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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Eyes On NBA: 2018-2019 Boston Celtics Preview

By @Phranchize19 and @TrueGodImmortal

As September is well underway, we now can prepare for the return of the NBA season. While the Western Conference seems pretty much a lock for the amazing Golden State Warriors dynasty, for the first time in 8 years, the East will likely see a new champion. With the Heat and the Cavs making the Finals the last 8 years and LeBron James joining the Lakers, the East is wide open. Who is the favorite so far? Well, that would be the Boston Celtics. Today, we take a look at the Celtics for this upcoming season and give our predictions. How far will they go? Let's take a brief look at last year, their additions, and losses.

*Last Year’s Record: 55-27 (Eliminated From The Eastern Conference Finals)
-Following a great season that saw them win 55 games, the Celtics are back fully healthy with Gordon Hayward ready to play and Kyrie Irving healthy as well. So, with that said, what is the cap for this talented Celtics team? Let's take a look at the additions, losses, and how the season should look for them.

*Additions: Robert Williams (draft), Brad Wanamaker

*Subtractions: Shane Larkin (signed to Turkey), Abdul Nader (traded to Thunder) Rodney Purvis (waived) 
*Best Player: Kyrie Irving
*X-Factors: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown
*Player To Watch For: Gordon Hayward
*Record Prediction: 60-22 (Making The NBA Finals)

Projected Starting 5
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford 

This small ball lineup is the likely starting lineup for a good amount of the season, though they could start Theis or Baynes at the 5 and bench Tatum, but it is really likely to have Tatum in the starting lineup even if his minutes and numbers take a small hit with Horford back in the lineup. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart will be the anchors for the second unit and this could make the Celtics easily the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference without question.

Keys To Success
For the Celtics, it all goes through their depth, which is definitely something to rave home about. Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Kyrie, Tatum, Jaylen, Al Horford, Hayward, Aron Baynes, and more help round out one of the more solid rosters in the league. I would consider them to be the second best team in the NBA under the Warriors and this season should reflect that.

Final Thought
In our honest opinion, this is the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and they may very well be the second best team in the NBA as of now. The depth this team showed after their stars went down amazes me. The only way they don’t make the NBA Finals is if they get hurt. No team plays harder for their coach and no coach gets more out of his players than this group. So, the question is, what is the ceiling for the Celtics? I say the NBA Finals and a hard fought series loss to the Golden State Warriors if everyone is healthy. If Kyrie is not healthy or Hayward goes down, or even a Tatum or Horford being out for extended periods when it counts, Philly or Toronto could sneak in there and win the East. Still, if I'm a betting man, the East runs through Boston until further notice.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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Eyes On WWE: Why The Shield Isn't The Greatest Faction Of All Time

By @TrueGodImmortal

I had three other articles waiting. I have four in the pipeline. I put them on hold to do this one. WWE stans, sheep, and fanboys beware: Eyes On The Ring is back and better than ever. Yes, we are a mixed bag of opinions, as some of the opinions on today's product are that it is good, some of the opinions are that the product is bad, and some are indifferent in their thought process on the company. Regardless, the reality is, the WWE have a number of disgruntled fans, hardcore and casual who took offense to the WWE ranking The Shield as the greatest faction to ever walk the planet. Now, surely, the WWE was going for shock value right? One could never discredit The Shield and their accomplishments, and if we are talking in-ring work, Seth Rollins alone has the faction in the top 10 of all time. However, the issue with The Shield being no. 1 is much like the issue with people saying John Cena is top 5 all time period. Like Cena, The Shield exist and thrive in a down era for wrestling. Yes, the WWE has huge success and use their name to push more ventures, but a lot of signs point to an all around decline in the actual business. When Cena was on top, business was decent and he was a needle mover in terms of merchandise, but Cena was also rejected by a large amount of the audience and booed. He was also lapped in merchandise sales several times by Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, The Rock, CM Punk, D-Generation X, and more. While Cena is undoubtedly a legend and one of the greatest to ever do it on the top 10-15 list perhaps, revisionists will wipe away the rejection of the man who was seen as forced once upon a time. Of course, Cena has always had his fans. He always will. That changes nothing. It was the rejection of Cena at times that hurt his legacy minimally and honestly put a damper on one of the longest face runs in company history. Cena was seen as the face of WWE, but the fans would gladly select someone else over him at various times before WWE forced him again, even when no one asked for it (Cena vs Rock 2 anyone). I say all this about Cena to make the comparison slightly to The Shield. The Shield were booked very well at one point, and at the time of their arrival, they seem poised to be the next big thing. The WWE fumbled the ball shortly after The Shield went on their unbeaten path and the trio would have some odd periods during their run.

