September 27th 1998. Hamilton, Ontario.
I had a bit of a confusing time finding this one on the WWE Network. Despite the subtitle of In Your House this isn’t another event in that series. As is the design of the Network I had to back out of that menu and scroll all the way back to find Breakdown. There’s a small part of me that wishes I hadn’t really bothered.
The opening video package, not for the first time, seems to compare Vince to dictators such a Mussolini. It was acceptable in the late 90’s, I can’t imagine them pulling the same thing now with Shane over on Smackdown being shown alongside Saddam Hussein.
Yet I digress.
Vince is really sick of Austin having the WWF Title. So much so that he’s put him in a Triple Threat match tonight alongside The Undertaker and Kane with the stipulation that any pinfall attempts between the two brothers will not be counted. Vince is certainly out for blood.
Firstly however we get a choice match of Edge versus Owen Hart. Edge appears from the crowd and gets a fantastic response of being the home town (nearly) boy. Owen walks down the aisle wearing a Ontario football jersey (being British the North American sports references are a little wasted on me). Edge still has the gimmick of the mysterious stranger who emerges from the crowd and says very little. It perhaps doesn’t give him an ideal chance to engage with the audience but it’s at least something different which seems to be getting the job done. Owen is as good as Owen always was so this opener is a pretty good contest.
Some lovely chain wrestling between the two in the opening moments ends with a great looking dropkick by Edge followed by a Hurricanrana. Owen spills outside the ring but powerslams Edge as he leaps from the apron. Owen gets a Belly to Belly in but Edge responds with a Flapjack followed by a Neckbreaker. An Edge DDT gets him a two count, a Hart German Suplex with a bridge gets him the same. Owen then has a moment of trying to apply the Sharpshooter.
The final moments of the match see the PPV debut of Christian as he works his way through the arena to stand at ringside. Edge seems to confront him and ask him what’s he’s doing there but is then rolled up by Owen for the winning pinfall. The crowd seem a bit perplexed as to exactly what just happened.
We appear to have been gracefully spared a Sable wrestling match this month but the woman herself is still backstage with Doc Hendrix. There’s a lot of side boob going on.
Next up comes a really strange one in the shape of Al Snow teaming up with Scorpio to go up against ‘Too Much’ who are a certain prototype of Too Cool as they feature Scotty and Brian minus the dancing and Rikishi. The crowd go absolutely crazy about Al’s mannequin head, such is the Attitude Era.
The opening shots between Scorpio and Scotty begin with cartwheeling armbars and a Scotty Pumphandle Slam. The match breaks down quickly as a steelchair is introduced. Al uses it as a makeshift catapult, Scorpio tries to use it as a springboard but slips. Too Much join together to Double Backdrop Scorpio who lands really awkwardly. Al Snow brings Head into the ring and batters everybody with it (or with her depending on how you look at it). There’s a Snow Plough for a winning pinfall not long after. A fairly scrappy match between two teams who seemed to be chucked together.
Michael Cole looks tiny next to both Undertaker and Kane. The Dead Man says that he and his brother have come to a mutual agreement tonight. It’s not looking good for Austin.
Marc Mero is back again with Jacqueline who is Women’s Champion even though she doesn’t actually have her belt with her. The Women’s Revolution is a fair way off. Mero takes on Droz tonight. Droz looks fairly solid from a wrestling standpoint. All of the stuff he’s doing looks really good. He aims a Shoulder Tackle to Mero early on and gets a Backdrop over the top rope in later. “Droz sleeps with boa constrictors” says J.R. Outside interference takes hold after Mero tries to choke Droz with his wrist tape. Whilst he’s arguing with the ref Jacqueline smashes Droz with her shoe. Mero gets a Shooting Star Press down for a winning three count.
Three matches in and it’s all a bit average so far.
One of the early PPV shows I did as part of this project was Summerslam 1996 which had a rather good Vader versus Shawn Michaels match. It was probably the height if Vader’s WWF run and it seems to have come crashing down from there. Tonight Vader takes on Bradshaw in what boils down to a Street Fight.
Vader walks down the aisle (which includes a jig at the top of the ramp) as we cut backstage to Michael Cole who is with Bradshaw. “I didn’t come here to wrestle the fat bastard, I came here to fight him” are the choice words given.
Fight him he does and this means ramming Vader into the time keeper’s table early on before Clotheslining him out of his boots. Bradshaw aims a few punches towards a prone Vader on the ringpost but ends up punching steel instead. Bradshaw is then flung into the ringsteps which is the start of a brawl in the aisle.
