Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: The Union

The Union – WWF, 1999

History

For a while now, the two top heel factions in the WWF had been Vince McMahon’s Corporation, and the Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness. There was just one problem. You see, guys kept getting fired from the Corporation. Over the past few weeks, Ken Shamrock, the Big Show, Mankind, and Test had all been fired. Even Vince himself had been ousted by his son Shane (and then gotten involved in a feud with the Undertaker over Stephanie). Shane, meanwhile, had unified the remnants of the Corporation with the Ministry, and the Corporate Ministry was born.

On the 26th of April’s Raw, the WWF was coming off the Backlash pay-per-view. Shane and the Corporate Ministry had come out to gloat. Shane had just ordered Vince to meet him within two hours to finish his master plan, when Big Show, Mankind, Shamrock, and Test (all carrying 2x4s, by the way) came out. Sadly, they were not also carrying an American flag, giving a thumbs up, and shouting “Hooo!”

Mankind got the mic and announced that they were all disgruntled employees who had banded together to form a Union. Mankind then went on to say that they needed initials, like the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He settled on “Union People You Outta Respect” – UPYOURS. The Union followed that up by hitting the ring and running off the Ministry.

Later that night, the Union were all booked in separate matches. Test was up first – taking on Mideon, the Big Boss Man, and Viscera in a four corners match. Although he lost to Mideon, the Union hit the ring and saved him from a beatdown.

Mankind was up next and he was facing the Acolytes in a handicap hardcore match. The Acolytes powerbombed Mankind on a chair for the win.

Next Ken Shamrock took on Triple H, with Chyna as the guest referee. Chyna wound up hitting a low blow, then Triple H nailed the Pedigree to make the Union’s record for the night 0-3.

The final match for the Union that night was Big Show vs. Undertaker. The Undertaker tried soaking his elbow pad with ether, but Big Show was able to escape the sleeper hold. Frantic, Paul Bearer pulled a baseball bat out from under the ring, and that put the Big Show down. However, the ref saw it so the Show won by DQ.

The next week, the Union gained a new member. After Vince had defeated Shane the previous week, he, too, had decided to join the Union label. The Union and Ministry were getting ready to square off when WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels. Michaels reworked the lineup and now we had some interesting matches – and if the Ministry interfered in the Union’s matches, the Undertaker would lose his title shot against Steve Austin at Over the Edge.

Up first was the Big Show vs. Paul Bearer. After Bearer pleaded for his life, Show got Michaels to waive the restrictions on this match so Undertaker could come down. Show hit a couple of elbow drops on Bearer, then the Ministry swarmed the ring. And that brought out the Union, who sent the Ministry packing.

Up next was Test vs. the Big Boss Man in a Nightstick on a Pole match. Test was able to crack Boss Man with the nightstick, but Boss Man pulled an International Object ((c) WCW) from his pants and knocked Test out for the win.

Mideon and Viscera were assigned to take on Mankind in a Hardcore Handicap match, but they had a surprise in store – Mankind didn’t show up. Cactus Jack did. After crotching Viscera on the ropes, Jack came off the apron with a chair and put Mideon down for the pin.

Next up was Bradshaw vs. Faarooq in a lumberjack match, and the Union were the lumberjacks. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for Bradshaw and Faarooq to begin trading blows. Finally Mideon, Viscera and Boss Man ran out to break up the fight – only to have the Acolytes begin attacking them as well. Finally the Acolytes were separated and the match was over.

Next up, Shamrock took on Chyna with HHH on the outside. Actually, this turned into a handicap match, with HHH grabbing cheap shots whenever possible, Finally Shamrock snapped, belly to belly suplexed Chyna, then wandered off while punching himself in the head.

The main event was Undertaker, HHH, and Shane vs. Austin, Rock, and Vince. Oh, yeah – Shawn Michaels was the referee, complete with his infamous refereein’ shorts. Austin wound up pulling Vince off the fallen Shane so he could make the pin himself.

The Ministry started off the next week’s Raw threatening Vince, and we discovered a bad situation in Vince’s office. Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson mentioned that the rest of the Union hadn’t arrived yet, and then finally began barricading the door. When Shane had Viscera begin trying to knock down the door, the three inside the office began looking for anything else to brace the door, Patterson asked Vince to check the closet. Vince did, and discovered the Undertaker!

After Vince was stretchered out, we got to start the wrestling. Test was up first, taking on Meat (Sean Stasiak), who was working with the Pretty Mean Sisters (PMS – Jacqueline, Terri, and Ryan Shamrock). Test won by DQ after Jacqueline dropkicked him in front of the referee.

