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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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Eyes On WWE: The 5 Greatest Matches At WWE Vengeance PPV

By @TrueGodImmortal 

A while ago, the big July PPV in WWE was the aptly titled Vengeance. After the inception of the event in December 2001, it became a regular PPV for years after in the hottest month of the year (until it was turned into Night of Champions, then brought back briefly for 2011). It was the last stop usually before we made it to Summerslam and now with two July PPVs on tap and Summerslam on the way, we wanted to talk about the 5 best matches to come from the event that took over where Fully Loaded started and carved its own PPV legacy. Let's take a look.

5. Edge vs Randy Orton 
Intercontinental Championship Match
Vengeance 2004

-I debated about what match to put here because my top 4 came to me so easily. I decided to go with this one because of what it represented for the changing of a career. It signaled the ascension of Orton to the next level and seemed to put Edge on his path to become the star he would finally be. Orton and Edge put on a great match for 27 minutes before Edge walks away with the win and the IC Title. Orton and Edge came to steal the show and this is the most memorable of the entire event without question.

4. Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar vs Big Show 
WWE Championship Match 
Vengeance 2003

-One of the more entertaining triple threat matches, these three went out there and had a near classic match to close out a surprisingly solid Vengenace PPV for Smackdown only. Oddly enough, despite this being a near classic, it is NOT my favorite match on the night and it is NOT my top match on the card. However, that takes nothing away from a match that sits in very high company and is at least a 4 star contest throughout. Angle walks away with the victory here and wins back the WWE Title that he dropped to Brock months prior at Wrestlemania 19, and that was a shock in itself.

3. Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle 
Vengeance 2005

-A Wrestlemania 21 match turns into a true classic. Though this wasn't better than their epic and 5 star Mania classic, these two put on a 4.5 star match without question. Both men brought their best, and they went at it for nearly 27 minutes, much like their lengthy Mania battle, with counters and all the stops being pulled out. While Angle left Mania victorious, Vengeance would come in the form of a win for HBK, tying them at 1-1 and setting up a future rubber match to determine a win of the match series they would have.

2. Eddie Guerrero vs Chris Benoit 
US Championship Match Finals 
Vengeance 2003

-A slept on battle, this is the best match of the 2003 event. Eddie and Chris went at each other like they always have and this might be their best match together. Their chemistry was off the charts, as Eddie and Chris would kick off the show the right way, going to war for the Vacant US Title and showing exactly why they were the top tier performers we knew them as. Eddie walks away with the win here, but the match itself is so good that you end up watching it over and over again. We won't ever see talents quite like Eddie and Chris again.

1. The Rock vs Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker 
WWE Undisputed Championship Match 
Vengeance 2002

-The cream of the crop. The best match in the history of the PPV. The measuring stick for a majority of the triple threat matches in the WWE. Rock, Angle, and Taker went out there for 20 minutes and delivered every second they were in the ring. From reversals to double team moves to natural excitement of having three of the greatest in the business out there, this match has everything you want and more. A nice touch to have The Rock go over as he got tasked with the job of eventually putting over Brock Lesnar going forward. The right man won and the match was great. This is perfection for WWE in every way in the ring.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Money Inc.

By @AmeenKnows 

Great gimmicks go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Okay, well maybe an evil tax Accountant isn't a really good gimmick but money and money go together perfectly. On one side, you have the snobbish Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and on the other side, you have I.R.S., the evil tax accountant. Both are money themed gimmicks so it's only common sense to put them together.

DiBiase was known for paying other wrestlers and officials to do his dirty work, so he comes up with the genius idea to pay off Jimmy Hart, who at the time was managing The Natural Disasters, for a tag team title shot that belonged to the Disasters. Obnoxious rich man, a federal tax agent and a manager who never shuts up and now you have a potential legendary team. So with their newly bought title shot, Money Inc defeats L.O.D. for the World tag team titles at a house show in Denver. The Disasters fired Hart as their manager and feuded with Money Inc over the titles, but were unsuccessful in multiple attempts. At SummerSlam 1992, Money Inc. was defeated by L.O.D for the World Tag Team titles. However 2 months later, Money Inc. would regain the titles with help from the Headshrinkers, to beat their rivals The Natural Disasters.

