21 years ago today World Championship Wrestling decided to go all-in on the wildly popular New World Order storyline by staging an nWo-exclusive PPV. In reality the PPV had been planned to be the first January PPV of the TBS era of WCW (and first since NWA’s Bunkouse Stampede in 1988) but, given the success of the nWo and Eric Bischoff’s desire to launch a separate nWo brand, the January PPV was changed to the nWo-themed Souled Out. On TV the event was the result of the nWo winning the “WarGames” match in September ’96, which pretty much gave the nWo free rein to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, and was meant to further the notion that the New World Order was truly taking over WCW.
Though WCW had taken control of the “Monday Night Wars” with some of the strongest sustained numbers in company history, Souled Out ’97 landed with a resounding thud, producing the lowest buyrate for a WCW PPV since Slamboree ’96, and was the first and final nWo PPV in history.
But was it really that bad? Let’s hit “play” and find out!
Edits, for a change, are few and far between on the Network. For those wondering, the WCW guys have no entrance music for this event. Video quality is also spotty throughout, especially in the main event, and were consistent across numerous platforms.
As for context, the Network has ya covered. All previous editions of Monday NITRO and Clash of the Champions, as well as all prior PPVs, are all on there for you to enjoy right now!
nWo Souled Out ’97 (WATCH)
Date: January 25, 1997 – Location: Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Attendance: 5.120 – PPV Buyrate: 0.47 (>163,000 buys)
Commentators: Eric Bischoff & Ted DiBiase – Interviews: Jeff Katz
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hogan
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)
WCW World Television Champion: “Lord” Steven Regal
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Ultimo Dragon
The event opens in the standard black and white of the New World Order where (in a segment taped the night before) the nWo ride in a garbage truck motorcade to the Five Seasons Center. Well, except for Hogan who’s in a limousine at the head of the motorcade. It’s at about the 3:20 mark that it becomes painfully apparent that the nWo, in less than seven months, is a watered-down shell of itself.
After the opening motorcade we get a vignette of Eric Bischoff preaching to the masses as the other members of the nWo put down WCW and the WWF. All told the first portion of this PPV is four and a half minutes of video. Thrilling! In the arena Bischoff is standing at a podium as we pan the crowd and pyro goes off. Bischoff tries to throw to a pre-taped commentary intro from Hogan, Hall, and Nash but his mic is dead. Even when it’s not WCW it’s WCW.
At the announce position Miss Elizabeth helps Bischoff into his leather jacket while Ted DiBiase can’t figure out how to work the bloody headset. Bischoff says, “We got women, we got rock ‘n’ roll, we got wrestling—we got it all!” Bischoff eventually tosses it to the ring, but nothing happens. Wonderful!
— Singles Match – “WCW vs. nWo” (WATCH – 7:10)
Chris Jericho vs. Masahiro Chono
Nick Patrick, wearing an nWo hat backwards, is the referee for this one. Early on a number of WCW wrestlers and referees show up to watch the matches and the commotion in the crowd throws the wrestlers off their game for a moment. This one isn’t bad, but the clash in styles and the difference in size make it seem as if the two are wrestling different matches. At least Bischoff and DiBiase stay focused on the match and provide actual analysis, which is more than can be said for the usual WCW crew of the day. Nick Patrick, meanwhile, slow-counts Chono while doing all he can to help Chono. Jericho’s knee, injured on the ring post early in the bout, becomes a big part of the match and enables Chono to put Jericho through a Japanese-style table before delivering the Yakuza Kick for the pin at 11:12.
WINNER is Masahiro Chono (Pin, 11:12)
After replays we see a few of the women who are a part of the “Miss nWo” contest, and photos of a few who missed the cut, as Bischoff brags about the nWo changing the wrestling world. Meanwhile the live crowd, enjoying a nice stretch of nothing, beings a nice “boring” chant.
Next up Jeff Katz interviews the “Miss nWo” contestants, asking the ladies some of the stupidest questions ever. The segment is straight from the Krusty the Clown vault. It’s ratings death, among other things.
— “WCW vs. nWo Mexican Death Match” (WATCH – 25:05)
Hugh Morrus w/Jimmy Hart vs. Big Bubba
This is a “Last Man Standing”, no DQ match but Nick Patrick continues to enforce rules and threaten DQs. It’s an alright fight but nothing to brag about. After a moonsault gone awry on the stage Bubba grabs a motorcycle from one of the “Miss nWo” contestants and runs down Hugh Morrus with it. Morrus is unable to answer the ten count and Bubba is awarded the match at 9:04.
