Notable names: Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, The Giant (Big Show), Scott Hall, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Booker T, Chris Benoit, Rick Martel, Steiners.
WCW/NWO SOULED OUT '98
When: January 24, 1998
Where: Dayton, Ohio -- O'Hare Arena
What: WCW three-hour pay-per-view
Attendance: 15,000 paid
Report: Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
The show opened with the commercial spot that aired nationally on cable television for the last few weeks starring the current "Face of WCW," Eric Bischoff, talking about adding names to the NWO. Tony Schiavone introduced the show, reciting the fact that the arena sold out literally a few hours after tickets went on sale. Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan joined Schiavone in previewing the event. Dusty wore a WCW hat to rub in his betrayal of WCW later on the show.
(1) Psicosis & La Parka & Silver King & El Dandy beat Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Lizmark & Juventud Guerrera & Super Calo when Psicosis pinned Chavo Jr. at 9:28. The match was basically eight minutes of highspots that were for the most part well executed. As usual in this style match, two wrestlers paired off for a series of exchanges, then both wrestlers tagged out to teammates who also paired off for a series of exchanges. Therefore no move means much because that wrestler will soon tag out to another fresh wrestler and have more than enough time to "recover." That match style doesn't lead to much sustained advantage for any team, and thus not much psychology in a relatively short match. La Parka was the standout personality of the match. After two years of being "just another luchador," the personality that made him a standout in Mexico (in addition to his great workrate and skills) is starting to stand out in WCW. The match ended with a series of flying moves to ringside by the losing team before Psicosis put Chavo Jr. away with a second rope DDT. (**1/4)
(2) Chris Benoit beat Raven (w/Raven's Flock) via submission at 10:35 with the Crippler Crossface. Kidman held up a sign that read "Flock equals Ratings." It's good that an anti-establishment type group like Raven's Flock is proud of adding advertising revenue to Time-Warner. The ring announcer said WCW was banning Raven's Flock from ringside. Raven said once again the establishment is trying to make him conform to society. Foreshadowing the finish of the match, Raven concluded, "Benoit, I don't fear your pain, I'll feast on it." Dusty read a fan sign aloud: "Raven, get the flock out of here." Raven dropkicked Benoit as Benoit was entering the ring. Raven whipped Benoit into the railing at ringside, then the ring stairs. Outside of two near fall roll-ups by Benoit, Raven dominated the first five minutes of offense, including use of a chair. Benoit began his comeback, chopping Raven to the mat and suplexing him on a chair. Benoit took the fight up the aisle where he snap suplexed Raven on the rampway. Like Raven, Benoit used the chair as an offensive weapon during the match. At 7:55 he hit a top rope headbutt on the chair which was draped over Raven's face. Benoit got up 30 seconds later, but before Raven even moved. Raven got in his first offensive move in over four minutes by turning a Northern Lights Suplex attempt into a DDT. Benoit surprised Raven with a Crippler Crossface. When he applied it, Raven first screeched in pain, then smiled and seemed to enjoy the pain. He eventually passed out and the ref lifted and dropped his limp arm three times for the finish. The Flock attacked Benoit after the match. Dean Malenko made the save. They stared at each other with looks of respect, but didn't shake hands and left the ring in opposite directions. The match was very good. Getting to use a chair legally as a prop on a card, where no one else is allowed to do so, helps the match stand out. Everything was well executed and made sense within the storyline. Clever finish. (***)
(3) Chris Jericho beat Rey Misterio Jr. at 8:20 via submission with the Lion Tamer to capture the WCW Cruiserweight Title. Fans chanted "Jericho sucks" at the start of the match and Jericho couldn't believe it. Not since Terry Taylor's turn in the UWF in the late-'80s has anyone exuded insincerity so well. Considering Rey Jr.'s knee injury, it was incredible he had the match he did. At 2:30 Rey Jr. began selling the knee big time after running across the ring. Jericho soon took over offense and worked over Rey Jr. at ringside with some nice moves. Tenay talked about Rey Jr.'s setback at Thunder against Eddie Guerrero after having rehabbed his knee the last few months. Rey Jr. got in one more flurry of offense, but when he went for the top rope huracanrana, Jericho reversed it in mid-air and turned it into a Lion Tamer for the win. Great finish. Good match. Afterward Jericho grabbed the house mic and called it the greatest moment in his life. He said, "You like me. You really like me." When the fans booed him, he snapped and began stomping away at Rey Jr. He then took off Rey Jr.'s brace and threw him out of the ring. He bashed Rey's leg against the steel ringside stairs, then he apologized. Rey Jr. screamed in agony as he was carried to the back. (***)
Gene Okerlund interviewed J.J. Dillon about the title situation. He carried the WCW World Hvt. Title belt with him. Dillon said the title situation was complicated and he had consulted former interim commissioner Roddy Piper regarding the decision. Piper then came out. Piper dubbed himself the independent council. He said the decisions he makes will stick. "He knows more ways than Bill Clinton has alleged girlfriends" to keep the WCW belt, Piper quipped. He then said a bunch of stuff that made little or no sense, then called for Sting, Hulk Hogan, and Scott Hall to come to the ring. When Bischoff tagged along with Hogan and Nash, Piper said Bischoff is insecure and he's a little guy who likes to hang around big guys. Piper said Hall deserves a title shot, but since there is no champion, he would be putting the belt on the line in a rematch against Hogan and Sting at SuperBrawl. Piper first, though, began to present the belt to Hogan and was about to wrap it around his waist, then shouted, "Not!" You have to backtrack through the South Park and Beavis & Butt-head eras before getting to the period where Wayne's World humor was part of the mainstream. But Piper kept his tradition alive of being five to ten years behind on trends and being totally oblivious to it. Sting intensely crotch chopped at Hogan, Hall, and Bischoff as they left the ring. Hogan was upset with the decision by Piper and with Hall for his attitude.
