WWF King of the Ring Qualifying Matches (1999- All Dream Matches!)

King of the Ring (1999) - Wikipedia

WWF KING OF THE RING 1999 (Qualifying Matches):
* Time for more King of the Ring Qualifying Match goodness! With… the infamous 1999 tournament. Okay, so this one shockingly, like 1996, looks GREAT. On paper. I mean, you have two former Kings (Viscera/Shamrock), a ton of over midcarders (Gunn, Dogg, X-Pac, Godfather, even Chyna), some legit major names (Kane, Big Show). All four subordinate members of DX, Jarrett, Test, and more! Like, ON PAPER this looks like it should be a fantastic, well-fought tournament! And the purpose here is much like in past years: Push a midcarder and hope he gets lifted up to the next level. But of course we all know what happened with THIS King of the Ring reign. Read on!

So, uh, 1999 WWF is somewhat notorious in fan circles- 1997 was the company revving up and being good, 1998 was this incredible peak of business, 2000 had a ton of great workers infusing the Attitude Era with top-level in-ring product… and 1999 is kind of that weird s--- year where Vince Russo’s worst instincts were revealed and the in-ring product was mostly ass. And also Owen Hart died shortly before this. You can see weird things pop up right away when all eight Qualifying Matches take place across two back-to-back editions of Sunday Night Heat and not even the main show.

(WWF Sunday Night Heat, May 30th)
* Shamrock is the defending King of the Ring, wearing blue trunks, while Jarrett, in silver & red shorts, is now FINALLY getting the reaction bookers have dreamed about for him since he has a heat machine in his ability to deny the crowd see Debra’s “puppies”. I thought Shamrock was a Corporation guy at this point, but I guess not, because he’s hugely over (we’re in the “Union” era). Both guys are on a similar tier here, and this is one of the more competitive Qualifying matches for sure.

Crowd immediately begins chanting for “Puppies!” and won’t let up, while Jarrett uses brawling & a dropkick, but gets caught in a leghold and Shamrock goes to work. A kick & snap suplex are really well-applied- Ken always had good moves, in my opinion. Jarrett hits a Russian legsweep to come back, but Shamrock hits a back elbow & leg lariat, then tries a Rana and gets powerbombed! Jarrett taunts then signals the Figure-Four and the crowd comes alive, but BAM! Shamrock grabs the foot and twists him into the Anklelock and Jarrett IMMEDIATELY taps at (3:53). Crazy just how short these Attitude Era matches are- just a simple momentum shift here and there and we’re already at the finish. No chicanery here, which is surprising. Jarrett grabs a guitar though, and immediately shatters it on Shamrock’s head to get some heat back, then proceeds to never draw a dime.

Rating: *1/2 (not a bad little match- Shamrock’s stuff looked terrific and the finish made sense… just WAY too short to rate)

(WWF Sunday Night Heat, May 30th)
* Al is the Hardcore Champion at this point, still carrying Head and wearing a black J.O.B. Squad t-shirt, and has just beaten Bob to retain the title at the last PPV. So this Qualifier actually has some history to it. Bob, in blue & black shorts, is attacked on the ramp.

They hit the ring immediately, charging around until Holly hits his dropkick- he takes his time climbing the ropes and is Flair-Tossed off, leading to Al doing a quick version of his “Head! Head! Head!” headbutts from the arm-trap, then a big clothesline. He makes crazy faces and stalls, but the Snow Plow (northern lights bomb) is reversed to the Falcon Arrow and Bob easily picks up the pin at (2:20). Hahahaha, jesus WHAT? That fast? Like, that was almost nothing. Just two guys running around until one hit a big move.

Rating: 3/4* (another super-abridged KOTR match)

Does X-Pac Have a Chance To Be Inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame? | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

We are, shockingly, in the era in which X-Pac drew CHEERS.

(WWF Sunday Night Heat, May 30th)
* X-Pac, one half of the tag team champions, is still a babyface, and takes on the much-hated Bossman, still a Corporate goon.

They tear around to start, Bossman missing an avalanche but immediately dodging X-Pac, who crotches himself on the second turnbuckle. The crowd starts a “Bossman SUCKS!” chant (man, how often did Waltman hear someone ELSE get that, I wonder?), but he plants X-Pac with a quick big boot out of a charge. Bossman does a neck vice and catches him charging for a powerslam. He throws punches, but X-Pac finally manages a real comeback with a huge spinkick that wipes Bossman out. Bossman runs into a boot, but manages a backdrop/Samoan drop out of a headlock to splatter him. But after stalling most of the match he gets WAY too cocky, simply leaning back for the pin, and of course X-Pac traps the arms and rolls him back for the three (2:37)- X-Pac wins! Bossman atttacks, but the Road Dogg makes the save

Okay, I was NOT expecting this to be decent. I mean, it was too short to really rate, but it was a solid little Big/Small match with both guys doing their role perfectly- Bossman arrogant and easily able to catch him, but X-Pac doing all the big dodges and athletic moves to come back.

