Assorted April PPV Countdown: 1999

The Netcop Rant for WWF Backlash. As a guide, I’m watching this on tape instead of live, and sober instead of drunk. I know there are those of you who like to keep track of these things when reviewing my reviews… (This was another one where it’s crying out for a redo but my original tape was in such crappy condition that it wasn’t worth transferring over, being that it was a 2nd generation dub from a PPV descrambled with a black box…not exactly DVD quality stuff to begin with.  It used to be a pretty big chore to to rip off PPV and at least now you don’t have to have special equipment imported from Mexico or stupid shit like that, should you want to indulge in that sort of behavior, hypothetically speaking.)  Live from Providence, Rhode Island. Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Opening match: The Brood v. The Acolytes & Mideon. Christian and Mideon have a bizarre staredown to start. Crowd seems less than enthused by this one. Brood tries to double-team Bradshaw, but he no-sells. Christian ends up playing Ricky Morton as the match drags on. Hot ending as the Brood runs through their stuff on Bradshaw, with Christian getting a two count off a swinging DDT, but the 10 punch count gets reversed into a NASTY powerbomb for two. Christian and Edge do a double-team pescado on Faarooq outside the ring, but Viscera waddles down and squishes Christian, allowing Bradshaw to clothesline his head off for the pin. Didn’t see all of it due to getting dinner, but it seemed **-ish. (Now there’s a professional rating system.)  Hardcore title: Bob Holly v. Al Snow. Pretty standard hardcore match, with the in-ring sequence lasting a couple of minutes (and an Al Snow bladejob) before they fight to the parking lot and hit each other on trucks and the dumpster. Hey, garbage wrestling. (Like you’re better than me or something.  You all would have done THE SAME THING.)  Cute spot as they fight into the audio truck, and Holly takes a fall onto a waiting car. Snow finds some conveniently placed frying pans and uses them for a two count as we head back to the ring. Snow puts Holly on the TABLE OF DEATH, but gets clocked with a frying pan. Holly superplexes him onto the table. Nice spot. They lay around for a while, and Snow manages to grab the Head and whack Holly with it for the pin. Man, that thing must have a brick molded into it or something. I think I need a new rating system for garbage matches – the star system doesn’t seem to work well anymore. At any rate, this was subpar crap (as opposed to the entertaining variety) so we’ll go ** (1999 felt like a neverending blur of Hardcore Holly and Al Snow hitting each other with produce and household appliances.)  Intercontinental title match: The Godfather v. Goldust. Meanie debuts his Sable-riffing bit on PPV. (Word of explanation for those of you not fortunate enough to be around during the glory days of Mrs. Brock Lesnar:  They got it into their heads that Sable needed to get into the pre-match catchphrase business, so they came up with something about “the men who came to see me and the women who want to be me” while doing a bad stripper impression, and it never really got over.  Now picture the Blue Meanie doing the same routine.  There you go.)  Godfather comes out alone, drawing boos. So he brings out five hos and gets the face pop. Boring but not terrible match, until Goldust does the powder routine from the house show circuit, where he gets powder in the face and delivers the Shattered Dreams to Meanie. Godfather uses the Ho Train and Pimp Drop to finish it. Eh. Been there, done that. * #1 Contender’s match: The New Age Outlaws v. Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart. May I just say about Debra’s outfit: Hominahominahomina. Is she just saving these “bikini and jacket outfits” for PPV or something? Jarrett gets major heel heat by covering up Debra. The bad thing about going to a house show just before a PPV is that the guys basically just run through the same match. Crowd gets an enthusiastic “Show Your Puppies” chant going for Debra. (Now the kids in the audience would be like “Ew, girls, yucky-pants.”) The heels can’t get anything going until a pier-six situation allows Owen to hit an enzuigiri and get the advantage on Road Dogg. JR posits that the crowd are dog-lovers. Owen and Jarrett do the old-school “distract the ref and beat on the face” bit to good heat a few times. Crowd keeps chanting for the puppies. You know, one of these days Vince HAS to let us see them. (He never did.)  