(4) Booker T beat Rick Martel at 10:47 to retain the WCW TV Title. A rudimentary, unspectacular, but sound match. Booker T won clean with the Harlem Hangover legdrop. After the match Martel teased losing his cool, but then handed Booker T the title, raised his arm in congratulations, and shook his hand. Booker T left the ring. Saturn, making his first appearance of the night, attacked Martel. Booker T made the save. Saturn yelled, "Stooge. You stooged me," at Martel. (*3/4)
(5) Larry Zbyszko (w/Dusty Rhodes) beat Scott Hall (w/Louie Spicolli) via DQ at 9:14. When Rhodes got up from his broadcast position and accompanied Zbyszko to the ring, Schiavone called it "an emotional moment in our sport." Of course, he just got done saying the Booker-Martel match was a "classic TV title match," so his assessment didn't carry much weight. They spent the first three minutes in a straight wrestling battle with no blows being exchanged. When Zbyszko frustrated Hall a few times, Hall resorted to a punch to the face. When Spicolli got involved, Dusty chased him down at ringside. Hall began taunting Zbyszko with slaps. Zbyszko made a comeback at 6:30 with a flurry of punches of his own. Zbyszko accidentally reverse sidekicked the ref. When Hall went for a cover a minute later, Zbyszko surprised Hall with a chokeout. That prompted Spicolli to run into the ring. Dusty caught him and gave him several bionic elbows. The crowd popped as Schiavone screamed, "The Dream is back!" Dusty untucked his shirt, then threw an elbow, but hit Zbyszko instead of Hall. Dusty then stood in center ring as Hall signaled to him. Dusty then unbuttoned his shirt revealing an NWO shirt underneath. The crowd popped. Dusty then began dropping elbows on Zbyszko prompting the ref to finally call for the DQ. Heenan said Dusty had just spit in the face of everyone in the sport. Schiavone didn't say a word. Good storyline to the match and good crowd heat. (**)
(6) Rick & Scott Steiner & Ray Traylor (w/Ted DiBiase) beat Scott Norton & Buff Bagwell & Konnan (w/Vincent) when Scott pinned Konnan at 12:18. During ring introductions, Schiavone said he just didn't feel like talking. He asked for Mike Tenay to come out and relieve him. Heenan said Dusty along with Flair had helped Schiavone get into wrestling and the Dusty turn was like being stabbed in the back. Schiavone said his and Dusty's kids played together. (Schiavone let his kids play with Goldust!) When Scott wanted to start the match, Rick insisted he start and Scott leave the ring. Bagwell mocked their lack of unity. After taking a beating for several minutes, Traylor hot-tagged Rick. Traylor and Rick had yet to tag in Scott. Scott grabbed the ref at ringside and went into a "rage" over not being allowed to tag in. As Bagwell chinlocked Rick, Traylor and Scott argued on the ring apron about where each was standing. At 11:20 Rick hot-tagged his corner and both Traylor and Scott entered the ring. When the ref got in his face, Scott shoved him, then gave Konnan the Dragon Suplex. Scott made Traylor tag him in "officially." Scott gave Konnan the Steiner Screwdriver for the pin. After the match Buff and Scott had a posedown, then stared at each other face to face. Schiavone pointed out that Buff and Scott never battled during the match. Scott followed Buff out of the ring as Traylor asked Scott, "Hey, are you going to be a team player or what?" Buff said he wanted Scott to go back and "do it again," which I guess could mean a lot of things. That's how rumors get started. The action in the ring was pretty basic, but the storyline with Scott was entertaining. The Buff-Scott relationship could be interesting. (**)
(7) Kevin Nash (w/Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff) pinned Giant at 10:46. Nash returned to his black leather look for the first time since his WWF stint ended, dropping the red. Giant powered out of an early Nash headlock, then crushed him in the corner and choked him with his boot. Hogan dragged Nash out of the ring. Giant kept one-upping Nash on offense until Nash caught Giant with a boot. Nash then clotheslined Giant over the top rope. Nash then dove over the top rope, but Giant caught him in mid-air. It was a good thing Giant caught him since Nash's foot caught the top rope. Giant rammed Nash into the ringpost. Hogan hit Giant in the back with a chair. At 8:45 Giant made a