Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 25 April 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF Backlash 1999 - In Your House 28

WWF / WWE Backlash 1999 - Event poster
April 25, 1999, 
Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island

One month after defeating The Rock in the main event of Wrestlemania 15, World Wrestling Federation Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin looked set to defend that title at Backlash, a show which had a certain unique significance to it. 

For tonight's show would be the last WWF PPV promoted under the In Hour House banner.

The concept of In Your House had started four years ago, back in May 1995, as a means of countering World Championship Wrestling's increased pay per view schedule with their own, lower-cost, two hour PPV specials.

But a lot -nay, everything- had changed since then.

The cartoony New Generation Era led by Big Daddy Cool Diesel back at In Your House 1 had given way to the gritty and risque product known -and often loved- as the Attitude Era.

As the company had evolved slowly from the former to the latter, the In Your House brand itself had seen its own significance eroded.

The first couple of events had been numbered only, such as In Your House 1, In Your House 2, with subtitles (such as In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage) being added later. Then, from In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies, the subtitles became official before they took over completely from Ground Zero: In Your House onwards.

Yet while the brand itself was still fairly prominent even as far back as Ground Zero, it was barely mentioned from around the time of 1998's Unforgiven. Quite often, you had to get a magnifying glass out and squint real hard if you wanted to see the In Your House name on any of the series' events from that point on, so it was no surprise that, after Backlash, the company would decide to do away with it altogether.

For now though, let's go In Your House one last time as the World Wrestling Federation presents Backlash: In Your House 28.

Rock and Austin are More Similar Than You Think

WWE / WWF Backlash 1999 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jim Ross hosted the event
Remember that awesome voice over guy who did so many of the company's video packages back in the day?

He was at his best as tonight's show got underway, talking over a dramatic video package to tell us that while Steve Austin and The Rock may appear to have nothing more in common than a mutual hatred of one another, they were actually pretty similar because they were both charismatic superstars committed to winning.

After the usual pyro and crowd-panning, we next went to Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

The former told us that earlier, on Sunday Night Heat, Shane McMahon had made Rock vs. Austin's Wrestlemania 15 rematch a No Disqualification match, with the added caveat that if Austin put his hands on McMahon (who was serving as the special referee), then he would lose the title.

With that out of the way, it was onto our opening match.

The Brood (Edge, Christian, and Gangrel) vs. The Ministry of Darkness (Farooq, Bradshaw, and Mideon) 

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - The Ministry of Darkness vs. The BroodThe Brood had recently been excommunicated from The Ministry of Darkness following a series of events that started when Christian, unable to withstand Ken Shamrock's ankle lock any longer, told The World's Most Dangerous Man where The Undertaker was keeping Stephanie McMahon, who he had kidnapped.

Christian was then subject to flogging and was going to be "crucified" on The Undertaker's symbol until Edge and Gangrel realized they'd had enough and attacked.

That all led us tonight's opening contest, a rather dull, overly-long affair which, despite the occasional flash of action from The Brood, mostly failed to excite.

The Ministry spent the bulk of the match in control, which certainly didn't help the pace. After a while, Edge, Christian, and Gangrel took over and began flying about the place, only for Viscera to run down and squash Christian against the ring apron.

Back in the ring, Bradshaw then levelled the future Captain Charisma with a Clothesline From Hell, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners: The Ministry of Darkness

Out in the back, we saw The Rock making his way into the arena, dragging Austin's Smoking Skull belt along the floor.

Apparently, somebody in the company was paying attention to WCW, who seemed to run the "challenger steals the champ's title belt" angle every other month.

From there, we were reminded of the rivalry between Hardcore Holly and Al Snow, including the time they battled in the Mississippi River back at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House.

The two would meet in the next match

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Hardcore Holly vs. Al Snow (w/ Head)

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - Al Snow vs Hardcore Holly for the WWF Hardcore Championship
Outside of that memorable outing at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Snow and Holly had been working together in some capacity or another for a while now, so it was no surprise that they'd managed to take their unique contribution to the World Wrestling Federation's violent variety show and turn it into something of an art-form.

Setting the blueprint for many of the WWF-style hardcore matches that would follow in the years to come, Snow and Holly battled in the ring, around the ring and, inevitably, backstage.

Though it was fairly tame in comparison with some hardcore/garbage matches offered by other promotions, the two former JOB Squad teammates put on a match that was mostly very entertaining.