Stone Cold Steve Austin came out next and did an interview, which drew out the Ministry, which drew out Ken Shamrock, which drew out the Union. The Union and Ministry brawled to the back while Austin attacked Paul Bearer.

The semi-main event saw Big Show vs. Boss Man. Show won with a chokeslam, then headed up the ramp to find the rest of the Union. We went to commercial, then when we came back, saw a video showing that the Ministry had piled into a car and cleared out with the Union after them during the break.

Apparently they just circled the lot a few times, because the main event was Austin vs. HHH. Needless to say, before the end of the match, Undertaker and Shane had gotten physically involved, and the Ministry had shown up at the top of the ramp. The Union immediately showed they weren’t fooled by the Ministry’s slick driving techniques as they showed up, too, and started another brawl.

That led us to the Over the Edge pay-per-view. Test, Shamrock, Show, and Mankind took on the Acolytes, Viscera, and the Boss Man in an elimination match. Mankind won it for the Union by putting the Boss Man (the last Ministry member) away.

On the 31st, Raw opened up with Vince getting in the Undertaker’s face, working to get Austin a title shot. Undertaker agreed – if Vince could beat him in a match. And, of course, if anyone interfered on Vince’s behalf, Austin lost his shot. That prompted Austin to reveal that he’d been disguised as one of the Undertaker’s druids and jump the Undertaker. That brought out the Ministry, and that brought out the Union.

Big Show next took on Billy Gunn, and won with the chokeslam. Not even Road Dogg’s interference could save his partner.

Vince went on to face the Undertaker and would win the match after Undertaker shoved the referee out of the way one time too many.

Shamrock took on Val Venis later, and lost due to Jeff Jarrett and Debra distracting him. We then went into Val confronting Nicole Bass, and Shamrock ran off Jarrett and Debra after suplexing Val.

The Union’s luck didn’t improve any later in the night, as Mankind lost to Triple H in a hardcore match after Chyna intervened.

The show ended as the Undertaker’s “Higher Power” came to the ring, and revealed its face to Austin.

Of course, the next episode of Raw saw the now-renamed Greater Power unmasking to reveal himself as Vince McMahon. On the other hand, Austin was also named CEO of the company, and he offered the Union their choice of matches for the night.

After that shocker, the Union (minus Mankind, who was at home recuperating from a sledgehammer shot to the knee from HHH) came out with some demands. Big Show wanted a title shot against the Undertaker. Shamrock wanted Vince in the Lion’s Den. And Test proved he was a lover, not a fighter, by asking Stephanie out on a date. Be careful what you wish for, Test.

The Lion’s Den was a small circular cage, supposedly set up to show off Shamrock’s martial arts expertise. Unfortunately, the cage didn’t keep Jeff Jarrett out, who clocked Shamrock with a chair to hand Vince the win.

Big Show faced Undertaker, and wound up chokeslamming him through the ring, causing the referee to stop the match. Sorry, Show. No title for you.

And that was the end of the Union. To be honest, the entire momentum of the Union came to a screeching halt after Vince rejoined the Ministry, so maybe it was best to end it here. After this, Big Show was there, Shamrock went into a feud with Jarrett, and Test wound up marrying Stephanie – at least until HHH showed up.

Analysis
This was an interesting choice. The WWF had been well stocked with heel factions for the last few years (Nation of Domination, Los Boricuas, D-Generation X (technically), and now the Corporation and the Ministry), but had never used any real face factions (again, D-X could be considered a face faction, but they certainly weren’t planned that way). It was refreshing to see a group of wrestlers stand up to the evil Corporate Ministry.

Rumor holds that this was a shot against Jesse Ventura, who had long advocated a wrestlers’ union. It’s certainly believable, especially considering how short of a time the faction lasted. In all fairness, however, the brevity could have been due to the group getting caught up in the chaos following Owen Hart’s death at Over the Edge, leading to the storyline getting aborted.

Where are they now?
Mick Foley, Mankind, is still associated with the WWE, but rarely appears on screen. He has also become a quite successful author, first with his two autobiographies, and he has recently begun delving into the realms of fiction. Mick has most recently appeared in the ring with Ring of Honor, working with a WWE/CM Punk storyline.

The Big Show is still with the WWE and on the Raw brand.

Ken Shamrock left the WWF in 2000 to pursue opportunities in mixed martial arts. Since, he has participated in shows for TNA and UFC.

Test was released from the WWE last November. After being cleared to return to the ring in April after serious neck surgery, he has returned to the independent scene.

Next week
We leave the WWF alone as we head back to WCW to check out some blondes from Hollywood! Don’t forget to keep your requests coming!

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