Monday, 25 June 2018

Retro Review // TNA Lockdown 2006

April 2006, Gnarls Barkley's Crazy was blasting out, everyone was about to die of bird flu and TNA were hosting Lockdown 2006. Gosh golly, it was a mad time to be about. The second ever all steel cage event was still a pretty novel concept at the time, with the show being headlined by Abyss challenging for Christian Cage's NWA World Heavyweight title and a Lethal Lockdown match with Sting being joined by AJ Styles, Rhino & Ron “The Truth” Killings to battle a Jeff Jarrett-led team that included America's Most Wanted (James Storm & Chris Harris) & Scott Steiner. But how was Lockdown 2006? Here's our review.

Brutality meets Hardcore”, the opening package throws up random words, focusing on Christian Cage vs. Abyss for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, Samoa Joe defending his X Division title against Sabu and the Lethal Lockdown match pitting a Jeff Jarrett-led team against a group headed up by Sting. This promo is too much, man.

Screw McMahonism, I'm a TNAthiest” reads a sign in the crowd, as Mike Tenay and Don West welcome us to the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida.

Six Man Tag Team World X Cup Preview Steel Cage Match - Team Japan (Minoru, Hirooki Goto & Black Tiger) vs. Team USA (Sonjay Dutt, Alex Shelley & Jay Lethal)

A sweet opener here with six talented young performers combining well to present an exciting preview to that year's World X Cup. Whilst the steel cage was barely used and the match would probably have been much better without, the six lads worked well within the confines, working a number of tight sequences and bringing in a number of sick fucking tag moves that hyped the crowd up well. Team USA worked particularly well together with the majority of their offence coming in short bursts of double and triple team offence, highlighted early on with a wheelbarrow gutbuster combination from Jay Lethal & Alex Shelley that was followed up with a lionsault from Sonjay Dutt. Whilst Team Japan would get the win with a tasty bridging Tiger suplex from Black Tiger (better known as Rocky Romero in New Japan Pro Wrestling) on Jay Lethal, I feel like Team Japan still could've been better presented in the main body of the match, often coming across as a little generic whilst Team USA got the majority of the exciting offence in. Lethal showed signs of the world-class performer he'd develop into in Ring of Honor, pulling out a good variety of action with his three opponents and looking the smoothest and most reliable performer on Team USA, whilst also doing a great job of selling his arm following a sequence that concluded with him getting caught in Minoru's signature submission, the Minoru Special (flying cross armbreaker).

Next PPV – On 14th May at Sacrifice, all six men would compete in the World X Cup Final Gauntlet match that also featured Eric Young, Incognito, Johnny Devine, Jushin Thunder Liger, Magno, Puma, Shocker, Tyson Dux and eventual winner Petey Williams. This would be the final TNA PPV appearances for both Hirooki Goto & Black Tiger.

Mike Tenay and Don West chatted a bit and showed us some of the matches that were still to come, whilst pushing the idea that Lockdown was a unique show because of the all steel cage gimmick

Jeremy Borash pushed the new TNA action figure set, before interviewing a Team 3D who all very intense with Brother Ray proclaiming he'd rather work for “that company in Conneticut” than hear the Canadian national anthem...also Latte Zbssskfko to ask Borash something, it was unclear what was going on.

Steel Cage Match - “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels vs. “Formerly Known as Low-Ki” Senshi

Considering the pedigree of the talent involved, this match comes out feeling surprisingly throwaway and whilst it's still a pretty good outing, it doesn't come close to reaching the potential that a match between Christopher Daniels and Senshi had at this time when looked at on paper. This is partly down to a relatively basic match structure and a couple of teases of big highspots that ultimately came to nothing. Neither man seemed completely into the bout, perhaps feeling pissed at being chucked into the second match on the card with no build and this leads to a middle section with little direction and a surprising lack of high-quality sequences. There was however some strong psychology at work in the opening with Senshi taking the action to Daniels with the commentary team pushing that Daniels had been caught off guard by his former Triple X stablemate answering his open challenge with the former and future Low Ki unloading some stiff strikes on the Fallen Angel, including a brutal looking double foot stomp. The highlight of the match was a strong near fall for Daniels off a Best Moonsault Ever, but the finish ended up falling flat for this reviewer as Senshi escaped an Angel's Wings attempt into a pinning combination picking up the win with his feet on the middle turnbuckle. I've probably been a bit hard on this match and I'd still say it would be worth checking out, but if you're pushed for time and want an example of a singles match between the two then you'd probably be better served by watching their encounter from earlier in 2006 at Ring of Honor's Tag Wars event.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Christopher Daniels would tag with AJ Styles in a losing effort against America's Most Wanted for the NWA World Tag Team titles. On the other hand, Senshi missed Sacrfice but would return for Slammiversary in June, winning a six way elimination bout that also included Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal, Petey Williams, Shark Boy and Sonjay Dutt.

