Saturday, November 11, 2017
This was one of the most profitable years in WWF history. Closing it out, you had the Rock as the new Corporate Champion, getting a Pay-Per-View named after him (though thinking about it, the December PPV in 1996 was named after Vader even though he didn’t compete on it and the December 1997 PPV was named after DX). Though it is named after him, he doesn’t even headline the show, with that distinction going to the Buried Alive match between Steve Austin and the Undertaker. This show produced the lowest buyrate of 1998. It is the first and only show under this name.
Things open with the Rock cutting a promo somewhere in the arena. He says that every In Your House from here on out will be named after him, including “Rock Solid” and “Laying the Smackdown”. At least he got a TV show out of the latter.
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are on commentary. It’s Cole’s first PPV.
Venis and the Godfather are kind of a perfect match. Godfather rewards his hoes by giving them Val Venis for the whole night. D-Lo and Val, who had a pretty lengthy opener at SummerSlam a few months earlier, start things off. Michael Cole questions the use of D-Lo’s chest protector since the injury happened over eight months earlier. D-Lo’s chest is up there with DDP’s ribs and Bob Orton’s arm for longest injuries. Val starts taking the heat segment. D-Lo misses the Lo Down, opening the door for Val. Cole calls it the Sky High proving he sucked even back then. He also calls the Godfather a “master of martial arts.” Godfather gets the hot tag but doesn’t do much of note. He and Val double suplex Henry while the hoes argue with PMS. While Godfather tries to calm things down, Jacqueline slides in and exposes Val’s thong. That distraction allows Henry to knock him down and hit a splash to win.
Not much to really discuss here. They seemed to work a house show like tag team match while waiting for the interference finish.
They go through backstage segments rather quickly, so much so that I’m only going to discuss them if they’re important. Mankind attacked the Rock on Heat, but Rock still will defend the belt.
Wait. Why is this on Pay-Per-View? The Oddities are represented by Kurrgan and Golga. Golga is the former Earthquake for anyone that didn’t know. They plod through their offense while the crowd sits in complete silence. The Headbangers end up working a “heat” on Kurrgan. It’s hard to buy considering Kurrgan’s size and the fact that the crowd is dead. After some very uninspired stuff, Mosh catches Golga with am ugly cross body after a blind tag and they steal it.
I just don’t see why this had to be on Pay-Per-View at all. The crowd didn’t care, the guys involved didn’t seem to care and neither did commentary. The only person who looked like they wanted to be there was Luna.
The pop for Owen Hart is pretty insane. Owen was brought out of “retirement” by Blackman. He was in “retirement” after “breaking” Dan Severn’s neck. He attacks quickly to the crowd’s liking. Blackman turns it around and works a bow and arrow shortly. Both guys trade offense, with neither grabbing a real upper hand. Owen takes a breather outside, leading Blackman to take him out with a baseball slide. They oddly still work this match as if the crowd is against Owen. He does the rest holds and Blackman makes the comebacks, but it gets the opposite reaction they want. Owen gets two on an enziguri. He locks in the dragon sleeper, which gets the crowd to their feet, but Blackman slips free. Blackman then puts Owen in the Sharpshooter, garnering massive heat. He reaches the ropes to a big pop. Owen exits the ring and decides to walk out on the match, getting counted out.
Man, I wish this didn’t end the way it did. The match was going along fine until that finish. It wasn’t great, but it was entertaining.
The Brood is still in its infancy at this point. The J.O.B. Squad is represented by Scorpio, Bob Holly and Al Snow. Outside of Holly, who is debuting his Hardcore Holly hairdo, nobody in this match has really been with the company for long. The Brood seems to show a bit more chemistry. I always think Gangrel has a busted lip but it’s just his trademark fake blood. The Brood isolate Snow in the corner. Once he gets free and makes the tag, the match breaks down and everyone gets involved. Scorpio ends Christian over and outside, but misses a tope. Christian, not to be outdone, misses a diving headbutt. Snow hits him with Head, though it looked weak. Gangrel takes him out, before Holly goes after him. Scorpio comes off the top with a sick moonsault leg drop. Edge breaks up the count before leaping off of Gangrel’s back and onto the other JOB Squad members outside. Christian is left alone with Scorpio, hitting the future Unprettier for the 1-2-3.
Hey, that was better than expected. It was a neat little tag team match. It started a bit slow and didn’t really pick up until everyone got involved. Those final few minutes were pretty fun.
The rules are, if Jarrett wins, Goldust has to strip for the fans. If Goldust wins, Debra has to strip. They trade some early back and forth that seems uninspired. Jarrett seems to go after the left arm, hitting a single arm DDT. It’s interesting to hear Jerry Lawler, the heel, side with the babyface because he wants to see Debra strip. It’s probably the real start of his annoying “puppies” gimmick for the foreseeable future. Thanks to the prospect of tits, the fans are firmly behind Goldust, helping out a relatively dull affair. Debra nearly uses the guitar at one point but almost hits Jarrett with it accidentally. She distracts the referee after Goldust hits the Curtain Call. The fans are eating all of this up. As Goldust sets up for Shattered Dreams, Debra enters to distract him but as she’s taken out, he hits the move behind the referee’s back. Now, while Jarrett is being counted out, Debra lays out Goldust with the guitar. Jarrett slides in and hits the Stroke for the three count. BUT WAIT! New Commissioner Shawn Michaels strolls out. He congratulates Jarrett and sends him to the back. With Jarrett gone, he awards the match to Goldust via disqualification.
