October 29, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
Royal Rumble 1999
January 24, 1999
Buy Rate: 1.88
Announcers: Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler
1) Christian (Jay Reso) defeats Jeff Hardy (11:00)
Sunday Night Heat:
1) Bob Holly (Robert Howard) & Scorpio (Charles Skaggs) beat Too Much when Holly pins Brian Christopher (Brian Lawler) (3:52)
2) Mankind (Mick Foley) defeats Mabel (Nelson Frazier) (5:04)
1) Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) defeats Road Dogg (Brian Armstrong) with a Boss Man Slam at 11:51
Fun Fact: Road Dog defeated the Boss Man on December 15th to become the 3rd Hardcore Champion
Scott: This mid-card situation is so confusing and pointless it could have derailed the entire PPV run this year. Road Dogg is Hardcore Champion, but this match isn’t a hardcore match. So, that means these two guys actually have to wrestle a regular match. Two guys who have a combined 5 moves. Ugh. Needless to say, this match was bad. Not unwatchable level horrible, just bad. Boss Man and Shamrock have the tag titles, but instead of losing them to the New Age Outlaws the next night, they lose to Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart. Not that I’m upset they lost to two solid mid-card guys with great chemistry. It means this whole NAO/Corporate Lackeys feud ends with no real solution. Anyway, this match ends, and we move on. Grade: 1.5
Justin: I agree with Scott and am not sure why the hell this was a regular match. The only reason I can think of is that they wanted Boss Man to win, but Road Dog to retain the belt, although, I can’t imagine a loss for Boss Man here would have really ruined his career or anything. Road Dog had been having some of the best Hardcore matches since the title was created and was really helping the gimmick get over with the fans, especially with his battle against Snow on the 1/4 Raw when they battled in the Worcester, MA snowfall. Boss Man was still enjoying a lot of success as the calendar page turned, as he was still ½ of the tag champs with Shamrock, and would actually have the highest-profile big match of his career at Wrestlemania. Anyway, a nothing match here, so let us move the train along to the next stop. Grade: 1.5
2) Ken Shamrock defeats Billy Gunn (Monte Sop) to retain WWF Intercontinental Title with the Anklelock at 14:21
Fun Fact: According to internet legend, Billy Gunn was supposed to win the title here, which made sense story-line wise, but because he was out late the night before and was a mess that day; the bookers punished him by having him tap out cleanly.
Scott: The first step in this Billy Gunn singles push phase ends with him tapping like a chick to the Anklelock. I liked this Shamrock much better than the face Shamrock of 1997-98. He was more ruthless, analytical, and nasty. After looking like a face-in-peril for almost all of 1998 against Rock, now he gets to be the son-of-a-bitch with the title. Besides, Billy Gunn doesn’t deserve to carry a foam belt; much less a real singles title of any kind. After what seems like an hour, Gunn taps like the bitch he is. This is was way too long for these two, but it had its moments. Gunn throws a bulldog onto the announce table from the apron, which was kind of cool. There were rumors Gunn was out late the night before and was not on top of his game. Like not being hung over would make a difference. Grade: 2.5
Justin: An okay match that tended to drag quite a bit in the middle. Shamrock had been on quite a roll up to this point, but Billy wasn’t really the guy to help him continue his solid match string. Shamrock and Boss Man had captured the tag straps the night after Rock Bottom, but would lose them to Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett on Raw the next night. Billy’s brief shot at a singles push would last three months, then be temporarily aborted before being pushed into high gear come June. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that Shamrock went over here, as I don’t think Billy was quite ready to be a singles champ just yet. Grade: 2
3) X-Pac (Sean Waltman) defeats Gangrel (David Heath) to retain WWF European Title with the X-Factor at 5:54
Scott: What truly makes no sense is that they should have hacked off about 6 minutes of the IC title match, and put it on here. X-Pac was on a pretty good run here, and is holding on to the gold. Of course in a couple of months the belt would really be de-valued, but we’ll get there. This was a decent match that again could have used a few more minutes of action. X-Pac would have a pretty good year workrate-wise, start the year a face, and end a heel. I can’t remember why Gangrel even got this match, but at least it wasn’t embarrassing. Grade: 2.5
Justin: A fun little match, as X-Pac was wont to provide during the best run of his career. Gangrel just sort of received a title shot, but it was a match reminiscent of the old-school PPV days, as a top challenger would receive his big shot, and the champ would successfully fight him off. I think Gangrel had some solid potential, but politics, injuries and an influx of talent would really derail his WWF career. X-Pac was really on the roll of his career at this point and was carrying everyone to good matches, which is exactly what the secondary champions should be doing. A fun 6 minutes, that could have, and should have been more, just like Gangrel’s career. Grade: 2.5
4) Sable (Rena Mero) defeats Luna (Gertrude Vachon) in a Strap match to retain WWF Women’s Title when she touches all four corners at 4:42
Fun Fact: Luna had attacked Sable on Heat to injure her back, and Shane McMahon tried to get her to forfeit the title, but Sable refused and fought the match injured.
