December 6, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

Backlash 1999
April 25, 1999 Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island
Attendance: 10,939
Buy Rate: 1.06
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

1) Mideon (Dennis Knight) & the Acolytes defeat The Brood when Bradshaw (John Layfield) pins Christian (Jay Reso) with the Clothesline from Hell at 11:37

Fun Fact: After the Brood let the Undertaker down, he proceeded to violently fire them from the Ministry. First, they hung Gangrel over the top rope and then proceeded to attempt to hang Christian from his symbol, before he was saved by Shamrock and Mankind. The Brood was out of the Ministry and became de facto faces for this brief feud.

Scott: We debut a new PPV title this month, and the opener for it is quite forgettable. There was no real flow to this opener, as you have 3 large, lumbering heavies versus 3 very green, quick mid-carders. This stems from the Brood being fired by the Undertaker from the Ministry. The flow is scattered, and end was expected. It was also way too long for the participants. The Providence crowd, normally excited for pretty much anything, was dead. There were more important matches further down the card, so the crowd, as well as myself, pretty much skipped this one. Grade: 2

Justin: A decent little six-man here featuring some guys who were still trying to find their way on the big stage. The Brood was pretty over, but they weren’t strong enough faces to carry the crowd in this match with the hated Ministry. The Acolytes have come a long way in 5 months, but weren’t at the superb level they would reach later in the year. Mideon is Mideon and is juts along for the ride. He would have a solid 1999, and the year would become the best of his career. The Ministry picks up the win to further the “Undertaker takes over” storyline. Grade: 2

2) Al Snow (Sarven) defeats Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard) to win WWF Hardcore Title with a Head Shot at 15:25

Fun Fact: In a funny moment during the build-up for this match, Al Snow began driving to the ring in a little toy race car, mocking Holly’s past as Sparky Plugg.

Scott: This is the third straight PPV these two are involved in a hardcore title match. At the Massacre in February, Holly won the title on the banks of the Mississippi River. At Wrestlemania, Holly regained the title in a triple threat match with Snow and Billy Gunn. Here, there were a few cool spots, including a superplex onto a table. This was a good niche for both these guys, and the run continued. Hardcore matches don’t deserve too high a grade if only for the reason that other than Mick Foley, no one really takes a real risk in a hardcore match. This was good enough, and Snow regains the title. Grade: 2.5

Justin: A fun little hardcore match that sees Snow finally capture the title he has been chasing since 1999 dawned. I like this match better than Wrestlemania because they explore the arena options and actually battle outside and in the back and use some more violent shots. If you are going to have a hardcore match, you may as well do it right. These two were settling in to the division nicely, and 1999 would be the strongest hardcore year, as it was seen as an actual division, as opposed to a title anyone just goes after because they are bored like the following years. The dawn of the Hardcore title allowed a lot of guys to find a place on the roster and make it work and get the title over. Speaking of over, Snow continues to gain steady heat and picks up the belt in a solid match. Grade: 2.5

3) The Godfather (Charles Wright) defeats Goldust (Dustin Runnels) to retain WWF Intercontinental Title with a Pimp Drop at 5:08

Fun Fact: Godfather defeated Goldust for his only taste of Federation singles gold on the 4/12 Raw. Goldust had defeated Road Dogg on the 3/29 Raw to win the strap.

Scott: This is the point where the Intercontinental Title starts to lose its historic lineage a bit. There have been a few lesser talents that have held this prestigious title and now Godfather joins the list. He is a great mid-card comedy act, but not one that should hold any kind of legitimate gold. Charles Wright held singles titles in smaller promotions, but this was simply ridiculous. This is what happens when there’s such a large gap between main-event and lower mid-card. Goldust doesn’t have the clout to be IC champ anymore, so really this entire match had no real logic in it. Oh well, harmless mid-card encounter. Grade: 2

Justin: The best part of this match is Blue Meanie continuing to do riff on his old ECW gimmick of mocking other wrestlers. In the beginning of the match, he mocks Sable by doing her “Grind” routine. It was somewhat disturbing, but pretty funny. The match itself is nothing special, other than the fact that it marks Goldust’s final PPV appearance until January 2002. Since that is less than 3 years away, we will hold off on his final record for right now, and will save it for his last match. He would stick around on TV and in booking plans (he was supposed to be behind the G-TV idea) for a few more months, but due to a nagging back injury, he was finally cut loose in June. He would pop back up in WCW, once the Russo era starts up, in a gimmick even more bizarre than Goldust. Godfather would be on top of the mid-card mountain for another month before dropping back down to under-card mediocrity. Grade: 2

