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WWEditorials Ep. XI: The Rock vs. Mankind – “I Quit” (Royal Rumble 1999)

The WWE Championship is the most prestigious accolade a wrestler can achieve, the pinnacle of sports entertainment success. From WWE’s most prominent wrestlers who has been able to captivate the fans,  these group of wrestlers have proven to sacrifice everything to lay their hands on the gold. The illustrious gold plated belt is worth far more than its weight – it’s the culmination of pride, perseverance and passion – a title rarely earned and never given. It’s a dream many talented wrestlers in the world want and only a few get once arriving in the WWE scene.

Men have clubbed one another with chairs and ladders, broken tables, lit each other on fire, thrown each other through glass, slammed themselves on thumb tacks, kissed barbwire and even thrown each other off steel cages – all for a shot, all for the dream to wear the gold and obtain the title.

On January 24, 1999, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) unleashed its annual Royal Rumble event from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. Vince McMahon would embrace his heel persona and put himself over as the winner, but that’s not why this date in WWF history is worth noting.

‘I Quit’ The Rock vs. Mankind @ Royal Rumble 1999

The immortalized “I Quit” match took place within a roaring Anaheim California arena, from the narrow confines of the squared circle to the cement arena floor, to literally within the crazed crowd.

This golden hellish rivalry began during the 1998 Survivor Series when the boss Vince McMahon crowned the Rock as the WWE “Corporate Champ” by screwing Mankind (Mick Foley). After another loss to the Rock Bottom during WWE’s In Your House event, Foley finally captured the gold, finally realizing his dream, in 1999 during Raw is War. After a series of betrayals and screwjobs and multiple attempts, Foley finally silenced the naysayers, silenced all of those who swore Mankind just “couldn’t do it.”

After all the build-up from a few weeks and surprising title changes the match arrived. You could feel the electricity in the air with these two legends about to collide for the WWE Championship in an ‘I Quit’. The arena ran with electricity and The Rock took the match all over the arena, battling up the ramp, introducing ladders, smashing Mankind with a ringbell, even climbing into the stands, each man asking the other if he wishes to quit.  The Rock even pounded Mankind till he sailed onto the electrical circuit board many feet below. The Rock mirthlessly blasted a hand-cuffed Foley with a sickening succession of steel chair shots, while Foley’s wife and children cried from the dreadful first row. The gasps and screams from Foley’s wife sounded with each blow. Eleven chair shots.

Of this one shot to the head, 10 more followed.

“You’ll have to kill me,” Mankind spat after the punishment, his glazed eyes asking for a few more blows.

Finally, after the punishing brutality, Foley passed out on the aisle where just earlier he had marched to the ring with a determined entrance. Finally, a prerecorded message of those two sacred words rang throughout the arena – “I quit! I quit! I QUIT!” Technically, Mankind still did not say the words. The Rock beat Mankind within an inch of his life, even knocked him unconscious, but as Mankind promised us, the Rock would have had to kill him to make him say, “I quit.”

Even though The Rock won the championship, Mankind he won immortality.

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