WWF: Royal Rumble 1999 – NO CHANCE IN HELL

WWF: Royal Rumble
January 24, 1999
Anaheim, CA
Arrowhead Pond

The current WWF champs are as follows:
WWF Champion: Mankind (1/4/1999)
Intercontinental Champion: Ken Shamrock (10/12/1998)
World Tag Team Champions: The Big Boss Man & Ken Shamrock (12/14/1998)
European Champion: X-Pac (10/18/1998)
Light Heavyweight Champion: Duane Gill (11/23/1998)
Hardcore Champion: Road Dogg (12/21/1998)
Women’s Champion: Sable (11/15/1998)

AUSTIN, YOU HAVE NO CHANCE IN HELL. We start the show with a video package of Vince and his Corporation reminding everyone he’s placed a $100,000 bounty for whoever can eliminate Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Royal Rumble match.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. This is Michael Cole’s first “Big Four” PPV as the lead commentator.

  • Road Dogg vs. The Big Boss Man

Apparently this was supposed to be a “hardcore” match where the title wasn’t on the line for some reason, but was changed earlier in the week. With what they have planned for the WWF title match, I don’t really blame them. I can’t say the match doesn’t make sense considering the DX and Corporation issues as of late and then there’s the former tag team champions facing the current tag team champions in singles matches trope as well. Things are going so well for wrestling these days, these two don’t really have to do anything for the first minute or so. Boss Man finally slugs at Road Dogg and avalanches him. He misses a second splash in the corner and gets crotched on the top rope. Road Dogg delivers the ten-count corner punch and follows with a dropkick (!!). Pissed off, Boss Man grabs his night stick and scares away Road Dogg. THIS IS NOT HARDCORE! Road Dogg trips up Boss Man and crotches him using the ringpost. SUCK IT! Well, maybe not tonight. Boss Man catches Road Dogg with a back elbow out of the corner and we go to the floor for some short ringside violence. Back inside, Boss Man pounds Road Dogg down in the corner. A big boot puts down Road Dogg as well. Boss Man delivers a hard whip in the corner for two. Time for the bearhug. Pretty wild to think of a bear hug working even in 1999, but it works. Road Dogg bites Boss Man on the nose to escape, but then charges into a knee. Boss Man removes one of the top turnbuckle pad. How ref Mike Chioda didn’t see that is a little suspicious. A spinebuster gets two. Road Dogg starts to no-sell Boss Man’s punches and punches back, but Boss Man elbows him in the chest and chokes him in the ropes. BOSSMAN STRADDLE connects! Road Dogg ducks a shot from Boss Man and applies a sleeperhold. Boss Man goes to his knees, but rakes Road Dogg’s face to get out. A rib buster by Boss Man and he heads up top, but Road Dogg is there to slam him down. Road Dogg wins a slugfest and delivers the Shake Rattle and Roll, which knocks Boss Man into the ropes for the Bossman Straddle of his own. Road Dogg runs down Boss Man for the Shaky Knee Drop for 1-2-NO! As Road Dogg comes off the ropes again, Boss Man snags him for the BOSS MAN SLAM for the win. (11:52) Solid opener from two guys with lots of charisma. I enjoyed it. **½

  • WWF Intercontinental Championship: Ken Shamrock (c) vs. Billy Gunn

Gunn comes out declaring he’s about to whoop Shamrock’s ass. He also tells me if I’m not down with WPMC (what?), then I can suck “it”. Loads of punches and kicks traded to start – because Gunn mooned Shamrock’s sister. Gunn slows things down with a chinlock and then delivers a stalling vertical suplex for two. Shamrock avoids a corner charge and Gunn runs his shoulder into the post. Things slow down some more as Shamrock takes over with kicks. Shamrock telegraphs a backdrop and Gunn delivers the Rocker Dropper for a two-count. Gunn gives Shamrock the ten-count corner punch, but then Shamrock pulls the top rope down on a charging Billy Gunn to send him flying to the floor. We get more ringside violence in this match than we did in the first match. Shamrock runs Gunn into the ringpost and bounces his face off the steps. As they make it to the ring apron, Gunn elbows Shamrock and they both go flying through the air as Gunn smashes Shamrock’s face onto the Spanish Announce Table. Back in, a slow cover gets two. Shamrock sweeps the leg of Gunn and starts taking Gunn to school. Cole mentions that Shamrock is “like a surgeon” going after the leg, which makes NO sense. Shamrock switches to a front face lock (or as Cole calls it, a “unique maneuver”) and doesn’t recall Gunn ever submitting in the WWF. Now Cole says “front face lock” as much as possible. As Gunn breaks loose, Shamrock surprises Gunn with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Shamrock returns to the leg. We get an awkward ref Tim White bump – followed by a DOUBLE KO spot. Here comes VAL VENIS to get in the ring and give Shamrock a sexy DDT. And just like that, Val is back in the locker room. Gunn covers Shamrock for a slow 1-2-NO! He hits a bunch of comeback moves and heads to the top rope. Even though Shamrock moves, Gunn lands on his feet and sells the ankle. Like the shark that smells blood, Shamrock pounces on Gunn and applies the ANKLELOCK for the tapout. (14:24) Cole makes it seem like Shamrock just submitted Mick Foley or something by freaking out over Billy Gunn’s tapout. The first match from RAW had more heat than this one for sure – and the one big spot where Gunn slammed Shamrock’s head off the table was cool, but they didn’t follow up very well. I just wonder if Shamrock’s recent surgery didn’t play in a role in how this match was booked. Not a huge fan – and I was looking forward to this one. *½

