Sierra. Hotel. India. Echo. Lima. Delta….SHIELD!

The SHIELD is Back in WWE

History of The SHIELD

June 2, 2014, “The chair shot heard around the world.” With one swift motion, Seth Rollins destroyed his creation, and perhaps the greatest faction to ever walk the halls of WWE, the Shield. It was a shock. The group was at its absolute peak at the time, having just dominated Evolution during the last two WWE pay-per-views, but “all good things come to an end,” and so did the Shield. Since the breakup, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns have all gone on to have great success as singles competitors. All three men have held the WWE Championship, and all three have been vital members of WWE’s roster.

No matter how much time went by though, and no matter who the three men feuded with, they were always drawn back to each other. The first time all three won the WWE Championship, it was by defeating another member of the Shield. Rollins pinned Reigns, Reigns pinned Ambrose, and Ambrose pinned Rollins. It’s been a beautifully told story throughout, and it’s finally reached the part we’ve all been patiently waiting for, the reunion.

Shield reunion on Raw

(c) WWE.com

What’s Next for The SHIELD?

It was always clear that the Shield would reunite one day. Everyone had their theory of how it would happen, and who they would feud against next. I was always a proponent of having them feud against AJ Styles and the Club, but that naturally didn’t happen. The way WWE chose to book the reunion might’ve seemed like a letdown on paper. After all, the MIz, Sheamus & Cesaro, Bruan Strowman, and Kane have no real tie to each other or the Shield, but so far it’s worked. Maybe it’s just the high of having the Shield back, perhaps the Miz is just that good on the mic, or maybe the formula never changed. Shield + any combination of WWE superstars= awesomeness.

My question is, what will happen to the “Hounds of Justice” once TLC has come and gone? Is WWE going to keep Raw’s top 3 performers in a faction? Will the Miz find new tag team partners and issue another challenge to the Shield? If the Shield ends up breaking up again, will Seth Rollins be a repeat offender? Or will one of his other Shield mates get their hands dirty?

Same Shield Story…Different Culprit?

As much as we all hated the fact that they had to break up in the first place, their initial break up ranks right up there with any team break up in wrestling history. Nobody saw it coming, and nobody had Seth Rollins being the one to defect from the group. Can WWE duplicate that success? I say they can, but only if they dare to turn Roman Reigns heel. I’m sure WWE is sick of hearing the plea from fans to turn Roman heel, but if there was ever a time to do it, it’s now. If Roman turns on his two Shield brothers, his level of heat would instantly skyrocket.

The most hated man in pro wrestling would become even more hated, except this time we’d all have a reason for hating him. Seth Rollins’ betrayal and subsequent heel run made him the most despised heel in WWE, but weirdly it also made fans reluctantly respect him. If WWE would steer into the skid and turn Roman heel, they might be able to rehabilitate his character, and finally, cash in on his great potential. The ball is in Vince McMahon’s court now.

The Shield is back

(c) wwe.com

Conclusion

For as many storylines as WWE has botched over the years, it’s moments like the Shield reunion that reminds fans why we tune in week after week. There is no telling where we’re going from here. Things could take a turn for the worse. WWE could somehow find a way to ruin the Shield, but for now, we’ve all got what we wanted. Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns, in combat gear, coming through the crowd, together, to the familiar sound of ” Sierra. Hotel. India. Echo. Lima. Delta…SHIELD!”

Read more by Wesly Avendano

New York Knicks 2017-18 Season Preview

NEW YORK KNICKS

Last Season: (31-51)

