PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1999

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Event poster
January 24, 1999,
Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Anaheim, California.

"You've got no chance in hell of ever becoming the World Wrestling Federation champion again, Austin." 

Those were the famous words uttered to Stone Cold Steve Austin by evil WWF Chairman Mr. McMahon in the run-up to Royal Rumble 1999.

McMahon, you see, had been doing everything he could to stop Austin from winning the Rumble for the third year in a row and thus going on to Wrestlemania 15 to compete for the title.

He had even trying to prevent him from getting into the Rumble match in the first place.

Yet Austin had earned a guaranteed place thanks to a victory over the Undertaker in a Buried Alive match back at Rock Bottom: In Your House 26 in December.

Now, the best he could hope for was to ensure that there was no chance in hell that Austin would emerge victorious, even going so far as to entering himself into the Rumble match for the first time ever.

Hmm, no chance in hell.

You've got no chance in hell.

Sounds like that might make a pretty good theme tune, don't you think?

A $100,000 bounty 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler & Michael Cole
We began tonight's show with the standard video package, this one reminding us of the hatred that existed between Mr. McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

McMahon hated Austin so much, in fact, that he had offered a $100,000 bounty for any man who could eliminate Stone Cold from tonight's battle royal.

From there, we went to Michael Cole and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, who told us that for the first time ever a woman (Chyna) would be competing in the Rumble match.

With that, it was on to our opening contest

WWF Hardcore Champion Road Dogg vs. WWF Tag Team Champion The Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - The Road Dogg faced Big Boss Man
As Road Dogg made his way to the ring, Cole told us that, despite him being the Hardcore Champion, this wasn't a hardcore match because The Corporation had ruled that out.

The D-O-Double-G was super over here. In fact, looking at it, it's almost surprising to see a jam-packed crowd going absolutely nuts for everything, especially compared to today's sterile product.

Though there are some fans who'll likely call this one boring, this fan couldn't help but enjoy this wonderfully old-school match.

Road Dogg and The Big Boss Man may not have busted out every move in their arsenal or put together beautiful chain wrestling sequences, but they made everything they did count, and delivered it all with a mentality that saw them focus only on getting the biggest possible crowd reaction from every little detail.

The result was a fun, enjoyable contest that Boss Man won with the Boss Man Slam.
Your Winner: The Big Boss Man 

From one Outlaw to another, we got straight to our second match of the evening.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion & WWF Tag Team Champion Ken Shamrock vs. Bad Ass Billy Gunn

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Ken Shamrock slaps the ankle lock on Bad Bum Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn had mooned Ken Shamrock's sister on an episode of Raw, prompting the Intercontinental Champion to have one his usual tantrums and attack Mr. Ass.

That was the simple, straightforward storytelling that got us to tonight's match.

Though longer and slower than the previous encounter, this was nonetheless a tremendous effort from both champ and challenger and probably one of the best singles matches Billy Gunn would have in his career.

Despite taking some serious punishment from Shamrock, Bad Ass on multiple occasions looked to have the title in the bag.

At one point, referee Tim White was accidentally clotheslined out of his boots by Shamrock, after which both he and Gunn double clotheslined each other.

This presented an opportunity for a quick run in by Val Venis, who had also had issues with Shamrock due to his sister, Ryan, being in the crowd.

Venis clocked the IC champion with a DDT. Billy Gunn made the cover and Tim White revived himself just long enough to count a nail-biting near fall.

It was fantastic.

Unfortunately, this wasn't to be Bad Ass Billy's night. He went up top, lept off for an axe-handle but missed his opponent and "rolled his ankle" on landing.

That gave the opportunistic champion the chance to slap on the ankle lock and declare this one over.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Ken Shamrock 

Out in the back, we saw Vince McMahon pacing up and down his dressing room as son Shane gave him a pep-talk. Ever present, Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe looked on.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion X-Pac vs. Gangrel 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Ken Shamrock slaps the ankle lock on Bad Bum Billy Gunn
For the third match in a row, we got an enjoyable outing, this time between European Champion X-Pac and his vampiric challenger, Gangrel.

Though fun from start to finish, this championship match was far from perfect.

Gangrel hadn't quite mastered the art of selling, constantly popping up after every high-impact move in a way that took all the levity out of things.

Then, 'Pac came off the top and squashed Gangrel, but Gangrel reversed the pin attempt. Referee Teddy Long clearly counted to three but then only declared it a two count, a move which prompted a loud "You f**ked up!" chant from the Anaheim crowd.

