Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Random Network Reviews: Backlash 1999

Backlash 1999
April 25th, 1999 – Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island – Attendance: 10,939

During the Attitude Era, the WWF produced must see television every single week. However, the WrestleManias from that era left a lot to be desired. Take WrestleMania XV for example. The only thing fondly remembered is Austin/Rock, so the WWF decided to give it to us again as the main event the following month. I don’t remember much about the rest of the show, but the WWF was in its peak year from a profitability standpoint I believe so hopefully it’s damn good.

Overdramatic is the word for the opening video package. Don’t get me wrong, Austin/Rock is huge but the way it’s presented, you would think it’s the biggest match ever. Commentary tonight is, as always during this time, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. They inform us that the main event is now No Holds Barred and if Austin hits Shane McMahon, he will lose the title.

Six Man Tag Team Match
The Brood vs. The Acolytes and Mideon

This stems from Christian giving up the whereabouts of Stephanie McMahon to Ken Shamrock while in the Ankle Lock, so The Undertaker wanted to sacrifice him. Edge and Gangrel wanted none of that and attacked, breaking away from the group. Mideon and Christian start but it moves to Bradshaw beating the stuffing out of Gangrel for a bit. Edge comes in and they nail a double suplex. Faarooq gets the tag and hits a stiff spinebuster on Edge. Mideon actually hits a really good looking vertical suplex which surprises me. Teddy Long is the referee here and must be rock hard because this is a six man tag match PLAYA. A “Mideon Sucks” chant breaks out, because I guess the crowd thinks the Acolytes are at least okay. Edge continues to play the face in peril until he hits a Spear from the second rope and he hot tags Christian. He comes in hot and hits Poetry in Motion type moves before getting a near fall with a tornado DDT. Bradshaw connects with a vicious powerbomb but Gangrel makes the save. Edge hits a missile dropkick for two and Christian leaps onto Faarooq. He’s caught but Edge baseball slides into them. Viscera arrives and squishes Christian, which allowed a Clothesline from Hell to end this.

Winners: The Acolytes and Mideon in 11:38
Decent tag match. Edge was the face in trouble and the heels were their powerful selves as everyone played their roles correctly. Christian being the one to get the hot tag was great but the wrong team went over. **1/2

WWF Hardcore Championship
Hardcore Holly (c) vs. Al Snow

Just before the bell, these two already go at it and Hardcore Holly gets taken outside. Weapons quickly come into play when Holly gets a gallon of water and hits Snow with it. Somehow, even before the jug, Snow is busted open. They spill into the crowd for a bit before bringing it back to ringside. Snow gets a hockey stick, which is in this arena for no reason since there is no Rhode Island hockey team. Maybe AHL or something. Snow goes to set up the CHEAPEST looking table but Holly strikes him with the hockey stick instead. They go up the aisle where Holly hits a suplex for two. As they get backstage, Holly actually tries to use the kitchen sink but gest sprayed with water. We CLEARLY see Faarooq and Sgt. Slaughter watching in the back so there goes the Ministry illusion. The match moves to the parking lot and they just keep beating each other with various weapons. They actually fight into a dumpster full of trash and Holly gets the dirtiest near fall of all time. We go to the production truck and Snow gets a near fall after an elbow onto a car. Slowly, but surely we are moving back towards the ring. Snow places Holly on the cheap table but wastes time and is hit with a frying pan. Holly nails a superplex through the cheap table but both guys are down so no pin. Snow gets head and knocks out Holly with it to earn the three.