Ross to Lawler: “Do you have a breast fetish?” Gunn gets the hot tag and we do simultaneous 10 punch counts. RD tries to solicit Debra’s attention, and then hits a pumphandle slam for two. More brawling, and Owen gets the Sharpshooter on Jammes, but Gunn hits the Rocker Dropper on Owen while in the hold and gets the pin. Good ending. *** (And that’s Owen Hart’s last match on PPV.)  Shane runs down his father, then Vince and Stephanie retort. Boiler Room Brawl: Paul Wight v. Mankind. (I guess he wasn’t quite Big Show yet.)  Winner escapes the boiler room first. I assume this is pre-taped. Mick breaks a few sheets of drywall over Wight’s head, so Wight stuffs him in a shopping cart and rams him into some stuff. Some candy glass gets broken and both guys blade. Mick is absolutely bumping for six here. Mick cracks open a valve and Wight gets steam in the face. Mick dumps a pile of pipes on Wight and crawls out the door, leaving a literal trail of blood. (Today you don’t even get blood in a Cell match at Wrestlemania between two of the biggest stars in the business.  Back then you get Foley slicing himself open for a nothing pre-taped midcard match.  And by the way, Big Show had only debuted, what, a month and a half before this?  And he’s ALREADY doing jobs for MANKIND?  No wonder he didn’t get over like a megastar.)  Bossman and Test attack and get chased off by Wight. Can’t really rate it – it was just brawling. (Lame!  Suck it up and give it a rating, wuss.)  It was okay. HHH v. X-Pac. Chyna is wearing the LOD Memorial Bra, complete with steel studs. HHH has new music, too, generic rock stuff. (Now, would that be the awesome “My Time” theme, I wonder, or just a random Jim Johnston composition that was in there until it got written for him?  Because I’m thinking he didn’t debut that song until after the “I am the Game” interviews started, but I could be wrong.  And in fact, I went to YouTube after writing that and looked up the match, and indeed “generic rock stuff” is about the best description of it; it’s just some random theme that I don’t even remember.)  HHH hammers on X-Pac in the early going, and dumps him over the top rope in a good bump from X-Pac. He gets the advantage back in the ring and goes for the Broncobuster, but Chyna distracts him long enough to miss the move. The announcers sell a neck injury for X-Pac as HHH wallops him. Man, HHH hasn’t used the knee yet. And he’s being quite the dick here, working the neck. You know the biggest tragedy about HHH’s heel turn? He’s let his hair go to shit. He used to be a lousy wrestler who at least had good hair, but now he doesn’t even have the hair. (The hair made a bit of a comeback, but it never reached the glory days of D-X again.)  Good psychology here from HHH, as Ross gets so concerned about X-Pac’s continued well-being that he offers to ring the bell and stop it himself. That’s why Ross is 10x better than Michael Cole. X-Pac makes the comeback with the heel kicks and a swinging DDT. Chyna distracts the ref, but it backfires as it allows X-Pac a low blow. They end up on the floor and HHH hits the steps. Ref gets bumped on the floor on a baseball slide. CUE THE OVERBOOKING! X-Pac gets the Carpetmuncher, (See?  I’ve been using that joke for at least 13 years.) but Chyna lowblows him and hits an inverted DDT. Nice one, too. Lights out, here comes Kane. JR gets to say “hellfire and brimstone”. Chokeslam for Hunter. Chokeslam for Chyna. JR approves. Kane sets up Chyna and HHH in a corner each, allowing X-Pac to hit the Broncobuster on HHH to a big pop, and on Chyna to a bigger one. It’s all for naught, however, as the second Broncobuster allows HHH to deck him from behind and hit the Pedigree for the pin. He had to win folks, because he’s going Main Eventer pretty soon. (Now there’s the understatement of the decade.)  Best HHH match in a while. **** (I actually watched the match on YouTube while I had it loaded up, and it was indeed a spectacular match.  I would actually stand by that rating.)  Ken Shamrock v. The Undertaker. I really hate that new mix for the Undertaker’s music. The one on WWF the Music 3 is the best. And the new outfit screams “S&M fetishist”. (Don’t tell Curtis Hughes.)  