The year was 1999 and WWE was riding high on the massive wave of success created by some of the biggest stars in company history in the prime of their career. It would only get better, too, as those stars proved to be the true definition of super.
What I mean by that is they were legitimate superstars able to overcome some of the worst booking you’ll ever see.
The event, and more specifically the match, that gives us perhaps the best example of this is the one that took place on this day back on Jan. 24, 1999 — the worst Royal Rumble in history.
It’s been talked about many times before but this match sucks so very, very hard. The many reasons for this include but are not limited to:
- During a time when everyone was over, there weren’t nearly enough stars.
- The two guys the match was built around, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, spent much of the match nowhere near it, having battled off to the women’s bathroom so Austin could get jumped chasing off McMahon.
- They set a bad precedent for Rumble matches, having the guy who would ultimately win leave the match early, not actually have to wrestle in it much at all, then come back and do commentary while everyone else wrestled in it proper.
- At one point, commentary made sure to remind us that “Vince McMahon is sitting with us on commentary but he is still a part of this match.”
- There were multiple dead spots in the match, with wrestlers just waiting around for an opponent to enter so they would have someone to fight.
- Mabel was eliminated because he was kidnapped by Undertaker and his crew of dark misfits.
- Kane eliminated himself chasing after guys trying to put a straitjacket on him.
- And, perhaps the most egregious of all, Vince McMahon won the match because Stone Cold fell for a simple distraction from The Rock.
What’s mind-blowing here is the fans in attendance seemed to generally have a good time with all this, which speaks less to the quality of the match and more to just how well WWE was doing at the time.
I actually appreciate the fact that WWE was trying to tell a story with the match, it just didn’t work at all for what the match is all about. On top of that, there were all the usual logic fails but the biggest was a detriment to one of the stories going in, that a $100,000 bounty was on Austin’s head and no one in the match treated it like a thing at all. Commentary tried talking about it as though it was a thing but everyone in the ring just went about the usual Rumble style of match.
The men’s Royal Rumble in 2020 was a great example of how to work a strong lead story into the match itself, using it to get someone over big on the way to a major title win at WrestleMania. The Royal Rumble in 1999 was an overbooked mess that resulted in the least enjoyable Rumble of all time.