Thursday, 21 November 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Souled Out 2000

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Event poster
January 16, 2000
Firstar Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Anyone who regularly follows Retro Pro Wrestling will know that reviewing World Championship Wrestling's 1999 PPVs just about killed me off.

The company had started the last year of the decade pretty well but, by December, they were in a creative mess. One by one, each successive pay per view somehow got worse and worse.

Throughout the year, most of the company's top stars mentally checked out. The majority of the matches ranged from mediocre to atrocious, and many of the booking decisions were either dumb, nonsensical, or completely frustrating.

Honestly, watching them was just a trying experience that I almost gave up on this blog altogether.

Still, it's the start of a new year, so maybe, just maybe, the company could turn it around for one last creative hoorah before they shut up shop a year or so later.

Of course, we all know that they didn't.






WCW's last full calendar year of shows has been universally panned as one of their worst ever.

Still, if I'm ever going to survive, I need simply to live in denial about this and hold on to the hope that somewhere, among all the garbage, there's a few gems.

Off to a good start

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schavione, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Even at their creative peak, WCW's opening video packages had always been pretty terrible, so it was a good sign that Souled Out 2000 didn't have one. Instead, we got a cold open that took us straight to the announce table.

Even more good news came in the form of Mike Tenay, who was back where he should have been, taking his rightful place next to Tony Schiavone and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan after being replaced by the mediocre Scott Hudson at last month's Starrcade 1999.

The trio told us that the card had changed slightly due to injuries to Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jeff Jarrett. Those two had been taken off the card and their respective opponents, Sid Vicious and Chris Benoit would now face each other for the vacant WCW title.

The injury to The Hitman, was, of course, the one that would bring his career to an end that year, though for now, even news that The Best There Is... was hurt couldn't ruin the optimism that this just might be a good show.

Sadly, there was one thing that could:

A look at the card.

With each match represented by a crappy graphic that looked like your technology-illiterate grandma had knocked it up on Microsoft Paint, we were told to look forward to such highlights as Tank Abbott vs. Jerry Flynn, Madusa vs. Oklahoma and Kevin Nash vs. Terry Funk.

Still, at least the opening match looked promising:

Triple Threat Theatre: Match 1 - Catch-as-Catch-Can
Billy Kidman vs. Dean Malenko

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Billy Kidman faced Dean Malenko in the opening match
Triple Threat Theatre basically meant that Billy Kidman had three separate matches tonight. However, these weren't one after the other, gauntlet style, because that would make too much sense.

Instead, they would be split up throughout the show, with a different stipulation for each one.

The stipulation here was 'catch-as-catch-can,' or in Plain English - actual wrestling.

As part of catch-as-catch-can rules, one stipulation was that you couldn't leave the ring. If both feet touched the floor, you lost the match. The announcers told us that this was to stop Kidman running away, even though he was the babyface.

At any other time in the company's history,  Dean Malenko vs. Kidman could have been a classic, but in January 2000, it was barely a match at all.

After about a minute and a half of action, Billy caught Dean with a flurry of offence. Reacting on instinct, The Man of 1,000 Holds obviously forgot the entire concept of the match and bailed to the outside.

When he returned, referee Charles Robison called for the bell.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Billy Kidman

Post-match, both Kidman and Malenko looked furious and stormed off backstage. I'm normally a believer that everything I see on a pro wrestling show is a work, but this was clearly two men who were irate that the finish of their match had been screwed up.

Vampiro hates David Flair

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Masahiro Chono randomly interrupted Vampiro's promo
Prior to the next bout, we were shown a video package which recapped Vampiro's feud with David Flair, Crowbar and Daffney. The video package was supposed to help us understand the story between them, but alas, it made about as much sense as, well, as anything else in WCW at the time.

Out in the back, Scott Hudson tried to interview Vampiro about the rivalry, but instead Masahiro Chono, of all people, randomly arrived on the scene and began ranting in Japanese to the camera.

