|Event||Fully Loaded 1999|
|Date||Sunday July 25 1999|
|Venue||Marine Midland Arena|
|Location||Buffalo, New York, USA|
WWF Fully Loaded 1999
WWF Fully Loaded 1999 was all about bringing an end to the iconic feud between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, and though their hostilities would resume on and off in the years to come, it’s fair to say that their rivalry pretty much did culminate on this night. But did this mean that we had now passed the peak of the Attitude Era? Let’s have a look …
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & HEAT!
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
Edge (C) vs. Jeff Jarrett
Kicking things off, we had Edge challenging Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship, or at least that was the original idea. Edge (who was still seeking his break-out moment at this point) had unexpectedly and unintentionally managed to wrangle himself a shock hometown IC Title win in his hometown of Toronto on a house show the previous evening; he had replaced Ken Shamrock who couldn’t make it, beat Double J in what was said to be a non-title contest, and somehow ended up being awarded the prize. Of course, such a booking decision would only occur if it was going to be reversed in no time, and that’s what happened here at Fully Loaded when Jarrett pinned Edge to get his belt back. As it turned out, Jarrett would lose the IC gold again within 48 hours at a Raw taping to D’Lo Brown, and when it came to Edge, this brief fling with the WWF’s second most prestigious prize would be a hint of his highly decorated career to come.
After the match, Jarrett was randomly attacked by Stone Cold Steve Austin, who Stunnered Double J in an act typical of The Texas Rattlesnake, though with Jarrett arguably being a poor choice for such an angle. Austin was livid because The Undertaker had already busted him open backstage ahead of their First Blood match during Sunday Night Heat, and Stone Cold vowed here not only to beat Taker in the main event, but to have him bleeding as well prior to the bell ringing.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWF FULLY LOADED 1998 REVIEW!
WWF World Tag Team Championship Acolyte Rules Handicap Match
The Hardy Boyz (C) & Michael Hayes vs. The Acolytes
Going back to unexpected title changes for a moment, Matt and Jeff Hardy were starting to receive some attention from the WWF’s writing team, but it was still a surprise when the unfancied Hardyz managed to upset Faarooq and Bradshaw on the July 5 1999 episode of Raw to win the Tag Titles. The Hardyz still lacked credibility, though, as evidenced by the fact that even with their mentor Michael Hayes at their side, they managed to lose the same belts here to the ex-champions. Acolyte Rules basically meant that the future APA could do whatever they wanted, making this a No DQ contest. In the end, Hayes took a double powerbomb to crown Faarooq and Bradshaw as two-time WWF Tag Team Champions, though their second reign would be fairly short, 15 days long to be exact. Incidentally, The Hardyz noted in their autobiography Exist To Inspire that the challengers beat the living hell out of Hayes here, managing to exact a lot of genuine real-life frustration towards one of wrestling’s more colourful yet occasionally controversial characters.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWF KING OF THE RING 1999 REVIEW!
WWF European Championship Match
Mideon (C) vs. D’Lo Brown
Mideon had recently been awarded the seemingly-abandoned European Title by ex-champion and fellow Corporate Ministry member Shane McMahon, which made the European crown feel insignificant; however, at least there was a storyline explanation for the belt being placed back around the waist of an actual full-time wrestler. It also meant that Mideon was a beatable heel for D’Lo Brown, who was on the verge of building real momentum as a mid-card babyface. Brown’s trusty Frog Splash managed to seal the victory and to provide D’Lo with his third European Championship, nine months after he had lost the title previously to X-Pac at Judgment Day 1998. Brown would follow this up by beating Jeff Jarrett for the IC belt at a Raw taping two days later, making him the first Euro-Continental Champion in WWF/WWE history and marking his career peak.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWF FULLY LOADED 1998 REVIEW!
