Sunday, June 26, 2016

The History of WWE King of the Ring (1999)

King of the Ring 1999 - Greensboro Coliseum - 6.27.99

As with the product in general mid-1999, the King of the Ring showed major chinks in the WWF armor.  This show restored the full 8-man bracket to the PPV with very rushed, mixed results, and while a pair of solid main event brawls and the overall tournament made for a fun one-time watch, this PPV doesn't hold up too well to scrutiny.  Also, like in 1995, the company handpicked their intended new main eventer despite the fans not buying into him.

The first round consisted of three abbreviated bouts - X-Pac vs. Bob Holly, Kane vs. ex-WCW star The Big Show (heavily favored to win the whole thing but unceremoniously knocked out in the first round), and Billy Gunn vs. Ken Shamrock.  None of these were long enough to be memorable.  However the final first-round match pitted former friends The Road Dogg and Chyna.  While no in-ring masterpiece, it was certainly intriguing seeing Chyna go head-to-head with one of the male stars in a major singles bout.  Previously she had only really appeared in mixed tag matches.  This probably got more time than it deserved but I never found it boring.  Road Dogg won after 13 minutes.

The semifinals saw Billy Gunn quickly defeat Kane and X-Pac even more quickly defeat best friend Road Dogg, leading to what should've been a solid big man vs. underdog final match.  Unfortunately Billy Gunn and X-Pac were only given 5:35, harkening back to the half-assed mid-90s tournament finals and once again undermining the whole tourney concept.

Mr. Ass beats up Mr. Pac

Not surprisingly the three non-tournament matches constituted the real meat of the show.  The first was a brief-but-thrilling #1 Contenders match for the Tag Titles, as Edge & Christian began their storied rivalry with The Hardy Boyz.  This was one of those matches that ended up better than it should've given how short it was.



Next up was the WWF Championship, as The Undertaker faced white-hot new babyface The Rock in a pretty solid brawl.  Taker's cult leader gimmick was pretty overexposed as far as I'm concerned, but as with all Mark Calaway character incarnations, he played it to the hilt.  The Rock fell just short of the strap here.

Mr. Taker beats up Mr. Johnson

In the main event was the culmination of one of the stupidest storylines of the year, as three weeks earlier Vince McMahon was revealed to be The Undertaker's "Greater Power," thus renewing his feud with Steve Austin.  However Austin managed to gain control over half the company and put his stake against that of Vince & Shane McMahon in a Ladder Match.  This goofy brawl was so much better than it had any right to be, with both McMahons taking incredible sums of punishment at the hands of the Rattlesnake.  In the end the numbers game fell in Vince & Shane's favor, and they regained control of the WWF.

Mr. 3:16 beats up Mr. McMahon......'s kid

The next night though, Austin received his Title rematch with Taker and regained the Championship, restoring things back to normal.

The 1999 KOTR was another of Vince Russo's story-driven PPVs, where the in-ring action was pretty bad overall but the angles were fun to watch unfold.  Why those in charge felt Billy Gunn had main event potential is beyond me; clearly this tournament should've gone to The Big Show, who had already been damaged by clean losses to Austin and Mankind, and subjected to multiple character changes within his first five months.  And the company wondered why Show's late '99 push didn't work, or why he isn't at all relevant now.  Against my better judgment though, I still give this show a passing grade.


Best Match: Steve Austin vs. Vince & Shane McMahon
Worst Match: Kane vs. Big Show
What I'd Change: The final should've been a David vs. Goliath bout - X-Pac vs. Big Show, with the former Giant going over on his way to a main event push.
Most Disappointing Match: X-Pac vs. Billy Gunn
Most Pleasant Surprise: That the Ladder Match ended up so entertaining
Overall Rating: 5.5/10


1998

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