Vamp confronted Chono, but before the two could come to blows, we cut to another part of the arena where Mean Gene Okerlund was standing by with David Flair, Crowbar, and Daffney.

Say what you want about Flair, he had his whole 'sick and demented' thing down to a tee here as he vowed to break Vampiro's bones. Crowbar added that he would then tear Vampiro's flesh and Daffney, that crazy little goth princess, vowed that she would simply pick apart what's left.

That match was next

Three-Way Dance
WCW Tag Team Champion David Flair (w/ Daffney) vs. Crowbar (also w/ Daffney) vs. Vampiro

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Vampiro faced David Flair and Crowbar
It would have made more sense to call this a handicap match, which is probably the exact reason why WCW didn't do it.

Regardless as to what you call it, this was at least a pretty entertaining contest that worked by keeping Flair's contributions to a minimum and having the talented Crowbar (Devon Storm) tear it up with Vampiro.

At one point, Flair did get involved to slap the figure four on Vampiro while his partner catapulted over the ropes and splashed him (Vampiro), but a jealous David prevented Crowbar from getting the fall.

The two almost came to blows, but instead, Flair proved himself to be his father's son by stopping for kisses with Daffney.

Not long after, he succumbed to Vampiro's Nail in the Coffin and this one was over.
Your Winner: Vampiro

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Disco Inferno and The Mamalukes
Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund was standing by for an interview with The Mamalukes, although apparently they didn't like that name and it wasn't officially what they were called.

Anyway, Tony Marinara said he had better things to do, and so simply left it up to Big Vito to generally talk up the team ahead of their next match. In a fairly average segment, Vito claimed that, with Disco Inferno in their corner, he and Johnny The Bull had nothing to worry about in their match with The Harris Boys.

Disco, however, wasn't so sure he could help.

The Harris Boys (Ron & Don Harris) vs. Big Vito & Johnny The Bull (w/ Disco Inferno)

WCW Souled Out 2000 - The Mamalukes battled Ron & Don Harris
The story here was that Disco was a reluctant member of WCW's resident Italian mobster family and didn't really want to help out at all.

So he simply stood by and watched as Big Vito and Johnny The Bull engaged in a respectably decent tag team contest. This one was never going to set the world on fire, but it did at least hold it's own as a serviceable mid-card bout.

In the end, Vito climbed to the top rope and Disco pushed him off, hoping to cost The Mamalukes the match. Instead, he pushed Vito right onto Ron or Don Harris. A three count later, and Vito genuinely believed Disco had helped him win the match.
Your Winners: Big Vito & Johnny The Bull

Afterwards, Vito embraced a dumbfounded Disco Inferno and claimed to have a new member of the family.

Out in the back, Madusa talked to her new valet/friend/random person Nitro Girl Spice about how badly she was going to beat Oklahoma for the Cruiserweight Championship.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Championship Madusa (w/ Spice) vs. Oklahoma

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Oklahoma defended the cruiserweight title against Madusa
Over the years, the Cruiserweight Championship had given us many an epic battle. Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio Jr., Ultimo Dragon, Juventud Guerrera, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and others had all given us so many incredible matches for the title but now, now the Cruiserweight Championship had been reduced to playing an unnecessary role in a joke that nobody found funny.

Madusa had beaten her ex-lover Evan Karagious for the title last month at Starrcade and was still technically the champion, but Oklahoma had the belt because if history has taught us anything, it's that WCW couldn't go more than 90 days without repeating the "heel steals the face's title belt" story.

Prior to the bell, Oki got on the microphone for some cheap heel heat by declaring that even though he wasn't an athlete, he was a man, and since males were the superior and dominant species, he would easily whoop Madusa.

If they'd just had Madusa come out and quickly destroy the challenger for a big pop, this could have been tremendous. Instead, they tried to work a competitive match which wasn't offensively bad or anything but was more than anybody wanted to see.

At one point, Aysa came down to exact some revenge on Oklahoma for an incident that had occurred on Nitro. Yet just when it looked like the challenger was outnumbered by three women, he managed to tug on the weird skirt thing Madusa was wearing and roll her up for the pin.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Oklahoma.

