October 17th 1999, Cleveland, Ohio.
Full disclosure for this one. I watched it about a year ago because it was the subject of a Conquistabores podcast around the time. Even after that I would have struggled to recall what the main event of this one was. This show is rather more fondly remembered for the tag team ladder match between the teams of Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boys. History doesn’t seem to have the same high level of regard for the Austin versus Triple H title match later in the evening.
We do however begin proceedings with a video package promoting the main event in which Triple H proclaims he’s ‘crippled the Rattlesnake’. It’s also the episode of Smackdown in which Hunter has the worst looking prosthetic snake bite in history. He may as well have glued a rasher of bacon below his eye. Vince McMahon has, in the tradition of making Sunday Night Heat worth a damn, made Austin versus Triple H a No DQ match with about two hours notice which is something that doesn’t sit well with Hunter.
Before all that though The Godfather is out for the opening contest against Mideon and is roundly booed until he brings out the women. As per usual one of the dancing ladies seems far more into it than the rest. The Godfather doesn’t extend his usual offer to Mideon and settles instead for ‘just kicking his ass’. Mideon has his Ministry friend Viscera with him at ringside.
Both start out with a punching brawl and Godfather takes control of the match. There’s a chance for an early Ho Train but Viscera is getting involved with Godfather’s women at ringside and causes the distraction. Viscera sneaks in a few punches to Godfather as he’s standing right next to Godfather’s companions. They do absolutely nothing to stop him. “Godfather needs tougher Hos’ screams Lawler which is an early contender for the ‘Ain’t that the truth award of the evening.
There’s not much else to this match. Godfather goes for what looks like a Vader Bomb but Mideon gets the knees up. Later however, after connecting with a Ho Train, Godfather rolls up Mideon for the winning pinfall. It’s a fairly nondescript start to the show.
Ivory is still the WWF Women’s Champion and seems to be still railing against the older generation of wrestlers. With this in mind she takes on The Fabulous Moolah tonight with the title on the line. Moolah is well into her 70’s now so this can be seen as little more than a match played for laughs. Ivory, to her credit, does try to get something decent out of this against all the odds but asking an elderly lady to take bumps was never going to be on the cards. After what seems like five minutes of bumbling around Moolah rolls up Ivory in the weakest possible fashion to win the title. It screams straight past shock territory and into ‘what the heck town’ very quickly.
It’s still no clearer as to how they’re splitting the merch money but here come The New Age Outlaws again. They face the Holly Cousins tonight and all four men collide in the aisle before the bell. Crash shines in the early going as he spends a fair bit of ring time with Road Dogg. Hardcore tags in eventually and misses a top rope nothing to allow Road Dogg to come back into it. Road Dogg gets a really good looking Superplex in not long after. Eventually though Hardcore gets a chair and hurls it into the ring with the intent of Crash using it. Instead Mr Ass drills Crash with a Fameasser on the steel. The ref notices and disqualifies them instantly just as this match was building nicely.
So far this show has been far from anything good.
Quick question, what’s the largest amount anybody has paid you for one day’s work? Jeff Jarrett defends the Intercontinental title tonight against Chyna. Unfortunately for the WWF Jeff’s contract expired a few days before this show whilst he was still in possession of the belt. Quite how such an oversight was allowed to take place remains unknown. It was widely known by this time that Jarrett was off to WCW imminently and Vince was rather desperate to not have the WWF Intercontinental title show up on WCW Nitro in the same way as Alundra Blayze had with the Women’s title a few years prior. Jarrett wanted to be paid some royalties he felt he was owed from the previous months in exchange for dropping the title before his departure. The alleged amount Jarett was paid seems to range between $200,000 and $300,000 depending where you look. It’s almost Julia Roberts territory.
As per Jarrett’s ‘ranting misogynist’ character this match is a Good House Keeping contest which essentially means that all household items are legal as weapons. It’s probably a good way of disguising Chyna’s limitations as well. She does arrive carrying a broom though so is getting into the spirit nice and early. Jarrett has arrived with Miss Kitty so the issue of Lawler engaging in full sex pest mode comes up again.
There isn’t much actual wrestling here. Chyna takes charge early on by smashing Jarrett with bin lids, brooms and a loo seat. The tide only turns when she misses an elbow drop from off the apron that leaves her crashing through a catering table that somebody seems to have left at ringside. Jarrett then attacks Chyna with a fish which takes no further part in the match other than to lay down ringside. Miss Kitty starts to put eggs, flour and milk into a bowl but does manage to give Jarrett a handful of flour as well. It backfires in spectacular fashion as Chyna kicks it back in his face. Miss Kitty tries to jump Chyna and ends up with cake mix all over her. It does give Jarrett the window he needs to snap a Figure Four Leglock on that Chyna just about gets to the ropes to break up.
