October 3, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
Rock Bottom 1998
December 13, 1998
Vancouver, British Columbia
Attendance: 17, 677
Buy Rate: .78
Announcers: Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler
Fun Fact: Jim Ross had a relapse of Bells Palsy in early December and wouldn’t be back until Wrestlemania.
Fun Fact II: After hosting PPVs semi-frequently from 1995-1998, this is the last PPV in the country of Canada until Wrestlemania XVIII.
Sunday Night Heat:
1) Duane Gill defeats Matt Hardy to retain WWF Light Heavyweight Title
2) Kevin Quinn defeats Brian Christopher
3) Triple H defeats Droz
4) The New Age Outlaws defeat Faarooq & Bradshaw to retain WWF Tag Team Titles
1) Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown (AC Connor) defeat Godfather (Charles Wright) & Val Venis (Sean Morley) when Henry pins Venis with a splash at 5:56
Fun Fact: D-Lo and Henry were being accompanied here by Terri Runnells and Jacqueline who were now known as Pretty Mean Sistas (PMS). They were tagging along in order to help Henry with his sex addiction. Of course, Terri was still pregnant with Val Venis’ baby, but that didn’t stop her from participating in the festivities. Well, on the 1/4 Raw, D-Lo accidentally knocked Terri off the apron which caused her to miscarriage. The following weeks saw D-Lo guilted into being a PMS servant, until it was revealed that Terri had been lying all along and D-Lo kicked them to the curb.
Fun Fact II: The new and improved Godfather makes his debut as the new Pimp Daddy. This is the first PPV that he is pretty much a baby face as he comes out with a bevy of “hoes”.
Scott: This was a truly atrocious opener to the final PPV of 1998. Lots of scantily clad women and that was about it. This PPV was more remembered for being Michael Cole’s PBP debut, and God was he awful. At the beginning of the match, he calls Godfather “a master of the Martial Arts”. Well yeah about 3 years ago, if anyone remembers, or cares for that matter. The workrate really suffers for most of this show, and this is one example. As usual, these December PPVs are such blatant throwaway shows. This opener is a perfect example of it. Grade: 1.5
Justin: A pretty sluggish match to start things off here, as the Russo era is in full swing. What does that mean, you ask? Well that means a lot of glitzy, interesting characters and very little in-ring action. Sure the wrestlers were over and their entrances got big pops, but once the bell rang, there was very little substance. I understand the restraints, but with solid talents like D-Lo and Venis in there, there is really no excuse for this bad of a match. On the flip side, all four men had defined characters that made you care about who they are and what they are doing. Godfather had unleashed his fun loving side on us and truly embraced his new pimpin’ lifestyle. Val was now over his Goldust feud, but was still kind of floating around the mid-card a bit. He had allegedly knocked up Terri, but it didn’t seem to faze him as he booted her to the curb shortly after. D-Lo and Henry were still teaming and backing each other up, but Henry’s sex addiction was proving to be a tough habit to kick and would continue to be a problem for both men in the months to come. Anyway, this was just a lackluster opener to a pretty middling show. Grade: 1.5
2) The Headbangers defeat Kurrgan (Robert Maillet) & Golga (John Tenta) when Mosh (Chaz Warrington) pins Golga after a Stage Dive at 6:23
Fun Fact: The Oddities had been palling around with their rap buddies ICP since Summerslam, but on Raw before this show, the ICP turned on the Freaks and assisted the Headbangers in assaulting them. The Oddities tried to get their revenge here, and would eventually bring in the original Oddity George “The Animal” Steele to guide them to stardom.
