I’ve been dreading this since the Royal Rumble Project started: the 1999 match is one that I saw years ago and hated it, saw it again last year and disliked it, and watched it again now in hopes I could mine something out of it. The Attitude Era was a great period in wrestling, but the booking and storylines for the year 1999 was terrible. To me they were now King Midas in reverse as nothing seemed to work quite as well as it should, for that whole year. Wrestlemania 15 is just an abomination, but it never gets talked about as much because it was in that golden era of high ratings. So here is my attempt to figure out some positives from the 1999 Royal Rumble match.
The main story coming in was that Stone Cold Steve Austin would be #1 and Vince McMahon would be #2, thereby ensuring the big showdown. Vince was always willing to “show ass” and look bad, but they put together one of the great montages in company history with his training video of him getting prepared for Stone Cold. Just take a moment to bask in this, because it’s better than the Rumble itself.
Vince put a $100,000 bounty on Austin, promising that sum to whomever could eliminate the Texas Rattlesnake. It’s just a shame that nobody could get over because that story sucked all the air out of the room, but don’t worry, because this is 1999 WWF and there is plenty of room for overbooking some of the other guys for no reason.
Our hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, as Jim Ross was battling Bell’s Palsy at the time. They loved their Royal Rumbles in California (Anaheim this time), with this being the third visit in four years for this PPV.
Austin and Vince battle as #1 and #2 and it’s a payoff you expect: Austin stomping a mudhole in the boss, beating the crap out of him but not throwing him out because he wanted to inflict more damage. Golga is in at #3 but doesn’t get much in and Austin takes care of him in a hurry. Farewell John Tenta, a two-time three star winner from Rumbles past.
Vince took advantage and bailed on the match and Austin goes after him. This leads them to a bathroom, where the Corporation is waiting and they leave Stone Cold for dead. So yes, that kind of interrupts the flow here since #4 LOD-branded Droz has to stand in the ring like a dorkus malorkus for 90 seconds and wait for #5 Edge. The crowd is kind of dead because this is early Edge, not 2006 Edge. Gillberg is #6 as that joke hadn’t been beaten down enough yet, but he’s dumped out as he poses on the ropes.
Steve Blackman is #7 but they cut to the back again to check on Austin as they drag him out. There is a funny in-ring moment as Droz yells for Edge to “get over here” and help on Blackman, but Edge just thumbs him in the eye.
Dan Severn is #8 and he had an issue with Blackman during this time that didn’t make much sense because they had to pretend like Severn’s kayfabe neck injury was all a ruse. Awkward is the best way to describe Severn, who I liked the idea of but he looked clumsy in the ring and wore a gray t-shirt. Meanwhile, people have gone to the concourse to see Austin taken out because that’s what you want in your main event match: people leaving their seats to go do other stuff than watch the match.
Tiger Ali Singh is #9, best known for filing a lawsuit later on against WWE. I liked his Titantron, it was a source of humor for my college buddies and I. When Blue Meanie comes at #10, I begin to think how the hell am I going to pick 3 stars from this match.
When the buzzer goes for #11, nobody shows up but cut to the back and Mabel beats up Mosh to take his spot. Mabel comes in and actually makes something happen, by God! He eliminates Severn, Blackman, Singh, Droz, and Meanie all in a row. Very impressive and it gets us closer to the end of this mess so I endorse it. Newly arrived #12 Road Dogg backdrops Edge only to the apron, but a back elbow sends the former Sexton Hardcastle packing for the night.
So now we’ve established a flow in the match, something must ruin this immediately as the lights go out and members of the Ministry of Darkness are there to kidnap Mabel. Undertaker is out and the crowd only cares mildly about this. This stuff just does not hold up. Road Dogg gets to stand there for a few minutes waiting for Gangrel at lucky #13. Always liked his theme song, nice little jam. Dogg gets an Irish whip and uses Gangrel’s momentum to send him for the ride up and over.
The big man Kurrgan is #14 and he’s now an Oddity because he’s strange looking. Road Dogg spends this time making Kurrgan look pretty good and I start to wonder if Road Dogg is underrated. Cole asks where Vince is, since he’s still in the match. Good question, I mean why doesn’t everyone leave the ring for 50 minutes rather than compete? Oh wait, we can’t make this like a “sport” or anything like that.
Al Snow is #15 and fresh off a match against Road Dogg at the 1/4/1999 RAW in Worcester, MA where they battled outside into the snow. He and Dogg gang up on Kurrgan, but Dogg takes his shot to eliminate the distracted Snow. Hey, someone else will help him take on the giant shortly. And we learned from Austin earlier that you need to get the elimination done and not procrastinate.
Goldust is #16 and Godfather is #17 as things start to settle down a bit. Crowd actually responds to Godfather with a “we want hos” chant. That’s still better than the post-Mania RAW crowds the last few years.
Now here’s Kane at #18 in his first Rumble in that character and he rampages through Road Dogg, Kurrgan, Godfather and Goldust as the crowd responds. So that means insane asylum guys must show up and Kane eliminates himself trying to get away. I mean, why do we even have a match here?