After a short, decent encounter, the champion retained thanks to his patented X-Factor move.
Your Winner and Still European Champion: X-Pac

2023 update: This post has been up for almost four years now and nobody pointed out that I originally wrote that Teddy Long won the X-Pac vs. Gangrel match. It amused me so much I had to point it out.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Kevin Kelly interviews DXBackstage, four-fifths of DX (Billy Gunn was missing) told Kevin Kelly that the group was tighter than ever but that tonight, it was every man and woman for themselves in the upcoming Royal Rumble match.

Shane McMahon and the women's championship 

Up next, Shane McMahon came to the ring with a weird, techno-style theme that sounded like something straight out of a 1980s sci-fi movie about a far off, dystopian future.

Shane introduced Luna Vachon, then told us that Luna's scheduled opponent, WWF Women's Champion Sable, had suffered a back injury (due to an earlier attack by Luna on Sunday Night Heat) and was unable to compete.

Therefore, said Shane, Sable would have to vacate the title. The champion had other ideas, coming to the ring and simply  saying "ring the bell."

"Have it your way," said Shane in response.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship Strap Match
WWF Women's Champion Sable vs. Luna Vachon 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Sable retained the women's championship in a strap match against Luna Vachon
For the record, this was the first strap match we'd seen on WWF PPV since Savio Vega beat Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw in one back at In Your House 10: Mind Games.

That match wasn't great.

This one was even worse.

A sloppy mess of a match, its only redeeming feature is that it was kept quite short.

Towards the finish, Shane McMahon distracted the referee (to this day I can't remember why Shane was involved in this storyline), but a "mysterious woman" came from the crowd and decked Luna, allowing Sable to touch all four corners.
Your Winner and Still WWF Women's Champion: Sable 

Backstage, we were shown a clip of The Big Boss Man talking to Ken Shamrock and Test, the latter of whom was making their WWF PPV debut.

Boss Man reminded his fellow Corporation members that tonight was every man for himself, and vowed to go after the $100,000 bounty on Stone Cold's head.

It's showtime...

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Doc Hendrix interviews The Rock
Before our next match, we were shown an awesome video which not only recapped the rivalry between WWF Champion Mankind and The Rock, but which also reminded us what a tough, sadistic individual the champion really was.

By interspersing soundbites from episodes of Raw with shots of Mick Foley absorbing punishment at the IWA King of Death Matches 1995 event and in the infamous Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring 1998, we were shown how making Mankind say 'I Quit' was going to an almost impossible job for the challenger.

Not that The Rock himself seemed too concerned.

Talking to Doc Hendrix backstage, The Great One warned Mankind that he shouldn't take him lightly and that when it was all said and done, we would once again have a new WWF Champion.

This was gripping stuff and certainly made this writer very eager to see the upcoming match.

World Wrestling Federation Championship I Quit Match
WWF Champion Mankind vs. The Rock 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - New WWF Champion The Rock stands over a fallen Mankind
One of the defining moments of the Attitude Era, Mankind vs. The Rock at Royal Rumble 1999 still comes across just as brutal and sickeningly violent today as it did some 20 years ago.

At first, it was plenty entertaining, with both champ and challenger trading offence and goading the other one to say I quit. Then, somewhere around the time that Mankind fell from the stands and crashed through a bunch of electrical equipment, the whole thing took a dark turn.

Rock handcuffed Mankind's hands behind his back, and despite a brief comeback from the champion (including a wicked knee to The Rock's erm, *rocks*), it was the beginning of the end for the champion.

The challenger picked up a chair and delivered one ferocious blow after another. These weren't your regular worked chair shots. These were loud, violent shots that turned your stomach and had you seriously concerned for Mick Foley's well-being.

Even two decades later, you can't help but watch the ending of this match while at on the edge of your seat, hands over your face, just praying for the violence to stop.

It was intense. It was dramatic. It was some of the most captivating storytelling the World Wrestling Federation had ever committed to film and it was, eventually, over.

The Rock practically knocked Mankind out cold then pointed the microphone down at him. What was clearly a recording of an earlier Mankind promo played on the PA system, filling the arena with the sound of Mick Foley's voice saying "I quit! I quit! I quit!"
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion: The Rock

Afterwards, The Rock literally lauded his new title over a fallen Mankind as medical personnel tried to help the battered and bloody wrestler onto a stretcher.

Refusing to go out that way, Mankind crawled to his feet and, drenched in blood, limped out under his own power.

There's no chance in hell 

The final build-up to our main event began with a video package which took us all the way back to Breakdown: In Your House 24 in September 1998. On that night, Austin had lost the WWF Championship after being pinned by Undertaker and Kane at the same time.

Stone Cold had been trying to get his title back ever since but had so far had no luck whatsoever. Tonight, he was hoping that would change. Tonight, Mr. McMahon was doing all he could to make sure that there was no chance in hell that it would.

