The Nameless Retro Rant for King of the Ring 99
– Man, the stuff you find for sale on eBay these days. Anyone want to buy a domain name and trademark?
– Live from Greensboro, North Carolina.
– Your hosts are Jim Ross & The King.
– I *think* that this was the last show featuring a live Heat as a pre-game show before they switched to pre-taping again, but I could be wrong, and I don’t particularly care either way.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals:
– Hardcore Holly v. X-Pac. This was during the infancy of Holly’s Russofied push, as he began the “Super-heavyweightÃ¢â‚¬Â gimmick but was still viewed as a jobber by pretty much everyone. Slow start with Holly working a headlock. X-Pac misses a blind charge and Holly controls. X-pac gets a crossbody for two, but takes a powerbomb. Both guys kind of wander around for a bit, and X-Pac mounts the comeback (at 2:30?!?) and hits the kick combo. Broncobuster follows, and Hardcore grabs his cousin (Chair Holly) and scores himself a big fat DQ after a grueling 3:01 of action. Whew, I had to stop and grab a sandwich in the middle of that marathon. Ã‚Â½* We later (as in a couple of days following) discover that X-Pac was injured before the show even started, thus making the booking decisions for this show even goofier in hindsight. Say, decisions like this one, for instance!
– Kane v. The Big Slow. I believe Big Show had only turned face for the 19th time at this point, as his character was still relatively fresh. For a guy who used to hang around with Lex Luger all the time, Paul Wight sure didn’t learn any lessons about the results of multiple face-heel switches in one year. Punch. Punch. Punch. Whoops, there’s a hiptoss in there somewhere, but I’ll leave it as a theoretical exercise for the reader to guess which it belonged to, much like Schroedinger’s Cat. Slow hits a big fat elbow for two. Kane gets the Kanezuigiri (with Show helpfully lifting up his foot for no particular reason in order to set up the move) and they do a theoretical double-boot spot, although in a perfect universe contact would be made. Kane goes AERIAL, BABY with a lariat for two. Wow, I was wondering if I’d ever to get to see either guy leave their feet again. Ref gets bumped (at 3:00 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that’s important to note) and Hardcore Holly runs in. Kane disposes of him and Show attacks Kane. Kane chokes out Big Show. For THREE MINUTES. The ref is playing dead the whole time and it’s becoming so embarrassing that JR even apologizes in a roundabout way for the ludicriously long ref bump by noting that the poor ref should be dead, and maybe someone should call the paramedics. Speaking of dead, if anyone actually maintained a chokehold for the better part of 4 minutes, the poor guy would be dead within 2. The crowd gets REALLY annoyed with the inaction, until Kane finally releases the move, hits Show with a chairshot, and gets the anticlimactic pin at 6:33. Remember when Big Show doing jobs was a big deal? -** Not quite the “Worst Match of the YearÃ¢â‚¬Â candidate that Herb Kunze heralded it as, but three minutes in a chokehold is pretty inexcusable.
– Billy Gunn v. Ken Shamrock. You know, I was trying to remember the field before I watched the show again, and I couldn’t even remember who Gunn’s first-round opponent was. To put that in perspective, I can do stuff like recite every I-C champion (backwards or forwards) or the entire field of the Wrestling Classic and the finishes, but it’s only a year later and I’ve already forgotten the details of this tournament? Now THAT’S quality storyline development. Hell, it took me a good 15 minutes of thought and the PWI Almanac to even remember that Jeff Jarrett was the I-C champ at this point, just because the belt was bouncing around so much at this point. Shamrock was injured by Steve Blackman on Heat, and suffered “internal injuriesÃ¢â‚¬Â. No mention of specific body part, but he’s bleeding from the mouth, so you know it’s bad. Of course, if *I* was bleeding from the mouth and wasn’t sure exactly which part was ruptured, I’d be pretty worried, but then I don’t the awesome power of Vince Russo’s booking behind me. Besides, we know how fond Shamrock is of biting down on condoms full of simulated blood, so he probably brought it up at the pre-show meeting.
