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" The Gravel Pit "
WWF Backlash 1999
Posted by Peter Kostka on Jan 31, 2003, 01:36
Today we’re setting the wayback machine to April, 1999. Stone Cold Steve Austin had just won the WWF title from the Rock at Wrestlemania XV (which I will cover the day before No Way Out to start my Road to Wrestlemania recap-a-thon), thwarting interference from Mr. McMahon and setting a world record for ref bumps. Vince was a little cheesed at his arch-enemy getting the best of him, but soon he had bigger fish to fry in Shane McMahon usurping his authority and the Undertaker’s “Ministry of Darkness” going after his daughter, Stephanie. The Rock-Austin feud continued and a rematch was set for this show, so let’s get started.
(Note about the backgrounds: This is mainly from memory and what the commentators talk about. If I make any mistakes, please let me know.)
- We are live in Providence, RI (about 10 minutes from where I live) at the Providence Civic Center (now known as the Dunkin’ Donuts Center). JR makes his full-time return to PPV after dealing with health problems stemming from his mother’s death in December and Jerry Lawler is there on color, as always. They announce that the main event is now No Holds Barred and if Austin touches guest ref. Shane McMahon, he will lose the title.
- Opening match: The Brood vs. Mideon and the Acolytes
Background: Before Christian, Christian, at last was on his own and Edge was the goofy guy with the Rob Zombie music, they were with Gangrel in the Brood, a kind of Gothic “three amigos”. They were formerly a part of the Ministry, but were cast out after Christian squealed on where Stephanie McMahon was being held captive. So ‘Taker sent his cronies Mideon, Faarooq, and Bradshaw to take care of the problem.
One thing you can say about the Brood, they always seem so cheerful and happy, laughing all the way down the aisle. The fact that they had kick ass theme music probably helped. Crowd is fairly hot for the Brood and seems to hate Mideon with a passion. Mideon and Christian crawl around the ring, circling each other to start and Mideon takes control, but Christian hits a spinkick, locks in an armbar and tags in Gangrel, who puts on an armbar of his own. Mideon thumbs him in the eye to break and tags in Bradshaw, who lays into Gangrel with his patented Hoss offense, but Gangrel comes back with a reverse elbow off the second rope. He tries a bodypress, but Bradshaw catches him and hits a fall-away slam. Edge tags himself in on a whip and clubs Bradshaw down. He and Gangrel suplex him, but Bradshaw can’t be bothered to sell and tags in Farrooq. Edge tries a crucifix on him, assisted by a Gangrel dropkick, which gets 2. Crowd breaks into a pretty big “Mideon sucks!” chant either because they really hate him or are bored. I’d bet on the latter. Faarooq hits a spinebuster and tags Mideon, who hits a delayed vertical suplex on Edge for 2. Edge gets a sunset flip, but Bradshaw breaks it and tags in. He beats on Edge some more and tags Faarooq. He and Edge trade 2 counts and Faarooq HITS THE CHINLOCK. Geez bore this hot crowd (and me) even more, will ya? Edge escapes, but Mideon tags in and works him over some more. Christian has spent MAYBE a minute in the ring in this match. Mideon goes for Christian and Gangrel, which allows Bradshaw to cheat some more, but Mideon runs into a boot in the corner and Edge spears him down and hot tags Christian, who DDTs him for 2. E&C hit a BAAAAAAAACK body drop on Mideon and the Brood triple team he and Bradshaw. Christian hits a swinging DDT on Bradshaw for 2. Bradshaw misses a charge and Christian lays in the punches, but gets driven to the mat with a hard powerbomb which gets 2. Edge missile dropkicks him into a Christian rollup (not to be confused with a Jewish rollup), but Faarooq breaks up the pin. Christian tries a dive onto Faarooq, but he catches him, but Edge baseball slides Christian on top of him. Viscera (formerly Mabel, but still a huge fatass) waddles down to ringside, squishes Christian against the apron and tosses him back in where Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Hades for 3. The Ministry celebrates and the crowd can care less. So can I. 4/10.