Jeremy Borash had a chat with “Bullet” Bob Armstrong and the James Gang ahead of Armstrong's arm wrestling match with Konnan...there's a lot of weird cliches that I'm sure sounded good when they came up with them...

The promo package for the Arm Wrestling match is an absolute dumpster fire, acting more as a promo video for whatever mad song is being played in the background than telling me what has actually happened in this feud.

Konnan cut a promo on Orlando, the crowd didn't react because the show is in a theme park, so the crowd is mostly tourists. Brilliant work Konnan, you cunt.

Steel Cage Arm Wrestling Match – Konnan (with The Latin American Xchange (Homicide & Hernandez)) vs. “Bullet” Bob Armstrong (with The James Gang (BG James & Kip James))

63 year old Bob Armstrong got the win in an overly theatric arm wrestling match, despite repeated attempt at cheating from Konnan. What else can I say?

As per the pre-match stipulation the James Gang got to administer ten whips with belts to LAX...this was a bit of a shambles, but did included an unintentionally funny moment when BG accidentally called Kip “Billy”, leading to Mike Tenay quipping on commentary that Kip had “jumped the Gun(n)”.

Next PPV – Whilst this was Konnan's final PPV match, Bob Armstrong would return for February 2008's Against All Odds event, tagging with BG James for an unsuccessful shot at AJ Styles & Tomko's TNA World Tag Team Championships.

Latte told Jeff Jarrett that his team had won the coin toss for Lethal Lockdown, as the rest of Team Jarrett chatted to Jeremy Borash about the upcoming Lethal Lockdown match, including Scott Steiner absolutely murdering the English language and a surpringsly competent performance from America's Most Wanted's Chris Harris.

X-Division X-Scape Match – “Primetime” Elix Skipper (w/ Simon Diamond) vs. Petey Williams (w/ Coach D'Amore) vs. Puma vs. Chase Stevens vs. Shark Boy vs. “The Captain of Team USA” Chris Sabin

Despite a convoluted gimmick, the X-Scape match featured the best action of the show so far with strong performances from the likes of eventual winner Chris Sabin and Petey Williams. If you're unfamiliar with the gimmick, it's basically an elimination match with pinfalls or submissions until the final two competitors have to attempt to “X-scape” the cage (seriously, Tenay really hammered home that they would be “X-scaping”) to earn the victory. The earlier part of the match is hampered by the competitors having to tag in and out for some illogical reason, but once Shark Boy gets eliminated and everyone begins flying around the ring at the same time it became an exciting spot-heavy clash, featuring a number of intricate fast-paced sequences. The match peaked with a ridiculous shooting star press off the top of the cage from Chase Stevens, where everyone failed to catch the Hoosier. The spot could've ended up much worse for Stevens and it's damn good job he performed the move perfectly. Wrestling-wise the best action resulted in Puma's elimination as the man now known as TJP had a brilliant exchange with Petey Williams with the pair going back and forth repeatedly before Williams catapulted Puma straight into a Cradle Shock from Sabin. I'm not sure how much the X-scape gimmick helped the finale between Sabin and Williams as the wrestling stopped and both men simply tried to jump over the top, which would have been cool if there was something on the line, but without anything to fight for it was hard to buy into the drama of those moments. The finish itself came across as a little hokey with Williams ending up falling on his manager Coach D'Amore's shoulders when trying to escape, allowing Sabin to pick up the win and the momentum heading into the World X Cup. With a few tweaks to the gimmick and perhaps a better performance from a lacklustre Elix Skipper, this match would've been brilliant, however it's still a very fun watch that doesn't outstay it's welcome.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Petey Williams would lose to Jushin Thunder Liger in the World X Cup, before going on to win the final Gauntlet match that also included Puma and Chris Sabin. Shark Boy had to wait another month for PPV action, taking part in the aforementioned six way elimination match that was won by Senshi, whilst Chase Stevens & Elix Skipper returned at July's Victory Road show as Steven's teamed with Andy Douglas at The Naturals to defeat Skipper and his partner David Young, known collectively as The Diamonds in the Rough (which is an awful tag team name)

Jeremy Borash had tracked down Abyss & Father James Mitchell backstage and Mitchell cut a mad promo about Christian Cage not being a real champion and promising that Cage's head will roll later tonight. Odd stuff, but oddly compelling also.