4) The New Age Outlaws defeat Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart in a #1 Contenders match when Billy Gunn (Monte Sop) pins Owen with a Fame-Asser at 10:33

Scott: This was a #1 contender’s match to face the current champions, Kane and X-Pac. They knocked off the champions on the March 30 edition of RAW. Jarrett and Hart have had great chemistry since getting together in January. The Outlaws always have had good chemistry, and this was a pretty good match. Not great, but then again, since joining DX a year earlier, the Outlaws’ workrate has dropped dramatically. It’s also a shame that Owen Hart’s last PPV match had to be a job to Billy Gunn. Ugh. The Outlaws move along to eventually regain the tag straps. Jeff Jarrett’s tag team run ends here also. The following month at Over the Edge, the wrestling world will be changed forever. For now, enjoy the last PPV match of Owen Hart’s career, and as usual, it’s a good one. Grade: 3

Justin: This is a really good match, but it is kind of hard to really get into it and enjoy it when you know where Owen is headed in just one month. The team was starting to gel and really settle into a niche in the mid-card, and it is terrible what had to happen at Over the Edge, especially since it was such a pointless stunt. The Outlaws were on the verge of splitting up, and actually have their first one-on-one match, since being tag partners, at Over the Edge, but it’s obviously forgotten. Anyway, a fun match that entertained the crowd, which pretty much sums up Owen Hart’s career. Grade: 3

5) Mankind (Mick Foley) defeats the Big Show (Paul Wight) in a Boiler Room Brawl when Mankind escapes the Boiler Room at 7:55

Fun Fact: This was a weird period, as so many people became tweeners after Wrestlemania and didn’t establish allegiances until after this show. Big Show was basically a face at this point, but was still thrown into a match with Mankind here. Foley was originally supposed to Main Event at this show, which explains why he is all over the posters, but it was decided to go with Rock/Austin II instead.

Fun Fact II: Here is a story we forgot to mention in the Wrestlemania review. According to Mick Foley’s second book, the Main Event was originally supposed to be a triple threat match between Rock, Austin and Foley, but Shawn Michaels got into Vince’s ear and convinced him that the Wrestlemania Main Event should always be one-on-one. The ironic part of this was that Shawn was actually lobbying to make Austin vs. Foley the Title match, and to leave Rock out. Vince decided to go with the one-on-one, but also decided it was Rock’s time to shine and left Foley out, killing his dream of Main Eventing Wrestlemania. The irony in all this is Shawn’s steadfastness against Triple Threat Main Events at Wrestlemania…until 2004 that is, when he is the third man inserted into the match. Of course if you’ve watched the Shawn Michaels DVD you know he was hyped up on painkillers and probably didn’t know what he was talking about anyway.

Scott: This was a simple brawl, dating back to their referee match at Wrestlemania. Even after 2 months, you don’t know which side Show is supposed to be on. Is he a face or a heel? He debuts as a heel, then at Wrestlemania smacks Mr. McMahon around. The memorable spots are Mankind dumping a pile of pipes on Show to help him escape, and the nasty cut on Mankind’s hand from broken glass. I hope Mick Foley received a shot for that. He crawls out the door, and is 2-0 in his career in Boiler Room Brawls, defeating the Undertaker in the other at Summerslam 1996. Grade: 2

Justin: Despite being quite short, this stiff, nasty brawl between two good brawlers helps keep the aura of the Boiler Room Brawl alive. This ended up being one of those respect-earning losses for Show, which helped him solidify his face standing. Of course, all of these losses and character changes so early on didn’t help Show very much in the eyes of the fans, but Vince needed to find a way to keep him and Austin apart until 2000, as they were scheduled to Main Event Wrestlemania 16. Mick busts it as always, but he was starting to enter into the borrowed time phase of his career, as his body was breaking down rapidly, and he would actually miss the whole summer due to knee surgery. The spots with the glass are pretty sick to watch and Mick slices his hand up pretty good which leads to some blood loss. After Mick escapes the boiler room, he is jumped by Test and Boss Man and beaten down a bit. Grade: 3

6) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats X-Pac (Sean Waltman) with a Pedigree at 19:16

Scott: This is Triple H’s debut match as the new heel in town. This stems from the controversial ending to the European Title match at Wrestlemania. This is true intensity from a heel not seen since early Stone Cold. You may have thought the length is a bit much, but the psychology in the beating X-Pac took was magic. Knowing his past neck problems, the Game pummeled his former buddy with various moves to the back of the neck. Kane, who is now a face, interferes and lays out some chokeslams, but Trips eventually drops the now ultra-lethal Pedigree, and gets the victory. Many wrestling insiders thought the WWF was shoving Triple H down our throats, but these same hypocrites say there are not enough new blood main eventers, so whatever. He also isn’t close to dating Stephanie McMahon yet, so that theory doesn’t count. He’s just worked his ass off to get to this point. Grade: 3

Justin: Due to everything he has been through, X-Pac now becomes the plucky underdog who garners unbelievable sympathy heat throughout 1999. This is the year he really solidifies his standing and busts out solid match after solid match and is a key player in some big storylines. His relationship with Kane helps things as well, as they worked extremely well together and the storytelling of X-Pac helping to humanize Kane was wonderful booking. On the other end of the spectrum was the manipulative corporate prick, Triple H, who was slowly starting to replace the Rock as the centerpiece of Mr. McMahon’s stable. His heat was building and he would be fully established at the top of the card by late 1999. A really good match here, as these two carry on the Kliq tradition of having awesome matches with each other. This is a solid win for the burgeoning heel run of Hunter, and is a key cog in getting him over. Grade: 3.5

7) The Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Ken Shamrock with a Tombstone at 18:48

Fun Fact: Ken Shamrock is defending the honor of his boss, Mr. McMahon, and his sister Ryan, who was abducted by the Ministry, and has pretty much been turned face due to feuding with the Undertaker. The Corporation was in a really weird spot at this point, as they were feuding with major faces like Austin, Kane and X-Pac but weren’t as evil as the Ministry, so when they square off, the Corporate team, including Vince himself, become faces. It was a weird era that focused on Russo’s infamous “shades of gray.”

Scott: This “Taker knocks out the Corporation” storyline is getting quite stale, and in a couple of months, it wouldn’t matter anyway. The Deadman’s character and health are in decline, and these 14-18 minute matches are really dragging the shows down. This match was OK because Shamrock was able to keep the intensity, as Taker’s nagging ankle and groin injuries were really lowering his usefulness in the ring. What’s worse is next month he jumps up the card, so he really can’t go anywhere. Shammy’s slowly coming to the end of his run. Grade: 2

Justin: This was a really interesting match as two years into his stint they finally let Shamrock try to utilize some of his submission-style wrestling as legitimate action. The funny part is that Taker busts out some UFC-type offense himself. It was a good effort, but the crowd wasn’t exactly digging it, and that fact that it went nearly 20 minutes didn’t help matters much. Shamrock gets his ass beaten with a ball bat, the weapon of choice in this feud, by Bradshaw after the match. There was nothing wrong with the match, per se, but it took place at a point in the show where a quick brawl may have fit better than a 20 minute shoot fight. It still may be worth checking out on its own for the novelty of it. Grade: 3

8) Steve Austin (Williams) defeats the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) with a belt shot in a No Holds Barred match to retain WWF World Title at 17:07

