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U.S. players picked in 1st round of NHL Draft, setting new record

Gordon Glantz isn’t certain what Chip Kelly will do as he reduces the roster, but he knows which players he would keep if he were in charge of determining the Eagles’ final 53-man roster.

The 76ers (0-16) are two losses away from tying the NBA record for worst start to a season. On the horizon is the record for most consecutive losses. Eric Fisher also tells us about MCW’s best game this season, how K.J. Daniels’ is rewarding his mom’s faith and which ex-Sixer is making a major impact for a first-place team.

The Greek god of wrestling implores fans to leave him alone the next few days during events in Trenton, Allentown and Philadelphia. Achilles Heel also rips TNA for its lack of effort in promoting Bound for Glory, tells you when CHIKARA is coming back to Philly and announces some new champions.

Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Heel Turns: Paydirt for new faces at Payback?

Posted by Achilles Heel On April - 30 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelOne year ago, it would have been nearly impossible to have predicted the lineup for Sunday’s “Payback” premium event, as WWE’s former pay-per-views are now called.

If you had predicted the lineup for Payback (8 p.m.), you would have been called delusional.

A.J. Styles is in the main event. Sami Zayn is battling Kevin Owens. Baron Corbin is on the card. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady will face the Vaudevillains (Simon Gotch and Aiden English), with the winners becoming the No. 1 contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship. With the exception of Styles, all of these wrestlers spent time in NXT, which is another reason why that WWE-run organization is receiving a lot of attention from both fans and wrestlers.

In my most recent Heel Turns, I mentioned how WWE was relying on new faces. With John Cena, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins sidelined by injuries, there are opportunities for wrestlers to rise to the top of the card. That has certainly come true for Payback.

Styles, who made his WWE debut as a competitor in the Royal Rumble, is the first major challenger for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship since Roman Reigns regained the title at WrestleMania 32. The Greek God of Wrestling can’t see Styles winning the title. At least not yet. Reigns should retain, possibly due to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson costing their “friend,” Styles, the championship.

Zayn and Owens square off in what should an outstanding match. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a rivalry that runs all the way through SummerSlam.

Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho should also produce a good match. If this is a one-match rivalry, Ambrose should win. If WWE is going to continue this feud until Jericho takes a leave to concentrate on his music career, Jericho could win using underhanded tactics.

There are two more title matches at Payback. Charlotte defends the WWE Women’s Championship against Natalya, with Ric Flair in his daughter’s corner and Bret Hart, Natalya’s uncle, in the other corner. Achilles Heel thinks Charlotte holds onto this title until Sasha Banks takes it from her, but it’s possibly Natalya could have a short reign as a reward for being a good soldier.

The Miz defends the Intercontinental Championship against Cesaro. It would be great for Cesaro to win the title, but it almost would be a shame to take the belt off of Miz just as his career is heating up due to a companionship with Maryse.

Dolph Ziggler battles the much bigger Baron Corbin. It wouldn’t make sense to have Corbin lose his first high-profile match, so Achilles Heel is going with the Lone Wolf in this match. Amore and Cassady are more “over” than the Vaudevillains, so I expect Amore and Cassady to win – unless interference by Gallows and Anderson causes a no-decision. The New Day may also make an appearance during this match.

In the kickoff match during the 7-8 p.m. “preshow” hour, Ryback tries again to wrest the United States Championship from Kalisto, who successfully defended the title against Ryback during the WrestleMania 32 kickoff show.

The other newsworthy event that is supposed to be part of Payback is Vince McMahon announcing who will have control of RAW, his son (Shane McMahon) or The Authority, which consists of his daughter (Stephanie) and Triple H. The Greek God of Wrestling suspects there will be dual control or some sort of sibling competition set up to see who can do a better job with RAW.

If you’ve been pining for new faces in WWE, you should get a lot of enjoyment out of Payback.

*****

CHYNA DIES: The Greek God of Wrestling sends his condolences to the friends and family of Chyna, whose civilian name was Joan Laurer. Chyna, 46, died on April 20 from what her manager said was an accidental overdose of a prescription sleeping pill (Ambien) and tranqulizer (Valium).

Chyna was best-known in the ring as Triple H’s bodyguard, an unusual role for a woman. But Chyna wasn’t an ordinary woman. She was bit and extremely strong. She defeated male wrestlers, even defeating Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship.

