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Dollars NFL fines Browns rookie QB Johnny Manziel for making obscene gesture

The NFL Draft is very deep in receivers. With the Eagles likely to draft a receiver or two, possibly with their first-round selection, Gordon Glantz provides a preview of potential picks.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Phillies’ inconsistent offense, Carlos Ruiz’s heroics and the life of the late Matthew Saad Muhammad.

The Eagles’ path to the playoffs is simple. They need to keep pace with the Cowboys — or move ahead of them — during their next four games, and then beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Dec. 29.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Storylines boost Battleground

Posted by Achilles Heel On July - 17 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

You can’t have a great pay-per-view without great storylines. The action in the ring is important, but fans need reasons to care about the action. That’s why storylines are crucial.

Storylines give fans reason to care. Storylines are the foundation of great pay-per-views.

Battleground, which takes place Sunday in Tampa, is a perfect example. It took WWE a while to set up the matches to fill out the card, which will be broadcast on WWE Network and select pay-per-view carriers, but it has done a wonderful job of setting up the matches. The fans know why each match is taking place. They have a reason to care who wins each match.

The main event is a fatal four-way for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with John Cena defending the title against Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns. In addition to the title chase, there are multiple storylines within this match.

Orton and Reigns have a rivalry stemming from the feud between Evolution and The Shield. Orton and Cena have a long-running feud. Orton and Kane are supposed to be working together for The Authority, but there have been signs that Kane may be having second thoughts about helping Orton win the championship. Finally, the rivalry between fan favorites Cena and Reigns has been building in recent weeks, with Reigns spearing Cena – accidentally? – at the end of RAW.

Cena should emerge with the championship. None of the other participants winning the title makes sense right now. That takes a little bit of suspense out of the match, but the multi-layered storyline should make this an intriguing main event. The possibility of Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank championship opportunity after the match adds another layer of intrigue.

Rollins will battle former Shield teammate Dean Ambrose in what may be WWE’s hottest current feud. The obvious storyline is that Rollins turned on Ambrose and Reigns to destroy The Shield. But the feud has gained momentum, with Rollins joining Orton and Kane in an attack on Ambrose on RAW this past week and Ambrose preventing Rollins from cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity on several occasions. Either man could win this match, although the only near-certainty is this match won’t end this feud.

The returning Chris Jericho has quickly become embroiled in a feud with Bray Wyatt. It’s still not clear what this feud is about, but the mystery behind the Wyatt Family’s motivation in attacking Jericho is part of the storyline. Jericho may come out on top Sunday, setting up a Wyatt win at SummerSlam.

The Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper and Erick Rowan challenge Jimmy and Jey Uso for the tag team championship in a best-2-out-of-3 falls match. This is a pure wrestling storyline. The Usos defeated Harper and Rowan in a terrific match at Money in the Bank. The chemistry between the two teams is excellent. Giving them time for three falls should produce another tremendous match. Harper and Rowan may return from Battleground with the gold.

Storylines are often lackluster or rushed on undercards. Despite the late announcement of many of these matches, the storylines for Battleground’s undercard are strong.

A.J. Lee defends the Divas Championship against Paige. Paige beat A.J. Lee on the day after WrestleMania. Lee returned the favor by returning and taking the title from Paige the day after Money in the Bank. Paige has been gushing with praise for Lee, even teaming up with her in a tag match. Lee seems wary of the “friendship,” though, which should make for an interesting dynamic at Battleground.

The most surprising storyline involves Rusev and Jack Swagger. Rusev and Lana, his vivacious manager, have been running down the United States while Rusev has been destroying the competition. Swagger, the All-American, turned babyface a few weeks ago when he and manager Zeb Colter confronted Rusev and Lana. Rusev and Lana are generating tons of heat. The surprise is how well the fans have responded to Swagger, who was dying on the midcard without much to do.

There is also a battle royal to determine a new Intercontinental champion. (Wade “Bad News” Barrett had to relinquish the title due to a shoulder injury.) If United States champion Sheamus prevails, he could unify the titles. Other potential winners among the 20 participants are Cesaro, The Miz and Alberto Del Rio. Dolph Ziggler and former champion Big E are also possibilities. Bo Dallas is a dark horse.

