WWE PPV Flashbacks: Rock Bottom - In Your House - December 13, 1998

Rock Bottom: In Your House
December 13, 1998
General Motors Place, Vancouver, BC

Coming off the heels of a trip to the UK, the WWF returned to Canada in December of 1998 for the first proper PPV since the Rock became the Corporate Champion at Survivor Series, a PPV named after the Great One himself - Rock Bottom. Tonight, the Rock goes one on one with the man that was double crossed on that night in Mankind for the WWF Championship. Also tonight, Stone Cold Steve Austin battles the Undertaker in a Buried Alive match. I should also point out that around this time, Mr McMahon has appointed a new Commissioner, as Shawn Michaels replaced Slaughter and was announced as having equal power to McMahon. Michaels quickly joined the Corporation upon his return to TV. And with that, lets get right into the last PPV of the year that was 1998. Please leave all feedback and other thoughts at @Mpmcc91 on Twitter.

We go on the air with the Rock welcoming us to his own PPV, saying this is just the beginning of many Rock named events going forward. This would be the only one. We then get our opening video package focused on the Taker/Austin match. In the arena, our announce team of Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show. JR is out due to Bells Palsy. Cole looks like the greatest announcer of all time today compared to what he was like at this point by the way.

Val Venis & The Godfather vs D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry w/P.M.S
Our first match of the night sees three former Nation members doing battle. The Godfather is now very much a popular face, teaming with fellow adult gimmick star Val Venis to form a makeshift team to battle D'Lo and Henry here. The faces come out with a bunch of women (or Hos), whilst Henry & D'Lo are joined by P.M.S, comprised of Terri Runnels and Jacqueline. The idea here is that the two women had both recently been dumped (by Venis and Mero respectively) and as a result had united. Terri is still doing the pregnancy angle here, although Val has revealed that it was not his. Meanwhile D'Lo has turned to P.M.S for assistance in Henry coping with his sex addiction. Its Sexual Baby. Anyway, the faces get on the mic before the match and make a whole bunch of sexual innuendos before the heels make their entrance here. The faces start this one out in control, with Godfather eventually hitting the Ho Train on Henry. Its not enough to take Sexual Chocolate down though, as the big guy takes over and dominates his former Nation partner. Val and D'Lo both get tagged in, and D'Lo ends up going for, and missing, the Sky High splash. The faces regain momentum as the match continues, but the tide shifts when P.M.S gets into a fight with the Hos at ringside. The referee gets distracted, and Jacqueline comes in pulling down Val's trunks. The distraction allows Henry to capitalise and hit Val with the big splash to score the win at 5:54. Basic start to the show, but I enjoyed the D'Lo/Henry team as a kid.
Grade: *

Before our next match, we get a recap of the events from Sunday Night Heat before the PPV as Mankind attacked the Rock during the interview and cited a contract stating that if Rock couldn't compete he would lose the title. We then go backstage where Rock is complaining to Vince about the incident. Vince calms him down and says that everything will be fine.

The Oddities w/Giant Silva & Luna vs The Headbangers
Alright so we know the Headbangers turned on the Oddities earlier in the year to turn heel in the first place, so now that their feud with the Outlaws over the tag titles is over, they are finishing off their business here. The feud took another turn on a recent episode of Raw is War when the Oddities were in the ring dancing with the Insane Clown Posse, when the Headbangers came out. They seemed to want to dance with the Oddities, but as they did so, the Insane Clown Posse sprayed silly string in the eyes of the Oddities, turning heel in the process and joined in with the Bangers in beating them down. This is pretty much the definition of a filler feud. As far as the Oddities go, its Kurrgan and Golga in the match by the way. They start this one by cleaning house on their opponents, looking for revenge on the Bangers. Both big men beat on Mosh and Thrasher for a bit until Kurrgan misses a splash and gets double teamed by the Bangers as a result. Eventually Golga gets tagged in and beats on Thrasher, however Mosh makes a blind tag and comes in without his opponent knowing. As Golga is taking out Thrasher, Mosh hits the Oddities member with the Stage Dive which gives the Headbangers the pinfall victory at 6:29. Pretty boring filler here with both teams really reaching the end of their shelf life at this point, although the Bangers will stick around for quite some time yet.
Grade: 1/2*

We now cut to the Corporation in the back where Mr McMahon is strategising with his cronies.

