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Goals for Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, tying him with Jakub Voracek for team lead

Two events in less than one week, funding a rescue effort for his friends and spending time with a young boy with cancer, demonstrate why it’s so easy to root for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie doesn’t seem to be making trades to help the team win. He makes trades for injured players and those who will never play for the Sixers. Eric Fisher fears Hinkie has Andrew Bynum Syndrome.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the fallout from the Eagles’ season-opening 3-game winning streak, three young stars with similar-sounding first names and the new-look Chase as it arrives at Dover.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Predictions for 2015

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 3 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelYou missed me. I know.

To be honest, though, the feeling wasn’t mutual.

While walking on beautiful beaches and dining on fabulous food while being surrounded by gorgeous women, which is how I spent most of the final two weeks of 2014, writing Heel Turns to educate you plebeians wasn’t exactly foremost in my masterful mind.

But the Greek God of Wrestling has returned, and I’m refreshed and rejuvenated for 2015.

As long-term readers of Heel Turns know, you don’t have to wait for events to unfold to know what will happen each year. You merely have to read Achilles Heel’s predictions for each year. In 2013, 19 of my 21 predictions came true. I didn’t match that standard for 2014, but about two-thirds of my predictions came true.

What’s going to happen in 2015? The following are 20 predictions for 2015. My track record indicates the overwhelming majority will be accurate.

Roman Reigns will capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, only to have Seth Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank championship opportunity and wrest the title away from him.

The 2300 Arena, which has Ring of Honor and CHIKARA events booked for the weekend of the Royal Rumble and Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore booked for a return engagement on March 7, will re-emerge as one of the premier venues for professional wrestling.

The Undertaker may appear at WrestleMania 31, but he won’t wrestle. (If I were to hedge my bets, which I’m not, I would say Undertaker won’t wrestle in a singles match.)

Despite rumors, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will not wrestle at WrestleMania.

C.M. Punk will find out it’s incredibly difficult to start a Mixed Martial Arts career at age 36.

TNA’s move to Destination America won’t translate into better ticket sales at live events.

A.J. Styles, Drew Galloway (formerly McIntyre in WWE) and Alberto El Patron (formerly Del Rio in WWE) will not sign with either WWE or TNA – at least not until after SummerSlam.

Charlotte will move from NXT to the WWE main roster and win the Divas Championship.

At least one title will change hands during CHIKARA’s April tour of England.

The Miz will turn on Damien Mizdow.

ACH will win a championship, possibly the Ring of Honor World Television title from Jay Lethal, who fended off a challenge from ACH on Oct. 25, 2014.

Luke Harper will be more successful as a singles competitor than former Wyatt Family teammate Erick Rowan.

BLK Jeez won’t be a short-term champion, but he won’t make it past October with the CZW World Championship.

Chris Jericho will appear at the Royal Rumble.

The New Day might win the tag team championship, but the group will not get over with the fans, and will fall apart or break up.

Ring of Honor will find a local television outlet in the Delaware Valley. (I still can’t believe this prediction didn’t come true in 2014, so I’m repeating it for 2015.)

Kane will turn on The Authority before WrestleMania 32. (This is a 15-month prediction)

Stardust will wrestle Goldust, possibly under their real names.

Kevin Owens (formerly Steen) will move up from NXT and make his WWE debut.

My 20th and final prediction for 2015 is guaranteed to come true. I will continue to be handsome and in excellent physical condition, I will continue to enjoy my life of luxury, and I will continue to write the best professional wrestling column on the Internet.

*****

LATE NIGHT: Jeff Jarrett’s new organization, Global Force Wrestling, is co-promoting a show with New Japan Wrestling. If you can get the New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 9 pay-per-view live (it’s not available everywhere), it will begain at 2 a.m. Saturday night. Jim Ross and Matt Striker are the English broadcast team.

There are a ton of titles on the line. The main event features Hiroshi Tanahashi battling challenger Kazuchika Okada in a continuation of their heated rivalry for the International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) Heavyweight Championship.

