I thought I’d try something new over the next couple of weeks. Back in the day before the pre-show (Or whatever weird name WWE have come up with to WWEize it, because heaven forfend if everything isn’t branded to buggery and back) WWE would instead just turn the episode of Sunday Night HeAT into a preview for whatever pay per view event was due to happen that Sunday night.
HeAT started out as an important show, but the introduction of Smackdown in late 99 essentially turned it into just your standard weekend show where storylines didn’t advance and the matches didn’t really have any significance outside of rare occasions. In early 99 though HeAT would still see the top guys appearing on it, and on pay per view nights especially you usually saw everyone show up as the WWF tried to get the viewer to part with their money and purchase the event.
Thus this week we’ll look at the Sunday Night HeAT episode prior to the St. Valentine’s Massacre show and next week we’ll watch the actual show itself. How’s about that for a slice of fried gold?
Let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
The event is emanating from Memphis, Tennessee on the 14th of February 1999
Calling the action are Kevin Kelly and Shane McMahon
We open up with a quick video recap covering the guarantees Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon made to one another on Raw ahead of their cage match on the pay per view. Chief among them are that Vince has guaranteed no interference from The Corporation, whilst Austin has guaranteed that blood will be shed and it isn’t going to be his. That led to Vince forcing Austin to run The Corporate gauntlet, which led to Austin getting beaten down and pinned by Vince.
Ah, I am nostalgic for the classic HeAT theme, mainly because anyone who didn’t have satellite television here in the UK had to exist solely off HeAT on Channel Four to get their WWF fix from 2000 onwards, and I was a pauper who only had terrestrial TV.
Vince McMahon joins us to start and shows footage of him winning the Royal Rumble the previous month thanks to The Rock distracting Stone Cold Steve Austin. We then get footage of Vince pinning Austin on Raw, after Austin had already been beaten up by The Corporation of course. Vince then got in Austin’s face for the visual that went on the cover of their feud recap videotape. Vince gives Austin one last chance to back out of the cage match later, because he has some BIG plans for him if he doesn’t. I believe that’s what the cool kids call “foreshadowing”. This was your typical evil boss promo from Vince and it was fine.
Kevin lets us know that Road Dogg won’t be able to defend the Hardcore Title on the pay per view due to an injury, so Bob Holly and Al Snow will fight for the vacant Title instead.
A limo pulls up, but we don’t know who he is in it. Come to think of it, I’m not sure they ever actually revealed who it was later on.
WWF Champ Mankind is backstage with his trainer Dominic Denucci. Dominic wants Mankind to throw a dropkick tonight in his match with The Rock. This leads to Bob Backlund and Iron Shiek showing up too, which leads to Backlund demanding that Mankind not exacerbate him. Mankind tries to crack Backlund up by saying he never exacerbates before a big match, but Backlund no sells it.
Test w/ The Big Boss Man Vs Viscera w/ Mideon
If they just let them clobber one another then this might be fun. If they actually try and wrestle then it might get ugly. Test is a member of Team Corporate whilst Viscera is part of The Ministry of Darkness. Both of them are heels, but this was during SHADES OF GREY BRO, so they’re wrestling one another. They go straight to a slug fest and Test takes Viscera down early with a clothesline. They could have built an entire match around Test finally taking Viscera off his feet and it might have actually meant something instead of just being a throwaway spot. Viscera gets a piledriver and the Big Daddy Splash, which leads to Boss Man attacking both Viscera and Mideon with his nightstick to draw the DQ.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: VISCERA
Too short to rate. It wasn’t awful or anything, but it never really got going either and the finish was all kinds of suck
Mideon is facing Boss Man on the pay per view later, but he leaves with Viscera whilst Boss Man and Test hold the ring.
Billy Gunn is with Michael Cole. He states that he will be reffing the IC Title match between Ken Shamrock and Val Venis later due to the regular referees not wanting to ref it. He notes that he will be open to any and all bribes.
