Royal Rumble January 24, 1999 Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, CA With the WWF now clearly back on top of the wrestling world coming off a very successful 1998, the new year kicks off with the annual tradition we know as the Royal Rumble once again. Tonight the Rumble is about two names - Austin and McMahon. The Texas Rattlesnake and the owner of the company have been named numbers one and two respectively in the match that will determine who will face the WWF Champion at Wrestlemania. Speaking of the WWF Championship, newly crowned champion Mankind (more on that later) will battle the former champion, the Rock in a brutal I Quit match. Lets get this show going. Please leave all feedback on Twitter at @Mpmcc91. Before our opening video package we get some comments from participants in the Rumble match tonight, in the Road Dogg, Big Bossman, Mark Henry and Jeff Jarrett. They also mention the $100,000 bounty that Mr McMahon has placed on Austin's head. We then get our opening video focused on Austin's chances (or lack thereof) in the Rumble match tonight. By the way, the theme song for the PPV is "No Chance in Hell" which is of course better known as the theme Mr McMahon would use as his own from this point forward. Anyway, after that stuff we head into the arena where we are welcomed by our announce team of Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler. JR is still out with Bells Palsy. Road Dogg vs Big Bossman This is stemming from the ongoing rivalry between D-Generation X and the Corporation. Whilst we saw the New Age Outlaws defeat Bossman & Shamrock last month on PPV to retain the tag titles, the following night on Raw is War the same challengers defeated the Outlaws to become the new WWF Tag Team Champions. The Road Dogg would get some payback the following week however when he defeated the Bossman to win the WWF Hardcore Championship. Road Dogg is still holding that title here, although for some reason the belt is not on the line tonight, nor is this a hardcore match. Considering the styles of these two men, that's probably not for the best. Anyway, good pop for Road Dogg as always as he comes out doing his usual stuff on the mic before the match. The match gets going once Bossman heads out to the ring and we get a brawl to start. Meanwhile the announcers also question why the Corporation has not made this a title match, giving Bossman the chance to regain the Hardcore championship. At least I'm not the only one. Bossman spends the early part of the match in control for the most part, although Road Dogg gets some brief offence in such as sending Bossman crotch first onto the ropes. Bossman regains control however and the action spills to the outside. Back in the ring, Bossman continues to control the Hardcore Champion with a bearhug. We get a little more back and forth brawling once the Dogg fights out, and Road Dogg connects with the Shake, Rattle and Roll but the Bossman kicks out. Bossman recovers and follows up with the Bossman slam to score the pinfall victory out of nowhere at 11:52. Pretty basic match here that really would have been much better if it was a Hardcore match. I get wanting to keep the belt on Road Dogg, but Bossman really wouldn't have been hurt by a loss here. Strange decision having this as a regular match, and as a result it never really took off, although the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Grade: * WWF Intercontinental Championship: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Billy Gunn Up next we continue the rivalry between the current and former tag team champs with the other halves of the team competing here. As well as being one half of the tag champs with Bossman, Shamrock is also still the reigning I.C Champion at this point, and Billy Gunn looks to take that belt from him tonight. There's a little extra backstory between these two men as well which goes back to the Bad Ass mooning Ken's sister, Ryan Shamrock on a recent episode of Raw is War. This act led to Shamrock agreeing to face Gunn for the title, with the assassin of the Corporation looking for revenge. Shamrock would get that revenge the week before this event on Raw is War, snapping Gunn's ankle with the ankle lock. Anyway, Gunn wastes little time in taking the fight to Shamrock here as he starts out kicking at the champion, but Shamrock soon gains the advantage, dictating the pace with his offence. Gunn comes back and builds some momentum, taking down the champ with the Fameasser and then takes Shamrock to the corner, only for Shamrock to send the Ass Man flying out of the ring to the floor. On the outside, Shamrock beats on Gunn, sending him into the ring steps before