The SmarK Rant for nWo Souled Out 1997–01.25.97

The SmarK Rant for nWo Souled Out 1997 – 01.25.97

I know Rumble 97 won the poll, but as the man once put it…

Live from Cedar Rapids, IA, drawing 5800. Those poor bastards. Although the show was accurate, in that this was sold out. But keeping in mind that they were coming off their biggest success ever in Starrcade 96, this whole deal comes off as ego and arrogance to the nth degree.

Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Ted Dibiase

Not surprisingly, the Observer review of this one was pretty scathing, with Dave calling it the worst PPV in the history of wrestling.

The following PPV is brought to you by the New World Order.

The atmosphere is immediately bizarre and off-putting with all-black color scheme and a deliberately low-rent production style.

Chris Jericho v. Masahiro Chono

So the nWo announcer does the actual ring announcements, sarcastically burying the WCW babyfaces, who get no music. Chono, oddly, has the honor of being involved in two of the worst WCW PPVs ever, this one and Havoc 92. Nick Patrick, who was half-assed going back to being a normal referee in the weeks leading up to this, is now decked out in full nWo gear and calling it for the heels. Bischoff makes fun of the WWF for “giving away tickets at a local 7-11 to get people to come”, but the Rumble still had 10 times as many people in the building as this show did. I mean, only 48,000 paid? Talk about a flea market promotion. Chono slowly works on the arm to start while assorted WCW geeks come down to ringside to watch, and a flying shoulderblock follows. Jericho comes back with a leg lariat and hits a dive to the outside, which the crowd pops for. See, this was another colossal fuckup by WCW, as the show was the only one in history DESIGNED to have a heel crowd who would turn on the babyfaces, and instead this was just a normal crowd who cheered for them. So in fact they became a backwards rebel crowd by acting like a normal crowd.

Jericho makes a comeback with an enzuigiri. Bischoff: “Forget all the wrestling vernacular people assign to that move, it’s a jump leg back round kick, it’s that simple!” You’re right, that rolls off the tongue much easier. Chono tries for the STF and Jericho makes the ropes while the crowd chants “USA” for the guy from Canada. “Very good, you know what country you reside in” quips Bischoff sarcastically. Jericho with a german suplex as Patrick ignores the count, and BOY I hope you’re looking forward to more of THAT spot tonight because there’s a lot of it. Chono with the drop sleeper for two and he goes up with a horrible shouderblock, then hits an atomic drop and retrieves a table. Jericho fights back with a table, somehow managing to get this match over despite everything working against him, and a missile dropkick gets two. Back to the top, but Chono puts him down with a mafia kick, and Jericho bumps through the table and finishes with another mafia kick at 11:10. Jericho was trying SOOOOO hard here, but it was sloppy as hell and they couldn’t overcome everything working against it. **1/4

Also, I hope you enjoy the nWo themes, because you’ll be hearing them a lot tonight as well.

Bischoff and Dibiase show some photos of potential Miss nWo girls, which somehow kills whatever small amount of momentum this show had.

Jeff Katz, doing a Bischoff impression, interviews some Miss nWo pageant women, throwing out softball questions in hopes of getting dirty responses, and they can’t even do that gag right.

Mexican death match: Hugh Morrus v. Big Bubba

For those keeping track, this is where the show gets REALLY horrible. Also, this is a Mexican death match, despite the show being in Iowa and neither guy being Mexican.

Hugh Morrus is dressed like Big Dick Dudley here for some reason, although we’d come to learn that he is indeed a big dick. They fight to the floor and Bubba immediately hits him in the General Rection, but Morrus no-sells it and clotheslines Bubba to the floor. COME ON. No-selling a ballshot is one of the worst things you can do, because not only is the spot cheap heat, but it’s immediately rendered useless. Bubba grabs a chain and lays out Morrus while Patrick pretends to be distracted, but Morrus gets it and slugs Bubba down, then hits the moonsault so that Patrick can do the slow 10 count. Finally Morrus goes after him while Bubba revives. Morrus puts him down again and it’s another slow count, so Bubba revives and pounds away. “This is turning out to be all the contest we thought it would be!” notes Bischoff. That’s not a compliment. Morrus makes a comeback as this drags on. I mean, we had the one joke that the match needed at the 3:00 mark and now it’s just going and going. NICK PATRICK IS A BIASED REF, we get it. And then, just in case you’re thinking they couldn’t come up with a finish stupider than the match, they head to the floor and Bubba literally RUNS HIM OVER WITH A MOTORCYCLE. Which the announcers then laugh about and treat as a comedy spot. Bubba wins at 8:55 by way of vehicular homicide. Technically it was a countout, but more importantly, it was an ending. DUD

More with Jeff Katz, who is still milking this stupid gag and hoping for someone to bite on his dumb questions. I should also mention the eventual fate of Jeff, as he did a Kickstarter campaign for a phantom wrestling promotion and then walked away with everyone’s money.