Yes, you really did just read that.

Afterwards, Spice and Aysa both held the new champion in place while Madusa poured barbeque sauce over his face and down his singlet, leaving Oklahoma and battered and messy disgrace.

The Student Has Become The Master

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Brian Knobs
Out in the back, new WCW Hardcore Champion Brian Knobs gave credit to Fit Finlay for his recent career resurgence but also promised to destroy Finlay in the upcoming Four the Hard Way match because the student, according to Knobs, had now become the master.

This promo was about a thousand times better than hearing Knobs talk about how nasty he is.

Four the Hard Way match for the World Championship Wrestling World Hardcore Championship
WCW Hardcore Champion Brian Knobs vs. Screamin' Norman Smiley vs. Fit Finlay vs. Meng

'Four The Hard Way' was basically a cute-but-dumb name for a fatal four-way hardcore match. Get it? Because there was four of them and 'four' sounds like 'for' and 'for the hard way,' is erm...something, I guess?

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Brian Knobs successfully defended the WCW Hardcore title against Meng and Norman Smiley
Hilariously, Screamin' Norman Smiley -always a highlight of the Hardcore Division- came out in full police riot gear. Unfortunately, his choice of attire would prove to be the former's champion's downfall.

After a fairly average match devoid of any real high spots, Meng was dragged out of the ring after knocking Knobs out. That left the champion as easy pickings for Screamin' Norman. He hit Brian with a low blow then scaled the top, only Knobbs to recover and meet Smiley coming off the top with a full riot shield square in the face.

One three count later and it was all over.

This match was proof that more isn't always better. Quite often, one-on-one hardcore matches in WCW were a lot of fun because the combatants could go walking around the arena looking for creative ways to beat each other up. Here, we essentially had five minutes of four men aimlessly wandering around ringside and hitting each other with a trash can.

the results left a lot to be desired.
Your Winner and Still WCW Hardcore Champion: Brian Knobs

Afterwards, Meng embraced Screamin' Norman then threw him out of the ring.

Triple Threat Theatre: Match 2 - Bunhouse Brawl
Billy Kidman vs. Perry Saturn

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Perry Saturn faced Billy Kidman in Kidman's second match of the night
Up to this point, this was the best match on the card by a mile.

Heading into his second match of the evening, Kidman tore it up with Perry Saturn in a thrilling contest that delivered from bell-to-bell.

It was well-paced, it was exciting, it was captivating...

But it wasn't a Bunkhouse Brawl.

Apart from one single spot in which Saturn sent Kidman sailing over the top rope through a table, nothing about this match would have you believe that it was anything more than a standard singles contest.

Not that I'm complaining. This was still a tremendous effort and probably better than it would have been had the two tried to have an actual Bunkhouse Brawl.
Your Winner: Billy Kidman

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Stevie Ray
Up next, we were shown a video of Stevie Ray wandering through the ghetto, pointing at a homeless person's makeshift shelter and hugging random people who all wanted to know where Booker T was.

This was all to help Stevie drive home his point that Booker T wanted to forget where he was coming from and wasn't proud of his roots, which was apparently enough for Harlem Heat to break up and the two brothers to have a match tonight.

Back in the arena, Stevie told Mean Gene that Booker would always be his little brother, but that tonight, he had to go beat him up.

Booker T (w/ Midnight) vs. Stevie Ray

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Booker T (w/ Midnight) faced Stevie Ray
Prior to the bell, Booker T took to the microphone to claim that it was actually Stevie Ray who had forgotten where he'd come from. Not that it mattered to Booker. According to him, he was done with his brother and ready to get it on.

When they did get it on, the resulting match was...well, it was about as good as you might expect a match between Booker T and Stevie Ray to be.

In other words, it wasn't awful or anything, but it wasn't exactly setting the world on fire either.

