Thursday, 3 January 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF Rock Bottom 1998: In Your House 26

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Event poster
December 13, 1998
General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

1998 had been a long and spectacular year for the World Wrestling Federation. 

With the Attitude Era now in full effect, the company had started the year still languishing behind World Championship Wrestling in the legendary Monday Night Wars but were now once again reasserting their dominance as the world leaders in professional wrestling.

Of course, much of the company's reversal in fortunes was down to the roaring success of Stone Cold Steve Austin and his epic rivalry with Vince McMahon, a rivalry which captured the imagination of fans in a way that few stories would do before or since.

Yet whilst Austin was reaching the zenith of his career, another of the Attitude Era's stars was still on the rise, spending much of the year transforming from a popular mid-card act to a bonafide main event superstar.






That man was, of course, The Rock.

Tonight, on the last big event of the year, The Great One himself, the World Wrestling Federation Champion would prove that he was indeed one of the industry's biggest stars with his very own pay per view.

Here's what happened when the WWF rounded out 1998 with the 26th In Your House, Rock Bottom.

In The Rock's House

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - The Rock at Planet Hollywood
After a quick bit of "exclusive footage" which revealed preparations for tonight's Buried Alive match, we turned our attention to World Wrestling Federation Champion, The Rock.

The Great One moved through a hotel lobby of some description, welcoming us to tonight's show in his usual braggadocious fashion.

The champ told us that from now on, all the In Your House events would be called In The Rock's House, and that future PPVs would have names like "Rock Solid" and "Laying the Smack Down."

So that was something to get excited about.

With that, it was on with the show.

Someone Will Be Buried Alive

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler & Michael Cole
Our show began properly with one of the WWF's typically excellent video packages.

This one reminded us that The Undertaker had now formed The Ministry of Darkness, had "crucified" Austin on a giant Undertaker symbol, and was now generally a creepy dude.

Tonight, he and Austin would go at it in a Buried Alive match in which one man would be thrown into a deep grave and, well, buried alive.

Michael Cole, who was making his PPV commentary debut here alongside Jerry 'The King' Lawler, showed us the grave and welcomed us to the show before it was on to our first match.

For those wondering, Jim Ross wasn't on the show because his mother had passed away and because, as Cole would tell us later in the show, JR was also feeling "a bit under the weather."

Supply & Demand (Val Venis & The Godfather w/ The Hos) vs. Mark Henry & D'Lo Brown (w/ Terri Runnels & Jacqueline)

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - The Godfather teamed with Val Venis
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how official that team name was for Val Venis and The Godfather, but I saw it on Wikipedia once and it will do for this.

Whatever they were called, the duo opened up the show by taking to the microphone. Making separate entrances, Val first described himself as being like butter on a pancake as both "melt in the hot spot." which sounds all kinds of icky.

Then, The Godfather came down and said that whilst it was the holiday season, he was giving his hos to Val for the evening.

From there, The Godfather's former Nation of Domination teammates, D'Lo Brown and Mark Henry came down with Terri Runnels and Jacqueline.

The girls had recently formed an alliance, though why they'd chosen to align themselves with D'Lo and Henry was something that not even the announcers could explain.

As for the actual match - it was a reasonable effort by all accounts and the perfect way to start a show like this one.

The crowds were super into every move, which of course made the whole thing that much more exciting.

With the referee distracted by some commotion on the outside of the ring, Jacqui climbed inside, pulled Val's pants down and hit him, giving Mark Henry the chance to slam Val down to the mat and score the win for his team.
Your Winners: D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry

Triple H vouches for the New Age Outlaws 

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Doc Hendrix interviews Triple H (w/ Chyna)
The web was still in its infancy back in 1998, so the WWF Superstar Line was still very much a thing. 

Before we got onto some more wrestling, we had Doc Hendrix shilling said hotline by interviewing Triple H.

With Chyna standing by, Hunter told Doc that despite Comissioner Shawn Michaels banning DX from ringside during the tag team title match, his buddies The New Age Outlaws would still get the job done in the ring. 

