PPV REVIEW: WWF No Mercy UK 1999

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Event poster
May 16th, 1999
Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester, England 

May 16th, 1999 was an important day for the superstars of the World Wrestling Federation. It was the day they travelled to the north of England for No Mercy, a UK-exclusive pay per view that would give its name to an event the company would run annually for the better part of the next ten years (and again in 2016 & 2017).

May 16th, 1999 was also an important day for your writer, not only because I was there in the crowd, but also because May 16th happens to be my birthday.

Yes, this marks the fourth (and I think final) time that we're reviewing an event I was there for in person. Unlike One Night Only 1997, Capital Carnage 1998 and Mayhem in Manchester, I remember nothing about the actual card.

All I remember is some guy in the crowd saying "this is so bad I wish I'd stayed home and had a wank" and the event coming to a close with the whole MEN Arena joining in singing Vince McMahon's theme tune, No Chance in Hell.

So much for a memorable 15th birthday, eh?

With that in mind then, let's head down to RPW's home city of Manchester, England and see what actually did go down at the first ever WWF No Mercy PPV.

We're Having a Triple Threat

Tonight's show began with one of the WWF's typically brilliant video packages. This one told us that The Undertaker and Triple H were leading the Corporate Ministry and that the two would go up against Stone Cold Steve Austin for the world title here tonight in Manchester.

Then following the usual pyro, crowd shots, and the briefest of welcomes from Jim Ross, it was straight on to the show.

The Corporate Ministry Will Have No Mercy

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Shane McMahon leads The Corporate Ministry
And so we began properly with an in-ring promo from Shane McMahon.

Flanked by the entire Corporate Ministry, Shane-O-Mac told us that tonight, the Corporate Ministry would have no mercy on their opponents.

Geddit? Because the event was called No Mercy! Clever stuff indeed.

With the red-hot crowd calling him an arsehole at every opportunity, Shane told us that this meant The Acolytes and Viscera would have no mercy on Ministry defectors The Brood and that Mideon would have no mercy on his opponent, Kane.

Man, I'm starting to realise why I blocked this card from my memory.

As you might expect, he also told us that Undertaker and Hunter would show no mercy on Austin and that we would see a new WWF Champion tonight, though not before revealing that he'd brought the European Championship out of retirement for one night only to defend it against X-Pac.

Finally, we were told that tonight's triple threat main event would now be a No Holds Barred match. Though I get the logic of using that reveal to pop the crowd, let's be honest: Wasn't ever WWF main event technically no holds barred during the Attitude Era?

Though I question the logic of a one night only title defence (what happens if X-Pac wins, does he just retire the title again?), this was fairly compelling stuff by Shane that got the crowd plenty riled up and ready to see him and his gang get their arses handed to them here in Manchester.

Tiger Ali Singh vs. WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Gilberg

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Tiger Ali Singh faced Gilberg
I'm starting to wonder what we British did to piss off Vince McMahon that he always gave us a Tiger Ali Singh match on our PPVs when the rest of the world were usually spared such an ordeal.

Tonight, Singh took to the microphone to inform us that the reason we all hated him is that we thought he should have been driving a taxi rather than wrestling. The crowd roared with approval at that one, basically cheering our own racism.

Singh's old-school yet effective heel promo, along with Gilberg's over-the-top entrance were both longer than the actual match itself. After about ninety seconds of action -which admittedly, the crowd loved- Gilberg hit a spear but spent so much time celebrating that Singh was able to get up, land a neckbreaker, and win the match.
Your Winner: Tiger Ali Singh

Backstage, we were shown Austin arriving at the arena "moments ago."

This was followed by a look back at how The Brood severed ties with The Ministry of Darkness. If you recall, it started when The Undertaker kidnapped Stephanie McMahon and Ken Shamrock took it upon himself to find her, mostly by putting Christian in an ankle lock until the future TNA Champion revealed Steph's whereabouts.

Naturally, this raised the ire of The Phenom, who subject Christian to several punishments (like a flogging and getting put in a match with Big Show) before ordering Edge and Gangrel to strap Christian to the Undertaker symbol.

Instead, the latter two stood up for their brethren and turned on The Ministry, becoming babyfaces in the process.

The Corporate Ministry (Farooq, Bradshaw, and Viscera) vs. The Brood (Edge, Christian, and Gangrel)

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - The Brood recover after a loss to The Corporate Ministry
Credit where credit is due, this one turned out to be way better than you might have expected it to, mostly thanks to the efforts of Edge, Christian and, to a lesser extent, Gangrel.

