Let’s begin this review by giving props to TNA for the quality builds it has given to some of the feuds featured on this year’s Lockdown card.
In comparison to the WWE’s biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, TNA seems to have had more focus and more control over the direction it’s going in whereas WWE seems like it has taken its foot off the pedal somewhat.
TNA Lockdown is an annual event where every single match on the card is contested inside a steel cage.
Lockdown 2014 began with a six-man tag team match between Bad Influence and Chris Sabin taking on the Japanese contingent of current TNA X-Division champion Sanada, Yasu Nakanoue and one of the greatest legends in Japanese pro wrestling, The Great Muta.
For someone like me who used to tape the NWA highlights which ITV used to show back in the late 80s at some ungodly hour of the morning, seeing The Great Muta in action alongside the likes of Kazarian and Christopher Daniels in a good high-tempo match is incredible.
Despite his age, he never looked like he was struggling to keep up with the pace his team-mates – Yasu and Sanada – kept the match going at. Just seeing Muta do his trademark moves, spitting the green mist and hitting the Shining Wizard, was a great way to kick off TNA Lockdown in style.
Next up we got a promo from Dixie Carter deriding MVP and his chances in the main event tonight, and how Jeff Hardy breached the terms and conditions of his TNA contract by walking away and how security have been informed to stop him entering the building, which is a tease for his return tonight as alter-ego “Willow”.
One of the weak points of TNA of late has been the dreadful heel promos Dixie Carter cuts, they lack conviction and bite for me. She makes Vickie Guerrero look like a Royal Shakespeare Company-trained actress. That’s how bad she is. Stick to the business side of things, Dixie.
The build to the next match on the card has been quite interesting where Samuel Shaw (who looks a lot like Billy Elliot actor Jamie Bell) has been playing the role of the creepy obsessed stalker of TNA ring announcer Christy Hemme to great effect, while Ken Anderson has been playing the reluctant “knight in shining armour” role, who is trying to fend off Shaw’s unwanted advances on Hemme’s behalf.
Shaw has been booked to look strong in the past few weeks and Lockdown was no exception, as the storyline is looking likely to build more momentum over the next couple of weeks.
A “creepy bastard” chant began, directed at Shaw, and which Ken Anderson actively encouraged to get louder. This enraged Samuel Shaw even more, and it’s a good indication of how well Shaw has been playing this character that the crowd would begin chanting such an insult.
Most of the match was a standard back-and-forth brawl where Ken Anderson gained the upper hand for the majority of the match, until Christy Hemme became a third player in the match and led to Samuel Shaw using Ken Anderson’s concern for her to his advantage, hitting his choke lock finisher and escaping the cage.
Much like the way Bray Wyatt has been booked in the WWE, it seems that TNA are going all in with their slow build of Samuel Shaw as a frightening heel figure and making him look like an unstoppable threat. He has an extremely effective finishing move which looks like a more painful version of Tazz’s “Tazmission” chokehold, and here’s hoping they capitalise on what they’ve built already with this character.
Ethan Carter III cut a promo about how Kurt Angle wasn’t as good a wrestler as him and how he is the future of TNA and then issued an open challenge to anyone on the roster to come out and face him in a match.
Bobby Lashley came out to pops and cheers, EC3 told him to return to the locker room as he wasn’t on the TNA roster and Lashley grabbed him and performed a running powerslam on him before taking him out with a spear.
Tiger Uno vs. Manik was next on the card and it was exactly what you would expect from two high-flying wrestlers. Lots of pace and spots crammed into what I thought was a bit of a rushed match for Uno’s TNA debut, especially when you consider how TNA has been making a lot of noise about getting Tiger Uno into the promotion. However, you can see that TNA is going to be putting a lot of focus and attention into its X-Division and Uno will become a mainstay in there alongside Sanada. Uno’s finishing move “The Sabretooth Splash” is also quite spectacular.
Gunner vs. James Storm followed in a Last Man Standing cage match. The build-up for this has been quite good with Storm ruining Gunner’s chance to become TNA Heavyweight Champion and deriding Gunner’s military past.