We check in with Vince McMahon in his ready room with Shane McMahon, Gerald Brisco, and Pat Patterson keep the boss hyped. Cole reminds us that Vince slapped Austin across the face earlier tonight on HeAT – IN FRONT OF THE WORLD. 

  • WWF European Championship: X-Pac (c) vs. Gangrel

More DX – and that’s three in a row now. Headlocks and hiptosses are traded to start. X-Pac gets one of his hiptosses blocked, but he flips off of Gangrel and delivers a back suplex. Sliding legdrop gets two. Gangrel eats a bunch of kicks from X-Pac, but then avoids a corner charge as X-Pac does the Bobby Eaton corner bump. Gangrel splashes him in the corner and connects with the arm trap suplex for two. X-Pac gets dropped throat-first on the top rope and does a crazy oversell flip bump. Gangrel grabs a chinlock. X-Pac fights out, but gets slam dunked. That gets two. Teddy Long is *your* referee for this match. X-Pac moves out of the way of a flying Gangrel. X-Pac comes back with a spinning heel kick and the jumping lariat for two. Another spinning heel kick from X-Pac. Three DX matches in a row, and three ten-count corner punch spots. Gangrel falls down in the corner for the Bronco Buster. A third spinning heel kick lands on Gangrel. He crotches X-Pac up top. X-Pac slugs Gangrel down and delivers a flying body press, but Gangrel rolls through and Long screws up the finish counting three. Has Teddy Long joined the BROOD? Match continues. Gangrel gets a powerslam for two. X-Pac finds a way to land the X-FACTOR for the win. (5:53) This was fine, but I don’t think there was a person in the building who thought Gangrel was walking out of the building tonight as the winner. **

As if you haven’t seen D-Generation X all night, Kevin Kelly wants to know what they (DX sans Billy Gunn) think about being in the SAME group but being individuals in the Royal Rumble. This goes about like you would expect. Triple H says it’s every MAN for himself. Chyna chimes in with “AND WOMAN”. Yeah, we know.

SHANE MCMAHON comes out to a theme song that sounds like a rendition of Jake the Snake’s old theme. He welcomes LUNA to the ring. Shane and Luna believe Sable won’t be able to wrestle and announce she will be handing the WWF Women’s title over to Luna. Sable comes out holding her back with one hand and the WWF Women’s title in the other hand. She’s also limping for some reason. All Sable says is, “ring the bell”. 

  • Strap Match for the WWF Women’s Championship: Sable (c) vs. Luna

Shane McMahon joins Cole and Lawler for this match. Sable quickly starts whipping Luna out to the floor and pulls her into the ringpost. Back in, we get more whipping. Sable clotheslines Luna and chokes her with the strap. She touches two turnbuckles, but Luna interrupts. Luna chokes Sable with the strap. In a SMART move, Luna wraps the strap around Sable’s neck and steps on her back to bend Sable. Luna taps two turnbuckles, but Sable swings her around to stop the count. More whipping. Sable throws in a few kicks, but then misses a corner charge. Luna delivers a backbreaker and proceeds to carry Sable on her back. They do the usual strap match finish where Luna taps the turnbuckle and then Sable taps the turnbuckle without her knowing. Once Sable starts to give Luna some trouble at the fourth turnbuckle, Luna flips her over towards the fourth corner. Shane gets up on the apron to distract the referee. Next thing we know, the CRAZY SABLE FAN appears and punches Luna away. Security runs after her to make it seem like a shoot. Luckily for Sable, she reaches the fourth corner when the referee is looking and retains her title. (4:43) Should gimmick matches ever be this short? Only when Sable is involved, I suppose. ½*

Elsewhere, the Big Boss Man gets excited talking to Ken Shamrock and TEST over winning $100,000 to eliminate Stone Cold Steve Austin, win the Royal Rumble, and get the WWF title. Boss Man isn’t sure what Shamrock and Test are going to do, but he plans on doing whatever it takes to win.

