In Your House #28: Backlash 1999 – What Wrestlemania 15 Should Have Been

Backlash: In Your House #28
Date: April 25, 1999
Location: Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island
Attendance: 10,939
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the final show and not a lot has changed. We’re getting a few Wrestlemania rematches here as Austin is defending against the Rock again while Mankind is facing Big Show in a boiler room brawl. Other than that we have the fully heel HHH facing X-Pac in a match for revenge. For once, the name of the show fits the theme perfectly. Let’s get to it.

Also on the card tonight, Undertaker faces Shamrock as we have the Ministry vs. what would become the Union. Also it’s HHH vs. X-Pac as Pac tries to get revenge on HHH for costing him the European Title and we all know how important that belt was. Let’s get going.

Standard intro and I use that term in every sense of the word. There’s nothing special about it at all. Shane is the referee for the main event tonight and it’s no holds barred. If Austin touches Shane he loses the title.

The Brood vs. The Ministry

Ministry is the Acolytes and Mideon. The Brood got thrown out of the Ministry after Christian was tortured into saying where Stephanie, who Taker had kidnapped, was located. It’s kind of amazing that 4/6 of these guys would one day be world champions. It’s your standard power vs. speed match as you still have three groups fighting with each other with the Corporation, the Ministry and Vince’s people.

The announcers try to make it seem that Shamrock can make Taker give up. That’s just flat out funny. Gangrel and Midieon just need to go away, and I mean FAR away. Edge and Christian vs. the APA could be a good tag match. They’re given over ten minutes to work with and it pays off as we get a solid six man tag match.

The Brood, who are the closest thing to faces we have in this match, start to take over here until Viscera comes out and screws everything up. Even when he’s not wrestling he makes matches worse which has got to be some kind of talent. Anyway JBL clotheslines Edge to win it.

Rating: B. I liked it for some reason. It was a great choice for an opener as it showcased the future talent very well. Edge and Christian just shine so brightly here that it’s unbelievable. Both guys were destined to be stars and you can see it in them. JBL was ok and Simmons is fine as always. The other two guys just flat out sucked in every sense of the word.

Hardcore Title: Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly

This is your rematch from two months ago. This is going to be a short review as it’s as standard of a hardcore match as you’ll find for the most part. They hit each other with things that you’d find under any ring: chairs, tables, hockey sticks, stairs etc. They fight in the crowd for a bit then go back to the ring where more weapons are used for no apparent reason. Then we go to the back which is where the somewhat more entertaining stuff happens.

They beat on each other for awhile with Holly trying to use a kitchen sink on Snow in a joke that’s just not funny anymore and I don’t think it ever has been in the first place. Snow counters this with a fire hose. They brawl out into the parking lot and in a funny sequence they keep throwing each other into a car where the car alarm goes off each time. We fight to the production truck which is just weird looking. Elbow onto a car in a cool looking spot and we fight some more.

FINALLY we get some blood as Snow is opened up. Of course now we go back to the ring for more fighting. I was hoping for an intellectual discussion on 18th century Russian literature. Great looking table spot off of a top rope suplex. A shot from Head finally ends it.

Rating: B. I liked it again. This was a fun match with no one really being able to take advantage the whole time. It was all about big spots here and it was quite successful in that regard. Definitely a solid match here with Snow finally getting the title that he’d been chasing for months on end.

Taker talks about the higher power which was one of my favorite angels of all time.

Intercontinental Title: Goldust vs. Godfather

For no reason at all, Godfather was given the IC Title 6 days earlier. It’s considered to be his reign that likely killed off the title for good until Jericho, Benoit and Angle almost saved it. He has 8 women with him as we cater to the 13 year olds in the audience. This is a comedy match but not a particularly good one.

Meanie keeps interfering and Godfather keeps beating on him. The “raging climax” (rep for the person that gets that joke) is that the gold boy gets powder thrown in his eyes and can’t see who he’s beating on. Therefore Meanie has his dreams shattered. Goldust gets Pimp Dropped and pinned.