Scott: Ooh….not getting much better with this tag team match. The Oddities have been a fun bunch, but not much to take seriously. Haven’t been on PPV since Summerslam, and this is why. It’s just not good. The Headbangers are another aimless, floating tag team. The match is unwatchable and bad, but really with the Oddities you really weren’t expecting much anyway. The Headbangers’ shelf life is dwindling with each PPV also. Another nothing match, but a surprisingly good crowd. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Another sub par match in a series of them here tonight, as the Headbangers are still decent in the ring, but they are just unable to carry Golga and Kurgan to a decent match. The Oddities would hang around into the New Year, but would disappear by Wrestlemania. They had a decent mid-card run but never really amounted into anything special. They would briefly bring in George Steele as their adopted family member, but any heat they had was quickly fading with each passing show. The ICP feud never really goes anywhere and the wicked clowns bolted shortly for WCW. The Headbangers win here and move on to…well…not much. Grade: 1.5
3) Steve Blackman defeats Owen Hart by countout at 10:28
Fun Fact: Since his “retirement,” Owen had been playing some serious mind games with Blackman. Sometimes he would dress as the Blue Blazer and attack him, or sometimes they would be fighting and another (sometimes black) Blue Blazer would jump the Lethal Weapon as well. One of the best attacks occurred on Raw. The Blazer attacked Blackman backstage and locked him a Dragon Sleeper. Owen took advantage of the hold and just punted Blackman in the balls and then ran off saying how he was “retired”. Owen finally announced his return to action, and would step in the ring with the man he had been tormenting.
Fun Fact II: This is Owen Hart’s final PPV Singles match.
Scott: This was one of the most entertaining matches of the second half of the year. Both men smack the shit out of each other, including some sweet chops by Owen, who wrestled his best match all year here. The ending really sucked, as Owen just walks away after being put in the Sharpshooter by the Lethal Weapon. It couldn’t hurt to have Owen win in his home country. This was also part of this Blue Blazer phase, part 1. Part 2 would be in early 1999, and unfortunately, that didn’t end well. Grade: 3
Justin: A very good match here between two underrated and underutilized stars. Blackman had been around year, but hadn’t been used too much, but he was just about in line for a good push in 1999. Same goes for Owen, who would start to climb back up the ladder as the calendar page turned, but it would all come crashing down in May. In his final PPV singles match he puts on a doozy in front of his home country, which brings an end to a pretty entertaining storyline that carried these men throughout the fall. Grade: 3
4) The Brood defeats the JOB Squad when Christian (Jay Reso) pins Scorpio (Charles Skaggs) with the Impaler at 9:08
Fun Fact: When in ECW, Al Snow formed a popular group known as the JOB Squad (obviously because they jobbed all the time). Well, Vince and Vince decided Snow should reform the group in the WWF, and thus the JOB Squad returned to glory and became a cult favorite. The WWF version would grow to include Snow, Scorpio, Bob Holly, Duane Gill and the Blue Meanie.
Fun Fact II: Bob Holly debuts his current hair style in this match.
Scott: This was a nice, neat and tidy midcard tag team match. All six guys were slowly learning the WWF style, particularly Edge and Christian, who in less than a year would gain their own identity, and Gangrel just fades into midcard oblivion. The match really had no direction, but it was mildly entertaining. Scorpio would fade from the picture quickly from here. Al Snow would actually begin a pretty good hardcore push soon, and the Brood would bounce around the mid-card for a while, gaining valuable experience that would help them a lot down the road. Grade: 2.5
Justin: These were two solid mid-card stables that had their own little following, but never really reached too much success as groups. All six men are solid in-ring performers but fail to mesh well in this encounter, as it becomes somewhat of a spot-fest with an ending out of nowhere. All six of these men would go on to have varying degrees of success, but it was at this show that Bob Holly finally found a niche in the WWF and actually achieve some stardom for the first time since his debut at the 1994 Royal Rumble. He would debut his new look and curmudgeonly attitude here, but he would solidify his card position in February. Nonetheless, things were looking up for ol’ Sparky Plugg. Grade: 2
5) Goldust (Dustin Runnels) defeats Jeff Jarrett by disqualification at 8:01