What ensued was a fairly dull match. Something that should’ve been more of a knock-down, drag-out type of bloodsoaked brawl match just seemed to be a bit lightweight considering the build Gunner and Storm gave the match over the past couple of weeks.
Storm has been fantastic playing the heel role but Gunner, despite the look he has and the potential he has got, just seems to be slightly lacking on the mic and the move set at the moment. He also just seems a bit stiff and awkward at times when he is up against a more accomplished and talented wrestler and I think it will take time for Gunner to be seen as a top guy in TNA.
Compared to the match Storm had with Bobby Roode at Bound for Glory, it was pale by comparison, and it just never hit that level of excitement despite a decent spot at the end where Gunner suplexed Storm onto two chairs from the top turnbuckle to win the match.
A TNA Knockouts match between Madison Rayne and Gail Kim followed this, and it was – as expected – another back-and-forth affair, where Kim put on a better show and put more force into her moves than Rayne did. On evidence I have seen of late too, the TNA Knockouts division has a lot more going for it than WWE’s main roster Divas division where the focus seems to be less on developing the wrestling abilities of these superstars and more how they come across on the Total Divas reality show.
The first of the two main events for the evening came next with the TNA Heavyweight Championship on the line with one of my favourite wrestlers in the business today, Samoa Joe, challenging the man who has been denigrated in the past few weeks as a “paper champion”, the UK’s own Magnus.
Magnus has been developing into a convincing heel over the past few weeks but it has been a slow process, and it’s been at the expense of TNA mainstays like AJ Styles, Sting and Jeff Hardy, whereas Samoa Joe doesn’t really need to say or do anything other than look intimidating with the crowd chanting “JOE’S GONNA KILL YOU!” ringing around the arena.
For those of you unfamiliar with Samoa Joe’s techniques and skills, here is a supremely accomplished wrestler who can put on a great match with anyone and make them look good, and a quick visit to YouTube and checking out his matches with the likes of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries in Ring of Honor will testify to this.
This match won’t be as memorable as his work in that wrestling company but unlike the match we thought we’d be promised with Storm and Gunner, this one did seem to have everything in it from actual wrestling to proper busting eachother open brawling. It was entertaining up until a rather absurd ending where Abyss appeared from underneath the ring, dragged Samoa Joe under and then caused him to lose the match by hitting him with his club and then nailing him with the Black Hole Slam. It was just a silly way to end what could’ve been a great match.
Team Dixie vs. Team MVP was next up, where Bobby Roode led a team consisting of himself, The Bro Mans and Austin Aries against MVP, The Wolves and a returning Jeff Hardy wrestling under the new moniker of Willow.
This was the high-energy spotfest of a match you’d expect, and no-one looked like they had an off night, particularly Austin Aries who is one of the most underrated wrestlers in the business today. Jeff Hardy’s Willow gimmick seems to have brought a more unpredictable edginess to his character and it was quite amusing whenever he cackled after performing a dangerous high-flying move.
The main storyline swerve we saw here was the introduction of Bully Ray as “Dixie Carter’s insurance” that Team Dixie wouldn’t lose the match and relinquish wrestling operations to MVP, however it turned out to be a double-cross on the part of Bully Ray who stopped Bobby Roode powerbombing MVP through a table.
The match ended with MVP hitting Roode with the Yakuza kick and then celebrating with Bully Ray and the rest of Team MVP. Bully Ray then powerbombed Bobby Roode through a table thus completing his strange face turn.
Personally speaking, I don’t quite understand Bully Ray’s face turn but i can only assume it is because he has gone as far as he possibly can with his run as a heel where he was the TNA Heavyweight champion and leader of Aces & Eights.
This match will also be marked out as important to Bobby Roode’s eventual face turn, as he was undoubtedly screwed out of his chance to own 10 per cent of TNA due to Dixie’s incompetence.
As a whole, the event was a mixed affair, with two main events muddied by strange storyline swerves which will undoubtedly be ironed out in subsequent TNA Impact tapings, and some interesting things to come from Samuel Shaw and Jeff Hardy’s new direction.