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WWF King of the Ring

June 27, 1999

by Scrooge McSuck

- I don't particularly care to revisit 1999. It just wasn't a good year. Maybe it was fun watching it unfold week by week as it happened, but looking back on it is like waking up with the world's worst hangover, not remembering what happened the day before, and then finding out not only what happened, but that you enjoyed what everything was. That's 1999 in the world of the WWF and WCW. Stuff you have absolutely no memory for, but everyone will remind you how awesome you thought it was at the time.

1999 featured what I considered the worst collection of "Big Four" PPV's the WWF ever produced. The Worst Rumble PPV and worst Rumble Match, the WORST WrestleMania (worse than XI, worse than IX, worse than 27....), and two incredibly underwhelming cards in the form of SummerSlam and the Survivor Series, the latter containing the WORST case of bait-and-switch in WWF History. King of the Ring, a "Big Five" (for the whole 2 years of such a thing) card, is not fondly remembered either by most, but guess what... I've never seen it. Nope. I know of it, know all the big matches, but I have yet to watch one second of this PPV in my life. The streak of sanity ends right now. Pray for me.

- COURTESY OF THE WWE NETWORK! Originally presented to a Pay-Per-View audience (refunds!) on June 27th, 1999, from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC. Super Soaker is the official sponsor for the second straight KOTR. Again, I'm surprised there were no wet t-shirt contests to tie in the sponsorship. This WAS during the highest of the ludicrous Vince Russo era. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. I should note that for the first time since 1995, THREE ROUNDS of Tournament action will be presented to us. About damn time they got that right. Don't expect to read that line much for the rest of this recap.

X-Pac vs. Hardcore Holly:

Quarter-Finals Match #1. X-Pac defeated the Big Boss Man and Holly defeated Al Snow to Qualify. I'm pretty sure all Qualifying matches took place on Sunday Night Heat. No one can argue this isn't a step up from being one half of the NEW Midnight Express the year before for Bob Holly. Lockup, Holly grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Criss-cross sequence ends with X-Pac taking him over with a hip toss. He misses a charge to the corner and Holly lays him out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner and X-Pac surprises Holly with a twisting body press for two. Holly with a Powerbomb, but chooses to continue dishing punishment than go for a cover. X-Pac ducks a clothesline and takes Holly down with a back suplex. X-Pac with a spinning heel kick and it's Bronco Buster time. Holly, probably pissed for being tea-bagged by the 1-2-3 Kid (hey, weren't they former Tag Team Champions back in 1995?), grabs a chair and KO's him for a cheap DQ at 3:02. At least the shot looked good. Road Dogg saves X-Pac from further beatings. 1/2* Too short to mean anything. I guess Hardcore Holly was so important he needed to be protected. BOB HOLLY NEEDED TO BE PROTECTED. I can't make this stuff up.

- TERRY TAYLOR is backstage to interview Hardcore Holly. "Who the hell are you?" sayeth Hardcore. I'm amazed he didn't make a Red Rooster reference.

Kane vs. Big Show:

Quarter-Finals Match #2. Kane pinned Test and Big Show pinned Droz in less than 60-seconds to Qualify. My curse in life is having to suffer through Kane vs. Big Show matches for all eternity. I'm writing this in 2014, 15 years later, AND THEY ARE STILL WORKING MATCHS TOGETHER. I think both were baby-faces this week, but Big Show was due for at least three heel turns by SummerSlam. Kane wins a slugfest, but Show quickly turns things around and tosses Kane across the ring. Whip to the corner, but Show misses an avalanche. Kane with rights and mounted choking, but gets thrown off. Show with a boot to the face and a clothesline for two. Kane busts out an enziguri. They both go for a big boot, and it just looks awful, no matter what happened and was supposed to happen. Kane to the top rope with his signature flying clothesline for a two count. We get a ref' bump and Kane goes low. Hardcore Holly runs in with a chair, but Kane interrupts and plants him with a Chokeslam. Kane goozles Big Show, and just holds it. Did someone forget their spot or something? 20 years later (I might be exaggerating), Show fights free, only to get whacked with the chair. Referee FINALLY comes back to life and counts three at 4:37. DUD I was going to be nice about it, but when an Attitude Era crowd turns on the match, it sucked.