“Oo, oo, Vince can I have internal bleeding again?Ã¢â‚¬Â
“But Ken, you just HAD it last week Ã¢â‚¬â€œ people are going to think you’re in need a dialysis machine or something Ã¢â‚¬â€œ how about a nice broken arm?Ã¢â‚¬Â
[Ken pouts and kicks at the air]
“Oh, don’t cry, Ken you know I can’t say no to you.Ã¢â‚¬Â [Hands him a condom full of red liquid] “Here, go out there and bite on this to your heart’s content!Ã¢â‚¬Â
– Anyway, Gunn is carrying one of the Acolytes’ tag titles around (another angle that didn’t particularly go anywhere). Gunn jumps Shamrock and works on well, a variety of places on his upper body. Apparently no one actually bothered to clue either guy in on where this mysterious injury actually is, so you get Gunn working on the ribs, neck, back, kidneys, chest and anywhere else a major organ with a hole in it might be located. Is it SO hard for Shamrock to make a decision before the match and, say, hold onto his side like his ribs are hurting? Maybe get an intern in the back to make up cue cards for Billy Gunn with “Hit Him In the RibsÃ¢â‚¬Â on them in big letters to penetrate the Bimbo Forcefield around his brain? We head outside as Gunn drops Shamrock neckfirst on the railing (Shamrock grabs his neck in pain), then works on the ribs again (as Shamrock changes his mind and grabs those instead). JR talks about how Gunn is focusing on “the injuryÃ¢â‚¬Â. WHAT INJURY??? What body part is injured? Give me a NAME, dammit! Back in, Gunn misses a splash and Shamrock comes back, but he tries a rana and gets powerbombed by Gunn and the ref stops the match at 3:40. JR applauds the decision. So do I Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I was going to kill someone if I had to put up with another 5 minutes of Shamrock’s bad acting. Ã‚Â¼*
– Road Dogg v. Chyna. Chyna was still a heel here, and still has HHH in her corner. Wristlock sequence to start. Chyna escapes with a forearm. Then we hit the headlock. Chyna gets the better of that, too, and beats him down in the corner. That lasts a while. Dogg finally fights back and they head out, but HHH allows Chyna to get the advantage. Back in, more beating in the corner. Elbow gets two. DDT gets two. Of course, she took about a minute in between those moves and the total time of this match is more than the first three combined as a result, but Chyna’s the Ninth Wonder of the World (and it’s not because that’s a clever marketing slogan, sez JR) so that’s okay, I guess. Slam and she hits her version of the shaky-legs kneedrop. Nothing like a parody of a move that already looks stupid. Chyna goes to the sleeper and Road Dogg reverses it and does his own! Wow! What irony! THEY SWERVED US! Okay, I’m bored, so sue me. Oh, wait, bad choice of words. HHH helps Chyna by putting her foot on the ropes, and when Dogg is arguing with the ref she rolls him up for two. Ref gets bumped (did Vince Russo get beat up by a bully who dressed like a referee in elementary school or something?) and HHH interferes and KO’s Dogg. Shawn Michaels comes out and tosses HHH, allowing Chyna time to recover and lowblow Dogg. But wait! He’s wearing a cup! Chyna completely oversells it by clutching her arm as though he had an anvil in his tights, allowing Dogg to get the pumphandle slam for the pin at 13:17. The match seemed better under the influence of alcohol the first time around. Ã‚Â½*
– Edge & Christian v. The Hardy Boyz. The Hardyz were being “coachedÃ¢â‚¬Â by Michael Hayes at this point and were using that dumbass techno music that they have in WM2000. Christian gets beat up in the Hardy corner to start. Edge comes in and hits a sick whiplash slam on Jeff, who was bumping like Shane McMahon on speedballs at this point in a desperate attempt to get over. The Hardyz get the diving splash and Matt hits the chinlock. Christian comes back with the inverted DDT, and both tag. Gangrel distracts the ref, allowing Michael Hayes to come in and a pier-six erupts. Edge saves the match from total disaster by hitting a nice spear on a diving Jeff coming out of the corner, and Christian nails Matt with a tope. Gangrel botches interference and Jeff gets the Twist of Fate on Edge for the pin at 4:45. A few highspots, but the rest of the match was just them wandering around without any idea of what to do. Ã‚Â¾*
– Vince McMahon comes out to announce that his son is injured (lot of that going around tonight) and will be replaced in the ladder match with Austin.