Earlier, on Heat...

Prior to the next match, we were taken back to Sunday Night Heat from earlier in the evening.

On that show, Mankind had viciously attacked his upcoming opponent, The Rock, injuring the champ's ribs in the process.

Mankind had then revealed a clause in his contract which said that if The Rock forfeited, he would lose the WWF Championship and Mankind would become the new champion.

To quote Susan Saint James:

Uh-oh.

The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. The Oddities (Kurgan & Golga w/ Giant Silva & Luna Vachon)

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - The Headbangers vs. The Oddities
True story, I always thoughts babyface Luna Vachon was adorably cute in her own weird way.

Anyway, that confession aside, this match between the good guy Oddities and the brash, violent bad guys The Headbangers had all the potential to be terrible.

Instead, it was actually kind of fun, or at least as much fun as you could have watching anything involving Kurgan.

After a short back-and-forth, Mosh got a flying crossbody on Golga (the man better known as Earthquake) and earned his team the victory.
Your Winners: The Headbangers

Backstage, Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe pandered to Mr McMahon. Meanwhile, Shane McMahon looked on.

Owen Hart vs. Steve Blackman

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Owen Hart battles Steve Blackman
Owen Hart had recently announced his retirement after causing a serious neck injury to Dan Severn.

At around the same time, Owen's character from his earliest WWF run, The Blue Blazer, had begun making appearances and attacking Steve Blackman.

This was enough to cause a heated rivalry between Blackman and Hart, the latter of whom was incredibly over here in Canada.

Owen's popularity no doubt made this match much more enjoyable. That said, I couldn't help but watch with a certain tinge of sadness knowing that, with the arrival of the Blue Blazer character, we were moving into the final months of Owen's life.

On a lighter note, this was a decent effort. Owen dominated the bulk of the contest, much to the delight of the Canadian crowd. Yet when his opponent kept making comebacks and going on the offensive, a frustrated Slammy Award Winner simply took off, leaving the referee no choice but to call the ten count.
Your Winner via count out: Steve Blackman

Backstage, Vince McMahon went in search of Mankind. He eventually found him in what Foley had deemed to be his "office" but which was, in fact, just a large storage cupboard.

Vince entered and closed the door behind us, meaning we'd never get to hear what Mankind had to say to the man he called "Dad."

The J.O.B Squad (Al Snow, Scorpio & Bob Holly) vs. Brood (Gangrel, Edge & Christian)

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Edge & Gangrel
Honestly, the only two people I ever remember being in the J.O.B Squad are Al Snow and a pre-Gilberg Duane Gill, so it was a bit surprising to see Scorpio and Bob Holly making their way out with Snow.

Meanwhile, The Brood came down without the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship which Christian had won just a few months ago at Judgement Day: In Your House. He'd since lost that title to Duane Gill, effectively rendering that title a non-entity until the year 2000.

This is one of those matches that got better as they went on.

At first, the whole thing seemed a bit sloppy and disjointed, but when it finally broke down into everyone just hitting big moves on each other, it was actually fun to watch.

Like everything on the card so far, "fun" was about the kindest thing that could be said.

None of these matches were anything special, but for the sake of filling up time on the undercard, they were all perfectly acceptable.

Of course, it didn't help that neither Cole nor King seemed to care much about the match, instead talking about Commissioner Shawn Michael's recent decisions and, well, anything apart from what was happening in the ring.

This one ended when Christian hit the as-yet-unnamed Unprettier on Scorpio and got the three count.
Your Winners: The Brood

Backstage, Mankind and Mr McMahon continued to thrash things out. We couldn't hear what either man was saying.

Striptease Match
Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) vs. Goldust

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Jeff Jarrett battles Goldust
So, the deal here was that if Goldust won, Jeff Jarrett's manager, Debra McMichael, would have to strip off. If Goldust lost, however, then he would have to strip off.

The crowd were firmly behind Goldust, which isn't surprising when you consider that the crowd were mostly horny men who wanted to see Debra strip. I must admit, the former Queen of WCW was (and is) far more attractive than I ever gave her credit for back in the late 1990s, so I honestly don't blame them.

