Thursday, 30 May 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1999

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Event poster
June 27, 1999,
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

For most of its 30-year career, the WWF/WWE King of the Ring tournament was often little more than another storyline played out on TV and/or live events that would help the likes of Harley Race and Bad News Barrett evolve into a new gimmick. 

However, those of us who lived through the 1990s will remember that for a decade-spanning 1993 to 2002, the tournament gave its name to one of the original 'Big Five' PPVs, sitting right alongside Wrestlemania, The Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and Summerslam in terms of prestige and importance.

By the late 1990s, however, that level of importance was already starting to wane.

Whereas earlier events such as the inaugural King of the Ring PPV in 1993 and Owen Hart's career-changing win at the 1994 King of the Ring focused almost exclusively on the tournament itself, recent events had begun to downplay the tournament altogether.

In fact, after winning the 1998 competition, Ken Shamrock didn't even receive the ceremonial robe and crown, or much fanfare at all. Shamrock's win was treated, if anything, like it was just another victory.






A year later, would the pride and prestige be restored to the King of the Ring tournament? Or would it become just another storyline, lost in the lightning-speed chaos of the Attitude Era?

Let's head to Greensboro to find out.

Stone Cold is the New CEO

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler & Jim Ross
The King of the Ring tournament didn't feature at all in tonight's opening video, which instead focussed on the main event ladder match pitting Stone Cold Steve Austin against Vince and Shane McMahon for control of the company.

After this, we went to Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, who told us that Ken Shamrock had injured Shane in a match earlier on Heat. Following that match, Steve Blackman had run out and destroyed Shamrock with a kendo stick.

Backstage, Shamrock was shown on his knees, in agony, refusing medical attention.

Elsewhere in the backstage area, Michael Cole stood outside Mr McMahon's locker room and promised us an update later on in the show.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 1
Hardcore Holly vs. X-Pac

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Hardcore Holly faced X-Pac in the first round
Short and sweet, tonight's opening contest was turning into a fine match until the finish.

X-Pac came flying right out of the gate, using his speed and "educated feet" against Hardcore Holly's brute strength.

At one point, Hardcore Holly powerbombed his lighter opponent into the mat with such force it was almost sickening.

This was tremendous stuff from these two, or at least as good as you were going to get from them.

Then, it all came crashing to a halt when Holly got frustrated, threw Howard Finkle out of his chair and blasted Pac around the head with said chair in full view of the referee.
Your Winner via disqualification: X-Pac

Post-match, Holly continued his beat down until Road Dogg ran to ringside to save his DX teammate from further punishment.

There was still a chance that X-Pac and Road Dogg would end up facing each other if the D-O-Double-G could get past Chyna in another quarterfinal match.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Hardcore Holly yells at Terry TaylorBackstage, Terry Taylor caught up with Holly for a quick interview.

"Who the hell are you?" asked Bob Holly.
"I'm Terry Taylor," replied Terry Taylor.

To be fair to Bob, he probably didn't recognise Taylor without a red streak running through his hair.

Anyway, Holly told Taylor that he was playing by his own rules and everyone would just have to like it.

"Oh, by the way, I haven't forgotten about you, Big Show," he said as he left, furthering a rivalry that to this day nobody remembers.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 2
The Big Show vs. Kane

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Kane faced Big Show in the Quarter Final
By now, Paul Wight had dropped his real name from his official ring name and was just going by The Big Show.

Here, he locked up with Kane to see who would advance in the King of the Ring tournament.

This was a surprisingly enjoyable battle of the giants, with both men moving quicker and looking far more motivated than they naturally would decades into their career.

After a good big-man match, the referee took a tumble and Bob Holly -predictably- came out to attack Big Show. Instead, Kane stopped him and chokeslammed him, then put Show in a chokehold for what felt like an eternity.

Just when the crowd were starting to get restless, Show broke the hold, but then took a wicked chair shot to the head from Kane.

The referee revived himself just long enough to make the three count, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Kane

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed an irate Mr McMahon. McMahon insisted that Shane was too injured to compete and needed medical attention while Shane -off camera- insisted that he'd be fine to wrestle.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 3
Mr Ass vs. Ken Shamrock

So, let's catch up here.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Billy 'Mr. Ass' Gunn faced Ken Shamrock in the quarter final
Billy Gunn had left DX, turned heel, and changed his name. He was no longer Bad Ass Billy Gunn, but simply as Mr Ass.