By February, Money Inc. was facing some tension with manager Jimmy Hart. After beating down a helpless Brutus Beefcake, Hart stepped in to protect Beefcake thus confirming his split from the group. Hulk Hogan would return and form The Mega Maniacs with Beefcake and Hart became their manager. At Wrestlemania Money Inc. escaped with their Tag Team titles after a reversed decision. They moved on to a feud with the Steiner Brothers who defeated them for the World Tag Team Championship. Two days later, Money Inc. regained the belts but dropped them again three days later to the Steiners. After failing to regain the Tag Team Titles, the team disbanded after DiBiase's feud with Razor Ramon so DiBiase could take time off. They later would reunite together in the Million Dollar Corporation.

This team doesn't really wow me in the ring but what I love is how well their characters blend together. They did have some weaker feuds with the Disasters and Nasty Boys, but they proved far and away that they couldn't be touched in both feuds. It worked so well with IRS as the heavy hitter, DiBiase as the heavy talker and Hart as the Flavor Flav to Money Inc's Public Enemy. Buying a title shot and actually winning was a genius move by creative. What I will say is that WWE obviously learned a valuable lesson from this and put together another good team with similar characters in The Fashion Police but only time will tell if they will surpass these guys. We shall see.


Monday, June 26, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: The Philadelphia 76ers Outlook For Next Season

By @AmeenKnows

Before free agency begins, I want to give a short background and preview of what I expect from my 76ers. Since I was a kid there has never been this much hype for this team heading into a season after Allen Iverson was traded to Denver. With a young core centered around Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and new point guard Markelle Fultz, there is certainly a lot to be excited about when this team steps on the court in the fall.

*About Last Season...
-Last season, the Sixers finished among the bottom feeders at 28-54. Number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ben Simmons, played in zero games after injuring his foot shortly before the season began. Joel Embiid finally made his season debut and turned out to be every bit the star we were hoping he'd turn out to be in 2014. However, a slight meniscus tear in his left knee cut his season short just before the All Star Break. Before the injury, Embiid had the Sixers rolling with the team finishing 10-5 in January and a few games out of 8th place. There was some promise but also a lot of wrongs in desperate need of correction.

With better talent being added the offense should improve but shooting was among the worst. Philadelphia shot 34% as a team from 3, which was good for 23rd in the League. Their best shooter was Nik Stauskas, who finished the season at 36%. Ben Simmons wasn't a good shooter coming out of LSU, so he alone can't change this. The role players also looked lost without a star on the floor. The ball was being moved around but no one got into proper position to score which means more difficult shots being thrown up to beat the shot clock and interceptions in the passing lanes. Dario Saric clearly isn't a number one option, disappearing in blow out losses. Defense was also a weakness, but more so a strength despite poor ratings. Injuries also exposed this team's lack of depth at the front court positions. At the end of the season guys like Tiago Splitter, Alex Poythress and Shawn Long were being brought off the streets to play with Saric and Richaun Holmes.

As I said defense was a strength and a weakness but that more so had to do with not having a good rim protector after Embiid went down and Nerlens Noel was traded to the Mavericks. With a good post presence in the paint, the perimeter defenders played with more aggressiveness knowing that they had help if their match up got behind them. Robert Covington was most effective on the perimeter and drew the biggest match ups every night. The team also benefits from long and rangy guys playing at all positions as the league moves towards a more athletic and lengthy style of play. The team's ball movement is also among the best when they aren't holding on to the ball too late into the shot clock. They averaged 23.8 assists per game, good enough for 6th.

*Markelle Fultz
As the number one overall pick, Fultz comes in with very high expectations. His ability to play on and off the ball will work wonders in lineups with Ben Simmons on the floor as the point guard. He has a very good first step which allows him to blow by defenders but his bread and butter is his inside-outside game. He knocked down the 3 at 41% at Washington but can also get into the paint at will. He may have some growing pains adjusting to a new level of competition but scoring comes so natural for him. He's also an underrated defender, despite what ESPN says, and his size and wingspan will benefit him greatly. Expect him to contribute right away.

