Thursday, 17 January 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Souled Out 1999

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Event poster
January 17, 1999 
Charleston Civic Center, Charleston, West Virginia

From the summer of 1996 to the winter of 1997, there was no hotter wrestling company on the planet than World Championship Wrestling. 

Already giving the World Wrestling Federation a serious run for its money with their flagship Monday Nitro broadcasts, the company found all new levels of success with the arrival of Scott Hall & Kevin Nash.

When that particular band of Outsiders were joined by Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach 1996, a New World Order of wrestling was formed (brother) that catapulted WCW into the stratosphere.

For over a year, the Turner-owned enterprise was seemingly untouchable. It seemed as though they could do no wrong...

Until they did.






In December 1997, they promoted Starrcade 1997, headlined by a match between Hogan and Sting which had been a year in the making and which still gets talked about today as one of the most perfect examples of long-term booking ever carried out in pro wrestling.

Yet the disastrous, laughable finish to that match would serve as the catalyst for the company's gradual decline.

As 1997 turned into 1998, the brand would begin to lose their stronghold over the pro wrestling industry and, as the year went on, one bad decision after another saw the company spiralling out of control.

But hey, that was then, and this was now.

1999 was upon us, and World Championship Wrestling had a whole new opportunity to prove that they could turn things around and reestablish their dominance.

Would they seize that opportunity tonight on this, their first Pay-Per-View of the new year? Or would Souled Out 1999 prove to be just another step towards the eventual demise of one of what was formerly the hottest wrestling company on the planet?

Let's head to Charleston, West Virginia to find out.

WCW is back in charge

WCW Souled Out 1999 - WCW President - Ric Flair
In place of the usual opening video, we began tonight's broadcast with the voice of Tony Schiavone saying "we interrupt this broadcast for a special announcement."

This was literally the first thing that happened. The broadcast hadn't even begun yet, so there was technically nothing to interrupt, but hey, let's not dwell on that too much, shall we? I'm sure there'll be things much more dumb than that on tonight's show.

Anyway, the special announcement came from WCW President Nature Boy Ric Flair, who was shown delivering a press conference as though he were the actual President of the United States giving a State of the Union address.

Flair told us that "WCW is back in charge" and that he would lead an army of hundreds in ensuring that the nWo never took over again.

Just to prove that WCW had won the battle against their New World Order rivals, the nWo logo was crossed out in the official WCW/NWO Souled Out 1999 graphic.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
You could see this clearly from the announce table where Schiavone, joined by Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, welcomed us to the show.

The trio reminded us of the ending to Starrcade 1998, in which Scott Hall used a taser to help Kevin Nash beat Goldberg for the WCW title and how that had led us to a "stun gun on a ladder" match between Hall and Goldberg later on tonight.

I'll remind you that Vince Russo didn't join WCW until September of that year.

Speaking of Goldberg, we cut to a shot of him sitting on the floor of his locker room and clutching his ankle as though he'd been attacked.

The announcers also told us that 19-year-old David Flair would be making his pro wrestling debut here, volunteering to help out his father, Ric, after two of the WCW President's allies had turned their backs on him.

We'll get to that fun story later. For now, let's get to the ring.

Mean Mike Enos vs. Chris Benoit

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Mike Enos faced Chris Benoit
WCW's Random Match Generator strikes again.

The company had a long history of throwing odd matches onto PPV for no reason, and this, apparently, was one of them.

Chris Benoit was part of the reunited Four Horsemen and came out with that totally awesome Horsemen theme, whereas Mean Mike Enos was...well, Mike Enos was  basically Generic Bad Guy Wrestler in Black Trunks #1589.

Not that Enos' lack of star power had any negative impact on this match.

The former Beverley Brother dominated the bulk of this solid, hard-hitting contest and though he did spend too much time spitting on his opponent for this writer's liking, he did at least look good here.

Alas, it wasn't to be Enos' day.

The Cripper slapped on the crossface to pick up the win at the end of a reasonably enjoyable opening match.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

Moving on...

Norman Smiley vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Norman Smiley faced Chavo Guerrero Jr
Remember that time Chavo Guerero's gimmick was that he was crazy and rode around on a wooden hobby horse called Pepe?

That time was now over because, apparently, Norman Smiley had kidnapped said toy horse and ground it down into sawdust.

Tonight, he brought that sawdust with him in an urn, leaving Chavo to come out horseless and looking for revenge.

Unfortunately for the third generation star, he wouldn't get it.

Smiley controlled the bulk of this really enjoyable match, using a combination of European-style stretching and some typical American pro wrestling spots to hurt his opponent from bell to bell.

