October 10, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

Breakdown 1998
September 27, 1998
Copps Coliseum
Hamilton, Ontario
Attendance: 17,405
Buy Rate: .86
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Sunday Night Heat Matches:

Golga (John Tenta) defeats Mosh (Chaz Warrington) (2:01)
The Hardy Boys defeat Mens Teioh & Sho Funaki (3:34)
Eight Ball (Ron Harris) defeats Billy Gunn (Monty Sop) and Skull (Don Harris) in a Triple Threat match (3:17)

1) Owen Hart defeats Edge (Adam Copeland) after a roll-up at 9:16

Fun Fact: The next night on Raw, Owen Hart would face Dan Severn. As the end drew near, Owen gave Severn a Tombstone and Severn failed to get back up. Of course, they were playing off of the accident from Summerslam ’97, where Owen broke Austin’s neck. Severn was taken out in a neck brace, and the next week, he said he didn’t know if he could wrestle ever again. Owen was a complete wreck and claimed that he was officially retiring from wrestling. On the 10/5 Raw, Owen was supposed to have a rematch with Edge, but no-showed and forfeited. Finally, he was forced out during his retirement to face Severn in the ring. The scene got ugly, and he ended up pummeling Steve Blackman. The best part of the whole incident was when Owen stormed off out of the ring claiming “I’M RETIRED, LEAVE ME ALONE!” Good stuff. The angle would take a unique turn in December, but more on that at Rock Bottom.

Scott: The opener pits two Canadians, one fresh, the other not so. Owen has had a very disconcerting 1998. He ended 1997 with a hot feud ready to begin with the then-WWF Champ Shawn Michaels. Well, Shawn’s gone, and Owen floated around from one feud to another. Edge is beginning a lucrative, yet sometimes frustrating career here in 1998. Another major debut is here, as a mysterious figure who looks a lot like Edge saunters to ringside, distracting Edge and causing him to lose. That mysterious figure turns out to be Christian, Edge’s on-screen brother. We’ll see more of him in the coming weeks, as he and Edge join another new character that debuts later in this show to form a new group. For now Owen gets the win, and Edge pays his dues. Grade: 2.5

Justin: A pretty good match with an iffy ending. Edge was still finding his way around the big time, but he was in the ring with the right guy to make him look seasoned. Owen was beginning the final storyline of WWF career and this match showed that he could still make anyone and everyone look good in the ring. As Scott mentioned, Christian makes a surprise appearance here, and was originally siding with Gangrel against Edge, but the three would all join forces and form the brood within weeks. Not much else going on here besides a solid opener to get the crowd up and going for the rest of the night. Grade: 3

2) Al Snow (Sarven) & Scorpio (Charles Skaggs) defeats Too Much when Snow pins Scott Taylor with the Snow Plow at 8:06

Fun Fact: After Snow lost the tag team atrocity to Too Much at KOTR, he headed back to ECW while the Fed prepared for his return when they were ready to inject a new face into the mid-card. Well, on the 8/17 Raw, a promo aired previewing Snow’s return, but he was not mentioned for the next two weeks. Finally, on the 9/7 show, Snow showed up out of nowhere (well, someone knew he was coming, as Justin was there live, and they passed out foam Heads before he arrived) and attacked Commissioner Slaughter. The next week on Heat, Slaughter challenged Snow to a boot camp match. If Snow won, he was re-instated, but if he lost, he was done for good. Snow pinned the Sarge on the 9/21 Raw, but was promptly attacked by the Stooges after the match. Finally, Snow’s fellow ex-ECW alum, (2 Cold) Scorpio made the save, and a new team was formed. Snow then decided to gain some revenge on the team that screwed him back in June.