As dumb ring names go, that was up there with the time Justin Credible was named after a jellyfish.

Dumb or not, Billy Gunn  Mr Ass took to the mic, calling out Ken Shamrock for faking his injuries and urging The World's Most Dangerous Man to grow some balls and face him in the ring.

He then called Shamrock a horse's ass, which was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back for Shamrock.

Backstage, he was shown screaming "HORSES ASS!" and beating up EMTs who were trying to help him before storming out to the ring.

It was almost as embarrassing as Billy Gunn's new ring name.

Referee Teddy Long tried to convince Shamrock that he was in no fit state to compete, but Mr Ass attacked him anyway, and what followed was several minutes of really boring action, culminating in Long finally calling the match off, telling us that Shamrock -who was now coughing up blood- couldn't continue.

This whole thing was bad, even worse than the last time these two met back at the 1999 Royal Rumble.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

Afterwards, Shamrock had one of his trademark temper tantrums and threw Long out of the ring, but was then too hurt to do much more than that.

All Hail Queen Chyna

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Kevin Kelly interviews Chyna and Triple H
Out in the back, Kevin Kelly asked Chyna how it felt to be the first woman to compete in a King of the Ring tournament.

The Ninth Wonder of the World cut a fairly decent promo in which she said that she used to want to be a princess as a child, but now she was all grown up and about to be queen.

Kelly then turned his attention to 1997 King of the Ring winner Triple H, who had issued a challenge for the WWF championship and was upset that people were trying to tell him what to do.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 4
Road Dogg vs. Chyna (w/ Triple H)

The longest match on the show so far, this one also just happened to be the best.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Road Dogg kicks that shiznit doggy style
The first two-thirds of the match were all designed to get Chyna over and showcase her as a solid wrestler every bit as capable of competing with the men.

She dominated Road Dogg at a slow, deliberate pace, slamming him about and beating the life out of him so much you became sure that victory was only moments away.

Then Road Dogg got a sleeper hold on Chyna, and that's when the tide of the match turned.

To break the hold Triple H put Chyna's foot on the ropes behind Earl Hebner's back, which prompted Commissioner Shawn Michaels to come out and send his former DX mate packing.

All the while, Road Dogg got a second wind and hit Chyna with all his trademark offence as the crowd absolutely lost their minds.

It was awesome.

Towards the finish, D-O-Double-G looked to be playing the dumb ass babyface, turning his back on Chyna to watch Michaels eject Hunter.

Yet it turned out he was actually playing it smart.

Chyna attempted a low blow from behind but hurt her hand, leading Road Dogg to reveal he'd been wearing a metal protective cup the whole time.

One pump handle slam later and this enormously enjoyable match was over.
Your Winner: Road Dogg

"Now we can all say we saw Chyna get it doggy style!" yelled Jim Ross as Road Dogg celebrated.

Years later, those words would become truer than JR could have ever imagined.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Michael Cole interviews The RockThat don't impress me much

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed The Rock.

The Great One channelled his inner Shania Twain by talking about how little he was impressed with being set on fire by The Undertaker.

The two would meet later for the WWF championship.

Match to determine the number one contenders to the tag team titles
The Brood (Edge & Christian w/ Gangrel) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy w/ Michael P.S Hayes)

So, here's a thing:

Matt and Jeff Hardy made their WWF PPV against Edge and Christian on a PPV headlined by a ladder match and featuring ladders predominantly in the set dressing.

Later, The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian would go on to stardom thanks to their legendary ladder matches.

As for tonight, this was just a glimpse of what was to come between the two teams; a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest with lots to enjoy.

At one point, Edge caught Jeff Hardy with a spear in mid-air that was every bit as impressive as anything you'd later see them do in their famous TLC matches.

Alas, it wasn't enough to put the young stars away.

Towards the finish, Edge whipped Jeff into the ropes and Gangrel went to spit blood in Hardy's face.

Jeff ducked, and Edge got the blood soaking. This allowed The Hardy's to steal a win on their debut PPV outing.
Your Winners: The Hardy Boyz

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Michael Cole interviews The UndertakerOut in the back, WWF Champion The Undertaker asked Michael Cole what happens when you rip the balls off a Brahma Bull.

If Cole had an answer, he didn't have time to give it as The Dead Man simply walked off, ending this quick and pointless segment.

The show must go on...

Up next, Vince McMahon sauntered to ringside to tell us that Shane McMahon was so injured that he would be unable to compete.

