Survivor Series ’99

Tangent: Okay, let’s discuss this. Unquestionably the WWF did the angle well and it is believable and handled smartly with the feel of it being a shoot, but obviously no one buys that it is, because it’s the WWF and it was a HIT AND RUN. It’s just too far over the top for anyone to believe that it is anything but an angle. As far as the question of bad taste, there is no doubt that this does cross a line. Hundreds of thousands of people lose their lives every day from car accidents, and if you subscribe to the widely held opinion that wrestling should exist as a form of escapist entertainment, then you do not want to be reminded of such horrible real life things as having lost a loved one or a friend in a manner similar to this. So why do it at all? Well, the problem the WWF had coming in to this show was that Steve Austin was still suffering the after effects of Owen Hart’s botched piledriver at SummerSlam ’97 and his neck was now bothering him to the point where he could no longer delay surgery and had to take significant time off. Of course, doing the angle at the PPV itself is basically taking people’s money and then not giving them what they thought they had bought, but the WWF have a history of that sort of thing. If they were doing this angle at all, they would have been better served doing it on free television and announcing that Austin wouldn’t be at Survivor Series in advance. At least doing it that way engenders some good will to counterbalance the distasteful angle. Surely there was a better way of writing him off television for the best part of a year than this though. As far as Austin goes, this for me is the end of his run as a babyface megastar. He came back in 2000 but the WWF wasn’t the same place, and he had been surpassed in the popularity stakes by The Rock, and the style of the main events had changed from his brawling punch-kick stuff to workrate and wrestling. Austin for the first time felt like just another guy, and turned heel in early 2001 in an effort to revitalise his character. He turned babyface again at the end of the year, but by early 2002 he was gone from the company after “taking his ball and going home” and then he retired after a match with The Rock at WrestleMania XIX following a very brief comeback. So yes, this was pretty damn important indeed…

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