The promo for Samoa Joe vs. Sabu, showing us lots of mad things that have happened, but it appears there's not much of a feud here.

Mikey Tenay gave us the “X Factors” for the Samoa Joe vs. Sabu match, which included that Joe was yet to be defeated in TNA, that both men were the epitome of the X-Division's “no limits” ethos and that Latte had chosen to bring in someone from outside TNA in order to push Joe further than before.

X Division Championship – Sabu vs. “The Undefeated Samoan Submission Machine” Samoa Joe ©

This is neither man's best effort, but it does the job of putting Samoa Joe over strong as a dominant force capable of tackling an opponent with a unique style as Joe beats the shit out of the former ECW Champion. The match is probably 80% Joe as he lobs his opponent around the cage with Sabu being busted open pretty early, which really helps towards the aura TNA were trying to build around Joe at this time. I'm not a massive fan of Sabu, but he actually manages to hit most of his offence effectively here, including a number of old favourites, even if he called every move ridiculously loudly. There's some weird stuff with Sabu having a cast on a supposedly broken arm, which I don't think achieved anything as despite Joe repeatedly going after the cast, Sabu couldn't sell because he had a cast on and even if he didn't I'm not sure he'd have sold it anyway, because he's Sabu. Could the two have had a better match? Probably, under different circumstances, but considering Sabu would be challenging John Cena and Rey Mysterio for titles in WWE a few months later, this was a massive victory for Samoa Joe at the time.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Samoa Joe continued to build momentum as he teamed with Sting to defeat Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Sabu would jump ship to WWE, appearing on the ECW One Night Stand show just two month's later in June, going to a no contest with Rey Mysterio over the World Heavyweight title, before returning to TNA PPV in August 2010, losing to Rob Van Dam at Hardcore Justice – The Last Stand.

Team Canada (Coach D'Amore, Bobby Roode, Eric Young & A1) sang “O Canada” and Coach D'Amore explained that most of the issues between them and Team 3D come from Team 3D being fat or something. Latte was back as he continued to try to find out what the big announcement is going to be, but received no help from Team Canada.

Hype promo time in which we learn that Team 3D are furious for being covered in a Canadian flag at some point by Team Canada and some more weird nationalistic weird shit. The backbone of this was a ridiculously cringey promo from Brother Ray.
Six Man Tag Team Steel Cage Anthem Match - Team Canada (A1, “The Canadian Enforcer” Bobby Roode & “Showtime” Eric Young) (with Coach D'Amore) vs. Team 3D (Brother Ray, Brother Devon & Brother Runt)

Whilst there was a handful of great spots and nice creativity here, this match becomes a painful watch thanks to the awful gimmick and some horrible booking. Firstly, lets discuss the idea of the Anthem match. The aim of the match is to retrieve your country's flag from the top of the cage, which will then result in your country's national anthem being played and victory. Why? Team Canada had already came out to their usual entrance theme...”O Canada”...and also sang the anthem in the backstage segment earlier. Lads. Onto the booking which is very poor indeed. After a ref bump, Team 3D grabbed the Stars and Stripes, which, of course, didn't result in the end of the match because the referee was down. Team Canada managed to put the flag back and after Coach D'Amore nailed the “gatekeeper” with a steel chair, he got a table in the cage, which eventually Eric Young ended up going through with a diving elbow drop attempt on Brother Runt, before A1 took an Acid Drop from Runt and Roode a 3D from Ray & Devon, leading to Team 3D getting the flag down for the second time and winning the match. This made Team Canada look like an absolute bunch of chumps. They lost the match twice, despite underhanded tactics and spent a long time in control without even attempting to get their flag. Despite all this shit, there were a couple of great moments, including Roode taking an Avalanche Bubba Bomb early on and a lovely spot with A1 blocking an Acid Drop and setting up Roode for a wicked sitout powerbomb.