Shinsuke Nakamura squares off with Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows face Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, while Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly defend the IWGP Junionr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), the team of Alex Shelley and Kushida, and the team of Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov. In yet another title match, Kenny Omega (Kenny Dykstra, Kenny of The Spirit Squad) faces Ryusuke Taguchi.

When you have that many title matches at one event – and, believe it or not, I skipped one title match – it devalues the importance of all of the championships. A title change won’t mean as much if there are two or three of them on one show.

Thankfully, there are also some non-title bouts. A.J. Styles battles Tesuya Naito. In one of them. There is also an eight-man tag team match with Shelton Benjamin, Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer on one of the teams and a six-man tag team match involving Jarret, with his wife, Karen Jarrett (formerly Kurt Angle’s wife), at ringside.

*****

BRYAN READY TO RUMBLE: Daniel Bryan gave a rousing promo on this past Monday’s RAW in which, after teasing he might have to retire, he announced he participate in the Royal Rumble on Jan. 25 in Philadelphia. Roman Reigns has also announced he will be in the Rumble. Regardless of the other 28 participants, Bryan and Reigns have to be considered two of the favorites to win.

*****

TNA RETURNS: TNA returns to television Wednesday night (9 p.m.) with an (almost) live edition of Impact Wrestling on the Destination America channel. The main event will be a rematch between TNA World Heavyweight champion Bobby Roode and former champion Bobby Lashley.

TNA is taping multiple weeks of television from Wednesday to Friday at the Manhattan Center in New York City. Thursday’s matches will include Matt and Jeff Hardy against The Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards). Friday will be a taping of Lethal Lockdown, which will be broadcast on free television for the first time. Lethal Lockdown features every match inside a steel cage. Achilles Heel has never been a fan of Lethal Lockdown for reasons similar to his criticism of all the championship matches at the New Japan Wrestle Kingdom show. When you have that many cage matches, they lose their impact. All the gimmick matches – even though they were different – had the same effect on the crowd at TLC (and stairs) last month.

If you are interested in attending, there are plenty of tickets available for the Manhattan Center shows. A look at Ticketmaster’s Web site show (as of Saturday) a few rows available in the first level and about half the balcony is open. There are more tickets available for Wednesday night, and many more for Thursday night.

*****

JEEZ DEFENDS TITLE: BLK Jeez, who won the Combat Zone World Heavyweight Championship last month in a four-way match at Cage of Death, defends the title next Saturday (Jan. 10) against former champion Sozio during “To Live is To Die” at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees.

Other announced matches include Pepper Parks and “The Greek God” Papadon challenging O14K for the tag team titles,  the Beaver Boys against Team Tremendous, and “Speedball” Mike Bailey taking on Alex Colon.

*****

RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: Ring of Honor has announced one match for its Jan. 24 event at 2300 Arena (former the ECW Arena) in Philadelphia. The Bullet Club (A.J. Styles and Matt and Nick Jackson) will square off with ACH, Matt Sydal and Cedric Alexander in what should be an action-packed match. The semifinals and finals of “The Top Prospect Tournament,” which starts tonight (Saturday) in Nashville, will also take place in Philadelphia.

*****

CHIKARA TITLE ON LINE: As is the case with Ring of Honor, CHIKARA has announced one match for its Jan. 25 event at 2300 Arena. Icarus will defend the Grand Championship against Chuck Taylor.

With CHIKARA, Ring of Honor and WWE’s Royal Rumble all taking place within just a little more than 24 hours, it’s going to be quite a weekend of wrestling in South Philadelphia!

Heel Turns: Time for some TLC

Posted by Achilles Heel On December - 13 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelFor those of you not watching the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night – or looking for a pregame activity not related to football – WWE presents TLC on Sunday night.

If you’re watching the Eagles-Cowboys game, you can always watch TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) at a later time on WWE Network. That’s one of the advantages of WWE Network. You just have to be vigilant about maintaining a media blackout on the results, which should be a lot easier to do with TLC than it would be with the Eagles-Cowboys game.