Scott: This is one of those non-descript tag matches thrown onto a card. This is the beginning of the true Vince Russo era, AKA the PPV express line. More matches, less meat. This tag match would normally not be on this show, because frankly, no one cares. Well Al Snow was pretty over at this point, as there were plenty of heads in the crowd. The mid-card was really overflowing with bodies so they all had to get on the show, but some of these matches were put together with no real logic. The match is mildly entertaining, but not much more. Grade: 2.5

Justin: A pretty fun and energetic tag match that featured more fresh faces. Well, sort of. We have seen Snow for years in various roles, but this is first swing through with an over gimmick and a loyal following, thanks to ECW, and the same deal with Scorpio, who finally ditched the Flash Funk gimmick earlier in 1998 after Terry Funk told him he should be himself and returned to his original persona. Snow was hugely over upon his debut, but as the Head gimmick wore thin, his pops grew less. He would reinvent himself throughout the years, but I don’t think he ever reaches the popularity he has here coming off his big ECW run. Too Much was also gaining some steam, as they really started to gel as a team, and were gaining steady heel heat. All in all, a good tag team battle. Grade: 2.5

3) Marc Mero defeats Droz (Darren Drozdov) with the Marvelocity at 5:11

Scott: Once again, another match with no backstory. At this point, I wonder why Mero is even still on the payroll, but the end is near. Droz is a refreshing character, but Mero is reaching the end of the line. He was about to get a big heel push in mid-1997. Then he got hurt, and came back with all of his abilities gone. If it wasn’t for Sable, he’d have already been gone. Jackie helps him cheat for the win. Grade: 1.5

Justin: Nothing much of anything here. It seemed like a good chance to give the Droz a big PPV win over an established star, but instead, Mero gets the duke and Drozdov gets the short end of the purse at the pay window. I guess they were trying to re-establish Mero as a solid heel after jobbing him out to Sable for 4 months, but by this point, his role should have been to elevate new talent, and there was plenty of it with Droz, Edge, Snow, Christian and Venis to name just a few. Mero breaks out the former Wild Thing to polish off the match, and makes it all worth while by hiking up his boxing shorts to ensure they don’t effect his movement. Grade: 2

4) Bradshaw (John Layfield) defeats Vader (Leon White) with a neckbreaker at 7:54

Fun Fact: This sad, sorry loss effectively ends the WWF PPV career of the Man They Call Vader. At his debut in the 1996 Royal Rumble, the sky was seemingly the limit for the Mastodon, but backstage politics and JJ Dillon ended up leading Vader down a path of failed pushes and broken promises. His overall final PPV record is 6-13-2 (6-16-2 counting the three Rumbles he was in and lost). He was 2-0 at the Rumble (2-3 counting Rumbles), 1-0-1 at Wrestlemania, 0-1 at KOTR, 0-1 at Summerslam, 0-1-1 at Survivor Series and 3-10 at other events. Remarkably, he won his first 3 “other show” matches at Good Friends, Better Enemies, Beware of Dog and International Incident and then proceeded to lose his final 8 between October 1996 and September 1998 and the additional one in 2005. His final PPV win came at the 1998 Rumble over Goldust, and before that, he last won a match at the 1997 Rumble, when he defeated Undertaker, meaning his four other wins came between Rumble 1996 and International Incident. Not the best PPV record ever, which proves that Vader’s WWF run really was quite the disappointment. Vader would eventually return for a quick shot at Taboo Tuesday 2005, when he teamed up with Goldust and Jonathan Coachman to be squashed by Batista. Unfortunately, his big return was only memorable for him falling on his ass getting out of the ring on Raw and also botching a few simple moves in the match itself.

Scott: Good lord, I’m getting whiplash from all these undercard matches just humming along. Here, we see the continuing end of Vader’s career. He loses an “Anything Goes” match to Bradshaw. Not JBL, WWE Champ, but Bradshaw, pre-credibility, no identity mid-carder. 1998 started off good for the Mastodon, defeating Goldust to a big pop at the Royal Rumble, but he hasn’t won a PPV match since. Vader needs to pack it in; it’s just not pretty anymore. Bradshaw picks up a big win, but he pretty much doesn’t do much until he gets involved in a meatier storyline towards the end of the year. Grade: 2

Justin: Not a bad match, per se, but it was getting sad to watch Vader cart his ass out there to get jobbed out week after week. I mean, on one hand it was good for business, as he was putting over younger stars, but on the other hand, once you continually lose as much as he had been, those jobs became less and less helpful, as Vader was starting to be seen as a big jobber himself. Maybe Vader could have been saved, but I think time had just passed him by, and his days on top were clearly behind him. Bradshaw was once again in career limbo, as he had chased his partner, Terry Funk away in July, and now chases the Mastodon away here. He would float aimlessly until being teamed up with another floating mid-carder in December. Now, we say so long to Vader, we hardly new ye. Grade: 2

