Thursday, 2 November 2017

PPV Review: WCW NWO Souled 1997

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Event Poster
January 25, 1997
Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Having dominated the professional wrestling landscape throughout the second half of 1996, there was no doubting that the New World Order was the hottest thing in professional wrestling. 

With this angle alone, WCW had cemented their reputation as the number one professional wrestling company of the 1990s, kicking off the decade's biggest boom period.

So you can understand the reasoning of WCW Executive Vice President and on-screen nWo boss Eric Bischoff when he created an entire Pay Per View centered exclusively around the nWo.

It was, in theory, a good idea, and at first glance, nWo Souled Out certainly looked a hell of a lot different than your typical pro wrestling event. Yet in a classic example of style of substance, the cool aesthetic of this show didn't exactly translate into quality, nor buyrates for that matter.

Here's what went down at the first -and only- NWO Souled Out, live from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Renegades Arrive 

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review -  Syxx
Our show tonight began with the arrival of the New World Order, traveling into the arena among a convoy of what I'm pretty sure were garbage trucks.

Ambulances ran along side, sirens blazed, and members of the nWo shouted and hollered as though they were having the time of their lives.

At one point, Syxx ran behind one of the garbage trucks and yelled 'look at me!' but then didn't actually do anything cool, or anything at all for that matter, so who knows what that was about.

The whole thing was shot in some murky, black-d and-white tone, really creating the impression that what we were witnessing here was the arrival of an apocalypse.

We Are In Control 

In many ways, it was.

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Eric Bischoff & Ted Dibiase commentated on the event
As we went to a pre-tapes vignette that saw Eric Bischoff ranting from a podium and other members of the nWo all shouting out various sound bites, it became obvious that what we were watching here was supposed to be a revolution: the death of pro wrestling as we knew it, and the birth of something altogether brand new.

Five minutes into this thing, the show finally cut to the arena, where Bischoff stood aloft the same podium as in the opening promo.

It was, admittedly, pretty sweet looking.

Things then got real boring, real quick, as nothing happened for several minutes apart from Easy E basking in the glory of his own creation. Finally, he was joined on commentary by Ted Dibiase, and we had ourselves our first contest.

Chris Jericho vs. Masahiro Chono 

As the two wrestlers made their way to the ring, we were shown a bunch of overweight bikers hanging around the entrance way, apparently to create the impression that this event was edgy and bad ass.


We were also shown a couple of average looking housewives hanging out on motorcycles. Apparently, these were 'babes.'

This must have been some different variation of the word 'babe' that I hadn't heard of because these girls were anything but.

As the match itself, it was about as good as it could be given the overall distraction of this whole event basically being one big gimmick.

Towards the start, Eric Bischoff noted on commentary just how successful the end had proven to be, and how they didn't have to give away tickets for free just to get people to come, a clear dig at the WWF Royal Rumble 1997 held the previous week which was famous for being heavily papered.

Whilst that was funny, the rest of the pro-nWo stuff quickly stopped being entertaining, and took away from what was otherwise a good opening match.

In the end, Chris Jericho got pushed off the top through a table on the outside, then kicked in the head and pinned by Masahiro Chono to make it nWo 1 - 0 WCW tonight.
Your Winner: Masahiro Chono


   

I should also point out that half way through that match, a bunch of WCW stars including Harlem Heat and Sister Sherri, Brian Knobs, The Faces of Fear, Arn Anderson, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and Debra McMichael all made their way out and took seats at ringside.

Crowning Miss nWo

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Jeff Katz interviews a Miss nWo Contestant
Up next, Eric Bischoff showed us photographs of some of the many women who had applied to be part of the Miss nWo contest. All the while, the crowd chanted 'boring, boring.'

They were right. It was.

Finally, Bischoff sent us to Jeff Katz, who asked two of the contestants a question each, both questions laden with sexual innuendo.

The women clearly hadn't bee told what to say, so they simply blushed and barely said anything at all.

Mexican Death Match Hugh Morrus (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Bubba

Though slow and sloppy in parts, this one did have its moments, and certainly wasn't the worst match ever.

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Big Bubba faced Hugh Morrus in a Mexican Death Match
That, however, is about the best I can say about it.

In the end, Big Bubba ran Hugh Morrus over with a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Seriously.

Morrus couldn't get to his feet before the count of ten, so this one was over.
Your Winner: Big Bubba 

Prior to the next match, Jeff Katz spoke to some more housewives on motorbikes.

Eric and Ted then told us about the nWo website, and with that, it was back to the ring.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Michael Wallstreet 

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Debra McMichael watched Jeff Jarrett from the crowd
This was a mostly boring match that was only made interesting by Debra McMichael spending most of it trying to convince hubby Mongo to help out Jeff Jarrett.

Eventually, he did, drilling Michael Wallstreet with his briefcase then threatening to beat up Nick Patrick if he didn't make the pin.

As such, Jarrett got the win to put the scores at nWo 2 - 1 WCW.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Afterwards, Debra declared Jarrett the winner whilst Arn Anderson looked on disapprovingly.

More Miss nWo nonsense followed, and then it was on to our next match.

Buff Bagwell vs. Scotty Riggs 

As parts of the whole anti-WCW gimmick, the good guys didn't have music, which of course denied us the chance to hear one of the greatest themes of all time:


That, however, was the least of anyone's problems with this match.

Though it did have its moments, the bout between the two tag team partners went about twice as long as it needed to.

To make matters worse,  the majority of this one was shot using a shaky, poor-quality camera that the production crew had been cutting to intermittently throughout the show.

Ted Dibiase tried to pass this off as some new, cutting edge filming technique, but honestly, it just looked dreadful.