Winner and New WWF Hardcore Champion: Al Snow in 15:35
Serious points for creativity. It’s easy to stay entertained when they’re moving around and going to fun, new places. There wasn’t much for psychology but that isn’t needed here. This was fun and that’s all a Hardcore Title match should be. ***

The Ministry are backstage and The Undertaker is talking in circles about the Higher Power. I guess Faarooq was pulled away from the end of that match for this. I’m sure he’s very upset.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Godfather (c) vs. Goldust w/ The Blue Meanie

Man, the Blue Meanie is a weird dude. He parodies Sable’s catchphrase and grind before the match. “PUT THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN TO BED”. Classic JR. After some basic Godfather antics, Goldust hits him with some shots but gets sent outside. It continues to amaze how much better Goldust looks 15 years later. Meanie trips up Godfather, allowing Goldust to capitalize. Trademark Goldust throat thrust is followed by Meanie giving him a bad of powder. Godfather counters and blinds him. Goldust hits Meanie, thinking it was his opponent. He sets him up for the Shattered Dreams and I’m pretty sure he would’ve been able to tell the difference in body type, not to mention Meanie screaming. He hits it and then gets kicked by Godfather. He then gives Meanie and Goldie rides on the Ho Train and ends it with the Pimp Drop.

Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Godfather in 5:12
This sucked. Neither guy, nor Meanie for that matter, really put in much effort. Pure shenanigans and not in a good way. *

Al Snow gets interviewed backstage with Head. It’s weird.

Number One Contender’s Match
Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart w/ Debra vs. The New Age Outlaws

Good lord, Debra is basically wearing nothing. She was always super overrated looks wise, but sheesh. Road Dogg tries to get Debra to show the puppies so Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett attack. Billy wins the back and forth with Owen and promptly motions for Owen to “suck it”. Dogg comes in and Owen shows of his athleticism before tagging Jarrett. The future “Chosen One” struts and does the crotch chop before eating some juke and jive from that D-O-DOUBLE G. Owen blind tags in but Dogg confuses them and makes them run into each other. The Outlaws were good for antics like that. Owen is tired of that and nails the enziguri THAT KILLED HBK for two. The heels work over Dogg for a bit although he gets a backslide behind the referee’s back. Owen connects with another pretty spinning heel kick that, I swear, got a three because Billy Gunn was too late to break the count. We get Vince Russo’s favorite spot, the sleeper with the arm drops and Road Dogg rallies before his arm falls a third time. We end up with Russo’s second favorite spot when they both go down to double clotheslines. Gunn gets the hot tag and hits a big powerslam on Jarrett. Dueling ten corner punches from the faces work until Debra uses her distractions to distract Road Dogg. He recovers and hits the Pump Handle Slam on Owen but Jarrett breaks the pin. Owen slaps on the Sharpshooter and Jarrett goes for the Figure Four but Billy kicks him off. He then breaks the Sharpshooter with a Fameasser and wins.

Winners: The New Age Outlaws in 10:27
I’ve never been the biggest New Age Outlaws fan but that was an enjoyable match. I really like the team of Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart and this just clicked. ***1/4

After the match, Billy Gunn pulls down his pants and shows the fans his ass. Man, I hated the Mr. Ass character. Side note, this would be the final Pay-Per-View match of Owen Hart’s career.

Michael Cole, looking like he hasn’t hit puberty yet, interviews Shane McMahon. Shane gives his word that he will count 1-2-3 if Austin is able to pin Rock’s shoulders to the mat. He also continues to disown his dad, calling him Vince. WWF’s resident hermaphrodite, Kevin Kelly, now interviews Vince and Stephanie. It’s strange to see how innocent Stephanie could be here before she would turn into an AMAZING heel.

Boiler Room Brawl
Big Show vs. Mankind

This is a rematch from a forgetful bout at WrestleMania XV. Both guys are faces, making this odd. Show searches for Mankind and is hit with a SNEAK ATTACK! They continue to brawl by hitting each other with tables, sheetrock and everything they could find. In a precursor to Jackass, Show sits Mankind in a shopping cart and runs him into a wall. A shot of Teddy Long is shown as he’s standing outside of the boiler room, ready to call a winner. Show heads in that direction but Mankind breaks glass over his head! HES HARDCORE! HES HARDCORE! Mankind goes to climb a ladder but is Chokeslammed off of it through two tales and glass. His arm is cut, as is Show’s head. Mankind has to be in the top five of guys who take the best beatings and he’s is taking one now. He hits a pipe that bursts and “steam” hits Show in the eyes. Lawler corrects Ross that it is not steam and Mankind goes low with a pipe. He then throws Show into a table that causes a bunch of pipes to fall and bury him. Mankind crawls to the exit, with his blood making handprints all over, earning the win.

