What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – December 1999

Since this week’s magazine selection is from December 1999 it would be remiss for the staff of WWF Magazine to ignore Christmas.  Sure enough, we get a holiday-type cover featuring the self-proclaimed, undisputed champion of Christmas Mick Foley:
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And Mick has kept the Christmas gig going, doing promo spots with his daughter Noelle last month on WWE television.  He was a better salesman than anyone else the WWE could have trotted out there, although I continue to insist that if they want the Network subscriptions to rise that they need to call Don West.

The 1999 Christmas season featured one WWF product I just had to have:  WrestleMania 2000 for the Nintendo 64.  I was really excited for the WWF to go to THQ since the company did great work on the WCW games.  It was one of my favorite games to play, especially because it was the first to feature a create-a-wrestler mode.  I remember taking Brian Christopher through the career mode (and why I made that selection I have no idea).  Unfortunately, I lent it to a friend in middle school and they never returned it.

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Since Vince Russo went off to World Championship Wrestling, the magazine was handed over to Kevin Kelly.  As a result, he answers the letters to the editor.  Since we are not in 1995 land, there are no funny illustrations or awful lists provided by fans.  Many of the letters tie back to the October 1999 issue of the magazine we reviewed two weeks ago.  A fan named Thomas Brennan blasts the fan who questioned Prince Albert’s education credentials, while Miguel Balseca completely buys into Vince McMahon’s vision of the product by calling Christian a member of the “sports-entertainment world.”  A fan called “TakersLady,” using Web TV (remember that product?) frets that the Undertaker is facing a career-ending injury, which Kelly denies.  The Undertaker did have a bad groin injury in late 1999, but it was not career-ending.  Still, it is interesting that people were talking about the Undertaker’s health FIFTEEN years ago!  They actually let a fan write in how the newly-debuted Dudley Boys dominated the ECW tag team ranks, and of course, since we are in 1999 it would be remiss without a fan – in this case one named Justin Struthers – talking about Debra and her “puppies.”  He begs that she needs to “let them run free.”

Speaking of Jarrett, he was also on his way to WCW.  Before he got there, though, his last gimmick was beating up female wrestlers and celebrities and putting them in the figure-four.

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All of this culminated in Jarrett eventually dropping the Intercontinental title to Chyna.  The quick piece says that female superstars aligning against Jarrett is a “new version of women’s liberation with a distinctly hardcore edge.”  It warns that Jarrett will soon face the wrath of all of these women, but I guess that is why he fled down South.

And when I talked about how we did not have any more lists, I was wrong.  This week we have a top five for ways that “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry can curb his appetite.  I did find number one humorous.

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Our “Rookies to Legends” this week misses the mark once again as it covers Miss Kitty, the last wife that Jerry Lawler had:

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In storyline terms, Miss Kitty debuted courtesy of Jeff Jarrett, who made her a personal assistant to Debra.  She soon made Debra’s life difficult and started to drive her and Jarrett apart.  The piece tries to say that Kitty has bigger ambitions and if that included exposing herself on WWF pay-per-view then it was correct.  However, the soon-to-be-named Kat never made a lasting contribution to the WWF that could be considered “legendary.”

This month’s guest writer of “the Bite” is Howard Finkel, who in late 1999 was rocking a bitter announcer gimmick where he made a habit of chewing out Tony Chimmel and Lillian Garcia.

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The piece starts with the Fink asking some rhetorical questions such as “Why have I been around so long?  Why am I still here?”  You know, the same questions that Vince McMahon has probably been asking himself when it comes to Finkel for years.  He complains about not being used more, while saying that he has high hopes for Chris Jericho, which is why he is sporting a Jericho-style wig in the piece.

WWF Magazine REALLY liked Chyna in 1999, as evidenced by its next feature piece on how she has been a big factor in the WWF.  Remember that she and Triple H were subject of another piece two months prior to this.

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The article describes that Chyna’s success is due to a difficult childhood, which shaped her into becoming a great athlete and student.  After all, she does have a double major in Spanish and Literature from the University of Tampa.  Her fluency in Spanish is why the company used her in some skits with Los Boricuas in 1997 and 1998.  The classic understatement in the article is that despite being “quintessential professionals…there have been rumors that [her partnership with Triple H] is nearing an end.”  Sadly, it hypes her career as only getting better, saying that she is “a history maker, a trendsetter, a one of a kind,” but 1999 would be the peak of Chyna’s career.  After having a feud with Chris Jericho over the Intercontinental title she was slowly scaled away from the main title picture and by 2001 she was wrestling women, which was a step down for her.

In a curious ad, you can get some of the first WWF DVDs, “Hell Yeah:  Stone Cold’s Saga Continues” or WrestleMania XV.  The price for each is $24.95, but that is sort of laughable considering that WrestleMania XV gives you ninety more minutes of content, as well as voiceovers on the big matches.

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A piece titled “At the Crossroads” breaks down what is in the future for X-Pac, who was in the midst of a heel turn against his tag team partner Kane.  As such, the article emphasizes that X-Pac wants to be his own man and fight his own battles, belying a Napoleon-like complex X-Pac has carried because of his size relative to other WWF superstars.  That is one of the good uses of the magazine, as it gave you some additional logic behind angles and face/heel turns, even if some of them ended up being ridiculous.

