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Consecutive playoff series won by Penguins

The Greek God of Wrestling says the most intriguing element of Impact Wrestling’s Bound for Glory might be the appearance of Alberto El Patron, who isn’t scheduled to wrestle. Achilles Heel also praises WWE’s plans for the 25th anniversary of Raw, updates the Survivor Series teams and tells you where Jimmy Jacobs will make his in-ring return.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Sixers’ pursuit of the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, why this should also be a good draft week for the Flyers, and reports that Nelson Agholor had a good minicamp.

Heisman Trophy candidate Saquon Barkley (pictured) has Penn State in the national championship discussion this season. Temple and Villanova try to continue their success under new head coaches, Penn tries for a share of a third straight Ivy League championship, and Delaware tries to turn its fortunes around with a new head coach.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Fastlane could be sleeper show

Posted by Achilles Heel On March - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Fastlane, the WWE’s final single-brand pay-per-view (at least for now), could be a sleeper show.

The Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t mean it will be a bad show. Fastlane – which should be two words – could be a sleeper because despite some of the matches seemingly being thrown together at the last minute, it could be a terrific wrestling show.

The main event Sunday (WWE Network, 8 p.m.) features AJ Styles defending the WWE Championship in a six-pack challenge against John Cena, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. This match features an interesting dynamic. Styles is the only true fan favorite in the match, with Cena, at best, getting a mixed reaction.

There is also an interesting dynamic between Owens and Zayn. Zayn had promised to lay down for Owens during this match, but he nailed Owens with a helluva kick on Smackdown to win a match that included everyone from the six-pack challenge except Cena. Achilles Heel wouldn’t be shocked to see Zayn lay on the mat for Owens at the start of the Fastlane match, only to have other competitors break it up. Will Owens and Zayn work together or will they turn on each other?

The six-pack challenge should be a fun match, but Styles should emerge with the championship. That would keep the WrestleMania title match as Styles vs. Nakamura, which is the match the most fans want to see.

The Usos and the New Day have revived their tag team rivalry, with Jimmy and Jey defending the Smackdown Tag Team Championship at Fastlane. Regardless of what happens, and the Greek God of Wrestling sees the Usos retaining, this should be a terrific match.

Charlotte Flair defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Ruby Riott. Flair should retain the title, but the Greek God of Wrestling envisions some sort of twist at the end. Could Bobby Roode, Flair’s partner in the Mixed-Match Challenge on Facebook, come to her aid? Could Royal Rumble-winner Asuka, who has never declared which women’s title she will challenge for at WrestleMania, show up and declare herself a challenger for Flair’s title?

Bobby Roode defending the United States Championship against Randy Orton should be an entertaining match between two fan favorites. In an odd way, Orton, the challenger, should elevate the champion in this match. The only downside is that interference by Jinder Mahal seems inevitable.

Other matches include Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev and a tag team match between Becky Lynch and Naomi and the team of Natalya and Carmella. Nakamura, who has a title shot at WrestleMania due to his Royal Rumble victory, should win, but Rusev should be kept strong. The women’s match, with excellent workers Natalya and Lynch involved, should be good, although fans will need a reason to care.

The bottom line is that, despite very little buildup for some of the matches, Fastlane could be a tremendous wrestling show.

*****

ACTION-PACKED ANNIVERSARY: Ring of Honor’s 16th anniversary show from Las Vegas on Friday was certainly an eventful show. In the main event, Dalton Castle defeated Jay Lethal to retain the Ring of Honor World Championship. Marty Scurll will be Castle’s next challenger at Supercard of Honor XII in New Orleans the night before WrestleMania.

The Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship changed hands, with Jay and Mark Brisco defeating Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley. The Ring of Honor Trios Championship also changed hands, with Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky beat Adam Page and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson).

There were also several surprise appearances at the anniversary show. After Kenny King retained the Ring of Honor Television Championship against Silas Young, Austin Aries came out on the ramp. Aries, carrying several belts, including the Impact Wrestling World Championship, said he’s the “belt collector” and he’s coming for the Ring of Honor Television Championship, which he’s never won.

Having the Impact Wrestling champion appear on a Ring of Honor show is surprising, but equally surprising was what happened after Cody Rhodes defeated Matt Taven. Bury the Bear, who has been cheering for Rhodes, was revealed to be Kenny Omega, who attacked Rhodes. The Omega-Rhodes feud is being built up through Ring of Honor and in Japan. Rhodes will face Omega at Supercard of Honor on April 7.