After the match, a terrible version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played and Brother Ray and Brother Devon gave Coach D'Amore a 3D.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Brother's Ray and Devon came out on the losing side of a match with The James Gang (BJ James & Kip James), whilst it was a mixed night for Team Canada as despite Bobby Roode's victory over Rhino, A1 put over Raven and Eric Young was unsuccessful in the World X Cup Final Gauntlet match. Brother Runt's next PPV match would be for the HUSTLE promotion in June as he tagged with his storyline brother's Kinetaro Kinemura, Masato Tanaka and Tetsuhiro Kuroda at House Vol. 16 – The Road to HUSTLE Aid, before returning to TNA in July at Victory Road for another six man tag, this time seeing Team 3D losing to Abyss & The James Gang.

Mike Tenay and Don West attempted to talk about the two matches left on the card, but the crowd obviously wanted to actually sing the US National anthem still, because the version TNA played was impossible to join in with. Team 3D recognised this and ended up leading a sing-a-long at the top of the babyface ramp in what was actually a pretty cute moment.

After being heavily pushed in every backstage segment on the show, it turned out that TNA's major announcement was that they were going through a corporate restructuring. Come on guys, that's not going to get anyone excited about anything. What this boiled down to was that there was a new “face of TNA management”, who would be revealed at a later date. Latte was put on probation as the “Head of the Championship Committee” and former ECW World Heavyweight Champion Raven returned to the company, chasing Latte around the ring for reason's that I'm sure were clear if you were watch iMPACT at the time. Oh, Christy Hemme also made her TNA debut in this segment, delivering an envelope to the commentary bois.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Christian Cage refused to be interviewed by Jeremy Borash

Good golly, it was all going on in the Abyss vs. Christian Cage feud in '06. Abyss and Father James Mitchell had stalked Cage's wife and beaten Cage up in his home and attempted to drown him, whilst Cage had looked to use a tyre iron on Abyss. Why are we having a wrestling match and not a day in court?

Mike Tenay ran down the tale of the tape for the NWA World title match, with some shit puns and stuff.

Steel Cage match for NWA World Heavyweight Championship - “The Monster” Abyss vs. Christian Cage ©

Whilst at times over-booked, Abyss vs. Christian Cage is a fun World title cage match, that has good variety and remained entertaining for over 20 minutes. The match is packed with strong near falls with Abyss kicking out of an Unprettier, whilst Cage survives a Blackhole Slam, as well as featuring a number of big highspots with the highlight being a Frog Splash from the top of the six sides of steel from the champion. The double ref bump was gratuitous, but both bumps were creatively done and allowed for a little added drama down the stretch, whilst the second showed signs of desperation from The Monster as he threw the ref into the cage to prevent Cage diving off the top, which in turn added a little depth to the storytelling in the later stages. I think at times the match lost sight of how serious the feud had been between the two, as after the opening brawl there's a slight lack of intensity from either man and things almost settle into a typical power vs. technique type contest. Whilst the thumbtack spots are brutal, they have more of an air of trying anything possible to win the top prize in the NWA than anything else. The finish, however, is done very well, with Cage countering a chokeslam and nailing the second Unprettier of the match, this time onto a massive pile of thumbtacks, whilst Tenay and West sold the moment on commentary. This is probably a Top Five singles match for Abyss in TNA, whilst also being the strongest match on the card.

After the match, Christian Cage attempted to gain some revenge on Father James Mitchell, but was instead low-blowed by Abyss, before being bloodied and hung by a chain using the steel cage in what was an unnecessary angle. Mitchell handed Abyss the NWA World Heavyweight title belt before the pair left.

Next PPV – The two would collide again at Sacrfice, with Christian Cage retaining once more in a Full Metal Mayhem match, which main evented the show.

Ron Killings, AJ Styles and Rhino were all interviewed by Jeremy Borash with Rhino giving the best account of himself on the mic, pulling out an intense promo, ending with his “Gore, Gore, Gore” catchphrase. Sting showed up at the end to say “It's showtime, folks”.