I say mostly because at one point the two brawled outside of the arena where it was so dark and poorly lit that it was actually hard to see what was going on. There was even a moment when Holly pushed Snow off a wall and into a dumpster below then dived in after him. It would have looked pretty good if you could actually see what was going on.

After that, they brawled back into the backstage area, ignoring Sgt. Slaughter who was just standing around with a stack of papers, and back into the ring for the climactic finish.

A top rope superplex through a table took both men out, but it was Al Snow who picked up the win by grabbing Head and blasting his opponent with it.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Hardcore Champion: Al Snow

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - The Undertaker addresses his Ministry of Darkess
Out in the back, Stone Cold Steve Austin arrived and walked past a couple of vending machines.

Elsewhere in the arena, The Undertaker told his Ministry that he was pleased with their victory over The Brood, but now there was more work to do as they prepared for "a tragedy."

"What tragedy?" begged JR afterward. "What tragedy could he be talking about?"

Clearly, this was something we were supposed to pay attention to.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Godfather (w/ The Hos) vs. Goldust (w/ The Blue Meanie)

Prior to the match, The Blue Meanie did his best Sable impression ("this is for all the men who want to be me and the girls who came to see me, are you ready for the grind?") before The Godfather teased coming out sans-hos, much to the chagrin of the live crowd.

Alas, the Intercontinental Champion didn't disappoint, eventually bringing out his ladies of the night so that we could all get aboard the ho train and ride it into our second title match of the evening.

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - The Blue Meanie accompanied Goldust to the ring
A short match, this one was played mostly for laughs. Goldust attempted to throw powder into his opponent's eyes, but Godfather hit first, causing the powder to shower Goldust and "blind him."

As the challenger, his sight impaired, staggered around the ring looking for Godfather, Godfather himself directed him towards The Blue Meanie, then stood by laughing as Goldust hit Shattered Dreams on his...whatever Blue Meanie was to him.

Following another comedy spot in which Meanie ended up headbutting Goldie in the balls, Godfather hit the Death Valley Driver for the win.

For a short comedy match, that was actually pretty entertaining, though the best part of the whole thing was this gem from JR.

King: "Which one is your favorite ho, Jr?"
JR: "I'll have you know I'm a happily married man with a wife back home...I'll tell you later."
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: The Godfather

Post-match, Godfather celebrated with his hos before we cut to a couple of WWF commercials.

The version we're watching today is an original VHS recorded from TV the night that Backlash aired. Our first commercial offered to sell us Stone Cold's autograph plus an official piece of the ring mat from Wrestlemania 15 for only $79.

The second commercial was for a brand new, prime time show called Smackdown, which would be airing that coming Thursday on UPN.

Back in the arena, Jim Ross told us that the winner of the next match would face the tag team champions on that "two-hour special."

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - Michael Cole interviews Al Snow backstage
Is Head the Hardcore Champion?

Out in the men's bathroom, Michael Cole tried to get a word with Al Snow, who was sat in front of some urinals with Head and the Hardcore title.

Cole tried to get an interview with the new Hardcore Champion, but Snow was more concerned with talking to Head who -via Snow- seemed to insinuate that because Al had pinned Hardcore Holly with the same hand that he was holding Head in, that basically made Head the champion.

Number One Contendership for the Tag Team Titles
The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (w/ Debra)

Wearing almost nothing, Debra looked sensational here, so sensational in fact that Road Dogg tried everything to encourage the blonde beauty to get her puppies out.

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - Jeff Jarrett with Debra
Of course, she wanted to, but Jeff Jarrett refused to let her, so, instead, Road Dogg had his partner Billy Gunn show his ass. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't exactly consider Bad Bum Billy Gunn's bad bum as a consolation prize for lack of Debra boobage.

Neither would Owen Hart or Jeff Jarrett, apparently.

The two immediately attacked the New Age Outlaws from behind, and thus began what turned out to be a very entertaining match.

In there with two pros like Owen and Jeff, The Outlaws had a better match than usual, though to be honest, it wouldn't have mattered:

The fans were more concerned with chanting at Debra to show her puppies than with anything going on in the ring which was a shame because they missed a pretty decent match.

After some fun action, Road Dogg and Mr. Ass picked up the win to earn a tag team title shot on the pilot episode/"two hour special" of Smackdown.
Your Winners: The New Age Outlaws

Post-match, the Outlaws celebrated and Roadie once again had his partner strip down to his thong. The less said about that, the better.