No Phil? No, Melo? No problemo. One could argue that the two aforementioned was the sole reason last seasons iteration of the Knicks was failing. Phil Jackson forcing upon his coach a system that has been outdated since the 2000’s isn’t the answer in today’s NBA. Not to mention the often uninspired play of Carmelo Anthony that seemed to stunt the growth of the younger players. Fast forward to this year’s roster and it doesn’t appear to be any better. However, you can definitively say that the New York Knicks are officially in rebuild mode. First, the frontcourt is a logjam after acquiring Enes Kanter in a trade that sent Carmelo Anthony west. He brings excellent rebounding and a knack for scoring around the rim but is also a liability on defense. He is competing for a starting spot with the likes of Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah and high upside Spaniard Willy Hernangomez who did well last season when filling in. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis will be the focal points of the offense which isn’t very encouraging. Three six Latvia has to prove he can stay durable and play a full season before taking the next step into superstardom. Can new addition Michael Beasley who has been telling everyone who would listen that he’s a top player in this league be enough to put this team in the mix? This roster just feels like a ragtag bunch of players thrown together hoping for a miracle. In the end, this Knicks team will hover around or below .500 for most of the season-ending it the same or worse than last season.

Key Acquisitions – Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Jarret Jack, Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter, Jarret Jack, Doug McDermott, Ramon Sessions

2017-18 Season Prediction (28-54) 

WWE’s Aesthetics Need Desperate Help

WWE’s Aesthetics Need some Help

I remember when I was younger watching The Undertaker and Kane come down to the ring. Their entrances made me think these guys were talented, and more importantly, bigger than life. Whether it was the haunting silhouette of Undertaker skulking down the ring, or Kane igniting the arena, these entrances mattered. There was a point that WWE knew aesthetics matter to the business, and it’s now time for some changes in that department. A Superstar’s entrance can take the average and make it extraordinary.

Bring Back Pyrotechnics for Superstars

Shawn Michael's Wrestlemania Entrance

This entrance is completely different without the fireworks

WWE currently has some budget concerns for the company, and one of the first things to be cut was pyrotechnics for their superstars. No more mortars are going off during your ring entrance, a tremendous shame.

It’s awkward watching Superstars who once had pyro behind them pause at that moment, and nothing happens. Could you imagine the Dudley Boys coming down to the ring without their signature rocket going off? Goldberg just walking out onto the ramp, boringly? Well, I didn’t want to, but it’s 2017, and I’ve now had to experience these uninspiring entrances. It’s worse now that no WWE superstar comes down to the ring with fanfare. I can understand removing them from weekly shows. There have been burning, and fire incidents in the past and consistent use is expensive.

However, removing them from PPV entrances only plays into the feeling of normalcy that many of the B show PPV’s have felt like this year. No amount of neon computer graphics and L.E.D.’s can make up for the epic visage of coming out to explosions.

Bring Back Titantron Videos

WWE used to play video of their Superstars on the Titantron before their matches. These highlight reels could be used to remind fans of the greatness of their favorite superstar. They get people hype, so why take them away?

Plus they just reinforce the already iconic entrance of some superstars with their memories. WWE superstars are feeling more mannequin by the year, give them back some personal flavor in their entrance.

 

Move the Raw Announcers’ Table Back Ringside

WWE Raw announce table

Why is this over here now?

I don’t know whose idea it was to move the Raw announcers’ table to up and alongside the ramp, but they need to get the ax. The announcers are no longer near the action, the ring feels shallower, and now there’s a critical piece of the “ring” missing. Aesthetically speaking, ringside feels empty, and there’s a lack of depth to the arena without the table at ringside.

Putting someone through the announcers’ table is a great spot. Banging someone’s head against the announcers’ table is a great move, and brings the action closer to the crowd. Without the announcers’ table at ringside, the Raw ring feels a lot smaller. And now the action has to stop and walk all the way up the ramp for the same spots that used to feel organic? No thanks.

Let’s move the table back to its natural position and bring back some natural ringside interactions. The announce team doesn’t need to feel like a separate entity than the wrestlers and the action inside the ring.

Make Promotional Posters Fit the Event

I already know who these people are, I don’t need constant reminders.

There was a time when WWE put out promo posters that weren’t just pictures of the roster and a date on it. Facial recognition is probably at an all-time high in WWE. Everyone’s gimmick is themselves, so having a little mysticism about the event itself can’t be so bad.

Not every match on the card is a marquee affair, and cramming everyone on the poster means that nobody on the poster is exceptional. WWE is taking the Disney Marvel approach to making posters. It doesn’t take that far back to find creative posters for PPV’s like Judgement Day, Armageddon, and others that bring intrigue to the event.

