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NFD Redux: WCW Souled Out, or
How to REALLY Suck on PPV  

June 19, 2003

by Rick Scaia   
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


[NOTE FROM THE PRESENT DAY: So for the past four days, I've been kvetching about how people were way harder on "Bad Blood" than they should have been.  I was making no apologies for the parts that did suck, mind you, nor trying to claim that the PPV as a whole commanded its $35 price tag.  I was just trying to convey that many worse crimes have been perpetrated on pay-per-view, and that "Bad Blood" had enough quality moments to keep it safely out of the PPV cellar.

That cellar is almost exclusively occupied by craptacular WCW events from the 90s.  If you want a genuinely shitty "brand-specific" PPV that featured little to no good wrestling with the added bonus of Eric Bischoff in embarrassingly lame skits, well, forget "Bad Blood," kids.  What you want to do is to flash back to WCW's attempt to promote an "nWo-only" PPV called Souled Out.  It was so viciously savaged by fans back in 1997 that, even though I didn't see it live, I took advantage of my circumstances to watch the Tuesday night replay of the event for the soul (har!) purpose of giving it the trusty old Hot Poker Up the Ass treatment.  Enjoy.]

nWo Souled Out PPV --/-- January 25, 1997 

NFD Review Originally Published January 28, 1997

Folks, I did it. I actually went out of my way to see the replay of the worst-reviewed pay-per-view event since the first WCW Uncensored. Why? I don't know... maybe I needed to laugh. Maybe I needed a little reassurance that -- dammit -- Vince's little dog and pony show is still the best thing going today. And maybe (and this is most likely) I'm just a really sick son of a bitch.

That last possibility will only become more plausible after I announce the return of the most creative innovation in the world of professional wrestling event reviews: The Hot Poker Up the Ass Ratings System. Before I go any further, let us take a step back through the portal of time... all the way back to the middle of 1995, when the HPUA System first debuted, after I tortured myself by sitting through 3 hours of dreck known as "Clash of the Champions 31" (main events: Hogan vs. Kamala, and Vader vs. Flair and Arn... plus a Hogan/Dungeon of Doom mini-movie).

At that time, the HPUA System had never been experimented  with before. To help you newbies out there fully understand and comprehend exactly what the HPUA System entails, here are the  observations and ground rules I made way back then:

"... As I've stated in the past, I do not advocate the blind use of the "Star System" to rate matches. From today forward, when I watch WCW and report on it here, I will use the "Hot Poker Up the Ass System." The gist of this system is that after each match, I will tell you how many times I would be willing to have some pervert ram a red hot poker up my ass under the stipulation that I am allowed to forget that I wasted my time watching the "match" I just watched.

For those of you out there who are not math majors (or who just flat out have some sort of cognitive disability), this means that the larger the number, the worse the "match" I just viewed. In this case, the best WCW offering would have a Hot Poker Up the Ass Coefficient of 0. Meaning that I didn't actually mind what I just watched too much, and that it certainly isn't worth getting a hot poker shoved up one's ass. Pretty simple, huh?"

Truly, I was breaking new ground, even back before I was the respected "News From Dayton" Guy. And just to show that some things never change, be it my own incredibly immature sense of humor or the fact that WCW can't -- no matter how hard they try -- go more than 8 months or so between major fuck-ups (and with another Uncensored coming up real soon, it won't be half that long next time!), I'm pulling the HPUA System out of moth-balls to report on my experience of last night.

I'm gonna warn you right now: if the number of Hot Poker Rammings Clash 31 racked up frightened you, you may want to turn your head away from the screen as you read this... because early calculations indicate that the Hot Poker Coefficients for "NWO Souled Out" may well be reaching into record territory.

Before I start with the thrashing of this event, let me say that all was *not* horrible about "Souled Out." There were two things I liked. First, the huge ring entrance was both elaborate and impressive to look at. Right off the bat, let's give WCW a break, and give them a "Take Away One Hot Poker Ramming Free" card for that. And second, I'll be damned if the Loser Meter didn't entertain the living crap out of me; out of nowhere, the voice of god announcing "loser" has got to be one of the most bizarre and hilarious inventions I can think of in pro wrestling as of late. That one gets a "Take Away Two Hot Poker Rammings Free" card!