Just when it looked like Booker had put his brother away, an out-of-shape Ahmed Johnson arrived on the scene, making his WCW debut by jumping the rail and helping Stevie Ray attack Brother T.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Booker T

With Midnight seemingly too cautious to get back in the ring and help Booker out, Stevie and Fat Ahmed Johnson hit Booker with their finishing moves before Stevie took to the microphone to tell us that the man last seen on a PPV back at WWF No Way Out of Texas 1998 was actually called Big T and that the two were now the new and improved Harlem Heat.

Ever the eloquent articulator, Johnson Big T took to the microphone to garble some gibberish about fish and how Booker T was going to get fried.

It was kind of dumb.

Sid Vicious is Ready for War

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Sid Vicious is interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund
Out in the back, Sid Vicious told Mean Gene that despite Bret Hart and his version of the nWo doing all the could tarnish the World Heavyweight Championship, he and Chris Benoit were going to have "a hell of a war" for the vacant title.

To do that, Sid insisted that he and Benoit would have to temporarily throw their friendship out of the window because apparently, the two were friends now.

Tank Abbott vs. Jerry Flynn

Jerry Flynn had been in WCW for a couple of years now but this was only his second ever PPV match. Last time we saw him on a PPV, he was facing Ernest Miller back at Uncensored 1999.

Here, he went up against former UFC star Tank Abbott in what would be Abbot's first WCW PPV.

I mention that because it's more interesting than anything that happened in this short, shoot-style match.

After about a minute of grappling, Abbot punched Flynn a bunch of times then knocked him out with a punch and simply walked off, not even bothering to wait until the referee had declared him the winner via knockout.

Kudos for doing something different, but this wasn't very interesting.
Your Winner: Tank Abbott

Up next, we were shown a recap of the recent Diamond Dallas Page/Buff Bagwell feud.

This had started over rumours that Kimberly Page was having an affair with Buff, but had disintegrated to Bagwell and Page quite literally having a "my d*ck's bigger than yours" argument in the middle of the ring.

The two would square off here at Souled Out 2000, supposedly to determine who had the bigger penis.

Last Man Standing
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Buff Bagwell faced DDP
This was billed as "no rules, no referee," although a referee would obviously have to be present to declare a winner.

I kid you not, this was probably the best match Buff Bagwell would have in his career. Though it wasn't the greatest Last Man Standing Match of all time, it was definitely the greatest match of any kind to include Bagwell, who lay it all on the line to go one-on-one with DDP in a tremendous contest.

The two wasted no time in taking the match to the outside, brawling through the crowd and to the entrance way, where they both tried to simultaneously destroy each other with monitors from the WCW.com 'Internet Location.'

Getting back to the ring, the two continued to lay each other out, allowing referee Slick Johnson the fun of getting the crowd involved for a few ten counts.

At this juncture, Bagwell gained the upper hand and eventually won what turned out to be a brilliantly fun match.
Your Winner: Buff Bagwell

Afterwards, Kimberly Page came down and just kind of looked at Buff Bagwell, allowing DDP to attack him from behind.

Triple Threat Theatre: Match 3 - Cage Match
Billy Kidman vs. The Wall

WCW Souled Out 2000 - The Wall faced Billy Kidman in a cage match
As Kidman stood in the shiny new roofed cage that made this look a bit Hell-in-Cellish, Shane Douglas came down to insult the crowd by calling them all welfare recipients before introducing Kidman's mystery opponent, The Wall.

Like the majority of this show, the resulting action wasn't exactly terrible, but it was far from gripping. The two worked as basic a big-man/little-man match as you could possibly find, with the cage structure playing so little a role that it might as well have not been there at all.

After a few minutes of pretty uneventful action, The Wall caught Kidman coming off the top, chokeslammed him and pinned him.

Yes, the big pay off to Kidman wrestling three times in one night was that he'd get beat in about five minutes.
Your Winner: The Wall

Prior to the upcoming Terry Funk vs. Kevin Nash match, we got a brief video package recapping the rivalry between the two.

