Anaheim, California. January 24th 1999.
My fellow Conquistabore Alan has one main thought on the 1999 Royal Rumble. As far as he’s concerned the match itself is poor because it ignores 28 other wrestlers just to tell the story of Stone Cold and Vince McMahon. I can’t help but feel he’s got a point. The event itself has the subtitle of ‘No Chance In Hell’ which has been Vince’s catchphrase ever since.
Tonight Austin enters the Rumble at Number 1 but Commissioner Shawn Michaels, as retaliation, put Vince in at Number 2. Vince has also put a $100k bounty up for anybody who eliminates Austin. Also, as a side note, Chyna will become the first ever woman to enter the Rumble as she’s guaranteed the 30 spot.
Now that housekeeping is out of the way, we’re onto the show proper. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are on commentary as J.R is still unwell. For some strange reason I don’t find Cole anywhere near as annoying here as I do in modern day WWE. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t have to shill something every five minutes, maybe it’s because he’s the straight guy to Lawler’s ramblings. Either way I don’t feel the need to scrape my eardrums out.
The two opening contests on the undercard tonight should really be put together as a tag match. The New Age Outlaws and the Corporate team of The Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock. Instead of the four of them in the ring at the same time we have two seperate matches. The first one is Road Dogg (who is the current Hardcore Champion) versus The Big Bossman. Dogg gets his usual DX mic stuff in but it feels oddly empty without Billy Gunn next to him.
Bossman gains an early advantage by pushing around Road Dogg a fair amount. A corner splash by Bossman hits but he tries to follow up with a second that Road Dogg manages to avoid. Bossman comes back with a Back Elbow and a Big Boot but only gets a two count. Bossman then has Road Dogg in a Bear Hug. Road Dogg manages to throw Bossman off the top turnbuckle at one stage, following with a Knee Drop. Out of nowhere after this though Bossman gets a Sidewalk Slam in for the winning three count. It’s not a bad opener but it does feel a little bit cobbled together.
There are many strange ways to start a wrestling feud. Lest we forget that Kane and Chris Jericho started a series of matches around 2001 when Y2J spilled his coffee over The Big Red Machine. Booker T and Edge began a programme over a Japanese shampoo commercial. Here we have Ken Shamrock taking on Billy Gunn because the DX man mooned Shamrock’s sister.
Like he literally showed her his arse.
The match starts really quick as Gunn jumps Shamrock as he enters the ring. Billy Gunn applies a Chinlock and gouges at Shamrock’s nose. The New Age Outlaw then proceeds to miss a corner charge and ram his shoulder into the turnbuckle. Not long afterwards both men are fighting on the apron and Gunn flings Shamrock onto the announce table below. Shamrock uses the second half of this match to work on the legs in an effort to soften Gunn up for the Ankle Lock. Ken Shamrock winds up for a massive clothesline but Billy Gunn ducks meaning the referee cops it instead. With no authority present Val Venis runs down and plants Shamrock with a DDT. As Val makes himself scarce the ref wakes up and starts a slow count. He gets to two before Ken Shamrock kicks out. Billy Gunn goes up top, misses completely and tweaks his ankle on the landing. Shamrock doesn’t waste any time in applying the Ankle Lock and winning by submission. This match was solid, had a good story during it and seems to be leading somewhere.
Vince is backstage strutting up and down his locker room whilst Shane barks encouragement at him.
“Who do you hate?”.
“Who are you going to throw over that top rope?”.
It’s a short segment but really bloody good.
In one of the most Attitude Era undercard matches we get European Champion X-Pac taking on Gangrel. It’s mentioned that X-Pac is pulling double duty as he’s booked for the Rumble match as well. To be honest it seems like about 90% of this undercard is doing exactly that.
X-Pac spin kicks Gangrel into the corner but misses the follow up splash. X-Pac is then dropped over the top rope. X-Pac gets a Flying Clothesline in for a two count and goes into corner punches afterwards. After hitting the Bronco Buster X-Pac gets Gangrel with a Cross Body which looks like the winning three count but the ref waves it away. It’s a really awkward moment. Gangrel gets a Powerslam in but he soon falls victim to the X-Factor for a definite three count.
The other members of DX are backstage with Kevin Kelly as each put the point forward that they may be a group but it’ll be every member for themselves come the Rumble match. X-Pac arrives late from his match and bellows something that I’m not sure was even English.
Shane McMahon comes out to introduce Luna as the challenger for the Women’s Title. Sable apparently has a back injury from Luna’s attack earlier and Shane wants her to come out and hand the belt over. Sable appears but insists that the bell rings. It’s only at this moment the reality sets in that this will be a Bullrope Match. There’s only really three spots in this match. Sable whipping Luna, a bit of tug of war and Luna pulling Sable into all the corners blissfully unaware that Sable is doing exactly the same behind her. Sable wins by getting to the last corner first after a mystery attacker jumps Luna.
Mankind would surely never, ever say ‘I Quit’ during a wrestling match? It’s certainly the basis of this entire match against The Rock for the WWF Championship. This match is also infamous as being filmed for the 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat and having Mick Foley’s wife and kids at ringside. Foley certainly lived to regret doing a ‘Bring Your Kids To Work’ day.