Chris Jericho Armageddon Poster

Y2J Ending the World? I’m okay with it.

See? Why is Jericho pressing that button? Nowadays it would just be Jericho and the 15 other superstars on that poster. No intrigue, no theme, just the presentation of wrestling.

 

As always, like and share, and feel free to leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/Heels of Wrestling

@MXMurden on Twitter and Instagram

 

 

 

Seattle Seahawks 2017 Season Preview

Last season the majority of outsiders viewed the Seattle Seahawks as “good, but not as good as they used to be,” which was probably a fair assessment. Despite a slow start, and thanks in large part to playing in a relatively easy division, the Seahawks were able to reach double digits in wins and even win a playoff contest with the Lions. Seattle enters the 2017 campaign, again, not as frightening as they once were. However, playing in an NFC West than includes both the Rams and 49ers, they have to be the favorite to take home yet another division crown.

2016 Record: 10-5-1

Notable Additions: RB Eddie Lacy, DE David Bass, OT Oday Aboushi, LB Arthur Brown, RB Mike Davis, OT Luke Joeckel, DE Dion Jordan, S Bradley McDougald, K Blair Walsh

Notable Subtractions: LB Brock Coyle, K Steven Hauschka, RT John Jenkins, TE Brandon Williams, OT Garry Gilliam, RB Marshawn Lynch’s rights

Notable Rookies: DT Malik McDowell, OL Ethan Pocic, CB Shaquill Griffin, S Delano Hill

Analysis: The thing that stands out most about the Seahawks’ offseason is the addition of former Packer Eddie Lacy, who will allow Seattle to play the smash mouth type of football they were able to utilize when Marshawn Lynch was taking handoffs from Russell Wilson. Speaking of Wilson, his ability to be a prolific dual threat quarterback will always create problems for opposing defenses. While he’s proven over and over again he can beat you with his legs, his arm can be just as lethal, with weapons like Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin at his disposal. The Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary is not as terrifying as it was when they made it to back to back Super Bowl – there were even rumors of Richard Sherman potentially being traded leading up to the draft – Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor will continue providing this team with a strong defensive backfield. Linebacker Bobby Wagner led the NFL in tackles last season, and led by defensive end Michael Bennett, Seattle’s front four should be able to get pressure on the opposing quarterback.

“The Big Dog” or “Super Cena?”

Roman Reigns vs. John Cena

Whose yard is it now?

“I can do this part time, better than you could ever do it full time.” Just like that, the two most polarizing superstars in WWE history, Roman Reigns, and John Cena became the center of attention in the wrestling world.

Their showdown, at this year’s No Mercy, will no doubt be hyped beyond belief, but who will ultimately come out on top? What’s the end goal for WWE? Is this their idea of a dream match, or is Cena just the latest superstar chosen to be sacrificed at the altar of Roman Reigns? What’s going to happen if Reigns wins and absolutely nothing changes?

Will Vince McMahon feed one of his most successful characters ever to a guy who just can’t get over with the fans? Or will “The Franchise” take down the most hated wrestler on the planet today, and regain the support of hardcore wrestling fans all over the world? The fact that all these questions exist make it one of the most compelling feuds WWE will produce this year. For the first time in a long time, I’m interested in John Cena, and Roman Reigns. Well done WWE, you’ve got my attention.

If Roman wins.

Will The Big Dog spear another victim?

If WWE puts Roman over in this match, it means they officially view him as their top guy, bar none. It means the days of Cena showing up with his “mythical golden shovel” are truly behind us. It means that no matter how much we boo and complain, Roman isn’t going anywhere. It would symbolize WWE taking a huge crap on its audience. I hate always to be “that guy,” but WE don’t like Roman Reigns. WE don’t accept Roman Reigns, and the only thing that will ever change that is the one thing WWE has already proven they won’t do, turn him heel. WWE executives act as if there’s just some golden feud out there that will change everyone’s opinion of Roman.

