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Cook’s Top 5: 1999 Wrestling Memories

Steve Cook bounces back in time once again, looking to 1999 for this Top 5 Moments Of The Year!

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WCW Monday Nitro

Steve Cook bounces back in time once again, looking to 1999 for this Top 5 Moments Of The Year!

To say that 1999 had a lot going on in the world of pro wrestling would be an understatement.

WWF was dominating the ratings war. WCW had many ups & downs while winding their way to their ultimate fate. ECW was seemingly reaching new heights. I got to go to a couple of shows.

We also saw one of wrestling’s most tragic moments, which I wish didn’t have to be included here, but whenever I think of 1999 in pro wrestling, it’s one of the first things that comes to mind.

5. Armageddon

WWF Armageddon was a frequently watched show in the Cook house for months after it took place. Multiple kids at school borrowed the videotape. It was much discussed by kids my age. Why?

Because it was the first time in WWF history that we saw actual puppies.

Yes, 36 year old Steve Cook looks back at 15 year old Steve Cook with utter contempt & disdain for getting so excited about seeing Miss Kitty remove her top after winning an Evening Gown Pool Match. Hey, I’m just here to tell you what my biggest memories from 1999 were. It was a big moment for boys of my age group. What do you want from me?

4. ECW on TNN

Hindsight being 20/20, ECW’s run on TNN was doomed to failure. I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was that I was going to get to see ECW every Friday night on TNN. Even better, it led into one of my favorite shows of the time period…ROLLERJAM!

Hell yeah I loved Rollerjam. At least the first couple of seasons before things got a little weird. Anywho, ECW got off to a pretty good start too even though the WWF decided to take Taz (world champion) and the Dudleys (tag team champions) right after ECW got a TV deal. But Vince McMahon never believed in hurting the little guy.

3. SmackDown in Cincinnati

SmackDown was very early in its tenure when it came to Cincinnati on November 16. I was pretty excited about going, as it had been a long time since I had gone to a WWF show and much had changed. The last time I went, The Ringmaster was a thing. Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels hadn’t even had their catfight yet. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was losing cage matches to Duke “The Dumpster” Drose. It was a whole different world. Here’s a look at my second live WWF experience, thanks as always to thehistoryofwwe.comslashwrestling.com  for helping refresh my memory.

WWF @ Cincinnati, OH – November 16, 1999 (7,843; sell out)
Sunday Night Heat – 11/21/99:
The Headbangers defeated Val Venis & Shawn Stasiak following the Stage Dive on Stasiak; after the bout, Venis attacked his partner for losing the match
Steve Blackman pinned Mideon
Rikishi pinned Tracey Smothers with the Rikishi Driver

This was the first time I saw Rikishi under his new sumo gimmick. The thong was a bit much and I didn’t think it was going to get over. I don’t get them all right!

D-Von Dudley (w/ Bubba Ray Dudley) pinned D-Lo Brown when Bubba Ray prevented a suplex on his partner into the ring and held the foot down during the cover

I was a big Dudleys fan at the time, as they had just come over from ECW and were in their early WWF days. I enjoyed the battle of the Ds.

Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki defeated the Acolytes via disqualification in a technical wrestling match when the Acolytes used chairs and numerous double team moves on their opponents

I don’t remember this one but it sounds fantastic.

Smackdown!:
Grandmaster Sexay & Scotty 2 Hotty defeated Edge & Christian at 4:14 when Scotty 2 Hotty pinned Christian after Grandmaster Sexay hit the top rope legdrop behind the referee’s back

Too Cool was still early in this gimmick, but their promo got over pretty well with the people. Especially when they mentioned self-gratification.

Kurt Angle pinned Gangrel at 2:34 with the Olympic Slam

This was Kurt’s first week on the main roster, as he had debuted at Survivor Series on Sunday. He got the same reaction here he got the first two nights. Gangrel’s entrance was always a highlight.

WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith pinned the Godfather at 2:06 with the running powerslam moments after the Mean Street Posse attacked the challenger on the floor
WWF World Champion the Big Show pinned Hardcore Holly (w/ Crash Holly) with the chokeslam at 1:30; the Big Bossman attacked the champion after the match
Kane (w/ Tori) pinned Viscera with a chokeslam at 2:02
WWF Women’s Champion Ivory defeated Jackie and Luna in a hardcore match by pinning Jackie at 4:35 after hitting her with a cookie sheet

I don’t remember any of these things except for Show’s late-1999 title run being very random. You can imagine how disappointed I was when Stone Cold went out of action two days before this show. To make matters worse, Mankind was doing some UPN filming thing in Las Vegas with Al Snow and was only on the show via clips of that. Triple H didn’t wrestle, instead he did a show-long angle with Vince building a match at Armageddon. Somehow Rock managed to have a match, otherwise this show was pretty low on starpower.

Chris Jericho pinned Mark Henry with a bulldog and the Lionsault at the 44-second mark

44 seconds to beat Mark Henry sounds much more impressive now than it did in 1999 when Mark hadn’t even hooked up with Mae Young yet.

WWF Tag Team Champions Billy Gunn & the Road Dogg defeated Matt & Jeff Hardy at 4:49 after X-Pac interfered and hit the X-Factor on Matt

Longest match on SmackDown!

The Rock pinned the Big Bossman (w/ Albert) with the Rock Bottom at 3:06; the Big Show made the save for the Rock after the match; Hardcore & Crash Holly tried to attack the Rock but were met with Rock Bottoms

This was followed by a show-closing interview with Vince & Triple H. Considering how bad most of 1999 WWF has aged, I’m sure this would be a rough watch nowadays. Never a bad time heading up to the Gardens for wrestling though.