Undertaker controls early, but Shamrock gets an opening and kicks away to the leg of UT. UT comes back, but Shamrock gets going to the leg. This is, again, just like the house show match from last week. This is an interesting attempt to elevate Ken to the next level, I’ll give the angle that. Crowd loses patience with this one fast. These guys are just not compatible workers. Shamrock gets the Fujiwara armbar and the crowd breaks into a big “boring” chant. Without Bret and Shawn to carry him, it’s becoming apparent that Undertaker has outlived his usefulness as a wrestler. (Not quite the hatred of 2000 Undertaker, but I was getting pretty tired of him at this point.) He has the unmitigated gall to work in a bow-and-arrow. When has UT EVER used that move? Nice move as UT legdrops Shamrock and Ken grabs the leg and rolls into a submission move. UT reverses to a half-crab. Undertaker: Submission fighter? (I also do lottery numbers, thanks for asking.)  UT is selling the leg injury well. Bad looking pin as UT has a clear pin after a big foot but Ken forgets to lift his shoulder at two. Hebner stops anyway. Ken hits the rana and anklelock, but UT kicks out quickly. UT tries the tombstone, but Ken gets the anklelock again. Bradshaw comes down with a baseball bat, but Ken knocks him off and hooks an armbar. Now Bearer is up on the apron, which is enough for UT to get a cheap win with the tombstone. UT got seriously devalued here. **  (He’ll be OK.)  Bradshaw delivers a Texas ass-whooping for fun. Crowd has no reaction to any of it. (Shamrock was on the way out anyway at that point.)  WWF World title match: Steve Austin v. The Rock. Shane is of course the guest ref. On Heat, it was announced that this is No Holds Barred and if Austin touches Shane, he’s DQ’d and the Rock wins the title. Quite the face pop for the Rock. We do a couple of minutes of wrestling and then the brawl starts, as they head to the entranceway. Austin gets put through the fence set up by the entrance. Austin reciprocates on the Rock in kind, then drops a metal case on his head for good measure. Rock get tossed through a pile of railings and Austin clotheslines him off a pile of cases. See, Herb, Rock is taking bumps. (Old school RSPWers may remember that Herb Kunze HATED The Rock.  Herb was a great guy but he totally missed the boat on Rock’s potential as a worker.) Austin batters the Rock some more and drags him to the ring. Rock takes a MAN-SIZED bump, charging Austin but flying over the top. On cue, the Spanish table gets destroyed by the Rock Bottom. Shane stops Austin from using a chair, and Rock tosses him over the railing. Rock puts Austin onto the announce table and steals a camera and does some camerawork, shooting the crowd. Then, in a spectacular visual, he turns around to see Austin giving him the double-bird and Stunner on the table. That was just a magnificent bit. Back in the ring and Austin goes for the Stunner, but Rock pushes him into Shane. Rock hits Rock Bottom and gets two (with help from Shane). That didn’t work, so Shane grabs the WWF title and charges, but hits Rock by mistake. Shane refuses to count and runs. Except of course, that Vince is here with Earl Hebner and the Stone Cold belt. Vince wallops Shane with the belt, and Rock hits Austin with the other belt and gets a two count from Hebner. Austin is up with the Stunner, and he hits Rock with the title for good measure and gets the pin. Another great Rock-Austin brawl. **** Vince tosses the skull belt to Austin and walks off. End of…oh, wait. In the back, Stephanie gets kidnapped by Undertaker: Limo Driver for Hire. That’s not gonna lead to anything good, I can just bet. (SAY IT WITH ME!  YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!  And yeah, to say that it didn’t lead to anything good is also the understatement of the decade considering what the endgame was.  Two words:  Higher Power.)  Back to the ring as Austin downs some frosty beverages (sources say it’s actually Sprite, not beer), end of show. The Bottom Line: Well, I was expecting nothing coming in, and although it delivered two **** matches and nothing in the way of total crap, it didn’t really leave me feeling terribly excited one way or another. So thumbs in the middle this time out.  (No way, man, the Rock-Austin bit with the Smoking Skull belt is classic and it’s a great underrated brawl between them, plus the HHH v. X-Pac match is great and UNDERTAKER KIDNAPS STEPHANIE and nothing’s really bad on this show.  Easy-ass thumbs up.)