The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 99
– I was just gonna take a pass on doing this one and do it in a “leftovers” week later this year along with Summerslam 96 and Survivor Series 98, but some well-timed whiny e-mails convinced me to do it over the weekend. Of course, if you’re reading this on Wrestleline, it’s probably Monday because they don’t update on weekends. And in that case, don’t forget to check out The Edge internet show at www.emzee.com, on which I’ll be the special guest Monday. Coincidentally (or not), myself and fellow Wrestlemaniac CRZ now write weekly columns for that site, although odds are good on mine actually having something to do with wrestling once in a while. What exactly that will be is still up in the air, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. On a further self-promotional note, I’m also going to try to host a weekly chat with me on Delphi in the Rantsylvania forum, but my usual functioning hours during the day are so weird that it might have to be at 3 AM to get any decent quotes out of me.
– Live from Anaheim, California, home of Ducks and stuff.
– Your hosts are Michael Cole the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch and Jerry Lawler.
– Opening match: Big Bossman v. Road Dogg. Jammes was Hardcore champion at this point, having beaten Bossman for the title a week or so prior. Bossman and Shamrock were the tag champs, and would lose the titles to Jarrett & Hart the next night. This is NOT a hardcore match, and I have absolutely no idea why that is, since it’s guaranteed to suck without the benefit of bloodshed and/or weapons. Stall session to start. Bossman controls with his lumbering power stuff, but Dogg bails and posts Bossman. They fight on the floor for a bit, which gives Bossman the advantage, although why a punch on the floor has more effect than one in the ring escapes me for the moment. So that situation drags on for a while, giving me a chance to enjoy my dinner. Bossman goes aerial but it backfires and Dogg comes back. Shake Rattle N Roll, flying forearm, and Crazy Legs kneedrop get two, but Bossman catches him coming off the ropes with the Bossman Slam and gets the pin at 11:50, which was a pretty stupid and pointless result. Â½*
– Intercontinental title: Ken Shamrock v. Billy Gunn. Conventional wisdom, fan sentiment and common horse-sense said that Gunn should go over here. Gunn starts resting early. Mr. Ass misses a blind charge and Ken kicks his ass, quite literally in fact. Ken works the back, killing the crowd. Billy hits a fluke fame-asser, but it wasn’t established as a finisher then so it gets two. As a word of clarification for a couple of people who took me to task for labeling a similar move done by Kanyon on Thunder last week as a “fame-asser” when Kanyon has his own name for it- well, basically, the move was invented by Marty Jannetty, so the “proper” name for the move is Rocker Dropper, but with Jannetty’s fall from stardom, Gunn’s name for the move has become the accepted norm because the WWF reaches X number of people each week, while WCW only reaches X/3 people. With ratings success comes the privelage of having moves named after you. Anyway, they brawl to the floor, where Shamrock takes control. One decent spot here as Gunn rams Shamrock into the table, leaping from the apron with Shamrock in tow to do so. Back in, where Shamrock gets a quick legsweep and begins destroying Gunn’s already-injured ankle. I really liked Robo-Shamrock, and it was a shame that the WWF turned him face again for that stupid Undertaker feud. I can always take solace in knowing that Shamrock will get soundly booed out of whatever Canadian city he visits for the rest of his career. Don’t ask me why, but the guy is just absolutely hated in Canada. Cole says that he doesn’t recall Gunn ever submitting before, which is a stupid thing to say, even by Cole’s admittedly low standards as a Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch. Shamrock and Bossman won the tag titles from the Outlaws less than a month before this, and how did they do it? When Shamrock made Gunn submit to the anklelock. And who was calling the match? Michael Cole the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch. And don’t give that “referee stopped the match” crap if your hand drops three times, that counts as submitting. So anyway, the ref is bumped here and Val Venis does the requisite run-in and DDTs Shamrock, which gives Gunn a two-count. Gunn mounts the big comeback, and suddenly his ridiculously woeful offense is exposed, as all he can muster for big moves is a bunch of punches and a running elbow. No wonder the putz didn’t get over. He decides to go aerial, but misses and lands on his ankle, and to quote Herb Kunze, “everybody with at least a two-digit IQ could see the finish coming” (which basically eliminates most of WCW’s booking committee and Michael Cole, the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch) as Shamrock hit the anklelock and Billy says “uncle” like his bitch at 14:18. Way too long at 14:18 given that one guy has basically four moves (one of which is mooning the crowd) and the other is best known for fights lasting 40 seconds. Still, some decent stuff buried in the boredom. * Gunn never recovered from the loss, which was reportedly (by Wade Keller, so take it with several spoonfuls of salt) due to him partying all night and arriving late. Now if only WCW would take the same approach with it’s own upper card.