Rating: D. This was just a dumb period in the company as they were obviously booking on the fly with no real sense of direction other than in the main event. Seriously, GODFATHER as IC Champion? In what universe does that even begin to make sense? This was 5 minutes of nothing at all.

There’s talk of a primetime special on Thursday called Smackdown. More on that later.

Snow and Head are talking and apparently Head thinks he/she should be hardcore champion as head was covering Holly.

New Age Outlaws vs. Jeff Jarrett/Owen Hart

Owen would pass away less than a month later and that’s just a scary thought. Winner of this gets X-Pac and Kane on Smackdown. Now don’t have a bunch of heart attacks, but the commentators are talking ABOUT DEBRA!!! How in the world did we not see this coming? I mean really, Debra is NEVER the object of conversation when she’s out there. That simply can’t happen ever can it? I mean it’s not like she’s in lingerie with a coat over it or anything like that.

Other than the nonsense of her overly large boobs that don’t even look good like that, this wrestling here is actually decent. The Outlaws as I’ve been saying for awhile aren’t that bad in the ring. Now they’re no Harts or Bulldogs, but they’re better than they’re given credit for being.

After about 10 minutes here, it breaks into a moderately decent brawl with your ending being a double submission from the heels. Jarrett can’t get the figure four on so Gunn lands a Fameasser on Owen for the pin. Oh and Road Dogg coined the phrase Puppies a few weeks before this if you were wondering.

Rating: C+. The wrestling here really was pretty solid all around. The commentating was absolutely annoying though. I mean it was driving me absolutely crazy. Seriously, WE GET IT. She has boobs and she likes showing them off. There are other women with boobs that you can see without the bra on. It’s called Playboy. Anyway, the match was pretty good and I get more and more impressed by Roadie every time I watch his matches. The guy just works hard every time.

Shane and Vince say they don’t like each other. A VERY young pre-boob Steph says nothing of importance.

JR mentions that Shane doesn’t want Austin to leave with the title around his neck. That makes sense in some realm of logic I guess.

Boiler Room Brawl: Big Show vs. Mankind

Now here’s your REAL hardcore match. These guys nearly kill each other and this is perfect for someone like Foley. They fought at Mania and Show nearly killed him. Now we’re putting them in Foley’s environment where Show’s size and power can be negated by some good old fashioned weapons. They just absolutely kill each other in there but there’s one spot that I can’t believe even Foley did.

Show throws him through some glass and a large piece about 3 inches long and jagged is hanging over Foley’s head. That’s just absolutely dangerous no matter who you are. I know it wasn’t intentional because Show saw it and almost immediately pulled Foley away for stomping. The big issue with this match is simple though. The original with Taker and Foley was nearly half an hour. This one is less than 8 minutes.

That’s just killing this thing. Mankind launches some hot gas at Show to blind him then just beats the living tar out of him and leaves to win. Test and Bossman beat him down but Foley fights them off.

Rating: B. This was great in the time that it had. However, at 7 minutes and 40 seconds what can you really expect? It was brutal in the time that it had but it’s begging for about 5-10 more minutes. If you give it that, you’re looking at one of the better hardcore matches I’ve ever seen. Given what it has though, this was just above average which is a shame.

HHH says he’s going to kill X-Pac. Man I hope so.

HHH vs. XPac

This is the fallout from Mania where we had the at least triple turn that I don’t even remember because it was just absurd and one of Russo’s “masterpieces”. Anyway, the idea here is that Pac has a bad neck and somehow the Pedigree is going to further injure him which really makes limited sense at best. Anyway, the opening is Pac going insane on HHH and just trying to hurt him in any way he can.

This part is ok but nothing special really. What are you expecting here? X-Pac just doesn’t have a huge offensive set to work with so why should he be able to make something like that work well? HHH takes over and dominates most of the match which makes sense as he was by far the more established guy and worker at the time. He dominates the majority of the match while just never being able to put Pac away.