King of the Ring Semi-Finals.
– Billy Gunn v. Kane. Kane hammers him to start. Gunn bails and they fight outside. Gunn dropkicks the stairs onto Kane. Back in nothing happens. I mean, literally. Gunn just kinda goes to a facelock and does some punches. Kane blocks a fameasser and comes back, but the Big Slow lumbers out and hits Kane with a chair, giving Gunn the pin at 5:25. They might as well have had Kane & Slow go to a double-DQ and given Gunn the bye for all the use this match was. -* They wanted to put Gunn over a major star to establish him, but they didn’t want to damage the credibility of said star by making him job to BILLY FREAKIN GUNN, so you get the Russo Finish as a result, where NOBODY looks good.
– X-Pac v. Road Dogg. X-Pac is clearly in pain now. Quick suplex for X-pac and snap legdrop gets two. X-Pac goes to the chinlock. Dogg comes back with his funky punches (at about 1:00) and a kneedrop for two. X-pac spinkick gets two. Broncobuster misses, and Dogg goes for the pumphandle, but X-Pac reverses to the X-Factor for the pin at 3:04. Why, yes, that was the whole match. You mean this ISN’T RAW? Ã‚Â½*
– WWF Title match: The Undertaker v. The Rock. Undertaker knocks the ref out right away, and Rock gets Rock Bottom early. No ref, of course. A second one comes in and suffers the same fate. Undertaker chokeslams Rocky for two. Rock comes back and they brawl outside, to the entraceway. Undertaker suplexes him on the floor on the way back. Back in, Undertaker gets some shots for two. He works the arm. Rock reverses the ropewalk and uses the EVIAN SPEW OF DOOM to send UT running. Yeah, I know if someone shot mineral water into MY eyes, I’d run too. Back to the crowd, Rock gets control. Punch, punch. At ringside, UT blocks a chairshot with the ringbell. Bearer gets some cheapshots in. Back in, UT halts a comeback with a DDT (which JR describes as “the most scintellating he’s ever seenÃ¢â‚¬Â, so it must be good), but it only gets two. Damn, after that buildup by JR I expected it to end the match right there! Big boot gets two. Rock comes back with a samoan drop for two. Double KO, and JR goes off on this bizarre rant about Paul Bearer, comparing him to different people, who I’ve never heard of. I guess they’re football coaches (I mean, this *is* JR) but Lawler has no idea what he’s talking about either, and says so. Rock comes back with punches and a DDT for two. Ref gets bumped AGAIN (that’s THREE in one match!) as Rock hits the Elbow. Now, when JR says “Who’s you daddy Ã¢â‚¬Â does he have ANY idea what he’s referencing? Hasn’t anyone ever told him? Paul Bearer preps an ETHER SOAKED RAG for god’s sake, as I head off to check the calendar and see if someone accidentally turned it back to 1965. I mean, I know that North Carolina is populated by backwards-thinking hicks, but let’s at least head to the mid-80s and go with the JJ Dillon shoe method of gimmickry. Rock gets the vile piece of fabric and uses it on Undertaker, but the ref is still out. HHH does his second run-in on the night (that’s how you earn your pay under Russo), Pedigrees Rock, and the ref wakes up as UT rolls over for two. Tombstone finishes at 19:11. That’s a pretty anticlimactic ending. Mercifully, Steve Austin would get the title back the next night on RAW to end the Undertaker experiment once and for all. Rock’s selling was actually good here, but all the standing around and overbooking killed the match dead. *