WINNER is Big Bubba (9:04)
Next up we get more of Jeff Katz with the “Miss nWo” ladies. It’s more stupid questions, more stupid answers, and more live TV death. Next we see a two women dancing in two of the three projection screens on either side of the entrance. One of the women looks like a tiny ant and the other is so blurry she looks like three different women. I’d say one couldn’t write this stuff, but somebody did!
Before the next match we see a plug for the nWoWrestling.com website, a cool snippet of which can be seen here.
— Singles Match – “WCW vs. nWo” (WATCH – 39:55)
Jeff Jarrett vs. Michael Wallstreet
As Wallstreet makes his way to the ring we see “Mongo” McMichael and Debra in the crowd. Again Nick Patrick favors the nWo wrestler, saving Wallstreet and fast-counting Jarrett. The match turns into a fight on the floor and Debra, standing next to “Mongo”, shows concern over Jarrett. Soon enough Debra is begging McMichael to jump the guard rail and help Jarrett. The crowd, aside from the brawl on the floor is, like the first two matches, dead. In the end, thanks to Patrick, Wallstreet reverses an abdominal stretch on Jarrett when “Mongo” climbs the rail and gloms Wallstreet with the Halliburton which allows Jarrett to score the reluctant three-count at 9:24. After the match “Mongo” drags Jarrett up by the hair and celebrates with Queen Debra.
WINNER is Jeff Jarrett (Pin, 9:24)
We get more Jeff Katz with the “Miss nWo” contestants and the TV death continues.
— “WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 54:38)
Scotty Riggs vs. Marcus “Buff” Bagwell
The best part of this match is not having to hear the American Males theme. This match, like the rest of the card thus far, has zero heat, goes on for way too long, and gives us an unnecessary shot of Bagwell’s thong, which is the loudest pop of the night this far. In the end “Buff” cuts off Riggs comeback with a thumb to the eye and hits the Buff Blockbuster for the 1-2-3 at 13:52.
WINNER is Marcus “Buff” Bagwell (Pin, 13:52)
After the replays we get more slow torture as Jeff Katz interviews more of the “Miss nWo” contestants.
— Singles Match – “WCW vs. nWo” (WATCH – 1:14:59)
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Scott “Flash” Norton
DDP, on the cups of being one of wrestling’s biggest stars, was still puffing on his cheap cigar at this point. This stiff match isn’t all that bad but the fake “Sting” in the stands distracts everyone from the hard-hitting action. The crowd, though, is still dead. DDP looks primed to win the match when Bagwell, flanked by Big Bubba, Vincent, and Wallstreet, tries to recruit DDP to the nWo. Surrounded by the nWo DDP tells “Buff” the nWo is “thick-headed” and feigns joining the group, even putting on the colors, until he drops Scott Norton with a Diamond Cutter before bolting through the crowd, who pop the loudest when Page finally tears the shirt off. Nick Patrick then tells the camera, not the live crowd, that he’s decided to give Norton the match by count-out at 10:27. After the match Bagwell says DDP’s stunt will never happen again.
WINNER is Scott “Flash” Norton (Count-out, 10:27)
As a replay airs of DDP putting on the nWo shirt Jeff Katz is off doing an interview for “Miss nWo”! Like I said, even when it’s not WCW it’s WCW! And of course every answer is a hot answer for Jeff Katz, especially when it makes no sense. Bischoff apologizes for the replay snafu but at this point an apology just isn’t good enough.
— WCW World Tag Team Championship – “WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:29:01)
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)(c)
It’s at about this time that the nWo “emcee”, the voice in the sky, officially reaches its expiration date. The Outsiders get the pop of the night by far and seem to be the act these Cedar Rapids fans paid to see. Bischoff is trying very hard to justify having this match on the show as if the match itself is some kind of “plot hole”. Unlike every other match to this point, this match has heat, tells a decent story, and employs great pacing. The only drawback, for me, is Bischoff’s commentary which is incredibly annoying. Though the Steiners put up a great fight they can’t seem to overcome the referee or the partisan crowd. Eventually the Steiners make the comeback and set Scott Hall up for the Steiner DDT when Kevin Nash breaks it up. In the melee Nick Patrick is knocked to the floor as Scott Hall lands an Outsider’s Edge on Steiner from the second rope but there’s no referee. Rick posts Nash on the outside and then hits the big bulldog on Hall. Scott covers Hall as Randy Anderson runs in from the crowd and counts the 1-2-3 at 14:43 to give the Steiner Brother’s their fifth (of an eventual seven) WCW World Tag Team title win. This ended The Outsiders first (of an eventual five) WCW World Tag Team title reign at 90-days. After the match Bischoff and DiBiase freak out over the result with claims that the finish won’t stand while The Outsiders look on dumbfounded in the ring.