Rating: *1/4 (half-decent for the time we had!)

Viscera WWE | News, Rumors, Pictures, Height & Biography | Sportskeeda WWE

Viscera- When you’re friends with powerful people and willing to job despite being 6’10” & 500 lbs., so you basically have a job forever.

(WWF Sunday Night Heat, May 30th)
* In a clever move, Billy Gunn’s big run starts off with an easy one against the Corporate Ministry’s Viscera, who was a former King himself. In his “Mr. Ass” phase, Billy’s in pink shorts, while Viscera’s in the usual black leather overcoat & pants.

Mr. Ass immediately runs into a clothesline and Viscera goes to work on him, whipping him hard into the corner. Oh geez, and Cole immediately segues from tomorrow’s debut of Beaver Cleavage to tomorrow’s services for Owen Hart in Calgary. Good LORD. Another whip knocks Billy down again, and he ducks a clothesline only to leap right into a powerslam- Viscera declares “it’s OVER!”, but misses a big splash- he reverses a whip but now misses an AVALANCHE, and he immediately sells into “head lowered” position, but I’ll be god damned if Billy doesn’t leap WAY the f--- up to hit a Fameasser like six feet into the air because Vis is only barely hunched over. That gets the pin at (2:05). Vis is up almost immediately, just looking frustrated and angered while Billy staggers away like he just saved his own life.

Rating: 3/4* (almost literally Viscera just pounding away until he misses two moves and loses)

THE BIG SHOW vs. DROZ (w/ Prince Albert):
(WWF Sunday Night Heat, June 6th)
* Big Show was fairly new to the company but had already turned babyface against the Corporation. And he looks like a complete baby (with his extremely broad but hairless body at this point, but a relatively slender waist by comparison and little black trunks) and is a member of the Union of People You Oughta Respect, Shane, and Droz is a piercing-loving weirdo in blue shorts coming down with a guy named after a penile piercing. RUSSO!

Big Show completely ignores a pair of dropkicks, starts whupping on Droz, then hits a big boot and the Chokeslam for the finish at (0:59). Haha, jesus christ. Albert grumpily runs in and gets killed with a clothesline, too. Yeah, they got like an hour to do all these matches and angles- whattaya want? Droz might have been able to recover, but only had four more months in the ring, unfortunately.

Rating: DUD (not even a match!)

Chyna, Pro Wrestler Turned Reality TV Star, Is Dead at 46 - The New York Times

1999: Also the year Chyna got to wrestle the men, and we can all go back and see just how hard they worked to expose her in the ring.

VAL VENIS (w/ Nicole Bass) vs. CHYNA (w/ Triple H):
(WWF Sunday Night Heat, June 6th)
* Triple H comes out with Chyna here, and it’s explained that he was set to enter the tournament, but gave up his spot for Chyna since “he felt he had nothing to prove”, being last year’s winner. This was when they were SERIOUSLY pushing Chyna as an in-ring performer. Meanwhile, Val has just been kissed by Nicole Bass, but Because Russo, REALLY liked it and is now in a relationship with her. Bass, a huge bodybuilder, was hated by pretty much everyone backstage, and Chyna in particular took issue with how extremely built she was (this seems hypocritical but Bass was legitimately MUCH larger than even Joanie ever got), treating it like an embarrassment to women or something. I still wonder why they’d hire someone who so dwarfed Chyna, whose muscles were a huge part of her identity, unless it was to show how feminine Joanie was by contrast. Val’s in the usual purple trunks while Chyna’s in a leather top & hot pants.

Val’s says “The Big Valbowski’s a lot like Chyna’s THONG” but is immediately attacked, robbing us of whatever dirty joke Russo found online for Val to say. Chyna throws very deliberate forearms and kicks as they’re very careful not to expose her- Val reverses a whip to the corner but dramatically can’t find the will to hit a woman. Just tell him she believes in vaccinations! He finally charges in, but misses and Chyna hits a big powerslam to a pretty solid pop. She’s awkwardly like “hey, lookit that!” before going for the pin, getting two- she tries for the Pedigree, but Val slingshots her into the referee in the corner. Val then runs the ropes right by HHH like a dumbass and gets tripped. Nicole Bass hits the apron, but Chyna one-punches her down, as if establishing herself as the superior bodybuilder, but runs into Val’s Perfect Plex. But then HHH charges in and kicks him right in Little Val, allowing Chyna to hit the Pedigree for the win (2:14).