5) D-Lo Brown (AC Connor) defeats Gangrel (David Heath) with a Sky-High at 7:51

Fun Fact: Gangrel debuted in the weeks leading up to Summerslam, and makes his PPV debut here against the former European Champ. Gangrel was another fresh face for the undercard that brought with him a very unique look and gimmick. Gangrel was seemingly a vampire, albeit one who wore sunglasses. In one of the coolest entrances ever, he would rise up from below the ramp through a ring of fire, with his awesome theme music welcoming him into the arena. He also carried a goblet of “blood” which he would drink and spit up into the air before his match. He also became well known for his “bloodbaths,” where the lights would go out, and when they came back up, his foe would be covered in blood. Gangrel was hot out of the gate and was very over, but, like most newcomers from 1998, never realized his full potential.

Fun Fact II: X-Pac finally was able to wrest the European Title from D-Lo on the 9/14 Raw. It was X-Pac’s first singles title in his WWF career. D-Lo would win the title right back the night after this show.

Scott: I don’t remember the backstory on this feud, but the match was mildly entertaining, as both men took it to the other. The one thing about all these Russo-length matches, at least more guys were able to showcase their abilities, even if it was only for 5-7 minutes. D-Lo was just removed from the European Title, but better things are ahead. Gangrel was a pretty good character for 1998 standards, but it would be the other men who join his “Brood” that would go on to have better careers. Mark Henry interferes to help in the win, but Gangrel spits blood in Henry’s eye and drops D-Lo with a DDT. This was a decent mid-card match that keeps the show going. Grade: 2

Justin: Another fast-paced fun matchup between new mid-carders. D-Lo was the most over he had ever been, and, with the Nation pretty much dissolved; he and Mark Henry began carving out their own little niche in the mid-card. D-Lo had dropped the Euro title to X-Pac on the 9/14 Raw, but would go onto regain it the night after this show. We get a strong showing here for the future stars of the Federation, which gave many people high hopes for the upcoming years. Grade: 2.5

6) The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) defeats Mankind (Mick Foley) and Ken Shamrock in a Triple Threat Steel Cage #1 contenders match when Rock pins Shamrock after a Mankind chair shot at 18:46

Fun Fact: All three of these men were in allegiance limbo, as Mankind and Rock were heels getting loud cheers, and Shamrock was a face who was getting a lot of boos. By the end of November, all three men would be on set sides of the fence, and a legendary feud would be born.

Scott: One of the most entertaining matches of 1998 sees the Rock win a #1 contenders match for the WWF Title. This was the first match where Rock was insanely over as a face, or a tweener, whatever the fans wanted to see. All 3 men were very hot, and all put 100% into the cage. Shamrock was starting to get very stale as a face, and the heel turn really began here. His systematic dissecting of opponents began here, and he became more emotionless and very stiff in the ring. Mankind looked stupid here, wasting time crawling out of the cage, while Rock simply pinned Shamrock to win the match. Rock would actually bleed in this match, another sign he’ll do anything in a match to get over. Of course, the whole world title picture would be thrown into storyline chaos after the main event, but more on that later. By the way, Rock is insanely over. The crowd had just as many signs for him in the audience as they did for Stone Cold. Foley was also crazy over, mostly because his promos were becoming less foreboding and more hysterical. He had the most awesome visual of the match, standing on top of the cage and missing an elbow drop on Rock. On the whole a really good match with great psychology and an extra half point for the very over crowd. Grade: 4

Justin: A really good, yet forgotten, classic match here for the #1 contender’s shot. Since the title picture gets so jumbled after this show, Rock would not receive his title shot until Survivor Series. Coming off a great feud with Owen Hart, Shamrock began floating around the card a little bit, without any set feud or goal set out for him. In the weeks following this show, however, he would receive a huge shot in the arm; a shot that would cement his status as a top tier performer and a wrestling machine. We detailed Mankind’s up and down year in the last review, and will hold off on his popular reformation until Judgment Day. For now, track down this hidden gem and enjoy 18:46 of solid steel cage madness. Grade: 3.5

