‘Sup, Lords of Pain? We’re on time again! We are once again on the road to SummerSlam and in the current day, I have to say I am very much enjoying the build to the event. I am particularly enjoying watching Stephanie knock it out of the park each and every week in her feud with Brie Bella. She truly is her father’s daughter. Fifteen years ago it was Vince who was playing the role as chief “bitch” but he’d have a vested interest in the last PPV before the hottest party of the summer. So without further ado, it’s time once again for me and Maverick to bring you...
ATTITUDE! Fully Loaded 1999 (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Mav
Aug 7, 2014 - 5:51:55 PM
Mazza: So coming out of King of the Ring, the Corporate Ministry was riding high. By hook or by crook, Vince and Shane had regained control of their company whilst The Undertaker had retained his WWF title against The Rock. Four weeks was a long time during the Monday Night Wars however and it would be a hectic run to Fully Loaded. Things wouldn’t be quite so rosy for the McMahons by the time we got there and once again Vince would have a lot on the line.
Maverick: Everyone knows that babyfaces find a way out of adversity, and Stone Cold certainly had something interesting in store for McMahon that had potential kayfabe rewards for them both. In the upper midcard, a nicely intertwined storyline between the former members of DX, The Rock, Kane, The Big Show and Hardcore Holly would take up a lot of screen time, while the future superstars in the tag division were starting to make their presence felt. So, time we took a detailed look at...
The Event: Fully Loaded
The Date: 25 July 1999
The Place: Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, New York
BACKGROUND AND BOOKING
The Attitude Era had a simple formula when it came to keeping viewers hooked; end each show on a cliffhanger. The conclusion of the ladder match at King of the Ring, where Shane and Vince won back full control of the company from “CEO” Stone Cold Steve Austin, made the 06/28 Raw a must see, and inevitably, it started out with the Corporate Ministry coming out to gloat about their victory. Shane gleefully announced the firing of Austin as CEO and Vince followed up by announcing that the Rattlesnake would be going all the way back down to the bottom of the ladder, working dark matches and disassembling the ring at the end of the night. Revelling in having his power back, McMahon Sr. booked Triple H vs The Undertaker for the WWF Title in an all Corporate Ministry affair, but these plans were soon disrupted by Stone Cold, who detailed the insurance plan he put in place before the King of the Ring pay-per-view. It turns out that while still CEO, Austin gave himself a new contract with more zeros on the bottom line. He also removed the clause from the previous October saying that he couldn’t physically harm McMahon without provocation. Furthermore, the Rattlesnake has “booked a little title match” for that very episode of Raw between himself and ‘Taker where any outside interference would result in Austin being handed the belt by forfeit. In the event, Austin won with a Stone Cold Stunner in a hot TV match, but got busted open and beaten down after the match by the Corporate Ministry.
The fact of the Redneck bleeding led to the Deadman challenging him to a First Blood match at Fully Loaded on the 07/04 episode of Sunday Night Heat, which was accepted with alacrity by Austin. On the 07/05 edition of Raw, the new champion gloated that he had shoved the master plan right up Vince’s ass, also telling ‘Taker that Payback is a bitch, referencing the First Blood contest between Austin and Kane from King of the Ring ‘98 when The Undertaker had cost his fellow Texan the match with a vicious chair shot. Vince came out, but couldn’t actually speak because the asshole chants were so loud! Vince said that the WWF wasn’t big enough for the both of them and challenged Austin to accept a new stip: if the Rattlesnake was to win, Vince would leave the WWF and never bother him again; if the Deadman were to win, Austin would never be able to challenge for the belt again. Vince explained that he was prepared to gamble in this way not only because of his faith in The Undertaker but also because the sight of Austin with the title made him want to vomit. Strong words! By the next week, Austin had consulted his lawyers and had the contract for the match drawn up, and he was adamant that after Fully Loaded we wouldn’t be seeing Vince again. As with the recent contract signings we’ve seen, all sorts of shenanigans resulted from the segment. McMahon came out in a wheelchair after a legitimate 4th of July weekend motorcycle accident and refused to sign the contract until Stone Cold did. Austin, for his part, would not sign until the Smoking Skull belt was returned to him. Kane’s music then came on, but there was no Kane there; it was all a ruse to distract Austin so Undertaker could ambush Austin from behind with the very Smoking Skull belt he wanted back. The champ was busted open yet again, with McMahon directing traffic. Taker filled a fountain pen with Austin’s blood and gave it to Vince, who signed in Austin’s blood. An irate Rattlesnake got patched up, and then interrupted a Jarrett promo by stunning the Intercontinental Champion twice, then getting on the mic and challenging the Deadman to an unsanctioned fight. The Big Show then appeared and warned Austin that Kane and The Undertaker were back together and that they should tag up against the brothers, combining the two feuds as so often happened during Attitude. ‘Taker bragged about having the Big Red Monster back by his side and threatened to drink the blood from Austin’s head, but in the event the Rattlesnake got the win for his team by pinning Kane, despite being busted open yet again.