Therefore, said Vince, the Vince & Shane vs. Austin handicap match would no longer be taking place.

This brought out Commissioner Michaels, who informed Mr McMahon that he was the one who made the matches, and thus, there was no getting out of it.

"This guy's making me lose my smile," said Jerry Lawler, an off-the-cuff quip that had this writer laughing hard.

Speaking of laughing, it as Mr McMahon who had the last laugh, as he said that there'd still be a match tonight, but that he'd have a "suitable replacement" for Shane.

King of the Ring Semi Final 1
Mr Ass vs. Kane

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Michael Cole interviews The Undertaker
There was a certain lack of atmosphere about this semifinal match that made you feel as though it had been put on to deliberately cool down the crowd before something more exciting came along.

Not that this was a total dud or anything. Both men put in some decent effort to entertain and, for the most part, it paid off.

It wasn't amazing, but it was a perfectly acceptable way to advance the tournament and keep things moving.

Towards the finish, Mr Ass looked to drill Kane with a chair but Big Show came out and stopped him. Kane then grabbed Gunn, Show levelled Kane with the chair in retribution for their earlier match, and three seconds later, Mr Ass was a King of the Ring finalist.
Your Winner: Mr Ass

Out in the back, X-Pac was still selling the vicious chair shot from Bob Holly earlier in the show.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Kevin Kelly interviews X-Pac
Dazed and confused, he told "Road Dogg Brian James Jesse James" (his words, not mine) that although they were best friends, tonight was an opportunity for them both to reach the next level.

"It might sound corny," said Pac. "But may the best man win."

Road Dogg also cut a promo with Kelly, saying pretty much the same thing, saying the upcoming match might be the hardest of his career.

King of the Ring Semi Final 2
X-Pac vs. Road Dogg

Though better than the previous semi-final match, this one still had a sense of being more to progress the story than to actually give us a quality wrestling match.

Still, this short and snappy little encounter was fun for what it was. It ended with an X-Factor to Road Dogg for the three count.
Your Winner: X-Pac

Before our next match, we got a look back at The Rock's rivalry with The Corporate Ministry and, to be specific, with WWF Champion The Undertaker.

The two would meet next.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs.  The Rock

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  The Rock defended the WWF title against The Undertaker
For all intents and purposes, this was your typical Attitude Era world title match, eschewing traditional wrestling for a couple of wild brawls through the crowds and up the entrance way and featuring ref bumps aplenty.

Towards the finish, Mike Chioda could blatantly see that he was in the way and literally stood still, waiting for Rock and Undertaker to run into him. It really took you out of the moment.

That was the catalyst for a low-blow from the Undertaker. It seemed pretty pointless doing it only once the referee was down, after all, he'd let them brawl all around the arena with nary a ten-count insight.

Following the low-blow, Paul Bearer soaked a rag in ether and handed it to the champion, only for Rock to get hold of it and put Undertaker to sleep. Triple H then ran in and planted the challenger with a pedigree. Shortly after, a tombstone ensured that for the second time in three years, The Undertaker would chalk up a successful title defence at King of The Ring.

Overall, this wasn't a bad match. It contained all the right components for an Attitude Era main event, but sadly, it just wasn't quite as good as it could have been.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: The Undertaker

Post-match, Jim Ross noted that Triple H had been wearing his wrestling attire during his run in and speculated as to whether Hunter could be Mr McMahon's 'suitable replacement' for the main event.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Mr McMahon confronts Commissioner Shawn Michaels
Almost as if pro wrestling were scripted or something, this led us naturally to the backstage area, where Shawn Michaels was having Triple H removed from the building as an angry Vince McMahon looked on.

"HE'S MY TAG TEAM PARTNER!" yelled Vince.
"No shit, Sherlock!" replied Michaels. "You think I didn't know that?"

After HBK left, Vince got on his cell phone, presumedly to try and find another partner.

Kiss My Royal Ass

Prior to the next match, Mr Ass was interviewed by Michael Cole. In a decent little promo, the former Smoking Gunn told X-Pac that he'd be going straight for 'Pac's neck en route to becoming our 1999 King of The Ring, and when he did, he'd have four words for his opponent:

"Kiss my royal ass."

