The latest pay-per-view from TNA Wrestling took to the road as Cincinnati hosted the cage match themed Lockdown Sunday event. In a surprising move, the Lethal Lockdown match between Immortal and Fortune was saved for the end, culminating in the return of AJ Styles to assist Fortune and help Robert Roode submit Ric Flair with an armbar for the win. In the other main event of the evening, Sting thwarted the efforts of both Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson to defend his World Heavyweight title, much to the ire of Hulk Hogan.
First off, I, as well as thousands of other TNA fans, predicted that either Mr. Anderson, Sting, or RVD would turn heel to lead the charge and front Immortal for the time being. Alas, no such turn happened, even with Hulk Hogan gift wrapping a lead pipe to RVD mid match, who in turn refused to use the advantage given to him from the Immortal legend. Not soon after, Anderson would bash RVD over the head with the pipe, but just in time for Sting to catch him with a Scorpion Death Drop and pin Anderson for the three count.
This made little to no wrestling sense-if either guy tapped, the match would be essentially over. While it didn’t take away from the overall contest, a keen show of solidarity would have earned both guys brownie points and bolstered the match above what I’m calling a slight disappointment. Later on, Anderson would hit a double Mic Check…at this point I was really calling for a double Monkey Flip from RVD, but it never came.
Sting retaining the belt but staying opposed to Immortal makes little sense to me. I understand that he can still entertain, but why in the hell is he still over on RVD and Anderson? Lockdown is one of TNA’s flagship events-something should have happened that didn’t involve completely burying your only viable heel stable while keeping your World title on a 50 year old.
As for Lethal Lockdown, most agreed that AJ Styles would return in some fashion, but who would he side with-his mentor Ric Flair or best friends in Fortune? Having attended the last Lethal Lockdown match at Bound For Glory between Fortune and EV 2.0, I can safely say that this kind of match is best enjoyed live. On your television screen, the chaos and general overcrowding of eight guys in a cage can be difficult to watch, especially when action begins to spill outside and on top of the cage.
The spot of the night came when Christopher Daniels hurled himself off the top of the cage, landing a cross body on Abyss and Matt Hardy. Again, this had to look absolutely sick from inside the arena, whose fans had up until that point backed Immortal, especially a busted open Ric Flair who was going all Joey Votto with his kendo stick.
There were some predictable moments throughout the match, but a tip of the hat goes to Immortal for “stragizing” and sending out their biggest body, Abyss, first. I appreciate TNA’s pandering to our smarter side by forgoing the obvious smaller body like Matt Hardy to carry the first five minutes and opting for a bull like Abyss to establish control early. Kazarian and Abyss didn’t tear the house down as an opening, but once Matt Hardy came in for the 2-on-1 advantage, the rivalry really geared up. Hardy applied his Icepick submission while Abyss stomped away on Kaz’s back. Bully Ray also channeled his inner Michael Cole repetitive trash talk by taunting Kaz with a “smash his pretty face” as Abyss had him pinned in the corner.
Ric Flair just made this match silly. When James Storm entered, there was this really corny bit that saw Flair drop to his knees and what looked like an open invitation for Storm to smash his beer bottle over Flair’s head, busting him open. Not only was this willingness to give up nonsensical considering the power play portion was still in effect, the camera guy panned in just as Flair was blading. Yuck!
Eventually, all eight participants were in and the roof lowered, bringing with it a cache of weapons that was quickly utilized by Fortune. The tides would turn as Bully Ray and Flair would get a hold of trash cans and kendo sticks, obliterating everyone in sight before AJ Styles’ music hit. After overpowering Ray, Styles turned his attention to Flair and at this point it was clear that Immortal had been excruciatingly bested again. Although I’m satisfied that Vince Russo and Co. didn’t turn Styles back into a heel, I really thought it was an odd choice to not turn Christopher Daniels, Sting, or Rob Van Dam on the show. With nothing groundbreaking happening, I can only expect that either Bully Ray or Jeff Jarrett commandeer the top spot in Immortal, because TNA cannot go much longer having a bevy of faces flounder around at the top, unopposed.
In what ended up being the match of the night, Jeff Jarrett escaped the cage and defeated Kurt Angle in an Ultra Male Rules match. The rules of this were pretty straightforward and possibly reported incorrectly last time out on Impact!-initially, you had to pin, then submit, and then if tied up escape the ring for the win. Come match time, it was stated that submission was the first fall, followed by pinfall and escaping.
My only complaint is that with such an open ended concept like this, have the first fall be either pin or submission, with the second being the opposite of the first. This would have added to the level of excitement and saved us from the submission fest to begin the match.
The first fall came when Jarrett had an armbar cinched in but Angle beautifully reversed it into the ankle lock, causing Jarrett to tap. That’s when business really picked up. Angle stumbled across the ring for his top rope suplex toss, but missed the rope on the first attempt. When he finally tossed Jarrett, Angle didn’t push out enough and Jarrett’s head landed across Angle’s chest in a clearly botched move. After several close calls, Angle went for the Angle Slam which was quickly reversed by Jarrett for a roll up and the three count, tying the Ultra Male score. There seemed to be some confusion both from the ref and the announce team about the three count, which I’m assuming wasn’t planned because it really slowed down the action.
Kurt Angle gained the upper hand by hitting a chain of five German suplexes in a row, which was then followed by yet another dangerous botch, this time Jarrett having dropped Angle on his head/face during a top rope powerbomb.