TLC has the potential to be a terrific show or a mediocre show. A lot will depend on the Cleveland crowd and its interest in the non-main event matches. All the matches have storylines supporting them. It’s up to the wrestlers to draw the fans into the matches.

There are two main events at TLC. Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt clash in a TLC match, the match that gives the event its name. In the co-main event, John Cena battles Seth Rollins in a tables match.

The problem with the Cena-Rollins match is the stipulation doesn’t make sense. No, not the stipulation that the first one to put his opponent through a table wins. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that Cena will lose his No. 1 contender status if Rollins wins.

First, how many people even knew Cena was the No. 1 contender? If WWE consistently referred to rankings and only the No. 1 contender received title shots at pay-per-views, the stipulation would make sense. Furthermore, there’s nothing for Rollins to gain. He doesn’t automatically become the No. 1 contender. Besides, he already can get a title shot whenever he wants – if he can find WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar – because he was the Money in the Bank winner.

The stipulation for Wyatt and Ambrose makes more sense. Both guys are crazy. Having a TLC (tables, ladders and chairs are all legal) makes perfect sense for two guys who, as the late, great Gorilla Monsoon used to say, are a few cards short of a full deck.

Two matches feature enormous men and foreign objects. Ryback and Kane square off in a chairs match. Obviously, chairs are legal. Big Show and Erick Rowan face off in, to the best of my knowledge, the first stairs match, in which it’s legal to use the ring steps as a weapon.

Three championships are on the line at TLC. Dolph Ziggler tries to regain the Intercontinental Championship from Luke Harper in a ladders match that has a chance to steal the show. As is the case too often in WWE, Harper’s invincibility has been destroyed since winning the championship. He’s lost by disqualification or been pinned in tag team situations far too frequently since winning the title in November. But Harper is a surprisingly agile big man. He and Ziggler could produce a tremendous match.

The Divas Championship is on the line when Nikki Bella defends against former champion A.J. Lee. The entertaining team of Damien Mizdow and The Miz defend the tag team belts against Jimmy and Jey Uso. I don’t expect a title change in either match, with Naomi, Jimmy Uso’s wife, likely to be involved in the finish.

In the only match without foreign objects, Jack Swagger tries to get revenge on Rusev for an attack on Zeb Colter, Swagger’s advisor. This is a resurrection to the feud these two had during the summer. The only way this match makes sense is if Swagger beats Rusev, but what sense would it make to slow down Rusev’s push? In the kickoff match at 7:30 p.m., former tag team champions Stardust and Goldust take on Kofi Kingston and Big E of The New Day, which also includes Xavier Woods.

TLC could be a lot of fun or it could just be OK. Achilles Heel has the feeling there will be plenty of action Sunday night, just as there will be at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

*****

COMBAT IN A CAGE: Combat Zone Wrestling has a tremendous card lined up for Cage of Death XVI on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. The event is also available as an Internet pay-per-view.

In the main event, which will take place inside the Cage of Death, Sozio defends the CZW Heavyweight Championship against Blk Jeez and former champions Drew Gulack and Biff Busick. The tag team championship will be on the line when O14K (Jack and Dave Crist) defend the titles against The American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards). Shane Strickland will defend the CZW Wired Championship against “Chainsaw” Joe Gacy.

Other matches include a Norman Smiley Memorial Bunkhouse Brawl Ultraviolent Food Fight of Life and Death (Achilles Heel can’t make this stuff up), a grudge match between CZW owner D.J. Hyde and Chris Dickinson, and a 6-man scramble match involving AR Fox, Alex Colon, Caleb Konley, Jonathan Gresham, David Starr and “Speedball” Mike Bailey.

In a nice touch, fans are requested to bring unwrapped toys to Cage of Death to support the Toys for Tots program.

*****

WRESTLING REVOLUTION: The Greek God of Wrestling implores you to go out of your way to watch NXT Takeover: R Evolution on WWE Network. There were some amazing performances by wrestlers who should be a big part of WWE’s future.

The main event between Adrian Neville and challenger Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship deserves its own space. In fact, if TLC weren’t this Sunday, the Neville-Zayn match and the significance and excellence of the NXT event would have led Heel Turns.