Fun Fact: Just a quick note here. Vince McMahon stated that he had a big surprise lined up for everyone: a new Commissioner, who would have match-making power that exceeded everyone else’s and matched Vince’s. Vince claimed he converted a Degenerate, and out came Shawn Michaels, who took on his first major role since Wrestlemania. Michaels dressed sharply, donned his cowboy hat, and became a ruthless Commissioner on the side of the evil McMahons. He demonstrated this in his first night on the job when he absolutely pasted X-Pac with a chair to the face during a match with the Rock. HBK was back, and ready to make an impact. Here is the awesome exchange between HBK and DX upon his return (courtesy the wonderful CRZ at www.slashwrestling.com): And then they introduce COMMISSIONER SHAWN MICHAELS, who comes down to *his* theme. Of course, Shawn is also nattily attired in a suit. "First of all, Triple H, if you wanna talk about who does or who doesn't have balls around here, let's start with you. Let's go back in time to the birth of D-Generation X. I mean, let's face it; the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels is the founding father of D-Generation X. And as far as I'm concerned, I think you at LEAST owe me an apology, for at least nothing else, for gimmick infringement." Helmsley says he owes him nothing and the crowd cheers (I guess). Michaels accuses Helmsley of riding his coattails for virtually his whole career. He reminds him that he turned him into somebody when he was nobody. Helmsley says HE was carrying MICHAELS' ass "when you were walking around with a belt you didn't deserve to carry anymore," then he reminds him that he picked up the ball after he dropped it. Michaels says he had balls he doesn't even know about (huh?) and says "I made you and I can break you." "...the only thing broken down around here is your ego, little man." And HHH had two words for him, oh no. Michaels says that he's got something HE can suck on - a match between Helmsley and X-Pac against Big Boss Man and Ken Shamrock tonight. Finally he asks for the sound guys to "hit my music" and the DX theme plays. Crotch chops all around, and the rest of TEAM CORPORATE is at the top of the ramp to welcome the Outlaws and Michaels.
Scott: Time for the cheap heat portion of the show, as the stipulation is simple: If Goldust loses, he strips. If Jarrett loses, Debra strips. So, needless to say Goldust gets an Austin-esque pop upon his ring entrance. The match itself is pretty pedestrian, but the end is what matters here. Debra whacks Goldust with the guitar, and Jarrett hits the stroke for the win. Just as the Vancouver crowd was about to storm the ring we hear the familiar opening strains of the Heartbreak Kid’s theme song. Heel Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes to be a face for a few moments. He says he saw Debra use the guitar, so it’s a DQ win for Goldie. The crowd erupts like he just won the WWF Title. So Jarrett is escorted out, and the striptease music begins. Debra takes off her tight business suit, and next thing you know, she’s down to her bra and panties. As she’s about to unsnap her bra, the Blue Blazer comes to cover her up. Now, there’s a positive and a negative to all this. The positive: Debra has an absolutely beautiful tan body, which we’ll see a lot of over the next several months. The negative: Jerry Lawler officially becomes a completely useless and annoying color guy. It’s not bad now, but once Road Dogg starts calling for the “puppies”, that’s all he talks about for what becomes a full two years. Grade: 2
Justin: As Scott said, the match itself is sub par, but the crowd heat for Goldust carries this match all the way through. Debra was a fresh face and the Attitude crowd wanted to see her drop the top and show us what she’s got, but Vince wasn’t about to give it away just yet. The Blazer makes his appearance and gains a shitload of heel heat by covering up the goods and ending the strip tease. Goldust wouldn’t see this much heat again until nearly 3 years later, while Jarrett had finally become the heat machine everyone had been waiting for since 1994. Grade: 2
6) The New Age Outlaws defeat Ken Shamrock & Big Boss Man to retain WWF Tag Titles when Billy Gunn (Monte Sopp) pins Shamrock with a roll-up at 17:03
Fun Fact: The next night on Raw, D-X broke out their wigs and costumes again, this time mimicking the Corporation. Road Dogg played Mr. McMahon, with two midgets following him, kissing his ass, Billy Gunn played Shane McMahon, complete with diaper, Triple H is the “Crock” once again, X-Pac played Shamrock, Chyna doubled as the Boss Man and everybody’s favorite entertainer, Jason Sensation played the role of “HBGay”. After a few minutes of good stuff, the Corporation came to ringside to set up the Tag Team rematch and the following memorable exchange took place (courtesy the wonderful CRZ at www.slashwrestling.com): As the DX theme plays, COMMISSIONER MICHAELS, BIG BOSS MAN, and THE ROCK come out. Michaels bemoans the lack of originality. "You and your parodies are like a worn out rendition of your favorite song, Rock says he'll challenge Triple H, Michaels says "hold on, he only hangs out with main eventers, he never competes in the main event." Michaels calls him "Midcard 4 life." Rock says one on one, then it'll be a World Title match tonight. "So now, Triple H, the Rock says, whacha gonna do, when the twenty-four...no wait, that's not it...to be the man, woooo! You gotta beat...no, that's not it...ooh yeah dig...aw, dammit, that's not it either...oh, wait, this is it...I am...the best there is, the best...no, that damn sure ain't it. This is it. The most electrifying line in sports entertainment today, if ya smell what the Rock is cookin'!" "Now, that's a parody! Now somebody hit MY music!" and the DX theme plays again.