Sure, Chavo got some offence in, but this was 90% Norman and 100% fun.

Though not a technical classic, Smiley's larger-than-life personality and unique offence made it a tremendous watch.

In the end, Guerrero looked to be mounting a comeback so Smiley threw Pepe dust in his opponent's eyes and locked him in a chicken wing for the count.
Your Winner: Norman Smiley

Out in the Internet Location, Konnan told Mark Madden that he was going to find out who made the call to kick him out of the nWo. He was going to hunt that person down and, when he caught them, he was going to beat them up.

Konnan sounded either super stoned or super tired here. Whichever it was, he didn't come off well.

Fit Finlay vs. Van Hammer

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Van Hammer faced Fit Finlay
Nothing says 'top-level PPV quality' quite like a Van Hammer match.

Towering over most of his opponents with his well-defined body and long, blonde hair, the WCW veteran had always had 'the look.' Unfortunately, he'd never had much of anything else, especially not the ability to put on an exciting match.

That was particularly evident here as he went up against Fit Finlay in a tremendously tedious contest.

Like Norman Smiley before him, Finlay brought plenty of European-style offence to the table. Unlike Smiley, Finlay had an opponent who wasn't capable of selling that offence in a way that created any excitement.

Not that Hammer's own offence was much better.

After several minutes of inaction that put the crowd to sleep, Finlay emerged victorious thanks to the tombstone piledriver.
Your Winner: Fit Finlay

Up next, we were reminded of Ric Flair's rivalry with Curt Hennig and Barry Windham.

More specifically, we were reminded of the time on Nitro when a fresh-faced David Flair volunteered to help Ric take down the future West Texas Rednecks. Flair had initially been reluctant, but his buddy, Arn Anderson, had encouraged Nature Boy to let David compete.

If this were any other wrestling show, this would be the point where I'd say "that match was next," but this was WCW, so naturally, it wasn't.

Wrath vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Wrath
What was next was this; a match which, while decent, went on for far too long.

When you get a match between two big men like Wrath and Bam Bam Bigelow, you want it to be short, explosive and high-impact.

This was none of those things.

Sure, there was some high-impact offence here and there, but for the most part, both men tried to wrestle a match that was more befitting men half their size.

So, while some parts were enjoyable, others were a chore to watch.

In the end, Bigelow used Greetings From Asbury Park to get the three.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Toss my salad and peel my potatoes...


"Yo, yo, yo, let me speak on this!"
WCW Souled Out 1999 - Konnan faced Lex Luger
If Konnan was angry about being kicked out of the Wolfpac by Kevin Nash and Lex Luger, he certainly didn't show it.

He danced his way down to the ring and then took to the microphone to warm up the crowd.

After doing the whole "bowdy-bowdy" thing, K-Dogg told us about all the different types of salad dressing, then encouraged Luger to "get ready to bow down, toss my salad and peel my potatoes."

I may be naive, but to this day I still don't know what "peel my potatoes" actually means.

What I do know, is that of all the things Konnan had ever said, this was the one thing the producers of the WCW Mayhem music album chose to immortalise in one of the songs from that album.

Konnan vs. Lex Luger

Throughout his career, Lex Luger always worked best as a heel.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Konnan vs Lex Luger
It was in the role of the villain that The Total Package displayed a level of captivating charisma that was simply non-existent as a babyface.

Here, he displayed that charisma in spades when took to the microphone to tell Konnan that despite having a lot of love for him, K-Dogg just wasn't able to make the cut. He then offered his opponent the chance to walk out and forfeit the match, saving himself from a beat down.

Naturally, Konnan responded by clocking Luger, and this one was on.

Like Wrath/Bigelow before it, this one went on for far too long, but it also proved to be the first time all evening that the crowd would really come alive.

Indeed, whereas the Charleston faithful had been relatively quiet since the start of the show, they exploded in the early going as Konnan finally got his revenge over Luger, and remained very vocal for the rest of the match.

That made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable to watch, especially as it looked as though Konnan would get the big win the fans were hoping for.

Alas, it wasn't to be.

Just as he had Luger in the Tequila Sunrise, Miss Elizabeth came to the ring looking absolutely gorgeous and sprayed him in the eyes with what the announcers told us was black spray paint, but which I believe would later be revealed to be mace.

That gave Luger the opportunity to break free, apply the Torture Rack, and win the match.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Afterwards, Konnan was helped to the back by Mickie Jay and WCW's trainer.