The McMahons are at War

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - Michael Cole interviews Shane McMahon
Out in the back, Shane McMahon told Michael Cole that he no longer considered Vince McMahon to be his father, but that if Stone Cold could pin Austin tonight then he (Shane) would make the three count in the name of his grandfather, Vince McMahon Sr.

Offering a retort, McMahon Sr.-with Stephanie in tow- called the whole thing surreal and hoped that his son wouldn't make as big a mistake as he'd made recently on Raw.

Neither clip was all that entertaining, but at least it served a purpose.

Boiler Room Brawl
The Big Show vs. Mankind

Heading to the boiler room for the first time since Summerslam 1996, Mankind this time took on The Big Show in a match that was very different from the original Boiler Room Brawl he'd had with The Undertaker three years earlier.

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - The Big Show puts Mankind in a shopping cart in their Boiler Room Brawl
For one thing, this boiler room was actually very well lit and at times barely looked like a boiler room at all. For another, all you had to do to win was leave the boiler room, whereas, in the original one, you had to make it all the way back to the ring (and get the Undertaker's urn).

Like a more violent version of the earlier hardcore match, this weapons-filled stunt fest was pretty entertaining for what it was. A couple of spots imparticular, such as Mankind smashing a random pane of glass over Big Show's head and cutting his own hand to bits in the process, were sickening yet perversely enjoyable to watch, though there didn't really feel as though there was much to this one.

It was basically the two men walking from one spot to the next until it all just kind of ended. OK, so the part with Mankind leaving a trail of bloody handprints as he crawled out of the door did look like something straight out of a horror movie, but the whole thing was over rather quickly and seemed to lack a certain something.
Your Winner: Mankind

The moment Mick walked through the door he was immediately attacked by The Big Boss Man and Test. Big Show got up and chased off Boss Man (leading to that memorably terrible feud) while Foley gave Test some Mr. Socko.

X-Pac Needs Putting in his Place

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - HHH and Chyna had a message for X-Pac
Elsewhere in the arena, Michael Cole interviewed Chyna and Triple H. Chyna warned X-Pac that there was a hierarchy and that Pac needed putting in his place, while Hunter added that he made X-Pac's ass and could just as easily break it.

The Aftermath of War 

Out in the back, a beaten-up Big Show was seen being tended to by the WWF's head doctor, Fran├žois Petit.

According to the Mortal Kombat star, Show had a dislocated thumb and required many stitches.

Meanwhile, Mankind took us on a tour of the locker room, pointing out all the broken furniture and evidence of the violent carnage that had gone on just moments before and reminding us what a war we'd just witnessed.

I've never seen anything like that before or since, but it was pretty compelling stuff.

X-Pac vs. Triple H (w/ Chyna)

Triple H and Chyna came to the ring to the sound of a weird theme that sounded like a demo version of something not quite finished. It sounded odd and ill-suited to him, which is probably why he didn't use it for very long.

Meanwhile, Jim Ross told us that this match could potentially steal the show.

It didn't. It was too long and too focussed on selling X-Pac's previous neck injury to steal the show, but it was still good fun in an old-school, slow-paced kind of way.

OK, so it dragged a lot in the middle -I mean, they really, really hammed up the neck thing for as long as possible- but otherwise, it was a solid effort with a very good finish.

After a ref bump, Chyna took down X-Pac only for the lights to go out, signalling the appearance of Kane.

The man betrayed by Chyna back at Mania planted both her and Hunter with chokeslams, propped them up in separate corners, and then left. Obviously, that was the cue for X-Pac to get up and hit a couple of Bronco Busters, but that wasn't enough to win the match.

Hunter recovered from his bronco, hit a pedigree, and took another step towards becoming a bonafide main eventer.
Your Winner: Triple H

As he and Chyna made their way backstage with that weird theme music, Jim Ross told us that if we sent in our cable bill proving we'd bought the pay per view, they'd send us a free WWF Attitude hat.

I must admit, I kind of want one of those.

Another commercial aired for the "Network Special" of WWF Smackdown, and then it was onto our next match.

Ken Shamrock vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - The Undertaker faced Ken Shamock in a leg lock of doom challenge
If you like matches that are basically 20 minutes of leg holds, you'll love this one.

If you're not, you might be like this writer and bored to tears with it.

