrown together at the last minute include Bobby Lashley and Mr. Anderson batting Carter and Tyrus, and the returning Matt Morgan facing Bram in an angle set up Wednesday during Impact. In matches announced earlier, James Storm meets Magnus in a grudge match, Aries takes on Richards, Kong and Brooke square off with The Dollhouse in a handicapped match, and former partners Jessie Godderz and Robbie E try to settle their differences. Achilles Heel can’t help pointing out that Robbie E beat Godderz three times in six minutes a few weeks ago, so why would fans want to pay to see them wrestle again on pay-per-view?

Adding to TNA’s mess is that more than a few featured wrestlers, including those involved in Slammiversary and Bell to Bell, are leaving TNA this week. Achilles Heel won’t give you the names because some – but not all – of their departures might be part of a storyline with Global Force Wrestling. More importantly, I don’t want to give away spoilers for Slammiversary or Bell to Bell.

Bottom line: TNA is falling apart.


SMACKDOWN IN HERSHEY: WWE will be taping Smackdown on Tuesday in Hershey. Don’t forget WWE will be at Wells Fargo Center on July 10 for a house show.


WWE IN TOKYO: The card has been set for WWE’s July 4th card from Tokyo, which will be available on WWE Network. Finn Balor challenges Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship. Given that WWE has produced a special on Balor and that Owens has moved to WWE’s main roster, expect Balor to win the title.

Other matches include John Cena and Dolph Ziggler teaming up to battle Kane and King Barrett, Brock Lesnar vs. Kofi Kingston, and Neville vs. Chris Jericho. There will also be a triple threat match for the Divas Championship, with Nikki Bella defending against Naomi and Paige. Cesaro will square off with Diego (of Los Matadors) and The Lucha Dragons will meet The New Day’s Big E and Xavier Woods.


OWENS COMING TO VOORHEES: Kevin Owens will appear at the Adventureland Store in the Vorhees Town Center on Sat., July 11. Tickets are required for autographs and photographs.


NO FUTURE: When Charlie Manuel was fired by the Phillies, the Greek God of Wrestling said Manuel would be perfectly suited to be a pro wrestling manager. The same can’t be said of Ryne Sandberg, who resigned as Phillies manager Friday. If he is considering trying to become a professional wrestling manager, the bland Sandberg should re-evaluate that decision as he looks toward his future.


CHIKARA CORRECTION: Achilles Heel rarely makes a mistake. When he does, though, he owns up to it. In the last edition of Heel Turns, I wrote that CHIKARA was going to be in Connecticut and Providence, R.I., this past Thursday and Friday. Upon closer inspection, CHIKARA will be appearing at those locations on July 25-26, which I – actually, one of my assistants – mistakenly read as June 25-26.


PICKING THEIR SPOTS: The Greek God of Wrestling wanted to watch a few episodes of Ring of Honor’s program on Destintion America before rendering a judgment. The jury is still out, but, while the crowd often chants “This is awesome,” I find too many of the matches to be spotfests.

The product is good, but the psychology is sometimes lacking. Earlier this month, I wrote about watching an old tag team match in which Tony Garea got a huge fan reaction by ducking a punch from Jimmy Valiant, who went sailing over the top rope. On a recent interview with Paul Heyman on WWE Network, Stone Cold Steve Austin bemoaned the DDT becoming a transitional move, often with the recipient barely selling the move moments after kicking out of the pinfall attempt.

That’s my one reservation with Ring of Honor. Matches should build to big spots. It shouldn’t be packed wall-to-wall with big spots. Too many big spots without proper setups cause fans to react less and less to big spots in future matches.

Heel Turns: Is Lesnar too dangerous?

Posted by Achilles Heel On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe Beast is back.

That’s good news for WWE fans. But it might not be such good news for other WWE wrestlers.

The intensity Brock Lesnar brings to the ring is incredible. The fans feel it as soon as Lesnar’s music starts. It builds as he jumps around on the stage and rises even higher as he hits the ring.

The intensity of Lesnar’s matches is unequaled. The physical nature of Lesnar’s matches makes them stand out from “normal” matches.

But that’s part of the problem. Although fans might enjoy going to “Suplex City,” being tossed around by The Beast isn’t a lot of fun for his opponents. Now, if you’re in the main event of WrestleMania, you might not mind. But if you’re Jamie Noble, who suffered broken ribs during The Authority’s confrontation with Lesnar on RAW this week and had to be taken to a hospital, Lesnar’s physicality might seem a bit excessive.

Lesnar is supposed to appear dangerous. He’s not supposed to be dangerous.

The Greek God of Wrestling once heard Bret “The Hitman” Hart say the illusion in professional wrestling is to makes moves look like they hurt without hurting your opponent. Lesnar might not be trying to hurt anyone, but his power and intensity are a dangerous combination. Wrestlers are trained to take falls, but how many times can you be tossed around the ring by Lesnar without a bad landing?

The beatings absorbed by John Cena at last year’s SummerSlam and by Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31 were uncomfortable to watch. That, of course, was the point. The SummerSlam match further put Lesnar over as a dominant monster. The storyline in WrestleMania’s main event was that Reigns wouldn’t quit despite the brutality of Lesnar’s onslaught.