Ken Shamrock vs. "Mr. Ass" Billy Gunn:

Quarter-Finals Match #3. Shamrock defeated Jeff Jarrett, and Billy Gunn defeated Viscera to Qualify. Shamrock is selling "internal injuries", spitting up blood. He's done that a lot around this time. Maybe he should have that checked out. Shamrock is the reigning King of the Ring Winner, as if anyone calls attention to it. Gunn immediately attacks the midsection and chokes Shamrock down in the corner. Shamrock comes back with a roundhouse kick and pounds away with rights. Gunn counters a body press attempt with a back breaker. Shamrock picks the leg and goes for the Ankle Lock, but Gunn fights free. Gunn works Shamrock over on the floor, and again Shamrock goes for the ankle, unsuccessfully. Back inside, Gunn misses a splash from the top rope. Shamrock with a diving elbow and a jumping heel kick. He goes for a hurricanrana, but Gunn counters with a Powerbomb. Shamrock bites down on another blood capsole, forcing referee Teddy Long to call for the bell at 3:39. 3/4* Eh. Jim Ross says there will be other King of the Ring's for Shamrock. LIAR.

Road Dogg vs. Chyna (w/ Triple H):

Quarter-Finals Match #4. Yes. CHYNA is in the Tournament, and Triple H is in a non-wrestling role. Road Dogg defeated the Godfather and Chyna defeated Val Venis to Qualify. Earlier on Heat, Chyna and Triple H put a beating on Road Dogg. Damn that D-Generation X break-up. It's a good thing they all got over it by October. Lockup, Road Dogg gives a clean break, and Chyna shoves him on his ass. They do a short chain wrestling sequence, with Dogg outclassed, again. Remember the episode of the Drew Carey Show that Triple H guest starred on? It was probably more interesting than this. The trend continues until Chyna takes the Harley Race bump to the floor. Hunter with a distraction, killing the match dead, again. Chyna with a DDT for a near fall. Chyna with a slam where Road Dogg obviously did all the work. Chyna with the Road Dogg knee drop for two. She grabs a sleeper hold, as I notice the counter and am shocked we're at the 10-minute mark. Dogg escapes and Chyna quite literally WALKS into a sleeper hold. Chyna with a weaker roll-up than Austin did to defeat Owen at SummerSlam. Ref Bump #2 of the night, but Road Dogg kicks out at two. For some reason Shawn Michaels shows up, because he was Commissioner still, on a "whenever I feel like showing up" basis. Road Dogg FINALLY punches Chyna and the crowd wakes up for his signature spots. Michaels prevents Hunter from interfering. Chyna goes for a low blow, but Road Dogg is wearing a cup. Dogg with the Pumphandle Slam for three at 13:22. -** Was this match some kind of a sick joke? Not only did it get more time than the other three matches combined, but the basic storyline could've been worked into a much more reduced for time scenario. This would barely pass for a weird TV Taping Dark Match, let alone a featured match on a $30 PPV.

Edge & Christian (w/ Gangrel) vs. The Hardy Boyz (w/ Michael Hayes):

This was about four months before either team had anything resembling the term "Heat", other than the show they were most prominently featured on. These two teams worked the Pre-PPV Heat, but for reasons I don't care to research, they're doing a rematch RIGHT NOW! E&C were still technically members of the Brood. We recap earlier when the Acolytes destroyed everything walking, so it's their fault for this match being featured on PPV. Anyone else remember the short-lived alliance with the Hardys and Michael Hayes? The developers of WrestleMania 2000 for N64 did. The Hardys work over Christian in the corner. Christian connects with a stomach buster on Jeff. E&C with a double hip toss. Edge counters a head scissors with the Alabama Slam, but meets boot coming off the top rope. Poetry in Motion connects to zero reaction. Hayes gets a cheap shot in to no reaction. Edge hits him with a Spear, barely sold. Poetry in Motion is countered in mid-air with a Spear, but it only gets two. At least it wakes up the crowd. "Heel miscommunication" from the Vampire enthusiasts, with Edge blinded by a mouthful of "red liquid", and Jeff finishes with a Twist of Fate at 4:47. 3/4* There was stuff happening, but the crowd didn't care. The spear spot was pretty cool, though.