Back inside the ring Bradshaw is a victim of a Vader Splash but there’s no pinfall follow up. A Vader Bomb gets a two count as after Bradshaw kicks out. Bradshaw whacks Vader with a Clothesline From Hell and gets a two count. He follows with another one, then a Neckbreaker for the winning three. It’s not a bad match but it’s been pretty obviously designed to showcase Bradshaw as a valid contender.
D’Lo Brown is no longer the European champion which means he’s also lost the ability to claim he hails from Helsinki during his entrance. Tonight he faces Gangrel who has some of the best music in the WWF of the time. Gangrel runs at D’Lo right from the bell and delivers a Corkscrew Elbow. D’Lo misses an Axe Handle from the top rope. D’Lo uses a Running Powerbomb for a two count and then a Suplex gets him the same result.
Jerry Lawler cannot resist (or is at least told to say) a dig at Hulk Hogan by mentioning that you can tell how much Canada is behind the times because somebody in the crowd has a Hulkamania sign.
Mark Henry trundles down to the ring and manages to attack Gangrel when the ref’s back is turned. After being tipped back into the ring the vampire is subjected to a Lo Down for a three count. An upset Gangrel takes a sip from his cup of blood and spits it towards Mark Henry.
The steel cage is being lowered around the ring in preparation for tonight’s Triple Threat match between The Rock, Mankind and Ken Shamrock. I’ve probably seen Shamrock versus The Rock far too many times over the last few entries of this project to care but Mick Foley instantly makes things better. Having a Triple Threat in a cage also slightly changes the dynamic a bit because it’s impossible for one of them to roll out of the ring and let the other two fight for a while.
Michael Cole interviews Shamrock beforehand. Ken claims he ‘came here to be champion’. Doc Hendrix is with The Rock who says he’ll make his opponent’s ‘monkey asses famous’ and Mankind tells Kevin Kelly a story about a grown man urinating on an electric fence.
I’m not sure either.
This cage match will be decided on pinfall, submission or escape and the winner will be the number one contender to the WWF Title.
Shamrock is announced as being the King of the Ring during his entrance which is a fact I’d completely forgotten about. Obviously him not walking down with a robe and crown probably played a part in that. Jerry Lawler manages a barb at Bill Clinton during Mankind’s entrance and The Rock is well and truly over. He’s gone from people wanting him to die at Survivor Series 1996 to being a great heel in The Nation to this. He’ll obviously turn back heel again not long after this but for now the crowd are loving him.
Shamrock and The Rock trade punches whilst Mankind tries to tiptoe out of the cage door. Rock quickly catches on though and goes after him. There’s a spot in which Shamrock has an Abdominal Stretch on Mankind and The Rock in turn puts the same move on Shamrock. It’s then you can notice that Mankind has Dude Love’s t-shirt on underneath his white shirt. Did Foley’s luggage get delayed at the airport?
The crowd boo when The Rock is double teamed as both Mankind and Shamrock team up to suplex him. The Rock responds with a DDT to Mankind, the same to Shamrock and then a Double People’s Elbow. A Rock escape attempt is thwarted, MAnkind is hit with a Rock Bottom but Shamrock breaks up the pin attempt.
Shamrock gets the Ankle Lock snapped in on The Rock but Mankind breaks it up. The Rock and Mankind both climb the cage, Rock ends up falling and Mankind opts to unleash a hellish looking Elbow Drop from the top. The Rock dives out of the way. Seriously, there’s a reason Mick Foley needed hip surgery lately and it’s this. A steel chair ends up in the ring. Mankind Double Arm DDTs Shamrock and climbs up the cage to escape. Before he can do that however The Rock pins a prone Shamrock. The Rock wins and Mankind seems confused as to why they’re not playing his music upon him hitting the floor.
Shamrock then goes crazy by smashing everything around the place. This has certainly been match of the night so far but it’s been fairly poor pickings running up to this.
It’s been almost a year since Terri Runnels featured on WWF television. The last time was probably the very uncomfortable angle alongside Brian Pillman. Mr Runnels, also known as Goldust, also known as the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust now just plain Dustin Runnels has become a preacher. His born again Christian outlook seems totally at odds with the nudity and blood of the Attitude Era. None more so than wrestling porn star Val Venis. The waters get even more murky in the run up to this match when Val reveals that Terri was his co-star in a production entitled ‘The Preacher’s Wife’.
The surprise about Val’s entrance is Terri is actually with him. The sight of his ex-wife walking ringside with her new lover is a bit much for Dustin and he seems distracted throughout the entire duration of this match. More digs at WCW continue with Lawler putting across the fact that, even though he’s dilapidated now, Dustin Runnels still has two wins over Razor Ramon under his belt.