But folks, it's all downhill from there. Because as soon as Eric Bischoff and Ted DiBiase sit down to do commentary, I'm already looking to heat up the damned poker. Unlike when Hall and Nash sit down for commentary, and only occasionally manage to come across as annoying in between being mostly funny, Bischoff actually spends the entire time being obnoxiously bad. DiBiase wasn't cut out for that style of commentary, and does nothing to detract from Bischoff's all-encompassing poorness. Over the course of the evening, tonight's commentary will amass a Hot Poker Coefficient of 3.

It's opening match time....

Masa Chono takes on Chris Jericho in the opener... all night long, WCW guys would not have any music or pyro when they enter. Bischoff and DiBiase would try to act like it was an accident. Hahahahahaha, guys, that shtick sure is hilarious, thigh-slapping comedy! Jericho is good. But you would not know it from watching WCW; on the only other WCW PPV I've seen in a long while, Starrcade, he was saddled with facing Nick Patrick. But at least Nick Patrick sold some moves... Chono here was dreadful. Jericho showed  absolutely nothing, mostly thanks to Chono's no selling. As you might expect, with Nick Patrick in the ring as ref (as he would be all night, in every match... without a doubt, this makes Patrick the Worker of the Night) Jericho's chances of victory are nil. As good as Jericho may be, he just wasn't tonight. Chono is no fun to watch, and along with pointless jabronies like Wallstreet and Norton, is part of the reason an "NWO PPV" was just a flat-out bad idea. The NWO doesn't have enough good workers that fans care about to make the concept fly. 


At this point, we get the first installment of the "Miss NWO" Contest. Rather than rate each installment, let me do this whole thing at once. In short, it'd be really easy to call Bischoff the ultimate hypocrite... to pull this crap on *pay*-per-view after lambasting Titan for doing similarly lame garbage on the free Shotgun Saturday Night is pathetic. But instead of that, let's just consider the "Miss NWO" Contest for what it was: an attempt at comedy. And just like *my* criticism of Shotgun's attempts at humor was that the comedy just was NOT funny, this Miss NWO crap was perhaps the least entertaining segment on any wrestling show in history. [Yes, Virginia, even worse than any of the myriad of WCW mini-movies featuring things like Hogan in the Dungeon of Doom, or midgets under the control of Sid and Vader trying to blow up Sting boat, or whatever the hell else they've ever done.]

These segments consisted of Jeff Katz (god bless the kid, he really tries... but "bad-ass" just ain't your look, son... and clever comebacks are not your shtick... an example of how Jeff came off last night: imagine the WWF's Kevin Kelly, minus his knowledge of wrestling, plus a leather get-up, and with all the suave-ness of a watered-down Andrew Dice Clay) introducing a total of 8 or 10 "contestants" two at a time. After we'd met all of 'em (to give you an idea: a grand total of one of them might be allowed in my house, let alone in my bed), Eric Bischoff came over to announce the winner. In painfully poor bit, Bischoff said that this contest was just too close to call, and that he'd have to ask the two ladies tied at the top a special tie-breaker question. Of course, at this point, he chose the least attractive women out of the collection of hideous beasts to ask the question of. And because this thing was being played for laughs, Bischoff of course chose one of the larger, older biker women as the winner. At this point, Bischoff apparently lost his mind, because he -- not once, but twice -- started sucking face with this creature. I will never be able to shake that image, no matter how many hot poker rammings I take! After that disturbing scene finally dissolved, Miss NWO took her crown and flowers, and then ascended to her "throne" (yes, as if I had to explain it, they sat her down on a toilet). It was at this point that Miss NWO made the only comical statement of the evening, as she was surrounded by her fellow biker woman contestants. Miss NWO said, "I don't fucking believe this." Believe me, Miss NWO, I coudln't either...

HOT POKER COEFFICIENT -- plus 3 for Jeff Katz's ludicrous outfit; plus 11 for the hideous collection of women; plus 8 for the complete lack of comedy; plus 13,203-to-the-Nth-power (where N equals the number of times I will flash back to the image at any time in the next 30 year of my life) for the image of Bischoff sucking face with Miss NWO; minus 1 for Miss NWO saying "I don't fucking believe this"; somebody else will have to do the math on this one, folks. This is a large number....