Scott: This tag match made no sense for a couple of reasons. First, this was the first of many attempts to get Billy Gunn over as a singles wrestler. So Road Dogg pretty much spent this match getting the shit kicked out of him. Then, the hot tag to Billy Gunn, and let the mediocre wrestling fly. Second, Boss Man had the Hardcore title, and Shamrock had the IC Title, and they win the tag titles the next night on RAW. Why not just win it here? Third, Shawn Michaels comes out as a babyface to overturn the striptease, then the next match he’s a heel against the Outlaws. They should have done the striptease match earlier in the show so as not to make it look that stupid. Finally, did this match really warrant 17 minutes? Grade: 1.5
Justin: A pretty boring match here, that not even Shamrock could carry. Boss Man was in a good spot character-wise, but in the ring, his work wasn’t really top-notch, so with his controlling a lot of the offense, this match suffered. The Outlaws were still quite over, but their shtick and formula of the same old mike work, Road Dogg gets beat down the whole match and Billy gets the hot tag and wins the match was getting very stale, and their impending split was much needed. Michaels played a good heel Commissioner, as he is a natural dickhead, so that part of the match is pretty entertaining, but other than that there isn’t much here. Grade: 2
7) Mankind (Mick Foley) defeats the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) when Rock passes out from the Mandible Claw at 13:34; Mr. McMahon decrees that since Rock never actually said “I Quit”, Rock retains WWF World Title
Scott: The second of 4 straight PPVs that these two would go at it. This one was better than Survivor Series, but not quite up to the standards we’d see in 1999. Their first encounter last month was fairly random in terms of chemistry, although putting them together in storyline made sense. Here the chemistry is burgeoning over, and they also start getting used to each other’s pain threshold, as the shots become increasingly stiffer. At next month’s PPV, stiff shots reaches an all time high. This storyline had a lot of subtle plot twists that you really had to pay attention to. Now, Mankind didn’t say “I Quit” at the Survivor Series, which was the debate he leaned on going into this bout. Well, using the Mandible Claw, Rock was out cold, so Mr. McMahon used the logic against Mankind, and said Rock didn’t say “I Quit”, so Mankind was awarded the match, but not the title. This whole “I Quit” twist would be a big focal point at the Royal Rumble. Grade: 2.5
Justin: A fun little match here that definitely is better than last month, but would be eclipsed in the coming weeks. Rock was adjusting nicely into his role as Corporate Champion and Mick was fully ensconced in his role as the goofy gullible sucker. These two set the precedent here that their matches would be realistic, stiff and full of hatred, and it is those qualities that carried this feud full steam ahead in 1999. In a cool moment, Mick dropped a leg on Rock’s rocks and Vince told the ref to call for the DQ, but before he could, Mick piledrove him. Then, Vince went to the timekeeper to tell him to ring the bell but Mick jumps down and takes him out too. Left without options, Mick goes after Vince, but Rock takes him out with a chair. Just a fun little sequence that led into the finish, and started to show just how creative Mick and Rock would be throughout their feud and future together. Grade: 2.5
8) Steve Austin (Williams) defeats Undertaker (Mark Callaway) in a “Buried Alive” match when Austin puts Undertaker in the casket at 21:30; Austin wins a spot in the 1999 Royal Rumble
Fun Fact: To jumpstart this feud again, Undertaker attacked Austin the night after Survivor Series by pummeling him with a shovel during Austin’s title match against the Rock. The next Sunday, Austin collapsed at a house show as a result of the shovel shot and the night after that he was abducted by Taker and Paul Bearer who then tried their best to embalm Stone Cold. It was kind of goofy seeing a gown wearing, barefoot Austin fight off Taker and Bearer in a Funeral Home. The embalming attempt was thwarted when Kane busted into the Funeral Home and saved Austin from being cut open. One other fun part of the buildup was when Kane and Austin dropped Bearer in a sewer outside the arena. This was the first real sign that Taker was going into a darker place with his character. Finally, on the 12/8 Raw we saw the controversial segment that featured the Undertaker hanging Austin from his symbol, crucifixion style. It would be beaten to death in the weeks following and became the focal point of Bob Ryder’s ant-WWF internet crusade after it happened.