– WWF the Music: Volume 3 ad. Was it only a year ago?
– European title: X-Pac v. Gangrel. Gangrel really hadn’t done anything notable enough to warrant a title shot, aside from leaching off Edge’s heat. The title wasn’t quite entirely worthless at this point. Sign in crowd: “Gangrel Fears Count Chocula”. No one ever went broke underestimating Generation X’s penchant for idiotic nostalgia, that’s for sure. Hell, I still drag myself out of bed at ridiculous hours to watch Knight Rider reruns on KTLA and listen to “Frampton Comes Alive” on occasion, so I’m hardly one to talk. Fast-paced start with X-Pac hitting a backdrop suplex and kick combo, but a blind charges misses and Gangrel gets a double underhook belly-to-belly for two. He controls for a bit, but X-Pac comes back with two spinning kicks for two, and the Broncobuster. He comes off the top, and Gangrel catches him and rolls through- for the pin? Nope, Teddy Long just f*cked up badly, and the crowd lets him know about it. X-Factor finishes it for real at 5:51. Spotty, but it had it’s moments. Now, if they had given 5 minutes from the I-C title match to this, everyone would be hapy. **1/4
– Women’s title: Sable v. Luna. Luna injured Sable on Heat, so Shane tells Sable to come out and forfeit the title. This was during the Shane-Sable mini-feud that ended up going nowhere like 78% of the forgettable angles launched by Vince Russo during this period, including the Goldust v. Al Snow feud over Head, the JOB Squad v. Brood feud, and the LOD2000 drug pusher feud. Sable, talented actress that she is, comes out with a hand on her lower back to stress that she has a back injury. Well, that puts her one up on Rock in the selling department, at least. This is a strap match, which is quite possibly the dumbest stipulation ever to be invented and then used on a regular basis. Why? Because dragging someone to all four corners is a pretty arbitrary way to end a match (why not just have a tongue-twister match and have the winner be the first one to say “Rubber baby buggy bumpers” 10 times fast? It makes the same amount of sense). I mean, the basic idea is SUPPOSED to be that you beat your opponent badly enough to physically drag them from pillar to post and touch all four corners, but now no one wants to job that way so we always get the only finish anyone ever seems to book for these things: One person touches three while the other person sneaks up behind and touches after them, then they fight over the fourth and the winner of that struggle wins the match. The only strap match in the last 10 years with the “touch all four” stip that has ended differently was Sting v. Vader from 1993, and not coincidentally that was the only GOOD strap match in the last 10 years as well. This one, needless to say, is in no position to challenge that. Luna works in some psychology, damaging Sable’s back further, but of course we get the usual ending, with some Vinnie Roo Run-Ins added in for effect, as Shane distracts the referee, which allows Tori to come from the audience (still in psycho stalker mode) and deck Luna, giving Sable the win at 4:41 to retain. Great, so we have two run-ins booked and they can’t even be bothered to use some originality in the ending. Here’s a hint for future bookers: No one after 1985 has ever bought a ticket to a show or a PPV on the promise of seeing a strap match, and that trend is not likely to change in the future, so please don’t ever book another one again, thank you. Anyway, it was certainly not the worst Sable match ever, and indeed the women’s “matches” in the months following have gone on to make this one look like Flair-Steamboat by comparison. Â¾*