Austin had been drawn as number one in tonight's Rumble and Mr. McMahon had been booked at number two. The $100,000 bounty had been set, and it was time - almost- for the Royal Rumble.

First, you see, there was the matter of Sunday Night Heat. There, Austin had been denied entry to the arena via the VIP entrance because he wasn't driving a limousine. So he went out, got a limousine with monster truck wheels, and trampled everybody's car.

Then, later on Heat, Mr. McMahon slapped him, so he attacked Patteson and Briscoe.

With all that out of the way, it was onto the 1999 Royal Rumble Match.

1999 Royal Rumble Match

30-Man Battle Royal featuring: Mr. McMahon, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Golga, Droz, Edge, Gilberg, Steve Blackman, Dan 'The Beast' Severn, Tiger Ali Singh, The Blue Meanie, Mabel, Road Dogg, Gangrel, Kurrgan, Al Snow, Goldust, The Godfather, Kane, Ken Shamrock, Billy Gunn, Test, Big Boss Man, Triple H, Val Venis, X-Pac, Mark Henry, Jeff Jarrett, D'Lo Brown, Owen Hart, Chyna

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1999 - Vince McMahon won the Royal Rumble matchup
Kicking off tonight's main event, Austin battered McMahon around the ring to the absolute delight of the Californian crowd. At one point, Golga popped up as the number three entry but was immediately eliminated by The Texas Rattlesnake.

Golga's arrival, however, did give McMahon the chance to sneak out of the ring and hightail it through the crowd, though he didn't get far before Austin gave chase.

The former champion battered the Chairman all the way out into the arena concourse and into a women's bathroom, where Ken Shamrock and Test were lying in wait.

A corporate beatdown followed as Droz made his way out to the ring and basically stood around doing nothing.

Eventually, Edge was revealed as entrant number five so that Droz would have somebody to brawl with.

Gilberg arrived a short time later but -like Golga before him- was given the Bushwhacker treatment and immediately thrown out.

As the match settled into some kind of normality, we cut from the ring to the backstage area, where an unconscious Stone Cold Steve Austin was shown being hurled into an ambulance and driven away.

Later, Mabel -who had only just returned to the company that night- put in his first PPV appearance since the 1996 Royal Rumble.

The 1995 King of the Ring winner attacked Mosh backstage to claim a place in the match, then headed out to the ring and eliminated five people. Unfortunately, for the big man, that was where his night ended.

The lights went dark and he was attacked by Ministry of Darkness members Mideon and The Acolytes. The three punished Mabel all the way up to the entrance, where they were greeted by The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. The Dead Man said something sinister to his former rival before ordering his henchman to beat him up some more.

Kane soon put in an appearance and cleaned house, only to have The Men in White Coats come out in an attempt to straightjacket The Big Red Machine. Their attempt failed when Kane simply attacked then eliminated himself from the match so that he could chase them off through the crowd.

That left the ring empty, creating the perfect opportunity for Mr. McMahon to return to the ring during Ken Shamrock's entrance.

Next, Billy Gunn turned up, wearing only one shoe to sell the impact of Shamrock's ankle lock from their match earlier. The two rivals went to war as Vince McMahon sat down at the commentary table to boast about sending Austin to the hospital.

McMahon's gloating didn't last long, however.

As we cut to the back to see the Ministry of Darkness putting Mabel into a hearse, Austin arrived, driving the very ambulance that he'd been taken out in.

Stone Cold returned to the rumble and things finally settled down into your basic Rumble match.

All that chaos certainly made for a different kind of match than usual, but that was only part of its appeal.

Some Rumble matches had lacked a certain something in recent years, but this was fun from top to bottom.

In the end, it came down -predictably- to just Austin and McMahon.

Stone Cold took great joy in beating up the boss, but a distraction from new WWF Champion The Rock allowed Vince to throw his rival over the top and claim the match.
Your Winner: Mr. McMahon

Afterwards, Austin chased off The Rock before Vince celebrated his big victory by having an Austin-style beer bash with Shane, Patterson and Briscoe.

On the whole then, the 1999 Royal Rumble was a fun show from start to finish. 

Outside the women's championship strap match, the undercard was enjoyable if unspectacular, while the championship match remains one of the most memorable in WWF history. 

Meanwhile, the actual Rumble match was different than just about anything that had gone before it and was all the better for being so. 

Instead of the usual lulls that tend to happen in most rumbles, this one was pretty much non-stop entertainment. 

A good effort and a show that you're unlikely to regret watching. 

Other 1999 pro wrestling reviews:
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  2. The Rumble match was good until the ending. They should have just let Austin win not.