The first Backlash PPV was held by the World Wrestling Federation on April 25, 1999, at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
It was the last PPV with the “In Your House,” branding. This was literally when they pulled the plug on In Your House. In fact, early promos for the event advertised it as an In Your House event but by the time it aired that branding was gone.
Backlash 99 was the first PPV event following the controversial Wrestlemania 15. Which is considered disappointing from the point of view of wrestling, but has led to several twists and narrative evolutions.
The Lead Up To WWF Backlash 1999
It can be said that it is one of the most perfect WWF manifestoes of the time. During this period, the head writer Vince Russo focused mainly on the shock and progress of the stories instead of wrestling and ring action.
A controversial decision, which made Russo an enemy of fans who appreciated good old fashioned wrestling. But Arguably brought WWF to its heyday, with record shows sold out everywhere, stellar merchandise sales and wrestlers who have become pop icons, overcoming the “wrestling bubble “and becoming famous even with people who don’t follow the sport.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, Undertaker, had entered the collective imagination, and WWF had used this period to create a non-politically correct product oriented towards an adult audience. A choice that had brought them back to winning the “Monday Night War” after 83 weeks.
At the same time, WCW was starting to enter an irreversible creative crisis, with one of the mistakes of investing only in veterans, neglecting young prospects (excluding Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page), and refusing to accept that the nWo had stopped being interesting a long time ago.
WCW struggled to find a new creative idea of the same power as the nWo and could not compete with Vince McMahon’s creature, and all the new stars he was creating. Even the purchase of Bret Hart in 1997 had failed to change the situation, and WWF seemed destined to win the war.
Backlash 99 Was Set By Wrestlemania 15
It was the storyline surrounding Wrestlemania 15 that allowed the WWF to reach and overcome the WCW in the ratings. The war between Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin had reached its peak. Steve Austin had managed to defeat the authority return to become the WWF champion once again.
The main storyline saw Austin take on The Rock, the former champion anxious for revenge, in a No Holds Barred Match, with corrupt referee Shane McMahon keen to ruin Austin’s career.
Backlash 1999 Matches
The Main Event was a page out of the Attitude Era playbook and a worthy successor to the brawls between Austin and Dude Love of the previous year. The Rock and Austin have always had great chemistry together, and each match was able to surpass the previous one in action and intensity.
The rematch was much more fun than the one at Wrestlemania, thanks to the stipulation and overbooking in the final, which saw Vince McMahon interfering and helping his arch-enemy Austin. For what reason? We would find out on the following episode of Raw.
The other bouts on the card were a match between Triple H and X-Pac, which saw the two former members of the D-Generation X collide with the victory going to Triple H, now on his way to becoming a main eventer in summer 1999, while X-Pac remained in the uppercard, subsequently creating a tag team and a good feud against Kane in late 1999.
Undertaker defeated Ken Shamrock in a match based mainly on submissions. Thanks to this victory and the feud with Austin that was looming, Undertaker challenged Autin for the WWF title the following month.
Mankind defeated Big Show in the second-ever Boiler Room Brawl Match (the first was between Mankind and Undertaker at Summerslam 1996). It was a fun, hardcore style match.
A couple of curiosities about this match: it was decided to use this stipulation because Vince McMahon and Vince Russo were afraid that Big Show, who had turned face at Wrestlemania 15, would receive a negative reaction from the fans. Therefore, the decision was to make a fully taped match in the backstage to protect the Big Show.
Mick Foley was, of course, a hardcore match specialist, a wrestler who innovated the industry in the 90s, taking incredible risks and jeopardizing his life on more than one occasion (like in Hell In A Cell with Undertaker at King Of The Ring 1998)
At that point in his career, Mick’s body was beginning to give way. Mick was happy to participate in a recorded match, where several precautions could be taken to cushion the blows. Also, for the first time in his career, he asked to use fake blood pills instead of cutting himself.
Also, Backlash 1999 was the last PPV appearance for Owen Hart, who would tragically die the following month, at Over The Edge 1999.
Owen Hart didn’t like WWF’s creative direction very much, and he was uncomfortable without his brother Bret. But the penalty for unilaterally terminating the contract with WWF was too high, and Owen decided to stay.
Hart planned a retreat from the scene in 2000, remaining active only in Japan, and had turned down several creative ideas, such as a feud with tag partner Jeff Jarrett for the love of their manager Debra. Owen refused as to not display a negative example to his kids.
In conclusion, Backlash 1999 is one of the best shows of 1999. It had a solid lineup, fun matches, and a great main event. Many consider it to be better than Wrestlemania 15, and it is certainly worth looking at and appreciated even now.