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RECAP AND REVIEW: Something to Wrestle on Rock Bottom ’98 – what Steve Austin didn’t like about the company at the time, rumors about The Rock’s ego, the angle that was edited off of Raw in Canada, how injuries impacted the main event

Something To Wrestle – Rock Bottom 1998

Release Date: 12/14/18

Running time: 2:37

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

Intro

  • Today’s podcast will cover the Rock Bottom: In Your House PPV which was December 12th, 1998.
  • The crowd reaction was a testament to Vince Russo. Everything was over and everyone on the card mattered. Russo gave everyone a storyline. This was a much better PPV than Conrad and Bruce remembered.
  • 1998 is the first time they are beating WCW and making a lot of money.
  • PPV was held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Vancouver was one of Bruce’s favourite places to go but can’t say why they didn’t do more PPVs in Vancouver.
  • In 1993 average attendance was 1980 fans. In 1998 average attendance was 12,963. In 1997, average attendance was 6,616. One year later they were up 95%. 100% of the house shows in December 1998 were sold out
  • The Rock is the new World Champ winning it at Survivor Series. He goes from being the number two face to being the top heel as the corporate champion.
  • Bruce says they didn’t know this was going to be called Rock Bottom until a couple of months before the PPV.
  • WWE were airing the WWE Super Astro show on Univision which was drawing great ratings. However, Univision wanted a show to lead into other programming however, people were tuning out after the WWE show which is ultimately why the deal fell through.

Super Bowl Commercial and Licensing

  • At the end of November, WWE bought a commercial time slot on the Super Bowl. It was an opportunity to expose the brand and the talent to a new audience.
  • Bruce’s idea was to promote WrestleMania at the Super Bowl and do a parallel between the WrestleMania and the Super Bowl.
  • It was for building awareness and would help when doing sales pitches or licensing meetings.
  • Meltzer reported WWE was selling products internationally at amusement parks fairs and carnivals. This was a licensing agreement and at the time, the WWE was selling product in a lot of places.
  • The person who put all this together was Jim Bell who was a senior VP of licensing. He aggressively put the WWE brand out in the real world. Towards the end of his run, he had embezzled several hundred of thousand dollars from these deals that went to him.

Vince Does An Interview About Austin

  • Vince did an interview with Mike Mooneyham talking about Steve Austin, who he called very smart. He also said he likes people who pay their dues and his kids pay more dues than anyone else in the company.
  • Austin has admitted to not being the easiest to deal with and was outspoken. Bruce’s issue with Steve was that Steve would say something sucked but wouldn’t offer an alternative.
  • Austin was able to do this because he earned Vince’s trust. Initially, Austin would not push back on creative ideas but once Vince started trusting him, he would allow Austin to go with his gut.
  • Bruce says Vince’s kids and people close to Vince have it 100 times worse than anyone in the company. The best thing for you is to be at arm’s length because he expects much more out of you if you’re close. After the family, Bruce, Pat Patterson and Kevin Dunn were scrutinized the most.

November 23rd RAW

  • At the beginning of the show, Vince announced Sgt. Slaughter was stepping down as commissioner and Shawn Michaels was the new commissioner. He announced the main event of that show was X-Pac challenging the Rock for the WWF title.
  • Vince wanted Shawn on TV as he was being paid. He used the commissioner role as a way to get Shawn on TV, who was having back issues at the time. They were still trying to find a spot for Shawn and had tried him as a color commentator which didn’t work out.
  • They showed footage of Austin collapsing at a house show and being tended to by a doctor for a concussion. Bruce said this was a way to do something outside of TV to let people know things were happening that we didn’t always see.
  • Later in the show, Undertaker attacked Austin as part of an angle where Paul Bearer and Taker were going to embalm Austin (which didn’t happen thankfully).
  • A lot of these ideas came from the Undertaker and the fact that Vince McMahon is crazy.
  • In the main event, The Rock grabs a chair but Shawn grabs it and hits X-Pac revealing his alignment with Vince.
  • Bruce says at times, the WWE was doing serves for the sake of swerves.

TV Guide

  • WWE and WCW had wrestlers on the cover of TV Guide. This was a big deal as TV Guide at this time had a huge circulation.
  • WWE pushed this fact whereas the WCW did not.
  • The article in TV Guide listed the WWE as a $500 million company. Bruce admits this number may have been inflated a little being closer to $400 million.
  • Austin commented in the article that he wasn’t into the racism or sexual content of the show. Bruce confirmed Austin did not like the sexual content which wasn’t far from his true personality although he was fine with his cursing and drinking beer.
  • Another interesting comment from the article was from Vince McMahon who said no one cared if any of the wrestlers were using steroids.
  • The article also talked about the drug testing policies for the WWE and WCW

The Rock’s ‘Ego’

  • Wade Keller reported Vince wanted Rock to kiss Vince’s ass after Survivor Series. There was a mild undercurrent of locker room snickering about Rock’s inflating ego. He seems overly concerned about looking foolish and even caused a scene at a Gold’s Gym.
  • Bruce confirms the WWE wanted to do the ass kissing angle but disagreed with doing it because it could kill his character. Because they didn’t end up doing it and there was a segment of the locker room that was already jealous of the Rock, who were pissed that he was getting this push. As far as the Gold Gym thing, Bruce heard the rumors but thought it was a made up story.
  • Overall, Bruce says the Rock was always a great guy to deal with.

November 30th RAW

  • Austin was walking around with a shovel looking for Paul Bearer and Undertaker and gets locked in a freezer.
  • X-Pac calls out Shawn Michaels for costing him the match against the Rock the previous week. Shawn books a match between X-Pac and Ken Shamrock for the European Title. X-Pac wins via DQ when Bossman attacks X-Pac but Triple H comes in to save X-Pac.
  • The show ends when Kane and Austin throw Paul Bearer in a manhole.