The second match of the evening was a "Mexican Death Match." This concept works, sort of, if Konnan (who is Mexican) is present.  However, he is not, due to trouble with his Pro Azteca organization in Mexico (reportedly, many of the Mexican Cruisers WCW had been bringing in have quit Pro Azteca to return to the WWF-affiliated AAA). So Konnan no-shows, rendering the "Mexican Death Match" between the Caucasian Big Bubba Bossman and Caucasian Hugh Morrus a silly and contrived affair. Actually Hugh Morrus is an impressive wrestler; you can just sense that if WCW gave the guy half a chance, he'd become a big star. I'm almost sorry I didn't have any room left to give him a vote in the "Most Underrated" category in last year's RSPW Awards. But Big Bubba is on the downside of a lengthy career, and just does not entertain me. This is a pointless little affair for the most part; I'm wishing Hugh Morrus will win, which of course means he loses. In this case, he loses after a weak looking motorcycle shot from Bubba. Well, not totally "weak," but just not as impressive as they probably wanted it to be. 

HOT POKER COEFFICIENT -- 1 (mostly just because this was two white guys fighting in a MEXICAN Death match)

The third match pits Jeff Jarrett against M. Wallstreet. Talk about instant death as far as I'm concerned. Wallstreet has bored me ever since he quit being Barry Windham's tag team partner in 1985. And Jeff Jarrett is the worst babyface in recent memory; he's perfect as the mid-card heel Titan promoted him as... but outside of Memphis, Jarrett cannot generate a babyface response. I guess you can say both guys tried in this match, but given the negative interest from me and my crew, that doesn't cut it. The finish has Mongo McMichael helping Jarrett with interference. Whoopee. The big "who does  Debra and Mongo want to be a Horseman" angle continues. 


Hmmmm... I think at this point we get a lovely musical interlude from the house band. Now, I myself am in a band. I know what it's like to try really hard, but still not be all that great. I've been there. So I try not to make fun of bands unless they  really aren't very good. I am going to make fun of the NWO House Band.

Looking at the band and listening to their style of music (easily classified as "pathetically simple riffs from Hate Metal 101 class with pointless lyrics promising a New World Order slapped on top") you could get the wrong idea that WCW/NWO was promoting the white supremacist movement or something. Guys in army fatigues singing about a "New World Order" does not create a positive image in my head. Not that this image I created in my own head was the only thing I had against this band. They also just plain sucked. They were like a caricature of death metal, which even at its best is already not exactly my cup of tea. But even if this was your type of music, I think you'd agree these guys were terrible. This segment contributes to the total Hot Poker Coefficient with a 5.

Next match had Scotty Riggs facing Marcus Bagwell. Now, in all honesty, this was probably the closest we came to a well-worked match all night. But dammit, Riggs is pathetic in terms of honing his character to be a like-able babyface. His stupid little prematch taunting of the camera and gesturing had us cracking up with what a damned piece of wussy garbage he looked like. And Bagwell, though less obnoxious now that he's a heel and I'm *suppossed* to dislike him, is not as funny or entertaining as I'd imagine he thinks he is. I thought Riggs was, once he was working in the ring and not trying to work the crowd, on tonight. He hit some good looking moves, though Bagwell was mostly useless as he was playing up his new gimmick as "Buff Bagwell" instead of trying to wrestle. Even with those criticisms on the table, I stand by my statement that this was probably the best wrestling  match of the night. Bagwell won his new move, which is like a Rude Awakening from the top rope, except he grabs the other guy by the chest, not the chin. For the finisher, they had this annoying floating camera angle on, which Bischoff and DiBiase praised as being so cool and innovative. A clue guys: all change is not by its very nature good. In this case, the floating camera is an innovation that we can do without.  

HOT POKER COEFFICIENT -- 1 (even if it was the best wrestling match of the night, these guys are still both the former American Males, worst tag team gimmick of all time!)

Dallas Page took on Scott Norton next. This was a pathetic match. Norton is useless in the ring. And remember, I like DDP. He could do nothing to save this debacle. This was a lot of pointless garbage leading up to the big finishing angle, which was DDP in charge, and then the NWO lackeys (Bagwell, Wallstreet, Bubba, Virgil) coming down to re-invite DDP to join the NWO. DDP agrees, puts on the t-shirt, then out of nowhere Diamond Cuts Norton before escaping into the crowd. Ref Nick Patrick says he counted DDP out, so Norton wins. Great... what a finish. How thrilling. It's almost as if they had never done the exact same thing with DDP teasing joining the NWO before. Almost. 