The match itself is pretty basic. They are two guys that know what they’re doing though and they realized that they could let the heat from the crowd carry them. It did the job and made this slightly better than it actually was.
Debra is now forced to strip. She seems to enjoy herself more as it goes further. Shawn Michaels even brings out money for her. Before she can remove her bra though, the Blue Blazer and Jeff Jarrett show up to cover her up.
So Shawn Michaels goes from babyface in one segment to heel in the next. The Outlaws, outside of Owen Hart, are the most over guys on the show so far. Bossman plays the powerhouse but finds himself in trouble against the well-oiled machine that is the Tag Team Champions. Classic Road Dogg as he goes all Shake, Rattle and Roll on Shamrock. Shamrock, probably embarrassed at taking that move, rolls him into an ankle lock but it’s quickly broken up. Shortly after this, the four men would split off into two separate singles feuds. It breaks down into Road Dogg taking the heat. Bossman is great at toying with him and being a real dick. The heat on Road Dogg lasts for a fair amount of time. Billy wakes up the crowd by shouting “YOU SUCK” across the ring. I’m not sure who it was directed at. Billy gets the hot tag and nearly wins, but Michaels pulls the referee out of the ring. That opens the door for Bossman to hit Billy with the nightstick. Shamrock covers but only gets two. Shawn tried to cheat again, but Billy rolls through the pin and they retain.
If this went about 10-12 minutes, it would have worked much better. Giving them seventeen was far too much. Bossman and Shamrock did an acceptable job but a lot of their stuff was dull and seemed to drag. Certainly a case of less is more because this went on for far too long.
Throughout the night, Vince McMahon and Mankind were in a meeting in the boiler room. Before the match, they spend time going over whether or not Mick Foley actually quit in the finals of the tournament at Survivor Series a month earlier.
Here we have the second meeting between these two out of four straight on PPV. That’s not including the televised matches (ladder, the night Foley wins the title & Halftime Heat) that they got out of this rivalry. Rock attacks from behind and the brawl is on. Mankind uses steel steps on the outside to help his cause. Vince gets on the microphone, saying that Mankind is on the verge of getting counted out, which opens the door for the Rock. Mankind takes a bump from the second rope onto the floor outside. The thud sound it makes is sickening. Rock does his signature trash talk on commentary during the match. Lawler kisses Rock’s ass all night and asks for a high five but gets denied and it’s glorious. The fight moves back inside where the Rock picks up a near fall. Mankind begins to rally and drops a leg onto Rock’s groin. Vince pops up wanting the DQ. Mankind prevents it by laying out the referee with the piledriver. He also takes out the timekeeper. Rock attacks and Shane tries to hit Mankind with the title. Mankind ducks and Rock gets leveled. A second referee shows up but Rock kicks out. Vince and Shane’s reactions are perfect. Mankind brings out Mr. Socko and puts Rock in the Mandible Claw. Rock passes out and the crowd goes wild. BUT WAIT! Vince gets on the microphone and admits that Mankind won the match, but says you can only win the title if you actually submit, which the Rock didn’t do.
This didn’t reach the limits of their 1999 bouts. Still, it was a fun sprint between two guys with growing chemistry. A lot of people dislike the finish but I’m not one of them. It made perfect sense since Mankind constantly said that he never quit at Survivor Series. Having Vince turn the tables on him was excellent and it set up their I Quit match at the next PPV. Sometimes it’s all about advancing the story, which was done expertly here.
Obviously, Mankind isn’t happy about that result and starts attacking Mr. McMahon. Shane hits him with a chair, which has no effect and he gets Socko too. He is finally pulled away when Ken Shamrock and the Big Bossman make the save.
If Austin loses, he can’t enter the Royal Rumble next month. This is the second ever Buried Alive match. Due to the personal nature of the rivalry, the fight starts in the aisle. They do a ton of brawling in the aisle and around the ring. Undertaker is in control as they make it up to the grave and trade blows. The fight continues, bouncing around the arena from the entrance to the ring and everywhere in between. It’s hard to really discuss what they’re doing since it’s just a bunch of punches, kicks and throwing each other into stuff. Undertaker hits a Chokeslam in the ring and takes Austin to the grave. He nearly buries him but Austin escapes and hits him with some sort of can. Austin nails the Stunner and dump a wheel barrow full of dirt onto Taker. Austin leaves to the back for some reason. Undertaker gets out and hides, waiting for Austin with a shovel. Suddenly, a huge explosion erupts in the grave. Kane comes out from the grave ad goes at it with his brother. Undertaker nearly gets a Tombstone on him but stops because he sees something in the entrance. It’s Austin driving a backhoe. Kane Tombstones Undertaker, which the camera misses. He rolls Taker into the grave and Austin has the backhoe drop a ton of dirt onto him, winning.
These two have never really had great matches together. Some are good and most are pretty bad actually. This was possibly the worst and started a string of mediocre at best performances from the two for the most part. Undertaker was battling nagging injuries, this dragged on for too long and was mostly dull.
Overall: Considering how successful the year of 1998 was for the WWF, it kind of sucks to see the PPV side end on such a whimper. Outside of the WWF Title match, nothing on this show is really any good. There are two decent matches hidden in there but this is an easy skip. Even the main event, which the WWF was mostly nailing at the time, is an abysmal waste of time. Up next on will be WWF !