TNA presents the first-ever edition of Lockdown, their unique pay-per-view innovation contested entirely within the Six Sides of Steel. Impact Wrestling have kindly uploaded the entire event to their YouTube channel! So, feel free to follow along as we dive into a show that includes the inaugural Lethal Lockdown match, pitting Team Jarrett against Team Nash. Elsewhere, A.J. Styles battles Abyss for an opportunity at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, whilst both the X Division and the NWA World Tag Team Championships are decided inside the cage!
TNA Lockdown, April 24th 2005:
The opening video package, perhaps the best they’ve produced to date, focuses on the personification of the steel cage. It’ll play host to the entirety of tonight’s action in Orlando’s Universal Studios, where the duo of Mike Tenay and Don West are on commentary. They discuss the impending Lethal Lockdown match, where Team Nash will fight NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett’s team. Nash has a staph infection, the result of an attack by the champion. He is therefore unable able to compete tonight. Will anyone replace him? If so, who? We’ll find out later…
Ahead of our opener, a cameraman enters the ring wearing a helmet and body armour for his protection. The referees bump nearly as often as the wrestlers in TNA, where’s their gear?
1: Apolo & Sonny Siaki def. Chris Candido & Lance Hoyt in a Tag Team Six Sides of Steel Cage Match in 6:58.
Within moments of the opening bell, Candido suffered a broken leg. This required surgery which sadly caused a blood clot, costing him his life at 33 years-old. As the show progresses, multiple wrestlers take dangerous risks and put their bodies on the line; it’s a cruel irony that a regular dropkick led to such a devastating outcome. Obviously, the match is irrelevant in comparison, but credit to those involved for putting on an almost wholly improvised opener. Hoyt has a strong showing but he is outnumbered by the opposing duo. The big man is pinned by Siaki after a top rope splash. The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) enter the cage in the aftermath to berate Hoyt before beating him down, likely cementing his babyface turn. *1/2
Director of Authority Dusty Rhodes is backstage with both Traci and Trinity. Traci’s Disciples of Destruction defeated Trinity’s Phi Delta Slam in an abysmal contest to become Rhodes’ personal assistant at Destination X. I suppose that resolved nothing. As per America’s Most Wanted’s request, their title defense against Team Canada will now be a Strap match inside the steel structure. Rhodes randomly selects the first two entrants in Lethal Lockdown: Jeff Jarrett starts for his team, whilst Sean Waltman opens for Team Nash.
2: Dustin Rhodes def. Bobby Roode (w/ A-1 & Coach D’Amore) in a Prince of Darkness Match in 15:20.
Team Canada attacked Dustin Rhodes after his victory over Raven at Destination X. The Canada versus Texas theme, a prominent aspect of the build, is likely irrelevant for, what… 90% of the audience? Commentary describe this as a “2 out of 3 Falls Prince of Darkness Deathmatch”, which means that it takes place entirely in the dark both competitors will be blindfolded in the event of an inevitable third fall. Why they shoehorned a blindfold into this contest, I have no idea. Roode scores the first fall early before Dustin equalises following a top rope bulldog. The sloppy production slightly detracts from this bout; the announcers initially had no idea whether Roode’s fall had actually counted. There was nothing to indicate to the live crowd that the fall had been scored. Additionally, the supposedly locked cage door burst open when Dustin chucked Roode into it. Following a referee bump (which armour may have prevented), D’Amore intervenes by throwing a chair and stepping into the cage, however the blindfolded Roode smacks his coach with the steel! Roode unknowingly covers D’Amore, realising “he’s too fat to be Dustin Rhodes” before Dustin strikes with the chair for the win. This would have fitted seamlessly onto a late WCW card. *1/2
Shane Douglas is backstage to interview X Division Champion Christopher Daniels, who defends the gold against his former Triple X partner Elix Skipper tonight. The Fallen Angel nails a hard-hitting line about his title, stating that “This X means more to me than Triple X ever did”. Damn.
3: Shocker def. Chris Sabin, Michael Shane (w/Trinity) & Sonjay Dutt in a 4-Way Xscape Match in 16:14.
Another unique stipulation here: this one is pinfall or submission for an elimination until two men are left. They must then escape fastest to win the bout. Similarly to last month’s Ultimate X Challenge, tag rules apply for the initial fall. Boring, let them loose! The initial phase lasts an age, far too long for a match with virtually no stakes. Nonetheless, it’s nicely wrestled and the cage is utilised effectively. All four men are involved in a creative submission spot that I can’t even begin to describe. They’re all talented wrestlers but there’s not a personality trait between them. That hasn’t hindered Shocker, who had an “incredible appearance” in a McDonald’s commercial, lest we forget. The competitors have failed to understand the rules and break up each other’s pinfall attempts without reason. Shocker eliminates Dutt to light the blue touch paper. Everything of note happens during the final few minutes, including the high spot of the contest, which surpsingly comes from Trinity. She executes a magnificent moonsault onto Sabin and Shane from the top of the cage! Sabin eliminates Shane with Cradle Shock before Shocker narrowly beats him out the cage to win. **3/4
4: Jeff Hardy def. Raven in a Six Sides of Steel Tables Match in 11:51.