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We also hear that X-Pac was the first person to “guide Kane to his own heart and give him the courage to realize his human potential.”  So next time anyone wants to criticize Kane as a corporate stooge you can blame X-Pac.  Instead of X-Pac eventually turning on Kane, I would have enjoyed seeing Kane in a DX green outfit like the picture shows below because that would have been really different and cool, at least for one show:

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Next, Bill Banks talks about the newly-debuted Chris Jericho’s desire to go after Steve Austin.

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Banks takes some shots at WCW, saying that Austin and Jericho were denied similar opportunities to shine down South and that this slight made both men more aggressive in their pursuit for glory and titles.  It even bashes Austin’s initial “Ringmaster” gimmick from when he debuted in 1996.  Really, this piece is well-written and does a nice job hyping a potential Austin-Jericho showdown.  It treats both men as athletes and wrestling as an actual sport, something the company would be better off doing today.  Unfortunately, a showdown between the two would have to wait until late 2000 because Jericho was quickly diverted into the Intercontinental title picture while Austin went out with an injury.

And since this is the December issue, the WWF makes sure we know what hot items you can buy for the holiday season.  Ho ho ho indeed!

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Most of the big items are for Steve Austin and the Rock as you can see here

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Then we get our more “crude” items of the Attitude Era on another page.  Who really wants that Road Dogg stuffed animal?  If you do, it will cost you $20.  And that Debra poster will cost you another $10.  I wonder if some kid bought the “Show Me Your Puppies!” t-shirt (for $25) and was told to take it off by school administrators.  Seriously, $25 for that shirt?

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And you can also get yourself some WWF cologne for $14.99.  I do not think this item was selling well as it is the only one in the catalog that is marked down from its initial sale price (which was $19.99 a unit).  I still remember Bobby Heenan cracking jokes about WCW cologne on Nitro.  The WWF Attitude bag is cool, but I know very little about the WWF fielding a racing team in 1999.  Evidently, if you want the racing jacket pictured here you will be out $44.

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An oddly titled article called “The Devil’s Bathtub” is up next, which provides a comparison between Michael Hayes and Paul Bearer.

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You see, both men used to be best friends on the Gulf of Mexico and broke into the business as volunteers.  Both men had been abandoned by their managerial charges by late 1999, so the magazine teases at a possible alliance.  The magazine was also trying to recognize more wrestling history by this point as it brings up Hayes’s run with the Freebirds.  Unfortunately, it does not tell us who Bearer and Hayes might want to bring into their stable if they unified forces.  It does let us know that the Fabulous Freebirds and the Undertaker “were supreme entertainers,” though.

I had forgotten about this product, which I never actually saw anywhere.  I never had any friends who bought it, so did anyone here ever play around with this toy?

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Magazine writer Laura (no last name given) provides her “Attitude Award” for 1999 and selects Kane and Stephanie McMahon!  If you are not a fan of Stephanie, you really will not like this piece as Laura notes that “Since her debut in the ring, Stephanie McMahon’s presence has been compelling” and that she cares little for money and more about her ideals than money.  Kane wins because he stood up for his friend X-Pac and overcame Vince McMahon and Chyna tormenting him throughout the year.  So basically, the “Attitude Award” is who faced lots of adversity and overcame the odds.  Today, John Cena would win that award every year!

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Kevin Kelly then says that he was amazed that 1999 featured great in-ring performances by Vince and Shane McMahon.  Yeah, those criticisms of 1999 revolving around the McMahons too much appear very warranted now.  Best part is, it would get worse for WrestleMania 2000 when there would be a McMahon in every corner!  So Kelly gives his “Attitude Award” to both of the male McMahons.

And when it comes to Bill Banks he selects Jeff Jarrett, which is pretty humorous considering Jarrett’s departure from the company.  Banks claims Jarrett has gone a long way since his country music gimmick, but his selection seems to be based more on personal factors as Jarrett dealt with the loss of Owen Hart and helped his wife fight her battle against breast cancer.

We get the results from the Unforgiven pay-per-view, featuring the infamous “Kennel from Hell” match.

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That is probably one of those cases where the awful recap of the matches was okay.  One of the pictures from the Six-Pack Challenge match is probably sitting about Triple H’s office in Titan Towers:

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The “Private Eye” segment provides some pictures of the MTV Video Music Awards.  So much for kayfabe in this one:

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“The Informer” tells us that D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry started having problems when Henry had his wallet fall into the lap of D-Lo’s fiancé on a flight back from England.  D-Lo thought Henry was making moves on his woman and his fiancée thought the same, thereby triggering a long series of tensions between the two.  We are told the Steve Austin-Undertaker rivalry went onto the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) circuit as they each had their own Funny Cars, with the Undertaker’s car winning.  And evidently, Al Snow is very upset about the jokes Mankind made about him in Have a Nice Day!

This issue had tons of advertisements in it, much more than previous issues.  I am not sure if that was because there were not as many columns to write or if that is something that I might see more of in the 2000 magazines.  However, it did get a little tiring flipping through four or five ads before the next story.  Maybe with Russo gone that is a good thing for the magazine, as this one had less ridiculousness in the stories, which offered a more serious portrayal of the superstars and various angles.

Next time, we will move away from WWF Magazine and over to an early 1999 edition of WOW Magazine, put together by Bill Apter as a “smart fan” alternative to other kayfabe wrestling publications.  It will cover the results of Backlash 1999, chronicle the independent circuit, and provide some great photographs of wrestlers and valets during the period.

Author: Logan Scisco

A wrestling fan since 1995, Logan recaps wrestling history in his columns "What the World Was Watching" and "What the World Was Reading."