returning the action to the apron, where Billy sends Shamrock face first into the Spanish announce table via a bulldog. Nonetheless, Shamrock recovers and gets back in the ring, dissecting Gunn's ankle. Gunn does his best to fight back and ends up ducking a clothesline which leads to Shamrock accidentally taking out the referee. With the ref down, Val Venis, who has also had issues with Ken revolving around his sister as of late, runs down and gives Shamrock a DDT. Billy goes to cover, but the champion kicks out by the time the ref regains his composure. Gunn follows up with some more offence, but Shamrock ends up countering a manoeuvre and locking the DX member in the ankle lock. Gunn taps out at 14:24 and Ken Shamrock successfully retains his title. The match as a whole was okay, but it seemed to drag at points in the middle. Not an incredible start to the pending Billy Gunn singles push. Grade: ** We now cut to Vince, Shane and the stooges in the back. Shane and company do their best to pump Vince up for the Rumble later tonight. WWF European Championship: X-Pac vs Gangrel This is really just a random title match being thrown together to fill out the card. I don't have a huge problem with that here since X-Pac has been one of the highlights of the midcard as of late. He's obviously the face and gets a good pop here, although Gangrel (and the rest of the Brood for that matter) are still in that weird place where they aren't faces but haven't yet gone heel as they would in the near future. So, X-Pac starts out with the momentum here with his fast paced striking offence. Gangrel gets a few shots in, but its mostly all the champion here, as he connects with the Bronco Buster after going at it some more. X-Pac follows up with more offence, but Gangrel catches the champion on the ropes to get a breather. X-Pac recovers and attempts a cross-body, but Gangrel rolls through and the referee (Teddy Long) actually counts the three but then remembers the match is supposed to continue. Stick to making tag team matches playa! Anyway, botched spot aside, the match continues with the Brood leader hitting a powerslam and attempting to follow up with a flapjack. The champ counters into the X-Factor however, which allows X-Pac to retain his title, scoring the pin at 5:53. Missed spot aside, this was a fun quick match, giving X-Pac a chance to fight off a challenger and continue his reign as European Champion. That's really all this was meant to be. This would probably be the highest profile match Gangrel would be involved in going forward which says a lot. Grade: **1/4 In the back, Kevin Kelly is standing by with the members of D-Generation X. They talk about the Rumble being every man for themselves. Chyna (who is starting to look decent by this point) jumps in and restates that it is every woman for themselves as well. She won a Corporate Rumble on Raw is War heading in to this show as an unannounced competitor, earning the number 30 spot tonight. WWF Women's Championship - Strap Match: Sable (c) vs Luna w/Shane McMahon So Sable has finally moved on from the Jacqueline feud, and enters the new year with a rivalry with another old foe. This stems from an episode of Raw is War when Sable was in action against a masked Spider Lady (hey Moolah, how to doing?). The Spider Lady started whipping at Sable with her belt during the match and unmasked to reveal herself as the deranged Luna, who I guess turned heel again here after spending the past few months kicking back with the Oddities. Sable has also been dealing with her biggest fan in recent weeks, in the debuting Tori, who presented Sable with a rose on the last Raw is War of 1998, and has since been appearing during the Women's Champion's matches. That will come into play here. Anyway, Sable and Luna got into a brawl earlier in the evening on Sunday Night Heat, with Luna injuring Sable's back. As a result, Shane McMahon comes out prior to the match here and attempts to get Sable to forfeit the title to Luna. Sable comes out and simply orders Shane to ring the bell, and we get under way. Strap match rules here, with the winner being the woman who drags their opponent around the ring and first touches all four corners in succession. Shane joins the commentary team as the match gets started, and is very anti-Sable for reasons I cannot recall. As far as the match goes, Sable starts out whipping at Luna with the strap, but Luna takes over after interrupting the champion's quest to touch the four corners. Luna starts choking Sable with the strap and ends up putting her on her back, carrying her around the ring as she goes to touch the corners. Unaware to the challenger, Sable touches them as well. Both