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WWF In Your House: Rock Bottom (December 1998)
by Scrooge McSuck
- Originally broadcast live on Pay-Per-View on December 13th, 1998, from the General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. It seems like there’s been a trend from the WWF where the December PPV’s feel a bit half-assed in effort and creative direction… and I’m not expecting much out of this show.
- Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. Earlier in the week, Jim Ross suffered from a second battle of Bells Palsy, and at the same time was grieving over the death of his mother. We wouldn’t see him call an entire PPV again until after WrestleMania XV.
Val Venis & The Godfather vs. Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown (w/ Terri & Jacqueline):
Place your bets for who you believe are the faces and heels of the match. I’m pretty sure the intros and pre-match shenanigans are longer than the match itself. ATTITUDE ERA! Brown hammers away on Venis to start. Venis retaliates with clotheslines. They trade shoulder tackles and criss-cross until Venis plants him with a spine-buster. Godfather tags in for a Nation reunion and pounds away. D’Lo avoids the early version of the Ho-Train and unloads with rights. Godfather with a side heel kick that misses by a good couple of feet. Henry tags in and gets worked over. Whip to the ropes, and Henry comes back with a Power-Slam. Henry with a couple more slams, but an elbow drop misses. Venis tags in and quickly gets crushed in the corner. D’lo with the Sky-High for a near fall. He heads to the top, but the Frog Splash misses. Henry and Godfather tag in to almost no reaction. Double suplex to Henry as the Ho’s get into a… argument with Terri and Jackie? Godfather plays peace-maker, people are distracted, and Jackie sneaks in the ring to cheap shot Venis. Henry lays him out with a clothesline and a splash finishes at 5:56. ½* This was pretty hard to sit through. With little rhythm and a mostly dead crowd once the bell rang.
- Earlier on Sunday Night Heat, Mankind ambushed the Rock, and possibly put the WWF Championship Match in jeopardy. I almost said “Main Event”, but Undertaker vs. Austin is clearly the heavily promoted match of the night.
The Oddities (w/ Luna & Giant Silva) vs. The Head Bangers:
(Kurrgan & Golga vs. Mosh & Thrasher)
Come on, the Head Bangers are still being pushed as 1998 comes to a close? They turned heel by beating down the weirdos and cutting Luna’s hair. Dig the obvious music dubbed over the ICP version of their theme music. Golga is a masked John Tenta, pretending to have horns to explain the lumps in the mask. Mosh and Kurrgan start. Kurrgan moves SO DAMN SLOW. It’s almost impossible to imagine someone moving that slow. He busts out a weird side-slam you’d only see in video games, so that explains his training. Wasn’t this goof supposed to be the next heel monster for Undertaker to feud with, had Kane not worked out? How quickly plans change. Golga tags in and shows off his speed, in comparison to Kurrgan, that is. He drops an elbow and leg on Thrasher for two. Kurrgan with a slam, but a splash from the second rope misses. Head Bangers with a double suplex for only a one count. They take turns choking while referee Tim White plays dumbass and argues with the Oddities. Why is Michael Cole constantly pronouncing Cartman’s name as “Cart Man”? This crowd is sitting on their hands. Golga gets the cold tag (not one person reacted on the main camera side) and cleans house, including a not-too-terrible dropkick. Mosh with the blind tag. Golga goes for his Vertical Splash, but Mosh hits the Stage Dive for three at 6:54. DUD This was bad, and I’m surprised it had a clean finish.
Steve Blackman vs. Owen Hart:
Part of the never-ending Blue Blazer saga. I really can’t explain it without sounding stupid myself, so… yeah, there you go. Owen gets a babyface response coming out. Owen attacks before the bell to a big pop. I guess Canadians hate Steve Blackman? Whip to the corner, Owen follows with a snap suplex and leg drop. Blackman comes back with a spinning heel kick and clothesline. Owen heads down the aisle, so Blackman chases him down and lays him out with another clothesline. Back inside, Blackman with a snap suplex and back breaker. He applies a bow-and-arrow, but Owen escapes by biting the hand. Owen with the enziguri. Gut-wrench suplex gets two. Owen heads to the second rope, but meets boot on the way down. Blackman with kicks and chops in the corner. Owen takes another breather on the floor, so Blackman follows with a baseball slide. Back inside, Owen regains control. He connects with an inverted atomic drop and spinning heel kick for two. Owen with a standing drop-kick, suplex, and elbow drop from the top rope for two. Blackman fights out of a chinlock, but runs into a knee. Whip to the corner, Blackman rolls through a body press for two. Owen with another enziguri for a two count. He takes off a turnbuckle pad, but ends up taking a chest first bump to it. Blackman with a slam and elbow drops. Blackman with a sleeper, Owen escapes and applies a Dragon Sleeper. Blackman with knees to escape. Whip to the corner, Blackman misses a charge, and Owen takes him down with a DDT. Owen to the top rope, but the missile dropkick misses. Blackman with the Sharpshooter, but Owen is able to make it to the ropes. Owen takes a walk, so Blackman takes the cheap Count-Out at 10:30. **3/4 They were doing everything they could to have a good match, but the lame finish hurts.