– King of the Ring: X-Pac v. Billy Gunn. Gunn bails early and X-Pac follows with a plancha. Back in, cross body gets two. Gunn gets a bulldog for two. Crowd is dead silent. Whew, good thing they didn’t book the obvious match and have Billy Gunn v. Road Dogg as the finals Ã¢â‚¬â€œ having a SWERVE where the crowd doesn’t give a shit who wins as a result is much better. All that heat for the Outlaw match would just detract from it. Gunn goes to the facelock and tells the crickets chirping in the front row to shut up. What a heel. Gunn hits the fame-asser, but it gets two. X-Pac gets the X-Factor (all of this coming about 3 minutes into the match) but it only gets two as well. It’s like someone showed Russo a tape of All Japan, but only showed him the last 5 minutes. Kick combo and broncobuster, but Gunn gets a standing neckbreaker for two. They fight on the top rope, X-Pac loses, and Gunn comes down with a fame-asser for the pin at 5:33 and the King of the Ring title. He would be back in his proper place, trying to memorize his one line while standing on the apron and letting Road Dogg do all the work, by September. X-Pac had no place in there. And after doing the “plucky underdog who loses in the endÃ¢â‚¬Â bit several times already, it was already pounded into the ground and unnecessary for this tournament. Ã‚Â¾*
– Main Event: Steve Austin v. Vince McMahon & Shane McMahon. With a year of hindsight, video packages, time for contemplation, and explanations from those involved, I STILL don’t see how this storyline can possibly be considered to make the least bit of sense in any way. Vince tries to intro Steve Blackman as Shane’s replacement, but that darned GTV reveals that Shane is fine after all, and he gets dragged out and into the match again. We go brawling down the aisle right away, then back in for some ass-whooping from Austin on both. Shane gets posted, then the McMahons finally get smart and double-team Austin. Vince goes for the ladder, but Austin kicks his ass. Shane saves, then goes flying up the ladder-themed entranceway thing and back down again. Austin tosses the McMahons into the ladder-based supports one-by-one, until the whole thing topples down on them in a neat spot. Austin hauls the official ladder into the ring, nailing Shane with it and sending him flailing into the announce table. Austin sets up the ladder outside and elbows Shane through the Spanish table, a spot that came off looking flat somehow. He goes back up, but Vince pushes him over and into the US announce table. Another flat spot. Vince climbs the ladder back in the ring, but gets knocked off by Austin. Austin clobbers Shane with the ladder in the corner. He slingshots him into it, then stomps a mudhole in Vince. Austin climbs for the briefcase, but the ladder gets knocked over. The McMahon clan tries two alternate methods of reaching the case (alley-oop and chicken-fight, to be precise) but neither works. Stunner 1, Stunner 2. Austin climbs, and of course we are witness to one of the stupidest deus ex machina endings in wrestling history, as the briefcase moves up and down by the hand of some unknown Corporate Ally, allowing the McMahons the chance to knock Austin off again. Vince and Austin fight on the ladder, and Shane dumps both off, then climbs up and grabs the case for the win at 16:55. **1/4, for Match of the Night honors. The result ended up meaning nothing to the storylines, as Vince was “retiredÃ¢â‚¬Â by Austin at the next PPV, thus making the whole exercise pointless. Much like this entire show, which featured a tag wrestler winning King of the Ring when everyone (except the WWF) knew that his push would fail, Undertaker successfully defending his title only to lose it the next night and never get close to winning it again, and a confusing storyline (How DID Linda and Stephanie get their 50% back, anyway?) in a main event as stale as, well, this year’s main event.
The Bottom Line: If it wasn’t for Heroes of Wrestling, this wins 99’s Worst Show of the Year award hands down. The storylines didn’t make sense, the booking didn’t make sense, the work was nonexistant and everything was forgotten two months later. All hail Russo.
Strongest recommendation to avoid.