*****

ROUSEY GETS ROWDY: The introduction of Ronda Rousey into WWE has been handled extremely well. From her surprise appearance at the end of the Royal Rumble to the contract signing at Elimination Chamber to the events at Raw the past two weeks, fans have received a tease of Rousey without seeing her in a match. That is being saved for WrestleMania.

Rousey’s debut at WrestleMania is a match three years in the making. She will team with Kurt Angle, currently the Raw general manager, to face the husband-and-wife team of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Rousey came to the ring at the behest of The Rock at WrestleMania 31 and hip-tossed Triple H and put an arm-bar on Stephanie. Don’t expect a mat classic from this group at WrestleMania 34, but this should be an entertaining match.

*****

SOMETHING TO PROVE: If you’re reading Heel Turns on Saturday, you still have time to get to Combat Zone Wrestling’s “Proving Grounds” tonight at the Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees, N.J. The main event is a Tangled Web match between Matt Tremont and the quick-rising Brandon Kirk. In addition, the REP will defend the CZW Tag Team Championship against the Awakening, Joey Janela will battle Ace Romero and there will be a contract signing involving CZW world champion Rickey Shane Page and CZW Wired champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman for a match at Best of the Best 17.

*****

SWANN SONG? Rich Swann will not be appearing at CZW’s “Proving Grounds. In fact, Swann has reportedly canceled all of his upcoming appearances due to fan reaction from an alleged domestic assault incident last year. The incident led to his release from WWE. There is speculation that Swann will retire from wrestling. Given all that he overcame to reach WWE – Swann was homeless and had some difficult circumstances to overcome – Achilles Heel thinks it is unfair to define Swann by one incident and hopes that he overcomes this hurdle as well and continues his wrestling career.

*****

CHAMBER MUSIC: Roman Reigns won the first seven-man elimination chamber match at WWE’s Elimination Chamber. With the victory, Reigns earns a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania. That title is held, of course, by Brock Lesnar.

Braun Strowman was the star of the men’s elimination chamber match, eliminating every competitor until being eliminated by Reigns. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor were excellent during this match.

Alexa Bliss won the first women’s elimination chamber match. Bliss took advantage of Sasha Banks turning on Bayley after they had worked together for much of the match.

Other results included Cesaro and Sheamus successfully defending the Raw Tag Team Championship against Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews, Asuka defeating Nia Jax, Matt Hardy beating Bray Wyatt, and, in the kickoff match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson topping Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.

*****

HULKING UP: Hulk Hogan was a special guest at Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla., on Friday. In an interview at Spectrum Field, Hogan reminisced about wrestling at The Spectrum before Philly’s rabid wrestling fans. Hogan had some incredible matches at The Spectrum, including matches with Andre the Giant and then-WWF champion Bob Backlund during Hogan’s early years as a heel.

*****

TITLE CHANGES: There were two title changes on Impact Wrestling’s “Crossroads” on Thursday. Matt Sydal, who already was the Impact Grand Champion, defeated Taiji Ishimori to capture the X Division Championship. Allie defeated Laurel Van Ness to win the Knockouts Championship.

In the main event, Austin Aries beat Johnny Impact to retain the Impact Wrestling World Championship.

*****

AROUND THE WORLD: WWE is putting more of the “world” in its World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE announced major events in Saudi Arabia and Australia. WWE will present “the Greatest Royal Rumble” at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Fri., April 27. This Rumble will feature 50 WWE wrestlers. Lost in the announcement of the event is that this is part of a 10-year contract between WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority, as reported by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, rather than a one-time event.

WWE also announced during Raw this past week that it will be holding a huge stadium show in Australia in October, with speculation that it will be at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has the capacity to hold more than 100,000 fans. Ronda Rousey, who headlined a UFC event in Melbourne, is likely to be a major part of the marketing for the Australia show.

*****

ALL IN: The Sears Center Arena in Hoffman States, Ill., will be the site for “All In “ show on Sept. 1. This is a much-publicized show because the purpose is to prove that Ring of Honor talent can sell out a 10,000-seat arena. Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) are reportedly self-financing the event, a reaction to the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer replying “not any time soon” when asked if Ring of Honor could sell out an arena with 10,000 fans.

*****

YOUNG LIONS: CHIKARA will hold the first stage of its Young Lions Cup XIV next Saturday (3 p.m.) at The Wrestle Factory. Sixteen rookies enter the tournament to crown the next Cup champion.

