Monday, April 18, 2011

TNA Lockdown 2011

So I went to TNA Lockdown this evening. I can't pass up an opportunity to go to a PPV, I've only been to three others: King of the Ring 2002, Cyber Sunday 2006 and WrestleMania 23, plus, tonight was free! Hey, free wrasslin PPV, can't beat that, right? Well, let's find out.

I was surprised TNA was even allowed to run a show at US Bank Arena, they usually run shows at the smaller Cincinnati Gardens and I figured WWE had some sort of exclusivity deal. Throughout the Monday Night War, WCW was always at US Bank Arena while WWE was stuck at the Gardens. WWE returned to US Bank after the WCW purchase and until tonight, was the only wrestling company to run in the building in the last decade. Anyway, I was surprised by how many people showed up, Cincinnati does love their wrasslin, but I thought they were all stuck in 1996 and wouldn't know what a TNA is. Judging by the sea of nWo shirts tonight, they're definitely still stuck in 1996, but they do know TNA after all, I'd say there were 5,000-6,000 people there tonight. Roughly half the arena was filled, though there was a lot of empty space on the floor and the entire side of the arena where the hard camera was placed was almost completely empty.

Brother Devon vs. Anarquia was the pre-show dark match and I thought they did a good job doing something different to get the crowd ready for the show. Match started with a brawl outside the ring and while things slowed down considerably once it got in the ring, I've always had a soft spot for D-Von and enjoyed the match for what it was. After the match, Devon beat up Anarquia some more, even giving him a couple suplexes on the ramp. I don't know why this happened, I don't regularly watch TNA so I don't know if these two have issues, but it seemed a bit excessive.

X-Division Xscape was the opening contest of the PPV, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Robbie E vs. Amazing Red vs. Max Buck vs. Jeremy Buck vs. THE Brian Kendrick vs. Chris Sabin vs. Suicide. Now I'm out of breath. Suicide got a MASSIVE pop, which struck me as odd for a character from a five-year-old video game that only springs up every once in awhile, and to respond to this ovation, TNA had Suicide eliminated first. Perhaps Kaz was working under the mask and they didn't want him to risk any sort of injury before the main event? They could, of course, fix this by putting someone else under the mask, but c'mon, it's TNA.

Anyhoo, the match was fun for what it was, an X-Division spotfest, but if I think about it for too long, I realize how completely useless the X-Division really is. TNA apparently thinks so too, because despite the massive pop for Suicide and the crowd BEGGING for Brian Kendrick to win, they instead go with... Max Buck. Nothing against the Young Bucks, they're a solid tag team, but why is Max Buck winning an eight-man cage match to determine a #1 contender for the X-Division Championship? Better yet, why isn't Brian Kendrick, Jay Lethal, Suicide or anyone besides the Young Bucks? Typical TNA eyebrow-raiser and it hurt the crowd as a result.

Eric Bischoff came out for a promo that didn't really have any point. Gotta hand it to Bisch though, the Cincinnati crowd HATED him just as much now as they did at Cyber Sunday 2006. Sadly, my "ONE TRICK PONY!" chant did not catch on with the crowd.

Ink Inc. vs. Scott Steiner & Crimson vs. Eric Young & Orlando Jordan vs. The British Invasion was, at least from my perspective, utterly pointless (I'm sensing a pattern). Granted, I don't watch TNA regularly, so maybe I'm missing something, but this match just seemed oddly thrown together and the only thing people cared about was Scott Steiner. Steiner's become something of an internet legend in recent years, probably due to the magic that happens when you hand him a live mic, but I never really understood the fascination until tonight. Scott Steiner is awesome and my buddy Tank commented that Cincinnati was ready to elect him mayor or the new head coach of the Bengals, anything to keep Steiner in Cincinnati. Ink Inc. won the match, and I would say that was a stupid decision, but somehow they were the second most interesting team in there. Yeah, it was by default, no one wanted to see Eric Young & Orlando Jordan in tiger speedos and no one wanted to see the British Invasion period, so if you're not going to let Steiner win, then Ink Inc. it is.