Though I certainly get what they were going for and understand why the match played out the way it did, it just wasn't very interesting. Then again, I'm the sort of guy who finds MMA really boring, so maybe this one just wasn't for me.

Anyway, after getting his legs attacked by Shamrock for the better part of what felt like a thousand years, Undertaker hit a tombstone and put this one to an end.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Afterward, Bradshaw (who had tried to interfere earlier in the match) attacked Shamrock with a baseball bat and beat him up a bit.

We then cut to a video package in which The Undertaker, surrounded by flames and the darkness of hell, called himself The Purity of Evil as a way to sell next month's Over the Edge.

Man is that ever going to be a difficult show to review when I get to it.

Keeping Stephanie Safe

Outside the arena, Vince McMahon put Stephanie in a limo surrounded by armed guards, telling the henchmen to look after his daughter and that he'd be right back after the next match.

No Holds Barred World Wrestling Federation Championship Match
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock

Special Guest Referee: Shane McMahon

WWE / WWF - Backlash 1999 - Steve Austin beats up The Rock
Whether they were duking it out for the Intercontinental Championship back at D-Generation-X: In Your House or squaring off in the main event of Wrestlemania 15, Rock and Austin always worked well together, and this was no exception.

With the No Holds Barred stipulation giving them the creative freedom to brawl all over the arena (just not backstage), the Attitude Era's two biggest stars gave us a hugely entertaining brawl that may have just been their best match yet.

The Rock dominated for the most part, yet Austin was always right there with a comeback, keeping himself in the fight and the crowds on the edge of their seat.

Towards the finish, special referee Shane McMahon went to hit Austin with the title belt. The Rattlesnake ducked and The Rock took the full front of the blow. Austin covered, but McMahon would only count to two before flipping Austin off and heading the lockerroom.

Not that he'd get very far.

Vince McMahon, brandishing the Smoking Skull title that Shane had earlier ordered an assistant to take backstage, came and knocked Shane out cold with it, then sent Earl Hebner in as a replacement referee.

One title shot to The Rock's head later, and Stone Cold retained the title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

As Austin celebrated his big win, we cut backstage where The Ministry of Darkness began to approach the limousine that Stephanie McMahon was in. One of the guards ordered the car to drive away, taking Steph to safety. As the car pulled out and Steph questioned why they weren't waiting for her dad, the driver turned around, revealing himself to be none other than The Undertaker.

With a maniacal laugh, 'Taker looked straight at Steph (or rather, straight at the camera that served as her point of view) and uttered that memorably cheesy line:

"Where to, Stephanie?"

All in all, I guess it's fair to say that the In Your House series of PPV events ended on a high note. With a thrilling main event, an entertaining tag team contest, and everything that wasn't the Taker/Shamrock Leg Lock Special ranging from decent to very enjoyable, Backlash was a solid B+ show with an A* headline.

OK, so that bit with Undertaker and Stephanie at the end was kinda silly, let's not pull down a whole show for one little segment.

One sad point, however, is that this was the last time we'd see Owen Hart wrestle on pay per view. I'm not kidding, I am really, really not looking forward to reviewing Over The Edge.

Other 1999 pro wrestling reviews:
Other WWF In Your House Review:

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Thursday, 18 April 2019

Top 10 Best Ever WWF In Your House Matches

WWE / WWF In Your House logo - Top 10 Best Ever In Your House matches
Next week on Retro Pro Wrestling we'll be looking at Backlash 1999, the 28th and final ever instalment of In Your House.

That means that, over the past few years, we've been through every single In Your House event ever and, you know what?

There was a lot of good stuff to enjoy on those shows.

Sure, there was a lot of crap too, but while the In Your House brand may have a certain whiff of mid-90s, New Generation era cheese about it, the 28-show series did actually produce a lot -and I mean a lot- of good matches.

So, to celebrate this milestone on the road to reviewing every WWF PPV up to Wrestlemania 30, I thought we'd take a look back at the ten best In Your House matches ever.

Before we do, a word about how I determined which matches made the list, and in which order they made it.

The following list is based on nothing more than how much I personally enjoyed the match. I'm not necessarily too concerned with the technical excellence of the wrestlers, the work rate or any of that nonsense - it's all about how much fun I had watching a bunch of men pretending to fight each other.

Without further ado then, here's just ten of the best WWF In Your House matches to have taken place between 1995 and 1999.