women get three corners, and just as Luna is going for the fourth, Sable takes her down in her tracks. This causes Shane to get up on the apron to distract Sable, however Tori comes through the crowd and takes out Luna as she recovers. With her opponent down, Sable taps the final corner to retain her championship at 4:43. After the match, the security chase off Tori. Nothing special here. Grade: * In the back, we see Shamrock, Bossman and Test of the Corporation having a secret meeting about the Rumble. Hmm whats going on there. We then get a video package for our upcoming WWF Championship match. WWF Championship - I Quit Match: Mankind (c) vs The Rock Alright, when we last left off, Mankind had technically defeated the Rock for the title at Rock Bottom, however Mr McMahon reversed the decision meaning the Corporate Champion retained his title. Mankind would respond to being screwed on Raw is War by assaulting Shane McMahon and forcing Vince into granting him another shot at the title. Vince granted him that rematch on the first episode of Raw is War of 1999. In a historic match, Mankind defeated the Rock to win the WWF Championship, with DX and Stone Cold interfering to fight off the Corporation at ringside. Yes, this was the night that WCW gave away that Mankind was going to win the WWF title, a tactic which backfired, causing millions of viewers to switch the channel from Nitro to Raw. Anyway, Mankind was finally the WWF Champion, and Rock demanded a rematch. Mankind initially declined, however he eventually agreed, provided the match was on his terms. And so he announced that the match would be an I Quit match, a match Mankind said he could not lose, as he would never quit. In fact, he explicitly stated heading into this show that he would never say the words "I Quit". Remember that - its important later! Also on Heat before the PPV, the returning Mabel (ugh!) destroyed Mankind with some splashes, putting the champion at the disadvantage for the match. That pretty much brings us to where we are now. Mankind comes out to his now well known theme for the first time on PPV here and gets a good pop from the crowd, whilst Rock gets some solid heel heat. He's wearing a shirt here and competes as such due to having undergone chest surgery. As far as this match goes, its brutal and hard hitting the point that it is difficult to watch today knowing what we do about concussions and the like, but this was a different time. The action starts out with both men brawling around ringside and taking stiff shots on one another. Rock once again joins the commentary team during the early part of the match for a few seconds which is always gold. After Rock pummels Mankind with the ring bell and rings it in his ears, Mankind makes his way up the aisle, and the fight continues into the technical area by the entrance. We get a stiff DDT from Rock to Mankind onto the floor, and the challenger then brings out a ladder. Mankind follows up by taking down Rock and elbow dropping him with the ladder on top. The referee is asking both men if they quit throughout all this by the way. They end up setting up the ladder and climbing it up to the crowd barricade on the next level. They brawl and Rock ends up sending Mankind crashing down into the electronic area, which explodes and sends the arena into darkness to a huge reaction from the crowd. The lights come back on and Shane McMahon makes his way out, telling the official to stop the match, but Rock waves him off, saying he wants Mankind to quit. Meanwhile a battered Mankind crawls back to the ring, with Rock kicking at him as he goes. And then we get to the sick part of the match, as Rock pulls out a pair of handcuffs, and cuffs his opponent's hands behind his back. Mankind refuses to quit, as Rock beats on him, hitting him in the nuts and following up with a Corporate Elbow onto a chair over the champion's skull. Rock again gets the ref to ask if Mankind quits, but he says he'd rather go to hell. Mankind climbs to his feet, and Rock destroys him with three stiff consecutive chair shots to the skull, with Mankind having no way to protect himself due to his hands being cuffed. The ref asks Mankind if he quits again, but Mankind says Rock will need to kill him to take the title. The announcers beg Mankind to quit, with even Lawler starting to say that Rock is going too far. Rock then absolutely destroys Mankind with a huge number of further unprotected chair shots, taking the beating back to the aisle until finally we hear Mankind's voice say the two words, which results in the Rock winning the match, and regaining the WWF Championship at 21:46. It would later be revealed that Mankind did not quit, and