7) Val Venis (Sean Morley) defeats Dustin Runnels with the Money Shot at 9:08

Fun Fact: In May, Dustin Runnels walked out on stage and gave a scathing promo against Vince McMahon, Terri Runnels and father for ruining his life and his career. He proceeded to say the Goldust character was a curse and then burned the costume in a trash can. McMahon gave the pissed off Runnels, who was working with an injured knee, a chance to fight Austin on PPV on the 5/18 Raw, but he said if Dustin lost, he would have to work 30 days without pay. Dustin agreed, and lost, which added to his frustration. Somewhere along the way, Dustin decided the WWF was headed down the wrong trail, and that morality needed to be reintroduced into the Federation. He began praying in the ring before matches, and claiming that all of the vulgarity and nudity was wrong. He also began parading around ringside with a sign claiming “He is Coming Back.” All of this morality-preaching caught the ear of a certain porn star who lived a not so virtuous life. Val Venis targeted Runnels and his preaching, and decided to make his life a living hell. One week on Raw, Venis walked out with Dustin ex-wife, Terri, now dressed like a slut in tow, sending Dustin into fits. Thus, the stage was set: the popular, yet devious porn star adulterer against the hated bible-thumping morality pusher.

Scott: Back to the undercard express, but at least the lengths are getting a bit longer. This is the first time Dustin has wrestled as himself in the WWF since teaming with Daddy against Ted DiBiase and Virgil at the 1991 Royal Rumble. This feud made no sense. Terri leaves him for the porn star, Dustin rages on about morals and values, and the fans are making him the heel. Well, I guess when you’re a porn star, and Terri comes out with a napkin on, you will get the fans’ cheers. I cheered for him. JR did mention when Dustin left his wife and hooked up with Luna the year before, so I guess he had this coming. The match was OK, as Dustin is still not at 100%. This feud continues, with an identity change for Runnels coming up after this show. Grade: 2

Justin: Despite the solid storyline, this was a pretty bland, sloppy match. Val was still setting his in-ring technique and getting adjusted to the WWF-style, so his PPV matches are still quite choppy. In addition, Dustin was never one to carry young guys to good matches, a fact that was compounded by the fact that his knee was still fucked up at this point. Also, even though he ditched the Goldust persona in May, Dustin was still tweaking his style away from the Goldust-esque wrestling style, kind of working the same style, while also trying to use his Natural moveset in a heel way. Val picks up the win here, but the feud takes an interesting turn next month. Grade: 2

8) The New Age Outlaws & X-Pac (Sean Waltman) defeat Jeff Jarrett & Southern Justice when Billy Gunn (Monte Sop) pins Dennis Knight with the Fame-Asser at 11:13

Fun Fact: Earlier in the night, Southern Justice beat down the Road Dogg to soften him up.

Fun Fact II: Jeff Jarrett debuts his theme music that he would keep for the rest of his WWF career.

Scott: This was just another chance to showcase DX at their average workrate, promo-cutting best. X-Pac was actually reaching a good stride. Jeff Jarrett and Southern Justice, well they’re just there. Regardless of how many gimmicks they’re given, there’s nothing that can save Canterbury and Knight now. This was really filler for the main event. Jarrett’s had one of his worst years in the business in 1998 to this point, but by the turn of the year, it gets much, much better. X-Pac gets a shard of guitar in his eye after taking a shot with it towards the end of the match. No visible blood but it seemed pretty real. It was a typical 6-man tag formula match, with Billy hitting the Fame-Asser, still being called the Rocker Dropper for the win. Even though he lost, Jarrett’s new look was a breath of fresh air. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Jeff Jarrett went under quite the make-over in August, and here he sporting his new look: short, spiked hair and short tights. The only remnant of his “Double J” persona is the guitar he wields on the way to the ring. Tennessee Lee is long gone, and Southern Justice would stand behind him for the next month, but by early November, Jarrett would add the final piece to his upper-mid-card puzzle and finally step up. Canterbury was wrestling on borrowed time here, as his repaired neck, broken by the LOD in 1997, was re-injured in the ill-fated Brawl for All over the summer. He would take some time off to rehab, and never ended up returning. Dennis Knight would disappear briefly before returning as a member of one of the top storylines of 1999. D-X was smoking hot right now, and X-Pac’s stock is through the roof, as he was putting on solid matches and had enormous crowd support. Even with their leader sidelined for the rest of the year, D-X continues to click on all cylinders and heads into 1999 on top of the wrestling world as the top stable in the WWF. Grade: 2.5