– WWF title: Mankind v. The Rock. Rock’s sideburns were seriously out of control at this point. I hear they started demanding appearance fees, so Vince McMahon fired them and WCW promptly signed them to a $100,000 per year guaranteed contract and put them on Lash LeRoux, with promises of winning the TV title later in the year. A lawsuit over merchandising rights may or may not be pending. Mick hammers on Rock quickly, nailing him with the microphone as Rock tells him that he can kiss his ass. Cactus clothesline takes us to the floor, where Mick eats stairs. Rock stops to do some commentary and Mick cracks a chair over his head. Back in for a double-arm DDT and the Mandible Sock. Rock is out and can’t submit. He tosses Rock out and they fight back into the crowd. Rock powerslams Foley back to ringside to come back. He debuts the bell-ringing spot (Place bell on head, hit with hammer) and tries Rock Bottom on the Spanish table, but the thing collapses before the move can hit. Rock goes for the EVIAN SPEW OF DEATH, but that just wakes Mick up. Must have been that new caffeinated water. And while I’m on the subject, who the hell thought of that one? I mean, christ, just get a damn cup of coffee if you need a caffeine hit so bad. Or a can of Jolt Cola. The concept of paying for something that covers 75% of the earth and everyone on it is stupid enough as it is, but to further add insult to injury by pumping caffeine into it is more than I can take. You just KNOW it was a 30-something, Kenny G-listening, suit-wearing, stock broker scumbag yuppie wannabe who thought this one up, and probably Nicorette gum, too, just to represent every segment of the population who’s in denial about their own ability to function as a normal human being without a medical excuse for their own neuroses. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was Crystal Pepsi with the carbonation removed and a new label put on it, too. I mean, hell, if the kind of ingenuity that went into convincing the public that they REALLY need to spend money on bottled water and nicotine-laced gum were to be put into something USEFUL, then maybe we wouldn’t be so far away from a cure for cancer or even some of the piddling diseases that kill millions in third world countries. Anyway, I’m ranting again- back to the match.
– They brawl down the aisle, where Rock gets a DDT on the concrete. Rock finds a ladder, but takes it in the mouth. Mick drops an elbow onto the ladder, but gets the worst of it. The crowd reminds Rocky that, in case he forgot, he indeed sucks. Contrived spot follows as they climb the ladder to the balcony, and Mick ends up diving into a gimmicked electrical bank, and sparks fly. The lights go out for effect and Michael Cole the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch does his best Jim Ross impersonation as he declares Foley electricuted and possibly dead. It’s just Foley being a showoff, Michael, you don’t have to act like it’s a momentous occasion, because it only encourages him and it detracts from the truly emotional part of the match later on. Shane comes out to plead for mercy from the Rock, but no go. Rock drags Mick back to the ring as Michael keeps yelling “Why won’t he ask him if he quits?” Gee, Michael, you Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch, maybe it’s because Rock knows, just like everyone else in the audience, that Foley won’t ever say “I Quit”, which was kind of the point of the huge video package before the match which highlighted Foley saying over and over how he’d never, ever say “I Quit” unless he was dead, and which was also, by no small coincidence, the point of the very ending of the match itself. Maybe Cole is just jealous that his color commentator gets hotter chicks than he does or something. Rock finds some handcuffs and cuffs Mick, and the really sick part begins. Foley kicks and bites as best he can to survive, but Rock hits a clothesline and then grabs a chair. He puts it over Foley’s face and drops the Corporate Elbow, which Michael Cole the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch declares may have “smashed his skull in”. Yes, Michael, I’m sure that dropping an elbow on a chair is enough to generate the necessary pressure needed to crush a man’s skull, of course. Now, I’m all for announcers getting into the match, but sometimes a LITTLE professional detachment and/or ESPN-ish irony is needed to keep from wrecking the really nasty stuff later in the match. And nasty stuff follows, because Foley won’t quit, so Rock just absolutely bashes his head in with two chairshots. Mick won’t quit. Three more, and the crowd is