We start with a recap of the previous week’s stuff, with Samoa Joe winning the Gauntlet for the Gold and we get the opening video package…hey, how long has Jerry Lynn’s cradle piledriver been in there?
Ooh, tonight we’re going to get a contract signing! But frankly, this just points out TNA’s odd relationship with wrestling tradition. TNA tries to paint itself as a company that is aware of what the wrestling industry is, and what its conventions are (seen by Brother Ray making a reference to being a Dudley, and the smart-ish Paparazzi idol segments), but then gives the audience “contract signings,” which is a really, really tired way of getting two restlers to face off. I really just feel like there has to be some better way of getting someone to be beaten down, because EVERYONE expects it at the end.
We open with the Elevation X structure, and AJ Styles comes down to the ring in street clothes. He climbs up one of the supports, nearly tripping on a wire, and walks across the X to the center, microphone in hand. He stands at the crux and says, “I am the phenomenal AJ Styles!” and Tenay gives him crap about his cockiness; the “phenomenal” part is in his ring introduction, Tenay. You don’t think it fits, go complain to someone who can make a change. Anyway, Styles talks about his accolades, how he invented the X division, and apparently, he invented the Elevation X, as well. So he’s the one I should punch. THEN, he rips off the Undertaker by saying that this will give someone the opportunity to “become famous,” which of course isn’t at all like the Hell in the Cell threat that Undertaker (as Bikertaker) used for awhile.
Rhino’s music his, and he runs out and climbs atop the Elevation X, while AJ scurries down the opposite side. Rhino tells him how AJ’s latest invention will be responsible for the end of his career, because he’s the one who’s going to wrestle AJ in this ridiculous gimmick match at Destination X, and he threatens to Gore AJ across the X. There is NO way that happens, or if it does, it’s not going to be the amazing visual people are going to expect. There simply isn’t enough room to bump up there, and it’s really going to be up to TNA to prove me wrong on this one. Regardless, we now have a rematch from Against All Odds, but with a different gimmick, one that can potentially deliver a much weaker rematch than their previous one.
Next, we get a promo from Team 3D and Steve Schrippa hyping up the Belting Pot match, and Brother Ray again goes all Italian, as he and Steve Schrippa talk about bringing in the paisans and the goombas to watch their backs. You know, if nothing else, it’s decent that they’re getting a drmatic actor involved in the storyline, as Schrippa can deliver a promo. You’re not going to get the same acting ability from, say, Dale Torborg. However, after this, maybe Schrippa should go back to The Sopranos.
LAX enters with, if we were to believe Konnan, a band of thieves and murderers, and we go to
We’re back, and Team 3D enters, along with a whole bunch of Indy workers dressed as “paisans,” and Team 3D and Schrippa do the “3D” hand signal together during the fireworks, which is…cute, I guess. Schrippa will spend the rest of the match chanting and cheering from the side, not actually hitting anyone, which is also probably a good idea.
Belting Pot Match: Team 3D vs. LAX
In case you missed it last week, this is basically a lumberjack match where people have belts. We start out with some back and forth between Homicide and Devon, which results in a Devon Thesz Press, and, although Homicide gouges the eye, Devon throws him over the top onto the Italian side. The paisans, of course, beat the crap out of him with belts, and they don’t really throw him back in; Homicide just escapes, which is a nice touch.
Homicide gets back in the ring, but Devon ends up on the LAX side, and they belt him and throw him back in, which doesn’t quite have the same reality to it as Homicide’s escape. Hernandez comes in after that and headlocks Devon, who throws him out for some more whippery, and Hernandez is thrown back in, but upon reentry, he temporarily neutralizes Devon and tags Homicide, who gives a seated Devon a fast low clothesline. Frankly, that’s a really simple move that shows how good Homicide is, how he just is able to move so quickly and so effectively and make it sem like he’s fighting as much as he’s wrestling. Anyway, Homicide goes for a tornado DDT, but it’s reversed, and Devon hits a spinning flying elbow, and makes the tag to Ray.
Brother Ray comes in, and he’s Italian/Redneck guy-on-fire. Hiptossery for Hernandez and Homicide, uranage for Hernandez, but it doesn’t get the pin. Back and forth between Ray and Hernandez leads into a backdrop/neckbreaker combo from Team 3D, but Homicide interrupts at two. Hernandez and Devon are both thrown out near the LAX side, and the two factions face off for awhile. After a quick standoff, the two groups charge and beat on each other while Ray clotheslines Homicide in the ring. Shcrippa comes in, and he and Ray each hold a leg while Devon gives the Whazzup headbutt. Shcrippa, continuing to get in on the fun, pushes Devon, and he and Ray count to three together before yelling to get the tables. Do they always do that, or did they have to count down all special for Shrippa, so that he didn’t screw up? Anyway, before tablery can occur, Hernandez runs in to clothesline Shcrippa, but he ducks, and Hernandez gets 3Ded for the pin.