- Rock arrives at the arena, dragging Stone Cold’s “Smoking Skull” belt behind him. That’s gonna take a lot of Pledge to get rid of those scratches.
- Al Snow (w/Head) vs. Hardcore Holly (C) (Hardcore title match)
Background: The Hardcore title was once thought of as a joke title for Mankind to carry around, but it kicked off a division which (for those who had never seen an ECW card), was new and interesting, at least to me when I was still shaking off my markdom. Hardcore Holly beat Snow for the belt at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and then defended it in a triple threat against Snow and Billy Gunn at Wrestlemania.
It’s odd that Snow is still using the same music today, even though I’ll bet 90% of the audience has forgotten about the whole “Head” thing. Hardcore pastes Snow with the belt to start and Snow blades right away. Al tosses him and lays the boots in. Holly whips Al into the steps and barrier and hits him with a jug of water. They fight into the crowd (the WWF did a lot of that in ’99 it seems) and Al hits a suplex, then a moonsault off the barrier for 2. Snow grabs a hockey stick and beats Holly with it. In retrospect, these matches weren’t the most EXCITING thing in the world. Al goes back out and loads up the plunder, including some cookie sheets and a table, which he tries to set up, but Holly stops him. They go to the outside and Al hits Holly with a sheet, but gets suplexed on the floor for 2. Lawler brings up a good point in why there are cookie sheets and frying pans (yes, frying pans) under the ring in the first place. Must be a full kitchen under there or something. They fight through the curtain for more thrilling action (which the crowd boos, by the way) and Al goes into the zamboni, but Al tries to cool Holly with the fire hose, causing Holly to drop the kitchen sink (because of the saying, you see….oh forget it.) They fight to the parking lot and throw each other into a minivan. Holly goes into a parking barrier and gets hit with a broom (frying pans, brooms, did their mothers plan this match or something?) Into the dumpster they go (how appropriate) and Holly gets a two count. Al tumbles out but gets thrown into another car. They fight up into the audio truck and Al hiptosses Holly onto the roof of the car and drops an elbow for 2. Al misses a kick and they fight back inside where Holly whips Al into a metal thing and gets a two count. They fight back into the arena while the crowd is in the middle of a huge “boring” chant. Al hits Holly with a pan (on the shoulder, not on the head), but Al wants to break the table first before he gets a pin. Al puts him on it and goes up, but Holly bops him with the pan and superplexes Al through the table (along with the car, the only two good spots of the match). Holly only gets 2 off of that. Al reaches deep inside, gets his Head and slaps Holly with it for the pin.
Wonder if any of the TE kids have seen this match. Probably would have dropped their respect for the two a bit, don’t you think? (Although Holly’s was probably already in the toilet in the first place). 2/10
- Earlier, Stone Cold arrives at the arena. The Ministry of Darkness meets and the Undertaker promises that the “Higher Power” will come soon and the pain will start. Heh, I’m sure everyone remembers how THAT turned out. If not, let’s just say it was one of the lamest payoffs ever (it was Vince) and led to one of the lamest stables ever in the Corporate Ministry.
- Goldust (w/Blue Meanie) vs. The Godfather (C) (w/Hos) (Intercontinental title match)
Background: Welcome to reason #1742 that Russo wasn’t a “genius”: his calculated homicide of the Intercontinental title by giving it to every two-bit midcard gimmick in the WWF. Example: the Godfather, who was over simply because he brought (usually) hot strippers to the ring with him beat Goldust on RAW 2 weeks previous for the title. It didn’t help that the IC title changed hands about 12,000 times in 1999 either. Oh yeah, the Blue Meanie (back when he was a fatass) is with Goldust, calling him “mommy” for some reason.