it was the recording from an earlier promo that had been played by the Corporation in the back, so Rock had once again screwed Mankind out of the title. Anyway, this is a really good, brutal match, but at the same time, as I said earlier, in a post-2007 world, I simply cannot watch this match in the same way I once could. I am glad that we would never get a match like this today, but at the same time, I have to give both guys credit for the story they told here. Their best match so far together. Grade: ***3/4 The announcers talk about the brutality we just witnessed before shifting gears to the upcoming Rumble match. They recap happenings on Heat earlier in the night which saw Mr McMahon slap Austin after we get a video package about the ongoing issues between the two. Royal Rumble Match: Its Rumble time! But first, Howard Finkel explains the rules as usual, whilst Lawler yells at him on commentary to hurry up. Funny stuff. Its ninety second intervals this year by the way. Our #1 entrant is of course, the most popular man in the company, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and he gets a major pop as expected. We also know that #2 is Mr McMahon, by order of newly turned face Commissioner Michaels. Major heat of course as he makes his way to the ring still without entrance music. The crowd goes nuts as Austin starts stomping a mudhole in his arch rival for the first ninety seconds of the match, toying with him rather than throwing him out. Our #3 entrant is Golga of the Oddities, who won't be around much longer. He quickly gets eliminated by Austin, and the rattlesnake sets his sights back on McMahon, whom he brawls with under the bottom rope to the outside. Vince tries to run but Austin gives chase as they fight their way through the crowd and to the back. Vince runs into a bathroom and Austin follows, and we hear a whole host of smashes. We then see it was a trap, as Test, Bossman and Shamrock emerge after assaulting Austin inside, and take out the camera man. Amidst all this, Droz has made his way out to the empty ring as #4. He's still doing the LOD thing. Out next is Edge at #5, and the Brood member brawls with Droz, however the announcers are more preoccupied with what just happened to Austin. Entrant #6 is the reigning Light Heavyweight Champion, Gillberg, who gets his usual hilarious parody of Goldberg's entrance, and he gets eliminated in a matter of seconds by Edge. After another interval, #7 is Steve Blackman, to a surprisingly decent pop. He gets in the ring and we cut to the back to see Austin being loaded onto a stretcher by EMTs. Dan Severn is #8 and I'm surprised he was still hanging around at this point. Nothing eventful really happens as Tiger Ali Singh is next in at #9, still doing his evil foreigner thing we saw a few shows back. We cut to the back once more to see Austin being loaded into an ambulance and being taken to a medical facility as the announcers suggest that McMahon's plan worked. Meanwhile, the Blue Meanie of the J.O.B Squad closes out our first third of entrants at #10. As it becomes time for our next entrant, we see Mosh, the man who was supposed to be #11 get jumped backstage by Mabel, who returned earlier in the evening on Heat as I mentioned. Mabel takes his spot and heads to the ring, quickly eliminating Severn, Blackman, Tiger, Droz and the Meanie within one interval. Road Dogg is out next at #12 and he goes after Edge, eliminating the Brood member and sending him crashing into the announce table. Mabel and the Dogg now go to trade blows when the lights suddenly go out. The Undertaker's music plays, and Mideon and the Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) of the newly formed Ministry of Darkness and assault Mabel, eliminating him from the match. They beat on him up the aisle and are met by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer. Taker talks to a beaten Mabel in the aisle and they take him to the back. This would lead to Mabel being repackaged as Viscera, and joining Taker's Ministry. Gangrel is our next entrant at #13, but he quickly gets dumped by Road Dogg, who is now alone in the ring, and takes the chance to take a breather. The next man to come out is Kurrgan of the Oddities as #14. The announcers talk him up as a threat to win due to his size as he beats on Road Dogg. Our halfway entrant is Al Snow at #15 who gets a solid pop as usual. He doesn't have Head with him as she was stolen by Goldust in the weeks heading into this show. They team up on Kurrgan, but fail to get him out, so Dogg ends up tossing Snow instead. Speaking of this man, Goldust is out at #16 to a decent pop. He goes for the Shattered Dreams on Road Dogg, but Kurrgan