Dok Hendrix talks to THE ROCK backstage. Rock’s sideburns have their own zip code at this point. Know your role and shut your mouth, Dok. Rock GUARAN-DAMN-TEES he will be the next WWF champion. This isn’t much more than a series of catchphrases – if ya smell what the Rock is cookin’.

  • “I Quit” Match for the WWF Championship: Mankind (c) vs. The Rock

They provide us with the footage of Mabel splashing Mankind on HeAT prior to the PPV. Mankind BUM RUSHES THE SHOW to start and beats Rock down in the corner for the running knee. He follows up with a bulldog and asks the Rock if he wants to quit already. That ain’t happening. They head to the floor where Mankind gets his knees run into the steps. Rock takes some time to steal a headset and to hear himself talk. Mankind shuts him up with right hands and a chairshot to the back. Rock won’t quit, so he bashes Rock in the head with the mic. Back inside, the DOUBLE ARM DDT on Rock. Out comes Mr. Socko. Lawler – “Everybody knows you can’t talk with your mouth full.” Yeah, that’s not going to work. They fight into the crowd as Rock hiptosses Mankind back over the crowd barrier. Over to the timekeeper’s table, Rock hammers the ring bell up against Mankind’s head a few times. The ROCK BOTTOM on the Spanish Announce Table fails as the table gives way. They end up brawling over to the entrance where Rock drops Mankind with a DDT on the concrete. No quit in Mankind. Rock finds a ladder, but Mankind kicks him down. He tries to elbow drop the ladder onto the Rock, but Rock moves out of the way and he falls on the ladder all violent-like. Rock props the ladder up against a wall and climbs up into a balcony. Mankind follows and they brawl until he falls off onto an electrical bank to get “electrocuted”.

Shane McMahon comes out to try and stop the match, but Rock says he *will* make Mankind say the words. As Mankind starts to crawl toward the ring, Rock puts the bad mouth to him. Once they get back to the ring, Rock handcuffs Mankind’s hands behind his back and gets in all kinds of free shots in on him. Yeah, that’s fair. Mankind low blows Rock and kicks him down so he can bite him on the mat. Big knee drop to the balls. Rock catches Mankind with a clothesline and delivers a chair-assisted CORPORATE ELBOW on Mankind. Still, Foley will not quit. Five disgusting chairshots to the skull. Make it eight chairshots as Foley collapses in the aisle. Mankind will still not say that he quits. Blood is pouring from his head. He’s now up to TEN brain cell destroying chairshots and Foley falls face down and unconscious on the concrete. Rock puts down the chair and places the mic up against Foley’s mouth. That’s when they replay an audio portion of Mankind yelling “I quit” from an interview on HeAT as Rock regains the WWF title. (21:49) After posing with the belt in the corners, Rock stands over Mankind’s broken down body and holds up the gold. This is one of the problems I have with the Rock. There were a lot of moments where he would take way more than he would ever give to a wrestler whether in his interviews or in his matches in the first couple years of his career. You’re only as good as your opponent and if you constantly make your opponent look completely beneath you, then who have you really beaten? I’m not saying that Rock should have taken an equal amount of chairshots to the cranium here, but he certainly did little to nothing to make Foley look good here besides give him a legitimate life-shortening match. There’s looking like a tough son of a gun and then there’s looking like a masochist. I appreciate and encourage realism in wrestling, but this match crosses a line. You didn’t have to this type of match, Mick. We all know your better than this. *½

We get a LENGTHY Austin/McMahon feud video package. We then see highlights of Steve Austin getting to the Arrowhead Pond that we had seen on HeAT – including Vince slapping Austin across the face.

