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, François 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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