stops him in his tracks. The Godfather is #17 and he also takes the fight to Goldust. We are really seeing the lack of star power here by the way with Austin and McMahon nowhere in sight. Business picks up as Kane makes his first Rumble appearance (in this character) as #18. He wastes little time in establishing his dominance, tossing Road Dogg, Kurrgan, Godfather and Goldust over the top to the floor. Meanwhile, a bunch of men in white from the mental institution make their way to the ring and go after Kane, however the Big Red Machine takes the fight to them. This was around the time that McMahon was trying to have Kane committed for being mentally unstable. He throws one of the men over his head to the floor, but then ends up stepping over the top rope and chasing them to the back, eliminating himself from the match in the process. With the ring now empty, Mr McMahon makes his way back to the ring to major heat from the crowd. He stands alone in the ring, as fellow Corporation member, Ken Shamrock heads out at #19. Vince goes back through the ropes and takes a seat with the announcers, telling them that Austin is gone. He then talks up Shamrock as the man who battled him in a losing effort earlier comes out at #20 in Billy Gunn. He's only got one shoe on due to his injured ankle, which Shamrock quickly targets. Another member of the Corporation is out next as #21, with Test making his first PPV appearance. We helps Shamrock double team Gunn, but we suddenly cut to the back and see the Ministry stuffing Mabel into a hearse and driving off. Whilst we are in the parking lot however, we see an ambulance drive in and the driver is none other than Austin himself! McMahon's facials are priceless as Austin makes his way back out to the ring, having never been eliminated. He chases McMahon from the announce table before being stopped in his tracks by Shamrock. We now get a third Corporation member in the mix, as this Big Bossman joins the match as #22. The three man advantage doesn't last long though as Austin gets the better of his fight with Shamrock and sends the I.C Champion to the floor. Triple H of D-Generation X gets a good pop next at #23, whilst McMahon rejoins the commentary team once more. Val Venis is #24 and Vince is going crazy on commentary, pleading for someone to eliminate Austin. Meanwhile, Austin tosses Billy Gunn. The next man out is the reigning European Champion, X-Pac at #25. He comes in on fire with his kicks of fury. Mark Henry, Sexual Chocolate character and all is out next at #26 and he takes the fight to the Bossman. I believe Henry was a face here, although if not, the turn would happen very soon in the future. Jeff Jarrett follows at #27 with Debra by his side. Not much of note happens until our next entrant heads out. Its D'Lo Brown at #28, still flanked by Terri and Jacqueline of P.M.S, so I guess he and Henry were still technically heels. We get some more eliminations now, as Austin dumps Test and Bossman eliminates X-Pac. Austin then goes for the Lou Thesz press on Jarrett, and Triple H follows up by sending the man with the guitar out of the match as well. His new partner is next man out, as Owen Hart is entrant #29. Sadly this would be his last Rumble appearance due to events a few months down the line. Austin ends up rolling from the ring after taking a beating. He grabs a pitcher of water and throws it in Vince's face. McMahon is even more pissed now as Chyna rounds out our entrants at #30, due to her victory in Vince's Corporate Rumble on Raw is War. She eliminates Henry, but Austin clotheslines her out of the match as well. This draws the ire of Triple H who goes after the Rattlesnake for a bit before shifting his focus and eliminating Venis. Austin follows up with a Stunner on Triple H and sends the DX leader out as well. There's four guys left in the ring now, but McMahon is also still in the match at the announce table. Owen connects with the enziguri on Austin, and then charges at him, but Austin ducks and sends Owen to the floor. Our official final four is Austin, McMahon, D'Lo and Bossman. Bossman and D'Lo team up on the Rattlesnake, but Bossman double crosses his temporary ally, eliminating D'Lo from the match. He doesn't celebrate for long however, as Austin follows up with a stunner, and sends Bossman out as well. The crowd now goes crazy as it has come down to Austin and McMahon once again. Austin goes for Vince at the announce table and lets out all his frustration, smashing the boss with a stoff chair shot to the skull. Austin throws McMahon into the ring, and despite a lowblow by the boss, Austin regains himself and connects with a stunner to a massive pop. Just as it looks like