The Meanie rips off Sable’s “Grind” spiel, and the rippling of the folds of his belly is strangely hypnotic. Godfather brings out 5 decent looking Hos, but won’t offer any to Goldust because “my girls don’t like no scrubs.” He takes offense to that and jumps Godfather, but gets BAAAAACK body dropped and clotheslined. Goldust tries to come back, but gets deposited on the floor. He decides a vaguely odd man in gold paint can’t beat the pot-smoking pimp, so he walks, but the Meanie convinces him to go back. Oh yeah, this was also the time that Lawler started to get pretty irritating with his ogling of the women instead of doing commentary. Godfather slams Goldust and hits a legdrop for 2. Meanie trips him up and Goldust clotheslines him out, with the Meanie laying the boots in. He tosses Godfather back in and Goldust clotheslines him for 2. He distracts the ref and the Meanie cheats some more. Godfather reverses a whip, but Goldust drops down and uppercuts him and hits a clothesline. The Meanie gives him some powder then diverts the ref’s attention to the hos but in the irony of ironies, Goldust gets it kicked back into his face, blinding him. Meanie stupidly comes in and gets shoved into Goldust, who beats him up, thinking it’s the Godfather. Meanie gets his Dreams Shattered and Godfather kicks Goldust down and goes for a pin, which Meanie tries to break up but winds up headbutting “mommy” in the Golden Globes. Godfather whips them both into the corner and hits the Ho Train, then DVDs Goldust for the pin. He dances with the hos in celebration.
Eh, a short and fairly inoffensive RAW match, basically. 3/10
- JR hypes the Smackdown special on UPN (which became the weekly show we all know and love and gave Dr. Tom something to recap.) Michael Cole talks to Al Snow in the men’s room (with Al calling him Todd), but Al gets into an argument with Head about who pinned Holly in the match. This lead to the infinitely stupid Head vs. Al Snow hardcore match that I remember happening, but not when.
- The New Age Outlaws vs. Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart (w/Debra)
Background: Not much that I can remember. The winner gets a Tag title shot against Kane and X-Pac on the aforementioned Smackdown special.
The NAO go through their usual routine. Debra is wearing one of her lovely “bikini and jacket” outfits. She really went down the crapper in the looks department by 2001. Road Dogg asks for Debra to release the puppies, but Jeff covers her up, drawing major heel heat. Debra doesn’t seem to mind some public exposure, though. Mr. Ass offers his posterior as a consolation prize, but Jarrett and Owen jump them. The Outlaws take control and Owen and Billy start. Owen hits a European uppercut but Gunn works him over with a dropkick and press slam. Gunn works the arm and tags in Dogg, who goes to the arm, but Owen hits a neckbreaker and tags in Jarrett, who hits a neckbreaker of his own. He drapes Dogg on the ropes and drops a leg as the crowd breaks into a “show your puppies!” chant directed at Debra. Dogg comes back with some punches and a kneedrop for 2. Dogg whips Jarrett to the ropes and he hops over both Dogg and Owen before colliding with his partner. The Outlaws hit stereo dropkicks but Owen enziguri’s Road Dogg and drops a leg for 2. Jeff tags in and they work over Dogg. He tries to come back with an inverted atomic drop, but Jarrett dropkicks him out and Owen tosses him back in. Owen tags in as Dogg becomes Face in Peril but manages a backslide, but the ref is distracted by Jarrett and only gets 2. Owen hits a spinning wheel kick but Gunn breaks up the pin, which allows Owen and Jarrett to double team behind the ref’s back. I love this old-school heel tag stuff. Jarrett runs into a boot but powerslams Dogg for 2. They KO each other and Jarrett tags Owen, who stops Dogg from tagging Gunn and locks in a sleeper. Dogg keeps his arm up and escapes, locking in a sleeper of his own. Owen escapes, and they double clothesline each other. Crowd is still chanting for puppies and Lawler admits his “puppy fetish.” Owen tags Jarrett and Dogg makes the hot tag to Gunn, who is an ASS AFIRE!! He hits a powerslam on Jarrett, but Owen breaks the pin. The Outlaws get stereo 10 punches in the corner and whip the heels into each other. Dogg whips Gunn to give him some extra momentum as he clotheslines Jarrett out. Debra hops on the apron to show Dogg the puppies and Owen jumps him, but Dogg hits the pumphandle. Jarrett breaks the pin. The Outlaws try another stereo dropkick, but Jarrett holds onto the ropes and Owen catches Dogg and puts him in the Sharpshooter. Jarrett tries the figure-four on Gunn, but he kicks him out of the ring and Fameassers Owen for the pin. Billy shows his ass and Dogg dances to celebrate.