10: WWF Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel 

In Your House 7: Good Friends Better Enemies

As a 12 year-old kid back in 1996, I absolutely loved this match, and not just for the spot where Michaels and Diesel used Mad Dog Vachon's false leg a weapon.

This dramatic and violent (by the WWF's standards) No Holds Barred match was, in many ways, a precursor to the kind of stuff we'd later see in the Attitude Era, but of course, at the time I didn't know that.

All I knew was that this was a match unlike anything I'd seen as a WWF fan, and I absolutely loved it.

Watching it back years later, I was delighted to find that it had lost none of its appeal.

A forgotten highlight of the mid-90s, this is a match I highly recommend you check out.

9:  WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog 

In the first draft of this list, nine out of the ten matches included Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, or Stone Cold Steve Austin. While that does go to show what a great body of work those men created, I thought it might be good to change things up a little, so I put this match in. 

Not that the December 1995 match doesn't deserve a spot. With The British Bulldog challenging brother-in-law Bret for the title, all the attributes were there to make this one a fine follow-up to their Summerslam 1992 classic. 

In my original review, I wrote:

A hard-hitting, dramatic and utterly captivating main event match, things started off slow with some back-and-forth mat action before the two combatants gradually picked up the pace, beating the living daylights out of each other inside and outside of the ring
I stand by that. This may not have been my first choice for inclusion on the list, but it certainly belongs here.

8: Non-Sanctioned, Anything Goes Eight-Man Tag Team Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and WWF European Champion Owen Hart vs. Triple H, Savio Vega, and WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Bad Ass Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James) w/ Chyna

On the road to Wrestlemania 14, Steve Austin was at war with Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Owen Hart had their issues, and The New Age Outlaws were a thorn in the side of Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie. 

All eight men were set to meet in one big, eight-man tag team match but then Shawn Michaels suffered a devastating back injury and despite being advertised for the show, was switched out at the last minute for Savio Vega.

The wrestling world groaned in unison at such a poor substitute, but even that didn't stop this from being an incredibly fun main event that got us all well and truly fired up for 'Mania.

7: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels 

Ground Zero: In Your House 17

Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels at In Your House Ground Zero - Top 10 Best Ever In Your House matches

OK, so this wasn't the greatest Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels match ever. Heck, it isn't even the greatest Undertaker/Michaels match on this list, but it's still very, very, very good.

The whole thing came about when Michaels, in his role as special referee, cost The Undertaker the WWF title to The Hitman back at Summerslam 1997 and would eventually lead -via Badd Blood- to a casket match at Royal Rumble 1998, the same casket match that would cause Michaels the injury which kept him out of the aforementioned No Way Out match.

Its context in wrestling history aside, however, this was was a fantastic match that saw Undertaker absolutely demolish Michaels before the whole thing descended into utter carnage.

Everything about it was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish.

6: WWF European Champion D’Lo Brown vs. X-Pac w/ Chyna 

Judgement Day: In Your House 25

Originally the only match on this list not to feature Austin, Michaels or 'Taker, X-Pac vs. D'Lo Brown was a surprising highlight of the WWF's 1998 pay per view offering.

The two met multiple times that year, but I don't think they ever quite managed to make the kind of magic they made back at Judgement Day.

5: Final Four Way Match for the Vacant World Wrestling Federation Championship
Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

A little after Shawn Michaels lost his smile, four of the WWF's biggest stars met in a brutally brilliant, brilliantly brutal four-way match to determine which one of them would win the title that poor old HBK had vacated.

The match is perhaps most memorable for Vader being busted wide open and wrestling the bulk of the match looking as though somebody had caved his face in with a hammer - this at the time when blood wasn't a common sight on WWF TV.

Still, that wasn't the only highlight. 

All four men worked their asses off to put on a compelling main event that was undoubtedly one of 1997's best. 

4: WWF Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind 

In Your House 10: Mind Games

Shawn Michaels vs Mankind at In Your House: Mind Games - Top 10 Best Ever In Your House matches

Mick Foley famously said that this was his favourite match and, when you watch it, it's easy to see why.

Foley was in the best shape of his career here, keeping up with champion Michaels for the better part of 30 minutes.

This one had it all. Actual wrestling holds (even from Mankind), wild, crazy brawling, and yes, Foley destroying his body by crashing off the top turnbuckle into the Spanish announce table.

In fact, just reading my original review makes me want to go back and relive the excitement of it all over again.