growing noticeably squeamish. Foley rolls out to the floor for sanctuary, but Rock follows and delivers three more. Foley won’t quit. NOW Cole’s hyperbole is apropos, and of course now he has nothing left because he fired all the shots in his Interjection Six-Shooter earlier in the match. Premature interjection is always a tragic thing among young males. Foley staggers down the aisle, and Rock nails him from behind with an absolutely sickening shot to the back of the head that knocks him clean out. Rock sticks the mike in his face, and someone (the same guy who raised the briefcase, hit Austin with a cinderblock and then ran him over at Survivor Series) plays a tape of Foley screaming “I Quit!” from Heat, and Rock wins the WWF title back at 21:44. Knowing the condition that Foley ended up in after this match was over, this was pretty scary to watch again. ***1/2
– Royal Rumble match: Austin of course has #1 from a rigged drawing the week previous, and Vince has #2. Intervals are 90 seconds this year, give or take depending on what drugs the person doing the timing is taking over the course of the night. As an addendum, whoever can toss Austin gets a $100,000 bonus from Mr. McMahon. Austin murders Vince to start. He opts not to toss him, because to do so would indicate a desire to win the match, and according to Vince Russo winning and losing means nothing anymore, so instead he opts to deliver more punishment and continue the oh-so-brilliant and oh-so-well-written storyline for the match. This year’s Rumble entrants are basically divided into two tiers: The jobbers and the stars. It’s pretty easy to divine the pecking order in the WWF at that point by noting who comes in #3-#16 and who comes in #18-#30. This alone makes the Rumble incredibly lopsided in terms of believability of those involved. Golga is #3 (see what I mean?), allowing Vince to sneak away into the crowd. Austin quickly tosses Golga, and then chases Vince into the crowd. In any other Rumble, both guys would be eliminated for leaving for that amount of time, but Vince Russo is writing this one, so they return later. MUCH later. Deus Ex Machina: They want to have Vince enter at #2 and be there in the end without actually remaining in the match the whole time, so the rules of the match are re-written to suit the storyline, rather than the other way around. Vince McMahon could just as easily have been thrown out right away, and then returned to help another Corporate member (say, Shamrock, for instance) win the thing later on. That would have accomplished exactly the same result, without the idiotic, retrofitted, “Oh, you didn’t read the fine print” nonsense that followed the next night (Vince Russo used “You didn’t read the fine print” as a way to retroactively change his booking decisions about 4 times off the top of my head, three of which with Commisioner Michaels and one with Vince’s un-retirement. Ironically, Russo thought he’d have total control in WCW, but guess what? He didn’t read the fine print, either). There was absolutely no justifiable reason for Vince to be there at the end, let alone what ended up happening. Droz is #4 with no one in the ring to fight. See, now why did Golga have to be eliminated there? That’s 90 seconds of dead air-time that could have been used for wrestling. We cut to the back as Austin is beat up by the Corporation. Edge is #5. Gillberg is #6, and he gets eliminated right after his whole entrance. Steve Blackman is #7. What star power here, eh? Michael Cole the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch calls him a “young superstar”, even though Blackman is probably 10 years older than him. Meanwhile, Ausitn is being carried out on a stretcher. Dan Severn is #9. FEEL THE ELECTRICITY! Although if Severn had Â¼ of the charisma that Kurt Angle has, they could have given him that gimmick and gotten him over. Meanwhile, Austin is loaded into an ambulance. Tiger Ali Singh is #9. We cut to an exciting shot of an ambulance driving away to really hammer the point home. Yes, Virginia, people actually paid $30 to see an ambulance drive away. It’s SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT, BAY-BEE! The