10 Things We Learned From WWE Royal Rumble 1999

The one Vince McMahon won, and where The Rock went a bit too far with Mankind...

No one would ever argue that the 1999 Royal Rumble wasn't a memorable event, but it can be debated as to whether or not that's a good thing. Structurally, the show didn't peak until the final two matches, which is probably what you want, but those peaks came with some less-desirable moments, neither of which would gain any positive flavour in the two decades since.

The most viscerally-charging moment came in the WWE Championship match, an I Quit battle between Mankind and The Rock, in which Mick Foley (with his wife and first two kids present) had his brains scrambled with eleven vicious steel chair shots, with a bound Foley unable to shield himself. The more we've learned about long term concussion damage in the years since have made that entire sequence harder to stomach.

Though the Rumble match itself didn't result in anybody having their safety greatly compromised, it could be termed a creative failure, with a poorly-designed structure, a lot of uninteresting action, a ton of downtime, and a finish that would prove unsatisfying. Fortunately for WWE, WCW was firmly turned downward toward the sewer by this point, and WWE, even when they did wrong, could do no wrong. The 1999 Royal Rumble was a colossal misfire, but hardly a mortal wound.

10. Timeless Music


It's pretty hard to beat the John Tesh-esque music that was the Rumble theme from 1991 to 1994 (fans from those days just grinned and nodded), but the 1999 Royal Rumble theme song would have far greater endurance in WWE lore. It's not often that a PPV theme song has such lasting power beyond one solitary event, but this one would.

With the event tagline reminding us that Steve Austin had "No Chance in Hell" of winning the Royal Rumble match, we got a theme song reflecting that declaration, and wouldn't you know it, it's been Vince McMahon's theme music ever since. And it's such a wonderful song, too, as fans across the globe (especially in Sacramento) cheer for and bow towards McMahon, while booing Baron Corbin for the booking of the shows.

9. Stars Of Tomorrow


The 1999 Royal Rumble is an interesting look at where WWE was in 1999, particularly the order of the talent depth chart. The Rumble match would feature a host of wrestlers that would be immaterial to WWE matters long before year's end, among them Dan Severn, Tiger Ali Singh, The Blue Meanie, The Human Oddities, Gillberg, Jeff Jarrett, and others. Meanwhile, in a pre-show dark match were two men who would be *very* relevant come the turn of the century.

In an 11-minute match before Sunday Night Heat began beaming out, muted Brood-ster Christian defeated a plaid-panted, 21-year-old Jeff Hardy. Within a decade, both men would hold World Championships, headline PPVs, and even by year's end, they would make their mark alongside Edge and Matt Hardy in a paradigm-shifting ladder match at No Mercy. But in January 1999, both men were still looking to break out.

8. High Anticipation


Though the show would soon enough be relegated to being a haven for neglected midcarders to play, Sunday Night Heat was quite valuable in the early days of the Attitude Era, especially on pay-per-view nights. When the show was fresh and WWE (as noted) could do no wrong, the one-hour hype show on USA Network made for an excellent hard sell for the main entree at 8 PM EST.

On the night of the 1999 Royal Rumble, Heat did a staggering 4.77 rating, a number that, by that point, WCW Monday Nitro would've given (as John Candy would say) six bucks and its right nut to achieve. The Heat in question saw Vince debut "No Chance" as his music, Steve Austin destroy a host of vehicles in a monster truck/limo hybrid, and Mankind endure a beating from a returning Mabel, acting as a corporate roadblock for a night.

7. What Are The Rules?


The mostly-dull undercard of the pay-per-view began with World Tag Team Champion Big Boss Man defeating WWE Hardcore Champion Road Dogg in a match with no belts at stake. Dogg had, in fact, won the Hardcore title from Boss Man six weeks earlier at a Raw taping, though the belt didn't figure into the match at all.

According to The Wrestling Observer, the match was supposed to be contested under "hardcore rules", though those stipulations were dropped late in the week before the pay-per-view. More curious, the match would've been a non-title affair, even with the No DQ modifier in place. Having the Hardcore champion compete in a hardcore match without the belt on the line seems a bit unusual, and it would've been in practice, so dropping the stips made sense.