A true classic that was just about as good as you were going to get in 1996.

3: The Hart Foundation vs. Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and The Legion of Doom 

In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 

Canadian Stampede is up there among my favourite PPVs of all time, and this fantastically enjoyable match is a big part of the reason why.

Of course, the match had the novelty value that the roles were reversed here. The Hart Foundation - usually the biggest heels in the company, were beloved babyfaces in their home country of Canada, making popular faces Austin, Goldust, Shamrock and the LOD into firm heels.

But that was only part of what made this such a wonderful match.

All ten men brought their A-game on that hot, summer night in Calgary. Add to that a red-hot crowd the likes of which you rarely saw in mid-90s WWF, and you had the perfect combination for a truly memorable main event.

2: WWF Champion Steve Austin vs. The Rock 

Backlash: In Your House 28

Yes, I'm cheating a little here. I haven't yet posted the review for Backlash, but man, this return match from Wrestlemania 15 was just so good that there was no way I couldn't include it.

Austin and Rock always worked well together, but in this April 1999 bout the two really excelled.

By using Austin's Attitude Era Main Event blueprint (wild brawling, trips up and down the ilse, a blatant disregard for the rules) and adding in Rock's own unique way of delivering an entertaining match (doing his own mid-match commentary for example), the late 90s' two biggest stars put on an impeccable performance that is well worth tracking down.

1: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Badd Blood: In Your House 18

Didn't I tell you that their outing at Ground Zero wasn't the best Undertaker/Michaels match?

Just when you thought the two couldn't top their September '97 outing, they locked up again a month later in the first ever Hell in a Cell match.

By far the most violent WWF match in history up to that point, this one didn't just pave the way for what was to come, it set a standard for Hell in a Cell matches that only Mick Foley's career-defining moment in 1998 could match.

Here's what I said about it in my original review:

Certainly, one of the best matches of the year, most likely one of the best matches of the 90s, and easily the greatest match of its type, this groundbreaking first Hell in a Cell match was gloriously violent and brilliantly entertaining from beginning to end.

I don't believe I'm exaggerating there either. This really was that good.

In fact, it wasn't just good, it was important.

What a lot of people forget about this match is that it was a number one contender's match. The winner would earn a title shot against Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997, and we all know what happened there.

Plus there's the novelty of this being the first ever Hell in a Cell match and, oh yeah, a certain wrestler called Kane happened to debut in this match.

Combine all of these factors together, and I'm prepared to say that this wasn't just the best In Your House match from a technical standpoint, it was also the most important.

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Thursday, 11 April 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Spring Stampede 1999

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Event poster
April 11, 1999
Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Washington

Growing up in England in the 1990s meant that if you wanted to watch World Championship Wrestling, you were pretty much limited to a few hours of Nitro which came on after Cartoon Network finished airing every Friday night.

Though one of the company's B-shows would eventually get some TV time, Nitro was pretty much it for us. There was never any opportunity to watch Thunder, and certainly never any opportunity to watch the company's monthly Pay Per Views.

So for the most part, every WCW PPV that has been reviewed here on Retro Pro Wrestling has been reviewed from the viewpoint of someone who is seeing it for the very first time.

Tonight, however, is a little different.

At some point in the early 2000s, after WCW was already dead and TNA was just becoming a thing, your writer managed to get their hands on this show. As the only WCW event I had access to, I watched it quite a few times, meaning much of what we're about to experience together is likely going to be very familiar to me.

Still, by all accounts, I remember this being a really good show that kept me entertained for hours.

Will it still be just as fun to watch a few decades later?

Let's head to Tacoma, Washington, to find out.

Welcome to Spring Stampede

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
After a generic video package highlighting some of the competitors on tonight's card, we panned the crowd and went straight to Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

The trio put over tonight's main event, a four-corners match for the world title between reigning champion Ric Flair, Diamond Dallas Page, Sting and Hulk Hogan, with a returning Macho Man Randy Savage as the special guest referee.

Then, for what was probably the first time in the company's history, we went straight to the ring for our first match less than three minutes into the show. Most WCW PPVs had at least five minutes of talking before we got to the ring, so this was a nice change.

Blitzkrieg vs. Juventud Guerrera

Winner earns a cruiserweight title shot on Nitro

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Blitzkrieg vs. Juventud Guerrera
Here's one of the first things I remember from all those Spring Stampede 1999 viewings years ago:

A tremendous cruiserweight match between Juventud Guerrera and newcomer, Blitzkrieg.