This conflict originated from Raven wanting to team with Hardy, until Jeff turned him down. That’s a minimalistic story, which isn’t a deal breaker in a hardcore brawl like this; they deliver the big spots that you’d hope to see. It’s comparable to a game of Smackdown vs Raw 2011 between mates. The ring is filled with inanimate objects that both men repeatedly hit each other with and crash into. It’s not pretty. The highlight is when Hardy goes for victory from the top of the cage. Raven dodges the attack and the Charismatic Enigma crashes through a table with a Swanton Bomb, generating the most force I’ve ever witnessed in a table bump. Hard to feel sorry for him, though. He was literally doing pull ups as he climbed the cage, the absolute piss-taker. Suppose he had to taunt to store his finisher. Raven follows up by attacking Hardy’s face with a shard of broken table, an effectively brutal yet simple touch. For the finish, Raven stacks adjacent tables thanks to the blatant help of the referee, who has clearly seen enough. Nevertheless, it’s Hardy who this time successfully leaps from the top and drives Raven through the wood for the finish. Four matches remain and we’ve already seen multiple cage dives. That’s like eating dessert with courses yet to come. **1/2
5: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) def. Team Canada (Eric Young & Petey Williams) (w/A-1) in a Tag Team Six Sides of Steel Strap Match to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championships in 14:00.
A.M.W won the titles from Team Canada at Final Resolution in January. The challengers have since added considerable muscle in the form of Alastair “A-1” Ralphs, who is shown on the graphic but doesn’t compete. Regardless, he’s able to impact the action early when it kicks off on the outside, striking both champions with a title belt. Storm is locked in with Young and Williams as A-1 deals with Harris on the floor. The Cowboy is beaten down and bloodied. His outburst with the strap (which hardly features) is cut off by a majestic cage-assisted Tornado DDT by Williams. Harris eventually infiltrates the cage and we’re treated to entertaining back-and-forth tornado tag team action. The Wildcat looks like TNA ordered Wish.com Triple H at times but his performance is impressive. The Canadians become frustrated and A-1 hands his stablemates a bag of white powder, which backfires dramatically. Storm kicks it into Williams’ face – he’s blinded and inadvertently low blows Young before hitting his own partner with the Destroyer! A.M.W capitalise by executing the Death Sentence to retain the titles.
This followed a similar formula to A.M.W’s bout against Triple X at Turning Point. Once again, Harris was neutralised by the heels whilst Storm played the face in peril until the comeback. It’s a reliably effective formula. Although this fell short of replicating the intensity of their battle against Triple X, it provided enjoyable sequences, particularly once all four men shared the ring. The Destination X PPV was marred by repeated spots and finishes, a result of either laziness or lack of attention to detail. Regrettably, this finish was nearly identical to the conclusion of the Prince of Darkness match. The blinded Canadian Destroyer was a little far-fetched, a jarring switch from the otherwise intense fight that proceeded it. ***1/4
6: Christopher Daniels def. Elix Skipper in a Six Sides of Steel Cage Match to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 15:28.
Triple X lost to A.M.W in the cage at Turning Point, meaning they can never team again. They formed a short-lived alliance in the Ultimate X match at Destination X until Daniels betrayed his ex-partner en route to winning the title. After years of teaming, they’re familiar with one another’s offense, which is illustrated through a multitude of crisp early counters. It practically feels refreshing to watch straightforward quality singles wrestling at this stage of the evening. The action is of an unsurprisingly high standard; Daniels’ offense is smooth, his Northern Lights Suplex swiftly transitioned into an armbar the highlight. In textbook fashion, the heel works over an injured body-part, on this occasion it’s the shoulder, initially damaged by a Death Valley Driver into the cage. That gives the champion enough of an advantage to eventually win the match. The famous spot from their bout at Turning Point was Skipper’s utterly mental cage walk – they cleverly teased that again but Daniels thwarted the attempt, only for Skipper to follow up with a huge cross-body from the top regardless. That was cool but might have hit harder if we hadn’t already seen that several times this evening. Due to the injured shoulder, Skipper is unable to complete the counter of Angel’s Wings into Sudden Death and the champion retains. A reliably entertaining X Division Championship bout that felt like it could have reached a higher gear, perhaps it lacked the heat I had expected following its strong build. ***1/4
Dusty Rhodes reveals that The Outlaw will enter third in the upcoming Lethal Lockdown, meaning the heels will have the numerical advantage.
7: Team Nash (Diamond Dallas Page, Sean Waltman & Mystery Partner) def. Team Jarrett (Jeff Jarrett, Monty Brown & The Outlaw) in a Lethal Lockdown Match in 15:35.