The Neville-Zayn match was among the best of 2014. Not just in NXT. Anywhere. The storyline was that Zayn is a tremendous wrestler who can’t win the big match. There was a lot of action and several ref bumps. In this case, the ref bumps made sense. Despite the temptation, Zayn refused to take advantage of the ref bumps. In the end, Zayn won the title. They teased a heel reaction from Neville before he hugged Zayn to congratulate him (more on this in a moment.).

Charlotte produced yet another outstanding match, this time beating Sasha Banks. Charlotte has a chance to be one of the best woman wrestlers in WWE history. And it won’t be because she’s Ric Flair’s daughter. It will be because of her excellence.

The tag team of Finn Balor and Hideo Itami defeated The Ascension, with Balor, the former Prince Devitt, looking like a superstar. There were three other matches as well, including Kevin Owens, known as Kevin Steen in Ring of Honor, opening the show with a victory over C.J. Parker in his NXT debut.

Owens came out at the end of the show to congratulate Zayn, who crossed paths with him many times on the independent circuit when Zayn wrestled as El Generico. Owens hugged Zayn, raised his hand and walked up the ramp with him. But then he launched a vicious attack on Zayn, leaving the new champion laid out at the close of an exceptional show.

*****

DEL RIO TO RING OF HONOR: Alberto Del Rio, rechristened Alberto El Patron, begins a string of appearances for Rink of Honor on Jan. 3 in Nashville, Tenn. As of now, Del Rio’s appearance schedule does not include the Jan. 24 event at the 2300 Arena, where Del Rio made a surprise appearance last month at Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore event.

*****

RECURRING DREAMER: After a wild successful House of Hardcore VII at the 2300 Arena (former the ECW Arena), Tommy Dreamer will return to the 2300 Arena for House of Hardcore VIII on March 7.

*****

CHIKARA RETURNS: CHIKARA, which closed its year out with “Tomorrow Never Dies” last weekend at the 2300 Arena, will kick off its ambitious 2015 schedule at the 2300 Arena on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. The timing is important because the Royal Rumble takes place at Wells Fargo Center later that evening. You can catch CHIKARA at 2 p.m. and then head to the Royal Rumble as part of a South Philly wrestling doubleheader.

CHIKARA will also be involved in the National Pro Wrestling Day free event that will take place at the Greater Norristown PAL Gymnasium on Feb. 8. CHIKARA will be in North Carolina and Virginia on March 7-8 before going to England for several shows in early April. CHIKARA returns to Easton on May 24.

*****

ACHILLES HEEL SPEAKS, WWE LISTENS: In last week’s Heel Turns, the Greek God of Wrestling wrote that he’d love to see episodes of Tuesday Night Titans (TNT), a campy talk show featuring WWF wrestlers in a Tonight Show-style setting, on WWE Network. Guess what programming WWE Network added to its on-demand section last week? Yes, episodes of TNT.

 

*****

SLAMMING SLAMMYS: The Greek God of Wrestling was disappointed by this year’s Slammy Awards, which was part of RAW last week. Assuming the voting is legitimate, Achilles Heel was disappointed by the voting.

Team Cena vs. Team Authority at Survivor Series was a tremendous match, but it should have won match of the year. The match of the year was Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXX in a triple threat match that also included Batista.

And how could Roman Reigns win superstar of the year, but lose out to Dean Ambrose for breakout star of the year? And there’s no way the Rock’s verbal assault on Rusev and Lana was the insult of the year. Lana’s initial attack on President Obama was much better. If we’re going to stick to wrestling, Paul Heyman’s “rap” toward John Cena was much more deserving of a Slammy than the Rock’s performance.

The most poignant moment was Ultimate Warrior winning the surprise return of the year, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and appearing at WrestleMania and RAW in the days before his tragic death.

It’s interesting to note that Cena did not win an award. Heyman, the best interview in WWE, didn’t win an award, but he should be considered part of the most shocking moment award, which was Brock Lesnar’s WrestleMania victory over the Undertaker.

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