I get their logic, have Roman go up against the most hated heel in the company, and make the audience rally behind him in the process. The problem is, there’s no wrestler on the roster that hardcore wrestling fans hate more than Roman Reigns, and he can’t wrestle himself. Ultimately, Roman is in a “lose, lose” situation. If he beats Cena, then the marks (myself included) will just turn their noses at him and say “see, even Cena isn’t safe from Roman.” If he loses to Cena, it’ll make the fans happy, but it’ll also show that the powers that be might be starting to sour on their chosen one. Roman is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. He won’t get any sympathy from me though; I hate Roman Reigns…”Believe That!”

If Cena wins.

Or will we see the return of Big Match John?

If “Super Cena” shows up at No Mercy, and picks up a “W” over Roman Reigns, it can mean one of two things. First, it could mean that WWE has soured on Reigns so much that they had no other option but to go back to the well again. However, it couldn’t also be another weak attempt at getting Reigns over. WWE could see a loss to Cena as the last piece to the Reigns puzzle. They could theorize that losing to Cena might make fans rally behind Roman. I’d say the latter isn’t very likely, but  WWE has attempted dumber things to get Roman over before (retiring Undertaker).

As a hardcore wrestling fan, this feud conjures up mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m glad someone is finally cutting Roman Reigns down to size. On the contrary, I hate that it’s the fucking “Golden Boy” John Cena doing it. Seeing as how WWE has refused to turn Cena heel for over a decade now, this is the closest he’ll ever get at being a fan favorite again. Cena has nothing to gain from beating Reigns at No Mercy. It won’t bring him that’s elusive 17th World Title reign; it won’t get him anymore over than he already is, and it won’t rid the WWE Universe of Roman Reigns. Don’t expect “Big Match John” to get his hand raised at No Mercy. However, do expect him to carry the entire build up to the match.

This match belongs on a WrestleMania card. We still might see it at WrestleMania next year, but it won’t be for the first time so that it won’t feel as special. Regardless of that, we’re going to see the top star of his era, John Cena, go up against what WWE is hoping will be their next top star, Roman Reigns, in a match that none of us thought we wanted to see. That’s something pro wrestling can do better than any other sport, create a classic moment out of thin air. Whether you’re a member of the “Cenation,” a fan of the “Roman Empire,” or just a guy who hated Cena, and hates Reigns (like me), odds are you’re going to be glued to the screen when this match starts.

No Mercy will air Sunday, September 24th 8 pm EST, Live on the WWE Network.

Wesly Avendano

Baseline Times

Shoot from the Heels

Shoot from the Heels

WWE Week in Review (8.30.2017)

This week we saw two very different ways to shoot in wrestling. Promos vs. really injuring your opponent. We break down how great the former is, and how terrible the latter always will be. We also praise a fantastic Raw in opposition to a sagging Smackdown this week.

 

Make sure to comment and subscribe to the Heels of Wrestling show on Soundcloud and iTunes.

Following the Heels of Wrestling @TheHoWPod on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Follow each Heel as well.

Markus Murden: @MXMurden

Justin Velez: @MrPurple187

Bobby Nagel: @NagelMacNation

The Power of a Strikeout

One of the most compelling components of baseball is the strategy involved in nearly every single moment of the game.

For example: The pitcher and catcher are thinking about what pitches the hitter tends to hit well, what they’ve done in their previous at-bats, how many runners are on base and which pitch has the best chance of preventing a hit/runs scored. What kind of leads are the runners getting? What pitch is working well? etc., etc.

Infielders and outfielders are making adjustments based on if there’s a right/left-handed hitter up and what their levels of power and speed are. They’re thinking ahead to what will happen if they get the ball. How many outs? What’s the score? These factors all determine how they position themselves before the pitch is thrown.

How about batters and their thought process? There is a lot more strategy behind hitting than I can fit in one article, but power hitters, in particular, have been catching my attention lately.