Kane vs. "Mr. Ass" Billy Gunn:

Semi-Finals Match #1. This should really help swing the momentum in match quality. So far, our best match is a generously scored 1-star opener with a shitty finish. Gunn tries pounding away, but Kane no-sells and unloads with a series of right uppercuts, followed by a short-arm clothesline. Gunn tries taking a walk, but Kane gives chase. Gunn gets rammed into the steps and dramatically over-sells it. Kane picks the steps up, but has them dropkicked back into his face. They continue working on the floor, long enough to be counted out 20-times over. Back in the ring, Gunn continues with the punchy-kicky. He actually takes Kane over with a (shitty) snapmare and grabs a weird front facelock. Gunn calls for the Fame-Asser, but Kane catches him off the ropes with a Powerslam. Kane with clotheslines and a big boot. He knocks Gunn off the apron with a dropkick, sending him into the security wall. Gunn grabs a chair and here comes the Big Show. He stops Gunn from using the chair, then whacks Kane with it himself. Gunn with the roll-up, and it's good for the three count at 5:27. *1/4 Billy Gunn has had the two best matches of the PPV... no wonder he's in the KOTR Finals.

- I should note that we're 6 matches deep, and we've featured two referee bumps, five moments of interference, and three stupid finishes. Some matches featuring a combination of two of the three.

Road Dogg vs. X-Pac:

Semi-Finals Match #2. Logical finale for the Tournament is Road Dogg vs. Billy Gunn, and considering X-Pac is working hurt (and obviously looks hurt), this is a good match to finally take him out of the tournament. Lockup, Road Dogg grabs a side headlock, and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. X-Pac blocks a hip toss and takes him over with a back suplex. X-Pac with a snapmare and leg drop for two. He grabs a chinlock as some dumbass holds up an obnoxious sign in the front row, blocking the view of quite a bit of people. Sure, the matches suck, but if I'm paying several hundred bucks for those seats, get a better sign. X-Pac with a spinning heel kick for two. He sets up for the Bronco Buster, but meets turnbuckle. Road Dogg goes for the Pumphandle Slam, but X-Pac counters with the X-Factor for three at 3:08. 1/2* Barely long enough to qualify for an actual rating. They make nice afterwards, and wouldn't turn on each other until the 2000 SummerSlam.

WWF Championship Match:
The Undertaker © (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Rock:

The Rock turned face shortly after Backlash, so he's still getting a handle on being a suck-up babyface. Undertaker won the title from Austin at Over The Edge, a PPV that until February 25th, 2014, ceased to exist. Undertaker cheap shots the referee for obvious ref bump #3 of the night. Rock with the Rock Bottom, but a second referee comes in to count and gets bumped by Paul Bearer. That's #4 of the night, and #2 of the match. 'Taker with a Chokeslam for two. Rock battles back with rights as the action spills down the aisle. Rock goes low to counter a Chokeslam, but 'Taker barely sells it long enough to sneeze, and lays Rocky out with a clothesline. they continue to brawl near the entrance, despite this being contested under standard rules. I hate when matches break away from logic. They finally get back in the ring, and the match is already death to sit through. Rock counters Old School, grabs a bottle of water, and spits it in 'Taker's face. Triple H is going to be pissed for Rock stealing his bit. They run out of things to do, so let's brawl through the crowd, again. Stuff happens, and Paul Bearer gets cheap shots in with his shoe. Rock teases a comeback but gets planted with a DDT. 'Taker speeds things up by holding onto a chinlock. Rock with another comeback until a double clothesline puts them both down. Rock slips out of a Tombstone and connects with a DDT for two. We get the THIRD ref bump of the match and it's People's Elbow time! 'Taker grabs an ether soaked cloth, but Rock WILL NOT SUFFOCATE! He goes Giant Gonzales on the Undertaker, but here comes Triple H and he plants the Rock with the Pedigree. 'Taker with the Tombstone, and it's over at 19:47. DUD One of the worst WWF Championship matches I can recall ever having the misfortune of having to sit through, and that covers a hell of a lot of ground. Were we that desperate to fill the show that THIS needed to go 20-minutes?! I'm surprised we only had two people interfere and three ref' bumps.

KOTR Finals: X-Pac vs. "Mr. Ass" Billy Gunn:

X-Pac has gone through a grueling 6-minutes worth of action, and Billy Gunn an unbelievable 9-minutes. How can these two men still be able to compete after all of that?! Gunn attacks from behind, targeting the injured neck of X-Pac. Whip to the corner and Gunn comes diving in with a forearm. Gunn tries it again, but this time kisses the post. X-Pac with a clothesline, sending Gunn to the floor. He follows him out with a plancha. What the... a high spot on this show?! How dare you! X-Pac to the top with a clothesline for a near fall. Gunn reverses a whip to the corner and takes him down with a bulldog for two. Gunn with a press slam, followed by a knee drop. He grabs a front facelock, a resthold that actually makes sense in this case. X-Pac escapes with elbows, but runs into a Powerslam. Gunn with the Fame-Asser, but it only gets two! Gunn argues the count and gets nailed from out of nowhere with the X-Factor, but that's only good for two. X-Pac with kicks in the corner and the Bronco Buster. Gunn ducks a clothesline and connects with a neck breaker for two. They fight along the top rope until Gunn finishes X-Pac with a Super-Sized Fame-Asser to become King of the Ring at 5:34. ** Surprisingly good match, but much like everything else, just too short. I say surprisingly because everything else on this PPV has sucked a wet fart.