Winner: Mankind in 7:50
While shorter than I expected, another fun brawl. Similar to the Hardcore Title match, but still different. Both guys worked hard and took bumps. ***1/4

Mankind’s celebration is cut short when he is attacked by Big Bossman and Test. Big Show rises from the dead like its Halloween Havoc ’95 and helps Mankind take out the Corporation members. Adolescent Michael Cole interviews Triple H and Chyna about the upcoming match with X-Pac. There’s something about them being Eskimo Brothers mentioned, or maybe not.

The WWE Network has the extended DVD version which is awesome. We see Big Show getting stitched up and then Mankind saying “I don’t want to wrestle Big Show anymore. I got kids.”

Triple H w/ Chyna vs. X-Pac
Triple H is sporting some of that good old generic heel music. The stuff you get when you first turn and they have nothing permanent for you yet. A fist fight opens things because THIS IS PERSONAL! Triple H totally launches X-Pac outside and he lands hard. Chyna goes to strike but X-Pac sees it coming and stops it. Back inside, he gets a near fall with a spinning heel kick before using his educated feet to an advantage. He goes for the Bronco Buster so Chyna distracts him and X-Pac signals for her to “suck it”. FORESHADOWING! He misses the move and seems to hurt his neck so HHH goes right for it. Because of this, the match slows to a crawl. This is a nice look into the “Cerebral Assassin” role that Triple H would play very well for the next few years. X-Pac tries to rally but Trips hits the facebuster and tosses him outside so Chyna can gorilla press him. Pac gets a near fall with a small package so Triple H takes him down with a clothesline. Commentary is doing a great job telling the story of HHH’s plan to go after the neck and how resilient X-Pac is. I understand the psychology but HHH might be using too many rest holds. Again, X-Pac tries to get on the offensive but eats a back suplex. Some heel kicks allow X-Pack to gain some momentum. Chyna gets on the apron to distract the referee and X-Pac counters a Pedigree with a headbutt to the groin. That distraction came at a bad time and had the reverse effect. HHH knocks X-Pac outside and we get a ref bump. Inside, X-Pac hits the X-Factor and Chyna enters to give him a low blow and reverse DDT. She’s done more moves in this match than I saw in the entire IC Title match. She puts Triple H over X-Pac when the lights go out and Kane comes out. THAT’S GOTTA BE…THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE! Chyna doesn’t back down but Triple H saves her, only to get a Chokeslam. Chokeslam to Chyna as well and the crowd is on fire now. The referee and X-Pac get up at the same time and its Bronco Buster time for both HHH and Chyna! Triple H gets up and plants X-Pac with the Pedigree to put this one in the bag.

Winner: Triple H in 19:19
The psychology of the match was great but it was boring at points. I had high hopes for this and while it didn’t quite deliver, it was still pretty good. ***1/4

Ken Shamrock vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
Ken Shamrock was so ahead of his time, it’s crazy. If he would have come along when MMA was at the height of its popularity, he could have been huge. Undertaker starts on the offensive and hits Old School early on. Shamrock leaps into Undertaker’s big clothesline, as he is bringing out the big guns early. Shamrock must have watched some Bret Hart matches before this as he brilliantly goes for the big man’s legs. Undertaker brings out a nice looking back suplex and goes to a choke behind the referee’s back. Right back to the legs goes Shamrock and Undertaker is selling surprisingly well. Shamrock blocks a hip toss and rolls into a great leg lock. On the outside, Shamrock places Undertaker’s leg on the steel steps and stomps on it. Undertaker resorts to a drop toe hold and then wails away on Shamrock, only to have it reversed and end up in an armbar. Back outside, we get more leg work until Shamrock makes a miscue and leaps at Taker from the apron. He is caught and driven into the ring post. Undertaker wants us to know that he too can target a body part and works the lower back even using a bow and arrow. Undertaker limps into a leg drop but Shamrock rolls through into a leg lock, which was badass. It is countered into a half Boston crab though and this is the real first glimpse that I can remember of Undertaker being a guy who can work a submission style match. A big boot gets a near fall but Shamrock didn’t kick out so it looked awkward as hell. The Tombstone gets reversed and Shamrock gets the Ankle Lock on! Bradshaw runs out with a bat so Shamrock goes for him. Undertaker goes for the Chokeslam and Shamrock counters into another rolling submission. Now a Paul Bearer distraction stops him but he still snaps off a belly to belly suplex. Shamrock then makes the mistake that others have and tries to Tombstone Undertaker. It gets reversed into Undertaker’s own and that is enough to win.