CHIKARA has also announced that King of Trios, its biggest event of the year, will be held in Easton from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

*****

CRUISERWEIGHT TOURNAMENT: The semifinals of WWE’s 205 Live! Cruiserweight Championship Tournament will pit Cedric Alexanders against Roderick Strong in one semifinal, and Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak in the other semifinal. There is enough doubt about the winner in each match to add drama to what should be outstanding action. The tournament final will be held at WrestleMania.

*****

FISH INJURED: Bobby Fish injured his knee at a house show, reportedly suffering injuries to his ACL and MCL. With Fish sidelined, there is a question concerning what will happen to the NXT Tag Team Championship held by Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, his Undisputed Era stablemate. The winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic were supposed to face Fish and O’Reilly at the NXT Takeover show in New Orleans. The Greek God of Wrestling won’t spoil the news for you, but he will say that Fish’s injury has implications for both the tag team tournament and the NXT Takeover show the night before WrestleMania.

Heel Turns: Process of elimination

Posted by Achilles Heel On February - 25 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

The road to WrestleMania heats up Sunday (8 p.m., WWE Network) with Elimination Chamber, an event featuring both a men’s and women’s elimination chamber match.

With Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura choosing to face WWE champion AJ Styles at WrestleMania, the winner of the men’s elimination chamber match Sunday will face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania.

More than half of the seven-man field could conceivably face Lesnar at WrestleMania, which adds to the intrigue of this match. Let’s start by eliminating The Miz and Elias from contention. There is zero chance that Elias vs. Lesnar will be the WrestleMania Universal Championship match. With Miz holding the Intercontinental Championship, a champion vs. champion match doesn’t make much sense, either.

The other five men all would make sense as a WrestleMania challenger for the Universal Championship. John Cena would be trying to set the record, according to WWE, for the most world championships. He is currently tied with Ric Flair with 16 world titles. Cena would also be seeking retribution for the beating he took from Lesnar in their one-sided championship match at SummerSlam in 2014.

Braun Strowman has been chasing Lesnar since last summer. The Monster Among Men, as Strowman is called, has been able to physically dominate Lesnar on several occasions – often in multi-wrestler title match – but Lesnar has been able to escape with the title. Strowman getting Lesnar in a one-on-one title match at WrestleMania would be a huge match.

The other logical choice to win the title would be Roman Reigns. He has been the top wrestling on RAW for at least the past year. The last time Reigns face Lesnar for a championship at WrestleMania, Set Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank Championship to make it a triple threat match, with Rollins capturing the WWE Championship.

Rollins is more of a longshot in this match, but he shouldn’t be discounted, especially after his impressive performance during the gauntlet match on Raw this past Monday. Another wrestler with an outside shot of earning the title shot at WrestleMania is Finn Balor. He was the first WWE Universal champion, but had to relinquish the title due to a shoulder injury suffered in the tournament final against Rollins. Balor trying to regain the Universal Championship that he never lost in the ring would be a natural storyline.

A Rollins or Balor victory would be surprising, but both are certainly possible. Given the months of buildup, Strowman would seem to be the logical choice as top contender. Cena also works as the WrestleMania challenger, although I think WWE has something else in store for Cena at WrestleMania. The Greek God of Wrestling thinks it’s the right time to pull the trigger on making Reigns the top challenger. Reigns has demonstrated on Raw that he can have terrific matches with wrestlers of all different styles. He should be the man to challenge – and defeat – Lesnar at WrestleMania.

A WrestleMania title shot isn’t on the line in the first-ever women’s elimination chamber match Sunday, which follows the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble in January, but the RAW Women’s Championship is on the line. Alexa Bliss will be trying to survive with her title against challengers Bayley, Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Absolution’s Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. Achilles Heel believes that Bliss will somehow find a way to retain her title, perhaps due to miscommunication between Banks and Bailey, or a little help from James.

The winner of the women’s elimination chamber match will defend the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania against Asuka. If Nia Jax can defeat Asuka at elimination chamber, however, Jax will be added to the WrestleMania title match. Achilles Heel is going out on a limb to predict that Jax will hand Asuka her first defeat since coming to WWE/NXT and earn a spot in the WrestleMania title match.

Women will play a huge role at elimination chamber. In addition to the two matches mentioned above, Ronda Rousey will be signing her official Raw contract. Given the usual shenanigans at contract signings, don’t expect this one to go so smoothly, either.

