1999 is the triumph of Vince Russo’s Crash TV booking, and this is the Royal Rumble match that epitomizes it. It’s loaded down with gimmicks, as Steve Austin and Vince McMahon are the #1 and #2 entrants. McMahon has put a bounty on Austin’s head, promising $100,000 to the man who eliminates Austin.
It once again seemed obvious that Austin would win the match and go to Wrestlemania. No way they’re crazy enough to have anyone else win. Right?
The Rest of the Card
-Big Boss Man defeated Road Dogg
-Ken Shamrock defeated Billy Gunn to retain the Intercontinental Championship
-X-Pac defeated Gangrel to retain the European Championship
-Sable defeated Luna Vachon to retain the Women’s Championship
-The Rock defeated Mankind in an I Quit Match to win the WWF Championship
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are on commentary.
Steve Austin is out #1 to an enormous pop. Vince McMahon is out #2, and as far as I can remember this is the first time we realized Vince was in ridiculous shape. This is probably the best Vince ever looked, maybe the only time we saw him without his shirt on.
Austin proceeds to stomp the shit out of Vince. Entrant #3 is Golga of The Oddities. Golga was John Tenta, better known as Earthquake, under a mask. Golga gets tossed by Austin in about ten seconds, but it’s enough distraction to allow McMahon to escape the ring. McMahon heads through the crowd and Austin gives chase. Security struggles to part the sea of fans, but they make it up into the concourse. #4 is Droz of the Legion of Doom.
Austin chases McMahon into the bathroom, where The Corporation is waiting. They beat the hell out of Austin as Droz stands alone in the ring. It’s an elegant solution to the problem of Austin and McMahon not being physically capable of working the entire match, but it makes most of the match pretty boring. Edge is #5. #6 is Gillberg to a big reaction. He’s 0-2 at this point, we’re still asking “Who’s First?” He gets dumped while posing on the ropes after about five seconds.
We cut back to the bathroom where Austin has been laid out. Steve Blackman is entrant #7. Crowd is dead silent for this. Dan Severn is #8. Not going to help things. Austin is loaded into an ambulance. Far more interesting than the match right now. #9 is Tiger Ali Singh. Really scraping all the way to the bottom of the barrel to fill spots. This is where they really needed an X-Pac, a Road Dogg, a babyface the crowd could get behind.
#10 is the Blue Meanie. The crowd pops for him dancing, so that’s something. #11 seems to be no one. We cut backstage, where Mabel beats up Mosh. I guess Mabel is taking spot #11. He proceeds to clear things out, eliminating Blackman, Droz, Meanie, and Tiger. Road Dogg enters #12 and quickly eliminates Edge. Then the lights go out and Undertaker’s music hits. The Acolytes and Mideon appear and beat down Mabel. Undertaker comes out from the back and informs Mabel of his fate. The Ministry drags Mabel to the back.
So the ring is cleared except for Road Dogg. #13 is Gangrel. Road Dogg tosses him in less than a minute. The could probably afford to let the ring fill up a little bit, a lot of this match has been one guy in the ring standing around. Kurrgan of The Oddities is #14. Al Snow is #15. Now we’re getting to the midcarders who are actually over. Snow only lasts about a minute before Road Dogg dumps him. That’s disappointing. Goldust is #16. The Godfather is #17. The crowd does love The Hoes.
#18 is Kane. He’s over big time here. He had just left The Corporation after refusing to lay down for The Rock on Raw. He comes in and dominates. Everyone is gone within 30 seconds. Crowd is on their feet as orderlies storm the ring to bring Kane back to “the asylum.” Pretty sure this isn’t how that works, but we’ll roll with it. Kane steps over the top rope and escapes through the crowd, eliminating himself. #19 is Ken Shamrock, and Mr. McMahon also returns. He takes a seat at the announce table to call the match.
#20 is Billy Gunn. He’s only got one boot on because Shamrock destroyed his ankle earlier. #21 is Test of The Corporation. We got backstage to see The Ministry loading Mabel into the back of a Hearse. Coincidentally, Austin drives past them in the ambulance that took him out earlier. Alright, business is about to pick up. #22 is The Big Boss Man, but Steve Austin also makes his way down the aisle. Shamrock and Test manage to cut Austin off and Vince flees. Austin tosses Shamrock.
Vince is already back on commentary. Feels like Austin should be able to get to him. Austin pummels Boss Man and chokes him with the ring rope as Triple H enters #23. Here we see the problem with McMahon’s plot: everyone wants to eliminate Austin themselves, so they won’t let anyone else do it. Val Venis is #24. Austin dumps Gunn. X-Pac is #25. They say he’s the lightest Rumble competitor ever at 212 pounds. Today, that would make him a heavyweight.
#26 is Mark Henry. “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry at this point. He’s recently had an unfortunate encounter with a transgender woman. Amazing how he didn’t get over with booking like that. Jeff Jarrett is #27. Crowd pops, but it’s for Debra. D’Lo Brown, accompanied by P.M.S. (Pretty Mean Sisters, Terri Runnels and Jacqueline) is #28. Terri recently had a miscarriage when D’Lo bumped her off the ring apron, so now he’s their man slave. There was a lot of dumb shit going on in this era.
Austin tosses Test. X-Pac got eliminated too, didn’t see how. Triple H eliminates Jarrett as Owen Hart enters #29. “Nugget” chants ensue. #30 is Chyna, who won the spot by winning the Corporate Royal Rumble on Raw. She immediately tosses Mark Henry! Austin sneaks up behind her for a Clothesline and Chyna’s gone in a minute. That’s a bit disappointing. She was the second most over person in the match after Austin. Austin Stuns HHH and throws him out. Owen gets tossed by Austin.
Final four: Austin, Boss Man, D’Lo, and Vince. Austin dumps D’Lo, then Stuns and eliminates Boss Man. Austin goes after Vince and pummels him. Sick chair shot to the head. Unprotected. Stunner on Vince in the ring. Rock comes down the aisle and Austin gets distracted by him like an idiot, allowing Vince to throw Austin out. Vince wins the Rumble.
Rating: **½. A pretty weak Rumble. Such filler other than the Austin/McMahon stuff. Taker was hurt, Rock was champ, Foley was in the title match. Not a lot of stars in there. The second half was pretty good but the first half was pretty damn terrible with a parade of heatless midcarders.
Austin and Rock brawl up the aisle as Vince drinks a beer to celebrate in the ring.
Like everything in 1999, it got weird. McMahon forfeited his title shot on Raw the next night. WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels then announced this meant that Austin would get the Wrestlemania title shot because he was the runner-up. Austin offered to put his Wrestlemania title shot on the line if Vince would face him in a Steel Cage Match at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view. Austin won that match when the debuting Big Show (“Big Nasty” Paul White, as he was initially known) slammed Austin through the side of the cage and Austin fell out to the floor.
In the meantime, Mankind won the WWF Championship back from The Rock in an Empty Arena Match on Halftime Heat. Rock and Mankind fought to a draw in a Last Man Standing Match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Rock then won the WWF Championship in a Ladder Match on Raw the next night with the assistance of Big Show.
Austin and Rock faced off at Wrestlemania in the main event. Austin won to become WWF Champion for the third time.