The match slows for a rest hold but in this case that is ok as it plays into some psychology. If X-Pac’s neck is hurt, cranking on it in a chinlock is going to hurt it even more. HHH even breaks out a Dragon Sleeper. Now what do the Japanese fans think? Is this some kind of a paradox for them or something? Anyway, after a huge comeback, X-Pac misses a baseball slide and wipes out the referee who apparently can’t take a punch to save his life as he’s down for almost 5 minutes from this.

Chyna beats up Pac but Kane comes out to save his partner and it’s chokeslams a go-go. He leaves and both Continent-girl (wearing a thong) and HHH get Bronco Busters. The referee comes back in just in time for the Pedigree and the pin to end this.

Rating: A-. This is without a doubt the best X-Pac match I have ever seen. These guys gave it everything they had out there and nearly killed each other. Kane made sense out there and in the end the right guy won which pushed HHH harder while at the same time making X-Pac look better than he ever would have been on his own.

That being said, he was working his head off in this match which is more than he usually did. Very good match which had me unsure of who was going to win until the very end.

Ken Shamrock vs. Undertaker

Basically just Ministry vs. non-Ministry here. Very Satanic looking Taker here which is always creepy. This is actually an interesting idea as we hear about the Ultimate Fighting and Octagon of Shamrock. They slug it out early on as Shamrock is in trouble early on.

 

The fans want Ryan and I can’t blame her as she’s gorgeous to put it mildly. The announcers talking about Vince and Stephanie and Taker is awesome as the payoff was coming soon. Shamrock goes back to his game and works the leg. This is rather an interesting pairing and I’m into the concept here.

 

Taker gets a belly to back for two. Out of nowhere Shamrock gets a leg bar and Taker is in big trouble. Basic formula here: Taker punches Shamrock, Shamrock gets a hold, Taker gets out and punches again. Repeat this about 19 times in a row. Taker gets his leg crushed on the steps and is in big trouble here.

 

They slug it out and Taker hooks a drop toehold for some ground and pound of all things. Fujiwara armbar and Taker has to go for the ropes. The fans are hardly thrilled here due to this being a far different style than they were expecting. Back to the floor (is that the anthem of the Attitude Era?) and Shamrock’s back eats post.

 

Taker hooks on a Bow and Arrow since he wants to play UFC here I guess. I love how Taker is supposed to suddenly be able to go out there and trade submissions with a legit submission master all of a sudden when he never has before. That some off as stupid to anyone else?

 

Leg drop with less elevation than Hogan hits but Shamrock grabs a leg lock and more booing. And of course Taker counters that into a leg lock of his own. Well of course he does. Shamrock gets his standing rana which looks good usually and did here as well. Ankle lock goes on for a second but Taker breaks free.

 

Ankle lock goes on again but Bradshaw comes down with a ball bat and pops Shamrock with it. Chokeslam is countered into an armbar in a SWEET counter. Shamrock goes for a tombstone and I think you know the rest.


Rating: C-. This is a very interesting match that you either loved or hated. If you like MMA and technical stuff this was great. If you like wrestling you hated this match. Shamrock did about 80% leg work here which was fine as his finisher is an ankle hold, but seeing Taker doing that stuff never really worked for me back in the day. It’s ok but just a weird dynamic of a match.

 

Bradshaw beats up Shamrock afterwards. Ross says the guys went over the edge. Hmm I wonder where that could lead.

Yep, next up we have a promo for Over the Edge which is of Taker talking about being the personification of evil. That’s got to be an in joke there.

WWF Title: Steve Austin vs. The Rock

Rock has stolen the Smoking Skull belt for no apparent reason other than reminding us he’s a heel despite playing to the crowd a lot. I don’t think anyone believed that Austin was losing here but it’s a lot like his first defense against Foley: it was designed to give the heel just a glimmer of hope but also make Austin look awesome. The build up to this match was just flat out awesome.

They beat the heck out of each other and the Smoking Skull belt was the big point of it. Austin had the title made for himself just because he felt like it and Vince stole it and gave it to the Rock a few months ago. This led to the feud here as Rock called Austin out to a bridge to get it back. Austin and the belt went into the river but Rock had it instead and was going to bury it. Austin used a monster truck on Rock’s car.

