Happy Wednesday Everyone!
Something a bit new for this feature over the coming weeks, as instead of just rebooking one show I’ll be doing a series of them in order to create an entire arc. Basically what Jed Shaffer over on WrestleCrap used to do except I’ll just be doing the pay per views and not the week to week television shows like he would.
We’re going to be looking at WrestleMania Season for the WWF in 1999, starting with Royal Rumble 1999 to get us going. Two of the three pay per views that make up the three pay per view run the WWF was on during this period are pretty awful, so let’s see if I can spruce things up a bit.
If you’d like to see what the actual card was you can click below;
Gangrel Vs Al Snow
We start out by canning the match between Big Boss Man and Road Dogg because I’ve always thought it was a dull way to start the show and it never really served a purpose. Instead we’ll have a couple of matches on the undercard dedicated to finishing off the feud between The Brood and The JOB Squad, with Gangrel and Snow going at it. These two had a reasonably fun match to open up the Capital Carnage event in December, so we’ll let them go at it here with Snow picking up the win after clobbering Gangrel with the Head whilst the ref is distracted by the factions squabbling. I’m hopeful that opening the show with two of the better entrances the WWF had at the time will jazz the crowd up accordingly and the match itself should be fun.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Ken Shamrock Vs Billy Gunn
We’ll keep this one mostly true to real life, not because it’s an especially great match but because it serves a storyline purpose in order to build up WrestleMania XV. Shamrock eventually picks up the win but we have Val Venis get involved at one stage in order to keep the feud between all three men cooking.
WWF Light Heavyweight Title
Champ: Gilberg Vs Christian
Gilberg having the belt actively hurt its prestige and made it into a joke, whilst Christian was at least an actual wrestler with some semblance of credibility. We’ll get it back on Christian here by having him essentially squash Gilberg in order to put an addendum on the feud between the two factions. It’s not like Gilberg will be hurt by that as he was a comedy character to begin with and Christian should be fine carrying the Title until we know what we’re going to do with it. The influx of new talent in 2000 should mean we can move the belt off Christian and let him work exclusively with the Heavyweights.
Falls Count Anywhere
Champ: Mankind Vs The Rock
We’ve switched this to Falls Count Anywhere because it gets us out of the cheap screw-job finish the real life match has and it also means we don’t have to put Mick Foley in a position where he has to take a series of brutal chair shots. Up to that point the real match is actually a really good brawl, so we’ll let the two brawl up to stage where Mankind can take his fall down onto the electrical equipment like he did in real life. However, we’ll add in that Big Boss Man is the reason why Mankind takes the plunge, so in effect both Boss Man and Rock fling him off. Mankind can kick out of the resulting pin fall attempt from Rock for the last gasp show of guts on his part, and hopefully a big pop, but he’ll still be down and out following it allowing Rock to get a couple of chair shots to the back/body before finishing up with one big (worked) conchairto styled chair shot whilst Mankind is down on the concrete before rolling him over for the academic pin. Thus Mankind has still been screwed and deserving of a rematch, but he didn’t have to get destroyed with multiple unprotected chair shots to the head to get us there and he now has an additional issue with The Boss Man that we can payoff down the line.
There are quite a lot of problems with the Royal Rumble match in 1999. There are too many dead periods where only one person is in the ring, the storyline of Stone Cold Steve Austin getting beaten up and carted away in an ambulance only to come back just grinds the match to a halt, they completely backload the Rumble so that there isn’t really any star power to carry it in the first half whilst Austin has been carted away, the finish is awful because it involves Austin getting distracted like a chump in a totally out of character moment, and the result basically becomes null and void the very next night due to Shawn Michael’s stripping Vince of the #1 contender status when he declares that he won’t be challenging (which makes everything we’ve sat through pointless).
I know it won’t be the most exciting or surprising ending, but I think we have to go with Austin winning this and then agreeing to put the shot on the line against Vince so that he finally has a chance to get him in a cage. Yes it’s predictable, but sometimes it’s better to be predictable rather than destroy one of your marquee matches just for a needless SWERVE that you’re going to reverse the very next night anyway because someone didn’t read the fine print in the contract. So instead, Austin becomes the first wrestler to win three back to back Rumbles, putting him above even the likes of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels, although he has to get canny in the closing stages with everyone going after him.