*Potential Breakout Player
My player to watch this season is what steps Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will take. The 6-6 French SG played well as a rookie, showing promise as a potential 3 and D player. With the SG starting spot up in the air, let's see if he'll take advantage of the opportunity to secure that gig.

*Free Agency
The Sixers have 3 Free Agents: Sergio Rodriguez, Tiago Splitter, and Alex Poythress. I don't expect any of them to be retained heading into next season. The Sixers have well over $46 million. After drafting Markelle Fultz, it saves the team from offering a max deal to Kyle Lowry. I don't expect any blockbuster moves from this team, but addressing their three point shooting problem and big man depth could be something to keep an eye on. If I could sign two players it would be: Kyle Korver, who is much cheaper than JJ Redick, and Zach Randolph who provides a veteran presence and rebounding.

*Overall Synopsis
I do expect this to be the best team of The "Process" era but I'm going to keep my expectations. Best case scenario, they make it into the playoffs with somewhere between 40-45 wins. Worst case I have them at 38-44. With their building blocks in place, only thing left to do is build the chemistry that holds the home.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: The 2017 NBA Draft

By @TrueGodImmortal

The NBA Draft is here. This draft has become surrounded by so much hoopla and interest that we've lost sight of what we have here. The future of the NBA. Since 2011, the draft has brought us too many amazing stars yet, but in time, these guys could very well develop. If there's any draft that has some potential for future stars, it's this one. For the longest time, I figured that the Celtics were set on drafting Markelle Fultz at the no. 1 slot, and while he will still go at the no. 1 spot likely, it won't be the Celtics making the pick. The Celtics trade their no. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, who in turn have begun to build their team up with a ton of top draft picks. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem to be the two stars set on carrying the weight for the tram if they can stay healthy, with Dario Saric as a viable option for the future as well.

The 76ers find themselves in a great position to draft Fultz and continue their path and trusting the process. I think Fultz will amaze many people in the league and have a solid first season and he's my 2nd pick for Rookie Of The Year. Yes, he will be the no. 1 pick, but I think he has some possible competition in this draft class and one guy in particular could be coming for that ROTY award. Who might be that one guy be? Well, to give you a clear hint, he's the only Big Baller in the draft.

Lonzo Ball is expected to be selected to the Lakers with the 2nd pick, and I see a bright future for this kid. Regardless of what his father Lavar says in interviews to hype his son up, Lonzo is a special talent and he could be the point guard of the future for a Lakers franchise desperately in need of one. D'Angelo Russell probably wasn't going to be THAT guy, so, it's only right the Lakers invest in another point guard of the future. The Lakers lack of a solid PG since the Kobe title days has been their biggest issue alongside lacking a solid big man. Speaking of PG, I predict the Lakers will make a trade before the draft deadline and acquire Paul George as their new superstar player.  The logic of drafting a pass first guard like Lonzo is that he will have someone to pass it to that he can trust to score. The tandem of Lonzo and Paul George could be the jumpstart that the Lakers franchise needs to get back into the picture and the playoffs.

The biggest possible shock going forward in the draft? It all revolves around the no. 3 pick. The Celtics traded down for the no. 3 pick, which shows they had no interest in Fultz or even Lonzo. They were confident that their pick at no. 1 would still be available at no. 3 so they took a risk and made the trade with the 76ers. The strangest thing about this? I have a small feeling that the Celtics won't even end up keeping the pick by the time the draft starts. With the Knicks showing a willingness to trade Kristaps Porzingis, this is the perfect time for the Celtics to utilize the no. 3 pick and a future pick, along with a Jae Crowder to entice the Knicks and pull off a trade. The Knicks seem like they're interested in Josh Jackson and he's the projected no. 3 pick, and I honestly don't believe the Celtics want to pick him anyways. Who do I think the Celtics wanted to pick, if they keep the pick? Surprise, surprise, I think they select Jayson Tatum from Duke. It might seem like a shock, and it's possible they do take Jackson anyways, but don't be surprised if they take Tatum if they keep the pick.