full-fledged comeback, but Nash kept getting up after Giant's blows. Giant gave Nash a big boot to his face, then dedicated it to Hogan at ringside. Giant slammed Nash, then grabbed Bischoff off the ring apron and chokeslammed him. Nash threw a pot of hot coffee at Giant (someone brought it to ringside in case the matches got boring for the fans). Nash then gave Giant the jackknife that was heard around the world. Nash slipped as he lifted the Giant and fell forward, crashing Giant hard and straight down onto the back of his neck. Hogan in the background turned away and cringed. The ref looked worried, as did Nash. The announcers were apprehensive. Medical help came to help Giant, but when he started bandaging Giant's eyes, it was clear Giant was okay and they were playing into the "hot coffee" aspect of the finish. Then Giant moved his arms for the first time. Bischoff and Hogan returned to the back, but Nash strayed behind to check on Giant's condition. Not bad for a big-man match. Both guys worked hard to have a good match.
(8) Bret Hart beat Ric Flair at 18:02 via submission with the Sharpshooter. After some early exchanges, Bret surprised Flair with a figure-four at 2:15. Flair reached the ropes. After several headlocks by Bret and a battle of chops in the corner, Flair bailed out to ringside to regroup. When Flair returned, he kneed Bret in the ribs. Bret went to a sleeper at 7:00, but Flair back suplexed out of it. Flair got his first two count at 8:05. Flair chopped Bret in the corner, but Bret fought out and gave Flair a neckbreaker for a two count. Bret began working over Flair's legs and went for the figure-four around the ringpost, but Flair kicked Bret off of him and into the ringside railing. Flair began working over Bret's legs. Bret surprised Flair with a surprise inside cradle and surprise backslide for near falls. Bret argued with the ref that his count was slow, which gave Flair a chance to come back. Flair applied the figure-four. Bret reversed it a minute later in a moment of good drama by both men. The fans were clearly into the match the whole way, standing during the figure-four. Bret caught Flair on the top rope and press slammed him to the mat. Bret reversed a Flair suplex attempt into a Russian leg sweep. Flair came back with chops, but Bret pulled his straps down and told Flair to go ahead and chop him. Flair got down onto his knees and begged off. Bret then pounded Flair in the corner and headbutted him to the mat. Bret then gave Flair a backbreaker, elbow drop, and superplex, then applied the sharpshooter. Flair tapped out clean. Very good match, although never spectacular. Bret probably didn't show enough fire, but his gimmick is that he is understated. It was well paced and the crowd was into the match. The clean finish came out of nowhere, but ended the match with dignity instead of unnecessary controversy. (***1/4)
(9) Lex Luger beat Randy Savage via submission at 7:07. It seemed this was a special Nitro main event added to the end of the PPV because Flair vs. Bret came across as the true PPV main event. I can only imagine the politics that led this and not Bret-Flair or Giant-Nash being in the main event slot. Michael Buffer did the ring intros, but didn't have a lot to work with in his pre-match dissertation in building up the match. Savage drew Luger down the aisle and attacked him outside the ring. Savage continued to dominate offense with Liz's help choking Luger at ringside. Luger made a comeback at 3:45, but Liz distracted Luger helping Savage take over. She slapped him a minute later at ringside. Luger brawled with Savage in the crowd and ended up getting the advantage. Luger gave Savage the forearm shot and powerslam followed by the torture rack. Hall approached the ring with a chair to save Savage. Hogan discouraged Hall. Savage then knocked Hall off the apron when Luger threw him into the ropes. Luger racked Savage and Savage gave up. Hogan attacked Luger. The rest of the NWO followed. Sting ran to the ring to make the save and cleared the ring. Luger racked Nash and Sting had Hogan in the Scorpion. Sting and Luger threw them out of the ring and celebrated together as the show went off the air. The match wasn't bad since it was all action and had intensity, but it would have fit better two or three matches earlier. (**)
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