Not a bad little old-school tag match. This, of course, was Owen’s last PPV match since everyone knows what happened in May. I’ll just leave it at that. 6/10.
- Cole talks to Shane, who promises his impartiality as the ref in the main event, swearing it on his grandfather’s life. Kevin Kelly talks to Vince and Steph (who was in her “sweet and demure young woman” phase), about Shane’s honesty and Steph knows Shane is telling the truth. Its trust like that that got her drugged and married to a degenerate.
Big Show vs. Mankind (Boiler Room Brawl)
Background: These two still had an issue from Wrestlemania, where Show chokeslammed Mankind through two chairs in their match, drawing a DQ. They decided to settle things in Mankind’s specialty, the Boiler Room Brawl.
Show walks into the room to an eerie silence. Mankind charges at him and breaks a broom over his back. He shoves show into an electrical room and slams the door on his head. Show grabs him by the throat and tosses him around a bit. He picks up a table and drops it on Mankind’s head. Mankind thumbs him in the eye and they fight into a kitchen area, where Show punches a fridge and Mankind hits him with a bunch of sheet rock. Show hits him with a trashcan and puts Mankind on a carriage, pushing it into some stuff then slamming him on it. Show beats him up some more, but Mankind comes back with a pane of glass, breaking it over his head. Mankind climbs a ladder, but Show grabs him and chokeslams him through two tables with more glass on them. Ok Mick, you’re a sick bastard we get it already. Show kicks his ass some more, fighting deeper into the room and Mankind breaks a valve, spraying steam into Show’s face. Mankind bends a pipe on Show’s back then crotches him with it. Show gets tossed into a pile of pipes which cascade on top of him. Mick crawls for the door, leaving bloody handprints, and exits the room to win. Test and Bossman jump him, but Show chases Bossman off and Test gets the Socko Claw.
Ok then. I never got the idea of these glorified hardcore matches. What, you expect me to RATE that? All I can say is that Mick bumped like a madman, as always. All right, I’ll give it 2.5/10.
- Cole talks to Chyna and HHH, who talk about a “pecking order” in the WWF and that they will put him in his place. Hmm.
HHH (w/Chyna) vs. X-Pac
Background: HHH turned on DX at Wrestlemania, joining the Corporation along with Chyna. HHH was being groomed for the main event at this point, BTW. He also was still decent in the ring.
JR makes note of the neck injuries X-Pac has suffered during his career during the intros. Chyna must not want anyone feeling her up with those spikes on her bra. HHH slugs away on X-Pac, but he comes back and HHH bails. X-Pac goes after him and slams his head into the steps. Back in, HHH takes control with a punch to the gut and tosses X-Pac out, who hits his head on the floor. He catches HHH leaping off the apron but gets his head slammed into the Spanish table and steps. Back in, X-Pac runs into a boot, but kicks HHH down for 2. HHH tries a thumb to the eye, but X-Pac sets him up for the Bronco Buster. Chyna grabs X-Pac’s foot and distracts him long enough for HHH to recover and move out of the way, causing X-Pac to hit his head on the second turnbuckle, hurting his neck even more. HHH takes him down with a clothesline and the ref asks if X-Pac wants to quit. HHH pounds on the neck and chokes X-Pac in the ropes. Chyna clubs him as the ref jaws with HHH and HHH covers for 2. HHH hits a neckbreaker for 2 and locks in a facelock, wrenching the neck. X-Pac breaks, but HHH slams his head to the mat and drops a few knees on the neck and gets another two count. HHH puts on a dragon sleeper as JR doesn’t like the situation one bit. X-Pac breaks, but HHH knees him for 2 and throws him out. Chyna drops him throat first onto the barrier and tosses X-Pac back in. HHH works the neck some more and JR is considering ringing the bell himself. Lawler, of course, thinks JR’s a wuss. X-Pac gets a small package for 2 and HHH clotheslines him down for 2. HHH locks in a sleeper, but X-Pac counters into a sleeper of his own. HHH backs him into the corner a few times but X-Pac hangs on to it. HHH finally puts him down with a backdrop suplex, resulting in a double KO. X-Pac rallies with some kicks and flip clotheslines HHH down, but he lands on his neck. He manages a swinging DDT for 2, but Chyna distracts the ref and HHH goes for a Pedigree, which X-Pac counters and delivers a headbutt to the groin. HHH bails and pulls X-Pac out, but HHH winds up going into the steps. The ref checks on him, and he pulls him into an X-Pac kick. Back in, he hits the X-Factor, but Chyna interferes, DDTs him and puts HHH on top. The lights go out and Kane (X-Pac’s partner) makes his entrance (not running in, his FULL ENTRANCE) and chokeslams both HHH and Chyna and set them up for Bronco Busters. X-Pac delivers, first to HHH, then to Chyna, but turns around into a Pedigree for the 3.