One good thing about the bounty angle they did is that you have believable reasons for guys to not only attack Austin for the money, but also reasons for them to attack one another so that they get to be the ones to collect it. Thus, even though Austin has everyone in the match coming for him, those people are liable to turn on one another at any point, which means Austin always has a lifeline that can rescue him when things get hairy for him. You can even have it cause ructions within The Corporation, with guys like Boss Man and Shamrock momentarily scrapping over who gets to be the one to throw Austin out, allowing someone like Gunn to chuck out Shamrock in the ensuing ruckus to keep their feud going.
The Rumble itself will need better balancing as well, with more name guys coming in earlier. Owen Hart and D’Lo Brown are both capable of putting more time in for instance, so let’s get them in the ring sooner so that the crowd actually has people they see as stars in there as opposed to guys like Golga, Blue Meanie and Tiger Ali Singh. Chyna can still enter as well, as her coming in and chucking someone out is sure to get a pop as she was pretty over during this period and it would be silly not to include that.
You can still have Vince McMahon as an entrant but either you have him come out after Austin has already been worked over a bit or you have him enter at #2 as he did in real life and have Austin chuck him out early doors before settling into a more standard Rumble. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with Austin clobbering Vince to start only for someone like Shamrock to be #3 and Test to be #4, meaning that Austin gets distracted fighting them and it allows Vince to retreat to the commentary desk now that Austin is busy fighting other guys, with the suggestion being that Vince managed to rig the draw to get them out there early in order to watch his back. You can then tell a story throughout the Rumble that Austin wants to get out there and drag Vince back in only for him to always be foiled until right at the end when he drags Vince in and finally dumps him out.
I also don’t think we’ll bother with the stupid stuff like Kane eliminating himself to flee from orderlies. We’ll just get him associated with The Corporation earlier in the story than he originally was and we’ll make him Team Corporate’s resident monster for this one, with us possibly even busting out the 2001 Rumble finish where Austin eliminates Kane last to win. I think Austin will need to dump out a Corporation member last to win, be that Vince, Kane or even Boss Man. If it’s not a Corporation member then you can either stick Undertaker in the actual match and have Austin throw him out last or you could possibly even throw a curveball by having someone like Triple H get into the final two and then have them do an epic closing sequence with Austin. It would certainly have great crowd heat if Triple H and Austin were duking it out at the end as you could argue that Triple H was the #3 babyface at the time behind Austin and Mankind. X-Pac could even be an option as well as he was pretty darn over at the time and him almost getting the big upset win over Austin would probably give the crowd heart palpitations if it was executed well enough.
Whichever way we decide to go with it, we need to make the actual Rumble itself the focus as opposed to all the storyline gaga surrounding it and we need to make sure there’s enough star power dispersed throughout the entrant order so that there isn’t the clear cut off between lower half and top half there is in the real 99 match.
Building on from this show, Mankind will get his rematch during Halftime HeAT and will pick up the win, setting up the final blowoff match between he and Rock for the February pay per view.
Austin will come out on Raw the next night and tell a protesting McMahon that he will be willing to put his hard earned Title shot on the line against a Corporation member if it means The Corporation are barred from ringside at WrestleMania. Vince will agreed and ask which member it will be, at which point Austin will say that he wants Vince in a cage. Realising it’s his only way of preventing Austin from going to WrestleMania, Vince will accept and we have our February pay per view Main Event.
Val Venis will start a relationship with Ken Shamrock’s sister Ryan, infuriating Shamrock and setting up a match between the two. The refs will be too afraid to referee it due to Shamrock’s increasing rage, so Billy Gunn will volunteer in order to keep that story going.
Chyna will turn on DX to join The Corporation in order to ignite a feud between her and the rest of her former stablemates, setting up a match for February.
We’ll also set up some other matches for the show but I’ll cover those next week when we rebook St. Valentine’s Massacre!