Vince McMahon is back on the scene, but he takes a seat at commentary while Ken Shamrock enters at #19 and stands in the ring yelling unconvincingly at ringside fans. Mr. Ass Billy Gunn is #20 and he had a feud with Shamrock at this time. Mr. Ass has one shoe on, but he is not the Man With One Red Shoe. Gunn scores with a nice looking back suplex. I nearly had a heart attack: a wrestling move was performed. Test is #21, giving the Corporation a numbers edge as they show Mabel being put in a hearse. That’s dark to see now that Mabel/Viscera has passed away. An ambulance is back at the arena, and Austin is driving it. Vince does great facial expressions when he sees this.
It did nothing for the match other than to get Austin back in. Big Bossman is #22 while Austin chases Vince around, before settling on just eliminating Shamrock. Triple H at #23 goes after Test. Hmmm, those two would meet again when HHH would steal Test’s fiancee, and Test would have no problem with it. He’s heard Stephanie’s voice, so bullet dodged. When Austin is near elimination, why doesn’t Vince jump on the apron and help? Oh whatever.
Val Venis is #24 as Billy Gunn is “chuck”ed by Austin. I’m cramming that Billy and Chuck reference in because it’s so bad. At this point, I also think Vince needed a bigger bounty than 100K. X-Pac is #25 and Vince says “I’d love to give the check to X-Pac.” I think X-Pac would happily cash it, yes. Austin takes a 2nd rope forearm from Venis and has a go with X-Pac. One of my favorite things from Rumbles in this time period is the random interaction between Austin and ordinary midcard guys.
Mark Henry is in at #26 as I decide I would eat a candy bar called Sexual Chocolate. Jeff Jarrett is #27 but who really gives a crap. X-Pac levels HHH with a heel kick, though it would be Trips that did the heel turn 2 months later.
Here’s D-Lo Brown with PMS (Pretty Mean Sisters) at #28. I really loved Brown during this time period and they could have potentially done more with him. he had the women with him, but I don’t think that was necessary since it didn’t fit with his character. Test is put out by Stone Cold, but X-Pac by the Bossman. Jarrett gets a shot on Austin and Vince says “Yeah Jeff! You’re the man!” Funny since Jarrett held him up for money later that year and would be persona non grata forever. No big loss. Triple H gets the honor of eliminating Jarrett.
Owen Hart at #29 is still in his DANGER tights, and goes after Austin. But the Rattlesnake rolls out to throw cold water at Vince for some reason. Okay. Mark Henry hits a big splash on HHH in a random spot. When Chyna is #30, Henry stops since she was the apple of his eye. The 9th Wonder of the World scores with kicks on Henry before tossing him. Austin then clotheslines Chyna out and over as Cole says Stone Cold doesn’t care if it’s a man or woman. Well, yeah that would eventually be a problem down the road. Triple H gets a knee on Austin but Trips and Venis fight over who gets Austin, and HHH dispatches Venis. The Game gets a Stunner from Austin and he’s gone too.
The Final Four: D-Lo Brown, Steve Austin, Big Bossman, and Owen Hart. And Vince McMahon, I guess, but that would take us out of the moment. D-Lo gets offense on Austin and I am marking out. Enziguri by Owen on Stone Cold, but kick is not near the neck so he was more careful. Austin does backdrop Hart out over a corner.
Now my favorite part of this dreary match: D-Lo Brown landing his huge frog splash The Lo Down on Austin. I love it, but D-Lo celebrates and Bossman tosses him from behind. Austin gets a stunner on Bossman before eliminating him, because God forbid he sell the frog splash for more than 6 seconds.
Vince and Austin fight outside for a bit, Austin drags McMahon around and clubs him in the forehead with a chair. Only the 89th nastiest chair shot to the head on this card though. Once in ring, Vince gets a desperate low blow, but the Rattlesnake lands a stunner and a 2nd rope forearm. And now here’s the Rock because this match full of bullshit needs a distraction finish. Austin turns his back to Vince like a moron for a good 30 seconds to yell at Rock, and Vince sneaks up to eliminate for the win. Vinny Mac celebrates with beer with his cronies to mock Austin.
Allow me to rebook this with two alternate winners: 1. You let Austin win for a 3rd year in a row since you’re going that way anyway, and it will please the crowd and won’t make your top babyface look like an idiot. A side effect is that down the road, the person who eliminates Austin in a Rumble will have scored a huge win. Not like beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, but still a big deal. 2. Have someone like Owen Hart or even D-Lo Brown win by them eliminating Austin, then screw them out of the bounty. This puts them at odds with the Corporation and allows for some fresh matchups and angles. Yes, I just suggested a way to book D-Lo Brown as a Rumble winner. I had to, since Ricky Martel had retired a year prior. Onto the awards:
1st star: D-Lo Brown – I sat through all that crap, and D-Lo hitting the frog splash on Steve Austin made it worthwhile.
2nd star: Road Dogg – He served the role of rescuing the crowd after that Undertaker nonsense with Mabel and performed a miracle by making Kurrgan look good.
3rd star: Mabel – He actually did something, which was very necessary at the time he entered. The Viscera thing probably extended his career.
Morrison Award: Test lasted 12:48 with no eliminations.
WWE Hall of Famers: 2 (Edge and Steve Austin)
Deceased: 5 (Golga, Mabel, Owen Hart, Test, Big Bossman)
Summary: I prefer to avoid matches that piss me off. I watched the War Games from Fall Brawl 1997 last year and it put me in a funk for 2 days. This match didn’t anger me as much this time, but it’s still pretty bad. Like much of 1999 WWF, it doesn’t hold up now, at least for me. Avoid this at all costs, because there are about 67,000,000,000 better ways to spend an hour.