Given what was at stake, the hot crowd helped make this one of the better matches on the card so far. Again, it wasn't anything amazing - but it was a really enjoyable outing with both Jarrett and Goldust playing their roles perfectly.

Towards the finish, Jarrett distracted the referee whilst Debra walloped Goldust with a guitar.

Three seconds later, we had a winner.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Or did we?

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Debra Strips
Before Goldust was forced to take his kit off, Commissioner Shawn Michaels came out for his first PPV appearance since losing to Steve Austin back at Wrestlemania 13. HBK sent Jarrett to the back and then said that since Debra had used a guitar, Jarrett was disqualified, meaning Debra would have to strip.

Not that she seemed to mind much.

The blonde beauty milked the moment for all it was worth, slowly stripping off to her bra and panties.

I've got to be honest with you, it was more attractive than anything we'd seen from the WWF's number one diva, Sable, or even from my beloved Sunny.

The segment ended with Jeff Jarrett storming to the ring to confront Michaels whilst The Blue Blazer wrapped his cloak around Debra, much to the dismay of everyone.

Meanwhile, out in the back, Vince McMahon was seen leaving Mankind's "office."

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. WWF Hardcore Champion The Big Boss Man & WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock (w/ Shawn Michaels)

D-Generation-X are banned from ringside

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Bad Bum Billy Gun
Oh, you didn't know?

This was basically every New Age Outlaws title defence you've ever seen.

After riling up the crowd, the Road Dogg spent the majority of the contest getting battered from pillar to post by Ken Shamrock and The Big Bossman until Bad Ass Bily Gunn finally made the hot tag and cleaned house.

Whilst it was fairly textbook, it was just like everything on the show so far - a decent effort without being spectacular.

Not too surprisingly, the Outlaws retained their titles.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws


Afterwards, Billy Gunn pretended to masturbate with the Boss Man's nightstick.

The Making of The Corporate Champion

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Vince and Shane McMahon w/ The Rock
Prior to our title match, we were reminded of how The Rock and Vince McMahon fooled everybody into thinking they hated each other, but were actually working together. The two colluded to get The Rock all the way into the final of the Deadly Games tournament at Survivor Series 1998, thus making the future Hollywood superstar a WWF Champion for the first time.

Looking back years later, it was exciting to see a new superstar having reached the top of the mountain.

And to think, this wasn't even The Rock at his peak.

After the video, we cut to the locker room, where, accompanied by Shane McMahon, Vince told The Rock that Mankind had agreed to waive the clause in his contract that would award him the title should The Rock forfeit.

All Mankind asked in return is that there were witnesses to watch him and Rock initial it.

Vince convinced The Rock that it was a good move. Apparently, they'd be doing that out in the ring.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Rock (W/ Vince & Shane McMahon) vs. Mankind

WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Mankind confronts Vince McMahon
Mankind had the short-lived remixed version of his first theme tonight. Like many things on this show, it's one I'd totally forgotten about.

After his entrance, The Rock made his way out with Vince and Shane, and that's where the real fun began.

Taking to the mic, Mankind agreed that he would waive the forfeit clause, but only if Vince admitted in front of everybody that he had never heard Mankind say "I Quit" in the controversial, Screwjob Redux Incident back at Survivor Series.

Though he hadn't said them at Survivor Series, Mankind did say the words "I Quit" several times in this opening gambit, something that would come into play in the run-up to the 1999 Royal Rumble.

Unsurprisingly, Vince refused.

In fact, he told Mankind that The Rock had definitely heard Mick quit, and that was good enough for him.

Just as Mick then went to attack Vince, The Rock struck from behind, and this one was one.

Right from the word go, it was clear that this was building into a terrific title match.

The two quickly took a tumble to the outside, Mankind's natural playground.

There, the challenger went to work with some hardcore offence. That prompted Vince to take to the microphone and order the referee not to be lenient. Basically, said Vince, as soon as the referee had a legitimate reason to disqualify Mick, he should do so.