HOT POKER COEFFICIENT -- 2 (weak match; and the angle at the end  caused a bit too much deja vu)

Tag Titles on the line next, with Nash and Hall defending against the Steiners. Much as I like Nash (and to a lesser extent Hall), and as much as Scott Steiner used to be a real bona fide talent, there's just too many mitigating circumstances these days for these four to put on a good match. Nash and Hall would be so much better if split into singles; the huge response Nash got when tagged in indicates he should be a world title contender while Hall could be the NWO's mid-card specialist. And Scott didn't do a whole lot this match, either because Hall and Nash are both big guys or because of his injury, I don't know. So this was, in many ways, a typically average match. Not bad, not good. Till the end. Then it stunk to high heaven. Nick Patrick took a ref bump, and sold it extra long (the announcers said this was because Patrick was working so hard all night long...), leaving time for the Steiners to gain the advantage and for WCW ref Randy Anderson to come out of the crowd to make the pinfall count. The eventual reversal of that decision was so obvious that this might as well have been a no decision. And they might as well have just blinked "Dusty Finish" up on the big scoreboard thing over the entrance way. This is how we keep heat on the tag titles? I don't think so.... 


The anticipated Ladder Match is next, with Syxx taking on Eddie Guerrero... I say "anticipated" because I figured this would be the one match that could save the card. No dice, Pedro. While the Bagwell/Riggs match had the best cohesive wrestling, this match did manage to have the best set of spots. But it just didn't live up to billing, really. The first PPV Ladder Match between Michaels and Ramon was an amazing series of "oh shit!" spots one right after another. The second Ramon/Michaels match had some "oh shit!" spots, but was good mostly because it had great psychology and told a story. This, the third PPV Ladder Match ever, had only about 3 "that was nice" spots, and didn't flow at all, psychologically speaking. Is this just because I am jaded? I don't think so... I really just think this match was flat, compared to what past Ladder Matches have conditioned us to expect. Best spot was Syxx spin kicking Eddie Guerrero while both were on the top of the ladder. That was nice. Finish came after only about a 10 minute match (also disappointing when you're used to 25 minute Ladder Matches), when both men grabbed the US Belt, but Eddie managed to snatch it away from Syxx and fall to the mat for the win. Definitely not bad, and I have no complaints about the match; it just wasn't as good as it could have been. 


Main event time... and the hot poker is already warming for the umpteenth Hollywood Hogan vs. Giant showdown. All night long, the crowd had been the most dead PPV crowd I can remember. They came alive a bit here. As the men were entering, my friends and I all guessed the number of different wrestling moves that would be used in the match (this does not count punches or kicks or variations of them, nor does it count cheating -- choking, eye gouging, etc.). I actually picked the highest number of all of us: 13. I was also exactly right. Damn, I'm good. Thirteen wrestling moves between the two of them in a 10-12 minute match. Not too impressive. The only impressive part of this match was seeing the Giant come off the top rope with an elbow drop... other than that, this was typical tripe, with Hogan mostly running away from the Giant's offense. And after a chokeslam on Hogan, the NWO predictably came to the rescue (for those of you scoring at home... and even those of you who are alone... that makes three Hogan/Giant matches since Giant quit NWO, and three cheap run-in finishes) to cause a no-decision. The PPV would fade out on the NWO dominating the Giant, spray painting him and what not. I've seen this before, too, haven't I? 


So... to all of you who criticized me for taking shots at the NWO PPV without seeing it, SIT DOWN! In the interests of impartiality, I sat through the whole damned Souled Out show... and above, you have my honest assessment of it. In many ways, I'm glad I did watch it; afterall, it's not too often you get to see laughable bad pro wrestling now that the AWF is off the air! But for the most part, I'm just sitting here, rejoicing in the fact that I get to lambaste a WCW PPV, and I didn't have to pay a single red cent to see it. 

But that's another story.....


Rick Scaia was a student at the University of Dayton when he subjected himself to "Souled Out" in 1997.  In hindsight, he attributes his good cheer and ability to have sat through the whole thing to the easily obtainable mind-altering substances he enjoyed throughout that period of his life.  And throughout this awful show.

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