What It Means To Be King

By Kevin Sullivan


On June 27th, live on Pay-Per-View, the World Wrestling Federation will crown its prestigious 1999 King of the Ring. In the past, such names as Steve Austin, Owen Hart and Triple H have used their success in the King of the Ring tournament to propel their careers to the next level. This year, when it's all said and done, another Federation superstar will walk out of the Pay-Per-View with a bright future ahead of him, much like the superstars before him. A Federation tradition was born in 1993 with the first ever King of the Ring Pay-Per-View. After three grueling rounds, Bret Hart earned the title King of the Ring. His achievement paved the way for the success of Kings to follow, including his brother Owen. By winning the following year's tournament, Owen Hart not only jumped out of his brother's shadow, but also into main events all over the country, including the 1994 SummerSlam in Chicago.

As a result of the success both Bret and Owen achieved after being named King of the Ring, the tournament solidified itself as a prestigious event, capable of propelling one's career to the next level. The 1995 tournament did just that. Despite having worn tag team gold in the past, Mabel truly made his mark by winning the 1995 tournament. After being crowned, Mabel caught the eyes of Federation fans with his heated feud with then Federation Champion, Diesel. However, Mabel was unable to further capitalize on the prestige associated with the crown.

Perhaps the most phenomenon venture was born at the 1996 King of the Ring Pay-Per-View. After muscling through two superstars, Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the tournament finals. During the post-match coronation, Stone Cold spewed the words "Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!" With those words, Stone Cold Steve Austin became the most widely known figure in sports-entertainment. From there, Austin's popularity skyrocketed to a level second to none. His success in the ring, highlighted by three Federation Championships, eventually led to success in Hollywood. It has become nearly impossible to open a magazine or turn on the television without hearing about former King of the Ring, Stone Cold Steve Austin.


Triple H emerged as one of the Federation's top stars in 1997 after beating Mankind to become King of the Ring. Also that night, for the first time ever, the Federation's Tag Team Champions squared off against each other when Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels faced off in an epic encounter.


The "World's Most Dangerous Man" Ken Shamrock firmly established himself as one the Federation's elite when he was crowned as the 1998 King of the Ring. Shamrock forced The Rock to submit in the tournament finals to conclude a thrilling match between the two superstars. This event also featured the infamous Hell In A Cell match between Mankind and the Undertaker, which saw Mick Foley take not one, but two falls from the top of the 20-foot tall cell!

June 27, 1999

"BAD ASS" Billy Gunn


Not many people had pegged the Undertaker and McMahons as locks to in their co-main event matches at the just concluded King of the Ring PPV....  but as it turned out, UNDERTAKER was able to defend his WORLD BELT from the ROCK, while the McMahons regained 100% control of the WWF from Steve Austin.  But both needed outside help to do so.

Complete results of a card that also saw the CROWNING OF "MR ASS" BILLY GUNN

The opener set the tone for the entire show, as X-Pac beat Bob Holly via DQ....  it seemed to me that, while this was a nice, solid match, it was a bit short, and had an unnecessary screwjob ending.  There no reason Holly couldn't put X-Pac over clean, but instead they did the DQ finish, with Holly intentionally using a chair right in front of the ref.

Amidst those fabled "internet rumors" that the Big Show was a surefire bet to win the title of "King," Titan threw a curveball to us early.  In the second match, the Big Show faced Kane....  and LOST.  The story here is that with the ref knocked out, Kane illegally choked Big Show out, and then pasted him with a wicked chair shot.  The ref came to at that point, and counted the three for Kane.  Again, a decent little match, but one that seemed to finish a little flat. Road Dogg and Chyna faced off in the next first round contest.  They played up the angle of Road Dogg not wanting to hit a woman, so a lot of this match consisted of Chyna dominating Road Dogg in between exchanges of mat wrestling and rest holds.  They actually went a solid 8 or 10 minutes it seemed, until finally HHH's interference on Chyna's behalf became too much.  Commissioner Shawn Michaels interjected himself and dismissed HHH from ringside.  While the ref and Road Dogg were distracted by Michaels' antics, Chyna snuck up behind Dogg and tried her patented low blow; but Road Dogg was wearing a protective cup, and the blow had no effect.  Chyna was quickly pump-handle slammed and the Road Dogg advanced.   Another decent little match, this one with a neat ending. In the final first round match, Billy Gunn advanced past Ken Shamrock when the referee stopped the match.  Shamrock had been brutalized by Steve Blackman earlier on Heat, and was "bleeding internally."  A Billy Gunn powerbomb caused Shamrock to start spitting up blood again, so the ref called the match.