The Suns have the 4th pick and they plan on shopping it for sure. My belief? If the Celtics or whoever drafts 3rd decides to take Josh Jackson, you'll see Tatum end up going to the Suns. If the Celtics take Tatum, then you'll see the Suns pick Josh Jackson to fill their need at the SF position. If the plan is to get rid of Eric Bledsoe, which is possible, you might see the Suns take De'Aaron Fox, which is a solid PG pickup for the team if they go with it. Truthfully, the 4th to 7th pick could go a ton of ways, as Fox, Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, Frank Ntilikina, Malik Monk, and Dennis Smith Jr. all are possibilities to go at one of these picks. My prediction is Tatum at 3, Jackson at 4, Fox at 5, Isaac at 6, Frank at 7, and then Monk at 8, though I'd prefer to see Monk go at 7 or even surprise everyone and go at 5. Likely though, Monk could end up at the 8th pick and that could be interesting.

Imagine a world where the Knicks end up keeping the 8th pick and get the 3rd pick as well as Jae Crowder for Porzingis. This is where I think we get a slight shocker and see the Knicks end up grabbing both Josh Jackson and Malik Monk, providing them with the possible future at SF and PG. The Knicks lineup could look very different and with mostly young players who need to grow if all goes like expected. I would prefer a world where Melo was traded to the Celtics for the third pick and Porzingis stayed in NY, but Phil Jackson is an idiot. Imagine a Knicks core with Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, and Porzingis leading the charge. That would be something special. Unfortunately, if Monk is gone before the 8th pick, the Knicks will end up selecting Frank, or possibly taking Dennis Smith Jr. earlier than projections.

In my last big prediction, I think the Charlotte Hornets end up drafting either Luke Kennard or Justin Jackson, but knowing Jordan, it would be Kennard. Either player fits well for the Hornets, but if I can be honest, I'd prefer to see Jackson go to the Bulls to provide some solid shooting. The fact remains, the draft has some huge talent this year, and we could be witnessing the arrival of the next batch of legends to the NBA. This could end up being a lot of fun.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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Eyes On WWE: Why Reigns Vs Brock Needs To Happen At Summerslam

By @TrueGodImmortal

Let me start off first by saying one thing: I'm not a fan of this rematch nor am I a big fan of either wrestler. However, I still consider myself a wrestling fan and there's no bigger event during the summer than Summerslam so it's all relative. The question that seems to be on everyone's mind is should Roman Reigns be the man to challenge Brock at Summerslam after the WWE seemed hellbent on forcing this match yet again at Wrestlemania?

Yes. Yes he should. The reason why? There's a much bigger match in John Cena vs Roman Reigns that could rock the New Orleans area for Wrestlemania 34 and engage more viewers. We've already seen Brock vs Reigns at Mania just two and a half years ago, and Brock has gotten lazier since that time, and Reigns hasn't got much more popularity. Now, this isn't like a huge clash of titans where their popularity rivals each other and the feud is fresh and new to us. We've seen this movie before. Paul Heyman comes out, puts over Reigns as a worthy opponent, Brock and Reigns have a face off and promo back and forth, then we head to Brooklyn for their title match. I get that the WWE will market this as the battle between two men who both defeated The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, but those accomplishments seem so miniscule now when we look at them. The match with Reigns and Taker, as well as the match with Brock and Taker are both forgettable, making their amazing feats just seem standard.

Reigns and Brock could have ended up on a different path, but if I'm WWE, I have my mind set on two goals going into Wrestlemania 34: saving Braun vs Brock for Mania, and pushing Reigns vs Cena. I think if the plan is to allow Brock to hold the belt until Mania, there's no need to give Reigns another Mania title match and main event. It's been overdone the last three years and each time, the audience seems to be out of it. It was sad watching the crowd seem disinterested for a 3rd straight Mania main event, even against a legend like The Undertaker. For me, the smartest choice here is to have Roman fight Brock at Summerslam, and allow Braun or another nemesis to cost him the title, setting up a future title shot for said nemesis, and setting up a feud between Reigns and the culprit going forward. Personally, if I'm the WWE, I'm turning Finn Balor heel at the end of the Summer, putting him with Gallows and Anderson, and allowing him to dethrone Brock for the title heading into Mania season. Why Finn? I think the rematch we need to see is Seth vs Finn while both are 100% healthy and for the Universal Title, as Seth's long journey is capped off by a title win at Mania, three years after his huge MITB cash in. Brock holding the title for a year does nothing good for the company, and a heel Finn with Gallows and Anderson spells a huge fall Shield reunion that ends up with the final chapter being Seth vs Finn for the title at WM34.