Rock has a line of hot women to potentially be his masseuse, but he of course dismisses them all rudely. Rock’s comic timing was on form there and you can see why he eventually turned babyface.
Jerry Lawler (Super over in Mempho of course) joins us and brings Debra down to the ring. Debra had been feuding with Ivory at the time, as she was managing Tag Champs Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart whilst Ivory was managing Mark Henry and D’Lo Brown. Debra says she’s not concerned about the match between those two teams on the pay per view and then calls out Ivory. Debra wants a six man match later instead of the Tag Title bout, but Ivory is actually an intelligent babyface and doesn’t fall for it. We get the contractually mandated cat fight of course, and that leads to the two tag teams keeping their ladies apart so it doesn’t kick off before the pay per view.
Shieky Baby is trying to get Mankind to use the Persian Clubs, but Mankind would rather just use them as a weapon against the Rock instead.
Michael Cole wants to speak with Stone Cold, but Austin isn’t interested.
Ken Shamrock is trying to bribe Billy Gunn with money, whilst Val Venis sends over his bird Ryan Shamrock instead. We get a feud recap video. Venis and Shamrock had started to feud with one another, so Venis had started canoodling with Ken’s sister Ryan (Alicia Webb) as a way to get up his nose. They will fight for Ken’s Title on the pay per view, with Billy Gunn refereeing.
Tiger Ali Singh has joined us for what is supposed to be a match with Billy Gunn, but Gunn comes down to the ring with X-Pac and Triple H alongside. This causes Shane McMahon to bail as he was having issues with X-Pac. Before the match can properly take place though Ken Shamrock and Val Venis come down to brawl with one another because they want Gunn to favour them later. Gunn is non-plussed by this and doesn’t seem to favour one over the other, whilst Shamrock lays a bit of a kicking on Venis until Test and Boss Man drag him away.
Denucci is still obsessed with Mankind throwing a dropkick later. This was pretty funny actually.
Vince is with The Stooges, where he insists he doesn’t want Corporate interference in the cage match should it take place.
We get a video recap of The Rock Vs Mankind feud. Rock went Corporate at Survivor Series 98, with Mankind going face as a result. This led to the pair of them trading the WWF Title a few times and we’ll supposedly get the blow off on the pay per view in a Last Man Standing match.
Bob Backlund is trying to get Mankind to run the stairs backstage, but Mankind isn’t keen on it. He eventually shuffles up and down the stairs, which leads to Rock attacking Mankind from behind and then targeting his knee so that he won’t be able to stand later on due to a bum wheel. Hey, psychology!
Vince McMahon joins us again, with his last gasp attempt at trying to get Stone Cold to back out of the cage match later. Part of the contract says that if Austin attacks Vince then the match is off, so Vince goes on a rant about how much he hates Austin in an attempt to get Austin to come down to the ring and clock him. Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes down instead though, as he was the resident babyface authority figure at the time following a Corporate attack. Shawn is great as the insincere wise ass that gets under Vince’s skin. After Shawn and Vince have a verbal joust we finally get Austin to come down and join us. We’re running out of time at this stage so this part has to be rushed a bit, which kind of hurts the drama somewhat. Vince spits in Austin’s face as his very last attempt to get Austin to attack him, but Austin manages to keep his cool and says that he’ll wash the spit off with Vince’s blood later on, which is a really cool tough guy line but Austin doesn’t quite nail it right due to having to rush the delivery.
There was naff all actual wrestling here, but considering there was supposed to be a 3 hour pay per view following it I don’t think that was the worst thing. They did a good job getting across the story of Mankind having a bum wheel, Gunn being unpredictable as the ref in the IC Title match and the potential drama that could be caused by Debra and Ivory in the Tag Title match, thus giving all of them a hook to keep any viewers invested.
It was pretty much just throwaway hype, but it was fine for what it was. Hopefully I’ll see you all next week for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay per view itself.