The Show’s Open
TNA opened up with a steel cage match, as were all the scheduled matches, pitting Rob Van Dam against James Storm of Beer Money. The match was for the numbers advantage in the Lethal Lockdown Team Hogan versus Team Flair main-event. The match had an old school ECW feel as one of the top draws of the Philadelphia-based organization attacked his opponent in front of the stadium crowd of Saint Charles, Missouri. Chants of “RVD” and “TNA” filled the air as the two combatants distributed immense punishment even before the match officially started. Even though these two were scheduled to fight in the main-event as well, RVD and Storm knew that numbers meant everything in the Lethal Lockdown stipulation. With close calls and imposing offense, RVD managed to gain the numbers advantage after connecting with the Five-Star Frog Splash.
WWE opened up with the Sheamus and Triple-H Street Fight match, or did it? Triple-H’s entrance music was cued but no Triple-H to stand over the glowing smoke machine. Instead, Sheamus attacked The Cerebral Assassin backstage with his small lead pipe. The match would be postponed till further notice.
Winner: No one can fault Sheamus for wanting to get the upper hand on the veteran Triple-H, but it does prove to be a false start in opening a PPV. Rob Van Dam and James Storm fought hard before and throughout the match until a winner was decided without any false starts. So with that said, TNA wins for The Show’s Open.
Worthy Women’s Wrestling
TNA provided an awkward Steel Cage stipulation where both the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship and TNA Women’s Tag Team Championships were on the line. The match would be decided as follows: If either Tara or Angelina Love pinned either Madison Rayne or Velvet Sky, then Tara and Angelina would become the new Tag Team Champs; but which ever member of The Beautiful People who scored the pinfall on either Tara and Angelina, would walk out as the new Women’s Champion. With taking a look at all the possible outcomes, Tara came out losing either way. There was no way for her to win the Women’s title, which she was wrongfully stripped because of an idiotic Lock Box tournament, and becoming Tag Champs with the person who “won” her title is considered a Lose-Lose situation. The match ended after Lacey Von Erich struck Tara, which allowed Madison Rayne to get the pinfall and become the new TNA Women’s Knockout Champion.
WWE showcased its first Extreme Makeover match with Beth Phoenix challenging Michelle McCool for the WWE Women’s Title. Prior to this match being made into a championship match, no one was very excited to see makeup coming into play as foreign objects. Because if what occurred on SmackDown was any indication of what Extreme Makeover meant, then all the fans would witness is just grown women playing with their mother’s cosmetics. Not even the announcers gave this particular match any serious consideration as their commentary was filled with a plethora of clichés. However, Beth Phoenix did not only have to worry about the Women’s Champion and the foreign objects, which included hair spray, ironing boards and an iron, but also had to worry about any interference from Vickie Guerrero and Layla. Michelle McCool appeared to have the upper hand, especially after dropping her opponent flat onto an ironing board, but she managed to blind her Simply Flawless clique after intending to spray Beth with hair spray. That mistake cost Michelle the match and she fell pray to Beth’s Glam Slam.
Winner: TNA’s stipulation of placing every women’s title on the line inside of a steel cage may have looked good on paper, but the fact that the TNA Women’s Knockout title was decided in a tag team match was cheap. Aside from WWE calling this “Extreme Makeover,” this was a hard fought WWE Women’s title match. Beth Phoenix may be considered The Total Package of Women’s Wrestling, but not every one can withstand the offense of three opponents. Then there’s the fact that Beth was told by SmackDown’s Special Consultant, Vickie Guerrero, that she would never become Women’s Champion, which makes this victory all the more special. So with that said, WWE wins for Worthy Women’s Wrestling.
The Big Draw
At Genesis, Mr. Anderson made his TNA debut as he crossed the line from the WWE over to TNA’s Impact! zone. Naturally, Mr. Anderson would choose to make his greatest impact by taking out Kurt Angle, another former WWE employee. Their feud has been a series of 5-star match-ups emanating from Against All Odds, when Mr. Anderson carved Kurt’s forehead with the “Warrior” medal; to a rematch at Destination X; to a death defying ladder match on Impact! to determine the keeper of the Steel Cage key; all culminating to this Steel Cage match at Lockdown. This match saw near falls after near fall, choking, grabbing, spitting, carving, blood, and the most mesmerizing moonsault on the part of Kurt Angle from a top the Steel Cage structure. Kurt Angle not only connected with the moonsault, but he was able to kick out from Anderson’s Mic Check. Anderson was hit with the Angle Slam and Kurt had the opportunity to walk out of the Steel structure and be declared the winner, but he wasn’t done. Kurt secured Anderson in the Ankle Lock and followed through with Phase 2, with Anderson tapping out like a maniac. The match could not be won via pinfall, submission, or climbing over the cage, it could only be won by walking out of the cage door. After forcing Anderson to tap out, and then spitting on him, a crimsoned-faced Kurt Angle walked out of the steel cage with his arms raised in victory.
