The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 1999 – 01.24.99
Against my better judgement we’ll give this one another look. This one is actually rated TV-MA on the Network, probably for the I Quit match.
Live from Anaheim, CA, drawing 14,000
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler
Road Dogg v. Big Bossman
Although Road Dogg is the Hardcore champion, this was specifically not for the title and is not Hardcore rules. Originally it was supposed to be, but The ref, apparently not having got the memo, holds up the belt before the match. Stall, stall, stall to start and Bossman slugs him down in the corner and follows with a corner splash, but misses a second one and Dogg comes back with a dropkick and then heads out to the floor for more stalling. Roadie crotches him on the post and chokes him out in the corner, but Bossman dumps him and brings over a cameraman so he can punch Dogg in the face on camera. Of course, the director doesn’t actually cut to that camera, which kind of wrecks that gag. Back in, Bossman slugs him down in the corner and follows with a big boot as the crowd has been steadily dying since the hot reactions for everything when they started. Bossman chokes him out in the corner and gets a spinebuster for two. Bossman continues with the choking but walks into a sleeper, and then escapes easily with a backbreaker. He decides to go aerial and gets slammed off the top and Road Dogg makes the comeback. Forearm and shaky knees get two. Bossman slam finishes at 11:52, however. Started really hot and then got really boring. I have no idea why they ditched the Hardcore stips because the match ended up overly long and dull. *1/2
Intercontinental title: Ken Shamrock v. Billy Gunn
So this was actually one of them there “Punishment matches” for Gunn, as this was supposed to kick off his fist major singles push, but he fucked it up by partying all night and showing up hungover for TV. So he got killed by Shamrock in the buildup and had some serious Orton Jobbing Face for his entrance. Billy controls to start with a clothesline and a suplex for two, but he misses a blind charge and runs into the post, allowing Shamrock to take over and literally kick his ass. Shamrock works him over with kicks and a leg lariat gets two. Billy comes back with a fameasser for two and slugs away in the corner, but Shamrock puts him on the floor for more punishment out there. Gunn “hits” the post, with the camera angle revealing that his head was literally a foot away from the post the whole time, and Shamrock beats on him on the apron until Gunn runs him into the table to fight back. Back in, that gets two. Shamrock clips the leg and tries the anklelock, but Gunn immediately makes the ropes, so Shamrock keeps beating on the leg. At this point Cole declares that Billy Gunn has never before tapped out. This is likely complete bullcrap anyway, but Shamrock won the tag titles with an anklelock on Billy Gunn just a month before this show! The ref gets bumped to finally wake up the crowd and Val Venis runs in and hits Shamrock with a DDT, and Gunn gets two from that. Gunn goes up and tries a double axehandle, misses, and Shamrock taps him out with an anklelock at 14:26. So much for Gunn’s coronation. Boring and shockingly heatless. *
Meanwhile, Shane gives his dad a pep talk.
European title: X-Pac v. Gangrel
Wasn’t really much of a build for this one, far as I can remember. Gangrel slugs away to start, but X-Pac gets a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the corner kicks, but misses a blind charge and Gangrel gets a double arm trap suplex for two. He drops X-Pac on the top rope for two. Gangrel goes up and misses a flying legdrop and X-Pac makes the comeback with a leg lariat and flying clothesline for two. Another spinkick sets up the broncobuster and X-Pac goes up, but Gangrel crotches him and then rolls through a bodypress for an apparent pin. The crowd gets on poor Teddy Long for messing up the count and they kind of struggle from there, with the X-Factor out of nowhere finishing for real at 5:53 to retain. Kind of short but it was fine. **1/4
WWF Women’s title: Sable v. Luna
Despite the crippling back injury suffered by Sable in the pre-show attack by Luna, she endures her and defends the title. This is also a strap match. Sable whips her and throws her around and runs around to two buckles, but Luna cuts her off and chokes her out. And then they do the usual idiotic finish where the heel touches the turnbuckles and is completely unaware of the babyface touching them all right behind her. Sable goes for the fourth one, but Shane takes the ref, which allows unnamed Tori to pop out of the crowd and hit Luna, allowing Sable to retain at 4:48. This was pretty hideous. DUD
(OK, so at this point, I literally stop and take 3 days off because I really didn’t want to watch this one again, and I’m picking it up after Vince SHOOK THINGS UP on RAW and made me realize that repeated head trauma and long-term concussion damage can’t possibly be more painful than the current product.)
WWF title, I Quit: Mankind v. The Rock
This was from a simpler, better time, before we understood the dangers of head trauma and concussions and just thought getting hit in the head with chairs repeatedly had no long-term effects. I mean, who could possibly suspect? Michael Cole even says that Mick suffered a concussion on RAW last week, and here he is, totally fine. So that stupid theory is proven wronger than evolution and/or communism. We often discussed it while smoking cigars on commercial airliners and smacking our women around, because that made them love us more.