- Vince McMahon meets Mankind in his “office”, which closely resembles storage space beneath a set of stairs.
The Job Squad vs. The Brood:
(Al Snow, Bob Holly, and Scorpio vs. Gangrel, Edge, and Christian)
Smell the star power! You’ve got to love the creativity of a stable called “the job squad”, consisting of guys who lost almost every match. I’m pretty sure we’ve got another “pick the faces” match, as I don’t recall the Job Squad being heels, but the Brood weren’t exactly heeling it up much, either. I say it every time… but I love Gangrel’s entrance. Holly with a Power-Slam and delayed suplex on Edge. Edge gets a boot up on a charge and drops Holly face-first. Christian tags in and gets worked over by Scorpio. Scorpio with a somersault leg drop for two. Snow with a flurry of headbutts to the chest. Snow with a northern lights suplex on Gangrel for two. Whip to the corner, Gangrel gets a boot up and connects with a clothesline. Gangrel with a DDT as we debate what the Blue Meanie is. Edge with a snap-mare and chinlock. Snow fights to his feet, but the Brood remains in control. Whip to the corner, Snow lays out Gangrel with a clothesline and Edge with a spine-buster. Scorpio with another cold tag. He comes off the ropes with a twisting heel kick on Christian for two. Everyone brawls and misses big moves. Snow lays out Christian with Head. Scorpio with the twisting leg drop off the top for two. Heck continues to break loose, and Christian finishes Scorpio with the Impaler at 10:10. * Lots of stuff happening, but felt like a mess. The Network constantly crashing during the match didn’t help my opinion, either.
Striptease Match: Goldust vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra):
Welcome to Trash TV. If Goldust loses, he has to strip, and if Jarrett loses, then Debra does the honors. If you couldn’t guess it, Goldust is the biggest babyface of the night by default. They go through a series of counters, with Goldust taking control with a side headlock. Whip to the ropes, Goldust with a shoulder tackle and back to the headlock. Jarrett fights to his feet but runs into a spinebuster. Jarrett with an elbow, sending Goldust to the floor. Jarrett with a body press, but Goldust rolls through for a near fall. Jarrett with a single-arm DDT, followed by some stompin’. Whip to the ropes and a swinging neck breaker gets two. Goldust blocks and counters a suplex with his own. Jarrett with a drop-kick for two. He grabs a sleeper, but the arm stays up after two and it’s rally time! Debra teases using the guitar, but the referee sees it. Goldust with the Curtain Call, but the referee is still distracted. Jarrett goes for a sunset flip, but it’s blocked for a two count. Goldust with his signature uppercut and running bulldog for two. He calls for Shattered Dreams, which wouldn’t be the smartest move in this match. Debra sneaks in the ring, allowing Goldust to hit the Shattered Dreams behind the back of the referee. This must be the dumbest referee ever, as Debra telgrpahs the guitar shot by a week and a half. Jarrett recovers and finishes Goldust off with the Stroke at 8:03. BUT WAIT! Heel Corporate Commissioner Shawn Michaels rules that Debra’s actions should be a Disqualification victory for Goldust. And you thought the Authority being incapable of sticking to the face and heel script was something new. Debra strips, but before things can jump from TV-14 to TV-M, the Blue Blazer saves us all from impure thoughts by covering her up. ** Tons of heat and there was a mild sense of motivation, but the finish looked awful (Debra’s horrible timing and Goldust standing there, looking like a goof) and the swerve was even worse.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The New Age Outlaws © vs. Ken Shamrock & Big Boss Man (w/ Shawn Michaels):
Yay. DX is banned from ringside because Corporation says. Note that Shawn Michaels is now a heel, a segment after turning himself face for the sake of a swerve finish. Boss Man is the Hardcore Champion and Shamrock is the IC Champion, but that title was on a free-fall until a revival in 2000. Boss Man and Shamrock take turns pounding on Road Dogg. Boss Man mises a splash, allowing Gunn to tag in. Outlaws with a double back drop for two. Road Dogg with his signature jabs and shake rattle n’ roll knee drop on Shamrock. He mostly no-sells it and hooks the ankle, but Gunn breaks it up. Whip to the ropes and Shamrock with a high hip toss. Gunn comes back with the Rocker Dropper. I’m guessing this was before he made it his finisher, the “Fame-Asser.” Road Dogg tags in and walks into a belly-to-belly suplex. Boss Man grabs a front face-lock to slow the match down even further. Shamrock with a diving elbow for two. He splashes across the back and plants Road Dogg with a Power-Slam. We get another long front face-lock, because the first had the crowd on the edge of their seats. What possible excuse is there for this match to be this long? Gunn gets the fake hot tag treatment. Road Dogg counters a piledriver, back dropping Boss Man to the floor. Instead of going for the tag, he follows and gets beat on by Michaels and Shamrock. Gunn FINALLY gets the hot tag (and to the credit of the crowd, they did pop for this one) and unloads with rights. Gunn counters a hurricanrana with a sit-out Power-Bomb for two. Boss Man with night-stick blows to both Gunn and Road Dogg. Gunn counters a suplex and goes for one on Shamrock, but Michaels sweeps the leg… and Gunn somehow rolls through that for three at 17:05. HUH?! * I guess the work was OK, but good gravy, it was as dull as you could possibly imagine, and how did this get nearly 20-minutes?! Seriously, it’s Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Shamrock, and Boss Man. There’s absolutely no reason this had to go that long.
