Backlash ’99

No Holds Barred
WWF Championship
Steve Austin (c) vs. The Rock
This match had a build that WrestleMania could only dream of as they built Rock properly beforehand. Admittedly they could barely keep him heel going into the show, but Austin was so over, they just about managed it. I felt WrestleMania was more about Austin-McMahon, but with Vince out of the picture his enemy is Rock and Rock alone, though Shane McMahon is the biased guest referee. If Austin touches the ref, or “looks at him funny”, it’s a DQ and Austin loses the title. The match starts fast and furious as a complete contradiction to the last bout. Shane initially calls it fairly, counting Austin’s pinfalls, but warning Rock of Austin’s ring positioning too. They brawl out into the entranceway, which draws big pops and destroys the scenery. There’s not much to it but the fans erupt. There isn’t a safe bump to be taken and Austin manages to smash his own head on an elbow drop. Nevertheless, the brawling is meaningful and creative, which sets it aside from the hardcore title match that went on second. The whole segment runs a little long as there’s only so much brawling you can do before the lack of near falls kills the excitement. As they head back inside Shane gets a little overly physical, but Austin’s doesn’t bite and keeps his game head on. They head over to the Spanish table and a ball shot allows a Rock Bottom through it. The ringside brawling ends up being more creative than the entranceway stuff as Austin takes a superb bump over the rail, as if he felt the need to prove he could still bump like a star. The Rock brings the awesome by stealing a TV camera and cutting a promo straight into it. The first-person POV is superb as Rock flips Austin off, pans the crowd and then turns back to see Austin flipping him off; Stunner! The spot is so creative that it puts the viewer into the match. We took the Stunner with the Rock, every step of the way. Shane gets wiped out by being too close to the action. Rock Bottom… for two. Shane is frustrated but feels the end is nigh and goes to belt shot Austin, but misses and hits the Rock. Austin covers but Shane refuses to count. Out comes Vince with the Smoking Skulls belt and he waffles Shane with it to a monstrous pop. Earl Hebner is the new ref. Stunner! Rock spaghetti legs it and walks into a belt shot for the pinfall. This is one of the Attitude era’s better main events. It uses the Austin-Foley template with added creativity and excitement. This was it for Rock as a heel, but he proved without a shadow of a doubt that he was good enough to be a main event. Something that a year ago would be a long shot.
Final Rating: ***¾

 

Backstage: the craziness begins as the limo drives off with Steph in it. But Undertaker is the driver. “WHERE TO STEPHANIE?” Unintentional hilarity is off the charts here. This whole thing was rendered useless by the writing whereby, Vince McMahon was unveiled as the Ministry’s “Higher Power”. So Vince got Undertaker to kidnap his daughter while he saved Austin’s title. But as soon as the swerve was revealed none of Vince’s actions made sense. Why did Vince orchestrate the kidnap of his own daughter? Well, he did it to convince Austin that he wasn’t all out to get him, so he could screw Austin out of the title at the next PPV. But he saves Austin’s title here in order to further gain his trust. Huh? He gains his trust so he can screw him. Why doesn’t he just screw him? It would have been far easier.

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