Unfortunately, Chyna’s life away from the ring was tumultuous. She made sex tapes, was involved in contentious relationships and there were rumors of drug use. Listening to her public appearances, it seemed she never found peace and happiness away from the ring. Her life – and death – should serve as a cautionary tale for all wrestlers.

*****

NO ORDINARY JOE: Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor for the NXT Championship at a house show in Lowell, Mass. Balor had the longest reign as NXT champion. There are rumors that Balor will move to WWE, but he is still scheduled for future NXT events (and that’s all Achilles Heel is going to say because he detests spoilers).

*****

YOUNG AND RESTLESS: Former TNA mainstay Eric Young made a surprise appearance on NXT, challenging Samoa Joe to a match. Could Bobby Roode be far behind? Or is he ticketed to WWE’s main roster?

*****

BUSY WEEKEND: CHIKARA has a busy weekend coming up, with matches at First Energy Stadium in Reading and two events at The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia.

After the Fightin’ Phils play on Friday night, CHIKARA will present at least three matches. Announced matches include Dasher Hatfield vs. the Proletariat Boar of Moldova (one of the great names in wrestling), Thunderfrog vs. Hallowicked (two more great names), and Fire Ant vs. Officer Warren Barksdale.

The following day, CHIKARA presents “Whisper House” and “The Distant Future” at The Wrestle Factory at 4711 Wingate St. in Philly. Announced matches at Whisper House (2 p.m.) include Princess KimberLee defending the Grand Championship against Jaka;, Silver Ant vs. Frightmare; Soldier Ant vs. Hallowicked; and N_R_G vs. Juan Francisco and Prakash Sabar.

In The Distant Future (7 p.m.), the scheduled main event is the Infinite Gauntlet, which is a 33-person Royal Rumble-style match in which wrestlers can be eliminated via pinfall in addition to being thrown over the top rope to the floor.

*****

SWEET HOME, CHICAGO: One week after WWE’s Payback in Chicago, Ring of Honor will present “Global Wars” in Chicago Ridge. The main event on May 8 involves Jay Lethal defending the Ring of Honor World Championship against Colt Cabana. The Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship is also on the line, with Mark and Jay Briscoe challenging War Machine (Raymond Rowe, Hanson).

New Japan Wrestling will also be represented at Global Wars. Tomohiro Ishii defends the Ring of Honor Television Championship against Bobby Fish. Kyle O’Reilly, Fish’s tag team partner, will face IWGP Heavyweight champion Tetsuya Naito in a non-title bout.

Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi battle Kazuchika Okada and Moose. Justin Liger teams with Cheeseburger to face Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. Kurhida, Matt Sydal, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin team up to face the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga, Tanga Roa).

*****

TNA TITLE CHANGES: TNA finally showed the title changes that were taped in March. Bram defeated Eric Young for the King of the Mountain title. The Decay beat Bobby Roode and James Storm for the TNA Tag Team Championship. Young has already arrived in NXT. Roode is likely to land in NXT or WWE.

Meanwhile, Drew Galloway and Ethan Carter III continue to do a wonderful job carrying the load despite the shrinking talent pool at TNA.

*****

DOUBLEHEADER: Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU) and Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) combine for another doubleheader May 14 at Flyers Skate Zone in Vorhees, N.J. WSU presents Unshakable (4 p.m.), followed by CZW’s Prelude to Violence (8 p.m.).

*****

ALL IN THE FAMILY? WWE’s online promotional banner for Payback features The Wyatt Family. As far as the Greek God of Wrestling can tell, the Wyatt Family is not listed as being a part of Payback.

*****

MINOR LEAGUE: Much like the actual League of Nations – an ineffective world organization created after World War I, for you ignoramuses out there – WWE’s League of Nations has apparently broken up. After they kicked out Wade Barrett following WrestleMania, Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio have apparently gone their separate ways.

Although Achilles Heel wasn’t completely against the concept of the League of Nations, I thought it was a mistake to put Del Rio in the group. He already had a championship and he hadn’t been back in WWE for very long when the group formed. Now he has to re-establish himself as a top singles wrestler, as do Rusev and Sheamus. None of them are part of Payback.

 

 

Heel Turns: WWE relying on new blood

Posted by Achilles Heel On April - 16 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThe Greek God of Wrestling has chosen not to publicly complain about internal issues that don’t affect the legions of readers who rely upon his wisdom. When it affects his loyal subjects, however, addressing the issue becomes a necessity.