Steve Blackman vs Owen Hart
Now we sadly embark upon the final stretch of Owen Hart's career. As I mentioned a few reviews ago, Owen had recently claimed to retire after breaking Dan Severn's neck in storyline during a match, playing off his past injury to Austin as well. In the weeks that followed Owen's retirement however, the Blue Blazer made his return to TV after a decade of being out of action, constantly interfering in matches. Steve Blackman would eventually tire of these shenanigans and confronted the Blazer in the locker room, however when he attempted to unmask him, he was attacked from behind by the real Owen Hart. These mind games continued over the next few weeks until Owen announced on the Raw is War episode before this PPV that he was returning to the active roster and would take Blackman on here. Now, Owen is the heel here, but we are in Canada, so he naturally gets a big pop as he makes his way to the ring. He even grabs a Canadian flag and waves it to even more applause from the crowd. This would actually end up being Owen's last PPV singles match now that I think about it. Blackman gets booed by the crowd as expected. The match starts out with some back and forth, with Blackman coming out on top and locking in an Indian crossbow manoeuvre. Owen refuses to submit so Blackman releases the hold, but takes an enzuigiri which puts Owen in control. We get a little more back and forth and Owen ends up untying the turnbuckle cover, only to be sent into the exposed corner by his opponent. Blackman takes control once again following this and ends up locking Owen in the sharpshooter! Owen gets to the ropes and bails to the outside and Blackman follows. The referee starts to count both men out, however Blackman realises this and returns to the ring, whilst Owen is counted out at 10:26. Decent enough match before the stupid ending. Owen should have just picked up the win here, especially with this being his return to action.
Grade: ***

Mr McMahon is now looking for Mankind backstage. He ends up finding a 'Mankind's office" sign on the boiler room door so he heads inside and finds Mankind sitting in a closet.

J.O.B Squad vs The Brood
The J.O.B Squad was an appropriately named stable of lower midcard wrestlers formed and led by Al Snow around this time period, with the idea that they would band together to have strength in numbers. Here it is comprised of Al Snow, Scorpio & Bob Holly (now with short blonde hair), although the group would expand with time. The Brood is of course the trio of Gangrel, Edge & Christian. They are in a weird spot at the moment as they aren't really faces, but they are still incredibly popular, mainly due to their cool vampire cult like presence. The backstory here really comes down to the J.O.B Squad members assisting fellow jobber Gillberg (formerly Duane Gill) to defeat Christian to win the Light Heavyweight Championship on a recent episode of Raw is War. Otherwise this is just another filler match. Edge and Holly start this one out, with the J.O.B Squad member getting the upper hand in the early going. Christian is tagged in shortly after, and the tide of the match changes, with the Brood working over Al Snow when he enters the match. Eventually the thing breaks down into the inevitable six man brawl and in the chaos Snow whacks Christian with Head and then tags Scorpio in. He hits his downed opponent with a moonsault legdrop, but Edge comes in and breaks up the pin. Pretty cool move there. Anyway, Edge clears out the rest of the opposing team and Christian hits the Unprettier on Scorpio to pick up the victory for the Brood at 9:08. This was a fun little filler match with the right team going over. The Brood are floating around a bit here, but they would get some direction in the new year.
Grade: **1/4

Back in the boiler room, Mankind and Mr McMahon are still in discussions.

Striptease Match:
Goldust vs Jeff Jarrett w/Debra

Our next match stems from a recent episode of Sunday Night Heat, on which Goldust challenged Jeff Jarrett to this match with the additional stipulation being that if Jarrett lost, Debra would have to strip down at ringside. Jarrett ended up agreeing to the match on the condition that if Goldust lost, the bizarre one would be the one who had to strip naked. To put the stipulation across, Goldust made his way to the ring on the Raw is War before this show wearing a trench coat and nothing else during Jarrett's match. Goldust would flash Jarrett which distracted him and cost him the match. Later in the night, Jarrett looked for revenge by sending Debra down to ringside to flash Goldust during his match with Owen Hart. The plan backfired however, and Owen was instead distracted, allowing Goldust to pick up the victory. Anyway Goldust gets a big pop here, and even Lawler is cheering for him due to the stipulations on this match. Jarrett starts out in control however Goldust comes back into things with a backdrop, followed by some heel miscommunication which almost sees Debra accidentally smash Jarrett's guitar over his own head. Debra continues to interfere in the match, but her presence backfires again as Goldust hits the Shattered Dreams on his opponent behind the ref's back. Jarrett retreats to the outside to recover, but whilst the referee is counting him, Debra comes in and smashes Goldust over the head with the guitar, which Jarrett takes advantage of to score the pin following a facebuster at 8:06. Newly appointed Commissioner Michaels now makes his way to the ring to send Jarrett backstage and enforce the post-match stipulation, however he reverses the decision and DQs Jarrett for Debra's interference. As a result, Goldust wins and Michaels orders Debra to strip to a huge pop. Debra gets down to her underwear, but before she gets any further, the Blue Blazer heads down to the ring and assists Jarrett in covering his valet up with his cape to some major heat. Typical Attitude era T&A segment here, with a fairly average match in getting there.
Grade: **

Backstage, Vince now leaves the boiler room with a smile on his face.