Despite all these errors, the match continued as both guys sold out for the pay-per-view. When Angle went to escape, Gunner came out and tried to make the stop by swinging a chair at him, which caused Kurt to moonsault off the top of the cage back down onto Jarrett’s body. Although he performed the stunt at last year’s Lockdown, it remains an impressive move that’s hard to forget. Gunner would be chased away by Scott Steiner, but Karen Jarrett (who had been ejected by the ref at the beginning) sprayed Angle in the face with hairspray, stopping him from leaving through the door.
Though blinded, Angle managed to mistakenly hit the ref, lock in two more ankle locks on an escaping Jarrett that were met with Karen handing a guitar to Jeff to use on Kurt, and later directly harming her ex-husband by slamming the door on his face. This last effort on Karen’s part finally allowed Jeff to slither through to the floor, thus winning the match. Say what you will about the entire Jeff-Kurt program from the last few months-a good portion of the negativity was erased by one of the best matches I’ve seen from this company in a while.
Another match that exceeded its hype was Samoa Joe finally shutting up The Pope with a nasty rear naked choke. In a match that was billed Street vs. Submission, The Pope wasn’t changing my opinion of him early on by sporting gear that was half Russell Crowe Gladiator and half Shawn Michaels circa 1997 glitz and leather glamor. The pacing was executed superbly, shifting around from chain wrestling, submission, brawling, and signature moves. Eventually, Pope went for his DDE finisher, which was abruptly transformed into Joe’s Muscle Buster. Instead of the pin that was unsuccessful after the first Muscle Buster, Joe opted for the rear naked choke for the win.
Matt Morgan and Hernandez didn’t blow me away but they didn’t disappoint, either. In what I expected to be a slow, methodical, mundane match I got an effort that saw some brilliance at both the beginning and end. Early on, as Morgan was climbing up top Hernandez’s Mexican America ally Anarchia reached through hole in the cage meant for the camera and grabbed Morgan’s leg, allowing Hernandez to hit him with a big splash. From there the fight was somewhat boring and the crowd was subdued until the end. Anarchia attempted to run interference by climbing the cage, but was quickly face palmed by Morgan through the cage, a la Mario knocking off scaling Koopas in Bowser’s castle. Very cool stuff. Not but five seconds later, Hernandez jumped off the top rope into a devastating Carbon Footprint from Morgan, who earned the pinfall.
While the last spot of this match was amazing, I still don’t agree with Morgan winning. While dominating Mexican America, Matt Morgan can now do what…join the rest of the faces in the chase for the World title? This issue was later compounded when Sarita and Rosita jumped in the ring and went on a rant about Mexicans being robbed in this country. This notion completely contradicts the 100% clean finish to the previous match. WTF? Also, Rosita wasn’t helping matters by continuing on in Spanish-TNA fans are several things, senorita, but bilingual ain’t one of ‘em. Their rant was cut short when Velvet Sky hit the ring and steamrolled both ladies. Man, Mexican America’s jobbing all over the place!
The four way tag team match between Ink Inc., British Invasion, Scott Steiner & Crimson, and Orlando Jordan & Eric Young was highly entertaining considering how little effort and story backed the match. Ink Inc. was booed coming out while Scott Steiner got the biggest applause from the Cincy crowd. All the teams did their part…Douglas Williams and Magnus carried a good portion while Eric Young provided the comedic relief, including trying to mistakenly escape the cage on more than one occasion and later stripping down to just a leopard print speedo. While Crimson was horrifically underutilized, Steiner stole the show, suplexing everyone in sight and continuing his feud with Shannon Moore. After the match completely broke down, Shannon Moore snuck n a Mooregasm finisher on Williams for the somewhat surprising win.
Six out of eight acceptable matches ain’t bad-the two duds came from the X Division Xscape Match and the Knockouts title bout between Madison Rayne and Mickie James.
I’m not exaggerating when I say Mickie James beat Madison in roughly 45 seconds. When Mickie first came out, it looked like she could barely move her injured left shoulder, which wasn’t a good sign from the get go. Madison came out, was promptly tossed into the side of the steel cage about four times, given a DDT and pinned by Mickie, who became the new Knockouts champ. I know TNA eventually wanted to get the strap on Mickie, but she shouldn’t have been wrestling tonight.
If you can’t even look ready for a match and all you are doing is walking down a ramp, don’t even bother coming out. Really, it’s in the writer’s hands to rewrite the story and have Tara wrestle instead of Mickie. Tara is quickly becoming liberated as Madison’s indentured servant, and everyone knew about Mickie’s injury weeks ago. A squash like this was inexcusable-to see the longest tenured Knockouts Champion come out and job to a one-armed opponent in less than a minute is a stark example of why so many people rag on TNA and their nearsighted choices.
At this level of gimmick and importance I would have rather seen a surprise ending than a formulaic, crowded match that didn’t really see any innovative use of the cage or many high flying spots at all. Kendrick and Amazing Red worked their tails off in this match…give one of them the green light. It would be extremely difficult to a bury a guy in this match, so this ending should have been more surprising.
VERDICT. Overall, I can take a couple of stinkers when the rest of the show was surprisingly exciting. And even though we didn’t see the turn that seemed so obvious, perhaps the brilliance of it all was keeping most of the puzzle pieces in tact? We all looked left as TNA went right. 7/10.
TNA Lockdown 2011 Results
Max Buck def. (in order of elimination) Brian Kendrick, Robbie E, Jeremy Buck, Chris Sabin, Amazing Red, Jay Lethal, and Suicide
Ink Inc. def. British Invasion, Crimson & Scott Steiner, and Orlando Jordan & Eric Young
Mickie James def. Madison Rayne for the Knockouts title
Samoa Joe def. The Pope
Matt Morgan def. Hernandez
Jeff Jarrett def. Kurt Angle by escaping the cage
Sting def. Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson for the World Heavyweight title
Fortune def. Immortal in Lethal Lockdown
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