Billy Gunn’s career saw him embroiled in a notable rivalry against Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. The Rock back in 1999, shortly after he claimed the prestigious title of King of the Ring. WWE strategically positioned Rock and Gunn as the featured match in the semi-main event of SummerSlam 1999, hoping to capture the attention and support of the audience.
Undeniably, The Rock exuded a larger-than-life presence in their promotional exchanges, cementing his status as a prominent star. Ultimately, The Rock emerged victorious in the match, leaving Billy Gunn feeling somewhat unsatisfied with the outcome. He believed that the opportunity could have been better utilized to propel him into a more significant storyline on the second biggest wrestling extravaganza of the year, rather than simply attempting to elevate a mid-card performer.
Billy Gunn Vs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson 1999 SummerSlam Match
The year 1999 marked a significant turning point for Billy Gunn’s solo career, particularly when he secured victory in the esteemed King of the Ring tournament. Following this triumph, he found himself embroiled in a short-lived rivalry with none other than The Rock. Regrettably, it appeared that WWE’s confidence in Billy Gunn as a potential top-tier singles performer waned after this feud, and he never quite reached that level of prominence again, even as he currently thrives in AEW.
During WWE SummerSlam 1999, Billy Gunn found himself pitted against The Rock in a peculiar Kiss My A** match, which, unfortunately, resulted in a loss for the talented AEW star. According to Bruce Prichard, the match simply failed to deliver as expected and played a role in hindering Billy Gunn’s push as a singles star.
“Rock hated it. There’s no other way to explain it. The Rock hated it. He saw it as not as a demotion, but ‘OK, I’m the guy that’s gotta get this guy over?’ And not like I’m over, put me on top. And instead, I’m put in the role of trying to get this guy over. And I don’t know that Rock really had the confidence in Billy. This was at the time we were looking to get a singles run out of Billy and see what the hell he had. He was away from the tag team with Road Dogg and was on his own – let’s see what he can do. This just didn’t work.”
Prichard further suggested that had Gunn engaged in a feud with someone other than The Rock during that crucial phase of his solo ascent, he might have had a greater chance at achieving success.
Who is Billy Gunn?
Monty Sopp, renowned by his ring persona Billy Gunn, is a distinguished American professional wrestler who currently plies his trade in All Elite Wrestling (AEW). With a career spanning over a decade, from 1993 to 2004 and then again from 2012 to 2015, he made a notable impact in the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/WWE). Hailing from Orlando, Florida, Sopp’s journey commenced in the realm of professional bull riding as a member of the esteemed Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Gunn initially entered the wrestling scene under the moniker Kip James while competing for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). However, it was during his tenure in the WWE that he achieved significant milestones, capturing the Intercontinental Championship once, the Hardcore Championship twice, and achieving glory as the King of the Ring in 1999. Undoubtedly, his most remarkable accomplishments transpired as a tag team specialist, with an impressive tally of eleven World Tag Team Championship reigns.
Since 2019, Sopp has found a new home in All Elite Wrestling, continuing to captivate audiences under his widely recognized persona, Billy Gunn. Not only does he contribute as an in-ring performer, but he also assumes the role of a booking agent, adding another facet to his multifaceted career.
Source: What Culture