Flying around the ring no matter as to whether they were on the offence or defence, The Brood shone bright here, especially when contrasted with the slow, clubbing offence of the Ministry.

OK, so this wasn't an amazing match by any stretch, but let's face it:

When you see Viscera involved in anything, your mind flashes back to King of the Ring 1995 and you just know, deep down in your soul, that it's going to be horrible.

This, my friends, was not horrible, not by a long shot.

Unfortunately for the WWF's answer to The Lost Boys, simply looking good wasn't enough to secure them a victory.

Towards the finish, Shane McMahon came out with Mideon and when the match inevitably broke down into a six-man brawl, the former Phineas Godwin ran in and DDT'd Christian. That set up Bradshaw to deliver a Clothesline From Hell and pick up the three.
Your Winners: The Corporate Ministry

Post-match, Shane declared that his Ministry's 'No Mercy Mission' had begun.

Next, we got an indepth look at The Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman, who was about to participate in what was sure to be a thrilling match against Droz.

The Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman vs. Droz

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Steve Blackman faced Droz
OK, again, let's be fair:

This was a relatively decent match, but it was Sunday Night Heat decent and not pay per view decent.

Sure, Blackman and Droz could string together a few spots that might get them a round of applause from their peers at pro wrestling school, but none of it was all that interesting or entertaining.

After a few minutes of passable action, Blackman locked in a submission and got the three count.
Your Winner: Steve Blackman

Up next, we got a Beaver Cleavage vignette. You remember those, right?

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Beaver Cleavage
What I don't remember, is whether they showed this live in the arena back on my 15th birthday. If they did, I can't imagine it being well received since we in the UK had never seen Leave it to Beaver and had no idea why this was supposed to be funny.

In this particular skit, Headbanger Mosh (Beaver) tried eating shredded wheat without putting any milk on it and then wondered why it tasted dry. He called for his mum, who came out and offered him some of her breast milk.

I'm serious.

Hello, Manchester!

Clearly, somebody backstage was watching the Blackman/Droz match and realised that if they didn't do something quick, the whole of Manchester was about to fall asleep. That's the only reason I can think of for sending Mankind out to work the crowd for a few minutes, even though he wasn't scheduled to wrestle until later on in the show.

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Mankind cut a promo before facing Billy Gunn later in the show
In Foley's defence, he did his job very well and, watching back almost twenty years later, it's fair to say that his few minutes on the microphone were the highlight of the show up to this point.

Apparently, somebody had told Foley that we play football in Manchester, prompting him to ask us if the local team was any good. It figures that nobody told him we actually have two football teams.

The former Cactus Jack then got his biggest pop of the night by showing some love to hometown hero Davey Boy Smith before turning his attention to his upcoming opponent, Bad Ass Billy Gunn.

"You can say 'ass' here, right?" asked Foley. "Because I've been told I'm not allowed to say, wanker."

He delivered that last word with all the mischievous glee of a schoolboy who had just heard it for the first time, rounding off what was a very fun, if rather pointless, promo.

Killing a little more time, we got some pre-recorded comments from the fans as they were going into the arena. Sadly, not one of them said that someone was going to win whether they wanted to or not.

Mideon vs. WWF Tag Team Champion Kane

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) -  Mideon vs. Kane
There's no polite way to say this:

This was all kinds of hot garbage.

I mean sure, if your idea of great wrestling is seeing two men trade punches and arm-wringers, then it's a five-star classic, but for the most part, this was horrible.

After four and a half minutes of nothing, Shane, The Acolytes and Viscera all ran in and attacked Kane.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Kane

Post-match, X-Pac ran in with a big stick and single-handedly saw off four men.

Debra is Our New WWF Women's Champion

On Raw, Sable and Debra had an evening gown match for Sable's women's championship. Debra got distracted by Val Venis, allowing Sable to strip her right off, but Commissioner Shawn Michaels had declared that the winner of the match was the lady who actually got her clothes stripped. Ergo, Debra was our new women's champion despite having never competed in a match.


Ignoring what that says about the quality of the WWF Women's Division during the Attitude Era, this recap was shown as a way of explaining why the women's title was not on the line in our next match.

Tori vs. Nicole Bass

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Sable w/ Nicole Bass
This was supposed to be Tori vs. Sable, but Sable came out and declared that the crappy English weather had given her a chest cold and she was unable to compete. Instead, Nicole Bass simply picked Tori up, slammed her down and pinned her.

