Thursday, 26 July 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Souled Out 1998

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Event poster
January 24, 1998
Hara Arena, Trotwood, Ohio

In January 1997, World Championship Wrestling looked to capitalise on the runaway success of their New World Order angle by experimenting with a brand new concept: 

An entire nWo Pay Per View.

As you'll read in my WCW/NWO Souled Out '97 review, the event was a disaster.

In 1998 then, the company decided to do away with everything but the name as they launched their first PPV offering of the new year.

Here's what went down at Souled Out 1998.

Eric Bischoff is Building an Empire 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Eric Bischoff featured in the opening video
Our show tonight began with a reminder that Kevin Nash had been forced to put up a $1.5 million dollar bond to guarantee he'd show up at tonight's event for a match with The Giant, with the added clause that The Giant couldn't touch Nash in the meantime.

This was edited in between clips of Eric Bischoff stood rubbing his hands together and making vague statements about building an empire which didn't seem to make much sense.

From there, we went to the classic announce team of Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, who told us that not only was Nash definitely here, but that we'd also get a dream match between 13-time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

From there, it was on with show.

Eight Man Lucha Libre Match
Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., and Chaco Guerrero Jr., vs. La Parka, Silver King, Psicosis, and El Dandy 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., Chavo Guerrero and Juventud Guerrera won an 8 man lucha mach
Throughout 1997 -and even a bit before- the likes of Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio Jr. had done a great job in making the company's Cruiserweight mean something important by forgoing the spot-orientated lucha style in favour of something that really mattered.

The result was a series of incredible pro wrestling matches such as Eddie vs. Rey at Halloween Havoc 1997 - matches that meant something, matches that had drama and emotion on top of just a bunch of cool flippy-spots.

But hey, sometimes a bunch of cool flippy-spots could be fun too, and tonight's opening contest proved that.

Ok, so there was nothing here that was groundbreaking, or that even mattered outside the confines of the match itself, but it was great fun and included some terrific spots, including Silver King hitting a suicide dive onto nobody and splatting himself to death.

After almost everyone else threw themselves to the outside with a bunch of dives, Chavo Guerrero and Psicosis were left in the ring.

Chavo hit a tornado DDT from the top rope, and this fun little match was over.
Your Winners: Chavo Guerrero Jr., Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, and Lizmark Jr. 

Afterwards, the batshit crazy La Parka went batshit crazy and took out everybody -including his own teammates- with a chair.

Mean Gene Okerlund then shilled the hotline for a bit and then it was on to our next contest.

Anything Goes Match
Raven vs. Chris Benoit 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Chris Benoit beat Raven
Raven came to the ring with The Flock but, unlike at Starrcade 1997, when he had Saturn substitute for him, officials had ordered that Raven had to compete and The Flock were banned from ringside.

Raven, proving that he was enough before emo was cool, took to the microphone to claim that he didn't care about being alone because he had no friends in school.

He then went to war with Chris Benoit in a solid effort that brought a whole new level of brutality to WCW.

Though both men would have better matches with other people, they worked well together to deliver a good, no-holds-barred match which ended when Raven passed out in the Crippler crossface.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Afterwards, The Flock attacked Benoit but Dean Malenko made the save as the announcers wondered aloud why he'd come to Benoit's aid.

The two shared a nod of mutual respect, and then it was on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Chris Jericho 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Chris Jericho beat Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight title
Lion Heat Chris Jericho was still in the early stages of the heel persona that made him one of the most entertaining things about WCW in the late 90a, but already he was infinitely more enjoyable than he'd been in his cheesy-babyface days.

Here, he challenged Rey Mysterio Jr. for the Cruiserweight Championship in what would be the first of many incredible matches the two would have over the years.

After a very good effort, Jericho slapped on the Lion Tamer to win his third Cruiserweight title.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho 

Afterwards, Jericho was so upset that the crowd were booing him that he took it out on Mysterio and destroyed the now-ex champion's knee using the ring steps before sauntering backstage muttering that he was sorry.

An Update on the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - JJ Dillon and Rowdy Roddy Piper announced Hogan vs. Sting II for Superbrawl
After the shenanigans that went down at the end of Hogan vs. Sting at Starrcade 1997, J.J. Dillon had declared the World Heavyweight Championship vacant.

Tonight, Dillon, standing in the ring with Mean Gene, asked the man who had originally booked Hollywood Hogan vs. Sting, Rowdy Roddy Piper, to come to the ring.

Piper, who hadn't been seen since he beat Hogan at Halloween Havoc 97, announced that it was up to him to decide what happened to the title.

Piper called out Sting, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and Scott Hall, then announced that even though Hall had earned a championship match at Superbrawl as a result of winning World War 3 1997, Hall's title shot had been postponed and instead, the Superbrawl main event would be a rematch of Hogan vs. Sting for the vacant title.

Hogan urged Hall to help him beat up Sting, but instead the Outsider merely walked off, disgusted.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World TV Champion Booker T vs. Rick Martel 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Rick Martel challenged Booker T for the TV title
The last time we saw Rick Martel on a PPV, it was at 1995 Royal Rumble, when he made a cameo in the Rumble match.

The last time we saw him in a singles match on PPV, it was at the 1992 Survivor Series in a match with Tatanka.

Here, he proved that he hadn't missed a step in his years away by challenging Booker T - making his first singles championship match on PPV- in another good outing.

After a very enjoyable bout, Booker retained the title thanks to the Harlem Hangover.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Booker T 

Afterwards, Martel gave Booker his title belt and the two shook hands. Perry Saturn then ran out and attacked Martel, prompting Booker to come back for the save.

