Pruett's Pause: TNA Lockdown 2014 - Unfurling the Intervention banner for TNA Creative as they can't help but overbook Lethal Lockdown, Magnus retaining the TNA Championship, and Shaw's tasteless suicide attempt
By Will Pruett
It has been over a year since TNA finished a pay-per-view main event without some sort of outside interference. Magnus, the current TNA World Champion, has not had a single championship match without massive interference on his behalf. The WarGames-esque Lethal Lockdown match finished with a babyface winning control of TNA directly due to interference, when the heels had no interference on their behalf. All of this is symptomatic of a company and a creative who cannot help but overbook everything. It's time for all of us to fly to Nashville and hang up the Intervention banner. TNA needs help, because they cannot help themselves.
Bully Ray turned babyface in the fourth major character shift in TNA in the last three weeks. Bully Ray turned babyface after spending the last two months threatening to kill and rape a man's pregnant wife and light said man on fire. This character shift was sudden, abrupt, and basically uncalled for. If the babyfaces had simply won the main event without Bully Ray ever coming down to the ring, the pay-per-view would have been the exact same. Bully entering as a referee and stopping the heels from cleanly winning the match, only to give it to the babyfaces, didn't enhance the story, it took away from it.
Abyss returned (again) from under the ring (where I presume he lives) and assisted Magnus in his defeat of Samoa Joe. "The Monster" is apparently best friends with Magnus now. He is an unmasked hybrid version of Joseph Park and Abyss (basically as chubby as Joseph Park and as monster-esque as Abyss). Magnus, meanwhile, lacks any credibility as champion, despite TNA spending the last six months of 2013 building him up. This overbooking doesn't help a soul.
Samuel Shaw acted suicidal because Christy Hemme wasn't at ringside and threatened to jump off of the cage. The babyface in the situation, Ken Anderson, encouraged him to jump from something higher. The fans roared in approval of attempted suicide. How does this make it past the first draft? There are certain dark places wrestling should not go. Given how many people have had their lives negatively impacted by suicide and how many people may have seen similar situations in their own experiences, how can TNA put this on television? They can't help themselves.
I'm almost frightened by what TNA is going to do next. They've gone to some of the lowest possible places. They've over-overbooked angle after angle. They've proven how easy it is to create completely illogical stories with every stereotypical wrestling twist they can find. At a certain point, all of it stops mattering. At a certain point, fans are left with nothing concrete to hold onto. At a certain point, the heels, the babyfaces, the tweeners, and the authority figures all blend together in one confusing mess of characters.
Unfurl the intervention banner in Nashville, because TNA is destroying themselves from within.
Picking up the pieces:
- TNA continues to run arenas capable of holding about 5,000 people and only drawing (maybe) half that many. It's funny how indie shows can run much smaller buildings (holding around 500 to 1,000) and they look much better. Perception matters. If TNA were boasting sold-out, standing room only capacity crowds, things wouldn't look so bleak for them. Running half full arenas isn't good for fans or talent. Why not change the look of the product, stop trying to be WWE-junior, and run buildings they're capable of filling?
- The opening six man tag with Wrestle-1's Great Muta, Sanada, and Nakanoue defeating Bad Influence and Chris Sabin was good for what it was. It was a showcase for high flyers with some bonus Muta-based nostalgia thrown in. Sanada looked good wrestling an X Division style and will likely shine as X Division Champion.
- Dixie Carter's promo was one of her worst.
- The Samuel Shaw suicide angle was tasteless. The Anderson promo was worse. Christy Hemme running down to ringside was idiotic. Shaw trapping Hemme in the cage while Tenay and Taz begged for someone to come help was illogical. Nothing in he his angle worked and TNA managed to have one of the worst wrestling angles I've ever seen in the middle of it.
- Why was the cage locked for Shaw vs. Anderson, but unlocked for most of the other matches? Is the lock and chain like a cartoon character's watch? Does it just appear and disappear when necessary?
- Bobby Lashley looked mighty large as he attacked Ethan Carter III. EC3 sold well for Lashley and made the angle work. Lashley wasn't asked to talk, sell, or do anything else he isn't capable of. I'm not sure how long he'll be around for, but he wasn't a bad surprise/make good for the lack of Kurt Angle.
- People have been pointing out how similar Kenny King's character is to MVP's original character. It's kind of funny when you think about it. I'm hoping King is able to make this character his own and do some good work in TNA.
- Tigre Uno was showcased well in his debut. During his match with Manik, Taz made a point about the cage inhibiting the efforts of high flyers. This is very true. Tigre Uno and Manik didn't get to have the match they were capable of (and bring some variety to the show) because of TNA's "every match inside the cage" gimmick.
- Storm's new entrance music fits his heel character. I'm glad he isn't sticking with the crowd pleasing "Longnecks and Rednecks" theme.
- Gunner and James Storm had a decent match while saddled with a bad stipulation. They also seemed determined to legitimately concuss each other as the match went on. This is probably not the best strategy for wrestlers to take.
- Madison Rayne and Gail Kim did their best to have a good match (and they did). They just weren't supported by the storytelling in the Knockouts Division focusing on Alpha Female, Lei'D Tapa, and ODB more than the two of them over the past month.
- Quick question: Why did Velvet Sky have to make answering fan questions on Facebook seem sexual? Does TNA have some sort of contractual obligation to objectify at least one woman per show?
- Joe and Magnus had a slower match than I expected, most likely due to Joe slowing down recently over the past few years (which occurred simultaneously with his weight gain) and Magnus' lack of main event experience in the ring. They were hurt by a horrid finish as well.
- The logic of Lethal Lockdown didn't exactly work for me. Why did Willow get a giant blackout before his appearance? Was this an unfair advantage? Why send Davey Richards, who was injured, to the ring in anything but the final slot? Why were comedy characters (The Bro-Mans and Zema Ion) so intricately involved in a serious "game changing" match in TNA? I'm not even thinking very hard about TNA's booking here.
- The Willow character is embarrassing. He looks like the love child of Glacier and super-drugged-out Jeff Hardy. How does TNA let Hardy go to the ring in a costume his daughter clearly made out of crafting felt and wrestle? Why are they hiding their most popular star under a mask? Were they jealous of the "success" WWE had in 2003 with the Mr. America/Hulk Hogan angle?
- MVP is now on control of "wrestling operations" in TNA. He is in control of this because a crooked referee gave him control. This is probably not how a babyface should win. MVP didn't face adversity and overcome it. MVP took advantage of the system. He seems more like a heel in this scenario than Dixie.
Nothing on this show made me care about TNA going forward. Formerly compelling characters were weakened by odd turns. Tasteless and passionless angles played out as the night went on. TNA can be better than this. Look at the talent they had on this show. Look at the talent in the Lethal Lockdown match. TNA has the roster to tell good stories. TNA's creative effort is not just bad, boring, droll, or uninspired. It is actively handicapping an exceptional roster.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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