On the go home, the Corporate Ministry came out to the ring and McMahon told the crowd to take plenty of photos as it would be the last time they would see Austin as the champion. Vince said that it was important for everyone to realise that he had placed not just his own career on the line, but ‘Taker’s career too! An angered Phenom told Vince in no uncertain terms that no one threatened him, that Vince made the deal so it was his problem; he would be opening up Austin for himself and for the belt. Now it was the chairman’s turn to get angry, as he told his crony to think about who it was that signed his cheques. He sensationally claimed in a fourth wall pushing moment to be the one made the Deadman! The Lord of Darkness responded by saying that no one owned him and no one told him what to do. Triple H then stepped in and ‘Taker threatened to “split his melon” just like Austin’s. The Game, furthering the tension in the ruling faction, told Vince that he shouldn’t trust the Phenom, it’s Trips who was the team player, as shown by King of the Ring, he knew that it was Vince that made him, he even stated that without Vincent K. McMahon he would be nothing (AH FORESHADOWING!). Predictably, he wanted Vince to substitute him for The Undertaker in the title match. As a result of the request, Hunter v Taker was booked, with the winner facing the Rattlesnake and the loser facing Rock in the strap match already booked between The Game and The People’s Champ. Austin’s music then hit and he added yet another giant vehicle to his collection, driving a bloodmobile into the arena! He flipped off The Corporate Ministry and did the beer toast from the top of the blood van. In the event, The Undertaker and Triple H wrestled yet another hot match on TV (less quality in the Attitude Era my ass) until Austin and Rock run ins made it a no contest. ‘Taker ended up locked in the bloodmobile by the Rattlesnake until Paul Bearer snuck into the arena to let him out, while Austin got to an unguarded McMahon, split him open, and signed the contract for Fully Loaded in the boss’ blood to show that turnabout was fair play.
Although there was no match for Fully Loaded based on the Stephanie McMahon and Test romance, it was an important Summerslam angle that really began in the month of July, when a GTV segment showed Steph and Test on a date, after which the Canadian was attacked by the Shane McMahon backed Mean Street Posse. The next week, Test took on Joey Abs, but the rest of the Posse drew the DQ and then beat Test down while Steph was made to watch by her brother. A week later, GTV showed the daughter of the McMahon clan giving Joey the brush off, stating that their “relationship” only ever happened because Stephanie was keeping her brother happy. This led to a Test vs. Mean Street Posse gauntlet. Test disposed of Rodney and Pete in short order, but Shane ran in to draw the DQ during the Abs match. Steve Blackman came down to save Shane when Test fought back, but Shamrock was out to get Blackman and they brawled through the crowd. The Posse used a chair to hurt Test’s ankle like Mark Henry was doing a couple of years back and when Steph came out, Shane “accidentally” knocked her out with an elbow. On the go home, Shane apologised to Steph and brought her out to the ring offering to set her up with a more suitable man, that is, Joey Abs. Steph refused so an angered Shane threatened to set the Mean Street Posse on Test all over again. Watch this space next week to see how the angle developed into the Summerslam “Love Her Or Leave Her” match!
After the events of Heat the day of the King of the Ring show, Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman were set on a collision course. Shamrock vowed to get Vince and call out Blackman. In a no DQ match, Shamrock competed “against doctors’ orders” and his “internal injuries” led to his demise, as Blackman used fighting sticks to destroy him and leave, setting up a kind of hired assassin gimmick.. Shamrock refused help from EMTs afterwards but subsequently took time off TV until the go home when he evened the odds when Test was assaulted by Blackman and the Mean Street Posse and chased the martial artist into the crowd. For the pay-per-view, an iron circle match was booked, which was essentially an unsanctioned fight within a ring of cars, supposedly based on Shamrock’s youth where such confrontations hardened him to the point where he could become an MMA star.
The upper midcard was incredibly exciting through July ‘99. Mr Ass’s KOTR coronation in-ring interview with Michael Cole showed admirable heel chops from the former degenerate. He reiterated that it was all about him from here on in, and he bragged about stealing Bradshaw’s tag belt. Trips and Chyna then came out “to talk about business”. According to Hunter, Road Dogg and X Pac had been claiming all rights to the DX name, so Trips, Chyna and Billy weren’t getting paid royalties. The Game stated that he was going to loan Chyna to Billy to take on Roadie and The Kid for the rights to DX. At the end of this segment, The Rock sprinted down to attack Trips. The referees and Sergeant Slaughter separated them and a match was booked for later in the night. This bout was interrupted by Billy who took Rock out with a pipe. Later in the show Bradshaw won the stolen tag belt back after an X Pac distraction. Chyna attacked X Pac but Road Dogg made the save and the two of them cleared house. Gunn then got revenge when he cost Pac the Intercontinental Title against Jarrett.