Mick bulldogs Rock and pounds away on him with the microphone, but Rock retorts that he’s going to “kick your fat ass” and won’t quit. Rock’s actually getting laughs already. They fight to the floor and Rock sends him into the stairs and then stops to do his own commentary in one of his best running gags, but stops to threaten Lawler and gets clobbered from behind by Mankind. Mick wallops him with a chair but is unable to get anything more than “Kiss the Rock’s ass you piece of trash” out of him. So he DOESN’T quit, then? Back in the ring for a DDT and Mr. Socko to put Rock out, but that doesn’t do much good. Mick tells him to get up so he can “split open that ridiculous eyebrow”. Says the guy wearing a sock on his hand. So back into the crowd we go, where Rock rings the bell, rings the fucking bell on Mick’s head in a funny bit and then puts him through the Spanish table with a Rock Bottom in a spot that kind of goes badly thanks to premature table breaking. Maybe it was nervous? To his credit, Rock just carries on like a pro and they brawl up the aisle this time, where Rock gets a DDT on the concrete and Mick still won’t quit. Rock finds a ladder and they fight over that, which results in Mick choking him out with the ladder, but he drops an elbow on it and misses. Really though, how would Rock still being under the ladder be any less painful for him? Unless it’s a physics deal where Rock’s body absorbs the impact? I dunno, I’m no scientician. Rock decides to climb the ladder and they scale the railing for the upper level, but Rock goes low on him and Mick goes flying into the dreaded console full of sparks and bumps to the floor below. In a nice touch, they actually shut off the lights around the arena to make you think that it was a real console, and Shane McMahon comes out to plead for mercy on the part of the Rock. Much like the N64, though, Rock has NO MERCY and hauls Mick down the aisle again and back into the ring.
So we’re at 15:00 in and they’re having a perfectly cromulent and heated hardcore brawl, which is all in good fun, and Rock finds a pair of handcuffs and suddenly it’s not fun anymore. Mick gets cuffed and Rock beats on him in the corner, so Mick manages to go low on Rock and then drop a knee on his nuts, but Rock hits him with a clothesline and brings a chair into the ring for the Corporate Elbow on the chair, on Mick’s face. And then the chairshots start, as Rock smashes horrifying unprotected shot after shot on Mick’s head, right in front of his family, and then drags him down the aisle and sticks the microphone in his face, at which point they play the tape of Mick saying “I Quit” on Heat to give the title back to the Rock at 21:45. Watching “Beyond the Mat” and learning all the stuff with Mick’s family was horrifying and this finish sucked all the life out of the crowd, going from watching an entertaining stunt show to watching what amounts to torture porn. Thankfully, Rock felt terrible about the match and has since apologized to Mick many times, but it never should have got there in the first place. They could have done the goofy screwjob finish after the electrical bump and it would have been just as good of a match. In fact, had they stopped the match there, it would have been north of ****. But as it is, I can’t go more than ***1/2.
Steve Austin is #1 and Vince McMahon is #2 as per the storyline, and people were actually pretty hot to finally see them go at it. Austin finally gets to stomp a mudhole in Vince and then stomps on his nuts, and as usual Vince takes the best nutshots in the business. Watch Rock get kneed in the crotch and pop up 10 seconds later, and then watch Vince take a shot and lay there begging for mercy. Golga is #3 at 1:40 and he saves Vince, but Austin tosses him at 2:18. So at this point, Vince and Austin take off into the crowd and the ring is empty. Droz is #4 while we follow Austin and Vince into the bathroom upstairs, but Test attacks while Droz is left standing alone in the ring like a doofus. Edge is #5 at 4:46 and he goes “RAAAAAAAAAAR!” as Michael points out his INNER FURY. He’s so dark and brooding! Edge and Droz do some stuff and no one cares, least of all me. Gillberg is #6 at 6:30 and we’re literally using jobbers already. Edge throws him out at 6:50 after his entrance is done. Meanwhile, in the women’s bathroom, Austin is out cold on the floor. Droz and Edge continue doing stuff, but Steve Blackman is here to save the match at 8:18 in the #7 position. But never mind this wrestling stuff, Austin is busy being loaded on a stretcher backstage!
Blackman does some kicks on Edge and then it’s TO THE BACK, where Austin is now on a backboard. STORYLINE DEVELOPMENT! Dan Severn is #8 at 9:45 and we’re just overflowing with star power now, much like a toilet clogged by a particularly large shit and low-grade Costco toilet paper. That’s a bad combination. Guys are laying around on the ropes and Austin is laying around on a stretcher and it’s ROYAL RUMBLE. Tiger Ali Singh is #9 at 11:20, speaking of giant shits clogging up the toilet, metaphorically speaking. This is like an actual jobber battle royal. Blue Meanie is #10 at 13:00 as we’re now into the guys who aspire to be jobbers but aren’t quite good enough. Literally nothing happens. Time itself stands still as if sucked into a void for 90 seconds and #11 is supposed to come out, but no one shows up, and it turns out that Mosh has been attacked by Mabel and now he’s taking the spot. So Mabel is #11 at 15:20 and he dumps Severn and Blackman and Singh at 15:48. GO MABEL! My new favorite wrestler! Meanie and Droz are out at 16:14 but Road Dogg is #12 and Edge goes flying out at 16:37 as a result.
