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[1999-10-17-WWF-No Mercy] Steve Austin vs HHH (Anything Goes)

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Last few minutes. Austin destroys HHH with a chair. Rock shows up with the sledgehammer to exact revenge on HHH, but ends up accidentally hitting Austin. HHH pedigrees Rock then pins Austin. Talk about a decisive finish to get HHH over as a mega heel. While it's HHH and we know how things ended up over time, I do admire the WWF's unwavering commitment to getting over a new hot heel at the same level as their two mega-babyfaces. HHH never hit that level, but he was successful, and trying and failing is better than not trying at all. I like seeing guys pushed hard. HHH and Austin end up brawling to the back where Chyna has a limo waiting for HHH and they drive off. The HHH-Chyna babyface-heel thing was pretty messed up.

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WWF Title - Hardcore Match

Triple H vs. Steve Austin
Triple H had attacked the Rock earlier in the evening upon the future Hollywood icon's declaration of coming for the title. As HHH is coming to ringside, Vince McMahon refuses to let him bring a sledgehammer. Wow, the company was really bending over backwards to make HHH the top heel in the company.
Austin controlled early when he attacked HHH in the aisle and they had brawling for about the first dozen minutes. Crowd absolutely loved this, and I was surprised, considering the condition of Austin's neck at this time, that he took a backdrop on the concrete floor for HHH to gain control. The referee really made it obvious when he was gonna take a bump, and I hate seeing the business get exposed like that.
With HHH in control, despite his dastardly tactics earlier and ever since WrestleMania XV, he mixed in brawling with quality technical wrestling, AND THE CROWD DIDN'T CARE. Now I know why all these years later what the pre-teen version of me couldn't grasp - no matter what tricks the WWE pulled, HHH wasn't completely clicking at the top.
Austin teased comebacks here and there to make sure this wasn't a completely tedious squash, and the best HHH cut off was kicking the Rattlesnake in the face followed by chop-blocking the left knee. HHH went to work on that left knee, and Austin was fine in selling it while still getting hope spots in, but the crowd just didn't care any time HHH was in control. Austin finally regained control in the closing minutes to wake the crowd up, and it looked like he may capture his fifth WWE Title, but Rock showed up with the sledgehammer. The Great One took a swing at HHH, who ducked and so Austin got hit instead. HHH took Rock out via a Pedigree and then took the cheap pin. Austin attacks HHH minutes later to close out the show.
For the sake of this match and to ensure the HHH experiment got every chance it needed to prosper, Austin really should've done the job here. It's especially critical to make sure the company had another top guy set as Austin was deteriorating. But on the other side of the coin, HHH failed to generate much heat while in control over one of the dual faces of the company, so there's Austin's argument not to cleanly put him over. ***1/4

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We go straight to the finish with Rock getting involved and hitting Austin but HHH does get that big victory and JR puts it over well on commentary. Chyna helping him out backstage makes zero sense and really is a logistic hole in everything.

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I had no recollection of Chyna and HHH still being together at this point, but as we saw in the Good Housekeeping Match they haven't even given Chyna her own music yet. Anyway, Austin destroys HHH's knee with the chair just like HHH did to him at SummerSlam to a monster reaction, but HHH steals a win through botched Rock interference to set up the ill-fated triple threat match for next month. Like with Bret vs. Owen at WMX and Flair vs. Arn at Fall Brawl, there's really no other result you can book for this first meeting besides HHH winning, or else the whole exercise is all pointless.

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Austin's neck is completely knackered by this point. He'd be written off TV the next PPV in order for him to get surgery. As a result of this, they spend a good chunk of this match brawling throughout the crowd. I'm sure that this would of been a blast to see in the flesh, but a lot of the crowd brawling leaves me cold now. The match itself is a lot more enjoyable once they get to the ring. We get a lot of ref bumps, finishers and Triple H working down Austin in an attempt to get Triple H over as the master technician that they were pushing him to be at this time. The Rock (who was assaulted by Triple H earlier on) comes out and accidentally lays Austin out with the sledgehammer after Triple H ducks. Despite Austin's injury and the excessive crowd brawling, this was still a fun main event with a hot crowd and it got Triple H over as a main event player. 

★★★

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