Jarrett climbs out of the ring, grabs the Intercontinental title belt and cracks Chyna over the head with it before pinning her for three. Just as he’s about to leave he is informed by referee Teddy Long that a title belt is not a household item so therefore should not be used in this match. “It’s an item in Jarrett’s house though” argues Lawler as Jarrett goes to lock Teddy in the Figure Four. Before he can Chyna smashes the guitar (also not a household item) over Jarrett’s head and pins him. The result stands and Chyna is the new champion.
Farewell then Jarrett who would leave WWF for WCW after this show to the point when he was on Monday Nitro the next day. He would go on to headline the last few WCW shows before that company shit down in 2001. Vince Russo, said to be a friend of Jarrett, was also leaving for Atlanta at the same time. It probably left a bad taste in Vince McMahon’s mouth and clearly this was the reason for Jarrett himself being namechecked in Vince’s ‘The fate of WCW is in my hands’ promo on the first night of his purchase of WCW. He wouldn’t set foot in WWE again until his Hall of Fame induction in 2019.
The British Bulldog is a heel because he threw a bin at Stephanie McMahon. Much is also made of the fact he was booed ‘by his own country when the WWF were in the UK last month. The Rock, on a certain upwards trajectory himself, faces him tonight.
There’s absolutely no mention of this being a No DQ match beforehand but it quickly spills outside the ring as both men use the ring steps as a weapon. At no point does the ref call for the bell. Back inside the ring Bulldog is Irish Whipped into the corner but flips over on the way. He’s about a foot further away from the turnpads though so ends up nearly cracking his head off the canvas. The Bulldog manages to tie The Rock up in the ropes but the future Dwayne Johnson moves leaving Bulldog to splat full force into them. Bulldog tries once again to gain the victory by planting The Rock with a Running Powerslam. It gets a two count because The Rock gets his foot on the ropes in time. A second Powerslam attempt is thwarted by The Rock reversing it into a Rock Bottom before striking a People’s Elbow for the winning three count. Bulldog looked a bit shaky through this entire match but it’s obvious The Rock is going up to bigger thing very soon.
We then go to Jerry Lawler who is with Terri as she climbs a ladder to demonstrate the winning conditions of the upcoming match between Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boys. This is actually the last match in a best of five series, hanging in the balance at two wins each, with the winner receiving $100,000 and ‘the managerial services of Terri’. Lawler gets a good look up Terri’s skirt as she reaches the top. “They’ll have to dynamite the grin off his face’ says Jim Ross upon the return to the commentary desk.
I’ve mentioned before how these two teams seem to have been building up to an absolute classic in the last couple of PPV matches. It hits the sweet spot right here as the ladder stipulation allows all four to get creative and let loose. This match paves the way for the TLC classics at Summerslam 2000 and Wrestlemania X7 alongside The Dudley Boys. It was a shot in the arm for tag team wrestling at the time and the influence can still be seen today.
The thing is though is that this match seems tame when compared to some of the TLC matches that are to follow. It’s not the case that none of the four involved don’t put the effort in, they all look shattered by the end, but it doesn’t have the spears off twenty foot high ladders or dives off the balcony that will occur from 2000 onwards. It is still a fantastic match though as all of them displays signs of things to come.
I had completely forgotten that Gangrel is around in the Hardy Boys corner for this one but he lasts about five minutes before being ejected from ringside after trying to supply Matt with a ladder. The match goes outside the ring early as Christian gets a good looking dive over the top rope onto both Matt and Jeff. Edge has a great moment Dropkicking Jeff off the apron too. Later, Edge Powerbombs Matt off an upright ladder which looks nasty to take.
The crowd are oddly not that much into this match in the opening half. Perhaps it’s in built apathy towards tag team wrestling at the time or the fact that this was a mid card feud but Cleveland seem to be sat on their hands until both teams bring out the big guns.
After Matt sets up a ladder in the corner Jeff climbs the turnbuckle and springboards over it to Legdrop Christian below. Matt then Moonsaults Christian with a ladder between the two of them It looks like Matt hurts his ribs far more doing the move than any damage Christian takes. Jeff and Edge both climb two, parallel upright ladders until Edge strikes with a Downward Spiral to the floor. Jeff later uses the ladder as an weaponised see saw by jumping on one end meaning the other end smacks both Christian and Matt in the face.
“Why are they doing this to each other? It’s only one hundred grand” wails Lawler rather underselling the premise. With all four men up on ladders, three tumble but Jeff jumps to the last remaining upright rungs and manages to grab the money sack. The cash and the managerial services of Terri Runnells are with The Hardy Boys as Edge and Christian both look completely gutted as they emerge from a twisted pile of metal work. Jeff and Matt celebrate with Terri who, despite being able to fork out one hundred thousand dollars in prize money, seems unable to purchase a bra.