"He's just making the rules up as he goes along!" cried Cole.

"No he isn't," replied King. "You're always supposed to be disqualified if you break the rules!"

King 1 - 0 Cole.

Anyway, that only made the match even more interesting.

From there, it built it up into some classic Attitude Era craziness, with The Rock taking Cole's headset and putting himself over on commentary whilst attacking Mankind from behind the table.

Back and forth they battled, every move increasing the intensity, doubling the drama. The two had the crowds on the edge of their seats, waging a brilliant war against each other which ended when Mankind slipped on Mr Socko and rammed it down the champion's throat.

The Rock passed out and we had a new champion!
Your Winner and New WWF Champion: Mankind

Or Maybe not.

Vince took to the mic and informed us that, yes, Mankind had won the match, but he wasn't the champion.

Why?

Because the WWF title could only change hands on pinfall or submission, but since The Rock had neither been pinned nor submitted, but just passed out, he was still technically the champion.

OK, let's do this again then:
Your Winner: Mankind (The Rock retains the title)

Understandably irate, Mankind took out his frustrations on Vince and slapped Mr Socko on him. When Shane tried to save his dad by smashing Mankind with a steel chair, Mick no-sold it and Socko'd Shane, too.

Eventually, Ken Shamrock and The Big Bossman ran out to save the McMcMahons.

Time for Buried Alive

Before we got to our main event, we got a quick look at the recent history between The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

This basically revolved around Austin costing 'Taker the title back at Judgement Day.

To retaliate, Undertaker had whacked Austin over the head with a shovel and then attempted to embalm him, only for Kane to come to Austin's rescue. Stone Cold and Kane then threw Paul Bearer down a manhole (an image which has stuck with this fan for years), after which Undertaker went all demonic and promised to make Austin burn in hell.

Tonight, the two would meet in what was to be the company's second only Buried Alive match on PPV. The first, of course, was back at In Your House 11: Buried Alive.

Buried Alive Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

If Austin wins, he gets a place in the 1999 Royal Rumble
WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker - Buried Alive
Have I mentioned how much I love The Undertaker's theme from this period?

Sadly, that was probably the best thing about this match.

Whereas the previous WWF title match was dramatic and intense, the Buried Alive match was long and laborious, with only occasional flashes of the wild, exciting brawling that had been the hallmark of Austin's main event run.

It wasn't that they didn't try.

At various times it seemed like the two were moments away from really kicking it up a gear and giving us a classic main event.

However, much like their match at In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell, the two struggled to deliver much of any genuine excitement, and the whole thing fell flat.

Towards the finish, an explosion erupted from inside the open grave. Kane popped out and went to war with his brother whilst Austin chased Paul Bearer backstage.

Stone Cold returned a minute or so later, directing a huge digger into the arena.

Kane tombstoned 'Taker. 'Taker fell in the grave, and the digger dumped a bunch of dirt on it.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterwards, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Super Impartial Referee Earl Hebner drank a beer on The Undertaker's grave to end the show.






This is one of those shows that you keep waiting to get better. Instead, you find yourself sitting there, match after match thinking "yeah, that was OK, but nothing special."

That was the frustrating thing about this show. Every match was decent in its own right and nothing was particularly terrible. Even the match involving The Oddities had at least some entertainment value, but other than that, there was nothing that was must-see. There was nothing that really stood out. There as nothing, in other words, that made you feel excited about watching pro wrestling.

That, of course, is apart from the WWF Championship match.

Though Rock and Mankind would have a better outing at the following month's Royal Rumble, their battle here showed why The Rock deserved to be in the main event, and why Mankind deserved to be right up there with him.

If you have the WWE Network and you don't have anything else going on, it might be worth spending a few minutes watching Rock/Mankind. Otherwise, there's nothing on this PPV that's actually worth your time. 



1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
  15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
  16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
  17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
  18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
  19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
  20. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1998
  21. WWF - Survivor Series 1998
  22. WWF - Capital Carnage 1998
  23. WCW - World War 3 1998
  24. WCW Starrcade 1998
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