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Remaining winless team in NFL: Oakland Raiders

After striking out at the trade deadline, it’s unclear how the Phillies plan to turn over their aging roster, which is filled with declining players with expensive contracts. Eric Fisher says their best option may be to trade Cole Hamels. Eric also examines the progress of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Grady Sizemore, informs you when the Phillies will honor Charlie Manuel and wonders why Phillippe Aumont is back in the big leagues.

Jeremy Maclin’s health and explosiveness are concerns as he enters training camp as the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver for the first time. We’ve got 10 questions to consider as the Eagles begin their second training camp under Chip Kelly.

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: Champions take center stage

Posted by Achilles Heel On September - 18 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelThis is a huge week in professional wrestling, with TNA in Bethlehem, CHIKARA’s King of Trios in Easton and Night of Champions on WWE Network.

Let’s start with Night of Champions. The main event Sunday is a rematch between WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and former champion John Cena. The storyline concerns whether Cena will be able to bounce back after the physical beating he absorbed from Lesnar while losing the championship at SummerSlam.

Cena delivered one of his most effective promos last week on RAW. He stressed how much he enjoys being John Cena, which is why he resisted Paul Heyman’s offer to tell the fans to shut up. Cena has something to prove against Lesnar. He must withstand the beating Lesnar is going to try to dish out, and then must overcome the punishment to win the title. The Greek god of wrestling is certain Cena will fare better in this rematch than at SummerSlam, but somehow he won’t recapture the title – unless Lesnar is going to be MIA until WrestleMania.

Aside from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, the most intriguing matches at Night of Champions don’t involve championships. Seth Rollins takes on Roman Reigns in a battle of former Shield members, and Randy Orton clashes with Chris Jericho.

It was a bit surprising to see Reigns beat Rollins clean on RAW. Another clean win for Reigns on Sunday doesn’t make sense. Either Rollins is going to get payback with a win Sunday or the match will include the return of Dean Ambrose, the other Shield member.

Orton and Jericho are both seasoned pros. They should produce a terrific match. If Jericho is about to take another hiatus to concentrate on his musical career with Fozzy, it would make sense to have Orton win.

There are four more title bouts at Night of Champions. Sheamus defends the U.S. Heavyweight Championship against Cesaro; Dolph Ziggler defends the Intercontinental Championship against former champion The Miz; Jimmy and Jey Uso defend the tag team championship against the bizarre team of Goldust and Stardust; and Paige puts the Divas Championship on the line in a triple threat match involving A.J. Lee and Nikki Bella .

Title changes are possible in all the matches in the preceding paragraph, but the most likely title change is the tag team championship. The Usos have had a good run as champions, most notably with some terrific matches against the Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. But the time might be right for the Rhodes brothers to win this battle of brothers.

Cesaro and The Miz have a relatively equal shot at retaining their titles. Miz could beat Ziggler with some sort of chicanery involving Damien Mizdow, The Miz’s “stunt double.” There isn’t as much of a storyline involved, but Cesaro has an equally decent chance of winning the U.S. Championship. Achilles Heel only sees one of these two titles changing hands.

The Divas title could also change hands. Achilles Heel envisions a scenario in which Nikki steals a victory, leaving “frenemies” A.J. Lee and Paige competing with each other to regain the Divas title.

In a battle of powerhouses, Mark Henry squares off with Rusev. Whether this takes one match or two, Rusev needs to come out on top so he can take the next step up the ladder. Achilles Heel wouldn’t be surprised if Big Show, Henry’s tag team partner, plays a role in this match.

Night of Champions should feature some tremendous in-ring action. The Lesnar-Cena main event, Orton vs. Jericho and Rollins vs. Reigns should all be very good. There is potential for the undercard also to be good, so Night of Champions has a lot of potential.

*****

TOP TRIOS: There are some very intriguing first-round matches at CHIKARA’s King of Trios – one of the Greek god of wrestling’s favorite events – which takes place Friday through Sunday at the Palmer Center in Easton.