Leaving nothing behind, both men went all out to deliver a fast-paced, high-flying match with several jaw-dropping spots expertly linked together by some fantastic action.

After a great back-and-forth battle, Guerrera landed a Juvi Driver from off the middle rope to bring this wonderful opening match to a close.
Your Winner: Juventud Guerrera

At last month's WCW Uncensored 1999, Chastity had turned her back on her brother, Raven, and aligned herself with Hak at the end of a three-way match which had also included Bam Bam Bigelow.

Tonight, she would lead Hak into battle with Bigelow once again, but first, we got a quick look back at the rivalry between these two former ECW stars.

Hardcore match
Hak (w/ Chastity) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Hak
So far, Spring Stampede was two for two in the great match stakes.

OK, so this weapon-fuelled brawl had a completely different vibe to it than the earlier cruiserweight match, but it was still nonetheless a very fun outing between Bam Bam and Hak.

The two pummelled each other with crutches, with trash cans and broomsticks. They sent each other crashing through tables and they generally destroyed one another. Sandman even threw himself off the top of the stagecoach that was part of the Spring Stampede set dressing and sent both himself and his opponent crashing through a table.

Later, Bam Bam got his own back by hitting the former Sandman with a Greetings From Asbury Park off the top rope through another table. That was enough to bring this really enjoyable match to its conclusion.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Afterwards, Tony Schiavone urged fans not to replicate the kind of carnage they'd just seen.

"Fans, have a clue," he said. "Don't try this sort of thing in your backyard."
"Try it in your living room instead! It's more fun!" replied Bobby Heenan.

Scotty Riggs vs. Mikey Whipwreck

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Scotty Riggs faced Mikey Whipwreck
Scotty Riggs was now doing a Generic Narcissist gimmick where he was in love with his own appearance.

Here, he went up against Mikey Whipwreck in what we were told was an unadvertised bonus match, which basically meant the WCW booking committee needed to fill up a bit of time.

At one point, this run-of-the-mill singles match got a loud "boring" chant from the crowd which was probably a bit unfair.

Ok, so it paled in comparison to the other two matches, but as filler, it generally served its purpose and was perfectly fine for what it was.

After a few minutes, Riggs hit the ropes and bounced into Whipreck with a flying forearm for the win.
Your Winner: Scotty Riggs

Prior to the next match, we got a quick look back at the rivalry between Konnan and the Disco Inferno.

Konnan vs. Disco Inferno

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Konnan faced Disco Inferno
Better than you probably imagined it would be, Disco vs. Konnan was as good the two men involved could possibly make it given their individual talents.

It was a solid, by-the-numbers battle between the popular babyface (Konnan) and the cocky, arrogant heel (Disco) that kept the crowd's interest (and mine for that matter) from start to finish.

After an enjoyable outing, K-Dogg blasted Disco with Disco's own Last Dance (Stone Cold Stunner) to pick up the three count.
Your Winner: Konnan

Moving swiftly on

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion & WCW Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. WCW Tag Team Billy Kidman

Yes, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman were both good friends and tag team champions, but tonight, the latter was challenging the former for the cruiserweight title.

Here, the two men put on a cruiserweight masterclass, going back and forth in a long, solid match that mixed what Mike Tenay loved to call "high-risk offence" with some well-thought psychology.

Captivating from start to finish, this very good match ended when Mysterio blocked from attempting the shooting star press and rana'd him off the top rope for the fall.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Up next, we'd find out which team would challenge Rey & Billy for their tag team titles.

Raven's Rules Tag Team Match
Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko (w/ Arn Anderson) vs. Raven & Saturn

Winner earns a tag team title shot
WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Raven & Saturn faced Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko
Another lengthy contest, this one saw both teams given plenty of time to work one of the best tag team matches of that year, if not of the past several years.

With the crowd becoming more and more in favour of the recently reunited Raven and Perry Saturn and turning on Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko (with several loud "Horsemen Suck!" chants), the match got more intense, more dramatic, and more engrossing the longer it went on.

More than just your typical "face-in-peril makes hot tag, babyface come back, finish" this had a unique flow to it that made it all the more enjoyable.

After a good, long match, Benoit hit a diving headbutt onto a steel chair that was draped over Raven. Malenko, who was pretty out of it, got his arm over Raven and three seconds later we had new number one contenders to the tag team titles.
Your Winners: Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko

Up next, we were reminded that Ric Flair had stripped Scott Hall of the US title because Hall was basically AWOL. President Flair had then set up a tournament to crown a new champion.