match is jobber hell right now, and the crowd is gone. Cole the Little Goatee-Wearing Bitch notes that Edge and Droz have been in a long time. Shit, is he THAT hard up for things to talk about that he has to call two guys being in there for a whole six minutes “being in the ring a long time”? Watch some f*cking Gordon Solie tapes for once in your pathetic life, Cole, and learn the fine art of when to shut up. Blue Meanie is #10. Mosh is #11, but Mabel beats him up and takes his place. He dumps Severn, Blackman and Singh. He’s still fat, and he’s still not over. Road Dogg is #12. Mabel dumps Meanie. Still fat, still not over. Dogg backdrops Edge out. More stupidity follows as the lights go out and the match stops while the Acolytes kidnap Mabel and bring him to Undertaker for re-programming as Viscera. By the way, he’s still fat, and he’s still not over. Dogg is left alone, which is Dead Space #2 in this match. Gangrel is, fittingly, #13. Dogg gets rid of him. Kurrgan is #14 and destroys Road Dogg. Al Snow is #15. He climbs the ropes to get leverage while trying to force Kurrgan out, so Dogg casually pushes him out. Goldust is #16. Godfather is #17. The crowd wants hos. Kane is #18 as we finally break the Jobber Barrier. He’s in a bad mood, too, so goodbye Dogg, take a seat Kurrgan, see ya Godfather and arrivederci Goldust. But now the mental hospital workers charge the ring and go after Kane, so he eliminates himself and leaves through the crowd. I guess only Austin and Vince get to go THROUGH the ropes so they can do that and then come back later. So we get another few minutes of Dead Space, as Shamrock is #19 and has nothing to do. Vince returns to do color commentary, thus making a total mockery of the match in one fell swoop. Billy Gunn is #20, still selling the injury. Shamrock beats the hell out of him. Test is #21 with really bad music. We cut outside as Mabel is being loaded into a hearse, and very conveniently Austin has managed to hijack the ambulance and return it to the arena AT THAT VERY MOMENT. Next time I get beaten unconscious by 5 thugs, remind me to get THAT ambulance to treat me. Bossman is #22 as Austin returns to the match 30 minutes after leaving the first time. Austin backdrops Shamrock out. HHH is #23 as the star power rises. Speaking of rising, Val Venis is #24. Austin kicks Gunn in the ankle and tosses him. X-Pac is #25. Everyone keeps going after Austin for the money. Mark Henry is #26. Jeff Jarrett is #27. Too many people in there right now. D-Lo Brown is #28, and as if hearing me rant, Austin disposes of Test and X-Pac in succession to clear things out a bit. Owen Hart is #29. HHH rids us of Jarrett. Owen & D-Lo double-team Austin. Chyna is #30, and she gets rid of Henry right away, but showboats and gets dumped by Austin. HHH dumps Val. Austin waits until he turns around, then hits the Stunner and tosses him. D-Lo gets the Lo-Down on Austin and works him over pretty good. Owen gives it a try, but charges Austin and goes bye-bye.
– Final Four: Big Bossman, Steve Austin, D-Lo Brown & Vince McMahon. D-Lo showboats after taking Austin down, and Bossman dumps him easily. Bam, Stunner, good-bye Bossman. That leaves Vince at ringside, so Austin beats the hell out of him and drags him in. Vince hits a desperation low blow, but takes the Stunner. And heeeeeeeeeere’s Rocky. Austin stops to yell at him, acting like a total idiot and breaking character, which allows Vince the chance to sneak up from behind and win the Royal Rumble at 56:34. God bless Vince Russo. The first 40 minutes were so bad with all the Dead Space and jobbers that nothing could have saved this one. **, which makes it the worst Rumble ever.
The Bottom Line: The WWF produced two HUGE stinkeroos in 1999 with this show and King of the Ring, and it’s not hard to see why wrong people getting pushed, moronic storylines, boring matches, and completely unbelieveable (as in NOT BELIEVEABLE) twists in the storyline in order to produce “shock TV” and keep viewers hooked. Hopefully Vince McMahon learned from the mistakes of Russo, and won’t repeat them this year.
Strong recommendation to avoid.