6. Found Footage


The WWE Championship brawl pitting Mankind against The Rock would gain additional recognition in the acclaimed Barry Blaustein documentary Beyond the Mat. The footage not only depicting Mankind's brain-rattling assault at the hands of a chair-wielding Rock, but also the anguished reactions of Collette Foley and their children, as well as the aftermath backstage.

According to Blaustein on a 2013 edition of Inside the Ropes, he almost didn't get to film that night in Anaheim. He and a once-struggling WWE came to an agreement on the documentary long before the rise of the Attitude Era, and Blaustein believes Vince had second thoughts about participating since WWE didn't have ownership of it. Blaustein was initially told he could not film at the Rumble, but he managed to persuade Vince into letting him do so. McMahon made it clear that that night would be the last time he could film, so Blaustein and his crew made sure to make the opportunity count.

5. A Few Too Many


Earlier in the World title match, Mankind took a stuntman bump in the production area, landing among electrical circuitry. That fall would be quickly forgotten about once the handcuffs were on and the chair came into play, as Mick Foley took one sickening strike after another with the weapon. The finish to the match was designed to be brutal, but this was excessively so.

Reportedly, Rock and Foley agreed to five chair shots, the fifth being the knockout blow that would lead into the screwy finish at the base of the entrance way. Somewhere along the way, some unfortunate improv was attempted, and Rock battered Foley a total of 11 times, so something went off the ordained path during the execution. There was a bit of tension between Rock and Foley after the fact, as Foley felt Rock had gone too far.

4. Taking Over The Rumble


The number 10 entrant into the Rumble match was recent arrival The Blue Meanie, the portly and jovial ex-ECW star that gained fame as "Da Blue Guy" in the Blue World Order. He wouldn't be the only bWo alumnus to take part in a Rumble match: Simon Dean (the former Nova/Hollywood Nova) made brief appearances in the 2005 and 2006 matches.

Curiously enough, Stevie Richards, the leader of the group and a WWE employee of nine years between 1999 and 2008, never once took part in any Rumble match. Richards joins the select class of Razor Ramon, Jacques Rougeau, D-Von Dudley, Ricky Steamboat, and others that were with WWE for a long enough time to have been available for a Rumble or two, but never actually competed in one. And yet, his bWo sidekicks, each with WWE for less time, each did so.

3. In And Out


The Royal Rumble is essentially divided into three parts - Austin and Vince's opening, the long run of Road Dogg and a lot of undercarders (cleaned out by Kane), and the mostly-pushed class from 19 onward. The result was an imbalanced and not-very-exciting Rumble match. Making the match feel even weaker were the acceleration of eliminations.

Only nine of the 30 entrants made it past the 10-minute mark, while 13 entrants failed to even last five minutes inside the ring. Considering that the ring was empty when number 19, Ken Shamrock, hit the ring, there weren't going to be any marathon entrants, Austin and McMahon's continuous eligibility while inactive notwithstanding. And speaking of Austin and his period outside the ring...

2. Mini Marathon


Officially, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon each lasted 56 minutes and 38 minutes into the match, a combo duration mark that only adds to the farcical nature of the match: Austin spent half the match incapacitated due to injury, while McMahon did commentary (though to be fair, he wasn't the worst voice at the table).

Before the point of time where Austin chased McMahon away, and after he returned from his brisk round of grand theft auto, Austin lasted 25 minutes and 47 seconds inside the ring, which was still enough to give him the match's duration title. The second longest-lasting entry in terms of actually participating in the match goes to Big Boss Man, whose 18 minutes and 53 seconds inside the ring was not marred by any ambulance commandeering.

1. The World Is Watching


I've reiterated it plenty here, but I'll repeat it once more - WWE could do no wrong in this era. The audience was there with their insatiable appetites and salivating maws, consuming all things WWE in record numbers. The Royal Rumble in 1999 was just another Big Four pay-per-view that saw a massive increase over the previous year's equivalent event.

That 1999 Rumble did 650,000 buys, by and far the largest for any Rumble to that point. The previous record had been set in 1991 when that year's event did 440,000. The 1998 Rumble was good for 351,000 buys, making 1999's showing an 85 per cent increase in just one year. Even more impressive, it was up 166 per cent from the meagre 244,000 buys pulled in by the 1997 event.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.