The Raw Tag Team Championship will be on the line as Sheamus and Cesaro defend against Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. Despite the success of Titus Worldwide against the tag team champions in recent weeks, the Greek God of Wrestling is picking the champs to retain their titles.

Bray Wyatt should defeat “Woken” Matt Hardy – unless Jeff “Brother Nero” Hardy makes his return from injury to affect the outcome. In the kickoff match, Achilles Heel is picking Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to upset Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, with The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) possibly playing a role in the finish.

*****

BACK TOGETHER AGAIN: WWE has announced that there won’t be any more single-brand “special events” after WrestleMania. So, after less than two years of single-brand events, WWE will feature wrestlers from both Raw and Smackdown on every special event.

The Greek God of Wrestling understands there may be some business concerns behind this decision. The more stars are involved, the more people will tune in. From a creative standpoint, however, Achilles Heel thinks it’s a bad move and may not be “what’s best for business.”

The first problem is that storylines won’t have time to build. With some time between shows for each brand, there is more time to develop storylines. By eliminating single-brand special events, the storylines will be rushed and won’t have time to breathe.

A second argument against combining the brands for all special events is that the events at which both brands are represented – WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and Survivor Series – won’t seem as special. If the wrestlers from both brands are at every special event, it won’t be a big deal for them to come together at Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble.

The final reason may be the most important one, though. If the big names from both Raw and Smackdown are at every special event, there will be fewer opportunities for other wrestlers to shine on the big stage. How many women’s matches will there be on each card? That limits appearances to four-to-six women on each show, with Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss likely filling three of those spots. We will see less of Rusev, most of the tag teams and, possibly, even Finn Balor if the special shows feature wrestlers from both brands.

*****

ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: The card is shaping up for Ring of Honor’s 16th Anniversary show on Fri., March 9 in Las Vegas. Dalton Castle will defend the Ring of Honor World Championship against Jay Lethal, the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) will defend the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against Jay and Mark Briscoe, and former Ring of Honor champion Cody Rhodes will battle Matt Taven in a grudge match.

Rhodes, now with blond hair and using “The American Nightmare” nickname, will battle Kenny Omega on Sat., April 7, at Supercard of Honor XII in New Orleans on Sat., April 7. The face of the Bullet Club could be decided by that match.

*****

IMPACT AT A CROSSROADS: Johnny Impact will challenge Austin Aries for the Impact Wrestling World Championship at Crossroads, which will take place on Thurs., March 8. Impact earned the title shot by defeating Ethan Carter III. EC3 is now part of NXT, but Impact Wrestling tapes three months of television at one time.

*****

JOHNNY WRESTLING: If you didn’t see the rematch between Johnny Gargano and NXT champion Andrade “Cien” Almas, it’s worth your time to check it out. With Gargano’s future in NXT on the line, he and Almas produced a match that rivaled their incredible match at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia the night before the Royal Rumble.

*****

ROLLINS ON FIRE: Seth Rollins provided a reminder to everyone of how fantastic he is by lasting more than an hour during a gauntlet match Monday during Raw. In a match featuring all of the participants in the men’s elimination chamber match Sunday, Rollins defeated Roman Reigns in a segment that took more than 25 minutes, and then he beat John Cena in a segment that took more than 30 minutes before finally being defeated by Elias. Rollins’ performance was sensational, proving that he belongs back in the main event picture on Raw.

*****

STAYING ON SAME PAGE: Rickey Shane Page retained the Combat Zone Wrestling World Championship on Friday by defeating Matt Tremont at “Greetings from Asbury Park.” CZW will be back in action on Sat., March 10 for “Proving Grounds” at the Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees.

CZW’s “Welcome to the Combat Zone” in New Orleans on Sat., April 7 will feature Sami Callihan vs. Joey Janela. Joe Gacy will face Jeff Cobb in another announced match..

*****

YOUNG LIONS: As the Greek God of Wrestling told you earlier this year, all of CHIKARA’s announced events thus far will take place at its home base, The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia.  The next event is a rookie tournament known as the Young Lions Cup, the first stage of which will take place on Sat., March 17 (3 p.m.).

*****

TOURNAMENT OVERLOAD: Achilles Heel is a big fan of tournaments, but WWE has both the 205 Live! Cruiserweight Championship tournament and NXT’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic going on at the same time. And the mixed tag team tournament on Facebook is also taking place at the same time. That’s too many tournaments.

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