Now for something a bit confusing. Mankind is wandering about backstage with a copy of his book. He’s looking for The Rock to hand it over and does find who he assumes to be the man in question in the bathroom cubicles. “Good luck in your match tonight” he says as he passes the book under the partition. It makes little sense as The Rock has already wrestled tonight.
Mankind then walks out to the corridor to find (who else but) The Rock. After a short conversation Mankind walks back into the toilets only to be attacked by Val Venis who it seems was the crappung man in the cubicles before. “Thanks for the book Mic” he says as he leaves the room.
The Rock is out in the arena again straight afterwards as he cuts a promo saying he’ll take on the winner of Triple H and Austin tonight. Triple H responds by walking out and clubbing him with a sledgehammer. It’s been an eventful night for The Great One no doubt.
Val Venis struts to the ring with a copy of Mick Foley’s book in hand. “He’s pacing around like a caged lion” says Jim Ross. Mankind’s music hits but he’s nowhere to be seen until the camera picks up Mankind tending to the injured Rock. “I’ll get him for you” he says as he walks towards the ring.
Both fight outside the ring until Val gets dropped across the guardrail. A minute or so later Val stops a Mankind corner charge by getting his boots up and kicking his opponents in the mid section. Back outside the ring Venis gets a Side Suplex in onto an open steel chair. Val spents the rest of the match attacking the back of Mankind’s head which includes a second rope Elbow Drop. Mankind later dodges a Money Shot and comes back with a Double Arm DDT. At this point Mankind gets Mr Socko, Val gets his own version called Mr Rocko, Mankind locks the Mandible in on Vals mouth whilst Val clamps down on Mankind’s testicle. ‘Mandible Claw and Testicular Claw!’ screams J.R as Mankind falls backwards and a dazed Val Venis covers him for the win. When Mick Foley was doing Barbed Wire Death Matches in Japan he probably wasn’t aware he’d be losing matches by having his nuts crushed four years later.
They still haven’t taken The Rock to a hospital.
Next up is a Four Corner Elimination Match between Bradshaw and Farooq of The Acolytes, Kane and X-Pac. I wasn’t sure initially why this wasn’t just a tag match but that answer comes in the shape of the constant mentioning of how much fighting spirit X-Pac has. Both Acolytes double team Kane to begin with until X-Pac tags himself in to face his usual team partner. Kane is having nothing to do with it until X-Pac welts him one. Before Kane can do anything more Bradshaw tags himself in. There’s a few minutes where the Acolytes fight each other until we’re back to X-Pac being smashed again. Farooq gets a mean looking Powerbomb in on the DX man but Kane breaks up the pinfall.
Bradshaw gets a Big Boot in on Kane but The Big Red Machine just gets back up, Chokeslams him and pins him for three. X-Pac climbs the top rope and launches himself towards Kane with a Spinning Heel Kick. He then pins Kane. X-Pac reverses a Farooq dive off the top rope into a X-Factor for the winning pinfall. “It’s the size of the fight in the dog” says J.R.
The next video package promoting the main event features some bloody awful metal band murdering Stone Cold’s entrance music. Regardless we’re off to the races for the main event. Triple H arrives armed with his sledgehammer until Vince McMahon hauls it away from him. Vince gets punched in response. Both Austin and Triple H brawl in the crowd to the point that you can’t see them for the sea of gurning Americans. Triple H eventually gets catapulted over the railings and takes the ref out in the process. Austin strikes with a Stunner but there’s nobody to count the fall. Earl Hebner gets down to the ring to take over the officiating of the match and ends up in a shoving match with Triple H.
Austin chokes out Triple H with a headset cord. Not long afterwards Triple H Suplexes Austin on the Spanish announce table. This gives him ample opportunity to work Austin’s knee. Both men crash to the canvas after a Superplex off the top rope. Austin grabs a chair and starts to batter Triple H’s legs. This is the cue for a very angry Rock to storm down to the ring with a sledgehammer in hand. He swings it towards Triple H, misses and hits Austin instead. After dispatching The Rock with a Pedigree Triple H pins Austin for three to retain his WWF Championship. A furious Austin chases Triple H towards a waiting limo in the parking lot as Chyna bundles her colleague in the passenger seat. The car speeds off into the night leaving Stone Cold to seeth in the wake. It’s been another one of those crazy Austin brawls but it has gone some distance to put Triple H across as a guy who will run after scoring a slender victory.
No Mercy 99 is still worth a watch simply for the tag team ladder match and the main event alone. Chyna wins the Intercontinental title in a feel good moment but then aids the heel Triple H later in the night which is slightly odd. The Women’s title match is awful though and the Four Corners contest doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Next time we’re off to Survivor Series 99 in which Austin plays a game of ‘Dude, Where’s My Car’.