Reviewing The Rumbles: 1999
1999: The Grapefruits
WWF had finally found a winning strategy in 1999, and it was Stone Cold fighting management. Austin had won the title at the previous WrestleMania and went on to reinvigorate the company while a newly heel Vince McMahon attempted to thwart him at every turn and finally did get the belt off of him. Austin was on a mission to get it back…
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
2. Vince McMahon (awww… no “NO CHANCE IN HELL” music yet… even though this pay-per-view was subtitled “No Chance In Hell”)
3. Golga (Oh, poor Earthquake. This was almost worse than being Shark)
4. Droz (at this point, a member of L.O.D. 2000. Which was a lot like Blues Brothers 2000 in that it took something awesome, replaced 50% of it, tried to make it sound modern, and succeeded in making it putrid)
6. [The Man They Call] Gillberg
7. Steve Blackman
8. Dan Severn
9. Tiger Ali Singh
10. The Blue Meanie
Mosh Mabel (Mosh was SUPPOSED to be the 11th entrant, but he is jumped backstage by Mabel, who forcibly replaces him in the match)
14. Kurrgan (As a dancing, silly Oddity… QUITE a contrast from 1998 Kurrgan)
15. Al Snow
16. Goldust (Like Prince, no longer is he “Formerly Known As”)
17. The Godfather
19. Ken Shamrock
20. Bad Ass Billy Gunn
22. Big Bossman
24. Val Venis
26. “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry
27. Jeff Jarrett
28. D. Lo Brown
29. Owen Hart (in his last ever RR appearance… and he almost cracks the Final Four!)
4th – D. Lo Brown (eliminated by Big Bossman)
3rd – The Big Bossman (eliminated by Austin)
2nd – Steve Austin (eliminated by Mr. McMahon, with an assist from The Rock)
WINNER – Mr. McMahon
(and THAT… is a shitty Final Four, no matter how you cut it or what the purpose of this Rumble was)
-First off, the pre-Rumble video shows a few clips of Vince and Shane’s training montages, which were solid gold. Vince chasing chickens and crying out “I HATE AUSTIN!” while doing sit-ups… it was the best Shane/Vince tandem stuff ever until their feud with Shawn Michaels and God.
-One of the big plots of this match is that Vince had offered up a $100,000 bounty on Austin’s head: whoever eliminates Austin from the match would get $100k from Shane’s trust fund (since Shane rehired Austin after Vince fired him… even though he did it to screw with Stone Cold). Really, this Rumble is ALL ABOUT Vince vs Austin, which–while great, and it WAS WWE’s bread-and-butter of this era–completely invalidates every other guy in the match because nothing they do matters from the word “go”.
-The Rumble starts off with Howard Finkel announcing the rules of the match in great detail, which causes Jerry Lawler just completely baffling rage. As Finkel is explaining, Lawler just bitches and moans on commentary about how boring and stupid it is and how much Fink should shut up. Hey, maybe if WWE didn’t change the damn rules every single year, we wouldn’t need this, King!
-The bounty comes into play early, as Golga–a fun-loving, dancing face–attacks Austin, presumably because he wants the prize money for being the guy to take out Steve. It matters little, and Austin eliminates him quickly, but it sets up the story of the match right away.
-After Golga is out, Vince and Austin brawl out of the ring and through the crowd. Along the way, they pass a sign that says “Vince is on juice!”, and Lawler cries out “No he’s not on juice!”. Eventually, they make their way to a ladies’ restroom where Vince has The Corporation lying in wait. They jump Austin and leave him beaten.
-Within the first ten guys, I’m reminded that we’re just moving into the “Everybody wears generic black pants/trunks and looks the same” era of WWE.
-Mabel eliminates 5 guys in less than minute, and I’m sure everyone was thinking “Christ! When did Mabel become relevant again?!” Well, the answer is never, and after Mabel does that work, the Ministry of Darkness comes out to attack him and take him away from the ring. Undertaker appears and does some weird hypnosis gimmick (which seems fruitless, because Mabel continues attacking his guys afterwards as they fight him away from the ring).
-Guys are getting cleared out silly fast in this Rumble, and shortly after Al Snow arrives and gets tossed, there are only two in the ring (Road-Dogg and Kurrgan). Austin is en route to a hospital in an ambulance, still legally in the match, and Vince is elsewhere, but also still in the match.
-Kane shows up, tosses everybody else left in the ring, and then eliminates himself when a bunch of psycho ward doctors come out to take him away to the funny farm, hee-hee, ho-ho, ha-ha. It is at this point that Vince makes his way back to ringside and joins Ross and Lawler on commentary.
-For what I recall is the 4th time this match, a new entrant (Ken Shamrock) hits the ring while it is empty (Also happened at #1, obviously, for Austin, Droz at #4, and Road-Dogg at #12).
-Good dual story-telling moment as the camera picks up feed from the back of The Acolytes putting Mabel in Undertaker’s hearse, and then also being johnny-on-the-spot to see Austin returning, driving the very ambulance that took him away after the Corporation beatdown.
-The concept of the bounty is put over pretty well after Austin re-enters the fray, as even the “good guys” that enter go after Austin. Good psychology as the match goes on in that the bounty is HELPING Austin because some guys STOP Austin from being pitched so that they can try to be the guy to do it.
-Terri Runnels accompanies D. Lo to the ring, wearing… just… a completely see-through top with no bra. Just completely sheer.
-Chyna becomes the first female participant in Rumble history, but lasts less than a minute. She gets Henry out (they had an angle over Henry lying about having gotten in her pants), but is then dumped by Stone Cold.
-The match REALLY slows down with the “fake” final four of Austin, D. Lo, Bossman, and Owen, and they last quite a while, fighting amongst themselves in separate corners.
-At the end, Vince is forced to re-enter when Austin is all alone. Steve beats the crap out of him for a bit, but then it’s Rocky to the rescue. Austin moronically forgets Vince to jawjack The Rock, and that allows Vince to push him out and win the Rumble. Vince would go on to abdicate his spot at Wrestlemania, giving Austin a chance to win the Wrestlemania title shot at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (he did). It’s a nice little cyclical ending to mirror how Austin won the Rumble in 1997 but DIDN’T get the title shot. Here, he lost, but DID get the shot.
1. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10
2. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10
3. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
4. 1999 (McMahon) 5/10
5. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
6. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
7. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
8. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
9. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
10. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
11. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
12. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10