Impact Wrestling was supposed to be hosting the latest iteration of Lethal Lockdown this weekend, alongside Canadian partner promotion Border City Wrestling. The event would have seen Team Elgin vs Team Edwards but it was just one of several shows canceled by the promotion because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
However, I couldn’t let the opportunity to watch some caged carnage go to waste, so I fired up Impact Plus and watched Lockdown 2005, the first PPV named after the cage match in the promotion’s history. It’s a thoroughly underrated show in my view, hence my recommendation last week, and you can check it for free on Youtube right now. Do it.
There is a sad historical footnote to the show stemming from the opening contest. Chris Candido broke his ankle on landing after a dropkick attempt in his match alongside Lance Hoyt against Apolo and Sonny Siaki. Candido was removed from the match as soon as the injury occurred and as many fans will know, he passed away three days later after a blood clot arose in his leg following surgery.
For a time, Impact wanted to remove the match from the show’s official DVD but Candido’s family were happy for it to be included, so it opens the show on Impact Plus also. Looking past the injury, the changed circumstances of the match and the sad events three days later, the match is fine. Hoyt gets to look great and Apolo and Sonny Siaki, who were both gone from the promotion by the end of 2006, get a solid win.
Dustin Rhodes takes on Team Canada’s Bobby Roode in match two, a two-out-of-three falls Prince of Darkness deathmatch. Yes, it’s as peculiar and long-winded as it sounds but the match is your typical gentleman’s three. Watching them with the masks over their faces was akin to seeing two teenagers fumbling about in the dark and not quite knowing what to do with themselves, but it was entertaining.
Shocker, Trinity and Traci Brooks (odd, I know) get most of the shine in the following X-Division Xscape match which promises a lot without getting beyond a certain level. Don West and Mike Tenay having to constantly explain away people breaking up covers during the elimination stage of the match, for example, does take you away from the action. However, it also reminded me of just how damn good those two were. Tenay, alongside Tony Schiavone, remains my favorite old-school play-by-play guy and West brings so much energy and investment to every match. They make things matter and Tenay does a sterling job in just calling moves, an art that WWE has seemingly tried to push commentators away from. Likewise, neither try to ham fist as many pop culture references as they can into the matches. God, I miss these two so much.
Team Canada, alongside both incarnations of LAX, stand as my favorite factions in TNA/Impact history and we get them at their dastardly best in a tag team strap match against America’s Most Wanted. They don’t go overboard or try and break the mold. Team Canada isolate Chris Harris after a hot start, leaving a bloody James Storm to fight them off single-handedly while A-1 keeps Harris down on the outside. That inevitably leads to a hot Wildcat comeback and a brilliantly satisfying finish.
Watching that and Bobby Roode earlier in the evening made me purr at the thought of Scott D’Amore relaunching Team Canada moving forward. You’ve got him or Callis as a potential coach, with Michael Elgin, The North, Taya and Petey Williams already there. If you wanted to tell an interesting story, you could have Williams oppose Team Canada, allowing them to bring in a new X-Division guy to replace him. I’m working myself into the depths of fantasy booking that I usually reserve for my notebook…
Christopher Daniels defends his X-Division title in a match with former teammate Elix Skipper that feels short. It goes over 15 minutes but it feels like there’s so much more of the story to tell before Daniels eventually connects with the Angel’s Wings. Sadly these two never really had another PPV quality match but the main observation for me is just how good Daniels was at this time. AJ Styles and latterly Samoa Joe took a lot of the plaudits but ‘The Fallen Angel’ was constantly delivering at a brilliant level.
Another element of this show that I loved is the sight and sound of Dusty Rhodes. A man who is sentimentally very dear to me, Dusty just has so much presence. The mere sound of his voice at the start of the show was enough to prompt me to slap the pause button, open up Youtube and listen to Hard Times. It’s not changed, it’s still exceptional and it still makes you feel something deep down inside that makes you want to take on the world. Obviously not at the moment, because we’re all stuck at home, but you know what I mean.
The Lethal Lockdown match itself does feel rushed and it’s not necessarily stellar from a workrate perspective but again, it’s entertaining and West and Tenay make it feel more important than it is. The crowd help with that too, as does Monty Brown connecting with two delightful pounces. No one, I repeat NO ONE, will ever hit the pounce better than Monty.
What makes this show special is the main event. I partially extolled the virtues of it last week but this is artful pro wrestling storytelling. AJ Styles attacks Abyss at the bell and before the match even technically starts, he’s slid under the railings and vaulted the fans twice. Styles was without doubt one of the very best in the world at this point and he was just so fluid in everything he did. The bump he takes on a door shot is exceptional and for his part, Abyss nails it. He’s in the best shape of his career at this time, he moves very well and he plays the monster well without the tropes and stipulations that dominate the rest of his run. The Black Hole Slam is a thing of beauty, as is the finish, where AJ’s momentum produces a thunderous sunset flip bomb that makes up for in impact (pardon the pun) what it perhaps lacks in orthodox execution.
The match is a more than satisfying end to a very solid, underappreciated and easy to watch show. It’s well worth your time and while I was frustrated at the absence of Lockdown this weekend, as was Michael Elgin, watching this is a great way to make up for it.
Thinking I was up to do some crazy shit in Lockdown (cage not virus) tonight. Like really crazy, never been done get the world talking stuff. Hope lockdown happens after this virus lockdown.
— BigMike (@MichaelElgin25) March 29, 2020
I NEED YOUR HELP! With Rebellion and the post-PPV tapings in Ohio the latest events to get canned because of Coronavirus, I need a watch project for this column. I’ve got a backlog of stuff to watch but I need some historical Impact/TNA content to burn through as well. Please let me know on Twitter @AMSinclair97 if you have suggestions – I’m open to anything (polite)!