WWE’s only Steel Cage match on the card featured Chris Jericho versus Edge. The feud between these two has been boiling since July of last year when Edge suffered a torn Achilles tendon. But after Edge made his triumphant return at the Royal Rumble, to go on and challenge Jericho for the WWE World’s Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania, to only lose, the feud was far from resolved. Edge and Jericho had a WrestleMania rematch on SmackDown for a shot at the World’s Heavyweight title being worn by Jack Swagger, only to yield to a double count-out. Then the following week, Edge and Jericho faced off for the World’s title in a 5-star Triple-Threat match against the Champion, only for Swagger to pin Jericho again after Edge delivered the Spear. And once more on RAW, in a special 6-man main-event. After all that, the feud may have culminated at Extreme Rules. Edge vowed to not escape the cage because he wanted to inflict punishment on Jericho; while Jericho was very convincing when he guaranteed to end Edge’s career. However, throughout the course of the match, Jericho played the role of the coward, as he took every opportunity to escape the cage, only to be pulled back each time by Edge. Then, Chris Jericho’s biggest mistake was when he was clearly outside of the cage, with his feet on the steel steps, and did not choose to step with both feet onto the floor. Chris instead decided to fulfill his guarantee, locked himself back inside the cage, and started swinging a steel chair. Edge speared Jericho, and started going to work on Jericho’s Achilles’ tendon. Fans were shouting for Edge to place Jericho in a Sharp Shooter but instead went for another Spear, after Chris Jericho pleaded for Edge to stop, to win the match.
The winner: Obviously these two matches were the big draws, because no matter who won the match, it was going to be a great match regardless. Chris Jericho and Edge had a great epic encounter at WrestleMania, but the momentum of the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber had worn off from both competitors, and this Steel Cage match did not provide the closure one would expect from these top competitors. The match could have definitely been better. As for Mr. Anderson and Kurt Angle, this match not only provided the much-needed closure, but surpassed expectations and proved WWE wrong when they were released. In a match better than Shawn Michaels versus Undertaker II, that it could be considered Match of the Year, TNA wins The Big Draw, hands down.
Best World Champion
At Genesis, TNA World Heavyweight Champion A.J. Styles turned heel after accepting help from Ric Flair to retain his title against Kurt Angle. From there on, A.J. Styles became a knockoff of The Original “Stylin’ and Profilin'” with his own feathered robe. But all that would change as “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero won the 8 Card Stud Tournament to become the contender for A.J.’s title. Unlike his days in WWE’s ECW, D’Angelo has made strides as a potential future champion. “The Pope” gimmick is one of the most charismatic, intriguing, and entertaining original gimmicks that has come along since the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. The TNA World Heavyweight Title was decided inside a Steel Cage, with Senior referee Earl Hebner banishing Ric Flair from ring side. Before Ric Flair, A.J. Style was “The Man,” winning the TNA World Heavyweight Title on his own merit. Fans seem to forget that, so it’s not at all impossible for Styles to defend his title with his natural wrestling ability. However, the problem with this is, seeing as fans have forgotten so quickly, so has Styles. A.J. has spent the majority of 2010 being surrounded by cheap women and cheap thrills, that he has relied on Flair’s interference and has been lazy in the ring. Even though Styles started out strong, he was unable to close the match without some sort of crook. Hence, A.J. retained the title with a pen to the eye of “The Pope.”
Jack Swagger defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules match. Right off the bat, Jack Swagger was introduced first, which is a great disrespect to the World Heavyweight Champion. Secondly, the smile has since been removed off of Swagger’s face. Sure, Jack Swagger wasn’t taken seriously over on RAW when he was his cocky self, but that didn’t stop him during his dominance on ECW. For a match billed as an Extreme Rules match, it was child’s play at best. Jack Swagger, for the most part kept this as a regular wrestling match, introducing a steel chair, a garbage can, and his World Title, only to have them used against him by Randy Orton. In retrospect, Jack Swagger failed to use any foreign objects, but solely relied on his slight height and weight advantage over “The Viper.” Orton struck Swagger with the garbage can, and countered Swagger’s Corner Slingshot Splash with the World Title. But Orton’s downfall came when he attempted to RKO Swagger through an opened steel chair, which Swagger using his slight size and weight advantage to force Orton’s back onto the steel chair. Swagger followed through with the Gutwrench Powerbomb and retained the title.