Loser Wears a Dress Match
Perry Saturn vs. Chris Jericho (w/ Ralphus)

Before the bell, Tony Schiavone told us that Saturn and referee Scott Dickinson had broken into the business together but had recently had some sort of falling out.


The disagreement had been fuelled by Chris Jericho telling Dickinson that Saturn hated him, and was played out here by the referee and Saturn having words in the early going.

So, that was basically the ending of the match telegraphed well in advance, but despite the obvious spoiler, this was still the best match on the card so far.

It was interesting watching Jericho here at the start of 1999, knowing where he'd be by the time the year was done. He came to the ring with Ralphus in tow, carrying a brown paper bag which contained the dress the loser would have to wear when they lost.

Locking up with Saturn, the two engaged in a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest that was a pure joy to watch.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Chris Jericho & RalphusNo, it wasn't the greatest match of all time, but compared to what had gone before it, this was five-star classic stuff.

After a gripping see-saw battle, Saturn rolled up Jericho and looked to have the match won.

Dickinson grabbed Jericho's foot to help him reverse the pin attempt, made the predictable move of a fast-count, and gave the match to the soon-to-be Y2J.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Post-match, Dickinson laughed with Jericho as Saturn was forced to slip into a leopard print dress. The former ECW star's latest gimmick was born.

David Flair wants to be David Flair

Out in the Internet Location, David Flair displayed all the personality of an emotionally-stunted biscuit when he said that he wanted to walk out of the arena tonight being known as David Flair and not just Ric Flair's son.

Obviously, the best way to step out from his father's shadow was to team with his father in his debut match. Or something...

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Four-Corners Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio Jr.
You know, it occurs to me only now that this is the only championship match on the PPV. Interesting.

It also occurs to me that this is a dumb concept. Two men start the match and any wrestler can tag any other wrestler. Whoever scores the pinfall becomes the Cruiserweight Champion.

So, if you wanted to be the champion, why would you even tag out in the first place?

The problem with this concept was easily solved by having the wrestlers basically ignore the whole concept in the first place.

Sure, things started out in traditional four-corners fashion, but it eventually broke down into a four-way free-for-all that offered lots of entertaining spots.

Granted, it didn't offer much other than spots, but it's worth mentioning that "spotfests" in and of themselves aren't universally terrible. Placed in the right position on the card and used sparingly, they can be useful in adding a bit of fun to a pro wrestling show, and that's exactly what this one did.

Following a whole bunch of cruiserweight craziness, Kidman hit the Shooting Star Press on Juventud Guerrera to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Billy Kidman

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Chris Jericho confronts Booker T
Out in the back, a be-suited Booker T was seen talking to WCW.com's Mark Madden about Chris Jericho's victory over Perry Saturn.

It was at that moment that Jericho himself turned up and got into an argument with the former Harlem Heat member.

Booker accused Jericho's of "having the referee in your pocket" whilst Jericho argued that "it's not my fault I won the match," which, when you think about it, is a dumb thing to say.

Predictably, this argument led to the two men agreeing to face each other the following night on Nitro.

Curt Hennig & Barry Windham vs. WCW President Nature Boy Ric Flair & David Flair (w/ Arn Anderson)

Hennig was still part of the nWo here, but Windham, apparently, was not. Not that it stopped him from being just as callous on the microphone as he and Curt Hennig traded verbal jabs with the Nature Boy.

At one point, Flair told Hennig & Windham that unless they wanted to "go work for the WWF" they had better stop their talking and start fighting.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Ric Flair teamed with David Flair
They soon did, but not before David Flair spent a few minutes convincing Ric to let him start the match against Barry Windham.

Though all this stalling took a while, it did at least mean that the crowd were more than pumped up to see Windham and Flair Jr. go at it.

At one point, Windham went for a bodyslam which David countered with a headscissor take over and the crowd erupted like they'd just seen Goldberg spear the s**t out of somebody.

Yet just when it looked the youngster would prove to be a chip off the old black, things quickly deteriorated.

The two men regrouped and locked up again. David Flair wrestled his way into an advantage, but when he went for a hip toss, he basically slipped his arm around Windham's waist and forced Windham to hiptoss himself.

It was a horrible looking move that elicited some serious cringe.

Fortunately, that was almost the last offensive thing David Flair would do all match.

Ric tug in, and what we got from here was essentially a handicap match, with David playing the traditional role of "dumb babyface who keeps trying to help his partner but only succeeds in distracting the referee."

Though not a technical masterpiece, this was a decidedly old-school match that did have a lot to offer.