Achilles Heel’s post-WrestleMania edition of Heel Turns matched or exceeded his brilliant WrestleMania 32 preview.

But you wouldn’t know about that.

Because that edition of Heel Turns was never posted.

Eric Fisher gave some lame excuse about traveling, having limited Internet access and not seeing my column. I wish I could rip Ron Opher over this issue as well, but Opher – someone I always dreaded would mangle Heel Turns while editing – sold his interest in PhillyPhanatics.com to Fisher. That means there’s one less incompetent fool to mess things up.

But, as Stone Cold Steve Austin would say, the bottom line is that my post-WrestleMania Heel Turns was never posted. Therefore, I’ve worked to incorporate some of the older stuff from that column into this edition of Heel Turns.

As for Fisher’s travel excuse, I’m writing this on my way to Europe, where I will catch some of WWE’s live events during the next 10 days.

Once again, the Greek God of Wrestling saves the day.

*****

NEW FACES: WWE certainly seems to be focusing on some newer faces. A.J. Styles moved directly into the main event picture. He will face Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Payback on May 1 in Chicago.

Sami Zayn, who had an awesome match against Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT Takeover: Dallas, has also been a major player in recent weeks, even wrestling Styles for an opportunity to earn a place in the title match on May 8. Baron Corbin, who won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, has been put into a program with Dolph Ziggler.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their debut Monday on RAW, attacking Jimmy and Jey Uso after their match with The Social Outcasts.

*****

ARENA OF DREAMS: There will be a full day of wrestling-related activity Saturday at 2300 Arena. In the evening (7 p.m.), Tommy Dream presents House of Hardcore 13. During the day (9 a.m.-3 p.m.) there will be an Icons of Wrestling comic book and collectorfest.

The main event of House of Hardcore 13 pits Rob Van Dam against Rhino in a battle between two men who spent many nights at the 2300 Arena when it was known as the ECW Arena. Chris Hero and Colt Cabana will team up to face Lance Hoyt and Davey Boy Smith Jr., Sami Callihan squares off with Brian Cage, Bull James takes on Billy Gunn, and Tommy Dreamer battles Pepper Parks. In a women’s match, Jade to face Thea Trinidad.

The daytime event features an incredible array of wrestlers, headlined by Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle and Ricky Steamboat. Others schedule to appear include Booker T; Rob Van Dam; Bobby Heenan; new WWE Hall of Fame inductee Stan Hansen; Paul Orndorff; Lex Luger, Tito Santana, Sean Waltman; the American Wolves; Mil Mascaras; Shane Douglas, Sabu, Roadkill and the Blue Meanie.

*****

WRESTLEMANIA REWIND: There were some excellent matches at WrestleMania 32. And there wasn’t a bad match or segment to drag the show down, which made WrestleMania 32 enjoyable from start to finish.

The main show started with a tremendous ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. Just as it appeared The Miz was going to win, Zack Ryder knocked him off the ladder and pulled off an upset victory in a match that also involved Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Stardust, Sin Cara and defending champion Kevin Owens.

The WWE Women’s Championship match – yes, the Divas Championship no longer exists – was excellent, with Charlotte prevailing over Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. When given time, the women of WWE can put on quite a show.

The Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Shane McMahon was insane. In fact, Achilles Heel wasn’t happy with Shane’s leap off the top of the cage. That is a dangerous move. There are acceptable risks in this business. That was an unacceptable risk. Tremendous performance by both men in a physically punishing match.

Speaking of punishing, Brock Lesnar suplexed his way past Dean Ambrose in a no-holds-barred street fight. This was a good match, although not spectacular. The same could be said about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, with Roman Reigns taking the title from Triple H.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was all right, but it featured a fun celebrity entrant in Shaquille O’Neal – the day before he found out he would be inducted into the James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – and accomplished the goal of putting over Baron Corbin, who eliminated Kane to win the match.

The League of Nations’ victory over The New Day was also just OK, but the real purpose of this match seemed to set up the post-match action involving Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin, which the record crowd of 101, 763 ate up.

*****

MORE ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER: Achilles Heel’s one complaint about WrestleMania 32 is it was too long. There were three pre-show matches and loads of pre-show hype. Furthermore, the main event went 25 minutes past 11 p.m. (Eastern standard time). Yes, WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year. But it doesn’t need to last more than six hours.