  • The Rumble Match

Lawler mocking Howard Finkel’s lengthy explanation of the Rumble match rules is pretty hilarious. Because of his over explanation of how to be eliminated, it almost seems like he wanted to make it clear some shenanigans were going to happen. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN is #1 and VINCE McMAHON is #2 – and boy Vince is SHIRTLESS and JACKED. He’s basically his own wet dream at this point. Austin stomps a mudhole in Vince and walks it dry. Double bird is followed by a big slam. Austin stomps Vince on his dick one good time. He gets ready to throw Vince out, but then decides to do more damage. GOLGA draws #3 of all people. Thesz Press to Vince. Golga stomps Austin and starts beating him up, but then he fails to throw out Austin and gets eliminated. Vince leaves the ring and heads through the crowd. Austin follows after Vince all the way to the ladies bathroom, but IT’S A TRAP. Big Bossman, Test, and Ken Shamrock are waiting to attack Austin and leave him laying. DROZ is #4 and he’s still doing the LOD thing. He waits around for EDGE who happens to be #5. They take turns beating each other up. GILLBERG enters at #6. He gets the sparkler entrance and the piped-in Gillberg chants. WHO WILL BE HIS FIRST VICTIM? Edge immediately dumps him out. We check in on Austin and he’s left unconscious thanks to the Corporation. Edge and Droz are still trying to throw each other out to no avail. STEVE BLACKMAN comes out at #7. EMTs and refs are checking on Austin. He does a stretcher job to an ambulance. Droz tries to eliminate Blackman and yells at Edge to help him out. Not wanting to be told what to do, Edge thumbs him in the eye. Conveniently, here comes DAN SEVERN at #8. He and Blackman go at it. TIGER ALI SINGH is next at #9. Boy, just look at the star power in this match right now. Out comes the BLUE MEANIE who drew #10. Good grief.

We catch MABEL wiping out HEADBANGER MOSH backstage and steals his #11 spot. He starts running wild on everybody. Out goes Severn and Blackman. See ya, Tiger Ali. Goodbye, Meanie and Droz. ROAD DOGG picks things up at #12. Edge low blows Mabel and charges Road Dogg, but gets dumped on the floor. The lights go out and Undertaker’s theme plays. When the lights come back on, the ACOLYTES and MIDEON appear and dump Mabel out to the floor and up the aisle in front of UNDERTAKER and PAUL BEARER. Taker says something to Mabel and then the Acolytes and Mideon beat Mabel back to the locker room with Taker and Bearer slowly following. Here comes GANGREL at #13. These two have a little bit of a recent past when Gangrel dropped blood all over Road Dogg, so that’s interesting. Gangrel beats down Road Dogg, but then gets thrown out. Wow, okay. KURRGAN comes out at #14. Are you shitting me? He does a bunch of Kevin Nash moves to Road Dogg. #15 is AL SNOW – and the crowd wakes up to yell Head. While Snow is trying to dump out Kurrgan, Road Dogg gets rid of Snow instead. GOLDUST enters at #16 and immediately wants to give Road Dogg some Shattered Dreams, but Kurrgan apparently doesn’t want to see that. Goldust makes him pay with a DDT. Road Dogg fights back and tells Goldust to suck it. He wants to give Goldust some Shattered Dreams, but again Kurrgan cockblocks if you will. Goldust reaches Road Dogg and low blows him. Next up, we have the GODFATHER (with a few hos who return to the locker room) at #17. WE WANT HOS. Here comes KANE at #18 – and he throws out everybody. The guys in the white coats try to stop him and return him to the institution, which just pisses off Kane who jumps over the top rope to go after them. NOW WE HAVE NOBODY IN THE RING. Here comes #19 and it’s KEN SHAMROCK. Hey look, Mr. McMahon gets in the ring – now wearing his black sweatshirt again – to remind everybody he’s still in the match. He went out *through* the ropes, folks! Vince then drops to the floor and leaves Shamrock to do his thing – joining Cole and Lawler for some commentary. Wouldn’t you know it, the next entrant at #20 is BILLY GUNN. He hops to the ring with one boot on and Shamrock goes to town on the bad ankle. Gunn delivers a few hope spots and sells the ankle. He tries to throw out Shamrock, but Shamrock falls to the apron and back inside to clip Gunn from behind.