As a way of spacing out the first two rounds of KotR tourney matches, a rematch of the Hardys/Brood tag match from Heat (which was brought to an early end by the Acolytes interferring) was booked.  This match easily had the best action of the night, and after silence in the early moments, the crowd was heating up for the big moves near the end.  Said "big moves" included what Jim Ross called "the damnedest spear I've ever seen."  I concur, JR.  The spear was executed by Edge on Jeff Hardy, but it wasn't enough for the win.  Instead, the Hardys snuck away with a victory when Gangrel's attempt to interfere backfired.  Now, the Hardys are the #1 contenders to the tag team titles.

The second round started with Billy Gunn and Kane doing their things.  Mr. Ass is starting to click in the ring a little bit more, but this match with Kane still didn't ignite the crowd or seem to really catch fire.  Instead, the two basically marked time until the ending which had the Big Show coming down to whack Kane with a chair (revenge from their match, of course), aiding Gunn in getting the win.

The other semi-final pit best friends against each other, as X-Pac and Road Dogg lit it up.  After some token sportsmanship, they locked horns and wrestled a tight little 5 minute match, leading up to hitting the X-Factor and getting the win.  More token sportsmanship followed.  This match could've been something, but instead came off as way too short and simply anticlimactic.  Good while it lasted, but... The WWF Title match took the next slot.  The Rock and Undertaker got off to a hot start with an early ref bump and near falls for the Rock.   This was the first of two matches that the live crowd would stay red hot for the entire time, and with good reason:  the Rock led the Undertaker to one of the latter's best matches in quite some time.  The fast-paced brawl went all over the building, and flowed nicely from out of the ring insanity to in-ring action.  As the match progressed, the Rock had to deal with Paul Bearer preventing refs from making three counts, an ether soaked rag, and ultimately, interference from HHH.  In the end, it was HHH's Pedigree on the Rock that allowed the Undertaker an opening to perform the tombstone and get the win.  A pretty solid match, though obviously not the ending the fans wanted.

The King of the Ring final followed, with X-Pac as the sentimental underdog going up against Mr. Ass.  Gunn dominated early, and actually a Fame-asser in the opening minutes.  But a lazy cover allowed X-Pac to kick out and continue the match.  From there X-Pac did have a heat sequence that got the crowd into it a bit.  But it was not to be, as Gunn eventually hit an Atomic Fame-Asser (from the second rope) to score the three count.  Now, will we call him "King Ass" or "The Ass King"?

Main event time.  But first, a little backstory:   on Heat, Shane was forced to wrestle Ken Shamrock.  Shane suffered a neck injury, causing Vince to declare that he'd find a "suitable replacement" (which was OK'ed by Michaels).  After HHH -- in his wrestling gear -- interfered in the title match, Michaels ejected Hunter, as it was clear he was Vince's choice.  Vince was forced to scramble.... and before the main event match took place, he announced Steve Blackman (now doing a "mercenary for hire" gimmick) as his partner.  But before things could go much further, the latest edition of "GTV" interrupted the broadcast, showing Shane McMahon bragging to the Posse about faking a neck injury so that Vince could get a more capable replacement.  Michaels immediately ordered Shane to participate in the match, anyway.

So, now the match is finally underway, and with the originally scheduled participants, to boot....  Austin starts off hot, destroying the McMahons out of the ring, near the entrance set.  Austin actually throws Shane off the entrance way, and then knocks the supporting ladders out from underneath to drop the set on top of the McMahons.  Cool visual.  The brawl headed back to the ring, and then quickly left it again, as first Shane was put through a table, and then Vince dropped Austin onto another (but it didn't break).  Back in the ring, the three did a ton of ladder spots, with Vince taking one bump that was almost a suplex from the top of the ladder.  Austin began dominating, and eventually climbed the ladder to grab the briefcase.  But somebody with their finger on a button caused the case to be lifted out of reach, so Austin had to go back down and rejoin the fight.  In the end, Vince and Austin were duking it out on top of the ladder, and Shane decided to "sacrifice" them both, knocking the ladder down and dumping both men out of the ring.  Shane then ascended the ladder and took the briefcase (which had conveniently been lowered back down).  With that, the McMahons regained control of their company while Austin stewed inside the ring as the show faded to black.