The next week was really all about two events; a sensational cage match between Triple H and The Great One, where all manner of Attitude Era shenanigans took place until finally Rocky got the hard won victory only to get immediately assaulted by Chyna and Mr Ass. However, the Ninth Wonder of the World and the Ass Man had other concerns too, as they set up Road Dogg and X Pac to get arrested when they accused the pair of vandalising her sports car. Later on, Billy and Chyna decimated Meat and Jackie and then spraypainted “DX” on them, in parody of the NWO, and to make clear to the audience that they had in fact vandalised their own vehicle to screw over their former stablemates. On the 07/12 show, The Rock ripped Triple H and Billy Gun in a memorable and sensational promo you no doubt all remember. The former degenerate was said to have a “three foot nose” that he shoved “right up Vince’s ass” while Billy Gunn was said to have prayed to God, who apparently gave Billy the “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!” X Pac and Road Dogg, meanwhile, tarred and feathered The Fink for snitching on them. Bit risque that, really. The two then gave a promo about defending the DX name to their last breath. Kane then came out and X Pac told him to make a choice between him and ‘Taker (the Big Red Monster was conflicted between his tag team with X Pac and his brother reaching out to him). Trips, Chyna and Billy hit the ring to take out the three of them but ‘Taker cleared house. The Deadman said he wouldn’t make Kane choose but reminded his brother that blood is thicker than water. Billy, Chyna and Trips took on X Pac, Road Dogg and Kane...with the main story thrust being whether they could trust Kane. In the event, the Big Red Machine didn’t come out so The Rock came out to make up the numbers and wound up getting the pin with the People’s Elbow. The final week in this twin feud saw Mr Ass beat the People’s Champ with an assist from the Ninth Wonder of the World, and a dog collar match between Road Dogg and Chyna which ended up becoming a heel beat down on Roadie until X Pac made the save. Finally, the Sunday Night Heat before the pay-per-view carried the famous Triple H “shoot” interview with Jim Ross where he discussed real life events surrounding the Madison Square Garden curtain call and sent to the bottom of the barrel. It’s a very powerful watch, if you never happen to have seen it.
After the King of the Ring tournament’s events, Hardcore Holly cut a promo ripping Kane and Show, calling Kane a “Big Red Retard” and challenging him to a match. Show came out and chokeslammed Kane while the ref was distracted and so that Holly picked up the improbable win. Holly taunted Kane and got chokeslammed four times. The former Sparky Plugg then ran a kind of “glutton for punishment” gimmick where he showed no fear in the face of the giants. He and Show took on Kane in a handicap match that ended up being interrupted by The Undertaker, with Wight busted open by a steel chair. On the go home, it was Holly and Show vs. X Pac and Kane but X Pac didn’t want the Big Red Machine because of his conflicted feelings. The Undertaker came out and decimated X Pac while Kane took on Holly and Show and then the Phenom used the steel steps on Show and Holly. However, when Kane saw that his brother had chokeslammed X Pac for no reason, he got all protective and chokeslammed ‘Taker, before taking X Pac back down the aisle, at which point X Pac and Kane embraced in a buddy movie style that moved JR to shout “he’s almost human!”
The midcard titles were kind of a mess, but at least that scene was an entertaining mess. Edge got a mini-push to foreshadow his huge future success, beating Godfather, splitting from Gangrel alongside Christian, beating The Big Bossman, winning against Gangrel and Mideon in a tag match alongside D’Lo Brown (it was to be D’Lo against Mideon for the European Title at Fully Loaded) and finally winning the Intercontinental Title from Jeff Jarrett at a Toronto house show. He had down moments too though, getting pushed through Gangrel’s entrance pit and getting handcuffed to the ropes and beaten by Bossman. Edge would be defending his newly won belt at the pay-per-view against a “pissed off” Jarrett, who would have the ever alluring Debra in his corner.
In the tag scene, the Hardy Boyz won their first tag team titles in what was presented as a huge upset. The defended their belts against Supply and Demand, only escaping when Hayes drew the DQ. A Fatal 4 Way followed between The Acolytes, The Hardys, Albert and Droz (who spent all month cross dressing), and Supply and Demand. The Hardy Boyz retained, again thanks to Hayes. On Heat, they were booked to defend at Fully Loaded in a handicap match against The Acolytes, where Michael Hayes would be in the firing line too in an “Acolyte Rules” match, which basically meant No DQ and sort of tornado but not fully.