WWF Tag Team Championship:
New Age Outlaws (c) vs Ken Shamrock & Big Bossman w/Shawn Michaels

Upon Michaels return as the Commissioner heading into this PPV, he quickly began using his power to torment his former DX faction, who had started to become a thorn in the side of the Corporation. That's pretty much all this is about, as Michaels makes his second appearance of the night joining the Corporate team of Bossman & Shamrock to ringside here, whilst the rest of DX has been barred from ringside. By the way, Shamrock is still the I.C Champion, whilst Bossman is the Hardcore Champion as I mentioned at the last show. The Outlaws are still incredibly over here despite not having a huge amount to do over the past few months. They do their usual stick on the mic before the match and we get under way with the challengers taking control of the match, working over Road Dogg. Gunn gets tagged in but the heels, particularly Shamrock, continue to dominate the match. The match continues with Road Dogg back in the ring, and Michaels even gets involved, slapping at the DX member as he is dissected by the challengers. The actual match is kind of boring, but Shawn at least keeps things interesting. The champions finally regain momentum when Road Dogg gets the hot tag to Billy, but just as the Outlaw takes Shamrock out with a powerbomb, Michaels pulls the ref out of the ring and Bossman delivers a nightstick shot to Billy. Gunn comes back and attempts to connect with a suplex, but Michaels grabs his foot sending Shamrock crashing down on top of him. Billy rolls through into a cover however and scored the pinfall at 16:10. The New Age Outlaws retain the titles, much to the delight of the crowd and the chagrin of the Corporate Commissioner. This probably would have been better if it was a little shorter, as the challengers beating on the champs went on way too long for my liking.
Grade: *1/2

We now get a video package highlighting the Rock's title win at the Survivor Series and his associated issues with Mankind.

WWF Championship:
The Rock (c) w/Mr McMahon & Shane McMahon vs Mankind

This obviously stems from the Rock selling out and becoming McMahon's Corporate Champion last month at Survivor Series, with Mankind looking for redemption in a rematch from the tournament finals in which he was screwed out of the title. The match actually was signed by our new Commissioner Shawn Michaels, who wasted no time in utilising his newfound authority. Mankind has the cool upbeat version of his original theme here which he would have for a brief period before getting his more well known music. Rock gets a fair amount of cheers from the crowd despite his recent heel turn. Anyway, before the match gets under way, Mankind gets a contract out and tells Vince that he will forfeit the match if Vince gets down on his knees and admits that Mankind never gave up at Survivor Series. Vince refuses, so Mankind rips up the contract he was given by McMahon earlier, but Rock cheap shots him from behind to get the match started. Despite the attack, Mankind recovers and he brawls with the champion onto the floor and up the aisle, however Vince gets on the mic and orders the referee to disqualify Mankind if he attack Rock any further. Rock utilises the distraction to gain the upper hand and pounds on Mankind with the ring steps. Rock continues to dominate with the assistance of an interfering Shane McMahon, and even gets on commentary briefly during the match in a funny spot. Mankind jumps at Rock over the announce table and goes to pummel Rock with a chair, but the referee stops him, and as a result Mankind ends up DDTed onto the chair instead. The action returns to the ring and Rock hits the Corporate Elbow only for Mankind to kick out. Mankind goes on offence some more, even attacking Vince and the timekeeper when he tries to stop the match once again. We get some more back and forth with plenty of interference, which culminates in Shane accidentally hitting Rock with the title belt, and Rock just kicking out following a double arm DDT. Mankind then pulls out Socko and gets the Mandible Claw locked on, which causes the Rock to pass out at 13:35. Mankind has seemingly won the WWF Championship, but before it can be announced, Vince takes the mic and says that since Rock neither was pinned nor submitted, he was still the champion. Great heat building move that made Mankind's eventual win even greater down the line. The match itself was only really okay, but it was a vehicle to set up further encounters down the track. Post match, Mankind gets Vince in the Mandible Claw, but the Corporation come to the ring and beat him down.
Grade: **1/2

Our main event is still to come, so we get a video package highlighting the long rivalry between Austin and Taker.