WWF Hardcore Championship Hardcore Match
Al Snow (C) vs. Big Boss Man
Already, three titles had changed hands so far, and it was about to be four as Al Snow lost his Hardcore Title to Big Boss Man. At this point, the Snow-Boss Man feud seemed a bit random, but BBM was definitely a believable force within the Hardcore division, and Al was at his own peak here by putting on some very creative and exciting weapon-related battles. The two men had some chemistry (seriously, ignore Unforgiven 1999 for a moment), and their brawls were very unusual, standing out from other Hardcore wars. Take the finish of this particular bout, where Boss Man and Snow battled to the streets, and the Cobb County, Georgia native handcuffed Snow to a fence before walloping him with a metal pipe to score the pin and win the Hardcore Championship for the second time. It’s interesting that considering four belts had switched owners, they all involved former champions recapturing their previous prizes (in Jarrett’s case, after just 24 hours). In the case of Snow, he would regain the Hardcore belt himself at SummerSlam, before the Al-Boss Man feud took a turn for the worse as we headed towards an infamous match known as the Kennel From Hell.
Hardcore Holly Is Special Guest Referee
Kane vs. Big Show
All these years later, I can never quite work out why Hardcore Holly was inserted into a feud between Kane and Big Show, which had potential in 1999 as both giants added a lot of value to the WWF product, and Show was still fairly fresh to the WWF scene. I get that the company were trying to elevate him, but he felt very much out of close, and he came across as an annoying pest more than anything. Here, he was the special referee for a King Of The Ring rematch, and it was his chicanery which led Show (still a babyface, for 24 hours at least) to Chokeslam and pin Kane, with a Holly fast count helping Big Nasty to win the bout. Afterwards, The Undertaker randomly wandered in to attack the interfering X-Pac as well as Kane (and setting up the forthcoming Taker-Show alliance which would oppose Kane and X-Pac at SummerSlam). But when Taker returned backstage, he was immediately attacked and busted open by Stone Cold, who had fulfilled his vow to make Taker bleed prior to their First Blood main event taking place.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST EDITION? READ OUR WWF FULLY LOADED 2000 REVIEW!
Iron Circle Match
Ken Shamrock vs. Steve Blackman
Next up, we had something interesting. Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman seemed like natural opponents for a feud, and they had an intriguing battle here: an Iron Circle match, whereby they battled surrounded by numerous cars and a bunch of wrestlers who weren’t booked, Terry. This was a fairly short yet hard-hitting fight, something that you would expect to see in a Backstage Brawl on a videogame as opposed to a traditional PPV attraction, and in the Attitude Era where everybody wanted to stand out, this left a lasting impression. Shamrock scored the win after choking The Lethal Weapon with a chain. Their rivalry would progress to include a Lion’s Den match (the WWF’s version of the Octagon) at SummerSlam, which would essentially be Shamrock’s last hurrah in the WWF.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWF SUMMERSLAM 1999 REVIEW!
The Rights To D-Generation X Are Awarded To The Winners
Billy Gunn & Chyna vs. Road Dogg & X-Pac
We had a somewhat odd premise for this tag match that involved four former DX members: whichever side was victorious officially owned the rights to the DX name, which meant they could make more money from merchandise royalties (despite the faction being dead for a little while by then), as well as presumably having the power to launch a DX Twitter account with a blue tick many years later. It was a bit inside and slightly irrelevant (why would fans care who got royalties from a DX bandana?), but in 1999, there was enough meat on the bone for this plotline to generate a strong reaction from the Buffalo crowd. The match itself was nothing special, but as noted, fans were into it, and ultimately they got a happy ending as Road Dogg pinned Billy Gunn (who had transparent short tights which meant that almost everything bar his front was visible) with a Pump Handle Slam to exact revenge for Gunn’s betrayal in the spring, and to ensure that Dogg and X-Pac could now make a lot of money from DX. It worked so well that they reformed the faction, with Billy and Triple H, as heels three months later. Still, at least it made sense to fight over DX; in the spring of 2000, WCW ripped off this storyline whereby Booker T, forced to rename himself as Booker, had to fight for the rights to the letter T. Seriously.
#1 Contender’s Strap Match
The Rock vs. Triple H
Before the main event, we had yet another match between The Rock and Triple H (they met three times on a PPV headlined by an Austin-Undertaker bout, which meant that repetitive booking was all the rage even when the WWF was at its hottest), whose Strap match would determine the next challenger to the WWF Title at SummerSlam. Beforehand, Rock mocked HHH, who had cut an intense promo on Heat where he first called himself “The Game” and complained about how he was held down due to the Curtain Call in 1996, which was a way for HHH to begin establishing himself as a serious potential title contender. This Strap match was a lot of fun, following the usual Attitude formula of wild brawling in and around the arena; at one point, Rock commandeered a camera from a fan on the front row and took a very close-up photo of his adversary for the spectator’s benefit. At the time, I thought (and hoped) that Rock would win, but instead the interference of Chyna and, crucially, a club-wielding Billy Gunn led to HHH drilling Rock with a match-winning Pedigree to secure the biggest match of his career so far at SummerSlam. Rock would feud with Billy, which led to a Kiss My Ass match at SummerSlam. Seriously. And didn’t I just say “seriously”? Wrestling was wacky during this time (and Leslie Nielsen would scold me for calling the readers “seriously”).
