Thursday, 25 July 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF Fully Loaded 1999

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Event poster
July 25, 1999
Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, New York

This is the point in our retro pro wrestling reviews that I try to set the scene for you, placing the show we're about to review within the context of the wider pro wrestling landscape as it was at the time or, at the very least, give you a little background about the event at hand.

Today, I'm not going to do that.

Today, I'm just going to tell you this:

I'm really really glad to be reviewing a World Wrestling Federation show again.

After sitting through some of World Championship Wrestling's efforts from the summer of 1999, I was all but ready to give up on this blog and never watch any wrestling ever again.

That's how bad those shows were.






Not just bad, but frustrating, confusing, and nonsensical.

It's no wonder that, by this point in the legendary saga of the Monday Night Wars, Vince McMahon's WWF were firmly back in charge.

Would Fully Loaded 1999 prove once and for all why the WWF were bound to win the war? Or would they suffer an epic fail of WCW proportions?

Let's head to Buffalo, New York to find out.

I Miss You...Or Something

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the action
We began tonight with our usual video package. This one juxtaposed scenes of returning World War II soldiers kissing their loved ones with clips of Steve Austin flipping off Vince McMahon, all while a crackly old song played with a woman singing about how much she missed her sweetheart.

This then cut to a more vivid account of tonight's main event, in which Steve Austin would face The Undertaker in a last blood match. If Austin won tonight, McMahon would no longer be allowed to appear on WWF TV.

Meanwhile, out in the arena, Jim Ross welcomed us to the show before taking us back to the episode of Sunday Night Heat which aired before tonight's PPV. On that show, Ross attempted to interview Stone Cold, only for The Rattlesnake to be beaten up by The Undertaker and busted wide open.

McMahon Makes a Guarantee

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Michael Cole confronts Vince & Shane McMahon about tonight's show
Live in the arena, Austin received stitches from medical personnel. Elsewhere in the arena, Michael Cole interviewed Vince and Shane McMahon.

Cole accused the McMahons of being behind The Undertaker's attack. Shane refuted such allegations before his dad guaranteed that Austin would never be the WWF Champion ever again.

If you were ever going to open a PPV with a strong, suspenseful story, this was the way to do it.

Austin being busted open once made him much more vulnerable for tonight's First Blood match.

Could he avoid letting The Undertaker reopen that wound to win their main event match?

We'd have to find out later because, for now, it was time for our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra)

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Edge lost the Intercontinental Championship to Jeff Jarrett
24 hours earlier, the WWF had been in Toronto where, in front of his hometown crowd, Edge had beaten defending champion Jeff Jarrett to win the title.

The move had obviously been done to create a feel-good moment for the Toronto show, but now they needed the Intercontinental Championship back on Jarrett.

To get it there, both Double J and Edge locked up in what was a tremendous opening match, combining great wrestling with typical Attitude Era fun and games.

At one point, Jim Ross told us that Gangrel had left The Brood due to a falling out with Edge. Anyone would think Ross knew what was about to happen or something because, a few moments later, the lights went out and Gangrel attempted to give Edge a bloodbath. Yet the future Rated-R Superstar beat up his former stablemate instead.

The champion returned to the ring and looked to have the thing won, but Gangrel recovered and attacked Edge. That gave Jarrett the opening he needed to win the title for what was, I think, the fourth time.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Jarrett

Post-match, Jarrett celebrated with his new title for an unusually long time before Austin stormed from the back and planted him with a stunner.

Austin then took to the mic to promise Undertaker that he would bust his 'big dead ass' wide open.

It was kind of a pointless segment, but at least the crowd loved it.

The Hardyz No Longer Jerk Curtains

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Michael Hayes w/ The Hardy Boys
Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed tag team champions, Matt and Jeff Hardy, with their manager, Michael Hayes.

Hayes took credit for taking The Hardyz from 'curtain jerkers' (his words, not mine) to the titles and promised to lead by example when he teamed up with them to face The Acolytes in a three-versus-two tag team title match.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship No Disqualification Handicap Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) and Michael Hayes vs. The Acolytes (Farooq & Bradshaw)

The Hardy Boyz had indeed benefitted greatly from their association with former Freebird Hayes and were currently riding high as an increasingly popular team.

So, you'd think it would make little sense to have Matt and Jeff temporarily resume their jobber role and look like a couple of chumps in a match where they actually had a third man to help them.

Still, that's exactly what the WWF brain trust did here, and it wasn't pretty.

An unnecessary mess of a match, this one saw Matt, Jeff, and a ridiculous-looking Michael Hayes take a pounding from Farooq and Bradshaw before Hayes finally succumbed to a double powerbomb to cost his team the gold.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Acolytes

Out in the back, Steve Austin walked around in search of The Undertaker.