The hype package for the main event focused on the issues between Jeff Jarrett and Sting, whilst never actually explaining what those issues were, whilst also pushing Lethal Lockdown as the most

Lethal Lockdown – Team Jarrett (NWA World Tag Team Champion “Wildcat” Chris Harris, NWA World Tag Team Champion “Cowboy” James Storm, Jeff Jarrett & “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner) (with Gail Kim & Jackie) vs. Sting's Warriors (“The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, Rhino, Ron “The Truth” Killings & Sting)

Lethal Lockdown produced an entertaining main event, that whilst at times lacking in substance, used the gimmick to keep the momentum building, whilst two massive spots make this a more than worthwhile watch. One of the spots is probably one of the most memorable moments in Lethal Lockdown history as AJ Styles and James Storm battled on top of the cage, concluding with Styles scaling a tall ladder and using some trussing to splash Storm through a table. Whilst this isn't shot particularly well by TNA, it still looks incredible and is a testament to what Styles was willing to do for the company at this time. This is also seen in the other spot as Styles is at the top of a ridiculous tower of doom spot that sees him fall from the top of the cage. Had their been more of an issue between anyone other than Jeff Jarrett and Sting, I think the latter stages could've been a much more compelling watch, as things essentially boil down to a sequence where everyone hits their signature moves, before an awkward sequence where Sting reversed a Sharpshooter from Chris Harris into a Scorpion Deathlock, which struggled following the massive spot from Styles and Storm on top of the cage. The undisputed lowlight was Jackie removing Gail Kim's skirt as she attempted to scale the cage, something which makes it seem like 2006 was a world away from the modern day.

Performance wise, there's no doubt that Styles is the MVP of this bout as he works his arse off throughout, helping others look like a million bucks, especially when starting the match with Harris, whilst taking part in the matches two biggest spots of the evening. Everyone else almost fades into the background, mainly appearing during their entrances to hit a number of big moves before coming back into the action for the finishing sequence. Everyone manages to look pretty good when first out the gate, with Rhino and Steiner's entrances in particularly lifting the contest at the right time, when they unleash a series of power moves, whilst Ron Killings also pulls out a greatest hits of his funky offence. For me, the two captains of the team put in disappointing efforts, as aside from a melodramatic stand-off with their guitar and baseball bat respectively, it's hard to point out anything particularly impressive or memorable from either man.

2006's incarnation of Lethal Lockdown is certainly worth a watch and has a case for being the best version of the contest, that has never quite fufilled its potential as TNA's version of WarGames. Although I'd put the Team Angle vs. Team Cage bout from the next Lockdown show as slightly ahead.

Next PPV – The feud between Sting and Jeff Jarrett continued at Sacrifice with Sting picking up another victory as he teamed with Samoa Joe to take on Jarrett & Scott Steiner. America's Most Wanted succesfully defended their NWA World Tag Team Championships against AJ Styles and his partner Christopher Daniels at the same event, whilst Rhino ended up putting over Bobby Roode. Ron Killings wouldn't be back on PPV til July at Slammiversary, taking part in a King of the Mountain match for Christian Cage's NWA World Heavyweight title, in a match that also included Abyss and Sting and saw Jeff Jarrett walk out with the ten pounds of gold.

Lockdown 2006 was a really solid PPV that, despite some issues with the booking, featured a number of entertaining matches. The opening stretch of X Division action (albeit broken up by a lame arm wrestling match) is an inspired way to do the first half, that also displays the sheer amount of talent that TNA had in that area at the time as we see appearances from Samoa Joe, Alex Shelley, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin, TJP and Jay Lethal. There's a definite lull in the middle with the Joe vs. Sabu match not setting the world alight, whilst the Anthem match has it's moments but features six men fighting against a poorly conceived gimmick, whilst the constant interruptions from Latte resulted in a disappointing “major announcement” (something that would become a running theme for TNA in later years). The prevalence of multi-man matches gets a little much by the end of the show as TNA seems dead set on trying to get as many men inside the steel cage as possible, but that does also mean that when it comes time for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship match the match gains more of a big match feel than it perhaps would have got following a series of particularly good singles matches. Indeed, for me, the Abyss vs. Christian Cage match is the best on the show, going heavy on the drama that is at times missing from the Lethal Lockdown main event, whilst also showcasing what was a perhaps surprising chemistry between The Monster and Captain Charisma. For the first time on Retro Review, I'd recommend this PPV as a complete watch, as despite it's flaws it is a good show that is mostly carried well across the three hours. You can check it out on the Global Wrestling Network

Next time - NWA Starrcade 1985 feat. Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard in an I Quit Steel Cage match and The Rock N' Roll Express vs. The Russians in a Cage match.

Written by James Marston 

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