Fun Fact II: Tori debuted on the 12/28 Raw, when she entered the ring before a match and handed Sable a yellow rose. She would continue to appear at ringside during Sable’s matches as the weeks went on.
Scott: The trend continues of champs retaining titles as Sable wins this shitbag match against Luna. Strap matches suck if not done properly. I was down on Savio Vega/Steve Austin from Beware of Dog in 1996, but after watching it again recently, it wasn’t half bad. These two look bad in a regular match, so this just adds to the suck meter. Sable wins, but her stalker/fan Tori helps her win by decking Luna while Shane-O-Mac was distracting the referee. This was part of the whole Shane/Sable mess, but it was another of those Vince Russo “insta-feuds” that went nowhere throughout the year. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Not much to see here other than the debut of a future lady mainstay: Tori, who debuts as Sable’s biggest fan/stalker. Tori had wrestled as Terri Powers in Japan, but we will get a bit more into her earlier career in upcoming reviews. I’m not sure why this feud was jumpstarted again, but I think it has something to do with Luna being jealous of Sable’s friendship with the Oddities as she was always defending and helping them, and feeling ugly next to “Princess Sable.” The strap stipulation adds a little bit, but not much. Grade: 1
5) The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) defeats Mankind (Mick Foley) in an “I Quit” match to win WWF World Title when Foley’s recorded voice says “I Quit” after 10 chair shots at 21:51
Fun Fact: Mick Foley had legitimate heat with the Rock following this match, as Rock was only supposed to hit him 3 or 4 times, but went a little nuts and ended up drilling him with 10 sick chair shots to his unprotected head. Foley was also pissed that Rock never truly apologized for the incident, and kind of just blew it off. He details everything in his second book, including the point where the two finally talked things out a couple years later.
Fun Fact II: On the 1/4 (taped 12/29) episode of Raw, Mr. McMahon booked a match between Triple H and Mankind for a spot in the Royal Rumble match. The catch, however, was that Shane was the referee. Now, the Corporation hated both men, but Shane still screwed Mick by giving him a fast-3 count. Even though they were friends, Triple H still took the win, as he wanted that shot in the Rumble. After the match, Hunter grabbed the mike and said “no hard feelings, but business is business,” but then proceeded to give Foley a late Christmas gift and laid Shane out with a Pedigree. Mankind then locked a nasty looking arm bar on Shane and threatened Vince to come out and make a deal: he breaks Shane’s arm or he gets a No-DQ title shot tonight! Eventually, Vince relented, much to the chagrin of the Rock, and the big match was on. About 7 minutes into an awesome brawl, Shamrock interfered and pasted Mankind with a chair as he had the Rock in the Mandible Claw, but was jumped by a lunging Billy Gunn. This battle erupted into a full fledged war between D-X and the Corporation, when all of a sudden: Crash! The combination of the sound of breaking glass and the biggest fucking pop you will ever hear meant the return of Steve Austin. Austin had been gone since Rock Bottom to hunt and rehab his abdominal muscle. Austin grabbed a chair and pasted the Rock with it and placed Foley on top. A moment later, Earl Hebner crawled over and did one of his patented slow 1-2-3 counts and the Worcester Centrum exploded. Mick Foley, a man who was told he was too fat and too ugly to ever be Champion was sitting on top of the wrestling world. Now, since the show was taped, Eric Bischoff decided to break out his old evil-1995 tactics during Nitro (billed as one of the biggest of all time, which was supposed to feature a rematch between Kevin Nash and Goldberg) and give away the ending of the match. He had Tony Schiavone announce that “on the other channel right now, Mick Foley has won another company’s World Championship…hah, that’ll really put butts in the seats.” Now, the whole wrestling community was shocked and pissed, that a loyal professional like Mick Foley would be ripped in such a manner on what should have been his crowning day. Well, Foley was vindicated a week later, when the Nielsen ratings came out, and it showed that millions of viewers switched over from Nitro to Raw as soon as Schiavone made his announcement. That bonehead move, combined with the terrible Main Event spelled doom for WCW, and they were never really the same after.