Austin is closing in on his third Rumble win in a row however, the Rock makes his way out to the ring and taunts the Rattlesnake. The WWF Champion gets up on the apron and Austin takes his attention off McMahon to brawl with him. McMahon takes the opportunity to capitalise on the distraction however, jumping to his feet and eliminating Austin at 56:38. Mr McMahon is the winner of the 1999 Royal Rumble! I don't think anyone could have seen that coming at the time. The stooges come out and McMahon celebrates with them with some beers to huge heat as we go off the air. I know a lot of people have an issue with Vince winning here, but I don't have a problem with it as it didn't hurt Austin at all and just made it all the more sweeter when he would finally get his revenge on the evil owner of the company. Having said that, this is not a great Rumble match. The Austin/McMahon stuff was fun, but when they weren't in there, it really started to drag, especially with the lack of major star power in the early to middle part of the match. I get why they did the Austin being taken to the hospital stuff, but I think it would have worked better having Austin out there all match with Vince getting on commentary once enough guys were in there to beat on Austin allowing him to escape. Do that and keep the ending stuff between them the same and this could have been a lot better. Overall though it did its job in setting things up for the following month and the road to Wrestlemania. Grade: ** FINAL THOUGHTS: There really isn't much more to say about this show. It was about two things - Austin/McMahon and Mankind/Rock. Everything else was pretty much an afterthought. I've already gone over my issues with the Rumble match itself, but at least it furthered that feud and produced a twist nobody was expecting at the time with McMahon winning. I suppose it was fitting that the match was based around the hottest storyline in the company, but overall there were parts in the match that dragged on for too long without either man out there. The heat on McMahon was insane though. As far as the title match goes, it was very good, but at the same time it is one of the most difficult to watch matches you can find knowing just how much Mick Foley has put himself through for the entertainment of the fans. I'm glad that the performers of today are much better looked after and we would never see something like this today. Anyway, Rock is the new WWF Champion, but these two men will continue to have a series of brutal title matches over the next few months whilst Austin occupies himself with Vince. Not the best show objectively, but its really just setting things up for down the line. Three Stars of the Night: 1. Mankind - do I even need to explain this? Once again this man truly gave everything when it came to putting on a show for the fans at the expense of his own health and wellbeing. 2. Steve Austin/Mr McMahon (tie) - the Rumble was about the heated rivalry between these two men. They played their roles perfectly. Vince is also the undisputed champion of facial expressions in sports entertainment. 3. The Rock - he may have went overboard with the chair shots, but you still have to give him credit for working his ass off and putting on his best match with Foley to this point in time. He was doing a great job since officially rising to main event status back at Survivor Series, and his feud with Foley has a lot to do with that. FINAL GRADE: 4 out of 10 ALL TIME PERFORMANCE TALLY: What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far. After tonight’s showing, Mankind ties the Macho Man for fourth place overall! Bret Hart = 83 Shawn Michaels = 67 Steve Austin = 62 Randy Savage = 28 Mick Foley = 28 Undertaker = 25 The Rock = 21 Hulk Hogan = 18 Owen Hart = 18 Triple H = 16 Diesel = 15 X-Pac = 14 Ultimate Warrior = 13 Vader = 13 British Bulldog = 11 Ted DiBiase = 10 Razor Ramon = 10 Ric Flair = 8 Jim Neidhart = 7 Jerry Lawler = 6 Dynamite Kid = 5 Arn Anderson = 5 Roddy Piper = 5 Mr Perfect = 5 Marty Jannetty = 5 Bob Backlund = 5 Vince McMahon = 5 Ricky Steamboat = 4 Ax = 4 Smash = 4 Bobby Heenan = 4 D’Lo Brown = 4 Greg Valentine = 3 Tully Blanchard = 3 Tanaka = 3 Bam Bam Bigelow = 3 Sato = 3 Jake Roberts = 3 Hakushi = 3 Yokozuna = 3 Savio Vega = 3 Ken Shamrock = 3 Brutus Beefcake = 2 Paul Orndorff = 2 Andre the Giant = 2 Rick Rude = 2 Sgt Slaughter = 2 Jeff Jarrett = 2 Jesse Ventura = 1 Texas Tornado = 1 Tito Santana = 1 Virgil = 1 Scott Steiner = 1 Rick Steiner = 1 Lex Luger = 1 The Roadie = 1 Billy Gunn = 1 Bart Gunn = 1 Marc Mero = 1 Flash Funk = 1 Animal = 1 Hawk = 1 Taka Michinoku = 1 Christian = 1 Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91.