We’re still in the dark regarding whether or not D.D.P and Waltman will have a third teammate as Lethal Lockdown commences. Waltman starts for his team against Jeff Jarrett, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, for the opening minutes. Double J is assulted on the ramp by Waltman, who looks like he lives in a sewer. They brawl into the crowd and around ringside, where a wide array of weapons including a baking tray and a cowbell are utilised, before they enter the ring. Outlaw enters next and Waltman is overwhelmed by the two on one disadvantage until the entry of his partner, Diamond Dallas Page. He has a kendo stick and West gets so excited that his brain stops working properly, calling it a surgical weapon. D.D.P treats the heels like pinatas before the Alpha Male enters with a baseball bat in hand. They beat down the babyfaces as we await the entry of a potential babyface ally. The seconds tick down before our final entrant. 3… 2… 1.
It’s B.G. James! Slightly underwhelming, sure, but he enters with a head of steam, assaulting anything that moves, including a cameraman and the official. He’s immediately halted upon confrontation with his former friend, however, hesitating after locking eyes with the Outlaw. Chaos unfolds and the Alpha Male thrives, hitting the POUNCE on D.D.P and James at the same time! He follows up by… botching a move on Waltman. Ah. They have to re-do it because it’s the finish, which results in Waltman rolling up Brown for the win.
First things first: The double POUNCE was fantastic. Unfortunately, that great moment is over-shadowed when Brown’s heel turn is undermined by a pinfall loss to Sean Waltman (who, by the way, couldn’t execute the Bronco Buster properly due to the restrictions of the cage, so made sure to attempt the move on three separate occasions). The match itself was a claustrophobic War Games, there are simply too many people in a confined space and the action is consequently sloppy. Story is minimal here beyond wrestlers bashing each other with various foreign objects. The majority of the match felt predictable and formulaic until the endgame. The conflict between the teams stems from the Jarrett and Nash rivalry, therefore the contest felt lacking as a result of Nash’s absence. *3/4
8: A.J. Styles def. Abyss in a Six Sides of Steel Cage Match in 18:00.
This is a battle to earn a shot at Jeff Jarrett’s NWA World Heavyweight Championship at Hard Justice. They waste no time here, this is genuinely relentless from bell to bell. A.J. is a human highlight reel from the outset. In the opening minutes alone, he nails a miraculous dive past the ropes and through the narrow cage door, he slides underneath a barricade before using it for a hurricanrana and he leaps over several crowd members whilst executing a flying forearm onto Abyss. What a start! It all makes sense, too; he has to perform these incredible feats of athleticism in order to maximise his agility advantage over the much larger opponent. The competitors complement each other stylistically – Abyss’ power moves look especially devastating as Styles bumps like this match is his last. This is very physical, borderline uncomfortable thanks to the excellent selling and visuals that enhance the brutality.
Abyss chokes the bloodied Styles with his signature chain, a weapon that A.J. is later able to utilise to his advantage, reversing a gorilla press with a DDT onto the steel. Abyss resorts to thumbtacks, now also a staple of his matches, after Styles kicks out of a Black Hole Slam. Unbelievably, Abyss is able to kick out on two after suffering a Styles Clash on the tacks! The babyface wants to finish this from the top but Abyss mercilessly flings the referee at the fence, stopping the Phenomenal One in his tracks. The Monster scales the steel. With both men now precariously fighting atop the metal fence, he chokes Styles with the chain until the babyface literally bites back! Styles seizes the brief opportunity to perform a sunset flip powerbomb from the top for the unlikely victory.
The only drawback here is that this is the last of eight consecutive cage matches; we’ve experienced two and a half hours of ultimately similar contests. Nevertheless, it’s a testament to these two competitors that successfully made this interesting by upping the ante in terms of grittiness, brutality and intensity. A varied stylistic approach differentiated this from the previous featured matches. This was fought like a battle for survival, whereas the X Division title bout, for instance, had an aura of athletic competition. Styles deserves extra credit for his tremendous selling throughout (particularly for selling a cage door strike like a shotgun blast), which elevated this to another level. ****1/4
Because of my admittedly WWE-centric perspective, this felt like a precursor to gimmick events like TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs and Hell in a Cell. I’ve never been a fan of those show as the stipulations are hastily shoehorned into a handful of high-profile matches that don’t warrant them. An entire card focused around one match-type is undoubtedly too much. The stipulation itself experienced diminishing returns as the night progressed due to sheer repetition. Likewise, high spots such as cage dives and weapon strikes were diluted ahead of the featured matches. Numerous variations were implemented in order to differentiate the bouts. There were hits and misses. For example, the Prince of Darkness match suffered from being overthought for the sake of standing out on a show filled with similar match-types. On the other hand, whilst the escape to win feature of cage matches are a lame trope, it worked effectively as a one-off variation for the 4-Way Xscape match.
This event remained focused on the in-ring competition throughout. The majority of matches were given sufficient time to tell a story, although this could have been better distributed. Nonetheless, the conclusion leaves the lasting impression of a show and I’ll remember this one favourably due to the wonderful main event. The X Division Championship (***1/4) and NWA World Tag Team Championship (***1/4) contests also delivered satisfying displays to round out a decent, albeit fundamentally flawed, night of action.