Handicap Ladder Match:
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Vince & Shane McMahon:

Let me see if I can explain this one... Austin hates the McMahons for obvious reasons, we know that much. Vince spent much of the early half of 1999 in a bizarre feud with the Undertaker, which lead to the debut of Stephanie McMahon as a quasi-damsel in distress, and Vince begging Austin for help. Meanwhile, Shane rebelled against his father to form a hybrid of the Corporation and Ministry of Darkness, cleverly titled The Corporate Ministry. There were talks of a Higher Power controlling the Undertaker, with everyone assuming that it would be Vince. Sure as shit, it was Vince (IT WAS ME AUSTIN! IT WAS ME ALL ALONG!). Somewhere along the way, Stephanie and the debuting matriarch of the family, Linda, show up to teach Vince a lesson by signing over their controlling interest, making Austin a CEO of the Company, with comedy at Titan Towers as a result. So the winner of this match earns 100% ownership of a company, and I can just imagine the contract being signed that stipulates such a scenario. Earlier in the show, Shane faked an injury and tried to sub himself out with Steve Blackman, but GTV caught him in the lie and troubleshooting Commissioner Shawn Michaels orders the actual advertised match to take place. IN YOUR FACE, RUSSO! Oh, and Austin, still in power, declared No Interference from the Corporation, or the McMahon's forfeit. You got all that?

OK, now it's match time. Austin chases the McMahons down and easily whoops the crap out of both of them. Shane tries to sneak up on Austin but gets a Thesz Press and FU Elbow for his effort. Anyone else noticing a streaming glitch for this show? Austin gets suckered into a clothesline, allowing the McMahon's to finally get some offense in. Vince goes for a Ladder, but that just allows Austin to regain control. Shane climbs onto an odd arrangement of ladders near the entrance to hide, but Austin climbs up. That can't be the safest location for a man with his history of injuries. Austin keeps throwing the McMahon's into the set, finally taking down the entire structure. Because that looks safe. Austin puts Shane through an announcer's table with an elbow. This actually buys Vince an opportunity to try and retrieve the Magic Briefcase™. Austin goes to low to prevent the climb and actually slams Vince off the ladder. Austin keeps using the ladder to punish the McMahon's, and it's at this point you have to think "why don't they go home with it"? The McMahon's dump Austin over and do some goofy comedy to get the briefcase without the ladder. Austin with Stunners for both, and he FINALLY goes for the briefcase, but someone, possibly the keeper of the Baby Doll photos, RAISES THE BRIEFCASE OUT OF AUSTIN'S REACH. Austin threatens everyone, ESPECIALLY the timekeeper, then climbs up again to b beat on Vince. Shane recovers, shoves the ladder over with both Austin and his father on it, and climbs to retrieve the briefcase at 17:12. That was... something. *1/2 Stupid finish aside (and no, it was never revealed, although implications pointed the finger at the Boss Man, according to online rumors), it was an Austin squash that included ladders. The whole point of the match was null by Fully Loaded, when Vince would lose a stipulation forcing him off TV forever, only to return several times by September, win his own companies Championship, and turn face to help Steve Austin. Vince Russo was in desperate need of a Vacation.

Final Thoughts: If there's one good thing I can say about King of the Ring '99... it was better than WCW's Great American Bash, although that's not saying much. Not only was the wrestling way below par, but the excessive use of bullshit finishes, run-in's, and Disqualifications would qualify this as a bad episode of Monday Night Raw, let alone a heavily advertised show that fans had to pay to watch. The Tournament was poorly booked, with the winner getting through with flukes and poor booking decisions, the Championship Match was awful and directionless, and OH MY GOD, WHO RAISED THE DAMN BRIEFCASE!? Easily the WORST King of the Ring PPV, and one of the worst PPV's of all time. It's not even fun to watch like Uncensored '95. It's just awful.

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