2. Monday Nitro in Cincinnati

This still ranks as one of the best live shows I’ve been to. For one thing, it was the only WCW show I ever had a chance to attend. For another thing, I was in a luxury box thanks to my dad’s workplace. Companies actually cared about their employees in the late 1990s, it was pretty wild. Before the show, we got to go to a meet & greet with WCW superstars, which ended up being Saturn & Konnan. Neither seemed particularly excited to be there. Courtesy thehistoryofwwe, with a little help from Slash

WCW @ Cincinnati, OH – Firstar Center – March 15, 1999
Monday Nitro:
Meng pinned Jerry Flynn

I believe this evening marked the debut of the pants that Meng would wear for the next few years, his last two in WCW and his return to the WWF as Haku. I was always a fan of the big guy with the tremendous hair even before hearing all the incredible stories, so it was fun to see Meng kick some Jerry Flynn ass.

Rick Steiner pinned Brian Adams

Now, CRZ’s recap says it was “Gentleman” Chris Adams, and I’m pretty sure he was right. That being said, I remember nothing about this match. It went a little over three minutes and Rick kicked out of Adams’s dreaded superkick.

At this point in the show, Disco Inferno went to the announce desk. We didn’t hear what he & the announcers were talking about, but we did get to see Disco’s cover of Konnan’s rap song he was coming out to at the time. I’m pretty sure that Konnan & Disco are still arguing over who did the song better.

Ric Flair cutting an in-ring promo live was one to cross off the bucket list, if bucket lists existed in 1999. Pretty sure they didn’t, but this set up a match later with Flair & Goldberg taking on Hollywood Hogan & Kevin Nash. Tough to get a WCW main event with bigger names involved at that point, so the fans were excited even though nobody thought it would end cleanly.

Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman to win the title with a bulldog off the top at around the 9:30 mark; after the match, the two shook hands and hugged

I don’t have too many fond memories of Rey without his mask, but this match definitely qualifies as one. Both guys went all out, tons of flipping and things that you didn’t see too much back in the day. At the time, this was the best match I had seen live, which wasn’t saying much since I had only been to two shows, but still kind of a compliment.

WCW Tag Team Champions Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko defeated the Barbarian & Hugh Morrus

This was bit of a strange time for Benoit & Malenko, as they were still kind of Horsemen at this point and even had Arn Anderson cheat on their behalf to win the straps the night before. They were still faces though, while Flair & Arn were flipping to the heel side they were more accustomed with. Barby & Hugh were managed by Jimmy Hart as part of the First Family, which was certainly a staple of WCW Saturday Night programming. Fun little match.

Scott Steiner & Buff Bagwell came out for a promo where Scott blamed Buff for his loss the previous night at Uncensored. Big Poppa Pump beat the crap out of Buff the Stuff, which was probably well-deserved.

Stevie Ray pinned Horace Hogan

This was a match that happened because the NWO B-Team guys were feuding with each other over who their leader was. Vincent came out and helped Stevie win, I don’t remember whether he meant to or not, but I didn’t care in 1999 either.

Disco Inferno pinned Konnan

The music feud continued, and we got an appearance from Lex Luger & Elizabeth to help Disco get the win. I’m just saying this would be a main event on a podcast today.

WCW TV Champion Booker T pinned Chris Jericho

This would have been right around the time where Jericho was making moves behind the scenes to get himself to the WWF. I don’t know if anything was official at this point, but Jericho only made three Nitro appearances after this one. I remember being disappointed that he didn’t get his customary pre-match interview time, and I also remember the kids in the next box over trying to boo him out of the building. I would not have predicted Jericho being a major star for a promotion in 2020, but I wouldn’t have been too surprised either. This match was real solid, which was to be expected with the people involved.

Hulk Hogan & Kevin Nash defeated WCW World Champion Ric Flair & Bill Goldberg

Flair & Goldberg didn’t really get along, of course. Goldberg ended up flattening both guys at the end of the show while Flair wandered off. Probably went downtown with the ladies like he was saying he would earlier, though there wasn’t much going on in Downtown Cincinnati back in 1999.

Compared to most Monday Nitros around this time period, this was a really good show. Even taking out the live bias, the show stood out at the time. I’m not sure why it happened that way, but I was really glad for it.

1. Over the Edge

Regardless of whatever else happened in 1999, the night of May 23rd will always be what I remember most for the worst possible reason. I was watching on my family’s black box, and the show started out pretty typically. Tag title defense, Hardcore title schmozz, basic early-show stuff for the WWF at the time. Then we were supposed to get an Intercontinental title match with the Godfather defending against the Blue Blazer. A Blue Blazer interview played, then Jim Ross awkwardly cut to another Blazer video, mentioning something along the lines of “we’ve got big problems out here”. We saw shots of the crowd for the next several minutes while JR explained that Owen Hart had fallen from the rafters in something that was a real life situation & not part of the “entertainment” for the evening. After Owen was taken out and about 15 minutes had passed, the show continued. Later during the broadcast, JR informed the TV audience that Owen Hart had died.

It was the first time I can remember watching one of those PPV events and not giving a damn about what was happening. Even as a kid about to turn 15, I could tell the wrestlers didn’t really care either. We were all going through the motions. Poor Jeff Jarrett & Debra having to do a pre-match promo right after their friend’s accident was awful to watch. The argument over whether the show should have continued or not, as somebody that saw it live, was never an argument to me. It should have ended. Nothing that happened on that show was so important that it had to play out on that evening. Undertaker could have won the WWF title on another night, and maybe somebody would have cared then.

Out of all the wrestling deaths there have been, Owen Hart’s is the one you can blame his employer for without any question.


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