The match is fairly equal to begin with but Val soon takes control with Terri looking longingly towards him from the outside. After applying a Camel Clutch and a Chinlock Venis attempts a Suplex only for Dustin to reverse it. Dustin snaps on a DDT and then goes up to the top rope only for Val to push him off. Val goes to the outside so that Terri may tend to his wounds. Eventually Val takes control again and strikes with the Money Shot to pin an aching (both physically and emotionally) Dustin. Val and Terri then proceed to start what can only be described as foreplay in the middle of the ring.
Jeff Jarrett getting a really bad haircut at Summerslam 1998 at the hands of X-Pac seem to have kicked him into a different character spiral. He teams tonight with Southern Justice (a repackaged Godwinns) to take on D-X in the shape of all the ones that aren’t Triple H or Chyna. Just as D-X are about to do their traditional ‘Suck It’ routine they get jumped.
Highlights in the early going include a great looking X-Pac PowerBomb which I didn’t know he had in him. A delayed Suplex by Knight onto X-Pac also looks the part. Jeff Jarrett and X-Pac seem to have the bulk of the offense and the match itself seems very much based around them. Double J and X-Pac spent a chunk of the match exchanging Sleeper Holds. There’s a build up towards a hot tag to Billy Gunn and this results in him lifting Double J high for a Press Slam. In the home stretch Jarrett grabs his guitar from the outside and smashes X-Pac with it. It doesn’t really play into the match ending though as Gunn pins Knight in the ring to win it for his team. Post match however there seems to be wooden splinters in X-Pac’s eyes.
A video package plays to hype the main event. Vince seems really taken with the word ‘prohibited’. Again we get the idea put over that Undertaker and Kane cannot pin each other. Essentially this is boiling down to a 2v1 Handicap Match.
Kane enters the arena first alone which seems to disturb Lawler a fair bit as he takes it as being a sign that the Brothers Of Destruction might not be on the same page. The Undertaker comes out next to his fantastic Ministry version of his theme song. Austin comes out next, he’s already carrying a chair. The brawl starts as Austin clanks Undertaker with the weapon before he’s even in the ring. Kane also gets a battering fairly quickly.
Undertaker gets flung into the ring steps by Austin and Stone Cold quickly gets back into the ring to deliver a Stunner to Kane. The pinfall is broken up by Undertaker. The Undertaker begins to take control of this brawl as he hits a Flying Clothesline on Austin for a two count. Kane and Undertaker have been working together to keep Austin busy up until the point that The Dead Man clocks his brother by accident. There are a few words said between the two. Austin might just have a change in this. Minutes later, Austin throws Undertaker into Kane. More words are had.
Outside the ring Austin gets chucked into the announce table. Up at the top of the ramp however appear Patterson and Briscoe. They’re seemingly just here to make sure it’s all going right. The fight soon comes to them as the three combatants tussle up the aisle. Austin keeps trying to get something like a head of steam together but is soon cut down. Stone Cold manages to jump Briscoe at one stage just to make a point.
Back to the ring again and Undertaker rattles Austin with a chair shot, goes for the pin and finds himself being dragged off by Kane. The two brothers engage in a staredown. Undertaker then breaks a Kane pin attempt and the two then attack each other. Whatever agreement they had has now firmly dissolved. Kane teams with Austin to wear down Undertaker. The two brothers keep breaking up each other’s pinfall attempts. Kane and Undertaker manage to Clothesline each other and Austin uses this chance to go mental on both.
Eventually Kane and Undertaker manage to bury the hatchet to a small degree by Double Chokeslamming Austin but they both go for a pin at the same time and get three. There’s a sense of confusion around the arena and Vince storms down the aisle and grabs the title belt off the time keeper before taking off to the back again. Austin gives chase, punching a perplexed looking Sergeant Slaughter as he goes past. The closing shot of the PPV show is Austin standing in the car park as Vince leans out of his limo window screaming how the title is his. There are loud ‘Bullshit’ chants from the gathered crowd. If social media had been a thing in 1998 then it would have been ablaze upon witnessing this.
Breakdown might not be an official ‘In Your House’ event as they stopped a few months ago but it still carries the air of a filler show about it. The cage match is really good, the opening match has some interesting bits and the main event is a trademark Austin chaos fuelled brawl out but other than that there’s little to recommend.
Onwards then to Judgement Day, the one where they gave Austin the striped shirt for the night.