When it’s all over, the Italian faction comes in the ring to celebrate. Fun little match.
Video package recapping Sting vs. Abyss, and next, we get Sting “talking from his deathbed.” What the hell?
Commercial for TNA Lockdown
Okay, so we’re back, and it’s a video. Sting is laying on a dressed up grate attached to the ceiling by some ropes and a pulley. So, the loser is whoever gets strapped to this thing and brought up to the ceiling? Um, alright…anyway, Sting is wrestling Abyss in a “Deathbed Match” or something, and saying that this will be Abyss’ opportunity to make a choice, about choosing life, or choosing “the gnashing of teeth.” Okay, so we have a second rematch from Against All Odds in a different gimmick match.
Jeremy Borash is backstage, trying to get a reaction from Abyss, like an idiot. Abyss, of course, beats him up and tears away the camera. When we come back to the Impact Zone, the announcers have NO REACTION to Borash’s possible demise, which I think is awesome for all of the wrong reasons. What I think would have been even better would be if Tenay was like, “Do you think he’s okay? Don? Anyone, do you know? Is he okay…yeah, he’s probably fine.” But, alas, no, they just go on as if Borash wasn’t in several wet chunks backatage. IN YOUR STORYLINES, ABYSS IS AN ATTEMPTED MURDERER AND PSYCHOPATH. SEE IF YOUR INTERVIEW BITCH IS STILL ALIVE. It’s just common courtesy.
Robert Roode, Eric Young and “Cowboy” James Storm vs. Voodoo Kin Mafia and Lance Hoyt
Young looks miserable, and goofs around with BG for a bit, doing BG’s little “rolling arm” bit, before BG uses Young’s arm for a double clothesline on Storm, much to Young’s horror. Roode gets andgry, comes in and slaps Young, and tells him to go back. Meanwhile, Roode ends up getting punched up a bit by BG, but he gets the upper hand and tags Storm in, who beats up on BG, and then goes to punch Kip and Hoyt on the apron. BG runs between Storm’s legs to tag Hoyt, who runs in and kicks down Storm. Hoyt then goes to the top, but Roode knocks him down, and Storm rolls him up for the pin. And yes, that’s the whole match.
Bleh. Does any story really go anywhere from having this match? Young screws up, but he doesn’t rebel or anything, and Lance Hoyt…wasn’t he a quasi-bad guy last pay-per-view? And why should we cheer Kip James when he’s been spending his time being a misogynistic tool? Come to think of it, where’s Christy Hemme been? Did that storyline just go away?
Oh yeah, Chris Harris, still eyepatched, comes out of the crowd and chases after Storm. Again.
Fallen Angel Video Package
Don West has Andre Rison in the ring, who threatens someone in the audience, plugs Pros vs. Joes, and then Abyss comes down to the ring. Andre offers a hand of friendship, which Abyss takes before promptly Black Hole Slamming Rison, who lays out like a champ. Whatever. Makes Rison look like a bit of a puss, but he doesn’t need to be made to look strong for Pros vs. Joes, I guess. Please let them NOT bring him back for continued appearances, and keep it as a one-time Pros vs. Joes plug required by Spike.
Poster for “Rambuck Killings.” Oh god…
Later on, we’re going to get a Five-way ladder match, but first, more Paparazzi Idol!
Again, Jay Lethal does his awesome Randy Savage impression, and Kevin Nash makes some comment about whites always trying to keep the brothers down, and gives Lethal a cowboy hat and sunglasses. Please, PLEASE do not make a huge gimmick out of his Randy Savage impression. I can only seeing it dilute the character…although, now that I think about it, Lethal doesn’t really HAVE a character. Oh, what the hell, go for it. Oh yeah, Sonjay Dutt is in the background, just kind of hanging out with his stupid sideways hat.
Contract Signing between Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner
I already ranted about contract signings. Cornette tries to keep some decorum between the two, asking Steiner and Angle to sit down, but before they can sign the damn thing, Steiner makes threats to Angle, threatening to go all Kama Mustafa on his gold medal and melt it down. Next, it’s Angle’s turn, and he starts off with the bleepable words, calling Steiner an asshole, and a whiny complacent little bitch.