So yes, Undertaker stops the match and comes out to recruit Mabel, kidnapping him via the Acolytes while we get the thrilling site of Road Dogg standing around in the ring doing nothing.
Gangrel is #13 at 18:45 and he beats on Road Dogg, but Dogg tosses him at 19:19. You know, I often complain about deadwood clogging up the ring, but there’s a happy medium to be had. Kurrgan is #14 at 20:00 and I have to say I’ve watched a surprising number of movies lately where he’ll randomly pop up as a big guy in the background and I’ll go “HEY! IT’S KURRGAN!” Good for him. Kurggan pounds away in the corner and Al Snow is #15 as we’re really restocking the match with star power again. The hardcore guys team up to try and get Kurrgan out, but then Dogg turns on Snow and throws him out at 22:27 when that fails. Goldust is #16 and we’re past the halfway mark with absolutely fuck all having happened in this entire fucking match. Godfather is #17 and he runs wild with a Ho Train on Goldust and that’s about it. Kane is #18 at 26:20 and he immediately tosses Road Dogg and Kurrgan at 27:00 and Godfather and Goldust at 27:10 and the ring is clear again.
Yes, the men in the white coats come after Kane on behalf of Vince, so Kane eliminates himself and runs away through the crowd.
Ken Shamrock is #19 as Vince returns to the ring at 28:31 and then decides to do commentary instead of working the match. So then Shamrock gets to stand around and wait for 2:00 for the next jobber. Speaking of which, Billy Gunn is #20 at 30:00 and he’s still selling the ankle from earlier, wrestling with one bare foot like Matt Riddle’s older, dumber, much more uncool half-brother, but he’s unable to throw Ken over the top successfully and Ken clips the knee and goes to work on it. Test is #21, but…
TO THE BACK, where Mabel gets loaded into a hearse by Undertaker’s goons and Austin commandeers the ambulance and escapes back into the arena again. Big Bossman is #22 as the ring is stacked with Corporation guys, but Austin returns to the match and throws out Shamrock at 33:40. HHH is #23 at 34:30 and he saves Billy Gunn and then D-X teams up to go after Austin themselves. Val Venis is #24 at 36:13 and he’s got nothing to offer here. Speaking of nothing to offer, Billy Gunn gets thrown out at 37:16. X-Pac is #25 at 37:50 and everyone is just aimlessly kicking and punching. Mark Henry is #26 and Vince actually gets a funny line as Michael recaps Mark’s misadventures with the transvestite Sammy and Vince deadpans “Well, that was a mistake…” Jeff Jarrett is #27 at 41:01 and the ring is piling up with bodies and HHH loudly calls spots, asking someone “If I throw you, can you hang on?” D-Lo Brown is #28 at 42:50 and Austin throws out Test at 43:30 and X-Pac at 43:35. Then it slows right down again until Austin makes another comeback and HHH tosses Jarrett at 45:01. Owen Hart is #29 at 45:00, at which point Austin exits the ring again and goes after Vince with a pitcher of water. Chyna is #30 and she immediately goes after Henry and throws him out at 47:30, becoming the first woman to eliminate someone in the Rumble, and then Austin clotheslines her out at 47:44. Hunter attacks Austin in the corner and beats him down, but stops to toss out Val at 48:50. KICK WHAM STUNNER for HHH and he’s out at 49:00.
FINAL FOUR (+1): Steve Austin, D-Lo Brown, Big Bossman, Owen Hart. Plus Vince.
Austin pairs off with D-Lo and we get a bunch of pointless laying around in the corners as they should really just cut to the chase. Owen with the Owenzuigiri on Austin, but he charges and gets tossed out at 51:48. D-Lo hits the frog splash on Austin but Bossman throws him out at 52:18. KICK WHAM STUNNER on Bossman and he’s out at 52:28, which leaves Austin v. Vince again. They brawl at ringside and Austin tosses him into the crowd and continues the beating out there and then throws him back to ringside for a chairshot. Austin puts him back in the ring and Vince’s facials are amazing as he hits a desperation nutshot on Austin. KICK WHAM STUNNER on Vince and that seems to be that, but Austin chooses to drop an elbow instead as the Rock heads out for the distraction, and Vince McMahon dumps him at 56:35 like a complete moron to win the Royal Rumble. Still my least favorite of all the Rumbles for a variety of reasons, from the ridiculous booking to the complete lack of understanding of match structure involved. *
Really, this show was built on two matches: The I Quit match and the Rumble. And they were both abominations in completely different ways, which turns this show into an easy thumbs way down, generally regarded as the one of the worst Rumble matches and overall Rumble shows of all time. Maybe someday we’ll learn what the deal with “concussions” is, though.