Scott Hall (w/ Louis Spicolli) vs. Larry Zybysko (w/ Dusty Rhodes)


WCW Souled Out 1998 - Dusty Rhodes turned heel and joined the NWO
As an announcer, Living Legend Larry Zybysko had been more than a little vocal about his hatred of the New World Order, leading to an eventual war of words with nWo founder, Scott Hall.

Things had escalated Fall Brawl 1997, when Zybysko had counted the fall in Hall's match with Lex Luger, and then even further at Starrcade, when Larry beat Eric Bischoff for control of Nitro and Hall got involved.

Tonight, the two would finally meet in a 'hotly anticipated' one-on-one match that saw Hall seconded by his lackey, Louis Spicolli, and Zybysko getting a big pop for revealing that Dusty Rhodes would be his corner man.

The match itself was better than it should have been given that one of the participants had been retired for a few years, but took an awkward turn when the fans decided to blow the roof off with a loud 'Larry Sucks!' chant.

I'm the end, Zybysko 'played possum' and lured Hall into a submission hold.

Louis Spicolli ran in and hit Larry, and this one was over.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Larry Zybysko 

Afterwards, Dusty came in and once again got the biggest pop of the night for destroying Spicolli with a series of bionic elbows, but then also hit Larry with an elbow.

That was the cue to reveal that he was actually part of the New World Order, and that he'd, I don't know, been faking it with Spicolli because the two embraced just as much as Dusty and Hall did.

The fans were upset, but not as upset as Tony Schiavone, who was so heartbroken at his friend's betrayal that he refused to speak for a few minutes, leaving Bobby Heenan to hold the fort by himself.

Six Man Tag Team Match
Team nWo - Konnan, Buff Bagwell, and Scott Norton (w/ Vincent) vs. Ray Traylor and The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Rick Steiner face mauls Buff Bagwell
There were two stories here that took centre stage above all the action.

One was the dissension between Rick and Scott Steiner, with the latter becoming a roid-raging glory hog in recent weeks, and this being ignored by his teammates, and the other being Schiavone's disbelief over Dusty Rhodes' betrayal.

Tony was so messed up that he got Mike Tenay to come out and pick up the slack.

When he did speak, Tony told us that the reason the crowds were so quiet was because they were also in shock about the American Dream joining the nWo, and not because the match was boring, which it was.

After brother Rick played babyface in peril for about a thousand years, Scott got the tag and took out Scott Norton for the win.
Your Winners: Ray Traylor and The Steiners 

Afterwards, Scotty seemed to want to get into a posedown with Buff Bagwell, but Buff merely gave him a knowing look and walked off, smiling.

Kevin Nash (w/ Eric Bischoff & Hollywood Hogan) vs. The Giant 

I'm sure that this match has its fans, but I'm also sure I'm not one of them.


After a dull and sloppy effort, Eric Bischoff tried to get involved in the action and got chokeslammed for his trouble.

The distraction allowed Kevin Nash to throw steaming hot coffee in his opponent's face, and then pick him up and drop him like a sack of shit in a poor imitation of a jackknife powerbomb for the win.
Your Winner: Kevin Nash 

After medical staff bandaged The Giant's eyes and helped him to the back, we got a weird commercial for Superbrawl VIII featuring Diamond Dallas Page in a tattoo parlour and some goofy dude in a suit getting the world title belt tattooed on his forearm.

Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Bret Hart beat Ric Fair in his debut WCW match
Wrestling in his first PPV match since Survivor Series 1997 and his first WCW match ever, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart went one-on-one with the man he beat to capture his first WWF Championship back in 1992, Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Despite the lack of an on-screen rivalry, the match was billed an as a battle to see which of the two top stars really was 'the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.'

What they ultimately proved, was that both men were capable of great matches, even though this one was perhaps not quite as good as it could have been.

Don't get me wrong, it was still a highly enjoyable effort, and by far the best match on the show, but there were still moments when it seemed to lack a little something.

The end came with a solid win for The Hitman courtesy of The Sharpshooter.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Moving quickly on, it was down to our main event of the evening.

Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Lex Luger

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Randy Savage faced Lex Luger in the main event
Well, I say it's the main event, and so did Michael Buffer, but Macho Man Randy Savage and Lex Luger felt like an afterthought, especially since the announcers hadn't mentioned it, not once, not even briefly, all evening.

Honestly, I had no idea this match was happening until it happened, and when it did, it was better than expected.

Ok, so the crowd were pretty dead, and if anything this one felt like a Nitro main vent rather than a PPV outing, but it was still pretty fun.

Most of that fun came from Miss Elizabeth running interference on behalf of her man, and Luger having to keep her at bay whilst still fighting off Savage.

In the end, Scott Hall came down with a chair to, I assume, help Savage, but Hogan came down and stopped Hall from getting involved.

Luger then sent Savage hurtling into Hall, who fell off the apron.

A torture rack later and this one was over.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Except it wasn't really.


Hogan and the nWo (minus Hall) attacked Luger, then Sting came down to clean house as Souled Out came to an end.



So, was Souled Out any better when it wasn't an nWo-only PPV?

In short, yes, yes it was.

OK, so Souled Out 1998 wasn't the greatest show of all time, but it was a good start to the year for World Championship Wrestling and did contain some genuinely enjoyable matches.

The opening luchadore outing plus Jericho/Mysterio and Hart/Flair are all worth your time, whilst the stuff in between didn't suck so hard as to take the shine off those matches.

Not must-see viewing by any stretch, but a decent show overall.




1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1998 
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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.