Fun Fact III: This was the PPV debut of Mankind’s well-known theme with the cars crashing in the beginning.
Scott: This feud, and their matches, gets better and better. However, this is the most savage form of a heel beatdown I’ve ever seen. I saw the Four Horsemen break Dusty Rhodes’ ankle in the cage in 1985, which is the greatest heel beatdown moment ever. This may have been more savage, though. The continuing premise of this storyline is that neither guy ever quits. So, they do a simple “I quit” match. Now, earlier in the night on Heat, Mankind said he would never say those two words. He even screams them 3 times. “I Quit, I Quit, I Quit!!” That would come into play later. This is one of the most vicious hardcore-type matches you’ll see two main-event guys put on. Rock’s wearing the black shirt due to the minor surgery on his chest, in case you’re wondering. The one spot during the match that’s remembered is when they’re fighting in the crowd, and Mankind falls off the railing onto the “electrical equipment”, complete with fake sparks. The climax, however, is one of the sickest finishes to a match in recent memory, and is still talked about for years to come. Rock handcuffs Mankind behind his back, and drops the People’s Elbow with a steel chair on his face. Not enough for him to quit? No problem for Rock. He simply grabs the chair, and lays into Mankind’s head with two unprotected chair shots. Then, Rock cracks him with 3 more sickening, unprotected chair shots. The crowd goes from “Holy Shit” to “Uh…that looks like it hurts.” Mankind, now with blood dripping through his mask, rolls out of the ring to avoid more damage. Rock, not one to miss more opportunities, follows Mankind down the aisle. Rock then unloads with three more vicious chair shots. Remember now, Mankind’s hands are handcuffed, so these shots are flush, and very stiff. Everyone, including myself, thought Rock was taking this a little too far. Finally after still not quitting, Mankind takes one more ultra-stiff shot to the back of the head, and he’s officially out cold. Rock puts the mike near his mouth, and suddenly you hear the very familiar “I Quit, I Quit, I Quit” from Heat. A tape plays, and Rock is the champ again. If you watch “Beyond the Mat”, you’ll see this gigantic gash on Mick Foley’s head being stitched. It’s pretty gross. Mick would win the title back the following week on “Halftime Heat”, but more on that in our next review. Rock’s back on top of the mountain and Mankind’s bleeding and hurting. Grade: 3.5
Justin: Just a brutal, brutal match that fails to capture the aura of the Worcester match, but has triple the violence to keep everyone satisfied. If you haven’t seen this show or Beyond the Mat, I suggest watching the match from the PPV first before seeing the movie, because once you see the movie, it is difficult to watch the match again without getting queasy. Foley’s gash after the match is pretty nasty and Mick continues to destroy his body to help perfect his craft. We’ve documented how emotional Randy Savage’s feuds and big matches always were, but Mick Foley definitely ranks up there as well. He had such a great underdog character that matches and beatings like this really got you emotionally involved in the match. Rock wins in a screw job, but this war was far from over, and would continue on some very interesting stages over the next few weeks. As hard as Michael Cole was trying, I would have loved to hear JR call this match, as he would have really put it over the top. Grade: 3.5
6) Vince McMahon wins the Royal Rumble
Fun Fact: Some debuts to note: The Blue Meanie is the same one that was part of the BWO storyline in ECW, which included Stevie Richards and Hollywood Nova. He debuted on Raw in December as part of a storyline with Goldust. Test was trained by Bret Hart and Leo Burke, and debuted in the Indies in Canada as Martin Kane and T.J. Thunder. He debuted on the 10/25 Raw as Motley Crue’s bodyguard. On the 12/14 Raw, he joined the Corporation and attacked Triple H by order of the Rock.
Fun Fact II: Chyna is the first woman ever to be one of the 30 participants in a Royal Rumble.