Achilles Heel is worried, however, that someone is going to get seriously hurt by Lesnar. Undertaker collapsed after his shocking loss to Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX. Noble sustained broken ribs. I don’t want to see someone suffer a career-ending injury.

As I wrote in the previous edition of Heel Turns, Lesnar’s style is why I initially ignored the possibility of Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out of retirement to face Lesnar, a possibility hinted at toward the end of Austin’s interview with Paul Heyman on WWE Network. There is no way that Austin, who retired due to neck issues, should take multiple suplexes from Lesnar.

It’s also why Achilles Heel didn’t share many fans’ outrage at Daniel Bryan being left out of the main event at WrestleMania. The thought of Bryan, whose career is in jeopardy due to a neck injury and possibly concussion issues, getting thrown around the ring by Lesnar sends a shiver down my spine. And you know Bryan would have insisted on going all out in the WrestleMania main event.

With his suspension lifted, Lesnar is back in the main event picture. He will battle Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground.

The match will be physical. It will be intense. But there’s no need for it to be dangerous.

Lesnar’s reputation is already established. He can keep that reputation without unnecessarily risking his opponents’ health and careers.


BANKING ON SHEAMUS: Sheamus won a terrific Money in the Bank ladder match to secure a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship whenever he chooses. In the spirit of the first item in this edition of Heel Turns, the Greek God of wrestling should point out that, while multiple-person ladder match always involves a significant risk of injury, this ladder match was safer than some of the past Money in the Bank matches. The drama was still present, but the danger was toned down – and that’s a good thing.

One of the positive aspects of the match was that all the participants received an opportunity to shine. The mystery is whether Sheamus will cash in his Money in the Bank opportunity on Rollins. My guess is Sheamus’ attempt to cash in his Money in the Bank contract will somehow cost Brock Lesnar the title, resulting in a Sheamus vs. Lesnar brawl at SummerSlam.

The best match at Money in the Bank was John Cena vs. Kevin Owens. Cena won the rematch, but Owens laid him out after an outstanding match.

Rollins retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in an excellent match against Dean Ambrose. In other matches, the Prime Time Players defeated The New Day to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship, Nikki Bella defeated Paige – with some help from sister Brie – to retain the Divas Championship, and Big Show beat Intercontinental champion Ryback by disqualification. In the kickoff show match, as I was afraid might happen, R-Truth defeated King Barrett.


FAREWELL TO LANDEL: “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel dies Monday at age 53. There are reports that Landel was involved in a car accident over the weekend, although it’s not clear if there is a connection between the accident and his death.

Landel came across as a natural in the ring. He was slated for a feud with the “other” Nature Boy, Ric Flair, but was fired after missing a show during which he was to promote the match. Landel, whose real name was William Ansor, later said he missed the show after a drug binge the previous night. Landel’s career was sidetracked by drug problems. Otherwise, he may have been an even bigger star. Achilles Heel sends his condolences to Landel’s family and friends.


LETHAL WEAPON: Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe at “Best of the World ‘15” to capture the Ring of Honor World Championship. Lethal, the first man to pin Briscoe in two years, also retains his Ring of Honor Television Championship.

In other matches at Best in the World, Roderick Strong defeated Moose and Michael Elgin to become the No. 1 contender for the world title, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian defeated former champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly in a no-disqualification match to retain the tag team titles, and A.J. Styles and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) beat the team of Adam Cole, Matt Taven and Michael Bennett.


JAPANESE RETURNS: After appearing at a pair of sold-out shows with Ring of Honor in May at 2300 Arena, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada and KUSHIDA will return to 2300 Arena for a Ring of Honor event on August 21 and then will be at Field of Honor ’15 the next night at MSU Park in Brooklyn.


JOBBER CENTRAL: If Major League Baseball were professional wrestling, the Phillies would be tremendous jobbers.


POOR PLANNING: TNA’s Slammiversary will take place Sunday, yet only three matches are listed on TNA’s Web site. James Storm battles Magnus, Jessie Godderz faces Robbie E, and Kong and Brooke team up to take on The Dollhouse. There’s no mention of the fifth match of the best-of-five series between Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards and the team of Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. Ethan Carter III is scheduled to pick Kurt Angle’s challenger for the TNA world title on Wednesday on Impact Wrestling (The Greek God of Wrestling hates “spoilers”).

When you only have one pay-per-view to promote, would it be asking too much for TNA to have a complete card to promote less than one week before the event?


TREMONT PREVAILS: Congratulations to Matt Tremont, who defeated Conor Claxton in the finals of the Tournament of Death 14 in Combat Zone Wrestling.

CZW’s next event will be July 11 at 2300 Arena as part of a doubleheader with Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU). The Young Bucks, The Beaver Boys and Team Tremendous will challenge 014K (Jake and Dave Crist) for the CZW Tag Team Championship. Joe Gacy will defend the CZW Wired Championship against the returning Tim Donst, and Nick Gage will receive a rematch against Drew Gulak.


STORMING THE CASTLE: CHIKARA heads to South Windsor, Ct., on Thursday for “Storming the Castle,” a reference to “The Princess Bride,” which featured Andre The Giant. On Friday, Hallowicked defends the Grand Championship against Dasher Hatfield at “The Immaculate Election” in Providence, R.I.

CHIKARA will return to Philadelphia on August 15 with “The Good Life” at The Wrestle Factory on Wingate Street.


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