Sunday 17 April 2011

Lockdown predictions

A week or so ago I wrote about gimmick themed pay-per-views. I was talking about WWE, but everything I said can also apply to TNA’s Lockdown event. If you’re unfamiliar with Lockdown the premise is that every match takes place inside a cage. In years past additional gimmicks have been added to some matches, though thankfully that’s only happened in a handful of matches this year. The trouble I had with WWE’s themed shows was that they diluted the gimmicks they based themselves around. In that company they’re only being used in a handful of. A show that features nothing but cage matches is doomed to fail from the start, surely? Well, let’s look at what TNA has in store for us.

This is a show TNA considers to be one of its biggest, so the booking and advertising tends to be better than for other shows. The company has tried to inject some variety into the card with multi-man and tag matches, but with the entire show taking place inside a cage the crowd could very easily be burnt out by the end of the night. Sadly the top matches look like the same old TNA nonsense. A triple threat between Mr Anderson, Sting and Rob Van Dam is a style clash waiting to happen while Jeff Jarrett v Kurt Angle has happened several times recently. In defence of the triple threat match, that wasn’t TNA’s original plan for the show’s main event. It’s been put together as a result of Jeff Hardy’s immature and unprofessional behaviour at Victory Road last month.

I think travelling to Cincinnati for this show is the right decision. Getting out of the iMPACT Zone more frequently for televised shows should be one of the company’s top priorities. The US Bank Arena will apparently be providing TNA its largest ever audience for this PPV. That’s exactly what they need. It will give the impression of a company operating on a large scale and allow new fans to experience the product. I’m hoping they get a hot crowd that gives a good atmosphere.

Xscape match – Amazing Red v Brian Kendrick v Chris Sabin v Jay Lethal v Jeremy Buck v Max Buck v Robbie E v Suicide

This is one of the matches that isn’t a traditional cage match. It starts out as an elimination match and becomes an escape-the-cage affair once the competitors are down to two. With eight men involved and likely around twelve minutes to work with this will be a rushed affair. With the haphazard approach that’s been taken to the X Division lately I don’t think there will be any logic to booking a winner. It’s a shame because the X Division should be one of the highlights of the company. I’ll pick Robbie E to win because he’s been used fairly consistently for a few months now.

Prediction: Robbie E

Douglas Williams and Magnus v Crimson and Scott Steiner v Eric Young and Orlando Jordan v Shannon Moore and Jesse Neal

This is another match that’s got too many people involved and not likely to get very much time. It will be forgotten by Monday morning. I like Williams and Magnus as characters, as a team, and as individual wrestlers. They’re both very talented men who complement each other nicely and I’m pleased to see them placed back together rather than having Williams treading water in the singles ranks. Moore and Neal are a decent enough team and I think they’d have a good regular match with Williams and Magnus, but with a cage and four other men clogging up the ring we won’t see any of that potential make it to our screens. Young and Jordan are a comedy act and shouldn’t be used in a serious bout (which I’m assuming this is meant to be), while Crimson’s yet to make any real impression on me and Steiner’s better as a singles heel.

The British Invasion are my prediction to win because they’re the team with the most potential and so ought to be booked strongly for the future of the company.

Prediction: Douglas Williams and Magnus

Matt Morgan v Hernandez

I don’t like Hernandez. He’s an unsafe worker with a boring, old fashioned gimmick. He’s been with the company for a number of years now and only got over when he was tagging with Homicide. That should tell TNA that he is not cut out for sustained pushes as a singles wrestler... which is possibly the very reason he has been awarded yet another sustained push as a singles wrestler.

Matt Morgan, on the other hand, is a great worker. He can talk, has a good look, and wrestles far better than most big men. It’s a shame he’s been saddled with Hernandez. I’d like to see him win this match (and for this to be the end of the feud) to set him up for a storyline with someone higher up the card.

Prediction: Matt Morgan

D’Angelo Dinero v Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe should not have been feuding with someone in Dinero’s position for so long. He should be used as an unstoppable monster who squashes everyone in his path, he shouldn’t be wrestling competitive matches with someone smaller than him. Ideally, this match would be kept short, but as none of their other matches have been booked properly I see no reason anything will change here. They’ll probably get in excess of ten minutes and have a decent match. But, as I’ve said, that’s not how Joe should be used right now.

In keeping with my theme for predictions so far, I’m picking a winner based on who I think needs it to set them up to be used well post-Lockdown. In this match, that’s Samoa Joe.

Prediction: Samoa Joe

TNA Knockouts’ championship v hair match – Mickie James v Madison Rayne (c)

This is another feud that’s been going for quite a while, and another one that should be culminating at this show. It should be one of the best matches on the card. The two women have had some very good matches together and I expect this will be another. The question you need to ask is not whether Madison Rayne will be booked to lose her title but whether Mickie James will get her head shaved. The way TNA works they could have Madison lose the title and then win it back at an iMPACT taping the next night, keeping her as champion and Mickie with a full head of her. I’m not saying that will happen, I’m illustrating that these sort of match stipulations mean nothing in TNA. I expect Mickie will take the title and have a lengthy run with it.