For some, the booking of The Shield was legendary, but breaking it down by just the PPV matches will show that it wasn't always the best. I mean, their first match against Ryback, Daniel Bryan, and Kane was a classic, but the mext month comes and they are relegated to being backup for CM Punk against The Rock. An afterthought if you will. Shortly after this, The Shield head into Wrestlemania 29 with a solid feud going, facing John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback at Elimination Chamber (and winning) before the opening match at Mania against Randy Orton, The Big Show, and Sheamus. A highlight during this time came when The Undertaker returned and took on Dean Ambrose, and teamed with Kane and Bryan to take on The Shield on an episode of RAW. At this point, The Shield were being booked very well, but were still afterthoughts on the show in a way. They were behind Cena, Rock, and even Punk on the card, as well as Brock Lesnar and Triple H. They were still over as heels, but they would need solo success to really make it right. They would start that path at Extreme Rules 2013, with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins capturing tag team gold and Dean Ambrose winning the United States Title. They would embark on feuds with Kane, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, The Usos, and Rob Van Dam during the summer of 2013, but still they felt a little lost in the shuffle at the time. They would pick up the pace after a little while, and were the workhorses in many ways of the company, with all three members putting in work. It was clear at the time that the true star of the group was Dean Ambrose, as he was the most charismatic and carried most of the promos. He was shining and earning his keep, so one would assume that the WWE had big plans for him instantly. After The Shield got relegated to Preshow duties on Summerslam, things slowly started to fall apart a bit.

They would lose the tag titles to Cody Rhodes and Goldust, and then Ambrose would slowly start to lose his fire as the booking seemingly got a little suspect. At the time, the average fan probably felt The Shield was being booked beautifully. They weren't. They were severely mishandled and struggled at times finding the right angle to take, and that was made worse at Survivor Series 2013, when the wheels were obviously set in motion to make Roman Reigns the next guy. Five years later, we can look at that and see that was clearly the wrong move, but of course, WWE hasn't stopped forcing Reigns. As of this writing, he is still Universal Champion, still a face that gets booed regularly, and still NOT the guy that WWE needs to push. Honestly, I could stop there and that alone would disqualify The Shield from being the greatest faction ever, but I'll continue up until a certain point, and you know what point that is. So, in the late 2013 period, The Shield would basically be stuck as the Hounds For Authority, not justice, as they would do most of the dirty work for Stephanie and Triple H. They would feud with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan and lose most of those matches, and the once unstoppable force looked weaker than ever. Surely you remember The Shield losing a 3-on-1 handicap match to a beaten down CM Punk? Surely, you remember Daniel Bryan picking up wins over the members as well? Of course you don't. You know what you do remember however?