No Disqualification Match
Kevin Nash vs. Terry Funk

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Kevin Nash faced Terry Funk
If Funk wins, the New World Order is disbanded. If Nash wins, he comes WCW Commissioner.

Although it doesn't look like much on paper, this one was actually an incredibly fun match because both men played their roles perfectly.

Nash met Funk on his way to the ring and proceeded to destroy him, beating him to a pulp then powerbombing him through the announce table. At that point, Nash took to the mic and told a battered, bloody and beaten Funker that if he could crawl back in the ring, he could keep his commissioner's job.

Funk did indeed climb back in the ring, only for Nash to reveal that he was -and I quote- "a lying son of a bitch."

Mr Middle Aged and Crazy made a brief comeback, but this was basically the dominant Nash obliterating his smaller, older opponent before powerbombing him through two chairs to become our new commissioner.
Your Winner: Kevin Nash

Out in the back, Chris Benoit and Sid Vicious were seen warming up for tonight's main event in separate locations.

Elsewhere in the arena, Scott Hudson interviewed special guest referee, Arn Anderson. Anderson beautifully sold Kevin Nash becoming Commissioner as though it were the worst rise to power since Hitler, speaking in a sombre tone as he told us that WCW would change forever with Nash in charge.

He then turned his attention to tonight's main event, telling us that there would be no losers even though that blatantly wasn't true.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Benoit vs. Sid Vicious

Match to determine the vacant title
Special guest referee: Arn Anderson

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Sid Vicious faced Chris Benoit for the vacant WCW title
You know how WWE Network avoids mentioning Chris Benoit for obvious reasons? Well on this show they tell us that this is "Arn Anderson in a WCW World Title Match," which is pretty funny.

To give WCW their credit, they made this one seem like a huge deal with super special Michael Buffer introductions and the entire WCW locker room coming out to watch the match from the entrance way.

Benoit and Sid gave them one heck of a show too, the latter man having his best performance ever outside of his Survivor Series 1996 effort against Shawn Michaels.

It was a long, valiant effort that would have been the perfect main event if it weren't for the finish.

Sid got a cover on Benoit, but Anderson rightly pointed out that The Crippler's foot was underneath the rope, breaking the fall.

Benoit then turned around and slapped on The Crippler Crossface. A second later, Double-A called for the bell despite the fact that Sid's foot was underneath the bottom rope even further than Benoit's had been.

It was a screwy finish, but at least it would come in handy when the title would once again be declared vacant the following evening.
Your Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Benoit

WCW Souled Out 2000 - Kevin Nash confronted Chris Benoit after Benoit's world title victory
Out in the back, Benoit gave a heartfelt promo to Mean Gene Okerlund, first putting over Sid as a tremendous competitor before talking about how a childhood trip to see Dynamite Kid compete in Edmonton had inspired his life-long passion for pro wrestling.

The Crippler was congratulated by Anderson before being interrupted by Kevin Nash.

Big Sexy told the new champion that he was going to make his life hell and referred to Benoit as "a little turd."

"Yeah?" quipped Benoit. "Well from a little turd to the big turd...Best of luck."

With that, Chris Benoit walked out of a WCW show, never to return.

In his final WCW appearance, The Crippler had finally smashed through the glass ceiling to become the new World Heavyweight Champion, but it was too little, too late if WCW had wanted to keep him among their ranks.

After tonight, he'd be gone from the company and would join Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero in the World Wrestling Federation just a few weeks later.





So, were WCW able to put their terrible 1999 behind them and start 2000 with a better show?

Kind of.

The truth is that Souled Out 2000 was better than at least the last six months of 1999, but not by a great deal.

Most of the roster looked unmotivated to deliver anything of substance, and out of 12 matches, only three Kidman/Saturn, Bagwell/Page and Benoit/Vicious were actually watching.

The rest of the card, while not exactly terrible, was mediocre at best.

Not a great start then for what would prove to be World Championship Wrestling's last full year of existence.



For other 2000 pro wrestling reviews see:



For more WCW Souled Out Reviews see: 
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