Prediction: Mickie James

Lethal Lockdown – Kazarian, James Storm, Robert Roode and Christopher Daniels v Abyss, Bully Ray, Matt Hardy and Ric Flair

When Christopher Daniels reappeared in TNA (on the March 31st episode of iMPACT) and joined forces with Fourtune I immediately thought it would lead to him turning on them and revealing he was in league with Immortal. I still expect that to happen, because of the TNA booking team’s love of swerve turns. I’ll be more surprised if Daniels doesn’t end up doing this.

The match itself should be a highlight of the show. It’s a Lethal Lockdown match, which is basically the War Games match with weapons and a different name (so as to avoid a lawsuit from WWE). As with all matches of this type the heels will have won a fictitious coin toss before the event, giving them a numbers advantage until the final member of the face team enters (which will also allow the final face entrant to get a good pop).

The Immortal team is, frankly, a joke. It consists of two men known mainly as tag team wrestlers being pushed as singles stars, a masked man who’s been flipped form heel to face and back so many times that it’s hard to care about him anymore, and a man who was once legitimately the greatest wrestler in the world but is now an embarrassment to himself and the company he works for. The right decision would be for Fourtune to win, establishing them as a dominant force, but the Daniels swerve turn will probably lead to a heel victory.

Prediction: Abyss, Bully Ray, Matt Hardy and Ric Flair

Jeff Jarrett v Kurt Angle

This has the potential to be an overbooked mess. It’s a two-out-of-three falls match with the first and second fall being contested by pin and submission respectively and the third by escaping the cage. I think Jeff will take the first fall after some sort of interference from Karen and Kurt take the second fall via the Ankle Lock. It’s going to end up going to a third fall, there’s no sense in one man taking the first two falls. I suspect Angle will be the victor. He needs to come out of this feud looking strong more than Jeff does. He’s also a face, and I think TNA will be looking to have a large number of face wins on this show to keep the audience happy.

Prediction: Kurt Angle

TNA championship – Rob Van Dam v Mr Anderson v Sting (c)

I described this as a style clash waiting to happen and I stand by that. RVD is not a natural fit in cage matches, he’s more comfortable being able to brawl to ringside and do a few high spots. His style doesn’t mesh especially well with either of his opponents. Anderson is too concerned with getting his gimmick over to enter more than a basic performance, and his clumsiness is a concern inside a cage. Sting is probably the most reliable worker in the bout. He usually enters a spirited performance and takes a lot of bumps for a man of his age. But he’s not got the skill that’s needed to carry a match against two dissimilar opponents. I’m sure there’ll be a fast pace, big bumps and blood, but it’s not going to be the classic TNA needs in the main event of one of their biggest shows of the year.

Anderson had been teasing a heel turn before announcing he wants to face Hogan. That’s really not a match I want to see, but I suspect we’ll have it at some point. Will Anderson turn heel? I originally thought he would, but now I think if anyone does it will be RVD because Anderson is the obvious choice and TNA loves to try and shock the audience. The build-up for this match has involved so much nonsense concerning someone joining Immortal that it’s almost become a stipulation. Of course, it wouldn’t be unlike TNA to do all this hype and then not turn anyone.

I’m picking RVD to win. I think there’s going to be a title change and I think it will be linked to someone joining Immortal. Why do they have to involve all this dross in their world title scene?

Prediction: Rob Van Dam

I don’t have high hopes for this show. On paper it looks distinctly average, with feuds that have rumbled on for too long all over the card. The focus of the main event has been more about who is secretly in league with Immortal than the prestige of the TNA world title, which is ridiculous. It makes you wonder why any wrestler would be bothered about winning it.

What this show does have going for it is unpredictability. There’s not one match outcome I’m absolutely certain of, which is a feature more wrestling shows should have. TNA should be commended for that. Hopefully they’ve lined up some fitting surprises for the show too, to create a buzz for iMPACT and their May pay-per-view, Sacrifice. It’s possible there will be an announcement concerning a rebranding. That’s a rumour that’s done the rounds a lot in the last week or so. It could be anything from a new logo to a new creative direction (which shouldn’t really involve an announcement, but you never can tell with TNA) to a new name for the company. Maybe all three or something else entirely. A big pay-per-view in a new market is a good place to make such an announcement so hopefully TNA made their decision and has a plan in place for the coming weeks.

Will this be a good show? Possibly. Will it be an all-time classic show? It’s not very likely. For TNA fans it’s sure to provide something enjoyable. Will the rest of us get the new direction, new feuds and creative focus we want? That, sadly, is almost certainly going to be a no. Let's just hope the main event lasts longer than a minute and a half.

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