Both men go straight at each other and it isn’t long before the mic gets involved. Mankind uses the audio equipment to level The Rock in the head. The massive booming noises add a certain heft to the hits. Outside the ring Mankind is flung into the steel steps. They both brawl by the announce tables and there’s nearly a Rock Bottom through one but the table gives way before they can do anything. The brutality of the match is further underlined by each men cursing each other when they are asked if they want to quit.
The fight goes up the aisle towards the technical area. The Rock finds a ladder and Mankind manages to fire an Elbow Drop right through it. The Rock then uses the ladder to climb towards the upper seats. Mankind follows only to be kicked off before falling through the electrical equipment meaning the lights turn off temporarily.
Even Shane McMahon comes out to try and stop the match yet The Rock is determined to hear him say ‘I Quit’. For no apparent reason there’s a pair of handcuffs at ringside which The Rock uses to pin Mankind’s hands behind him. Mankind just about manages to get a little bit of offense in but he’s soon overwhelmed by The Rock getting a steel chair and using it to lay across Mankind’s head as he levels him with the Corporate Elbow.
There then follows some of the most brutal and (due to the handcuffs) unprotected chair shots to the head that I’ve ever witnessed in my years of watching WWF/E. It’s the sort of thing that they would certainly never get away with now. Apparently the original agreement between Foley and The Rock was for a couple of chair shots but they seem to get carried away with the moment and it ends up being ten. Blood starts to pour from Mankind’s head underneath his mask. After this hellish attack the match ends with Mankind face down in the aisle as The Rock sticks a microphone near his mouth and an almost pre recorded speech plays out with Mankind quitting. The Rock is once again the WWF Champion and he’ll be heading towards Wrestlemania 15 to defend it..
The Rumble match itself is up next and, as stated before, the entire thing is pretty much based around Stone Cold and Vince McMahon being the first two in. The crowd go crazy as Austin gets his first attacks in on Vince in an official capacity. Austin is lapping up the crowd reaction.
Number 3 is Golga from The Oddities who is quickly eliminated from the match by Austin. During this Vince runs through the ropes and away. Austin gives chase leaving the ring empty. The cameras follow them backstage towards (of all places) a ladies bathroom as Stone Cold is jumped by all the other members of the Corporation.
Droz is number 4 but he’s got nobody to fight in the ring until Edge gets in as number 5. Number 6 is Gillberg who is quickly dumped out by Edge.
Austin is shown backstage laid on in the bathroom and being tended to by medical crews.
Steve Blackman is number 7, Dan Severn is number 8 and both MMA fighters go at each other.
Austin is backstage being loaded into an ambulance.
Tiger Ali Singh is number 9, Blue Meanie comes in at 10 and it looks like Mosh was supposed to be number 11 but he’s attacked by Mabel who enters instead. The former Man on a Mission eliminates three people pretty much straight away.
Road Dogg is 12 and he eliminates Edge. The lights go out as The Undertaker walks down the aisle and ‘claims’ Mabel for the Ministry.
Gangrel is 13, Kurrigan is 14, Al Snow comes down in 15 and he’s quickly thrown out by Road Dogg. Goldust at 16, The Godfather at 17 and Kane arrives as number 18 before clearing house but then eliminating himself.
Ken Shamrock enters at number 19 but doesn’t have anything to do. Vince turns up again and despite still being active in this match he joins the commentary table instead. Billy Gunn arrives with his taped ankle as number 20. The two have a good brawl in the ring before Test arrives as number 21.
The camera goes to the parking lot as The Undertaker bundles Mabel into the back of a hearse. An ambulance drives past them with sirens blaring. Stone Cold has arrived back in the building and Vince’s face upon seeing this is pitched perfectly.
Boss Man is number 22, Triple H is down as 23, Val Venis 24, X-Pac as 25.
Austin is back in the ring and rejoining the rumble. Vince stays well away.
Mark Henry is 26, Jeff Jarrett comes down in 27, D’Lo Brown is 28 and Owen Hart 29.
Austin throws water all over Vince in an attempt to goad him back into the match.
History is made as Chyna becomes the first woman in the Royal Rumble at number 30. It’s short lived however as despite eliminating Mark Henry she’s quickly dumped out by Stone Cold.
A Stunner to Triple H eliminates him also, Austin then gets rid of Owen. The Bossman eliminates D’Lo and then Austin in turn chucks him over the top rope. It’s back down to Austin and Vince. Vince takes a chair shot but then gives Austin a low blow to buy himself some time. Just as Austin looks to be taking control The Rock comes back down and distracts him for just enough time for Vince to creep in and throw Austin over. Vince McMahon is the winner of the 1999 Royal Rumble and he celebrates in Austin style by cracking beer open in the middle of the ring. In a parallel universe somewhere Vince went on to face The Rock at Wrestlemania 15, In this one however there are plenty more shenanigans to come.
Whilst the 1999 Royal Rumble show only really warms up for the title match and the Rumble itself it’s still worth a watch simply because it’s the first time the WWF have really pulled the trigger on Stone Cold versus McMahon directly. Sure they’ve had matches involving each other before this but it’s usually been somebody Vince has picked to fight him, not Vince himself. For all the WWE would love to suggest that Vince and Austin were at each other’s throats from day one it’s really only now, nearly one year after Mike Tyson, that they allowed it to go ahead.