Show Some Respect for the European Title

Elsewhere in the arena, D'Lo Brown told Kevin Kelly that it had been nine long months since he'd last been the Europen Champion. Tonight, said D'Lo, he was going to take the title back from Mideon and show his opponent that the title deserved more respect than to be held by a man who 'won' it simply by finding it in a bag and claiming himself the champion.

D'Lo was very convincing in his role as the babyface here, though you couldn't help but miss the brash, cocky swagger of heel D'Lo.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion Mideon vs. D'Lo Brown

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Mideon defended the European Championship against D'Lo Brown
If you've forgotten what D'Lo was talking about, Mideon had become our European Champion not by winning a match but simply by finding the title in Shane McMahon's bag.

McMahon had been the last European Champion but had retired the title so that he could claim to have retired as an undefeated champion. Despite this, McMahon apparently still carried the belt around with him for two months, and when Mideon found it, he simply anointed the former Godwin as our new champion.

Tonight, Mideon defended his ill-gotten gold in an underwhelming match against D'Lo Brown. It was disappointing that the match failed to hit the mark because you could tell that both men were trying to do the best they could with what they had.

Despite this, the crowd were just not interested, and it made the whole thing seem rather dull and uninspired.

After a few minutes of rather lacklustre action, D'Lo got the pin to give us our third title change of the evening.
Your Winner and NEW European Champion: D'Lo Brown

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Al Snow was crazier than usual
Out in the back, Austin kept up his search for The Undertaker while Michael Cole interviewed Hardcore Champion Al Snow.

Snow was apparently even more deranged than normal because all that he could hear was Head permanently screaming. Head, you see, was in pain because somebody -Cole never told us who- had driven a spike through him.

Rather than just pull the spike out, Snow wanted the Big Boss Man to beat him up just to make the screaming stop.

As a thank you, I suppose, Snow was putting the title on the line against Boss Man in our next match.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Al Snow vs. Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Big Boss Man tries to run down Al Snow
Though you will have undoubtedly seen better hardcore matches, this one was still pretty entertaining.

The two combatants never made it to the ring, instead meeting in the entrance way before brawling through the backstage area, to the outside and across the street from the arena, where Boss Man handcuffed snow to some railings and pinned him with a simple foot across the chest.

It was typical of the over-the-top, cartoonish violence that made hardcore matches such a fun part of the Attitude Era, and though nobody would ever vote this the best match on the card, it was enjoyable for what it was.
Your Winner and New Hardcore Champion: The Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Kevin Kelly interviews special referee Hardcore Holly
Up next, we were reminded of how much Big Show and Kane hated each other, and how much they'd beaten each other up back at King of the Ring 1999.

The two would meet in our next match with Hardcore Holly as our special referee. Why Holly? Because apparently he had some kind of loose association and/or issue with The Big Show which nobody explained and even fewer people cared about.

Prior to the match, Kevin Kelly interviewed Holly who, in a sure case of gimmick infringement, declared himself to be the law and order. He probably stopped himself from saying "and justice in the World Wrestling Federation" just so Boss Man wouldn't beat him up.

The Big Show vs. Kane

Special Guest Referee: Hardcore Holly

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Big Show vs. Kane w/  referee Hardcore Holly
This was a long and tedious match with only one redeeming quality:

The fact that it was eventually over.

It came to a head when Kane looked to have Big Show beat, only for Holly to give his buddy Big Show the assist and help him win the match.

All the while, Ross and Lawler and spent the majority of the match trying to get over Holly's new nickname 'The Big Shot.'

They must have said it a hundred times, and every single time they tried to differentiate between The Big Shot and The Big Show, it just sounded awkward.
Your Winner: The Big Show

Afterwards, Kane's tag team partner X-Pac ran in to help him even the score, taking out Holly with a roundhouse kick.

The Undertaker -who had also had issues with Kane and X-Pac- then stormed to the ring and teamed up with Big Show to help him destroy both men. This would be the start of that Undertaker/Big Show tag team which stunk up arenas throughout the summer of 1999.

Having done all the damage he wanted to do, 'Taker made his way backstage, where Austin was waiting to catch up with him. Stone Cold beat up on The Dead Man and busted him wide open, evening the score in the run-up to tonight's main event.

This whole segment was way more fun than anything that had happened in the match itself.

Iron Circle Match
Ken Shamrock vs. Steve Blackman

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Steve Blackman got laid out by Ken Shamrock
At Bash at the Beach 1999, WCW held a 'Junkyard Hardcore Invitational' match, which sounded good on paper but was terribly executed because it was too dark to see anything that was going on.

But hey, that was WCW. Surely the WWF would never do anything so stupid, right?

Wrong.

Because that's exactly what they did here with this 'Iron Circle' match.

Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman duked it out in a dimly lit parking garage, surrounded by an 'iron circle' of cars as random wrestlers like Viscera, The Godfather and Droz cheered them on.