TEST enters in at #21 to join his pal Shamrock. Meanwhile, the Acolytes and Mideon stick Mabel in the back of a hearse while Taker and Bearer watch. Goodbye, Mabel. We hardly knew ye. Right beside all of that, an ambulance drives up to the building – AND STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN IS DRIVING THE AMBULANCE. Vince can’t believe it – and he looks quite worried. Austin heads straight for Vince McMahon – who leads Austin into a ridiculous trap as Shamrock attacks Austin. BIG BOSS MAN comes out at #22. Before Boss Man can get in the ring, Austin backdrops Shamrock to the floor. Boss Man chokes Austin with a tag rope, I think. Austin turns the tables on Boss Man and chokes him for a bit. #23 is TRIPLE H. He charges the ring to help out Gunn and wins a slugfest with Test. High Knee connects. Now Gunn goes after Austin and Vince starts cheering him on from the announce table. Triple H stops Boss Man from eliminating Austin and wants to eliminate Austin himself. Test goes after Triple H as Austin drills Gunn with a nasty clothesline and drops an elbow. VAL VENIS runs down to the ring at #24. Test hits the WOTSILLA BOOT on Austin. Gunn takes over on Austin, but then Austin kicks at his bad ankle and throws Gunn out. Here comes X-PAC at #25. Unfortunately or fortunately, the only thing that’s interesting on the screen is what’s going to happen to Austin. It’s sexual, baby. MARK HENRY enters in at #26. Henry goes after Austin and then chokes on X-Pac. Boss Man is holding Austin for Henry to slug on him, but then Austin moves and Boss Man gets nailed. Henry doesn’t seem to mind and starts beating up Boss Man some more. JEFF JARRETT (who comes out with Debra, but she returns to the locker room) comes out at #27. X-Pac gives Boss Man the Bronco Buster. That’s a matchup I want to see again. D’LO BROWN (accompanied by PMS – Terri and Jacqueline) is the #28 entrant. Austin gets rid of Test right before Boss Man throws out X-Pac. Jarrett and Boss Man work together to toss out Austin, but they can’t get it done. Austin gives Jarrett the Thesz Press and continues to punch away on Jarrett. Once he gets tired of that, Triple H grabs Jarrett and throws him out. Here comes OWEN HART at #29. OH YEAH. Growing weary of everybody trying to eliminate him, Austin rolls under the bottom rope and throws a pitcher of ice water in Vince’s face. And of course, CHYNA is #30. Henry is ready to confront her, but Chyna throws some forearms and kicks him around in the corner. She picks him up off the mat and throws Henry to the floor. After some trash talking, she turns around and takes a clothesline out to the floor by Austin. I LOVE IT. Triple H goes after Austin, but then Val tries to save Austin for himself. Austin takes a Triple H Facebuster. Again, Val tries to stop Triple H to eliminate Austin, but Triple H grabs him and throws Venis out. As Triple H turns around, Austin gives him a STONE COLD STUNNER and clotheslines him out to the floor.

FINAL FOUR (or five): Steve Austin, Big Boss Man, D’Lo Brown, Owen Hart, and Vince McMahon. Lawler thinks D’Lo will get rid of Austin, but he better recognize. He gives up on Austin and lets Owen give Austin a shot. Austin eats the ENZIGURI OF CERTAIN DEMISE, but then Austin backdrops him out to the floor. Boss Man knocks Austin onto the middle rope and does the slide underneath the bottom rope uppercut. That sends Austin flying to the middle of the ring where D’Lo delivers the LO DOWN. As he struts towards the ropes, Boss Man shoves out D’Lo. Austin gives Boss Man the STONE COLD STUNNER and clotheslines him out. Oh boy, now it’s just Austin and McMahon – right where we started. They start grabbing at each other. Austin bounces Vince off the announce table and then sends him flying over the barricade. They head back to ringside where Austin absolutely blasts Vince over the head with a steel chair. MONEY! Now Austin puts Vince in the ring – and takes his time. Vince reaches up and low blows Austin to buy himself some time. As Austin gets to his feet, he gives Vince a STONE COLD STUNNER. He continues to abuse Vince with a second rope elbow drop. Hey look, here comes THE ROCK. He baits Austin over to the ropes and once it gets physical, Vince walks over and pushes Austin down over the top rope to the floor to do the unthinkable – win a Royal Rumble match. (56:40) This felt like a total Midcard Rumble. As far as any main eventers from the last two years included in this match, you arguably only have Austin and Kane – and that’s it. Total lack of star power, lots of dead spots where nothing was happening (and several moments where only ONE guy was in the ring), and one of the more unnecessary finishes that is just intended to swerve you because there’s no way Vince could win a Royal Rumble match, but then he does. For me, the Rumble matches have at least been a **½ minimum in years prior to 1999, but this was my least favorite one. They shoehorned in feuds like Blackman/Severn and Gunn/Shamrock that nobody cared about. Nothing was resolved and no new issues were spawned. There was the payoff with Henry and Chyna, I suppose. So yeah, my least favorite Rumble match to date. **

Final Thoughts: Once again (and now I sound like Cornette), they are obsessed with making RAW is WAR good (and they find the mark more times than not) and leave the PPVs feeling pretty flimsy. This PPV actually started out with the strongest match on the whole card – and it’s Road Dogg versus the Big Boss Man. The crowd was fairly inconsistent as they popped for the entrances, but the WWF didn’t give them a lot to get excited about otherwise. I’m going with a thumbs down here – and I honestly can’t believe I enjoyed Souled Out 1999 even just a little bit more than the 1999 ROYAL RUMBLE.


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