While it doesn’t sound like much, this was freaking SWEET at the time. They beat the living tar out of each other and the No Holds Barred rule makes it all the better. Before the match Vince says to Steph to wait in the car. Remember that for later.

The intros here take just two minutes less than forever as all three have their own entrances (remember Shane is the referee). There’s one big reason why this is better than last month’s match: there’s almost no pressure on them. It’s not Wrestlemania, it’s Backlash. Because of that, the limelight is off of them and they can go out there and have a lot more fun. This is also much more fast paced which is a good thing here.

It lets things work far better for them as Austin’s style is one where the rules are bent a lot more. They spend a lot of time, nearly 8-10 minutes brawling on the floor which is a nice addition to the formula. Part of the set is made of chain length fence so they’re fighting on that and trying to stand is kind of a cool visual. They destroy the set during their fight which is very cool. I mean they break just about everything in it.

They go back to the ring and Austin hits a sweet looking diving clothesline from the apron to the floor. Rock Bottom through the table for your big spot of the match which is odd as there were about 5 already. Rock does his commentary during the match which is a bit that I always laughed at. It’s so cocky but so funny at the same time. Back into the crowd for a bit but not long enough that it feels like overkill.

They go through some more tables before Shane accidentally drills Rock with the belt. He refuses to count the pin and flips off Austin. Vince comes out and hits Shane in the head with the title. It truly amazes me that we didn’t get Vince vs. Shane for almost two more years. Seriously, that would have been a huge match at the time. Vince is helping Austin here by bringing in a fair referee.

This was cool as it lays the groundwork for the Higher Power angle. Anyway, Stunner ends this and after a brief celebration we cut to Steph in the car. She’s wondering why they’re not moving. The privacy screen rolls down and Taker is the driver. He says “Where to Stephanie?” and I mark out like crazy as the soap opera era was here and I ate it up with a spoon. Very great stuff here as it was so intricate and well thought out that when we got the final reveal a few months later it blew my mind.

It got to the point where Vince turned out to be the one behind the Ministry and Vince and Shane were working together all along to prevent Steve Austin from being the World Champion. That’s just flat out amazing, or at least it was at the time. Corporation and Ministry would merge on Thursday with Rock turning face to help fight them alongside Austin, but that’s a history lesson for a different time.

Rating: A. This was a war and it made Rock look much stronger. It definitely blows away the Mania match from last month but I’d still put it just a hair behind the WM 17 match and the WM 19 match. That being said, this was great. Both guys were beating the heck out of each other and with the added rules it made things even sweeter. They fit better in these kinds of matches where it’s more of a fight. Great match here that’s just flat out intense.

Overall Rating: A-. This is probably the best three hour IYH there was so I guess they saved the best for last. The true peak of the AE is coming with the Higher Power and the real soap opera stuff coming soon. The next night was one of my all time favorite scenes with the Black Wedding of Stephanie and Taker and all the faces trying to make the save until Austin ran out to JR’s screams of “HERE HE COMES!!!”

Seeing Austin ride in as the cavalry to save the daughter of his most hated rival is just awesome, plain and simple. The new era was here and it wasn’t leaving anytime soon, but sadly enough Owen Hart would, passing away a month after this. He was in the IC Title hunt again and I think would have had a run with the world title had he hung around.

Look at 2000 and how desperate they were for main event talent with guys like Big Show and an unready Kurt Angle getting the belt. You don’t think Owen could have held it for a month or so and given you quality matches? I’d certainly think so but that’s a different story. Anyway, this is a good show with the worst match being the shortest. Highly recommended.

Thank you very much for all the debates and the thoughts put into these reviews. I love doing these but at the end they just get tiring. I’ll be taking a break from the series until August 2nd when Summerslam’s countup will begin. I’ll probably throw in some random ones here or there just to tide you over and MAYBE I’ll do KOTR in July, but I doubt it. Anyway, again I appreciate you support in this and I’ll be back in August.

 

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