The Shield vs The Wyatt Family. At a time when The Shield finally turned face and broke away from The Authority, they would engage in a brief but epic feud with the other faction that was making waves in the company. This feud is probably the best highlight of The Shield's initial run as a feud so far up until this point or at the very least, it is second to the entire Team Hell No vs The Shield run. However, after a pointless squash match at Wrestlemania 30, The Shield would have their biggest feud and moment against the reunited Evolution. When we look back at The Shield and their run, this is a big bright spot. With two back to back wins on PPV against Evolution, The Shield was riding a wave of popularity, success, and after a rough and up and down year and a half booking wise, they had finally found their goldmine as a unit.... so what would be next for the group? A breakup of course. To be clear, I don't mean a breakup in a few months, I mean a literal breakup just a day after their second big win over Evolution. So, to recap this, The Shield struggled with their booking off and on during their first year and some change, finally found their comfort zone with back to back classic moments against The Wyatt Family and Evolution, only to breakup abruptly. It was confusing, perhaps a little rushed, but two good things would come from it immediately. One, the becoming of Seth Rollins as a mega heel, and the arrival of Dean Ambrose as an instantly popular face and merchandise king. Now, you may notice that this is essentially an article about why The Shield isn't the GOAT faction and I've yet to mention any other faction so far. Well, let me change that.

For The Shield to only have a year and some change under their belt, with decent success and then breakup, it takes them down a notch as a faction in my eyes. I was once on The Shield was going to be top 3 all time in terms of factions, but reality hit me and changed my perspective completely. The Shield as a unit ran from November 2012 until June 2014 with some good success, some big losses, some moments of uneven booking, and some pretty irrelevant feuds. The Shield as a unit was consistent, and were ready to usher in a new era of wrestling, but the success just didn't reflect that. The Shield couldn't move merchandise like the NWO, they couldn't truly carry the entire show like the NWO, they didn't have the short term run yet long term lasting effect of D-Generation X, they didn't have the longevity of The Four Horsemen, and they lack the true staying power and game changing ability that even an independent faction like The Bullet Club has. The Shield as a unit honestly was a success, but not on the level of the names I just mentioned honestly. I think we were so excited to see the WWE not completely screw up the booking of a faction or a group (especially just a year or two after The Nexus debacle) that we went overboard in the applause for the talented group. Once the breakup happened for The Shield, Ambrose and Rollins took off. Although I am admittedly not a Reigns fan, I thought he was positioned nice as a mid-tier main eventer of sorts, and perhaps if the WWE went with Triple H and Reigns at Summerslam 2014 instead of holding it off for nearly two years, things would have worked somewhat differently. Regardless, Reigns struggled to really hit that popularity level during the summer feud with Randy Orton and he never really recovered. Fans had begun to slowly turn on him before he was sidelined for months with an injury, and that is a tough fact that fans have to deal with. Reigns was never THE guy, and the crowd made it known they preferred Ambrose as their guy. The pops that Ambrose would receive during this period of time was amazing and he became a top 2 merchandise seller in the company under Cena, even overtaking Cena for the no. 1 spot for a couple of months.

So, here stands WWE with a new merch king and a top popular star in Dean Ambrose, a successful merch seller and a top heel in Seth Rollins, then Roman Reigns as a nice complementary piece and a main eventer as well who could easily be the no. 2 or no. 3 guy on RAW and get opportunities here and there. Booking this way seemed almost too easy and because of this, WWE fucked everything up. They forced Reigns so much over the last few years, starting with the Royal Rumble 2015 that it shows that the company only seems to work with long term booking when it's an idea that no longer works. The more it became evident that Reigns is not the guy, the more the WWE forced him. The more it became evident that the other two members of The Shield were easily more over, the more the WWE booked Ambrose worse and worse. Rollins would luck up, winning the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 31, but the WWE would spend most of his run booking him oddly and grooming Reigns once again for a main event spot and a title run that no one wanted. The boos persisted for Reigns and what did the WWE do to try and stop the boos? They put him back next to his Shield brother, the more over and popular Dean Ambrose, and it worked for a split second, until the WWE ruined it all over again. What was once a dominant faction used to make three future stars had now become a crutch for the WWE to try and invoke cheers for someone who could not earn those cheers from the majority of the crowd on his own. I cannot recall a moment where a big member of the NWO was not over as face or heel, the same for the Four Horsemen, the same for DX, and the same for a number of factions. As pure wrestlers, The Shield might be amazing. Ambrose isn't the greatest and truthfully, Reigns isn't either in the ring, but Rollins by himself is enough to put this faction into a different stratosphere. Reigns can't cut a promo to save his life except for once in a blue moon, and Ambrose has struggled with laziness. In the heyday of The Four Horsemen, Flair, Arn, Ole, Tully, and J.J. Dillon could command a promo like no one else. Ambrose is a great promo when focused, and Rollins has got better, but neither man can truly hold a candle to the promo greatness of Flair and Arn IMO. Add to that the fact that the NWA thrived off the back of the Four Horsemen era and you have one faction that is easily bigger and better than The Shield on the all time list. For the younger fans with no true knowledge of the business or even the older fans who don't know any better, any list that reflects The Shield above The Four Horsemen is wrong. Simple. Even the later version of the Horsemen with Benoit and Malenko involved has a case to be better than The Shield.