The last part was a little silly and the match was a little dull, but the storyline was good (HHH taking advantage of X-Pac's weak neck) and showed HHH can be a badass heel. Not bad. 6.5/10
- Ken Shamrock vs. the Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)
Background: This was a weird time in Undertaker’s career. At this point, he became this Satanic figure that “sacrificed” wrestlers to a “Higher Power”. Later in the year he would crucify Steve Austin on a “symbol” which was a very controversial thing at the time. I remember Bob Ryder writing a pretty nasty piece about it. Anyway, Ken’s sister Ryan was being harassed by Taker’s “Ministry” and then was kidnapped. Ken, of course, was fighting here for his sister.
Holy shit is Bearer fat here. Seriously, he had to be pushing 400+. Taker’s music sucked, too. Shamrock tries to get the upper hand early, but Taker clotheslines him down for 2. He walks the ropes and chokes Shamrock with his knee and clotheslines him again for 2. The crowd starts a small “We want Ryan” chant. That’s the problem with having too many valets; the crowd would rather see THEM then the match. Undertaker misses a charge and Shamrock kicks his leg and then puts on a leglock in the corner. Oh my, this isn’t going to be a very exciting affair, I think. Shamrock argues with the ref, allowing Taker to come back with a backdrop suplex for 2. Shamrock sunset flips him and puts on another leglock and works the knee some more. The crowd isn’t too enthralled with this action. Taker fights out of it and boots him in the face. Shamrock counters a hiptoss into yet another leglock. Hey Ken, you aren’t in an Octagon, buddy. He gets a few 2 counts and Taker grabs the ropes and slides out. Shamrock works the knee and stomps the ankle on the steps. Back in, Taker takes control with elbows in the corner. Taker stares down the ref and Shamrock punches away, but taker hits a drop toe hold (wow) and some mounted punches. Shamrock grabs his arm and locks in an armbar as the “Boring” chants rightfully rain down. Taker grabs the ropes and bails AGAIN. Ken leaps off the apron into his arms and gets rammed into the post and steps. Taker's selling of the leg seems to boil down to a slight limp. Back in, Taker nails him with some kidney punches and hits a backbreaker and bends him over his knee. Taker puts on a bow and arrow (what, is he Royce Gracie now?) Taker grinds his elbow into the kidneys and drops a leg, but Shamrock grabs it and puts on yet another leglock. ENOUGH ALREADY! Shamrock kicks the knee, but Taker grabs HIS leg and puts on a single leg crab. He chokes in the corner, runs into a kick, but reverses a whip and hits a flying clothesline for 2. Shamrock tries to come back but Taker boots him down for 2 (but Shamrock forgets to lift his shoulder, forcing Hebner to stop counting and making him look dumb). Shamrock clips the knee and hits a hurricanrana for 2. Shamrock gets the anklelock, but Taker escapes and clotheslines him for 2 (yeah, like we’ve haven’t seen enough of that spot already.) Ken escapes a Tombstone, but locks in another anklelock, and Bradshaw runs in with a baseball bat. Shamrock knocks him off the apron, but Taker slaps on the goozle, but Shamrock rolls into an armbar. Bearer hops onto the apron, drawing Ken over, and Taker attacks, but Shamrock hits a belly to belly. He tries a tombstone, but Taker counters into one of his own for the pin to end this mess. Bradshaw beats him up afterwards to little reaction.