Buried Alive Match:
Steve Austin vs Undertaker w/Paul Bearer

These guys have been feuding pretty much ever since the build to Summerslam, but things took a darker turn following Survivor Series. The next night on Raw is War, Austin challenged newly crowned WWF Champion, The Rock to a title match that night, after coming to blows the night before. During that match, the Undertaker hit the ring and smashed Austin with a shovel. Austin continued the match, but was eventually taken to hospital, and was set to be interviewed at the medical facility on the next week's show. During that interview, the Undertaker and Paul Bearer arrived at the hospital and kidnapped Austin, with Taker deciding to bury Austin alive, before changing his mind and attempting to embalm the popular star. This was really the start of Taker becoming a sadistic heel after months of flirting with the heel side of the fence. As Taker prepared to sacrifice Austin, the rattlesnake was rescued by Kane, who assaulted his brother and traitorous father. These incidents led to Mr McMahon signing a buried alive match between Austin and Taker for this show, with the added stipulation that the winner would be guaranteed a spot in the Royal Rumble next month. McMahon would also attempt to have Kane committed to the mental asylum, but the big red monster cemented his face turn by assisting Austin in his battles, even stuffing Paul Bearer into a sewer on one episode of Raw is War. The week before this show however, Undertaker got the last laugh when he tied Austin to his logo during a tag match and raised him up above the tron in a memorable, albeit controversial, moment. Anyway, according to Cole on commentary this is the first ever Buried Alive match. Obviously its not as Mankind and Taker faced off a few years ago in one. The action starts out in the aisle for this one, as the two men brawl their way to the grave site near the entrance, with Austin choking Taker with a cable on the way. The brawl continues into the crowd and back to ringside, with Austin generally in control until Taker sends the former champion over the Spanish announce table. Taker sends Austin into the ring steps and the action makes its way back up to the grave again. Taker becomes the first man to fall into the grave, but he pulls Austin in after him. They go at it some more and end up back at ringside and we go back and forth a little more. Back at the grave site, Austin ends up hitting the stunner, which sends Taker into the grave, and Austin pours a wheelbarrow of dirt upon him before heading backstage. Taker meanwhile sits up, but following an explosion, Kane makes his way out and attacks his brother. Taker goes to Tombstone Kane, but Austin now returns driving a backhoe filled with dirt to the ring. Kane capitalises on the distraction and hits Taker with his own Tombstone into the grave, whilst Austin gets the backhoe driver to dump the dirt over it. Austin shoves some more dirt over the grave and Taker is buried alive at 21:33. This match was nowhere near as good as their last one on one match as Taker was nursing some injuries and this point and as a result this was just basic brawling back and forth for twenty minutes. This match would briefly write him off screen but he would be back soon enough. Austin ends the show drinking a beer with Earl Hebner, having secured his spot in the Rumble.
Grade: *1/2

Coming off a pretty hot year, this PPV was a bit of a disappointing way to wrap it up. There was really nothing on this show that was amazing and as a result its one of the low spots of the 1998 PPV calendar. The product is still incredibly hot, but this crowd even seemed a bit off here, especially in the main event. As I said, there is no competition between the buried alive match here and the Taker/Austin match at Summerslam. That match was much better and felt like a PPV worthy main event, whereas this really seemed more like a TV match. At least it was a step in getting Austin back into the title chase starting with his qualifying in the Rumble. The Rock/Mankind match was also just decent, but again it was simply a storyline device to set up greater battles down the line. I understand it not being the main event for that reason, but it is a bit weird considering this was supposed to be Rock's PPV. Who would have thought Blackman/Owen would have been the match of the night considering it was just a throwaway feud in the grand scheme of things? Even so, that was really just good rather than anything awesome. It was also good seeing Michaels back in the mix, but there were a lot of names left of this card. Obviously Kane played a role in the main event, but where were X-Pac and the recently returned Triple H? Thankfully things would pick up again as we kicked off the new year.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. The Rock/Mankind (tie) - definitely not their best match, but they set the foundations of their future battles which would definitely be memorable.
2. Steve Austin - standing tall at the end of the show and heading to the Royal Rumble with a chance to regain his title.
3. Owen Hart - carried Blackman to a decent enough match. It was nice seeing him get the face pop in Canada for his return to the ring, and whilst it was the best match of the night by default, I can't put him any higher here due to the stupidity of the ending.

FINAL GRADE: 3 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far. The Rock and Foley continue to ascend up the rankings, something that will continue over the next few months.

Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 67
Steve Austin = 60
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 25
Mick Foley = 25
The Rock = 20
Hulk Hogan = 18
Owen Hart = 18
Triple H = 16
Diesel = 15
X-Pac = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Vince McMahon = 3
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Christian = 1

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