Sunday 15 April 2012

Lockdown preview

When a stipulation bout is overused it becomes less meaningful. They need to be booked sporadically in order to preserve their aura and make them feel special, only being wheeled out when a feud needs them, otherwise wrestling promotions runs the risk of boring their fans and losing out on ticket and pay-per-view purchases.

You may think I’m talking about Extreme Rules. You’d be wrong. While what I’ve written above does apply to WWE’s next pay-per-view I’m actually thinking more of TNA’s Lockdown show. Every match is scheduled to take place inside a steel cage. That may sound like a novel and interesting idea but in reality all it does is place restraints on the booking team and run the risk of making the cage meaningless to TNA fans.

Why does it affect the booking of the show? Because there are only a handful of credible finishes to a cage match. They’re mostly variations on a theme anyway so TNA and its talent will have to work unnecessarily hard in order to make the seven matches scheduled for the show feel varied.

Personally I think a better approach to the annual Lockdown show would be to select two or three of the company’s top feuds and have them culminate in cage bouts, with everything else on the show occurring in regular contests (or at least introducing other stipulations to the event). But we have what we have.

Lockdown 2012 has been built around three feuds. Of these the rivalry between former tag team partners Bobby Roode and James Storm is by far the biggest. In the past six months the promotion has done an excellent job of making both men look like they belong in the main event. Bobby Roode has become a credible heel champion while James Storm has developed a great rapport with fans and become a surprise hit as the promotion’s lead babyface. I’ve written more on the subject here. In short: job well done.

Lockdown is a chance for Bobby Roode and James Storm to prove they can succeed on top

I’d expect Storm v Roode to go on last and get a lot of time. The men need to be able to tell a story and make this clash memorable. I’m predicting that ‘The Cowboy’ will leave as the new TNA world champion. Last time TNA seemed like they were on the verge of turning a corner and establishing new top line talent (at Bound for Glory last year) they messed things up. Hopefully that won’t happen this time and Storm will leave holding the gold having beaten the villainous and cowardly ‘It Factor’.

That’s the result TNA desperately need to get right. If they don’t they’ll risk undoing the good work of the last six months.

The second biggest rivalry is at the opposite end of the Getting Things Right scale. Garrett Bischoff and Eric Bischoff will lead opposing teams into a Lethal Lockdown match. What are the rules of that? One man from each team will wrestle for a few minutes before being joined by a member of one team. Each team will then send a man into the match at predetermined intervals until everyone is in the ring and eliminations start happening. Eric’s team will have the entrance advantage, meaning that his wrestler’s will begin entering first. It’s basically War Games under a different name (because WWE owns the rights to War Games).

There are some additional whacky stipulations. If Eric’s team wins Garrett Bischoff leaves TNA forever. If Garrett’s team wins Eric Bischoff can no longer use his own birth name. Why? Because this is TNA and logic is unpopular.

Team Eric consists of Gunner, Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, Bully Ray and Eric Bischoff himself, while Team Garrett consists of AJ Styles, recently-turned Austin Aries, recently-returned Rob Van Dam, Mr Anderson and Garrett Bischoff. I’m expecting the face team to win but I’d love the heels to go over so that Garrett is gone from our TV screens.

The third and final big feud for Lockdown is Jeff Hardy v Kurt Angle. They’re two of TNA’s top names and most talented in-ring performers. If they’re given enough time they’ll put on a great match. I expect they’ll get enough time for that to happen. ‘The Olympic Hero’ won their match at last month’s Victory Road so it’s probably ‘The Charismatic Enigma’s’ turn tonight.

Lockdown is an important show for TNA. Its level of success will allow the true popularity of Bobby Roode and James Storm as main event level talents to be gauged. For that reason alone I hope it’s a successful event. ‘The Cowboy’ and ‘The It Factor’ have been doing fantastic work and deserve the chance to continue. Good luck to them and TNA.

Predictions summary:

James Storm to defeat Bobby Roode for the TNA world championship
Team Garrett to defeat Team Eric
Jeff Hardy to defeat Kurt Angle
Magnus and Samoa Joe to defeat The Motor Coty Machine Guns
Velvet Sky to defeat Gail Kim for the TNA Knockouts championship
Crimson to defeat Matt Morgan
Robbie E to defeat Devon

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