Winner: The Undertaker in 18:53
I’ve heard mixed reviews about this match but I liked it more than I expected to. Yes there were a lot of submissions but they all made sense. Ken Shamrock came off looking smart and tough while Undertaker impressed more than he usually did during his Ministry run. ***1/4

The Undertaker leaves Bradshaw in the ring with Ken Shamrock and he proceeds to beat him up with it. Nothing else happens, just Bradshaw hitting three or so moves.

WWF Championship No Holds Barred Match
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (c) vs. The Rock

Austin charges the ring to start and levels Rock with piston like right hands. Shane McMahon tries to stop Austin, which allows Rock to take control but Austin comes back with a LOU THEZ PRESS! RIGHT HAND RIGHT HANDS! THE RATTLESNAKE STRIKES! The momentum swings after a Rock swinging neckbreaker. See what I did there? It’s not a good old fashioned Attitude Era brawl unless we fight up the aisle. Rock whips Austin into the entrance set and part of it comes tumbling down. Austin hits a suplex on the concrete and the crowd is red hot. They continue to trade stuff and Austin actually hits a clothesline off of a speaker. Rock throws him into a camera and chokes the champion with cables. As they make it back to the ring, you can clearly see Austin tell Rock something in his ear before throwing him into the steps. Finally back to the ring and Shane stops Austin from stomping a mudhole and shoves him. Austin can’t retaliate or he loses the belt. He goes outside and to the Spanish announce table with Rock. A low blow is followed by a Rock Bottom through the table! In classic Rock form, he steals a headset and provide color commentary. Shane steals a steel chair from Austin and hands it to Rock but it backfires. The fight moves to the crowd now for a bit. Shane and Rock seem to be disagreeing and arguing about Rock’s need to showboat. He takes a camera and films himself talking trash to a downed Austin. We get the awesome visual of receiving a Stunner first person from Rock’s camera. In the ring, Austin goes for the Stunner but Rock shoves him off and Shane goes down. Rock Bottom hits and Shane drapes Rock’s arm over Austin but only gets two. Shane gets the belt and goes to hit Austin but nails Rock instead. Austin covers and Shane stops his count before three. He runs away but Vince McMahon comes out with a new referee and the Smoking Skull Belt. Shane puts a STUPID look on his face and Vince lays him out. Rock picks up the belt but walks into a Stunner. He doesn't fall so he has to be hit with the WWF Title. Earl Hebner counts the three for the finish.

Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin in 17:10
While we had two straight psychological bouts, this was a straight up classic Attitude Era brawl. They fought around the arena, it had the right amount of interference and was very fun. Great close to the show. ****

Cutting outside, Stephanie McMahon is shown in the limo when the Ministry comes out to hassle her. Security sends the limo away and Stephanie is all like “wait for my dad!” The driver reveals himself to be The Undertaker in a comically acted scene.

Overall: 8.5/10; Excellent. That was a blast. It exceeded my expectations by a fair amount. As I said, I’ve known Attitude Era Pay-Per-Views to sometimes lack but this one did not. The only match that was bad was the IC Title. The opener was decent but everything else was at least three stars. You get psychological battles in HHH/X-Pac and Taker/Shamrock, an impressive tag match and three really fun brawls. One of the best In Your House Pay-Per-Views and one of the better shows I’ve reviewed. Our next “Random Network Review” is going to be Clash of the Champions XX!