Even the preshow match, between Naomi and Cameron, has a storyline. The former Funkadactyls broke up, with Cameron turning heel.

The storylines have been well-established for Battleground. Now it’s up to the wrestlers to deliver the action.

*****

MAJOR SIGNING: WWE scored a coup by signing Japanese start Kenta, which was announced during the WWE’s Osaka stop during its recent tour of Japan. Kenta has been a star for a decade. He reportedly will start out at the WWE Performance Center in Florida.

It will be interesting to see how and when WWE introduces Kenta to its fans. Expect some video packages promoting Kenta before he appears on RAW or Smackdown.

*****

MAKING AN IMPACT: If you’re reading this on Thursday, there’s a loaded edition of Impact Wrestling tonight. Taped in Manhattan, Impact includes Jeff Hardy challenging Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Austin Aries will defend the X-Division title in an eight-man gauntlet match, Bully Ray teams with Tommy Dreamer to take on Ethan Carter III and Rhino, and Bobby Roode and Eric Young battle MVP and Kenny King.

Impact also features the return of TNA’s six-sided ring. As I explained last week, the Greek god of wrestling isn’t in favor of the six-sided ring.

*****

TNA TAKES RISK: TNA has tried to promote itself by bringing MMA fighters into TNA. For the most part, these attempts have made little to no impact, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Now, TNA is reversing the process. TNA world champion Bobby Lashley is going to face Josh Burns in Bellator MMA on Sept. 5. Lashley has a 10-2 record in MMA and Burns is 8-7, but TNA is taking a risk in letting Lashley compete in MMA.

MMA and professional wrestling are two very different occupations. But if Lashley loses to a mediocre fighter, it will hurt his credibility as champion. Furthermore, risking injury wrestling while training for an MMA fight is idiotic. Is Lashley going to be an absentee champion during the month leading up his fight?

*****

CZW RESULTS: “Speedball” Mike Bailey was the opponent chosen for Biff Busick at Combat Zone Wrestling’s New Heights last Saturday (Busick won). Based on Busick’s interference in Drew Gulak’s match earlier in the card, it appears Gulak may soon get a rematch with Busick for the CZW World Championship.

*****

LOOKING TO FUTURE: Ring of Honor will host Future of Honor 2 in Laurel, Del., on Sun., July 27. The main event pits Jay Briscoe against Ring of Honor World Television champion Jay Lethal, but the focus will be on young wrestlers.

*****

TAGGING UP IN PHILLY: When Ring of Honor returns to Philadelphia on Aug. 9, it will treat fans to a tag team match between the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. This will be the first time these teams will meet in Ring of Honor.

Ring of Honor world champion Michael Elgin will defend his title against the winner of Saturday’s six-man gauntlet winner.

*****

NETWORK HIGHLIGHTS: Achilles Heel hopes you took his advice and checked out the WWE Network during the free preview week. Achilles Heel, of course, followed his own advice. I’ll leave you with some of the amazing highlights from the past 7-10 days on WWE Network.

  • The acclaimed special on Warrior, focusing on his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame during what, tragically, turned out to be the final days of Jim Hellwig’s life.
  • The fascinating special on the rise of C.M. Punk from backyard wrestler to WWE champion, which is certain to fuel rumors of Punk’s return to WWE.
  • The WrestleMania 13 match between Bret “Hitman” Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, which features a double turn and ranks as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, match in WrestleMania history.
  • Ric Flair’s emotional Hall of Fame speech in Orlando.
  • The “Legends of Wrestling” roundtables, hosted by Jim Ross. A panel of former wrestlers discuss other wrestlers and tell wonderful stories.
  • The RAW ladder match in 2002 between Undertaker, the WWE champion, and Jeff Hardy. This fantastic match elevated Hardy to main event status.
  • Clash of Champions from Iowa in 1994. Hogan-Flair headlined the card, including a Hogan injury angle that developed throughout the show, but Ricky Steamboat and “Stunning” Steve Austin stole the show with a United States Championship match. Steamboat won the title, but injured his back and was forced to retire after this match.