Though they get 10/10 for creativity, the poor lighting really took the edge off this one.

After a bunch of brawling, Shamrock took a chain, choked Blackman out with it, then simply walked away.

For undisclosed reasons, that was apparently enough to win the match.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

Out in the back, The Undertaker beat up Terry Taylor for daring to try and interview him. Michael Cole fared a little better at his interview when he asked Chyna and Mr Ass about their upcoming tag match against X-Pac and Road Dogg.

The two said nothing of interest, but at least they didn't beat up Cole.

D-Generation-X (X-Pac and Road Dogg) vs. Chyna & Mr Ass

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Michael Cole interviews Chyna and Billy Gunn
This one, as they say, was for all the marbles, or at least for all the DX-branded marbles.

JR told us that the winners of this match would get exclusive ownership of all the D-Generation-X trademarks. So, with everything at stake, both teams went at it in a fun, by-the-numbers tag match which saw babyfaces Road Dogg and X-Pac absorb most of the punishment.

Not that they were going to roll over and just hand their former stablemates the match.

After a really enjoyable outing, Road Dogg made an epic comeback, hit Mr Ass with a pump-handle slam and picked up the three count.
Your Winners: Road Dogg and X-Pac

Prior to our next match, we were shown a recap of the intense rivalry between Triple H and The Rock, including clips of their incredible ladder match back at Summerslam 1998.

Triple H then made his way to the ring to once again go one-on-one with his old adversary before The Great One himself was interviewed by Michael Cole.

"Triple H, you weren't held at the bottom of the barrel because you wanted to say goodbye to your roody poo friends in Madison Square Garden," said Rock, referencing a recent Triple H promo in which he'd made such claims. "You were held at the bottom of the barrel because you absolutely suck!"

Fully Loaded Strap Match
Triple H vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - The Rock confronts Triple H before their match
(Winner receives a WWF title shot at Summerslam)
At Fully Loaded 1998, Rock and Hunter had practically stolen the show in a terrific two-out-of-three falls match. One year later, their Fully Loaded Strap Match wasn't quite on a par with that one -or with a few of their other high-profile contests- but it was still very good indeed.

Unlike most strap matches in which the idea is to touch all four corners of the ring before your opponent does, this one was a No DQ, falls-count-anywhere match which could only be won by pinfall.

The whole reason for the strap being there was..well, your guess is probably as good as mine.

So, though the match was solid, the strap was rather unnecessary. Triple H even took it off towards the end of the match, by which time Chyna and Billy Gunn had made their way to ringside.

At the end, The Rock hit Gunn with a Rock Bottom, but that allowed Triple H to kick him and pedigree his way into a Summerslam title shot.
Your Winner: Triple H

Before our main event, we got another look back at the rivalry between Stone Cold Steve Austin and his rivals The Undertaker and Vince McMahon.

Cleverly, this included a clip of Austin telling The Undertaker that he was out for revenge. If you recall, the last time Austin had competed in a First Blood match -at King of the Ring 1998- 'Taker had cost him the title.

It also included a reminder that if Austin won, we'd never see Vince McMahon again, but if The Dead Man won, Austin would never be allowed to compete for the WWF title ever again.

After the video package, McMahon came out to join JR and King on commentary. It's a shame this was a First Blood match, I was rather looking forward to hearing "One, two he got him! No, he didn't!" and "what a manoeuvre!" again.

First Blood Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - The Undertaker faced Steve Austin in a first blood match
To be honest, your writer has never really been a big fan of Austin and The Undertaker working together, but even I have to admit this one was much better than some of their previous outings.

That's not to say it was a masterpiece, because it wasn't. The two still had better matches against other people than they did against each other, but at least they put on a solid effort here.

Towards the finish, X-Pac ran out to get revenge for The Undertaker's earlier attack, kicking The Dead Man square in the face. That gave Stone Cold the chance to recover from a beat down, pick up a TV camera and smash it into his opponent's skull.

Eventually, Earl Hebner got up from the predictable ref bump he took, saw the blood, and called for the bell.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin 

Afterwards, Triple H ran in to attack Austin but was seen off by The Rock, leaving the champ to engage in a wild and bloody post-match brawl with The Undertaker before finally nailing Vince McMahon with a farewell stunner.





So, was Fully Loaded 1999 proof that the company were doing far better than WCW?

Despite emulating one of their worst ideas in the dark, dim-lit Iron Circle match, yes, yes it was.

OK, so that Shamrock/Blackman contest was weird, and the Big Show/Kane match was the dirt worst, but for the most part, this was a pretty fun show.

Was it must-see, essential stuff?

No, and I don't think anyone match on its own was either. Still, if you're working your way through 1999 pro wrestling PPVs like I am, you'll be grateful for a show like this just to break up the sheer chore of going through all the crap that was put out that year.



1999 events reviewed so far
Other WWF Fully Loaded event 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.