Finally, to round us off, the Hardcore Title was defended by Al Snow twice, once against D’Lo (Al splashed him off a forklift through a table) and once against Droz in an evening gown hardcore match (yes, really). Snow got even more deranged than usual when Droz’s partner Albert hammered a spike into Head. Cue the Bossman wanting a piece of Al, handcuffing and beating the hardcore champ and successfully gaining himself a title shot. Phew!
Now it’s time for Maz to take you through...
We get our obligatory badass main event video package and we then see footage of The Undertaker assaulting Austin moments earlier on Heat, busting him open whilst the McMahons smugly looked on. Stone Cold is then seen with paramedics who say he needs stitches before Vince denies any hand in the attack. He guarantees that the Rattlesnake will lose tonight and will never again be WWF champion.
Jeff Jarrett (With Debra) defeated Edge in 13:20 to win the Intercontinental Championship
Before the match starts we are shown photos of Edge defeating Jarrett for the IC strap at a house show in Toronto. Debra looks absolutely stunning in green as she leads Double J out. The challenger grabs a mic and says nobody is going to see the puppies because they are his. After the champ gets the better of the opening encounters, Jarrett grabs the belt and tries to leave. This lures Edge to the outside where Double J capitalises by using the steps. The challenger takes control from here and he does some work on the shoulder. This lasts for a while before the future Rated R Superstar makes a comeback. Whilst Edge is on top, the lights go out and the Brood music hits. The lights come on and we see Gangrel on the floor with no sign of the usual blood bath that accompanies the darkness. Jarrett tries to capitalise on the situation and we get a nice sequence of near falls. Edge eventually hits the Spear but Debra jumps up on the apron for the distraction. Double J punches the champ into his manager and whilst Edge looks concerned, Gangrel hangs him up on the rope. This allows Jarrett to land a facebuster for the win. Very good stuff here. Edge still had a way to before he was a polished midcarder but he had exciting moves which worked well with a strong talent. Although I am not sure what the point was in giving Edge a one day reign was.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***½
Whilst the new champ poses in the ring, a patched up Stone Cold comes down. After dealing with JJ he tells ‘Taker he is going to hunt him down and bust him open before their match.
The Acolytes defeated The Hardy Boyz & Michael Hayes in 10:59 in a Handicap Acolyte Rules Match to win the Tag Team Championship
Whatever Acolyte Rules are, it starts with the challengers attacking the Hardys and Hayes as they make their entrance. The bell eventually rings as the Acolytes dominate the champs at ringside. A somersault plancha from Jeff and a moonsault from the top rope to the floor by Matt turn things around however. They showcase a whole host of crisp and speedy moves before eventually getting caught by the rugged challengers. The mesh in styles works really well as both sides make plenty of tags before Jeff finally adopts the face in peril role. The action breaks down and the match gets a bit messy. Matt gets a near fall on Faarooq before we get the rare sight of Bradshaw going to the top rope to hit Matt with a back suplex. We get near falls left, right and centre including from a Clothesline From Hell as Jeff tries for Poetry in Motion. The finish comes when the Acolytes isolate Hayes and land a powerbomb to win back their titles. Excellent stuff here. The Hardys really have been like a breath of fresh air to the product and looked a great prospect here. They worked really well with Faarooq and Bradshaw in a dynamic very similar to the recent Usos-Wyatts matches.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***½
D’Lo Brown defeated Mideon in 7:00 to win the European Championship
D’Lo cuts a un of the mill interview before the match as he goes after a title Mideon received because he needed something to hold his trousers up. The early action is hectic but it settles with the champion in control. We take a brief tour around ringside before we get a chinlock of doom in the ring. The challenger attempts a couple of comebacks but Mideon cuts him off each time. Brown finally turns the tide successfully with a tornado DDT and the Sky High. He follows it up with the Lo Down for the victory as we go three for three in title changes on the night. This was not as exciting as the previous two. The pace was very slow for most of the match and despite a fun flurry at the end from D’Lo, it just wasn’t very smooth.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **
Big Bossman defeated Al Snow in 10:30 to win the Hardcore Championship
Snow cuts a strange interview with Cole before we get underway and he looks like he is lacking some serious sleep. In the aisle Al asks Bossman to put him out of his misery with the nightstick but instead the man from Cobb County attacks Head. This sparks the brawl as they fight around the aisle and stage. They head backstage and we have the normal problem for the division in that nobody seems to be able to retain control for more than three moves. They use everything that they find back there, including a tree and that is before they leave the arena. They fight by the side of the road whilst giving each other the world’s worst trash talk. They use hubcaps, cones and almost get hit by passing cars before Bossman handcuffs Snow to a fence. He works on him with a nightstick and strangely pins the champ by pressing his chest to the fence. I would question the logic but with Al Snow involved it would be like opening Pandora’s box. More of the same for the division and another new midcard champion crowned.