Scott: The final PPV match for 1998 was the second ever “Buried Alive” match. These two put on a great one-on-one encounter for the title at Summerslam. Sadly, they’d never have as good a match again. This one was too long, too slow, and involved a lot of injuries. Taker was battling some nagging injuries, and a stale character. Austin pulled an abdominal muscle mid-way through the match, which slowed things down quite a bit. The premise was Mr. McMahon said Austin had to win this match to enter the Royal Rumble. Taker had been this weird tweener over the last few months, but is now a full-fledged heel. Kane interferes and tombstones Taker into the grave, which really looked silly, and Austin fucks up the backhoe (the one time his driving skills failed, although he really wasn’t driving) to put the dirt in. Michael Cole really sounds like a dipshit here, as he says the headstone at the grave weighs 3000 pounds. That’s some sized headstone. Undertaker’s character takes a turn over the next month, one that for the first time doesn’t quite get over as well as past changes did. Austin is still super over, and as 1998 ends, he’s still the top dog in sports-entertainment, but without the World Title trophy to go with it. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Despite the interesting buildup and storyline history, it just wasn’t in the cards this night for these two to have a classic. The match was just too damn long; especially when you consider the numerous injuries these two were nursing. Matters weren’t helped when Austin tried his darndest to use the backhoe, but it just seemed like Murphy’s Law for him and Taker on 12/13, and trust me, everything did go wrong. Eventually Austin did fill the grave, and Taker was buried and, as usual when he is in a Buried Alive match, we wouldn’t see him for a full month, at which time he returned with a new look and attitude. There really isn’t much else to talk about here, and with that we close the book on the PPV year of 1998. Grade: 1.5
Scott: The final PPV of the year is lukewarm. Not the greatest collection of matches, but certainly not the most unwatchable. December shows are historically forgettable, but this one did have some connection to the start of the year. WCW was still afloat, but one of the true death knells occurs in January, which we will discuss more in our next special review. At the start of the year, Shawn Michaels was champ, and there was almost mutiny in the WWF locker room. Now Steve Austin is on top of the mountain, a fresh face is the champ, the money’s pouring in, and the WWF is almost in complete control of the wrestling landscape. 1999 will be one of the biggest watershed years in the company’s history, with big debuts and plenty of solid character changes. This show, however, is pretty pedestrian. Final Grade: C
Justin: Well, Austin and Undertaker finish the year red-hot story wise, but very cool workrate wise, but I guess that pretty much sums up 1998. When the year started, WWF was still being pummeled in the ratings war, but thanks to a new vision, new characters and great Main Events, Vince turned the ship back around. 1998 was probably the most important year in WWF history, but Vince had to be sure not to let the product get stale, or else it would be a quick stay at the top. As for this show, things were getting a bit stagnant, but they would be successfully shaken up in the New Year. Final Grade: C-
MVP: Rock & Mankind
Runner Up: Shawn Michaels
Non MVP: Michael Cole
Runner Up: Tag Title Match