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING EDITION? READ OUR WWF FULLY LOADED 2000 REVIEW!
WWF Championship First Blood Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin (C) vs. The Undertaker
The main event saw Steve Austin defend the WWF Title against Undertaker under First Blood rules, though as noted, both had already bled earlier in the night. Austin had beaten Taker for the gold the previous month on Raw, and they had feuded on and off for a long time. However, Taker still seemed like a pawn to represent Vince McMahon, with whom Austin had the real issue. The Austin-Vince feud had begun in late 1997 before truly progressing after WrestleMania XIV in March 1998, so they had been at odds for a long time. Even an apparent Vince babyface turn after WM XV was a swerve (bro) that led to Vince being revealed as The Greater Power, only for Austin to be revealed as the new WWF CEO. Though the McMahons regained power at King Of The Ring, Vince determined that his quarrel with Austin had gone on long enough, and there needed to be a resolution. Hence this First Blood match, where Austin could no longer challenge for the WWF Title if he lost, but with Vince having to leave his own company forever if Taker lost. It’s worth noting that Taker and Vince had Austin sign the match contract in his own blood to add further intrigue to this “End Of An Era” bout, as JR did his bit with some dramatic commentary: “Somebody’s gonna bleed! Somebody’s gonna leave!”
With a wheelchair-bound Vince joining Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler at the announcer’s position, Austin and Taker had another go-all-over-the-arena brawl, which saw them enter all four corners of the audience, much to the chagrin of the overworked security staff. It could be argued that Stone Cold and Undertaker never had that truly classic match, but this might have just been the best televised match that they had, partly due to the heightened stakes which meant that the ending was unpredictable. As it turned out, of all people, X-Pac made the difference: after interference from Shane and even Vince, Pac ran in and struck Taker with a Van Daminator of sorts, followed by Austin whacking Taker with a TV camera. This busted open The Dead Man, and eventually the previously-downed referee Earl Hebner noticed the laceration, as JR shouted “He’s bleeding! He’s bleeding! Ring the damn bell, it’s over!” From there, it was chaos with a brawl involving Austin (who ended up getting busted open again), Taker, Triple H (who targeted Austin as JR shouted “That Helmsley’s nothing but a bastard!”) and The Rock, who got involved because his feud with HHH will never die. After all that craziness, Austin still had time to hit Vince with a Stone Cold Stunner to end a wild night on a major high.
I mentioned at the start that the WWF arguably peaked here. That’s because so many of the Attitude Era’s most recognisable names were here doing their thing, from Road Dogg and X-Pac delivering the DX catch-phrases galore to the craziness of the Hardcore division to The Rock’s incredible charisma to Austin dropping Stunners and swigging beers. More importantly, though, despite occasional run-ins in the years that followed, the wider Austin-Vince feud really did end here. And despite some iconic rivalries in 2000 and 2001, nothing else could compare to this all-time great storyline, which had lasted for the better part of two years. It finally ended here, and therefore the glory days of the Attitude Era product did too. Of course, the WWF was still red-hot for a good while to come, and the actual wrestling would improve greatly on future PPVs (WrestleMania X-Seven being the obvious example), but if you’re wearing the nostalgia goggles and reminiscing on when the WWF and Raw were truly must-see, the hottest storyline of the entire time period came to a close on this night.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & HEAT!
As you can see, then, WWF Fully Loaded 1999 occurred when the WWF was at its peak of popularity. That is evidenced by the super-high energy from the crowd, and this dripped onto the performers, who grafted to deliver a strong show here. And as noted, it could be very well argued that the end of the Austin-McMahon feud meant that the gradual slide in the company’s ratings began from this point on (even if it wasn’t noticeable for at least a year or so), making this an intriguing card to check out from a historic standpoint.
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