Heel Turns: Free week of WWE Network

Posted by Achilles Heel On July - 10 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

After last week’s Heel Turns, which featured in-depth reviews of Money in the Bank and an action-packed RAW, the Greek god of wrestling is going to demonstrated his versatility by filling this week’s Heel Turns with numerous shorter items.

In writing, as in wrestling, it’s beneficial if you can adapt to more than one style. Some guys are technicians. Others are brawlers. The best wrestlers excel at both styles. They can match you move for move or be extremely physical.

Versatility also allows them to have terrific matches with a variety of competitors. Think Bret Hart. Or Ric Flair. Or Shawn Michaels. Or Curt Hennig. If you want a more current example, Randy Orton’s ability to brawl and expertly execute moves – along with his impeccable timing – allows him to have programs with just about anyone on the roster.

As a writer, Achilles Heel is proud to place himself at the same level as Hart, Flair, Hennig, Michaels and Orton in the ring.

*****

NETWORK NEWS: Don’t forget this is a free preview week on WWE Network. If you’re a wrestling fan, you should check out the network.

I hope you read this in time to check out the outstanding show about the Ultimate Warrior on Thursday night. There is also a Steve Austin special on Friday. Plus, you can watch Money in the Bank, episodes from the first season of Total Divas and Legends House. And you can always watch past pay-per-views and other past events on demand.

Achilles Heel is nobody’s shill. But I would suggest checking out WWE Network during this free preview week. If you choose not to buy it, that’s your decision. But if you buy three pay-per-views per year, it would cost less to subscribe to WWE Network for one year.

*****

PUNK ON NETWORK: The WrestleMania Rewind show on WWE Network this week focuses on the rise of C.M. Punk in WWE, with a focus on his victories in consecutive Money in the Bank ladder matches.

Is the feature on Punk a clue that he’s going to return to WWE this summer or is the timing of this show a coincidence?

*****

PICKING YOUR BATTLES: In the most recent edition of Heel Turns, I criticized WWE for going to the well one too many times with battle royals. After having a battle royal to determine the United States Heavyweight champion – won by Sheamus – WWE will have a battle royal at Battleground (July 20) to determine who will replace the injured Bad News Barrett as Intercontinental champion.

Now, TNA is having a battle royal on Impact Wrestling tonight (Thursday) to determine the No. 1 contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. The likely winner is Bobby Roode, although Bully Ray, former champ Eric Young or Willow – if he ditches that personality and returns to being Jeff Hardy – are also potential winners.

Achilles Heel wishes “Creative” would be more creative in determining No. 1 contenders and champions. Let’s not go down the battle royal road for at least six more months.

*****

TAKING SIDES: The Greek god of wrestling has been asked frequently about TNA’s return to the six-sided ring. My answer is I don’t like it.

When TNA started, the six-sided ring gave the wrestling a distinct look. You knew you weren’t watching WWE. By this point in the company’s history, it should have developed wrestlers and personalities to the point that a gimmick ring is no longer needed. There are also a bunch of wresting-related reasons the ring is problematic, but I won’t go too deep into “Inside Wrestling” so I don’t confuse you plebians. Going back to the six-sided ring is a mistake.

*****

NEW HEIGHTS: Biff Busick still doesn’t have an opponent for Saturday’s world title defense at Combat Zone Wrestling’s (CZW) New Heights Internet pay-per-view (7:30 p.m.) at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. The Joker had to withdraw, so Busick doesn’t yet know his opponent.

New Heights is part of a doubleheader that also includes Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU) at 4 p.m. The main event of the WSU event (4 p.m.) features LuFisto defending the WSU World Championship against Mickie Knuckles. The CZW portion of the doubleheader will include a four-way tag team championship match, with the champions, Juicy Product, defending against the Beaver Boys, Team Tremendous and 014K. Shawn Strickland will defend the CZW Wired TV Championship against Caleb Konley.