ATTITUDE! Rating: *¾
The Big Show defeated Kane in 8:18
Hardcore Holly is the special referee as this rather odd menage a trois story rolls on. Show attacks before the bell rings and Holly is not shy in putting himself right in the middle. The giant hits a very impressive early gorilla press to throw Kane out of the ring. The pace is slow but more deliberate than their King of the Ring encounter. It’s hard hitting as it goes back and forth. Kane eventually has Show ready for a chokeslam when Holly hits the Big Red Machine with a chop block. This allows Wight to hit a chokeslam of his own before Holly fast counts the victory. X-Pac comes down to ringside to attack Holly but the Undertaker hits the ring to take it to Waltman. The Deadman and The Big Show continue the beatdown on the former tag champs and a glance between the two as Taker leaves hints at the birth of the “Unholy Alliance”. Show eventually leaves with Holly whilst The Phenom gets attacked by Austin backstage and gets busted open in revenge for the earlier attack. Decent stuff in the match and fun aftermath to get the build to SummerSlam underway.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **½
Ken Shamrock defeated Steve Blackman in 3:57 in an Iron Circle Match
The deal here is that the first to leave a circle of parked cars (with WWF jobbers sitting on them) wins. The lighting leaves a lot to be desired in the dark car park they use. The action is hard hitting as they use the vehicles around them and Blackman takes control with a big low blow. The Lethal Weapon gets hold of a chain but he swings and misses, allowing Shamrock to take charge a bit. It doesn’t last long however and Blackman is soon trying to finish it off with a tyre iron. Once again he misses and The World’s Most Dangerous Man goes to town with a trash can. He then follows it up with some punches with the chain wrapped round his fist before finishing things by using the same chain to take to get the victory by choking Blackman out. This was cheesy as hell. It was like a scene from a bad early 90s fight flick. The action was unsurprisingly stiff however and made it rather fun to watch. I’d certainly take this over those damn hardcore title matches.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **
Backstage Terry Taylor tries to interview a pissed ‘Taker who seems to have received all the motivation he needed from the Austin beatdown.
Road Dogg & X-Pac defeated Mr Ass & Chyna in 11:36 in a Match for the Rights to Degeneration X
Both teams come out to the DX theme but Billy and Chyna come out in matching sheer trunks. The pace is quite slow in the beginning as the heels use some stalling tactics. Gunn plays to the crowd as the former Outlaws go at it. With James and Waltman on the same team, it’s tough to know who’d get dibs on face in peril but it is Roadie who gets to go first. It’s a relatively short sequence that ends with X-Pac coming in like a house on fire. After making good use of his educated feet however, he gets caught and it is his turn to do what he does best. The pace is slow but there is good psychology as the heels wear Pac down and keep the ref from seeing a hot tag attempt. Roadie eventually does get the tag though and it soon sees all four wrestlers get involved. Chyna takes a disturbingly foreshadowing Bronco Buster whilst James hits his former partner with a pump handle slam for the win. Roadie and Pac have two words for their former stablemates after the match. Nothing groundbreaking here but fun for what it was. A nice little storyline and stip to put an exclamation mark on the first run of the DX Army.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¾
Triple H (With Chyna) defeated The Rock in 19:23 in a Strap Match to become Number One Contender to the WWF Championship
We get another cool video package highlighting this rivalry since it was part of the DX-Nation feud. It makes me beg for WWE to put out a DVD on this rivalry. Hunter had just done an interview with JR on Heat where he talked about the infamous Curtain Call incident and how he was kept down. Rock cuts an interview with Cole whilst Trips looks on and drops some classic bombs! “The Rock says they didn't keep you at the bottom of the barrel because you wanted to say goodbye to your roody poo friends. The Rock says they kept you at the bottom of the barrel because you absolutely suck"! As he hits the ring the brawl starts before the People’s Champ has a chance to get his wrist in the strap. He soon puts it on as they brawl around ringside and it is Hunter who takes charge with an assist from the announce table. They get in the ring where the Game is methodical but deliberate in taking it to his opponent as the announcers let us know that the rules are different from a traditional strap match (essentially a falls count anywhere whilst strapped together). The action spins to the outside again and this time they brawl up through the crowd. They eventually make it to the stage with the Cerebral Assassin in charge and using the strap to whip the Great One. They are soon heading back to the ring as Chyna makes her way down. She actually distracts Hunter which leads to him taking a Rock Bottom but she has the ref tied up as Rocky