TNA to present Lockdown
Tonight's TNA Lockdown pay per view, last Monday's unique Raw in Chicago with another name added to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014 and the sudden death of a former international wrestling star are among our top stories this week.
TNA presents its annual Lockdown show live this evening on pay per view from Coral Gables, Fla., with Samoa Joe challenging Magnus for the company's heavyweight title on a card chock full of matches contested inside the confines of a steel cage.
The show also marks the return of Japanese wrestling star, the Great Muta, who joins with countrymen Seiya Sonada and Yasufumi Nakanoueno as they face the team of Bad Influence and Chris Sabin in a six-man tag bout.
Muta, who worked many years ago for the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions and was managed by the legendary, late, great Gary Hart, has been headlining in Japan for the past couple of decades and running his own promotion for many years.
Jeff Hardy returns tonight and teams with MVP and the American Wolves as they battle Austin Aries, Robert Roode and the Bro Mans. Kurt Angle is scheduled to wrestle EC 3, though an injury angle done this past Thursday that looked remarkably similar to the John Cena one where the Wyatt clan injured Cena's knee, either serves to make Angle look extra vulnerable or could be used as an out if Angle can't make it back in time from a recent legit arthroscopic knee procedure.
Last Monday's Raw was destined to be a fascinating one with it being in C.M. Punk's hometown of Chicago. Speculation was rampant that Punk, who walked out on the company Jan. 27, might return on this night because it would be the perfect return setting and everybody knew a Chicago crowd was quite capable of hijacking the show. Instead, despite no Punk, WWE managed to steer the crowd from the outset and largely control it by allowing the fans to believe Punk would appear at some point in the evening.
The Punk chants were strong as the show came on the air and Punk's music hit to start the night off. However, it was Paul Heyman who came out to "Cult of Personality" and he cut a strong pro-Punk promo, but told the crowd that they had chased Punk from him and the wrestling business and that Punk was not there. Often, that is code for somebody definitely coming out before the end of the night, so fans were still more than hopeful. The crowd maintained an incredible volume and energy throughout the night, no easy task for a three-hour marathon.
Daniel Bryan appearances hyped the crowd and his continued challenge of Triple H and interaction with the Authority and multiple "Yes" chants were mighty impressive displays of just how over he is. He worked a short match with Batista that saw him end up nailing Helmsley, but eventually getting a beatdown with a powerbomb from the Animal and a pedigree from HHH. The top face in WWE, Cena , did not fare as well with the Chicago crowd as they cheered when he mentioned being attacked and injured by Bray Wyatt. Punk chants continued intermittently throughout the evening, but the fans were also chanting "This is Awesome" during a four star match between the Shield and the Wyatt Family.
It was announced at Raw that Bill Moody, better known as Paul Bearer, has been added to the 2014 Hall of Fame class. Although he was most famous as the manager of the Undertaker, he also managed Kane and Vader in WWE and worked as Percy Pringle when he managed in World Class and also worked in other places during the territorial days. Bearer was actually a mortician in real life and was very well-liked in the business before his passing last year.
Former international wrestling star, Billy Robinson passed away this past week at his home in Arkansas at the age of 75. Popular in Japan, Robinson also enjoyed great success in the AWA in the early seventies, as well as in the Calgary territory of Stu Hart and in Florida for Eddie Graham. While in the AWA for Verne Gagne, he starred in the movie The Wrestler with Ed Asner and trained some of the more famous stars in the business such as Ric Flair, the Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter and Curt Hennig. Recently, he had been training MMA fighters, as he was a well-respected "shooter" in his day, hailing from the famous Wigan area of England that produced some famous British submission specialists.
(Shamokin's Bill Gilger "arranges" the interview each week with The Insider.)