It has been a long time since the World Was Watching appeared here on the Blog. That was partly due to some career moves on my part and just a general lack of time. That is solved for the time being, though, so we will head back into 1999. The last recap ended – somewhat fittingly – with Mankind’s upset title victory over the Rock. The Road Dogg also defended his Hardcore title against Al Snow out in the snow on the last show and the tasteless Terri Runnels pregnancy angle began with D-Lo Brown. Needless to say, 1999 will be a combination of some memorable moments and some really wacky Russo booking.
–Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Houston, Texas.
–D-Generation X comes out and welcome new WWF Champion Mankind, who debuts his new theme music to replace the disco-sounding theme that he was rocking towards the end of 1998. The New Age Outlaws try to hype Mankind, but the crowd is too stuck on the Outlaws shtick and yells “Suck it” instead of “Socko.” Mankind talks about how in the past he did not have the look of a WWF star, which is why he could not get a job in the company, so he thanks Jim Ross for getting him a job. He also thanks DX and Steve Austin for running interference for him last week, pledging to help Austin at the Rumble. Aside from winning the WWF title, he says that he has the dream of main eventing WrestleMania and says that he wishes to face Austin there. All of this finally brings out the McMahons and the Rock and Shane books the members of DX in singles competition and announces a Corporate Royal Rumble involving members of the Corporation and DX, with the winner getting number thirty in the Rumble. The Rock blasts Mankind as unworthy of being a champion and that he is more articulate, good looking, and intelligent and thus more deserving of still being champion. He demands a rematch at the Rumble (since this is in an era where automatic rematches did not exist), but Mankind refuses because he has beaten the Rock twice before and the Rock is not championship material. Not one to back down, the Rock offers to make the rematch no disqualification, but Mankind refuses to give in since that has already happened. Brushing Vince aside, the Rock offers to make it no count out too, but Mankind still says no. So finally, the Rock says the Corporation would be banned from ringside, but Mankind gradually cuts to the chase and makes it an “I Quit” match on top of the other stipulations. However, this will be a different “I Quit” match where Mankind will beat the Rock down until he cannot take anymore punishment. After that is settled, Vince books Mankind to defend the title against Kane in an attempt to get the title off of Mankind before the Rumble. This segment was really long, but unlike today all the participants had the ability to keep it moving along and not kill the crowd.
–Steve Austin is shown arriving at the arena since showing up on time does not apply to main eventers.
–Opening Contest for the Number One Contendership for the WWF Tag Team Titles: Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (w/Debra) defeat The New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna) when Owen pins Road Dogg with a spinning heel kick at 4:34:
The winner of this bout is given a title shot on the next RAW. Owen was the king of the random tag team, having significant success when paired with other guys such as the British Bulldog or Yokozuna when the booking team did not know what to do with him as a singles. It is so weird to see full matches before a commercial as the current WWE product has conditioned me to expect them several times. Billy refuses to be seduced by Debra (there’s a joke there somewhere) and Chyna goes to confront her, but in the midst of this Owen pins Road Dogg, something that Kevin Dunn’s camera work completely misses. Rating: *¾
–Non-Title Match: Luna Vachon pins Gillberg (WWF Light Heavyweight Champion) after a top rope splash at 1:02:
This is the debut of Gillberg, including his own security detail, piped in crowd chants, and sparklers for fireworks (handled by the JOB Squad). The gimmick was mean spirited, but was hilarious in the context of the Monday Night Wars. I always loved the Gillberg quotation of “I am not wondering who’s next, but who’s first?!?!” Gillberg showcases all of Goldberg’s moves, missing the spear and failing to do the Jackhammer when Vachon falls on top of him. This was entertaining while it lasted.
–After the match, Sable’s crazed fan (Tori) attacks Luna from behind before security drags her away.
–The announcers recap the Corporation’s attack on Shawn Michaels last week and how Vince McMahon and the stooges beat up Jose Lothario on Sunday Night Head. Cole tells us that Michaels will be operated upon tomorrow.
–Dennis Knight says that “he” is here tonight and “it is going to be beautiful.” The Acolytes tell Knight to come with them and push him to the backstage area.
–Val Venis comes out for a match and tries to make move on a female fan at ringside. This brings out Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock, who beats him from pillar to post, and yells at Venis “not to mess with his sister.” This segment does not end, though, as Billy Gunn comes out and moons Shamrock’s sister, thereby triggering another Shamrock beating, this time with the help of the Big Bossman. Shamrock says he is tired of Gunn’s antics and offers a title match at the Royal Rumble, where he says he will put Gunn “down for good.” Shamrock then tells his sister that she has “no class,” but then hugs her anyway. Well, Shamrock was not known for the most stable home life…
–Steve Austin and Mankind are shown talking backstage, but we have no idea what their conversation was about.
–A funny commercial talks about how Jon Stewart is debuting on the Daily Show on January 11. Like that ever worked out…
–European Championship Match: X-Pac defeats Al Snow with the X-Factor after Goldust interferes at 2:54:
Snow does not have Head because Goldust stole it on Sunday Night Heat. Both men rush the match to get their big moves in and it ends when Goldust wanders down to ringside and blasts Snow with Head, thereby allowing X-Pac to hit his finisher and retain the title.