In the end, Buff Bagwell debuted his new finisher, The Buff Blockbuster, hit Scotty Riggs with it, and scored the pin fall.
Your Winner: Buff Bagwell

Between that and the next match, the Miss nWo segments continued to get worse.

Not only could none of the women actually hear Jeff Katz, but it became very apparent that, even if they could, they'd never be able to respond to his suggestive questioning with anything like the kind of answers he was looking for due to this being a PG show and all.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Scott 'Flash' Norton

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Diamond Dallas Page faced Scott 'Flash' Norton
Having courted Diamond Dallas Page for months, the New World Order finally offered him membership on a recent episode of Nitro.

Page had faked joining, only to turn his back on the renegade outfit and cement the babyface turn that would catapult him to stardom.

Tonight, the nWo had sent Scott 'Flash' Norton out to get revenge in this rather nondescript little match.

Like much on this card, it wasn't exactly terrible, just not very interesting, either.

Towards the finish, DDP hit the Diamond Cutter, which prompted Buff Bagwell, flanked by Vincent, Michael Wallstreet, and Big Bubba, to come out and offer Page a second chance to join them.

In an exact repeat of the first time this happened on Nitro, Page faked joining and even put on an nWo t-shirt, but then hit Norton with another Diamond Cutter, beat up the nWo B-team, and ran off into the crowd.

Nick Patrick -who really deserved MVP of the night status- told us that he was awarded the match to Norton via count-out, and this one was done.
Your Winner Via Count Out: Scott Norton

Post match, an irate Buff yelled that Page would never get another chance to join them.

More Jeff Katz nonsense followed before we moved quickly onto our next match.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - The Outsiders defended the tag titles against The Steiner Brothers
Finally, we got ourselves a pretty enjoyable match.

OK, this wasn't exactly a masterpiece of technical wrestling, but both members of The Steiner Brothers and Scott Hall all showed up with their working boots on, whilst you have to  give at least a smidgen of credit to Kevin Nash who, despite being the weak link here, at least did an impressive job of selling some heavy Steiner suplexes.

Save for an extended period in the middle of the match that saw Rick Steiner playing the babyface-in-peril which bored the hell out of everybody in the arena (and yours truly), this was mostly fun to watch.

The end came when Nick Patrick took a tumble, Scott Steiner got the better of Scott Hall, and WCW official Randy Anderson ran from his seat into the crowd to count the pinfall.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Afterwards, Eric Bischoff ranted about what a great injustice this was and how he was going to get it cleared up with the WCW Championship Committee. Bischoff would indeed reverse the decision on Nitro, but for now it was certainly a great moment on an otherwise tedious show.

Ladder Match for the WCW United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Syxx

The story here was that Eddie Guerrero had won the vacant US title in a tournament final back at Starrcade 96, only for Syxx to come down, steal the belt, and declare himself the champion.

So, after the anonymous ring announcer introduced the actual champion as 'The Mexican Jumping Bean Eddie Guerrero' (gotta love some casual racism, right guys?) he then announced Syxx as 'The United States Champion of The World,' which was obviously dumb.


That aside, this was, not too surprisingly, the best match on the show so far by a million miles, and also one of the best of Sean Waltman's entire career.

A series of jaw-dropping aerial moves combined with some punishing ladder spots made this a joy to watch.

In the end, both men tussled for the title atop the ladder before Eddie hit Syxx square in the face with it, then kept the belt to win the match.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Afterwards, Eddie celebrated like he'd just won the belt for the first time, then headed into the crowd to share the glory with Brian Knobs, Arn Anderson, and The Faces of Fear.

Miss nWo Pageant

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Miss Lorie was a Miss nWo finalist
I always try to err on the side of optimism with these reviews, but even I don't have anything good to say about this.

It was just dumb.

None of the women really looked like they had a clue why they were there, and mostly just gurned awkwardly for the camera whilst Eric Bischoff took half a millennia to tell us that the least attractive woman there had won it. Bischoff then proceeded to snog the face off the woman in a move that was just too odd for words.

The woman then took her 'throne,' which was quite literally a toilet painted black and decorated with nWo logos.

Moving swiftly on

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant

Back at World War 3 1996, The Giant won a title shot against Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

This caused tension and meant that The Giant became the first person to leave the nWo after just a short period with the group.


Tonight was that shot and, for all intents and purposes, it was your typical Hulk Hogan main event - not the worst thing ever, but hardly enthralling stuff either.

After a few minutes of mediocre action, The Giant chokeslammed Hogan. Nick Patrick refused to count the pin, so The Giant chokeslammed him too.

This brought out Buff Bagwell and a bunch of nWo members, all of whom got more chokeslams.

Hulk Hogan then attacked his rival with a guitar, and this one was apparently over.
No Contest

Afterwards, the nWo spray painted their logo on The Giant's ass then randomly yelled stuff at the camera until the show went off the air.

---

And so the nWo Pay per View experiment came to an end. After everything I've said so far, you'd probably expect me to recommend avoiding this one, but that's not the case. 

Despite everything, NWO Souled Out 1997 is worth watching at least once, just for the novelty value, just don't expect to be entertained by much of what goes on in the ring. 

Indeed, the premise was solid here, but the execution was, sadly, piss poor. 

That being said, credit does have to be given to one Nick Patrick, who not only referred every single match on the card but did so with a charisma and enthusiasm that was unmatched, even among WCW's more animated referees. 

    

Next time, we'll go back to the WWF for In Your House: Final Four, before returning to WCW with Superbrawl VII. To keep up with all the latest reviews at Retro Pro Wrestling, like the Facebook page or follow along on Twitter @Retropwrestling

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1997

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.