The NWO features one of the greatest wrestlers to never win a World Title in Scott Hall alongside a legend in Kevin Nash, and one of the biggest wrestlers ever, Hulk Hogan. This trio was bigger and more impactful than The Shield and if you add in the talent they would later bring in like the Macho Man Randy Savage and Curt Hennig among others, it is not even close. Sure, the NWO fizzled out two years later in 1998 after forming in 1996, but those two years were so big that it catapulted WCW to the top of the wrestling world for nearly the entire two years. The NWO broke records, sold ridiculous amount of merchandise, and incited crowds in every arena across the world. They would bring in record ratings, record revenue, and change the entire WCW landscape. Can the same truly be said for The Shield? There is no way you could legit make that argument so don't even try. Now, I'm not here to disregard The Shield at all. For this era, in WWE, they are the best faction we have seen. Unless, of course, you want to give that nod to the New Day, who have remained together and dominated the tag team division and the merchandise sales for the entire duration of their run. The New Day remains popular, isn't using reunions as a crutch to make the hand picked star more popular, and they have continuously been a part of history making moments. They had their own cereal, they took things to a different level, and they are the most popular black faction in wrestling history, with The Nation Of Domination not too far behind them. So, while the average fan might not want to crown the New Day as better due to the solo careers of The Shield, when it comes to comparing consistency and runs as a unit, there is a discussion to actually be had.

Now, wrapping things up, because why keep going here, the truth is, aside from NWO and the Four Horsemen, there are maybe a few other factions who would rank higher than The Shield. Sure, Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns have all had successful solo careers and that is why many rank The Shield so high, but can one claim The Shield has had a better run overall than the original D-Generation X solo wise? Or even D-Generation X as a group in the Attitude Era? The group that sold huge merchandise, popularized the crotch crop, and took a tag team with perennial solo jobbers Billy Gunn (a tag team legend) and Jesse James, then made them one of the most popular teams of the era? Yeah, I'm going with DX every time.

So, I feel like my case has been more than made. You could argue the Bullet Club being better, you could argue The Nation being better in a way even, the Fabulous Freebirds, Evolution, and more. Simply put, that WWE.com article and the many misinformed fans were wrong. The Shield is NOT the greatest faction in wrestling history, they aren't even the greatest faction in WWF/WWE history. That ship has sailed for them and while they won't end up as the GOAT, they will have the opportunity to solidify a top 5 all time spot, which some feel they have earned already. Regardless, the book for The Shield is still being written, but much like there is no way for LeBron to ever surpass Jordan, The Shield will always be behind the NWO, DX, and The Four Horsemen, just to name a few.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

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Eyes On Wrestlemania: Power Ranking Shawn Michaels' Wrestlemania Matches

By @Phranchize19

Shawn Michaels is the greatest performer in the history of Wrestlemania. He has probably the greatest catalog of matches in Wrestlemania history. Although Shawn has a losing record at Wrestlemania at 6-12, he still steals the show with his breathtaking performances. We are gonna power rank them and I’m sure you all know what number 1 is, but still let’s get into it.