Mickie James vs. Madison Rayne featured Mickie James doing what she does best, win matches in under 60 seconds. Hey, it's like she's right back in the Diva's division! In all seriousness, Mickie was legitimately injured after they announced the hair vs. title stipulation, so I guess they had to go through with it. Of course, they could've substituted someone in her place, postpone the match and have a cool storyline where Madison demands Mickie's hair by forfeit, but c'mon, it's TNA.

Samoa Joe vs. The Pope was up next and I was glad to finally get to see Samoa Joe in person. Even more glad that when I finally got to see Joe, he was back to his traditional look and not that silly Nation of Violence stuff. I really like both these guys, but the match didn't really click for me at first. Oddly enough, I'd say the turning point was the gratuitous male nudity, when Joe pulled down Pope's trunks and exposed his ass to viewers in over 120 countries. Oh gratuitous male nudity, you used to be so common in wrestling! Seriously though, the match picked up after that (it's Pope's version of Hulking Up), and wound up with some fun stuff in the final minutes. Joe won with the Muscle Buster and Koquina Clutch and even though it's pretty obvious he's just collecting a paycheck at this point, I was happy with the match.

Matt Morgan vs. Hernandez was seven shades of terrible. A few things bothered me before the match even started: first, Morgan's little vignette where he talked about his "Final Solution" for Hernandez's "Mexican America" made me and my buddy gasp in horror. Uh Matt, you might want to crack open a history book sometime and find out that you really shouldn't reference the Holocaust when you're talking about a wrestling match, especially when your opponent is of a different race. Ethnic cleansing comments aside, it bothered me further when the audience got extremely racist when Hernandez came to ringside. I get it, it's a take off of the evil foreigner gimmick, but to the guy in front of me who couldn't stop saying "yo queiro Taco Bell," you make me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan.

The match itself was awful as mentioned. I think my cohort Jason Mann summed it up best: "I'm convinced the people who like Matt Morgan have not actually seen him wrestle." Personally, I was rooting for Hernandez after the staggering amount of racism. In my head, this became a story about a successful Mexican immigrant who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and made it to a prime position in a national wrestling company in a battle against The Man. Unfortunately, much like in real life, The Man won. Down with oppression! Finish was pretty cool, but yeah, the whole match left a really bad taste in my mouth. Bring on Matt Morgan's failed quest for the TNA World Title #413!

Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle was far and away the Match of the Night and nothing else even came close. I've been watching Jeff Jarrett for about 15 years now and I can honestly say this was the first time I ever saw him a memorable match and this feud with Angle is literally the only time I've ever been interested in one of his stories. The match was damn good, even if no one explained "Ultra Male Rules" to the audience except between falls. I thought it would involve who could grill the perfect steak, change the oil in Karen's car and then clean the gutters.

Even if it did drag a bit at parts, Angle more than made up for it by damn near killing himself on several occasions. Jarrett was no slouch either and I'd be surprised if he walked out of this one without a concussion. I seriously thought Angle was going to break his neck on top rope powerbomb though, that was terrifying. Moonsault was awesome too. And a hearty "LOL" to Angle busting out the RKO in response to Orton using the Angle Slam recently. I'm sure tomorrow he'll just say that someone hacked his moveset.

I've seen quite a few people pissed about Jarrett getting the win through shenanigans, but honestly, I think it was the right call. As another cohort, K Sawyer Paul, has mentioned, Kurt Angle is no longer a triumphing hero, he's a broken man. Maybe Kurt doesn't get a happy ending, the good guys don't always win, sometimes the guy that steals your wife gets to kick you while you're down. It's a great story, Angle is technically the better man, he just can't prove it while his ex-wife rubs it in his face. That sucks and anyone can sympathize with it, the story just works better as a tragedy. And still, it was a damn good match.

I was confused that Sting vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Mr. Anderson for the TNA World Title didn't go on last, but considering how awful it was, it was a good thing it didn't. I was truly excited to see Sting perform live for the first time in my life, but was really bummed when he didn't play "Roxanne." Wait, what?

It was great to see Sting and maybe I'm just being overly critical, but it seems like he was the only guy that gave a damn in this one. I love Mr. Kennedy, I believe he's WWE's biggest missed opportunity of the last decade, but based on what I've seen from him in TNA (which admittedly, isn't a ton), I don't know if I love Mr. Anderson. Maybe he's not getting the right opponent to work with, maybe he's the kind of guy that needs the more hands-on road agents that WWE has, or maybe TNA just isn't the right fit for him, because it isn't clicking in the ring for this particular fan.