That tournament had seen Scott Steiner defeat Chris Jericho to earn a place in the finals, after which Jericho had used a loophole to get back in and face Booker T. Booker T had also beaten Jericho, and would now face Steiner for the US title only a month after the two men locked up for the TV title back at Uncensored.

For what it's worth, this was the first WCW PPV not to feature a Chris Jericho match since Starrcade 1997.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship Tournament Final
Scott Steiner vs. WCW TV Champion Booker T

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Scott Steiner faced Booker T for the US title
Is it possible that we focus so much on how crazy and intense Scott Steiner is that we overlook the fact that, at his best, he was a very, very good heel?

Big Poppa Pump spent the early part of this match just stalking the ringside, goading the fans and getting them riled up. Though it could be seen as merely stalling, it was a very effective way of establishing Steiner as an unhinged uber-heel, making you want to see Booker T beat him up even more.

Booker did beat him up, but unfortunately couldn't do enough to keep The Genetic Freak down.

After a so-so match, the referee took a tumble and the crowd immediately turned in unison to look at the entrance way, ready for the inevitable run in.

For once, nobody came, but Steiner did manage to pull Random International Object out of his trunks which he jammed into Booker's face during a suplex attempt.

Steiner then revived the referee and made the three count.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Scott Steiner

That really wasn't the best match ever...but it made for a decent change of pace after some really intense action earlier on the card.

Out in the Internet Location, Rey Mysterio told Mark Madden that he and Kidman were on the same page and looking forward to defending the tag team titles.

Kevin Nash (w/ Lex Luger and Miss Elizabeth) vs. Goldberg

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg
Back at Starrcade 1998, Goldberg's streak -then one of the hottest things in pro wrestling- had come crashing to an end at the hands of Big Sexy Kevin Nash.

Tonight, four months down the line, Goldberg finally got his revenge in a short, passable match that felt more like it was there to fulfil some sort of obligation to end the story the right way than it was to -you know- actually be entertaining.

Not that it was bad, it just wasn't quite the exciting match you'd probably want from two of the biggest stars in the company.

A Jackhammer gave Goldberg his win back, and all was right with the world again.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Finally, it was main event time

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Four-Way Match
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Diamond Dallas Page vs. Hulk Hogan vs. Sting

Special Guest Referee: Macho Man Randy Savage
Here's a few interesting things for you:

This was the first WCW PPV of the Monday Night Wars that didn't feature Michael Buffer doing Super Special Introductions.

This was the first WCW PPV appearance by Macho Man Randy Savage since The Great American Bash 1998, and the first WCW appearance by Sting since Halloween Havoc 1998.

Together with reigning champion and WCW President Ric Flair, Diamond Dallas Page, and Hollywood Hogan, Sting made his return to PPV count in a very entertaining main event.

The rules here were simple:

All four men in the ring at the same time, first fall wins.

It made for a wild, chaotic brawl that made for very enjoyable viewing right up to the point that DDP slapped Hogan in a Bret Hart Figure-Four-Around-The-Posts deal.

Conflicting reports suggest that Hogan was either legitimately injured here, or that it was used as a way to write him off TV to heal a pre-existing knee injury, but either way, the nWo leader was taken out of the match and helped to the back.

For a moment, the remaining competitors -and Savage- seemed to just stare at each other as they tried to figure out how to turn the four-way into a three-way. Thankfully they managed it, and the rest of the match was just fine, though not quite as riveting as it had been prior to Hogan's injury.

Eventually, DDP hit the Diamond Cutter on Flair to become our new champion.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Champion: Diamond Dallas Page

After years of toiling within the lower-realms of the card, after years of scratching and clawing to get noticed, DDP was finally on top of the mountain and celebrated with his new title as Spring Stampede 1999 went off the air.

All in all then, this was a great night of pro wrestling. Not only was it one of the best PPVs of 1999, but it was also one of the best PPVs World Championship Wrestling had put out in a long time. 

Though some matches weren't quite on the mark for this writer, everything else -from the opening Blitzkrieg/Juvi bout to the main event was a joy to watch. 

Whether WCW could keep up this level of quality for another month, however, remained to be seen. 

Other 1999 pro wrestling reviews:
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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.