17. The Rockers vs the Twin Towers
Wrestlemania 5

-This was a solid contest. The story of the smaller faster competitors vs The Giants is a tried and true formula in wrestling and this was no exception. The Rockers showed they belonged in WWE with this match.

16. The Rockets vs The Orient Express
Wrestlemania 6

-Another solid contest with 4 of the best talents that you’re gonna see. A fun fast paced match that gave WM6 some much needed life.

15. The Rockers vs The Barbarian and Haku 
Wrestlemania 7

-The trend that the Rockers were getting better and better was shown here with this match. This match marked the first victory at Wrestlemania for Shawn Michaels and his performance was great here.

14. Shawn Michaels vs Tito Santana
Wrestlemania 8

-A GREAT opening bout for Mania. Shawn’s first singles match at Wrestlemania proved to be a fruitful one as he defeated a legend in the business. It was clear WWF had a star in the making in Shawn Michaels and we saw that on this night.

13. Shawn Michaels vs Diesel 
WWF Championship Match Wrestlemania 11

-In what is considered the worst Wrestlemania of all time by many, this match was one of the few bright spots and it wasn't because of the champ Diesel. Shawn went out there and proved he was one of the best with his performance here and showed that he was deserving of the main event spotlight.

12. Shawn Michaels vs Tatanka Intercontinental Championship
Wrestlemania 9

-I think this match is vastly underrated even though the story is more about Sensational Sherri and HBK splitting, but Shawn still turned out a fantastic performance here.

11. Shawn Michaels vs Vince McMahon
No Holds Barred Match 
Wrestlemania 22

-This match was very good considering the circumstances. It didn’t feel overbooked and Shawn himself said that he just went out here and had a Wrestlemania off because he could just have fun as opposed to trying to steal the show.

10. Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair Wrestlemania 24

-The most emotional match on this list. Shawn was chosen to be the one to end the career of Ric Flair. Shawn would turn in another brilliant performance against a man who was well past his prime in Ric Flair. The ending is a legendary moment.

9. Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold 
WWF Championship Match Wrestlemania 14

-While not the masterpiece we were accustomed to, this was still a very solid match. Michaels clearly was not 100% going in and couldn’t stop the show the way in which he wanted to, but he put on a very good match with his back in shambles.

8. Shawn Michaels vs John Cena
WWE Championship Match
Wrestlemania 23 

-Another career defining performance for Shawn Michaels. He was out to prove that he still could shine if the main event spotlight was on him. His first singles main event at Wrestlemania since Wrestlemania 14 and he literally carried this match. No knock to John Cena, but he went to wrestling school on this night.

7. Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho
Wrestlemania 19

-The comeback match. Jericho was arguably in his prime, so this would be a stern test for Shawn Michaels. He proved not only could he hang with younger guys, but that he could be better than them as well. This was the one the best matches of 2003 easily.

6. Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker 
Career vs Streak
Wrestlemania 26

-I know many are looking at this and wonder why such a low ranking but it’s not that this match isn’t good, it’s just the ones I have after it were better. Shawn would main event Mania one more time and would deliver in such a great fashion. The match was big due to the stakes involved, but to say this wasn’t a good match would be asinine.

5. Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon
Ladder Match
Wrestlemania 10

-This match is iconic. Although I feel their Summerslam rematch was a bit better, this match was groundbreaking due to the fact that the first ever ladder match was not shown on Network TV (Shawn vs Bret), however Shawn and Razor made the IC belt so important by putting their bodies on the line in a match that they barely knew much about (the Ladder match was created in Canada by the way).

4. Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle
Wrestlemania 21

-In terms of sheer wrestling, this could be the best match of either man’s career. These guys went out there and literally had the match of the night. Shawn may not have the accolades of the Olympian, but he showed that he can hang with ANYONE including Kurt Angle.

3. Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart 
WWF Championship
Iron Man Match
Wrestlemania 12

-The first match of its kind in the WWF and boy did it deliver. These two men are 2 of the 3 greatest wrestler of all time IMO and they went out there for an entire hour and tore California to shreds. Two of the best mat technicians brought everything they had to this match and didn’t hold back an inch. This set the standard for Iron Man matches and is still the best one in my opinion.

2. Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit vs Triple H
World Heavyweight Championship Match 
Wrestlemania 20

-The greatest triple threat match I’ve ever seen. Shawn performed so gracefully in this match and his opponents more than held up their end of the bargain. 3 of the 10 greatest wrestlers of all time and it didn’t get much better than this.

1. Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker Wrestlemania 25

-The greatest wrestling match I have ever seen. EVER. No disrespect to any fan out there but if someone who had never seen wrestling were to come to me and ask me about wrestling, this is the match I would show them. The best match from either man’s career and I put this match up against any match ever produced.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

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Eyes On Wrestlemania Weekend: 6 Must See Matches

By @TrueGodImmortal

While WWE usually dominates the scene at Wrestlemania weekend, other promotions have decided to host their shows in the same city in order to get eyes on their product, as well as give options to the fans all over the world. Wrestlemania weekend is usually a wrestling fan's Christmas and today I’m going to discuss what I feel are the best matches of that entire weekend.

*AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura
WWE Championship 
Wrestlemania 34

-The rematch we all have been waiting on. These two men met at Wrestle Kingdom (NJPW's version of Wrestlemania) in a thriller of a match. Since then, both men signed with WWE and while AJ was introduced to the main roster upon his arrival, Nakamura went through a different approach and joined NXT first. Nakamura would get called up to Smackdown, which just so happen to be the show AJ Styles is making great TV. Eventually we were gonna get this clash and there is no better place than Wrestlemania for the first WWE encounter between the two.

*Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa
NXT Takeover New Orleans

-The longest running feud in wrestling will come to a head Wrestlemania weekend. The two former teammates turned enemies were once best friends until losing a tag team ladder match about 1 year ago. Ciampa would suffer an injury and while he was out, Johnny Wrestling ascended the ranks of NXT. Ciampa decided enough was enough and would interfere in everything Johnny was involved with including a match where his NXT career was on the line. WWE decided to make this better by having Johnny attack Ciampa at his home, at the Performance Center, and the NXT arena himself. This is probably the hottest feud going into Mania weekend and we finally get the payoff we’ve waited an entire year for.

*Cody Rhodes vs Kenny Omega Supercard of Honor 

-Most likely the main event of Supercard of Honor, the battle for leadership of the Bullet Club (maybe?) is on the line. The moment Cody joined Bullet Club, I knew his ego was just too massive to be second in command, especially considering that he brought a world championship to the group. Cody would attack the leader after quite a few issues between the two men, prompting Kenny’s friend Ibushi to make the save. With Cody manipulating the rest of the BC members claiming that he was indeed the leader, Kenny has thrown hints that he is still the leader so the infighting in Bullet Club comes to a head hopefully during Wrestlemania weekend.
*Ricochet vs EC3 vs Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan vs Killian Dain
Ladder Match
NXT North American Championship
NXT Takeover New Orleans 

-A newly created champion will be crowned in this ladder match with arguably some of the best wrestlers in the industry right now. What’s not to like here? This could be the match of the weekend honestly.

*Charlotte vs Asuka
Smackdown Women’s Championship
Wrestlemania 34

The undefeated Asuka will get in the ring with arguably the best female wrestler in the world in a match that many (including myself) have waited to see. Asuka made history by winning the first Woman’s Royal Rumble and at Fastlane, she made her choice clear that she only wanted to face the best (sorry, Alexa) and that’s exactly what she's going to get. Charlotte has been the face of WWE’s Women’s division for a while now and while she has made history with matches with Sasha Banks, perhaps this match will make even more history.

*Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali Cruiserweight Championship Wrestlemania 34

-This match will be fantastic. The Cruiserweight Division has stepped up since Enzo Amore was fired and we are getting a quality match for the vacant title. While these men are friends, they will do anything to win that title. Who wins this one? The fans.