RVD is another guy I love, but I don't love in TNA. Though that might not be TNA's fault, that could have more to do with the fact that RVD has been portraying the exact same character with literally zero changes in the last 15 years. Same look, same ring attire, same ponytail, same taunts, same gimmick, same moves, same finisher, and he'll be coming to the ring with some kind of hard rock music. I wonder if RVD even needs to lay out a match with his opponents anymore?

RVD: "Hey man, you want to talk about the moves we're gonna do?"
Opponent: "Dude, I've been watching you for 15 years, I think I got it."
RVD: "Cool bro... wanna get high?"

I kid, I kid. The match was a mess though and the Hulk Hogan run-in didn't help. I'm pretty pissed off that Hogan's douchebaggery earlier in the week, mocking Edge's retirement, kept me from being able to cheer for the Hulkster. I wanted to shoot the moon, dammit! Though the match didn't really work for me, I did think they had some cool bits and Sting winning was a nice touch. Teasing Hogan vs. Sting for the TNA World Title though? Not so nice. Maybe they think they can get it right 14 years later?

Main Event time! Lethal Lockdown match with Fortune: Kazarian, Beer Money & Christopher Daniels vs. Immortal: Ric Flair, Bully Ray, Abyss & Matt Hardy. I dig the concept: War Games Lite with weapons, but let's be honest, is this a PPV main event? Kaz and Beer Money are good, but Christopher Daniels is hired and fired by TNA on a bi-monthly basis at this point, Abyss is never going to be interesting no matter how hard TNA tries and Bully Ray and Matt Hardy are 1/3 of WWE's tag team division from ten years ago. Then there's Ric Flair, who is the best part of TNA, but I really don't want to see him bleeding like a stuck pig anymore, I worry about him! Although I do want to see him wrestle in a wifebeater, slacks and dress shoes, that's money.

Not to rag on TNA more than I already have, but I feel like people are going to talk about TNA putting "young guys" in the main event, even though none of these guys are actually young or new to TNA. At 33, Kazarian was the youngest guy in the match and he's been with TNA from practically day one. In that regard, the match was everything that's wrong with TNA: a bunch of "up and comers" who have been around forever.

The match itself was okay, fun brawl with some sprinkles of insanity here and there. Daniels diving off the cage was absolutely beautiful, though I couldn't help but feel bad about him doing it because you know TNA still won't do anything with him. Again, not to be Debbie Downer or Mr. Cynical, but the guy's been jerked around by TNA since TNA has existed. I certainly appreciate the desire to entertain and believe me, Daniels entertained me tonight, I just feel like we've been down this road before. Many times, in fact.

Oh and hey, more gratuitous male nudity! This time from Ric Flair, who is the pioneer of GMN in wrestling. Ric was just showing the ladies what was waiting for them later tonight on Space Mountain... although when he's in Cincinnati, Ric takes them for a ride on THE BEAST.

Things dragged considerably between Daniels' dive and AJ Styles running in for the save, but the crowd did get pretty excited for his appearance. Though I do have to wonder why AJ did little more than a few punches and then they ended this otherwise brutal and insane match with poor Ric Flair tapping out to an... armbar. Surely there was a more climactic finish in there somewhere? But c'mon, it's TNA.

Hey, at least Angle vs. Jarrett was good! The card was already terrible on paper going into Lockdown, most of the wrestling wasn't particularly exciting coming out of Lockdown, and then there were the bizarre finishes and the good guys winning by beating up on poor old Naitch. At least I got to go to a PPV though! All things considered, it was a fun experience, always happy to go watch wrestling with friends (especially when it's free) and I got to see Sting, but yeah, this is why I don't watch TNA on a regular basis.

TNA Wrestling: The Best of the Asylum Years, Vol. 1WWE: Nature Boy Ric Flair - The Definitive CollectionWWE - Rob Van Dam - One of a Kind

1 comment:

  1. "...but was really bummed when he didn't play "Roxanne." Wait, what?"

    I LOL'ed. Good to hear I didn't miss much.