*****

NXT TAKES OVER: NXT set the tone for WrestleMania weekend with an outstanding effort. Wrestling doesn’t get much better than NXT Takeover: Dallas. Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT debut against Sami Zayn is a match of the year candidate. With the exception of one botched double-team move, American Alpha’s (Chad Gable, Jason Jordan) victory over The Revival (Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder) for the NXT Tag Team Championship was terrific.

Finn Balor’s successful defense of the NXT Championship  against Samoa Joe was very good despite the flow of the match, if you’ll pardon the expression, being repeatedly interrupted due to a bad cut sustained by Joe when their heads clashed in the opening moments. Austin Aries’ victory over Baron Corbin and Asuka’s victory over Bayley to win the NXT Women’s Championship were also good.

*****

HALL OF FAME: This year’s Hall of Fame ceremony didn’t quite rise to the level of the past several years, but it still was a wonderful evening. Sting was the headliner, and he gave a solid speech. The newsworthy element was that he officially announced his retirement.

The highlight of the ceremony was the raucous freewheeling induction of the Freebirds, featuring Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin telling crazy stories about the group’s life away from the ring. Garvin, without the long, curly hair and beard, looks like a typical accountant, but he still has the same personality. It’s obvious that Hayes still loves the spotlight. He told stories, thanked his ex-wives, brought out Kevin Von Erich to say a few words and moved through the aisles during a live performance of “Bad Streets,” the Freebirds’ theme song in their latter years.

Stan Hansen looked dapper in a tuxedo, but the smiling Texan still looks like he could knock the stuffing out of most people. The Godfather, Jackie, Snoop Dogg and Joan Lunden (Warrior Award) were also inducted. A nice touch by WWE was the Legacy Award, which honored pre-WWE wrestlers Pat O’Connor, George Hackenschmidt, Frank Gotch, Mildred Burke, Sailor Art Thomas, Ed “Strangler” Lewis and Lou Thesz.

*****

FAREWELL TO MULLIGAN: The Greek God of Wrestling sends his sincere condolences to the family of WWE Hall of Famer Robert Windham, who died last week at age 73. Blackjack Mulligan, as Windham was known professionally, was a big and tough wrestler who excelled during the 1970s and early 80s. Mulligan excelled as a heel and babyface.

Mulligan leaves quite a wrestling legacy in his wake. Barry Windham, his son, was one of the best wrestlers of his generation. Another son, Kendall Windham, also had a decent career.

Mulligan is the grandfather of current WWE wrestlers Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, the sons of his daughter, Stephanie, and Mike Rotunda, better known to wrestling fans as Mike Rotundo or I.R.S.

*****

FAREWELL TO BALLS: We lost another one way too young earlier this week when Jonathan Rechner, better known as Balls Mahoney, died at age 44. Mahoney reached the apex of his fame in ECW.

*****

DEVASTATING OUTCOME: Closer to home during WrestleMania weekend, The Devastation Corporation defeated The Colony in the finals of the Tag World Grand Prix tournament at The Wrestle Factory.

Speaking of The Wrestle Factory, CHIKARA founder Mike Quackenbush received some nice publicity for his wrestling training school at www.philly.com.

CHIKARA will be back in action May 6, with several matches after the Reading Fightin’ Phillies game at First Energy Stadium. CHIKARA will host a doubleheader (Whisper House and The Distant Future) the following day at The Wrestle Factory in Philly. Princess KimberLee defends the Grand Championship against Jaka at “Whisper House” (2 p.m.), which also features Frightmare battling Silver Ant. At “The Distant Future” (7 p.m.), Officer Warren Barksdale takes on Argus.

*****

BROTHERLY LOVE? Matt Hardy squares off with Jeff Hardy in an “I Quit” match this Tuesday on TNA’s Impact Wrestling. TNA will tape many more episodes of Impact Wrestling next week (April 21-24) at Universal Studios in Orlando.

*****

CRUISING: WWE hasn’t announced the brackets for its cruiserweight tournament, but several matches have been announced. On Sun., April 24 in London, Zach Sabre Jr. will face Flash Morgan Webster, and Jack Gallagher will battle “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne. Closer to home, the Evolve event in Queens, N.Y., on May 7 will feature cruiserweight tournament matches between Drew Gulak and Tracy Williams, and T.J. Perkins against Fred Yehi.

 

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