Fans should be aware that the Flyers are hosting a development camp at Skate Zone, so there may be more traffic and parking suggestion than usual.

*****

JERSEY BOYS: CZW isn’t the only wrestling card in South Jersey this weekend. WWE will be in Wildwood at the Wildwood Convention Center on Sunday (7 p.m.). Sheamus, John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt and, yes, Chris Jericho, are advertised for the Wildwood event.

But you can see the Usos without ever leaving Voorhees. The Usos will be at the Adventureland Store in the Voorhees Town Center from noon-2 p.m. Advance purchase of tickets (go to the WWE or Advantureland Store Web site) for autograph and photo opportunities is suggested.

*****

HART ATTACKS: It’s always wonderful to see Bret “The Hitman” Hart, one of Achilles Heel’s all-time favorites, on both RAW and Main Event this week. The heart-felt reception the Montreal crowd gave Hart was awesome.

On both occasions, Hart punched Damien Sandow. On RAW, Sandow was dressed as Bret Hart. On Main Event, which was a loaded show due to the free preview week on WWE Network, Sandow came out dressed as Shawn Michaels and taunted Hart, which caused Hart to slug him and – much to the delight of the Ottawa crowd and Highlight Reel host Chris Jericho, put Sandow in the sharpshooter.

*****

SUMMER HEAT IN PHILLY: Ring of Honor will return to Philadelphia on Aug. 9 for a television taping as part of the Summer Heat tour. The tag team of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian will be at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, as will the Young Bucks and Mark and Jay Briscoe, so expect some terrific tag team action.

*****

CHIKARA TAKES MANHATTAN: CHIKARA will be at Stage 48 in Manhattan on Sat., Sept. 19 (7 p.m.) for “The Living Daylights.” The next night CHIKARA will be Revere, Mass., for “The World is Not Enough.”

*****

STAYING HOME: With a huge typhoon approaching, Achilles Heel decided to skip WWE’s tour of Japan this week. I’ve been there before. There’s no need to go to Japan in supremely lousy weather.

*****

REVISITING THE BASH: One of the more interesting events I saw on WWE Network this past week was the 1989 Great American Bash from Baltimore. And I don’t necessarily mean interesting in the best sense of the word.

The Bash started off with a two-ring battle royal. When a wrestler was eliminated from one ring, they were still alive in the other ring. The last wrestler in each ring were supposed to wrestle for a $50,000 first prize. The winners were Sid Vicious and Danny Spivey, who were teaming up as The Skyscrapers. Manager Teddy Long said Vicious and Spivey would split the money.

The logistical problem is the entire show had to be conducted with two rings. The matches alternated rings, but it was still weird to watch. The undercard was a bit underwhelming, including a match between Jim Cornette and Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman) and a tag team match between The Skyscrapers and the Dynamic Dudes (Johnny “Ace” Laurinaitis and Shane Douglas). But the Bash also included Sting vs. Great Muta, Lex Luger defending the U.S. Heavyweight Championship against Ricky Steamboat and a WarGames match featuring the Road Warriors, Midnight Express and Steve Williams against the Freebirds and Samoan Swat Team. Ric Flair defended the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Terry Funk in the main event.

*****

RAW WRESTLING: This week’s RAW featured two excellent matches. The Jimmy and Jey Uso and the Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper and Erick Rowan produced yet another terrific match. But the best match on RAW was an excellent 20-minute bout between Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose, with Orton pulling out the victory.

*****

BATTLEGROUND LINEUP: More matches have been announced for WWE’s Battleground pay-per-view on Sun., July 20. In addition to the battle royal for the Intercontinental Championship and a fatal four-way between WWE World Heavyweight champion John Cena, Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho will battle Bray Wyatt.

Although not yet on WWE’s Web site at this moment (Thursday), expect to see Rusev against Jack Swagger and Naomi vs. Cameron. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are currently not involved in a match – and you know they won’t be left off the card. A tag team title match could also be in the works.

A full preview will be included in the next edition of Heel Turns.

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