Refs walk out in 1999, Triple H becomes Champ
On Monday night, Raw’s Superstars, Divas, ring officials, announcers and other crew members cast a vote of “no confidence” against Chief Operating Officer Triple H, and walked off the show in protest. Dissension of such magnitude has never been witnessed in WWE. The only moment that even compares is the small-scale walkout of officials in 1999. Oddly, that tumultuous encounter also involved Triple H.
On the Sept. 13 edition of Raw in 1999, tensions were already running high after WWE officials suffered repeated assaults at the hands of Superstars. They reached their breaking point at the conclusion of an unmanageable No. 1 Contender’s Match between The Undertaker, Big Show, The Rock, Mankind and Kane, which was followed later by an attack from a chair-wielding “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Only one ring official, Jim Korderas, chose not to strike, while other WWE personnel – including Superstars – became “scab” referees, many of whom suffered physicality in their new roles. On the Sept. 16 SmackDown, Shane McMahon was called upon to referee a WWE Title Match – a contest that featured then-champion Triple H battling the man he would ultimately oust from power more than a decade later, Mr. McMahon.
“Stone Cold” was pivotal to the contest’s outcome – he actually aided his arch-nemesis, The Chairman, by Stunning The Game. Austin then revived an unconscious Shane so that he could count the pinfall and award Mr. McMahon the WWE Championship.
The Texas Rattlesnake proved just as instrumental a week later at Unforgiven, in a Six-Pack Challenge, which was announced to determine a new champion after Mr. McMahon vacated the title. Referee Jimmy Korderas crossed the picket line for a chance to officiate the high-profile match, and subsequently endured a beatdown at the hands of his disgruntled colleagues. With Korderas incapacitated, guest enforcer Austin assumed the officiating duties, and reluctantly counted to three as The Rock fell to the new WWE Champion – the future COO, and epicenter of WWE’s current walkout, Triple H.
(STORY: THE 13 REIGNS OF TRIPLE H)
On Sept. 27, 1999, successful negotiations with WWE resulted in the referees returning to work, with increased authority and more stringent penalties against Superstars who tried to intimidate them. In fact, after these new policies were adopted, a $25,000 fine for assaulting a referee was imposed on, you guessed it, Triple H.
Fast-forward 12 years later. Once again, The Game – now in a position of corporate leadership – finds himself in the middle of another history-altering rebellion in WWE. This time, however, unless Triple H relinquishes control of Raw's day-to-day operations, or miraculously imports an entire roster's worth of Raw replacements by Monday, his fall from the top will be as epic as his rise to power.