goes for the pin. Soon Trips gets back in control with a low blow. The Game uses the strap to try and choke his opponent out but eventually gets thrown off the ropes where he was trying to get some leverage. Rocky gets a couple of close counts before Hunter throws him out the ring and takes off the strap. He goes for a chair shot but gets caught with some seriously loud whips with the strap. They hit the ring where the Brahma Bull hits a DDT. He gets a two count (it appears Chyna missed her cue to interfere) but Mr Ass hits the ring to nail Rocky with a club. The Great One kicks out at two and nails Trips with low blow. He lands a People’s Elbow but Billy pulls him off the cover by the strap. He nails Gunn with a Rock Bottom but turns straight into a Pedigree and Hunter gets the title shot at SummerSlam. Another in the long line of great matches between these two men, or any two of the four pillars of Attitude for that matter. Really good stuff to slingshot Triple H towards his first big main event and set up the Rock’s feud with Mr Ass.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ****¼
THE MAIN EVENT
Steve Austin defeated The Undertaker in 16:00 in a First Blood Match to retain the WWF Championship
One thing I always appreciate about the Attitude Era is the fact that they really committed to the gimmick matches they booked, so it was that the First Blood stip was a story of the month long build and through the night also, with both men carrying head wounds into the match. In addition, with Vince McMahon’s WWF tenure on the line in kayfabe, he is at the announce desk to reprise his role from the 80s and 90s. Even better, Vince sells it straight by putting over Austin’s resilience and chutzpah, despite his kayfabe antipathy for the Rattlesnake. The big fight feel is really strong with this one and the crowd are nuclear as the glass breaks and Stone Cold appears. As was common at the time, the heel tries to get the jump on the face by attacking on the ramp, and the two immediately begin a hot, tradmarked brawl with an interesting psychological dimension by dint of the fact that the majority of shots are head shots, playing on the fact that the winner of the bout will be the one who can bust his opponent open first. In fact, the Deadman rips and tears at the forehead of Austin, trying to get to his stitches and open him up that way.
The brawl spills all the way into the crowd, at which point Stone Cold rallies, but makes the mistake of turning his back on the Phenom to grab the steel steps, causing ‘Taker to reclaim the advantage. By the time they finally enter the ring, the cult leader is fully in control and choking the Rattlesnake out with his boot, the idea being that an incapacitated Rattlesnake can be busted open at will. When The Undertaker finally returns to measuring his opponent for punishing head shots, Vince roars his approval from the announce desk. However, we know that the storyline qualities of Austin’s character are a never say die attitude and an ability to both take and give a good ass whuppin’, and the Rattlesnake proves that turnabout is fair play by first using piston like rights and then ripping at the Deadman’s staples, which were a consequence of the backstage assault earlier in the evening. There’s then some excellent psychology as Austin decides to chop ‘Taker down to size by working over the leg. There’s chop blocks, stomps to the quad and a knee wrapped several times around the ring post. It just shows you how much more there was to Stone Cold than brawling, even post-injury. However, the Rattlesnake gets a bit too close and gets shoved with the boot all the way over the barrier, prompting another brawl through the crowd.
The tactics of both men remain predicated on head trauma, and both go into furniture of various sorts, Austin into the announce table and the Phenom into the steel steps. The desperation of both men to finish the contest is clearly carried through to the audience by the intensity of the action, shown by Stone Cold using a microphone cable to strangle ‘Taker before trying to cut him with the blades of a desk fan. Back in the ring, the Deadman avoids a Stunner but backs straight into Hebner, tripping into the ropes and getting tied up. Realising his opportunity, Austin goes for a chair, but has to take out Shane McMahon, who makes a swift run in, and the Phenom manages to escape his predicament. The match seems to increase in pace and intensity from here, coming to a fever pitch at just the right time. The Ministry leader unties a turnbuckle pad, but gets hit with a low blow and a Stunner. Vince hobbles in with his crutch in hand, but the Rattlesnake decks him. Turning around with a chair, Austin finds himself beaten to the punch, and ‘Taker whacks him with the chair for good measure.
However, this is the WWF in 1999, and X Pac, who had been in The Undertaker’s firing line during the build, suddenly appears to spin kick a chair back into the Deadman’s face. Austin follows that up with a shot with a TV camera, which finally busts the challenger open. Hebner is down and Austin has to deal with Shane, but when ‘Taker tries to get the champ up for the Tombstone, the ref sees the blood and calls for the bell.