You don’t have to dig deep to find that power hitters tend to strike out the most, and it’s no secret that they don’t really care. Khris Davis (OAK) is at 16 home runs with 60 strikeouts. Aaron Judge (NYY) has hit 17 home runs but has struck out 55 times. Joey Gallo (TEX) is at 16 home runs and 71 Ks. Mike Trout (LAA)– 16 HR, 42 strikeouts. Miguel Sano (MIN) is at 12 HR and 73 Ks! In 2012, Adam Dunn recorded 41 HR during the season with a whopping 222 strikeouts. Babe Ruth was referred to as the Sultan of Swat, but also as the King of Strikeouts.

What’s considered the most successful outcome of an at-bat and what’s considered the least successful outcome are simultaneously what most of these hitters seem to be the best at. Technically, these hitters are BETTER at striking out than they are at hitting home runs.

Revealing one of the many games within the game.

When a hitter strikes out, not only are they seeing more pitches, but they’re teaching the pitcher what to pitch to them. If a hitter watches a low outside fastball go by for a third strike, what is going through that pitcher’s head? Throw a low outside fastball or curve ball next at bat. If the batter is paying attention, he knows the pitcher is likely going to try that again. So he’s looking for that pitch in the next at-bat and will be prepared to do something with it! Knowing what pitch to expect naturally increases the ability to see the ball well and connect with it.

A true power hitter knows his job: to get a power hit. He knows that simply making contact with the ball might not be any more beneficial than a strikeout. If it’s not the pitch he’s looking for, it could result in an out anyway or worse, a double play. This mentality changes his swing and pitch selection. Chris Winder of the Ottawa Champions stated, “Power hitters let pitches go to set up a pitcher later. Their purpose is to power hit; they’re okay with striking out.” It’s foolish to think that any batter walks up to the plate with the intention of getting fanned. However, wanting to hit one out or at least get an extra base hit means they’re going to be looking for a pitch in their zone. If they’re not getting that – perhaps they’ll do what they have to do in order to get it, even if it means sacrificing an at bat.

I may be rehashing old theories, but in my opinion, you can never address the brilliance of baseball enough. Cheers to the strikeouts that led to home runs!

 

Callie Nelsen, Baseline Times MLB Contributor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MLB Season Predictions Review: May 22

We’re well over a month into the season, so it’s time to check in on our staff’s preseason MLB predictions. Take it easy on us. All the comments are mine, unless otherwise specified.

NL Predictions

NL East

Kory: Mets (18-24; 7.5 GB)

Dustin: Nationals (26-17; 1st place)

Charles: Mets

Kyle: Nationals

Original Comment: It’s an even split (Neil breaks the tie, I’m sure, by picking the Mets), as each team has a few question marks. Ultimately, I think the Mets will take it. Their staff, even with its current question marks, will be tough to beat. Once Matz is healthy, look out.

Updated Comment: I would like a do-over. Dustin and Kyle are going to win this one.

NL Central

Kory: Cubs (22-20; 3rd place; 2 GB)

Dustin: Cubs

Charles: Cubs

Kyle: Cubs

Original Comment: I’m glad to see that nobody here is insane. Sure, the Cardinals or Pirates could keep it interesting until August or so, but barring some very unforeseen setback, the Cubs should handle this mediocre division nicely.

Updated Comment: Clearly everyone here is insane. We clearly should’ve known that the Brewers would get off to the hottest start out of any NL Central team. I hate baseball. 

NL West

Kory: Dodgers (26-19; 2 GB)

Dustin: Dodgers

Charles: Dodgers

Kyle: Giants (19-26; 9 GB)

Original Comment: My prediction is Kyle will be wrong.

Updated Comment:  My prediction was pretty good here.

NL Wild Cards

Kory: Nationals (26-17; 1st in NL East) and Diamondbacks (26-19; T-1st in NL Wild Card)

Dustin: Mets (18-24; 6.5 GB in NL Wild Card) and Rockies (28-17; 1st in NL West)

Charles: Nationals and Giants (19-26; 7 GB in NL Wild Card)

Kyle: Mets and Dodgers (26-19; T-1st in NL Wild Card)

Original Comment: It’s interesting to note that we essentially agreed on a core of teams who would make the playoffs in the NL, even though we chose different avenues for those teams to get there. Each one of us chose the Mets, Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers to make the playoffs. Unlike Charles and Kyle, Dustin and I have no faith in the Giants. We chose to put our faith in the Rockies and the Diamondbacks to sneak in the second wild card, instead.

