Well, well, well. The Royal Rumble is tomorrow night, with a PPV as well known as the Royal Rumble (My personal second favorite PPV of the year next to WrestleMania) you can expect there to be some great matches. While the Royal Rumble match itself has usually been good-great, some of the under card matches will surpass them and make you wish, that it went on last. So inspired by Iain Couper’s article on his favorite WrestleMania match (Which you can view here), I’m going to do my favorite Royal Rumble PPV match.
Royal Rumble 1999- WWF Championship “I Quit” Match
Mankind (c) vs The Rock
Holy hell, considered one of the most violent matches in the companies history, as well as one of the few times violence in pro wrestling went too far. This match for me, was amazing, not only my favorite Royal Rumble PPV match, but my favorite match of all time, and Mick Foley’s best put over job in a singular match. This match is also famous for being featured in the wrestling documentary “Beyond The Mat” with the scaring images of Foley’s kids and wife crying, seeing Mick get the hell beat out of him by The Rock.
Now before we get into the match itself lets talk about the build up to the match. It all started at Survivor Series the previous year, with Mankind vs The Rock in the final of the tournament, Vince McMahon had been manipulating Mankind and bending the rules to get him to the final. Then McMahon turned on him in favor of The Rock, Montreal style, turning The Rock into the crown jewels of Vince’s corporation and Mankind, into a fan favorite. Then at Rock Bottom: In Your House, Mankind faced The Rock for the title and seemed to win via the mandible claw, but because Rock never submitted or said I quit, he was still champion. Then on the January 4th edition of RAW, Mankind upset The Rock with all the odds stacked against him and won his first WWF Championship, this being the famous RAW WCW announcer Tony Schiavone spoiled the ending, which in turn, had approximately 600,000 households switch from Nitro to RAW and RAW won the ratings battle that night, and would stay on top until WCW’s buyout. What followed was The Rock’s desperation to get Mankind to agree to a match for the title at the Royal Rumble, once The Rock says he quits on trying to get Mankind to agree, Mankind then deems that the stipulation for their match, an “I Quit” match. The promos focus on Mankind’s career and how he’s been every match imaginable and has never given up and The Rock showing his over confidence, spewing classic Rock lines. I’d recommend watching the promo, as it is a very good promo for the time, and one of my personal favorites.
Now let’s talk about the match itself, as I said before, in terms of singular match put overs, I feel this is one of the best. When weighing the odds, The Rock was not allowed corporate members at ring side and had not been in a match type like this, whilst Mankind did these types of matches for fun. The Rock honestly, controlled this match for the majority whilst Mankind only had bursts of momentum, that goes to show how dominant Rock was as a heel at the time. Out of his element against a man who was seemingly the expert and he just destroyed Mankind that night. This also showed how desperate Rock was to win the title with some of the spots you see, we saw Rock ring a bell into Mankind’s ear, DDT him on the concrete floor, knock him off the barricade into an electrical circuit board and handcuffing him then giving him 11 unprotected chair shots to the head. Mankind was a bloody mess by the end of it all and it really showed how heartless The Rock’s character was and also how much Mankind cared for the title, simply not giving up.
Some other great spots include Rock getting on the mic during the bell spot and doing a little song “Bells will be ringing” and getting on commentary and showing off his cocky overconfident side. The Rocks heel persona was made in this match, even the post match, which we’ll get to in a bit. As for Mankind, he sold the moves well enough to show he was hurt, but still got up and kept going, how he walked out of the arena that night, I will never know, he was battered, and took the ass kicking like a true professional. Now of course the chair shot fest is what this match is most remembered for, and well, I agree it went to far, but as Foley has said himself and I agree with him, those last few shots is what made that whole sequence really hit the heart strings of the fans. That sequence also has my favorite wrestling call, by Michael Cole of all people “What the hell is Mick Foley doing? HE’S COMING FOR MORE!” whilst Michael was saying that, Mankind had pretty much lost it and was just asking Rock to hit him with the chair over and over. In that call, Mick suffered 3 shots in quick succession and those thuds just send shivers down my spine every time I hear them.
Now we move on to the finish, a very well done finish which just added on to the heat Rock already had and making us cheer Mankind even more. Mankind after all those chair shots collapses to the floor, seemingly losing consciousness. The Rock asks Mankind one last time if he quits, and once he puts the mic to Mankind’s motionless body, “I quit” echoes throughout the arena, much differently than you normally hear when someone speaks on the mic. With that, the match ends and The Rock is once again champion, and well, the post match along with the chair spots, show how The Rock went slightly too far with his character. As EMTs rush to Mankind’s aid, not only does the Rock hoist the title over his prone body, but also shoves medics away, almost prohibiting them from helping Mankind for a second. As much as those spots went too far, man of man did Rock get some lovely heat off it. He was the most hated man in WWF after that match, cocky, over confident, violent, but doesn’t even get punished for it, he beats Mankind at his own game and becomes the champion. F*cking brilliant story telling by WWF here, make the heel look like the biggest piece of sh*t in the world, and make you feel real sympathy for the face and want them to get their revenge.
The following RAW it’s discovered that Mankind didn’t really say “I quit” during the match, but it was actually a recording of Mankind’s interview on heat, where he says I quit. With that Mankind starts throwing away The Rock’s money he had earned with helping Vince eliminate Stone Cold from the Royal Rumble. This leads to Mankind and Rock having another rematch at half time heat, in an empty arena match, in which Mankind wins back the title and successfully defends it at St. Valentines Day Massacre in a last man standing match. The feud ended with Rock winning back the title in a ladder match on RAW, having The Rock finish the feud on top. Later in the year these two would form the Rock n Sock connection, a comedy tag team and even go on to win the tag titles.
As stated, this is my favorite match of all time, I feel it just did everything right in terms of story telling, putting young talent over, making a star and reviving another. It just had everything, I give this match 5 stars, which I’m sure many will disagree on, but hey, if Mankind vs Taker HIAC can get 5 stars with most of the match being Mankind taking big bumps with no real wrestling involved and mostly being brilliant through story telling. I think this match deserves the same level of praise, it told a great story of Rock beating Mankind at his own twisted game, coming into the match seemingly cocky and over confident and showing it during the match. Making you think he would be defeated, but no, he wins, making him right and giving him more reason to gloat and brag, bringing major levels of heat into him, along with what he put Mankind through, which Cole sums it up perfectly “The Rock, MAKES ME SICK!” So overall, this match has to get 5 sparkling snowflakes from me.
So that was my favorite Royal Rumble match ever, please comment, sharing your thoughts on this match. Agree with my thoughts? Disagree? And also tell me what your favorite Royal Rumble matches are, also don’t forget to share this article on social media follow my Twitter @WWWDylanOsborn and subscribe to my Youtube channel: KOWDylanOsborn for more wrestling reviews. Have a great day everyone.