Much like the earlier Singh/Gillberg match, the pre-match stuff was longer than the actual match. I swear, it's like the company really couldn't be bothered being in England tonight.
Your Winner: Nicole Bass

Afterwards, Jim Ross twice called Nicole Bass a shemale and even defended himself to Jerry Lawler. I'm not sure if this was a cruel joke, or if Ross genuinely thought calling Bass a shemale was a compliment.

Meanwhile, out in the back, Shane McMahon told Michael Cole that he would have no mercy for X-Pac. I wonder if the WWF really did fly Cole all the way to England just for this one, 20-second segment.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion Shane McMahon vs. WWF Tag Team Champion X-Pac

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Michael Cole interviews WWE European Champion Shane McMahon
McMahon had beaten Pac for the title on Raw earlier in the year and successfully defended it (thanks to a Triple H heel turn) against him at Wrestlemania 15.

Since then, he'd retired the title, but brought it back out tonight for what turned out to be an almost identical match to the one they'd had back at 'Mania.

Not that this was necessarily a bad thing.

Featuring cameos from Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, Chyna, and Triple H, this was the best match on the card up to this point, with a red-hot crowd making it all the more enjoyable.

One of those rare matches where overbooking actually turns out well, this one ended when Hunter drilled Pac with pedigree, revived the knocked-out referee and draped Shane over his opponent for the three.
Your Winner and Still WWF European Champion: Shane McMahon

Afterwards, Kane came to his partner's rescue and helped him to the back whilst Shane McMahon bragged that it was "three down, one to go."

The Ministry Attack

Backstage, Michael Cole earned his paycheck by asking Mankind if he thought his arch-rivals the Corporate Ministry would interfere in his match tonight. As if on cue, the Ministry immediately showed up and attacked him.

Honestly, it was almost as if it were scripted or something.

Bad Ass Billy Gunn vs. Mankind

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - Billy Gunn faced MankindFoley was legitimately working hurt here, so the backstage attack angle was designed to eventually write him out for some healing time.

The attack also gave Gunn the opportunity to get some heat by declaring himself the winner when his opponent first no-showed. Before referee Teddy Long could raise Gunn's hand, however, Foley did show up and entered into a spirited brawl with Mr Ass.

Though it went a little too long, both men worked within their limited capabilities to deliver the best match they could have delivered.

Towards the finish, Gunn hit a piledriver on a chair and got a two count but the ring announcer rang the bell anyway.

OK, so I lied earlier when I said I didn't remember much from this show. Strangely, I do remember that.

The match ended abruptly after this. Gunn hit a Fameasser on the chair and this one was over.
Your Winner: Bad Bum Billy Gunn

In a classy move, announcers Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler gave a shout out to The British Bulldog, who was recovering at home from a career-threatening back injury following that stupid trapdoor incident back at WCW Fall Brawl 1998.

Bulldog would be back with the company by the year's end.

World Wrestling Federation Championship No Holds Barred Triple Threat Match
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H (w/ Chyna) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWE / WWF - No Mercy 1999 (UK VERSION) - WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin celebrates his win over Undertaker and Triple H
I've said it before and I'll say it again:

If you've seen one Steve Austin main event, you've pretty much seen them all.

This was your typical brawl-around-the-arena-and-do-some-stuff-in-the-ring outing that Austin had pretty much every night of his main event run, and whilst it was entertaining, it wasn't amazing.

The story of the match was simple: Hunter and 'Taker teamed up to make it basically a handicap match until, predictably, the two couldn't agree on who should beat Austin and had a falling out. This turned it into your typical three-way until the whole Corporate Ministry ran in for the finish.

Seeking revenge, X-Pac, Kane, Mankind and The Brood all ran in to even the score. A wild brawl ensued, with all but Triple H and Austin ending up backstage.

One Stone Cold Stunner later and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Post-match, X-Pac returned, bringing Shane McMahon with him.

Pac and Austin then beat up HHH and McMahon and ended the show with a bunch of beers, bronco busters and Stone Cold Stunners.

Now that we've reached the end, I realise why I remember almost nothing about No Mercy 1999. That's because almost nothing happened. 

Yes, the overall storyline of the Ministry dominating but finally getting their comeuppance in the main event was told well, but most of the actual matches were so lacklustre that none of it felt like it mattered.

Sure, there was nothing technically *bad* about tonight's show, but outside of Foley's rather entertaining promo, there was nothing all that good either. 

Overall, two hours and sixteen minutes of meh that made no difference whatsoever.

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  1. No Owen Hart match. Just a couple days before his death.