Eventually, Arn Anderson hit Curt Hennig over the back of the head with a tire iron then threw a lifeless David Flair on top of him. Flair, who had just been beaten up, lay prone over Hennig as the referee counted to three.
Your Winners: Ric & David Flair

The bell ringing was not the end of this one.

Very quickly, the nWo Job Squad ran out and began to attack Anderson and Ric Flair whilst David looked on, helpless.

Chris Benoit ran to the rescue, but the numbers proved too much and he too was beaten up. The numbers continued to swell with the arrival of the nWo Wolfpac - that being Kevin Nash, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger, Scott Steiner and Hollywood Hulk Hogan himself.

WCW Souled Out 1999 -Hulk Hogan taunts Ric Flair & David Flair
As Ric was handcuffed to the ring post, the dastardly nWo men stretched out David, sprayed "EZE" on his back (for Eric Bischoff) then proceeded to whip him with Hogan's belt.

Though this whole post-match angle did go on a little bit too long, it was nonetheless very effective. The sight of Ric Flair, handcuffed to the ropes and crying his eyes out as he tried to shield his battered son from the wrath of the evil New World Order was harrowing.

Indeed, if the whole point of pro wrestling is to elicit emotion, then this was one angle that was perfectly executed. You couldn't help but feel for Flair and hope and pray that somebody would come to the fallen hero's rescue.

Nobody did, and the bad guys simply walked away, ready to fight another day.

Finally, after a brief video package recounting the rivalry between Scott Hall and Goldberg, it was on to our main event.

Stun Gun Ladder Match
Scott Hall vs. Goldberg

WCW Souled Out 1999 -Scott Hall faced Goldberg in a ladder match
Well, what a mess this was.

At Wrestlemania 10, Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels had introduced mainstream audiences to the concept of the ladder match in what is still remembered today as one of the greatest matches of its genre.

A year later, at Summerslam 1995, he and Michaels did it again, putting on another classic that helped both men cement their status as Masters of the Ladder Match.

Three-and-a-half years later, however, Scott Hall showed absolutely no signs of being the same man that had battled Michaels back in the mid-90s.

He began tonight's main event by taking to the microphone and gloating about how he'd cost Goldberg the title at Starrcade '98. He then also reminded us of that shot we'd seen at the start of the show where Goldberg was on the floor, clutching his injured leg. Hall told us that because Goldberg was hurt, he wouldn't be competing tonight.

Michael Buffer disagreed, apologising for "that false statement from Scott Hall" and introducing the former WCW Champion.

What followed was a sloppy, sluggish horror of a match that was far removed from Hall's classics with HBK.

Even when Goldberg was busted wide open, and even when he pushed Hall off the ladder a bunch of times, nothing could escape the fact that this was a truly horrible match.

Part of the problem, of course, was that Goldberg was trying hard to sell the injury to his leg that Hall had mentioned earlier. However, he seemed to be focussing so hard on selling the leg that he became incapable of doing anything interesting.

It was painful to watch.

At one point, Goldberg looked to have the match won. He was at the top of the ladder, about to claim the stun gun that he'd need to zap Hall with to win the match. Instead, Disco Inferno -of all people- ran out and pushed Goldberg off.

Hall then got the stun gun, but the match wasn't over.

Again, you had to zap your opponent in order to win.

Goldberg blocked Hall's attempt to zap him, took the gun and teased zapping Hall with it for several millennia.

Instead, he threw it in the air and then hit Hall with a spear and a jackknife.

At that point, the camera crew messed up and spoiled a surprise by cutting to the entrance way even though nobody was there.

Back in the ring, Goldberg stunned Hall and won this atrocity of a match.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Immediately, Bam Bam Bigelow popped up and started attacking Goldberg, but Hall recovered from being zapped by a stun gun as if it was nothing and proceeded to zap both Goldberg and Bigelow with it.

It was -as many things in WCW were- stupid.





So, was Souled Out 1999 the start of a new era for World Championship Wrestling?

Was this the start of them putting their past mistakes behind them and turning things around? 

In a word, no. 

Apart from that ridiculous and awful main event, there wasn't much here that was on the level of the miserable mistakes WCW had made in the past, but there was nothing that gave you any hope for the future, either. 

Yes, Smiley/Guerrero was a fun little undercard match, and yes, Jericho and Saturn tore it up as best they could and subtly earned themselves Match of the Night honours, but there was nothing here to get overly excited about. 

All in all, it was just another forgettable pro wrestling show; the kind of thing you might feel OK about watching to pass the time on a boring Sunday afternoon, but not the sort of thing you're ever going to recommend to friends.



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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.