WWF Championship Match:
The Rock © vs. Mankind:
Rematch stemming from the inevitable fallout of the Survivor Series “Deadly Games” tournament where we got the swerve of Rock joining the Corporation and Mankind just being a stupid pawn the entire time. Earlier in the night, Mankind attacked Rock, and the fine print of the contract states if the Rock doesn’t compete, then Mankind is the WWF Champion. Yes, the old FINE PRINT swerve. We waste time in the ring, which was apparently a nod to the “Wrestling with Shadows” movie that had just been released. Rock attacks from behind, but Mankind quickly turns the tables. They take it to the floor, with Rock being thrown into the steps. Mankind continues to pound away on Rock as McMahon threatens to have him DQ’ed for “any legitimate reason.” That was weak. Rock takes it to the floor and connects with a suplex. Mankind battles back, but Shane McMahon creates a distraction, allowing Rock to slam Mankind off the turnbuckle and to the floor. Rock joins commentary and spits water in Mankind’s face. Mankind “hops” the table and pounds away. Rock fights a chair away and plants Mankind with a DDT. Back inside, Rock with the CORPORATE Elbow for a two count. Whip to the ropes, Mankind ducks a clothesline and takes Rock down with a swinging neck breaker. Mankind with a spinning clothesline for two. Leg drop gets two. McMahon orders the bell rung after a questionable leg drop, so Mankind KO’s him with a piledriver. Vince orders the bell rung again, so now the time keeper gets taken out. Rock from behind with a chair shot. Back inside, Rock hits the Rock Bottom. Shane comes in with the belt and accidentally hits Rock with it. Mankind covers, and referee Tim White runs down for a near fall. Rock with his signature DDT for two. Mankind with the double-arm DDT for two. Mankind whips out Mr. Socko and applies the Mandible Claw! Rock passes out, giving the match to Mankind at 13:35. BUT WAIT! Technically the Rock was pinned nor did he say I Quit, so Mankind wins the match, but not the title. **1/2 That has to be one of the dumbest finishes to a (WWF) Championship match I’ve ever seen. There’s bait-and-switch results, and then there’s just plain old bullshit.
Buried Alive Match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer):
One more match to suffer through. I don’t have much hope for a match where Undertaker is moving more and more slowly due to a nagging ankle injury, and Austin is suffering from a serious intestinal virus. To add to the lack of excitement, we’ve got Michael Cole just being a complete dumbass on commentary. If you need to know every little dumb thing he says, just watch the match. They brawl in the aisle to start. I can’t ignore it, but Cole claiming a tombstone weighs 3000 lbs is just too much to ignore. Austin takes Undertaker down with a Thesz Press and crotches him on the ring post. They fight in the Spanish Announcers area, but it’s just tedious brawling. Back to the dirt pile, and I feel like the same 4-minutes is just going to loop over and over. They fight in the open grave, but the crowd is surprisingly not too into it. Austin takes a bump on the dirt, which injured his oblique and abdominal muscle, limiting his mobility even further. It’s clear how hurt he is with almost nothing behind his punches. We wander back to the ring area, punching most of the way. Taker with a chair shot, but Austin thankfully got his hands up. Austin goes for an axehandle off the apron, but ‘Taker catches and rams him into the post. Back in the ring, Austin attempts to rally, but gets planted with a Choke-Slam. Taker carries Austin to the grave and dumps him in (and gets a soda tossed at him). He starts shoveling dirt in, but Austin recovers and escapes. Austin whacks him with some kind of container, bashes him over the head with it, and a Stunner sends Taker crashing into the grave. Austin dumps a wheel barrel full of dirt into the grave, then chases Paul Bearer. Taker recovers, but suddenly Kane returns from the dead (or an insane asylum, who knows) and it’s REVENGE OF THE TAKER’s BROTHER! Suddenly Austin leads a bulldozer to the grave… and nothing happens. After what feels like forever, the dirt is finally being dumped into the grave, awarding this “match” to Austin at 21:31. -** Awful match with an awful finish (a trend of the night). You could probably credit Austin’s illness and injuries to part of the reason for such a lackluster match, but with 20-minutes of aimless brawling and an awkward, blown finish… just not good.
Final Thoughts: I guess the name of the show fit the quality. WWF hit rock bottom when it came to in-ring performance and booking finishes. It’s no secret that the undercards were still weak on in-ring talent, but when the talent was there, it resulted in an awful finish. Owen vs. Blackman? Awful finish. Jarrett vs. Goldust? Awful finish. Mankind vs. Rock? REALLY awful finish. Throw in a “worst main event of all time” contender, and you have one of the worst PPV’s in WWF history. Strongest Recommendation to Avoid.
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