The Spectral Envoy (Frightmare, Hallowicked and UltraMantis Black) open defense of their King of Trios title – there wasn’t a King of Trios last year while CHIKARA was on hiatus – against The Flood (Volgar, Jimmy Jacobs and former CHIKARA grand champion Eddie Kingston). In another first-round match, The Golden Trio (Icarus, Dasher Hatfield and “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti) battle LAX (Homicide, Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero, Jr.). Achilles Heel could envision three of these four teams (except The Flood) winning King of Trios, but two of them will be eliminated in the first round.

In addition to the tournament semifinals, Saturday’s show (7 p.m.) will feature two elimination matches. One elimination match consists of Chuck Taylor, Tigre Uno, Rich Swann and Shynron. The other elimination match features A.R. Fox, The Great Sanada, Orlando Christopher and Amasis.

There will be an interactive fan conclave on Saturday (2 p.m.) and a potluck cookout on Sunday (1 p.m.).

*****

TAG TEAM EXTRAVAGANZA: TNA’s television tapings at Bethlehem wrap up Friday night with the tag team championships on the line in a Full Metal Mayhem match. This is the final match in a series featuring Matt and Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray and Devon and The Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards).

Anyone who saw these teams in action during Wednesday’s Impact Wrestling should be looking forward to Friday’s match.

*****

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: TNA doesn’t have any United States events scheduled after Friday’s matches in Bethlehem. Bound for Glory will be Oct. 12 in Tokyo, and there is a British tour set scheduled for January, but there aren’t any U.S. dates on the horizon.

Achilles Heel gets the feeling TNA is taping as many editions of Impact Wrestling as it can this week in Bethlehem so it can bide some time as it continues television negotiations, which will have a major effect on the company’s future.

*****

GET INTO THE RING: Ring of Honor will hold a tryout camp on Oct. 18-19 at the Ring of Honor Dojo in Bristol (Bucks County). Instructors include the recently dethroned Ring of Honor world champion, Michael Elgin, Ring of honor TV champion Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong and head trainer Delirious.

The camp is limited to 35 applicants. The registration fee is $300. For more information, click here.

 

Heel Turns: WWE follows familiar strategy

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

Achilles HeelThe WWE is on the verge of another revolution. Or is it another evolution?

The creation of WWE Network changes the business model, just as when WWE changed from a regional promotion to a national one and when the emphasis changed from promoting local house shows to promoting pay-per-view events.

The similarities in the change in the business model have been widely discussed. What hasn’t been noted is the similarity in promoting the change.

When WWE (then WWF) wanted to expand into a new region of the country during the 1980s, it would often sign up established wrestlers already well-known to that region’s territory. At first, WWE would buy television time, as it did in St. Louis and when it took over Georgia Championship Wrestling, which was televised nationally on TBS via cable television, before the first WrestleMania. WWE was also expanding its national footprint via All-American Wrestling and Prime Time Wrestling on USA.

In 1984, WWE brought in Hulk Hogan, who had been a heel in WWE before becoming a fan favorite in the Midwest, and Bobby Heenan from AWA territories, Junkyard Dog from Mid-South, and Roddy Piper, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo from the Mid-Atlantic territory. Ricky Steamboat was an important addition from the Mid-Atlantic region in 1985, especially with WWE purchasing Georgia Championship Wrestling. Other stars such as Jim Brunzell and the Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty) quickly followed from AWA, with Mid-South stars Jim Duggan and Ted DiBiase arriving in 1987.

Fans in other organization’s territories watched WWE programming, both on local television and the rapidly growing USA Network, and flocked to arenas to see familiar stars. WWE grew into a national power while many regional promotions went out of business. The formula started with creating a demand for WWE programming in new regions.

WWE is pursuing a similar strategy with WWE Network as it tries to expand into a global entertainment force. NXT champion Adrian Neville is from England. WWE signed Prince Devitt and KENTA (rechristened this week as Hideo Itami) from Japan. Sami Zayn and Kevin Steen are Canadian-born wrestlers who are very familiar to fans of independent wrestling organizations.

With these recent signings, WWE appears to be building global demand for its programming. The build seems to be starting with NXT, which, of course, is available only on WWE Network.