Almost the entire match was chicanery and interference (the Russo Special), with Chyna being soooooo protected by the even pace and frequent run-ins. Val had already been IC Champ earlier in the year, but that 1-month run was oddly his peak, as he slowly tumbled down the card thereafter- doing goofy s--- like the Bass pairing turned him into a “bust” eventually. He did get another IC run next year, though.

Rating: 1/2* (barely even a match before all the run-ins happened)

Test: photos | WWE

Believe it or not, the Shane feud made Test one of the most over guys in 1999. Like, for a month or two! I Swear!

(WWF Sunday Night Heat, June 6th)
* Test has split from the Corporation (where he was only around a short time) and is also a member of the Union, about to hit his peak as a character. He’s in blue & black shorts, and has the toughest competition in the tournament with Kane. I don’t remember this music-only version of Test’s theme, which has no electro-voice going “Bee-diddy-womp bee-diddy-diddy-womp” and such.

Despite Test getting a pretty solid push around this time, the tiers are immediately evident when he piefaces Kane and immediately gets beaten down and suplexed on the top rope- Kane flies off onto him from there and chokes away, chasing the ref off when admonished. This lets Test dump him, but Kane lands on his feet and garrotes him on the top rope, then hits his flying clothesline. The crowd is REALLY tepid here, I should point out- this is even after the Stephanie angle started! Test grabs the rope to stuff a Chokeslam and hits a spinning neckbreaker when Kane ducks down. They throw some weak shots and Kane throws the most terrible running move in the corner ever (like he changed his mind on the direction thrice). But Test gets an elbow up, ducks a clothesline and staggers Kane with a big boot, then goes for the Pumphandle Slam… but Kane lands behind him and threads it right into the Tombstone, somehow managing to pick a monstrous guy like Test up with a reverse bearhug just under the arms, then managing to leverage him all the way upside down pinning him at (3:04)! Hey, that was pretty f------ cool!

Overall, a generic “kick & punch” 1999 match with a not-great Test and not-great Kane, going at a half-pace at that, but the last 20 seconds was really impressive. Okay that sounds dumb, I know, but they definitely choreographed that well! But seriously, HOLY CHRIST, do you know how strong you’d have to be to lift Test up like that? That was a straight deadlift hoisting the guy from a super high grip until he was all the way upside-down.

Rating: *1/2 (another weak, short Attitude Era brawl but a good ending)

What We Miss: Road Dogg d. Godfather (1:02… haha, what?).

The Rest of the Tournament: I don’t see the rest on YouTube, and surprisingly it all took place at the Pay-Per-View! X-Pac beats Hardcore Holly by DQ when Holly grabs a chair at (3:02). Billy Gunn beats Ken Shamrock by ref stop at (3:37)- Ken had been injured by Steve Blackman on Heat and… boy, this will shock you… he was COUGHING UP BLOOD, and so the ref stops it after he takes a powerbomb. Kane beats the Big Show at (6:36) in an infamously bad match with a 3-minute ref bump and Kane using a chair as a result (word on Scott’s review was that the ref missed his cue and so they were in a holding pattern).

The Road Dogg beats Chyna at (13:19!!!!)- the match time inflated by Chyna taking a minute between each move- Road Dogg cleverly wears a cup so when she tries the Flair Uppercut, she hurts her bicep and he uses the Pump-Handle Slam to win. Okay, I love that. In the Semi-Finals, Billy Gunn beats Kane when Big Show clocks Kane with a chair at (5:25), while X-Pac beats the Road Dogg by reversing the Pump-Handle Slam to the X-Factor at (3:08).

Now, this ruins the OBVIOUS finale everyone wanted to see- the New Age Outlaws fighting each other. So while this is more “realistic” and less “predictable”, it completely wrecks everything and is the Russo trademark: A Swerve That Ruins the Storyline and Deflates The Fans. Billy beats X-Pac with a Fameasser at (5:38) to become the 1999 King of the Ring. This would probably be the biggest singles push Billy ever got, though it was clear the company was going to give him chance after chance, as bookers were positively entranced by this tall, well-built, super-athletic dude. The problem here being that his other two wins were by b-------, so any major rub from this is mostly gone, despite him having beaten two former Kings to get here.

Billy would go on to have one of the most infamous reigns ever, turning heel and being put up against The Rock, who completely immolated him on the mic (“GOD? My name’s BILLY…”), to which Billy had no response since he sucked on the mic, and so he never recovered. Him losing and being shoved into “A large woman’s ass!” as JR put it didn’t help. Billy would tumble down the card so badly that by the next year, Edge would similarly dunk on him, pointing out that Billy didn’t do anything with his run, and by contrast, “I’m not going to Billy Gunn this King of the Ring reign!”. We’d still be complaining about how unprofessional those two promos were to this day if it was a guy we liked, but Billy sucked so these were hilarious dunkings.