9) Kane (Glen Jacobs) and Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeat Steve Austin (Williams) in a Triple Threat match when both men pin Austin after a double chokeslam at 17:36

Fun Fact: Two weeks before this show on Raw, Mr. McMahon told Kane and Undertaker they couldn’t pin each other in the match. McMahon also said if anyone interfered in the match on Austin’s behalf he would be stripped of the title.

Fun Fact II: Following Summerslam, Undertaker solidified his heel turn by associating with Mr. McMahon, Paul Bearer and Kane. Taker was so thirsty for the World Title, that he was willing to sell himself back to the dark side for the first time since 1992 to get his hands on the strap. The last PPV that Undertaker was a true heel for was Royal Rumble 1992.

Scott: Now, this was a triple threat match for Austin’s WWF Title, but obviously this was a storyline set-up by Mr. McMahon to be a handicap match. The match itself wasn’t great, as Austin can carry one of these men to a pretty good match, but trying to dictate the pace against both these men was a tough call. Kane is still slow and plodding, and you can finally see the wear and tear of 4 ½ straight years taking its toll on the Deadman as he hadn’t taken an extended break since 1994. It was the ending, though, that was really bizarre when Kane and Undertaker double-pin Austin after a double chokeslam. Brisco snags Austin’s Smoking Skull belt, gives it to Vince, and Vince in turn bolts to his limo. After laying out the Stooges, Austin chases Vince to the back, where he stands by his limo, flips Austin the bird, and yells “You don’t have it anymore, it’s mine!” So as the show ends, we have no WWF Champion. The “Master Plan” worked for Vinnie Mac. So who’s the champ? We don’t know…but the match that led to this conundrum was very average. Grade: 2

Justin: A pretty weak match, partly due to the relatively new three-way dynamic and partly due to the fact that Taker was riddled with injury, Kane was still showing some signs of greenness in the gimmick and Austin can’t work too many miracles in one year. The story here was excellent, as Vince finally screws Austin out of the belt, something he had been striving to do since March. That helps push this grade up a tick or two and balance out the weak in ring action. Vince bolts with the title and flaunts it in Stone Cold’s face as the show fades out. Of course, things would take a very interesting turn the next night, but more on that in our next review. Grade: 2

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: The Russofication of the WWF Pay-Per-View is in full swing, and the reaction is mixed. On the one hand, you see more guys get an opportunity to showcase what they got. On the other hand, there’s a lot more crap to have to sift through to get to the main event. This was an average show with some compelling arcs, and some dead weight floating around. WCW is slowly losing its grip by the day, and the WWF is slowing gaining more and more momentum. The end of the year gets a little cluttered in terms of storylines and an overabundance of wrestlers, but this is the beginning of one of the biggest money-making story arcs in WWF history. Final Grade: C

Justin: A decent show that is muddied by the top of the card, which was pretty shocking when you look at the cards leading up to this one. From the Rumble through Summerslam, the Main Events carried the shows from watchable to excellent, but this show begins the slow turn around of that philosophy, as injuries begin to pick apart the top of the card. Austin and Taker are starting to break down a bit, and most fans were starting to get a little tired of the same few guys up top of the card. Vince would take notice, and injects some new life into the Main Events by the end of the year. Those shrewd moves would help WWF sustain its popularity and dominance for the next few years. As far as this show goes? It was a good storyline set-up for the upcoming months, but I don’t know if I agree with the idea of using PPV Main Events to merely set-up future matches. The only shows that should happen for are the February and July shows. Anyway, this is a decent enough show, but nothing earth shattering. Definitely check out the cage match. Final Grade: C

MVP: Rock, Ken Shamrock & Mankind
Runner Up: Steve Austin, Undertaker & Kane (for delivering on the storyline portion)
Non MVP: Marc Mero and Vader (stock dropping big time)
Runner Up: Steve Austin, Undertaker & Kane (for not delivering on the in ring portion)

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