The winner: The match between A.J. Styles and “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero has been anticipated for two months, but Styles’ use of the pen cheapens his title defense victory. As for Jack Swagger and Randy Orton, the match was awfully boring, with both men moving methodically slow, but Jack Swagger managed to face Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules match without once using a foreign object. Swagger won with his own abilities and kept the match as a strictly mat-wrestling based match. So with that said, WWE wins for Best World Champion.
TNA’s Lethal Lockdown Main-event is a cross between a Hardcore Weapons cage match, Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble all rolled into one mega main-event. Hulk Hogan even added one final stipulation to the match, if Team Flair became victorious, then he would walk away from TNA Wrestling forever. Hogan and Flair have had a storied rivalry back in the early 90’s ranging for two decades. But in this day and age, it’s best to step aside and let the next generation of wrestlers take over. Which is exactly what this match showcased. Team Hogan consisted of Team Captain Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy, and Rob Van Dam against Team Flair which consisted of Team Captain Sting, Desmond Wolfe, and Beer Money, Inc. (Robert Rude and James Storm). No pinfalls or submissions could be counted until all members of both teams were present in the ring. Despite Rob Van Dam winning the numbers advantage match for this match, Team Flair had been getting the upper hand on Hogan’s men in the final remaining weeks leading up to the match. Abyss had been struck by a car by Desmond Wolfe, Jeff Jarrett was attacked by Beer Money, Jeff Hardy was burned with a fireball by James Storm, but RVD winning the opening match gave Hogan hope. The team captain of Team Hogan started the match against Robert Rude. Following by Rob Van Dam, Desmond Wolfe, Jeff Jarret, and James Storm. The teams would be evenly matched until the final member of Team Hogan was slated to enter, but Jeff Hardy was found backstage unconscious by Sting. Team Flair managed to reverse the numbers advantage to their favor with Sting entering last and calling for the weapons to be lowered. Jeff Hardy finally made his way, taking out both members of Beer Money, Inc. on the top of the Steel Cage with the use of a kendo stick, a table, and a ladder. Jeff Hardy has always been a risk taker, but the cross body from the top of a ladder which was perched on top of a steel cage is insane. Ric Flair responded to the loss of Beer Money by entering the steel cage, followed by Hogan. Ric Flair was not meant to be in the match, but he is the “Dirtiest Player in the Game” for a reason. Hulk Hogan proved to be Flair’s equalizer, and after being given brass knuckles by Eric Bischoff, we got to see a shimmer of the two best Pro-Wrestling monsters of the early 90’s go at each other inside the unforgiving steel structure. The match ended with Abyss getting the pin over Desmond Wolfe for the win.
What happens when WWE pits the poster boy of the WWE, WWE Champion John Cena, against “The Animal” Batista. Despite the irksomeness by fans, John Cena and Batista are the two biggest monsters of the WWE. A Last Man Standing match was probably the most proper match to showcase their powerhouse moves and brute strength versus their limited wrestling abilities. Batista relied on Batista Bombs, drop kicks, and spears but could not take down John Cena. Even by driving Cena through a table twice and Irish-whipping him through the barricades, the Champ was still standing. While the WWE Champion made Batista tap out to the STF until he passed out, Batista was up by 9. Then Cena climbed the steel steps, which were next to the announce table at this point, and executed the Attitude Adjustment sending Batista through the announce table. At the 10 count, referee Mike Chioda deemed Batista was on his feet. The match ended with John Cena tapping Batista’s legs around the turnbuckle, thus not allowing Batista to stand.
The winner: John Cena may have cleverly defended his WWE title by tapping Batista’s feet away from the floor, but it failed to deliver on the ground and pound match that fans were waiting for. TNA’s Lethal Lockdown main-event had a nice blend a youth, veterans, and legends all mixed into this match. This match alone was more extreme than WWE’s entire Extreme Rules line-up. Even though the quality of WWE’s main-event was better, TNA delivered on the event’s name. So with that said, TNA is not only the winner of The Main-Event, but of the PPV Tale of the Tape.