Ugh, who thought of THAT pairing? Shamrock was what Regal is today in the ring: someone who doesn’t pair up with other wrestlers that well and hence puts on crappy matches. 1.5/10
- JR and Lawler talk about the main event, we get a recap of the past month’s events and Vince tells Stephanie to stay in the limo (guarded by Rent-a-Cops) and wait until he gets back after the main event.
- The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (C) (WWF title match) Special Referee: Shane McMahon.
Background: Stone Cold beat the Rock for the WWF title at Wrestlemania, but wanted his “Smoking Skull” championship belt back from Vince. Vince conceded and told Shane to give it to him, but Shane instead gave it to the Rock and told Austin he would have to go through him to get it. They fought on a bridge and Austin wound up falling off it and Rock tossed the belt into a river. Rock held a “funeral” the next week (complete with grave like in a Buried Alive match), revealing that he still had the belt. Austin answered by running his car over with a monster truck and attacking Rock, but Shane blasted him with a shovel.
Rock gets a noticeable face pop in his entrance. Shane tells a crew member to take the Smoking Skull belt back to his office after Austin enters. Austin charges down the aisle and they brawl in the ring. Shane pulls Austin off and Rock jumps him, but Austin hits a Lou Thesz Press and FU elbow for 1. Rock hits a neckbreaker to take control and tosses him. They fight down the aisle near the entrance and Rock hits him with a fire extinguisher. Austin gets whipped into the entrance (some fencing), collapsing one side. He suplexes Rock and tosses him into the OTHER side, collapsing the rest of the set. Austin chokes Rock with a cable and hits a clothesline off the tech area. Austin pushes a metal box into Rock’s head but he returns the favor. Austin reverses a whip into the barrier and slams Rock. They fight back down the aisle and Rock goes into the steps. Back in, Austin stomps the mudhole, but Shane tries to provoke him into getting DQed. Rock charges but flies over the top instead. Austin jumps off the apron with a clothesline and puts Rock on the Spanish table, but Rock low blows and delivers a Rock Bottom through it. Rock dons some headphones and talks trash. Austin grabs a chair, but Shane steals it and tosses it to Rock. Austin kicks him in the gut, but gets thrown into the crowd. They fight in the crowd and Rock takes him down with a clothesline. Shane tells Rock to bring him back in the ring to finish it, but Rock instead puts Austin on the American table and grabs a camera. Rock talks more trash with the Rock Cam and flips him the bird. He pans the crowd but turns back to see Austin in his face (with an “oh, shit!” from Rock) and he gets the Stunner on the table. Back in, Austin tries another Stunner, but Rock pushes him into Shane. Rock hits a Rock Bottom and Shane puts Rock’s arm on Austin, but he kicks out at 2. Shane gets the WWF title, but hits Rock by accident. Shane is forced to count, but stops at two, flips Austin off and bails. Vince comes down the aisle with the Smoking Skull belt and Earl Hebner in tow. Shane tries to steal the belt and Vince clocks him with it. Rock hits Austin with the WWF title for 2. He tries again, but Austin catches him with the Stunner for 3. Vince tosses the Smoking Skull belt in the ring and walks off.
Not a bad Rock-Austin match, but they have had better. 7/10
- We cut to outside as Steph talks to the cops and the Ministry arrives. The cops tell the limo to take off, but Stephanie wants the driver to wait for Vince. The window lowers, revealing that the Undertaker is driving! He makes the moment memorable by saying “Where to, Stephanie?” and laughing evilly. Back in the arena Vince stares at Austin as he cracks open the Steveweisers, oblivious to what’s happened outside as JR and Lawler try to get his attention. End of show.
The Verdict: Not a bad show, but not that good either. There were a few stinkers in there, but an average show all together.
Score: 5/10 (Not an average)
See you in a few weeks for Wrestlemania XV (if I can find the tape that has it.)
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