WWE is trying to create international demand for WWE Network with internationally known superstars. As those superstars move up to the main roster, international demand for WWE programming will also increase. This, in turn, builds demand for WWE international tours.

The strategy worked before. The Greek god of wrestling thinks it’s likely the strategy will work again.

*****

TAKING OVER: NXT’s “Takeover,” a two-hour special on WWE Network, wasn’t as good as the previous two-hour NXT special, but there were some excellent moments. The main event, with Adrian Neville retaining the NXT title in a fatal four-way with Tyler Kidd, Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze, was outstanding. At different stages of the match, it appeared each of the four men would win.

The other highlight was Charlotte successfully defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Bayley. Charlotte had an incredible match against Natalya earlier this year. Thursday’s match against Bayley wasn’t as good as the match with Natalya, but Charlotte’s ability to have a terrific match against Bayley, far less experienced than Natalya, is a testament to her ability. It’s only a matter of time until Ric Flair’s daughter makes her mark on the main roster.

*****

WHAT A NIGHT! Two more intriguing matches have been added to Night of Champions, which takes place next Sunday on WWE Network. Seth Rollins will face former Shield teammate Roman Reigns. Randy Orton will battle Chris Jericho.

Orton and Jericho received rave reviews during a recent house show. Nothing less that terrific should be expected from Reigns and Rollins. Neither match is for a championship, but Achilles Heel isn’t going to nitpick about two tremendous matches being added to Night of Champions.

Look for a complete preview of Night of Champions in the next Heel Turns.

*****

IMPACT TO BETHLEHEM: TNA comes to Bethlehem this coming week for four nights of Impact Wrestling tapings. Just as TNA taped its current round of Impact shows in New York City, it will tape a month’s worth of Impact on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

*****

THREE’S COMPANY: On the same night TNA wraps up its Impact Wrestling tapings in Bethlehem, CHIKARA begins its King of Trios tournament in Easton. King of Trios will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Palmer Center in Easton.

The first-round pairings for the tournament have been announced. In one of the more intriguing first-round matchups, The Flood (Volgar, Jimmy Jacobs and former grand champion Eddie Kingston) face The Spectral Envoy (Frightmare, Hallowicked and UltraMantis Black). Another interesting first-round matchup pits The Colony against The Colony: Xtreme Force. The Golden Trio (Grand champion Icarus, Dasher Hatfield and “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti) battles LAX (Chavo Guerrero, Jr., Homicide and Hernandez).

In other first-round matchups: The Spirit Squad (Kenny, Mikey and Johnny) vs. Kizarny and his Odditorium; Team Extravaganza vs. The Devestation Corporation; Team UK vs. The Bloc Party; KE4TPG vs. GEKIDO (The Shard, 17 and Jigsaw); and BDK3 vs. 3peckO (Shane Matthews, Archibald Peck and Scott Parker).

*****

SERIOUS CENA: The Greek god of wrestling enjoyed John Cena’s verbal confrontation with Paul Heyman last Monday on RAW. There wasn’t much of the grinning, joking Cena. His promo was serious.

That doesn’t mean there is never a time for Cena to crack jokes. But comedy is out of place as Cena prepares for his rematch with Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions.

When Cena spoke passionately about why he loves being John Cena, I believed him. And that’s what made it such an excellent promo. (Heyman, as always, was excellent.)

*****

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Combat Zone Wrestling and EVOLVE have events in Voorhees and New York tonight, but you’re probably reading this too late to attend, so Achilles Heel won’t waste his time presenting a preview of the matches.

*****

O’HAIRE COMMITS SUICIDE: Sean Hair, better known by his wrestling name, Sean O’Haire, died this past week at age 43. Police have ruled his death a suicide.

TMZ reports that WWE had paid for rehabilitation for O’Haire on six different occasions. I don’t know the details of O’Haire’s struggles, but I was saddened to see him out of shape during some of his later ventures into Mixed Martial Arts. At One time, O’Haire was a tremendous physical specimen, with his greatest success coming while forming tag teams with Chuck Palumbo and Mark Jindrak.

Achilles Heel is sad to see another wrestler unable to conquer his demons and leave this world too early.

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