After the short-lived Shield reunion, I'd expect to see Reigns go after the free agent Cena, who is the only active legend that Reigns hasn't beat yet. While I'd never want to see Reigns win another Mania match, the vibe for the crowd during a Cena vs Reigns match is much more epic than a Brock vs Reigns match for a title we rather neither man hold. The thing is, the Shield Reunion, a heel Finn Balor, an epic Seth vs Finn title match, as well as a possible Brock vs Braun battle and Reigns vs Cena can't happen at Wrestlemania unless we get Brock vs Reigns now, at Summerslam. For the WWE, take the smart bet here and pull the trigger on Reigns vs Brock now, and watch how the domino effect can work in your favor.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Team Hell No

By @TrueGodImmortal 

One thing about makeshift tag teams is that sometimes they strike gold. Sometimes it doesn't work, and that's more likely, but when it does finally connect and work, there are some teams that exceed all expectations. The teaming of Daniel Bryan and Kane, otherwise known as Team Hell No is one of those teams with no question. With Bryan and Kane both being involved in the title picture and the upper mid card scene around the same time, no one would have guessed that they would end up together in a team.

After getting his catchphrase "No" over with the audience following them becoming enamored with his "Yeah catchphrase, Bryan was white hot going into the summer of 2012. He had been World Heavyweight Champion, and he was as popular as he had ever been in WWE. After a triple threat match featuring CM Punk took place, and a one on one match at Summerslam between the two,  we would then see Bryan and Kane go into anger management classes together and from there, the partnership was born. Bryan would be amazing in the anger management segments, making his comedic side known and Kane would be a perfect complement as well. After they would end up "hugging it out", Kane and Bryan then were set to team up and take on The Prime Time Players to see who would become the no. 1 contenders to the tag team titles.

After their win over the PTP, Kane and Bryan would face Kofi Kingston and R-Truth for the tag team titles at Night of Champions. After a successful victory over Kofi and Truth, Bryan and Kane would become tag champions and begin their surprise tag title run after being christened Team Hell No by a Twitter fan poll. They would feud with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow and prove to become a formidable team during this feud,  but they were still the usual makeshift odd couple tag team who would bicker and yell "I'm the tag team champions" at each other to prove that one was more important or stronger than the other. It was fun watching Bryan and Kane bicker and it would continue after the feud with Cody and Damien, and carry over into their battles with The Shield, but things were starting to change.

Kane and Bryan were beginning to gel even more as a team, and they would need all of the chemistry possible as The Shield presented a grave challenge. To make matters worse, after a 6 man tag match against the Shield where Team Hell No had Ryback by their side, Cody and Damien returned to feud some more. Kane and Bryan would end up winning both of the matches they had against Cody and Damien, but you could feel this run was slowly starting to come to an end. They continued their battles with Cody and Damien, as well as The Shield, but soon you'd see dissension amongst them both as solo title opportunities would come along. Still, they continued to defend their titles and at Wrestlemania 29, they would defeat the team of Dolph Ziggler and Big E to retain their titles. Bryan and Kane had held the titles since September 2012, and as April 2013 was coming to a close, they would have to overcome one final huge challenge.

The Shield were treated like they were untouchable, and they couldn't lose a match. With a tag title match against Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins set for Extreme Rules in May 2013, Team Hell No would see their reign come to an end at 245 days, as The Shield regained supreme on this night. After losing the titles, there was a story with Bryan and Kane where Bryan was trying to convince the world he wasn't the weak link of the team and as a result, he became more aggressive. This would work against the team, as they lost their rematch to The Shield and then decided it was time to amicably go their separate ways. After the team disbanded, we saw Bryan ascend to the highest heights in the WWE while Kane soon transitioned into becoming Corporate Kane, completely ending off any chance of a Team Hell No reunion. While Team Hell No was short lived, it was fun and one of those teams that made you tune in to WWE programming regularly. This team showed Kane was still able to be entertaining and showed that Daniel Bryan was more than just a great wrestler, he was a top tier entertainer as well.