It’s then, in the post-match environment that the fun really starts. The Undertaker and Vince McMahon both get Stunners in quick succession, but the Rattlesnake gets blindsided by his number one contender Triple H, but in an echo of current events with Rollins and Ambrose, Rock arrives on the scene to neutralise The Game. Meanwhile, an irate ‘Taker has grabbed a chair to batter Austin and is taking apart the ringside area, before busting open the Rattlesnake on the aisle. Agents and referees separate the two gladiators as McMahon stands crying in the ring. The WWF champion offers his hand to his former boss, in what seems like a gesture of sportsmanship, but of course it soon becomes a Stunner and Austin celebrates his triumph as the pay-per-view goes off the air.
A very good gimmick match with some after the bell shenanigans that enhanced the drama even further. The cliché of the in-ring action during Attitude being less strong seems more erroneous with each main event I review.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ****
Overall I found Fully Loaded to be a thoroughly entertaining PPV. The opening bouts for the IC and Tag straps were exciting and gave us a glimpse of the young talent that was coming through the ranks at the time. The event also showed just how hard they would have to work to make a mark at the top of the card with the guys in the title match and number one contender’s match delivering big time. Things were rather hit and miss in the middle section but all in this was an PPV that really impressed me. A forgotten gem.
In the immortal words of Stone Cold, aw hell yeah. A very well paced and well produced pay-per-view with the two major matches delivering strongly and some fun stuff on the undercard too, particularly the twin hot openers that showed why the likes of Edge and Jeff Hardy would one day be headliners in their own right. In addition, the backstage segments were an awful lot of fun and tied the whole thing together. Of course, there were a lot of run ins and interference, and that isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like the Attitude Era, this pay-per-view is up there with the best the “non big 4” shows have to offer in that time frame.
Fully Loaded 1999 Overall ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¼
MVP - TRIPLE H
With Hunter finally getting his big push, he has really grabbed the ball with both hands. I get the feeling he would been very much in the running for the MVP award at Over the Edge had we given one and at King of the Ring had he wrestled. He picks it up here for continuing to morph effortlessly from Degenerate to Cerebral Assassin. In his match with the Rock he showed his knack for understanding the psychology of wrestling even within the confines of a knock down, drag out Attitude brawl. All the time he was in total control of his new character which was finally about to take him to the main event and very top of the company, a position occupied by some of the very greatest of all time.
Truthfully, to contrast my opinion with Mazza’s a bit, this was the first time I really felt that Hunter hits his groove in the new character. Partially, that’s because his screen time was limited following his turn at Wrestlemania and because he didn’t get a match at King of the Ring, but during the course of the build to that event and to Fully Loaded, he was developing in his heel role and finding a niche for himself within Vince’s Corporate Ministry. Coming out to his new ‘My Time’ music (which is still badass, by the way), with the short trunks, taped fists and shorter hair, he felt much more like a serious main eventer. He’d bulked up considerably too, since Wrestlemania, and he and The Rock added another classic to their already considerable list since they first became dance partners. It was a funny stipulation on paper, but they made it work, and you could certainly sense the urgency to perform well and justify the main event push that was on the horizon for him. This happens to put Trips level with Mick Foley and The Rock on five MVP awards. It’s going to be an interesting race over the next few PPVs!
THE ONE TO WATCH
Today on The One To Watch we want to talk about a guy who was in the midst of one of a few singles pushes he received throughout his career. Billy Gunn really was one of those guys that seemed to have all the tools needed. He was big and handsome. He was strong and athletic. He had a good understanding of how to work a match and was very good in the ring. He was no Dwayne Johnson on the mic but he could handle himself competently had had a decent amount of natural charisma. He clearly had support in the right places in summer of 1999, winning the prestigious King of the Ring tournament and on a collision course with the insanely over Rock at SummerSlam. But somewhere on this run things went south and his push fizzled out. The question we are looking at answering today is why Mr Ass couldn’t make a push stick (pun very much intended, and I’m sorry)?
The more I’ve thought about this, the more I don’t get it. He was one of the most over performers on the roster, as a heel through late ‘97 and early ‘98, as a face through ‘98 and early ‘99 and as a heel at the point of time we find ourselves now. Unlike Road Dogg, he wasn’t limited at all in the ring; the fact that the man in the modern age he is most often compared to is Dolph Ziggler should tell you everything you need to know in the working department. His work in the build to King of the Ring and Fully Loaded was outstanding, and he got himself a prime feud against The Rock, a bona fide main eventer. This might be where the problem was though. Although we haven’t re-watched yet, the Summerslam match was both fairly short and comprehensively won by The People’s Champ. Rather than kick on, as some of his contemporaries were allowed to do, The Ass Man was sent back to the midcard to face Jarrett for the Intercontinental Title. Following that feud, WWF made the mistake of reforming the Outlaws at a point where they had barely been apart for five months. Although the duo won a fourth tag title, this did no good to either’s singles ambitions. As with any budding main eventer, timing and booking are everything, and it seems to me that Billy performed strongly when he got his chance but then got the rough end of the wedge in the storylines that followed his high profile Summerslam match. Certainly, he was never the same after the summer of ‘99, becoming the literal definition of midcard for life and then at the end of his career, a jobber. Which is just a horrible shame, wouldn’t you agree Maz?