Updated Comment: Thank you, Colorado and Arizona for making Dustin and I look like we deserve to have baseball opinions. 

NL Pennant

Kory: Cubs

Dustin: Cubs

Charles: Cubs

Kyle: Cubs

 

AL Predictions

AL East

Kory: Red Sox (22-21; 3rd place)

Dustin: Red Sox

Charles: Red Sox

Kyle: Red Sox

Original Comment: Kyle says: “The Bawston Killer B’s (Benintendi, Betts, Bradley) keep the mojo going, and a resurgent Panda (or resurgent enough) hold off the biggest threat…the Blue Jays?”

Charles says: “I think they will win the division, but we shouldn’t underestimate how big of a loss Big Papi is. It will come down to the wire for the division, I think, between Baltimore and the Yankees [competing with the Red Sox].”

Updated Comment: Well…the Yankees are in 1st place. So everything is awful. The Red Sox have shown signs of life recently, and if David Price comes back healthy, I’m not too worried about this prediction. One thing is certain, though, this division is quite a bit better than we anticipated. Some things never change.

AL Central

Kory: Cleveland (23-19; 2nd place)

Dustin: Cleveland

Charles: Cleveland

Kyle: Cleveland

Original Comment: It’s a relatively easy clean sweep. They won’t have much of a challenge in this division.

Updated Comment:  Things started off iffy for the reigning AL Pennant winners, but Cleveland looks find now. When Kluber returns, I’d expect them to build a pretty sizable lead. The Twins have been a pleasant surprise (even if Buxton hasn’t been), but they’re still getting outscored on the season. That doesn’t bode well, long-term. 

AL West

Kory: Astros (29-15; 1st place)

Dustin: Mariners (20-25; Last place)

Charles: Astros

Kyle: Astros

Original Comment: Kyle (he’s an Astros fan) says : “Accept it, boners. We finally avoid the Rangers voodoo.”

Updated Comment:  Accept it, boners. Also, accept it, Dustin.

AL Wild Cards

Kory: Mariners (20-25; 4.5 GB in the AL Wild Card) and Rangers (24-21; 0.5 GB in the AL Wild Card)

Dustin: Astros (29-15; 1st place in the AL West) and Blue Jays (19-26; 5.5 GB in the AL Wild Card)

Charles: Rangers and Orioles (25-17; 1st in the AL Wild Card)

Kyle: Blue Jays and Mariners

Original Comment: Charles says: “The Orioles underachieved relative to their talent level last year.” I say they overachieved.

Updated Comment:  Charles is right on the money with his picks so far. 

AL Pennant

Kory: Astros

Dustin: Cleveland

Charles: Cleveland

Kyle: Astros

 

Your 2017 World Series Winner is…

Kory: Astros in 6

Dustin: Cleveland in 6

Charles: Cleveland in 7

Kyle: Cubs in 6

Original Comment: Kory says: It’s hard to bet against the teams that made it to the final series last season, especially when neither of them got noticeably worse in the offseason. My money is on the Astros cashing in on their offseason investments.

Kyle says: “Bullpens, offense, and versatility wins championships. And so it goes. Astros grind out a few wins between McCullers and the offense throughout the playoffs, but are out of their element against the best team in baseball.”

Charles says: “The Chapman-less Cubs can’t close it out this time. And so ends the only remaining WS drought. With no “curses” remaining, MLB needs to figure out how to manufacture some good story lines. Otherwise, what do we have to root for/against? They better hope Harper signs with the Yankees and revives the Evil Empire otherwise we’re looking at a league with no driving story lines that struggles to promote its stars.”

Updated Comment: Nobody is looking terribly bad with their World Series pick, so far. I’ve got the most reason to be optimistic. 

Bonus Pick: Winner of ABC’s The Bachelorette

Kory: DeMario

Dustin: DeMario

Charles: DeMario

Kyle: DeMario

Duh.