Category Archives: WWE Network

Steve Austin vs. Rock (4/24/99 – WWF Backlash)

Their WrestleMania 17 match is famous for being on one of the most stacked cards in WrestleMania history and it was the beginning of Austin’s ill-fated heel turn.  WrestleMania 19 is famous for it being Austin’s retirement match.  There have been other Austin vs. Rock matches, including the terribly bland WrestleMania 15 match and a UK only match at No Mercy 2001.

And while the 1998-1999 WWF Attitude era may not be remembered for it’s abundance of great matches, the Backlash match between these two is a hidden gem and a great match in and of itself.

The match is worked in the style of its time: brawling, minor use of props, and big bumps.  But this also leaned more towards Memphis, with charismatic heel work from the Rock and Austin being at the height of his popularity.  The heat, which wasn’t there a month prior in Philadelphia, is terrific here.  It was actually a comment from Dave Meltzer about the heat for this match that made me go back and re-watch.  In the November 8, 1999 of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, when writing about match of the year candidates, Meltzer wrote:

“Just had the chance to watch the complete unedited Hart vs. Benoit match from Kansas City.  It was definitely better without the commercials and I’d say it was a ****1/4 match, maybe better in some ways. . . It reminded me of Flair’s matches in the 80s except it was more serious and realistic without the patterned Flair bumps, but Flair’s matches also had more flamboyance and breathtaking near falls in the closing minutes.  From any standpoint, it was a very close candidate.  To me the best US candidates are this one, Rock vs. Austin from the April PPV (super heat), the Hardys vs. Edge and Christian ladder match (best high spots) and Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzcreig, which deserves in one way the most praise of all of them because it had awesome heat and even better moves while being a prelim match with two wrestlers that get no push, which is usually a recipe for “boring” chants.”

Sting’s Squadron (Sting/Nikita Koloff/Ricky Steamboat/Dustin Rhodes/Barry Windham) vs. Dangerous Alliance (Steve Austin/Rick Rude/Arn Anderson/Larry Zybisko/Bobby Eaton) with Paul E. Dangerously (05/17/92 – Wrestle War ’92)

On May 17, 1992, the stars aligned for WCW.  This was a combination of the culmination of a creative 7-month long storyline, a gimmick match that is almost foolproof for a good match with the right wrestlers, and a tremendous play-by-play job by Jim Ross.

WarGames is a gimmick match that was terribly abused by WCW after 1992 (save for the good 1994 version).  It’s pretty simple to have a good WarGames.  Strong faces versus strong heels, with two excellent wrestlers to open up the five minute opening period.  The heels win the coin toss and make every two minutes a handicap situation for the face enters to a big pop and evens up the score until the next two minute call is made.   Mix in the standard WarGames spots (heels and faces taking wild bumps into the cages, submission holds before the “Match Beyond”) with innovative spots (caving in someone’s head between the two rings; Ricky Steamboat jumping up to grab the top of the cage to eventually hurricanrana Rick Rude), and lots of blood and you get a terrific match.  WarGames 1992 had all this, done at an extremely high level, and the result is a match that is not only a contender for the best WCW match of all time, but is also a candidate for best match of all time for every promotion.

The announcing by Jim Ross is one of his best calls, bringing authentic enthusiasm for the babyface comebacks along with a sincere sense of concern when things were getting out of hand.  He also has one of the best lines I have heard from a wrestling announcer:

“He’s talking about a corner or something.”

– Jim Ross referencing Paul E. Dangerously pointing to an area of his fold out “map” of the cage, which Ross says with sincere sarcasm, as he obviously believes it is just a head game being played by the Dangerous Alliance