As a huge “Ass Man”, it’s definitely a shame. The Rock’s victory would be pretty comprehensive at SummerSlam but at the same time there was something to be had purely by rubbing shoulders with The Great One at this point. Timing could have been the problem for Billy at this point in time. On the face side of things, Austin was still out of this world in terms of being number one. This left Rocky waiting for Stone Cold to finally have surgery in the number two spot with Mick Foley still exceptionally popular as the guy that could fill in. What this meant that everyone else was playing the heel side of things. Vince was still very much the biggest heel character on the Show and at this point in time Shane wasn’t far behind him. As for the full time wrestlers, it was currently Triple H’s time at the top. This had the Undertaker having to take a backseat and would soon temporarily settle into the tag division alongside the Big Show. Kane was already established in the tag division so that really showed you how much competition there was even if you were at the very top of the midcard. Even there Billy was far from unopposed with the likes of Jarrett, Waltman, Venis and The Godfather all having strong established characters. On top of that, names like Jericho, Angle, Benoit and Guerrero would soon be making that midcard even stronger.
Another struggle for Mr Ass in 1999 was that the Corporate Ministry was just huge and the group essentially was hogging all the heat. If he had become one of Vince stooges rather than his own stooge, he may have had a better foundation for success. As good as Billy was and as big a fan I am, I do think that it was just a step too far for him at the time with that level of competition. If he had the push as the Smoking Gunns split he would have had an easier road to infiltrating the main event scene. But then again the success of the Gunns and the success of the Outlaws wasn’t comparable. Billy didn’t really have the base to build off a few years earlier. Whilst it is a shame that Gunn never made it to the very top, he certainly left his mark on tag team wrestling in the company. There is nothing wrong with being one half of the Outlaws, in addition to other successful pairing with Bart and Chuck. Personally I hold him as the greatest tag wrestler in WWE history and at the end of the day, the main event won’t always be for everyone.
Timing was very much the problem, I agree, but when you look at the heels most likely, in that bracket below ‘Taker, only Triple H had a better claim really, and although Jericho was about to debut, he soon got turned face as funnily enough his heel character didn’t catch on, and it was as a face that Jericho really climbed the ladder, before his heel turn cemented him in the main event around late 2001. The debut of Angle was maybe a bigger barrier, as the company were pretty intent on pushing him from the off, and no-one would change anything as far as Kurt is concerned. He was just a natural and he became a great. Still, as I say, in the summer of ‘99, Billy was probably the number 3 wrestling heel, and should have remained so post-Summerslam. With that “base” to work off, he might have been in a Triple H type of situation by the time the new millenium came around. When all is said and done though, however sad the failure or dissipation of Mr Ass’s push makes me, Maz is right to say that there is no shame in having a great midcard career. Jake Roberts is proof that a career below headline level could be an incredibly satisfying one, and Billy’s chops in singles and tag midcard belt competition made him incredibly valuable. Indeed, at the time of his release in 2004, he was the second most continuously tenured wrestler in the company, behind only The Undertaker, which is a pretty impressive statistic in the transitory world of professional wrestling. Having conquered some demons, made a successful nostalgia run with the Road Dogg last year and become a respected WWE agent, I think we can put Billy Gunn’s career right up there with the most accomplished and long lived there has been in the business.
Fully Loaded’s buyrate was down on King of the Ring, which might be expected as that event was part of a de facto “Big Five” but the July PPV still did a very respectable 0.9, which the company would have bitten your hand off for back in ‘96 or ‘97. Summerslam had already secured the services of former WWF star and commentator Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura as guest referee for the main event following his entry into politics as a high profile Governor of Minnesota, the company could be confident of continuing to ride the Attitude Era wave of success.
Meanwhile WCW continued to nosedive. Bash at the Beach did a terrible 0.4 buyrate, drastically falling from 1.5 at the previous year’s event. A quick look at the cluster**** of a card will give you a reason as to why this happened. The main event was a tag match which saw Macho Man win the world title. His partner was Sid and they beat Sting and champ Kevin Nash with Savage pinning Big Sexy. And with WWF’s second biggest PPV of the year on the horizon, we could be looking at a total massacre in August.
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