Mainstream Coverage

  • Rolling Stone magazine did a story on Austin which Meltzer called a must read.
  • The Rolling Stone writer wanted access for a couple weeks riding with Steve and going to his home. Steve didn’t want all that access as he is a private guy.
  • The article was an in-depth look at Austin the WWE didn’t allow at the time,
  • Vince McMahon spoke at Oxford and parts of that aired on RAW. That was a big deal and Bruce thinks that was a big F-you to the establishment

Capital Carnage

  • Card was held on December 6th
  • Tiger Ali Singh beat Edge in 3 minutes. Vince wanted an Indian star. Bruce can’t defend it now and couldn’t defend it then.
  • Austin won a fourway match against Rock, Kane and Undertaker.
  • The Rock did an interview where he forgot his catchphrases and started using other wrestlers’ catchphrases.
  • During a match with Christian/Sable vs. Jacqueline/Marc Mero, Jacqueline’s top was pulled down and her breasts were exposed. This was done on purpose as they were in Europe and this was not uncommon.

December 7th RAW

  • Triple H, X-Pac and Chyna start the showing calling out the New Age Outlaws for joining the Corporation.
  • Triple H and Shawn get into a verbal confrontation setting up a match with Triple H/X-Pac vs. Ken Shamrock/Big Bossman.
  • Austin and cuts a promo on Taker and a match is set up with Taker/Rock vs. Austin/Mankind as the main event.
  • This match ends up in a no contest. Three druids come out and handcuff Mankind to the ropes. Austin is knocked out and tied to the Undertaker’s symbol and suspended above the ring.
  • This angle caused some controversy. TSN in Canada edited out the entire angle. Bruce isn’t sure it was one of the best ideas to do and not something he points to with pride.

Rock Bottom

  • The card sold out a month in advance, 17,677 in attendance, $416,000 gate (Canadian).
  • The show opens with Vince McMahon cutting an anti-Canadian promo and introduces Shane as a real American.
  • The match that aired before the PPV was Duane Gill defeating Matt Hardy (when the Blue Meanie interfered) to retain the Light Heavyweight title.
  • A clip of Mankind attacking the Rock in a luxury box is shown and they announce Rock may have injured ribs.
  • Other Heat matches included Brian Christopher losing to Kevin Quinn, Triple H beating Droz and New Age Outlaws beating the Acolytes.
  • On the actual PPV, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are the announce team. J.R. is not there because his mother passed away and he was suffering another Bell Palsy attack. Bruce says this was a really hard time for J.R. could literally feel J.R,’s feelings.
  • PPV opens with Godfather/Val Venis vs. Mark Henry/D-Lo Brown. The match was fast but it was a good time. One of the Hoes was actually Godfather’s wife.
  • The Headbanger defeated Kurrgan/Golga. Bruce called this a sh*tshow. Babu was originally supposed to be in the match but according to Meltzer was extradited back to Ecuador for some charges and got caught needing a green card. Bruce doesn’t know about the crimes but he did have visa issues at the time.
  • Owen Hart came out to a huge pop against Steve Blackman. The crowd wanted to cheer Hart but was booked as the heel. Bruce says they could have let Hart play the babyface but liked the match.  
  • The Brood beat the Job Squad. Christian used the Unprettier to win the match but Michael Cole didn’t know what to call it. Bruce didn’t think the match was bad but was a six man just to put on the card.
  • Goldust beat Jeff Jarrett by DQ. Originally, Jarrett pinned Goldust after hitting him with a guitar but Shawn Michaels came out and reversed the decision meaning Deborah McMichael had to do a striptease (although not all the way). Bruce thought this match was good and the finish was what it was.
  • The New Age Outlaws retain the tag titles against Ken Shamrock/Big Bossman. Bruce said this match sucked and felt like the guys were going through the motions.
  • Earlier in the show, Mankind had a meeting with Vince in the boiler room. Later they get to the ring and Mankind demands Vince get on his knees and tell the world he never submitted at Survivor Series. Vince doesn’t concede and the Rock jumps Mankind and the match starts. There’s a lot of interference in the match but Rock and Mankind had good chemistry. The Rock passed out to the Mandible Claw however McMahon said Mankind would not win the title because Rock didn’t submit or get pinned. Bruce said this match was awesome. This leads to an I Quit match at the Royal Rumble.
  • Austin and Taker wrestle a buried alive match. Taker is working on a broken ankle and Austin is suffering from an intestinal virus. To make things work, early in the match, he tears his abdominal muscle and even misses TV the next night. Bruce said the match wasn’t bad for a brawl but the finish was horrible as there were a lot of moving parts.

  • Overall, Bruce thought the PPV was enjoyable and a decent PPV if not great.
  • Around the same time, the WWE struck up a deal with M&M/Mars who would sponsor Wrestlemania the next year. Vince wanted a true sponsor who would not only buy advertising but sponsor tours and PPVs. He wanted a major sponsor to bankroll Wrestlemania. It was a huge deal to the WWE because other big sponsors would follow right behind.

They go to twitter questions to end the show.

Rating – 7/10

This one took me awhile to get into but when I started paying attention, I’ll admit, this was a solid podcast. Tons of interesting information about the WWE’s business at the time and the build up to the PPV but frankly, the review of the actual PPV (which was the last 30 minutes-ish of the podcast) was somewhat anticlimactic which was a quick review of the matches with Bruce’s comments sprinkled in. It’s also a bit of a listen at over 2.5 hours. That said though, I’d still recommend this podcast.

About Joe:

Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.

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