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Remembering the 1999 Royal Rumble: 20 Years On

Paul Benson
553   //    Timeless

The Rock brutalised Mankind in their classic I Quit war
The Rock brutalised Mankind in their classic I Quit war

The 1999 Royal Rumble lives in infamy as one of the most shocking, violent and memorable events of the famed Attitude Era.

By this point in time, the Monday Night Wars had well and truly swung in favour of the WWF, whose foul-mouthed, gritty, adult-theme driven and blood-soaked product had won masses of fans and left the old hat, by comparison, WCW in its wake.

Led by a new breed of dynamic, young talent such as Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, Ken Shamrock, D-Generation X and others, the Federation was must-see television.

After a series of below-par pay-per-views in terms of in-ring action, the 1999 'Rumble delivered in spades in terms of gripping action.

The opener saw Hardcore Champion, The Road Dogg compete against the man he won the belt from the previous month, The Big Boss Man. Strangely, the bout was non-title. Perhaps this was due in part to the company not wanting to overshadow the 'I Quit' WWF title match or maybe because of whom they chose to win the match.

It was Boss Man who won with his trademark sidewalk slam after a decent back and forth encounter.

The action stepped up in match number two as Road Dogg's fellow New Age Outlaw, Billy Gunn challenged Intercontinental Champion, Ken Shamrock for the belt.

BA Billy Gunn hits the Fameasser on Ken Shamrock in the IC Title match
BA Billy Gunn hits the Fameasser on Ken Shamrock in the IC Title match

Shamrock, in particular, entered an energetic performance and looked every bit the star as he worked Gunn over aggressively as he sought to lock in his patented ankle lock submission.


Gunn, for his part, kept the crowd involved with several hope spots including his finisher, the Fameasser. However, it was not to be his night. Shamrock finally applied the ankle lock for the clean as a whistle submission win. Strangely, however, despite his excellent performance, Shamrock tumbled down the card shortly after this. He ultimately left the Federation later that year to return to MMA.

European Champion, X-Pac successfully defended the European Championship versus Gangrel in a sprint. However, it was not without its issues. There was a blunder in particular where X-Pac hit a splash on Gangrel and both men's shoulders were down as referee, Tim White counted three.

That was not the finish and both wrestlers carried on regardless, which looked very messy. X-Pac, moments later hit an X-Factor for the win. X-Pac was an excellent worker but the lumbering Gangrel struggled to put anything decent together with him.

That led to the Women's Championship match, wherein Sable defended her title versus Luna. Shane McMahon seconded Luna to the ring after his amorous advances towards Sable had been rebuffed.

Sable was attacked on the pre-show and the younger McMahon demanded she forfeits the title to Luna. She didn't. Instead, she told the timekeeper to ring the bell. The pair contested a watchable Strap Match which followed an oft-repeated formula wherein Luna with Sable strapped to her back went to touch all four turnbuckles but unbeknownst to her, Sable was touching them as well. When it came to the final turnbuckle, a crazed fan entered the ring and blasted Luna, which enabled Sable to touch first for the win.

That led to one of the most famous wrestling matches of the decade with Mankind defending his newly won WWF Championship versus former champion The Rock.

Rock was sporting a tracksuit to mask the scars from his recent Gynecomastia (male breast reduction) surgery. The match started with both men kicking and punching and referee Earl Hebner asking if either wanted to quit. Rock commandeered a microphone and began singing as the crowd lapped up his antics.

Rock introduced a ladder that both men climbed to a balcony. Rock knocked Mankind off. Mankind landed on what commentator, Michael Cole, described as the electrical circuit board. A dramatic, sparks flying explosion highlighted the spot.

From there, Rock handcuffed Mankind and smashed him full force in the face with a steel chair, a total of 10 times. Mankind was nuts for agreeing to take 10 unprotected shots to the head. Unsurprisingly, that was enough to earn Rock the win as Mankind said: "I Quit." Rock was the new WWF Champion. However, it was later revealed that Rock had paid off somebody to play a recording of Mankind saying "I Quit" in a promo. That set up a re-match at Half-time Heat during half time of the Superbowl wherein Mankind regained the title.

A bloodied Mankind was helped onto a stretcher as Rock bragged about his victory. However, Mankind refused to be carried out and instead limped backstage under his own power.

Mr. McMahon and Stone Cold circle as the 1999 Royal Rumble begins
Mr. McMahon and Stone Cold circle as the 1999 Royal Rumble begins

The Royal Rumble match was built around the long-running Austin/McMahon programme. The pair entered number one and two as the deck was stacked against Stone Cold who was bidding to win his third consecutive 'Rumble match.

Stone Cold predictably dominated McMahon as soon as the opening bell sounded. When entrant number three entered, Golga of the Oddities, that allowed McMahon the opportunity to slide out of the ring and make his escape. After Austin had dispatched Golga, he followed McMahon into the crowd and out into the corridors of the Honda Center, in Anaheim, California, where the show took place.

It was a trap, the Corporation; namely Boss Man, Test and Shamrock assaulted Austin, knocking him out cold.

The match continued without its number one and two entrants. Droz entered at number four and was soon joined by Edge.

The match sagged a little in truth, as the bout minus Austin, lacked star power for the first half of the contest.

Things livened up when Kane entered and cleaned house before medics from a nearby mental health facility attempted (and failed) to drag him away. You have to love Vince Russo era insanity booking!

Kane, with no one left to eliminate, ejected himself from the match, which left new entrant, Shamrock in the bout alone.

At that moment, McMahon re-emerged, wearing a smug smile and took a seat with the ringside commentators.

That smile was short-lived however after the ambulance that had earlier carted Stone Cold out of the arena, returned with Austin as the driver.

A vengeful Austin marched back down to the ring and made a beeline for McMahon. He was cut off by the 'Rumble participants who tried to eliminate him and earn the $100,000 bounty placed on his head by McMahon.

However, Austin made short work of the remaining field, eliminating seven men and one woman (Chyna) to leave just he and McMahon as the final two.

Stone Cold battered McMahon and dragged the chairman into the ring to toss him out. However, new WWF Champion, The Rock came down to the ring and berated Austin. As the pair fought on the apron, McMahon snuck up on Austin from behind to eliminate him and incredibly win the 'Rumble match.

Mr. McMahon celebrates his 'Rumble victory
Mr. McMahon celebrates his 'Rumble victory

An aghast Stone Cold fought with Rock backstage as McMahon and his stooges celebrated in the ring. It was a memorable finish to an unforgettable show.

Once more, however, McMahon's joy would be short-lived. He gave up his WrestleMania title shot, only for commissioner Shawn Michaels to replace him with Austin, as the 'Rumble runner up.

Silly Vince McMahon. All that effort turned out to be for naught!