Fun Fact: The night after Wrestlemania, Steve Austin came out to a triumphant return on Raw with his WWF Title in tow. However, he says winning the title was only half the battle. Now he wants his prized Smoking Skull belt that Mr. McMahon stole at Breakdown in September 1998. Mr. McMahon decided he’d had enough of fighting Austin, and was focusing on battling the Undertaker and his ministry. So he returned to the arena with the belt and told his son Shane to just go into the ring, begrudgingly concede defeat and give Austin his belt. Well Shane wasn’t one to go along with plans easily at this point, so he gives the belt to the Rock and says if Austin wants his precious belt back, then he has to give Rock his title rematch at Backlash. On the 4/12 Raw, Rock decided to give Austin some of his own medicine. In a scene reminiscent of December 1997, Rock showed up on a bridge with Austin’s Smoking Skull belt in tow, threatening to toss it in the river. Well Austin, being the hunter that he is, decided to chase the Rock down, and managed to find him on the bridge. They tussled a little bit and the Rock managed to dump Austin off the bridge and into the river, tossing the belt in after him. Well the following week on Raw, Rock decided to hold funeral services for Austin and arrived at the arena, which featured a gravesite and hearse, sporting the Smoking Skull belt, letting us know he had tossed a fake one in the river. He proceeded to read a eulogy for Austin, when all of a sudden Austin appeared on the Titantron in a monster truck, which he used to run over the Rock’s Lincoln Town Car. Austin then drove into the arena and crushed the hearse. The two fought into the gravesite with Austin taking control, cracking Rock with the belt and celebrating with some beers and his belt while Rock was laying in the grave, until Shane, the now appointed special ref for Backlash and self-appointed leader of the Corporation, appeared and cracked Stone Cold with a shovel. The stage was set for the rematch one week later.

Scott: The Wrestlemania rematch hype started the night after the big show when Austin said he wanted his Smoking Skull belt back. Mr. McMahon took it at Breakdown when Austin lost the title match to Undertaker and Kane. Now that he’s the champ again, he wants his belt back. Vince tells Shane to give it back to Steve, but Shane decides to bait Austin into a re-match with Rock by having Rock parade around with it. The match itself is a little better than Wrestlemania, but this time Vince helps Steve win in a roundabout way. He slides the belt into the ring, and Austin hits Rock for the win. Rock, who by now is practically a full-fledged face, drops another one to the Rattlesnake. As we close the show, the visual is this: as Vince is watching Austin celebrate another successful title defense, his daughter Stephanie is being kidnapped by the Undertaker in a limousine. This continues the other storyline going on involving the Ministry taking over the WWF. So, as one feud ends for now, more have begun. This was a solid match, with a fairly predictable ending to the match, but not necessarily to the show. Grade: 3

Justin: A really well-worked match that I think is much better than the Wrestlemania affair and, while it was predictable, it wasn’t as predictable, because it wasn’t as big of a show, so they may take a chance and shoot the belt back to the Rock, whose face pops were out of control. Shane had managed to take control of the Corporation by telling Vince he was too pre-occupied with protecting Stephanie from the Undertaker to focus on what really matters. In a dramatic scene on Raw, he slapped Vince and kicked him out of the ring, taking full control for himself, which is why Vince returns here to help his former nemesis Austin retain his title. The crowd was hot for this match, as both men were insanely over, and the show ends with the ever popular visual of Austin drinking beer in the ring…until Undertaker manages to drive off with Stephanie in tow…”Where to, Stephanie?” But then we cut back to the ring for more beer and loud music to end the broadcast. Grade: 3.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: Another solid effort in the post-Wrestlemania cleanup. This is really the show that ties up any Wrestlemania loose ends. With Triple H now in the mix as a growing player, the upper mid-card and main event situation is looking a little different. Triple H’s emergence is balancing out what has become a very tired and unmotivated Undertaker. Taking into account his injuries, he really needed time off. Unfortunately, he’s being put further into main event storylines and making things more difficult to watch. The other refreshing change is the full-fledged face turn the Rock now experiences. With him and Stone Cold at the top of the face ladder, things are red-hot. Unfortunately, the gas-cooking momentum the WWF is riding takes a sobering slap in the face next month, and the mood around Titan Towers, and professional wrestling, is dark and sad. Final Grade: B-

Justin: A vastly underrated show that featured two excellent matches and a lot of character development. The Providence crowd is hot and cold, but so are the characters, so it is hard to blame them. “Shades of gray” are fine and dandy, but it also causes a lot of confusion for live crowds, who don’t know who the hell to cheer for anymore. Rock was heel and is now face, ditto for Kane, the Brood are faces too, as is the Corporation, but not really, as they are faces when they face the Ministry, but heels against everyone else. Triple H is a heel, and so is Chyna, so that helps balance things out, but who the hell knows what is on the horizon. Times were a changing, but the huge ball of momentum would stop short on the 23rd of May, and wouldn’t pick up for a little while after. For now, though, things looked up and the bookers were on a roll. Final Grade: B

MVP: Triple H & X-Pac
Runner Up: Rock & Steve Austin
Non-MVP: Undertaker
Runner Up: Shades of Gray

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