1999 King of the Ring Final
X-Pac vs. Mr Ass

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Billy Gunn wishes he was in the Four Horsemen
It was only when I got half-way through this review that I learned X-Pac was legitimately injured going in to tonight's show, which makes the decision to book him all the final a baffling one, especially when you consider that Road Dogg was super over all night long and a Battle of The Outlaws in the final would have made for compelling viewing.

This was less than compelling, but you couldn't help but feel for X-Pac and admire him for doing the best he could to put on a decent match with Billy Gunn.

Though short, this was probably the best match the two were capable of having under the circumstances.

After some reasonable action and plenty of audible swearing (Gunn yelled "bullshit!" twice at Tim White and X-Pac loudly called his opponent a "motherf*cker") It ended when Bad Ass hit 'Pac with a top rope fameasser.
Your Winner and 1999 King of the Ring: Mr Ass

Ladies and gentlemen, King Ass was born. As in 1998, however, there was no robe, no crown, or even much of a fanfare for the new king. He just celebrated like he'd won any normal match.

The Company is On The Line

Prior to our main event, we got a look back at how it came about.

Because the Attitude Era was full of convoluted stories, let's recap:

Austin won the WWF title at Wrestlemania 15 despite Mr McMahon's best efforts to stop him. This meant that McMahon needed a new plan to defeat Stone Cold, so he hatched a plot with The Undertaker that would involve 'Taker and his Ministry of Darkness abducting Stephanie McMahon and subjecting her to a black wedding with The Dead Man.

Vince begged his rival, Austin for help and Austin, being the babyface, came to the rescue.

Next, Stone Cold was beaten up and tied in the ropes while Vince revealed himself to be The Higher Power that Undertaker had been alluding for weeks ("It's Me, Austin!"). McMahon then revealed that the whole thing had been a set-up, that he had orchestrated the whole thing and The Corporation and The Ministry of Darkness were now one.

Angry at how Vince had used their daughter and subjected her to torture just to further his own ends, Linda McMahon had stepped down as CEO and installed Austin as her replacement.

Meanwhile, Shane had screwed Stone Cold out of the title, allowing Undertaker to win it.

Tonight, Austin would put his control of the company on the line in a ladder match and there was to be no interference for the heels by order of Commissioner Michaels.

With all that out of the way, let's get on with it.

2 vs. 1 Handicap Match for Control of the World Wrestling Federation
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr McMahon and Shane McMahon

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Stone Cold Steve AustinPrior to the bell, Mr McMahon announced that The Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman would be his replacement.

Just as you were about to groan in disappointment, however, that pesky GTV thing (remember that?) popped up on the titantron to reveal Shane laughing and joking with the Mean Street Posse about how he'd faked the injury to get one over on everybody.

When Pete Gass alerted Shane to the fact that that they were live on GTV, he and his boys attempted to do a runner, only for Commissioner Michaels to arrive on the scene and order Shane to compete.

Once the match started, it was just about the most fun you can have watching pro wrestling.

Saying that, there was probably not a single, actual wrestling move in sight.

Instead, there was Austin beating the living daylights out of the McMahons, destroying them with ladders, and even destroying the intricate arrangement of ladders that had been set up around the entrance way so that about 20 ladders all fell on top of Vince and Shane at once.

They brawled back to ringside, where those poor old fellows at the Spanish Announce Table were once again subjected to furniture breakage, and where Vince shoved Austin off a ladder through the American announce table.

Moving deliberately from one wild spot to another, this tremendously entertaining contest eventually moved to the ring where it was revealed that somebody was manipulating the mechanism that hung the briefcase from the rafters.

When Austin went for it, it was raised up, out of reach, but when Shane reached for it, it was lowered so that he could easily get hold of it and win the match.
Your Winners and once again owners of the WWF: The McMahons

Post-match, Austin merely looked on, pissed off and cursing at his rivals as the show came to a close.





Unlike previous years, we finally got the closest thing to a full King of the Ring tournament on tonight's show, though for the most part it often felt like filler, a way to kill time before the disappointing title match and the excellent main event ladder match. 

Again, the decision to have a legitimately injured X-Pac work all the way through to the final was questionable, especially when the ever popular Road Dogg was every bit as capable of putting together an entertaining match with his former New Age Outlaws teammate, if not more so given the circumstances. 

Speaking of Road Dogg, his match with Chyna was one of the best things on the card, second only to the main event itself which, as I may have mentioned, was tremendous. 

Elsewhere, the Hardyz/E&C match is worth checking out to see the start of an epic rivalry, though you can probably skip most everything else.                                  ¬

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