Order Of Entrants (Followed by person who eliminated them)
1) Steve Austin (Steve Williams): Vince McMahon
2) Vince McMahon: WINNER
3) Golga (John Tenta): Steve Austin
4) Droz (Darren Drozdov): Mabel
5) Edge (Adam Copeland): Road Dogg
6) Gillberg (Duane Gill): Edge
7) Steve Blackman: Mabel
8) Dan Severn: Mabel
9) Tiger Ali Singh (Jagit Hans): Mabel
10) Blue Meanie (Brian Heffron): Mabel
11) Mabel (Nelson Frazier): Bradshaw, Faarooq & Mideon (By order of Undertaker)
12) Road Dogg (Brian James): Kane
13) Gangrel (David Heath): Road Dogg
14) Kurgan (Robert Maillet): Kane
15) Al Snow (Sarven): Road Dogg
16) Goldust (Dustin Runnels): Kane
17) Godfather (Charles Wright): Kane
18) Kane (Glen Jacobs): Himself (Taken away in a straight jacket)
19) Ken Shamrock: Steve Austin
20) Billy Gunn (Monte Sop): Steve Austin
21) Test (Andrew Martin): Steve Austin
22) Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor): Steve Austin
23) Triple H (Paul Levesque): Steve Austin
24) Val Venis (Sean Morley): Triple H
25) X-Pac (Sean Waltman): Big Boss Man
26) Mark Henry: Chyna
27) Jeff Jarrett: Triple H
28) D-Lo Brown (AC Conner): Big Boss Man
29) Owen Hart: Steve Austin
30) Chyna (Joanie Laurer): Steve Austin
Longest Time: Steve Austin & Mr. McMahon (56:38)
Shortest Time: Gillberg (:07)
Most eliminated: Steve Austin (8)
Scott: This Rumble wasn’t entirely predictable in the sense that the person who won was unexpected, but the fact was that there were way too many losers in this one. It would be that way next year as well. Here, the premise is that Austin was stuck with #1, and Vince, per now face commissioner Shawn Michaels, is #2. They battle in the beginning, fighting out to the concourse. Austin is then jumped by McMahon’s “Corporation” (Test, Shamrock, and Boss Man) and we don’t see him again for a while after leaving in an ambulance. So, McMahon sits at the broadcast booth and we watch the jobbers fight for the next half hour or so. This Rumble had no flow, since there was a big gap between events that really mattered. After a while, Austin comes back, throws some guys out, and eventually it’s down to Austin and McMahon. What a shock. Rock comes out to distract Austin, who uncharacteristically takes the bait, and Vinnie Mac dumps him out to win the Rumble. I remember marking out in anger over Austin losing, but the next night Vince would screw himself. We’ll get into that in the next review. For now, Austin is shut out of the title match at Wrestlemania, and Vince McMahon has the brass ring. As a Rumble, it wasn’t the best. There were too many jobbers and too much down time in between Austin’s appearances.
Justin: A fun Rumble at times, but there are just too many damn jobbers who had no shot of winning in this thing. I know one of Vince Russo’s strengths was his mid-card, but too many at once just wasn’t a good thing. I know we have said all along that everything with Austin was somewhat predictable and the crowd still loved it, but to me, this is where that feeling was beginning to wear off a bit. Even though the upcoming matches are great, the Austin angles were getting a little too predictable. I mean, this Rumble had really just one question: how would Vince screw Austin to win? The next couple of months were still running on fumes, but in my eyes the predictability of the Austin/McMahon battle was starting to overtake the fun quality that it had in 1998. Add to it the growing amount of throw together stables, the disappearance of Commissioner Michaels, as the Corporation took him out on the 1/4 Raw after he had Superkicked Vince the week before, and seemingly bloated mid-card and the shows needed a little shaking up. The next month would provide a major new face and a major new storyline, so they managed to save themselves once again. This, however, is probably one of the worst Rumbles of all time.
Scott: The first PPV of 1999 was not the best Rumble effort. The undercard didn’t really go anywhere, and the Rumble, although unpredictable, was pretty boring. The title match definitely carried this card. That was also unpredictable, not necessarily because the Rock won, but more because of the brutality he went about doing it. I think someone else could have won the Rumble, someone with a little more credibility, but I guess for the focus of the storyline and what happened the next night on Raw, McMahon winning made sense. The “Austin chasing the title” storyline has been WWF’s biggest moneymaker in quite a long time. After the ‘Finger Poke’ Nitro, on top of the loss of Goldberg’s luster after his first loss ever in December, and WCW is treading water. One more holdover show and the big blow off will be upon us. Final Grade: C
Justin: This show seemed to have some potential, but the weirdly booked undercard combined with the jobber-filled Rumble dragged this show down. Usually you can count on the Rumble match to save the show, but in 1999 it couldn’t get the job done, as the whole thing was just a backdrop to the Austin/McMahon storyline. At least some fresh faces were being put into the mix, but the biggest fresh face would come in exactly one month’s time, and officially signal the beginning of the end for the Monday Night War. There really isn’t much to say here other than the fact that without the brutal Mankind/Rock match and the Austin/McMahon storyline, this show may have been considered one of the worst outings ever. Final Grade: C-
Runner Up: Rock
Non MVP: Royal Rumble match
Runner Up: Rock