–Vince McMahon tells Kane that he better beat Mankind to a pulp and win the title, especially since Kane allegedly wants to do it all on his own.
–The 10-10-220 Rewind segment is Kane destroying the stooges last Monday due to their failure to help Shane McMahon weeks earlier.
–WWF Championship Match: Kane beats Mankind (Champion) via disqualification when the Rock interferes at 6:02:
This is a Kane match, so you cannot expect much. In fact, I do not think that these guys have had a good match together since the 1997 Survivor Series (and even that is debatable). Somehow, Mankind gets the Mandible Claw applied through Kane’s mask, but Kane creatively counters that into a Tombstone. However, before the referee can count the fall, the Rock hits the ring with a chair and takes out everyone. Steve Austin runs out, but the Rock flees before any harm can come to him. Austin then proceeds to take out his aggressions on both men, giving them Stunners. I hate when the WWF titleholder is made to look weak in matches like this as it makes them look like a lame duck. This was a clear statement by the WWf that Austin-Rock was the true WrestleMania main event focus and the Mankind title reign was a sideshow for the bigger picture. Rating: *½
–The Rock tells Vince that he interfered to make sure he got his “I Quit” match with Mankind at Royal Rumble.
–Triple H (w/Chyna) beats Edge with the Pedigree at 2:55:
Ah, Triple H-Edge before it really meant anything. There really has been no rationale for why the Corporation chose these opponents either. All we were told is that DX was put into various bouts tonight, but they are an even .500 in them so far. Curiously, Edge wrestles as more of the babyface in this match, using very little cheating, but Triple H beats him clean with a Pedigree all the same.
–After the bout, the Brood hits the ring to beat up Triple H and the arena goes dark. When the lights come back on, Road Dogg has been bloodbathed because Triple H is not going to let that happen to him!
–The Acolytes appear on the entrance ramp, with Dennis Knight laid out on a table as druid chanting is heard and druids crowd on the stage. The Undertaker’s theme blasts out over the loudspeakers and he reappears to sit on a throne in the shape of his “symbol.” Paul Bearer is with him. A pre-taped promo of the Undertaker’s cryptic talk is played, talking of going back to his origin and other nonsense. The crowd gets really restless during this long promo, just blasting the Undertaker with their laser pointers. Finally, the Undertaker gets off of his throne, speaks in tongues over Knight, cuts himself, and bleeds into a cup, proceeding to christen Dennis Knight “Mideon” and having him drink his blood. He also cuts his symbol into Knight’s chest to end this bizarre ritual. This so traumatized Knight that he was running around arenas without clothes the following year.
–D-Lo Brown (w/PMS) and Mark Henry wrestle to a no contest after twenty seconds:
Brown is with PMS due to the fact that he caused Terri Runnels to have a miscarriage after knocking her off the apron on last week’s show. He says that he is not going to do what Terri wants him to do tonight, causing me to wonder if he has been listen to Meatlof’s “I Will Do Anything for Love,” but he eventually relents, meaning that he has to fight his friend Mark Henry. Henry walks out in street clothes and refuses to fight, but PMS provoke a battle. However, this only leads to Chyna and Sammy coming out, with Chyna pushing down Jacqueline.
–Steve Austin’s interference in last week’s WWF championship match is the Glover Slam of the Week.
–Backstage, Chyna and Sammy are tending to Mark Henry and Chyna heads to get Henry a drink.
–We get another hilarious Vince McMahon Royal Rumble training video.
–Chyna wins the Corporate Royal Rumble at 10:49, last eliminating Vince McMahon:
This was the first time that a Rumble-type match had been shown on free television since the inaugural Rumble in 1988. Due to time constraints, the intervals for entrance are less than a minute long. The DX side initially features all of its male members, while the Corporation includes Ken Shamrock, the Big Bossman, Kane, and Test. The match drags along until Test, X-Pac, and Kane get thrown out very quickly and Vince McMahon decides to make himself a surprise entrant. Vince appears to win when he dumps Triple H and the Big Bossman as they fight near the ropes, Chyna becomes the final surprise entrant, and she proceeds to throw out McMahon and win number thirty at the Rumble (with the help of a Steve Austin distraction). For what it’s worth this got a HUGE pop and beats anything Roman Reigns has ever done. Rating: *
The Final Report Card: This show continued to build toward the Rumble, inking in the WWF and Intercontinental title bouts and giving us the draw of the first female competitor in Rumble history. However, the show lacked a standout moment. The messy Rumble should have been an indication that Russo was going to make a trainwreck of the WWF’s marquee match at the pay-per-view and Mankind is in the Bret Hart spot of having the title but being somewhat overlooked for the “real” stars. Mediocre effort this week, but it was going to be very tough to follow up last week’s show anyway.
Monday Night War Rating: 5.5 (vs. 5.0 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Neutral