WINNERS and NEW WCW World Tag Team Champions, The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) (Pin, 14:43)
— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “WCW vs. nWo Ladder Match” (WATCH – 1:51:50)
Syxx vs. Eddie Guerrero(c)
This marked the first “ladder” match in JCP/WCW, house show or TV, since March 10, 1988 when The Road Warriors defeated The Powers of Pain in Baltimore, Maryland. This easily became one of the most talked about matches in the history of WCW to this point. This is a fast-paced, high-flying, hard-hitting match that is by far the best of the night and one of the very best of the year for WCW in 1997 and holds up extremely well in 2018. Syxx’s dropkick from the top of the ladder is just simply breathtaking. Bischoff tells Syxx to “do it for Alice in Chains” as both men scale the ladder and take possession of the belt. Eddie ends up smacking Syxx in the face with the title, knocking Syxx, and the U.S. title, to the mat. Eddie jumps down, grabs the title, and wins the match at 13:44. Eddie tells Bischoff to kiss his backside before going into the crowd to celebrate with the fans and the WCW wrestlers in the audience.
WINNER and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, Eddie Guerrero (13:44)
Now it’s time for the finals of “Miss nWo”! It’s almost over! We see each lady and a bio on the screen that include hobbies like “tapping kegs” and “playing the lottery” as well as quotes like “Men in bowling shirts turn me on” and “Men in leather and flannel get my motor running”. In the end Eric Bischoff comes down and breaks the tie with a question only the two finalists can hear, neither of which are the ladies the fans cheered for. And then Bischoff seals it with a sloppy kiss—and I do mean sloppy. Somewhere Klondike Bill is jealous. “Miss nWo” takes a tour around the ring to (painfully) kill some more time. Then she takes her seat on her nWo toilet throne.
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship – “WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:20:44)
The Giant vs. Hollywood Hogan(c) w/Vincent, Nate Newton, George Teague, & Ray Donaldson
Hogan comes out with three Dallas Cowboy players, for those who don’t know, and Vincent, whose carrying a chair. The match itself has its moments but it feels like a poor man’s Saturday Night’s Main Event show topper, if you ask me. But, just as this one gets going, it’s over. Giant misses a huge elbow from the top which allows Hogan to again take control. Giant shrugs off the big boot and then no sells the Atomic Leg Drop only to hit the second worst chokeslam ever delivered to Hogan (sorry Undertaker). Nick Patrick counts two again and again claiming Hogan’s shoulder is up before feigning a shoulder injury the third time around. Giant chokeslams Patrick at the 9:41 mark, essentially ending the match.
NO WINNER declared (No Contest, 9:41)
After the chokeslam on Patrick, Bischoff leaves the announce position and Bagwell and Vincent run in and are both dropped with big chokeslams. Bischoff hands Hogan an nWo guitar as Wallstreet and Bubba get flattened with the chokeslam. As Giant grabs Syxx Hogan sneaks in the ring and gloms Giant with the guitar and balsa wood goes flying.
Hogan strips Giant’s singlet down, exposing Giant’s rear end (blurred for the Network) that Hall, holding his nose, fixes. Hogan breaks Vincent’s wooden chair over Giant’s back as the fans chant for Sting. Hogan tags Giant’s back and poses with the belt as the nWo play to the cameras. The show ends with Hogan playing air guitar with the “Big Gold Belt” and heaping praise on Bischoff before the credits, which cite Bischoff as “King”, roll.
This event, somehow, manages to get worse with age!
Be it the commentary or the lousy finishes or the 98-car fiery pile-up that was the “Miss nWo” contest, Souled Out ’97 remains one of the very worst PPV of all-time. Few events with so much riding on them have crashed and burned quite so spectacularly as Souled Out ’97. The only match worth seeing is the Guerrero/Syxx “ladder” match. Everything else is, unfortunately, forgettable.
Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then you can relive nWo’s sole PPV event or see it for the very first time right now! As always, let us know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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