Then, as soon as the ink is down, Angle and Steiner get all mad at each other, and Angle flips the table over while Cornette and Tenay get out of dodge. Then, Steiner, in the smartest thing I’ve ever seen him do, headbutts Angle while wearing the metal headdress. Angle, having been made to bleed, takes umbrage to this, and tackles Steiner, but Tomko and Christian run out and Team Christian beats up on Angle. When they’re done pounding on him, Steiner shoves the contract into Angle’s mouth, and we go to commercial with Angle bloodied and beaten in the ring. Effective, if long-winded. Why not just do a quick thing with Steiner stealing the contract from Cornette’s office and doing the beatdown in a much quicker video package. Yeah, Angle and Steiner get to speak, but I just wish there was some other way of doing this.
Promo for Elevation X between Rhino and AJ Styles Can we end this feud so that these guys can find something else to do?
We return, and Tenay and Don West recount what went down between Angle and Steiner, and then we jump right into a taped Samoa Joe promo, where he threatens Christian Cage.
Five Way Ladder Match: Austin Starr vs. Senshi vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Jay Lethal
Dutt and Lethal work together on Lynn, while Senshi and Starr beat on each other outside the ring. Lynn takes a combination legdrop/rolling senton from Dutt and Lethal. They then irish whip Lynn into the turnbuckle, but he turns it into a flying headscissors on Lethal and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Dutt. Lynn then brings a ladder into the ring, but Dutt ends up using it to trap him in the corner. Dutt then runs up the ladder and dropkicks Lynn, although he seemed to struggle a bit with that run up the ladder, so they make an odd cut to just show a closer look of Lynn getting kicked. Dutt and Lethal then run across the ring into stereo baseball slides onto a ladder being brought in by Starr and Senshi, and then give stereo planchas to the outside. Lethal lands on his feet, and…we go to a commercial, huh? Well, good thing we gave all that time to taped vingettes, contract signings, and Andre Rison. Oh, and before the commercial, Bob Backlund comes out to watch.
We come back and everyone’s laying around like some REALLY cool stuff happened, and ladders are everywhere. Thanks a crapload, TNA, and your godawful timing of commercials. Lynn and Senshi bounce around a bit, and Lynn catches him in a powerbomb setup, but he falls, and Senshi gives him a double stomp, which Tenay calls the Warrior’s Way. Neat, but is it really the finisher if it’s not from the top turnbuckle? It’s just a double stomp, albeit a wicked one. Starr then gets up and dropkicks ladders into people, and I’m reminded of how weirdly Starr moves. I can’t quite describe it…maybe in a future recap. Three ladders are set up in the middle of the ring, and everyone climbs, although Lynn is knocked down. As everyone is fighting, Lynn powerbombs both Dutt and Lethal, but the camera doesn’t really get the best angle for it. Lynn then climbs up the ladder and pushes off Senshi and Starr to take the X and the title shot. And the match is over, so I think we can safely say that this was the most disappointing possible match that could have come out of these five guys. Maybe all the really good stuff happened during the commercial, and TNA wants us to fly to Orlando to see the really top notch stuff.
Backlund comes down and shakes Lynn’s hand, as he’s fine to have Lynn facing Sabin at Destination X. So really, Backlund had no influence at all on the match, so it’s not like he really “chose” anyone to go after Sabin. Anyway, Austin Starr gets mad at Backlund for some reason, and Backlund offers a handshake. Starr responds by throwing his sweat at him, and then walking away. Backlund seems to be okay with it, but when Starr inevitably tries to attack him, Backlund reverses it into the crossface chickenwing, which should be a lesson to ALL ornery young people; don’t mess with your elders, as they’ll put you into dehibilitatingly painful submission holds.
Oh yeah, during the last thirty seconds of the match, Tenay tells us not to go anywhere, because what’s backstage is so graphic that we NEED to see it.
And then the show ends with Lynn holding the X on top of a ladder, and we go to the final video package. BUT, if you wait until the end of the package, you see Angle getting stitches. Was that what we were supposed to wait for? I guess we’ll never know, because there’s no lead-in, and no explanation. Not good.
The Inside Pulse
So now we have THREE, count ’em, THREE rematches from Against All Odds for the next PPV, Destination, X, which is March 11. However, with all of the commercials for Lockdown in St. Louis, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for you to be unsure what show they’re trying to sell.
But the refusal to come up with more new pairings, after what seem like solid endings to feuds (especially in the case of Sting/Abyss) suggests that the company isn’t quite sure of their longterm plans. You have this huge X Division roster, but all they’re doing right now is hanging out with Kevin Nash and beating on each other. The “young vs. old” thing doesn’t quite work, because they have to paint Lynn as someone who isn’t old, but just a veteran who still has it. They kind of do, but Backlund’s involvement highlights the age issue instead of the experience issue.
Finally, the ladder match should have been amazing, but it was instead a shortened tease of what could be. Give us the good stuff for free, TNA, and we’ll pay for it later.
Dudley stuff was fun, but almost everything else was throwaway. Not terribly pleased this week.