Jeff Jarrett v. Michael Wallstreet

The announcer actually calls Jarrett “Double J”, which probably should have been an immediate cease-and-desist letter right there. Jarrett quickly goes up with a flying bodypress for two, but SURPRISE, it’s a slow count from Patrick. Jarrett chokes away, but misses a charge due to referee interference and Wallstreet puts him on the floor with a clothesline. Like, what exactly was Wallstreet’s character as a part of the nWo supposed to be? At least “arrogant rich stock broker” was an actual thing, but now he’s just “Your buddy’s dad in a t-shirt and jeans” doing vaguely bad stuff. They trade sleepers and Patrick allows Wallstreet to take over again. So now Debra and Mongo head down to the ringside area while Wallstreet gets his usual chinlock. The match just drags on and ON as they continue doing stuff well past the point when they should just have wrapped it up, and finally we get the big spot of Wallstreet doing an abdominal stretch. So Mongo comes out, blasts him with the briefcase, and forces Patrick to count the pin at 9:25. They had about 2:00 of material and workrate here and stretched it out to a 10:00 match, and the results were not pretty. ½*

More with Jeff Katz, as the joke falls flatter and flatter every time.

Scotty Riggs v. Buff Bagwell

Riggs coming out with no music and no crowd reaction may be the saddest thing ever. Also, Buff Bagwell’s deal improved a million percent once they added “Buff Daddy” to his entrance. I will say, this was the point where Bagwell finally seemed to “get it” after 6 years as a pro and found his character. Buff stalls for a bit and grabs a headlock as we cut to the nausea-inducing fish-eye camera angle from above. Thank god Kevin Dunn has never stolen that one. Riggs gets a belly to belly, but Bagwell dumps him and it’s back to the vomit-cam. Seriously, fuckers, I just ate lunch. Riggs back in with a double axehandle for two, showing absolutely no fire or anger for the guy who just betrayed him and turned to join the enemy. It’s just “Well, we’re doing a wrestling match, I guess.” The phantom announcer randomly calls him a loser and I’m hard-pressed to disagree. Even Marty Jannetty looked like he gave a shit for a couple of weeks after Shawn put him through the window! And he was so high for most of 1993 that he didn’t even know his own zip code!

(…allegedly…)

Bagwell drops an elbow and pounds away as this is going NOWHERE, like Riggs’ career, and he cuts off a comeback with a powerbomb for two. Buff’s “spreading his arms” taunt here got immortalized into the AKI WCW games, but didn’t actually last that long as a part of his character. And we hit the chinlock as they just don’t know when to wrap it up.

Yeah, I wish I had that button too, Huck. The crowd chants “Bagwell sucks”, which Bischoff spins as “The crowd showing their support” in another minorly funny bit that would be minorly funny in a smaller dose on a different show, but everything here is just falling flat or getting killed by endless repetition, like when Bischoff was yelling “GO GET YOUR SCISSORS, SID!” years later in a desperate attempt to seem hip. Riggs fights back one more time, but the new BUFF BLOCKBUSTER finishes at 13:50. Insanely long and boring for what should have been a 3:00 squash, but that goes for a lot of stuff on this show. *

Jeff Katz returns to note that Vincent “wears a cheap hairpiece and powder blue suit” as a part of his questions to the girls.

Scott Norton v. Diamond Dallas Page

This is beginning to feel like going to a dive bar to see a band you only kind of like, where you have to sit through multiple shitty local opening acts to get there. GET TO THE POINT ALREADY. Page works the arm to start and takes him down with a headlock, but Norton clotheslines him to take over. So now Sting heads out to the balcony to draw attention away from the match while Page bumps to the floor. Norton beats on him out there for a bit while Bischoff tells a boring story about bringing Norton into the sport after seeing him work as a “doorman” at a bar in Minnesota. Nobody cares about Scott Norton. Page makes a comeback with a flying clothesline for two as we cut back and forth to the Queazy-Cam™ before the nWo B-Team heads out to recruit him. And the match just stops while Bagwell makes his pitch and gives him a t-shirt. Page of course pretends to accept, dons the shirt, and then turns on them and lays Norton out with a Diamond Cutter before running away for the countout loss at, whatever, call it 10:00. DUD

This at least was the bright spot of the show, with the DDP face turn that kicked off the hottest period of his career.

WCW World tag titles: The Outsiders v. The Steiner Brothers

This is the closest they’ve come to the atmosphere they want, with the Outsiders getting a babyface reaction while the Steiners get booed. This is also the most heat the show has had to this point. The Outsiders quickly get the heat on Scott, but he clears the ring. Back in, Rick drops an elbow on Hall, but gets caught in a blockbuster slam that gets two. Over to Nash, who pounds on Scott with elbows and follows with a corner clothesline. For some reason the LED board in the background says “Dig It”, although “Dog it” would be more appropriate for this show. COULD THIS MEAN A SECRET ALLIANCE WITH MACHO MAN? Actually, yeah, it did, I guess. Anyway, Rick slugs away on Nash and gets a powerslam for two. Hall with a cheapshot from the apron to turn the tide, and the heel fans cheer that, and the Outsiders go to work on Rick. At this point it slows WAAAAAY down and it’s just a normal boring tag match with Rick getting the heat as the crowd snoozes. Nash with a sideslam for two and the crowd would be checking their Facebook on their smartphones if it was 15 years later. Finally Rick goes low (that spot is WAY overused tonight) and it’s hot tag Scott Steiner. Nash gets thrown over the top behind the ref’s back, but Hall hits the Edge on Scott while Nick Patrick gets bumped to the floor. Rick comes off the top with the bulldog on Hall, and Randy Anderson runs out of the crowd and counts the pin to apparently give the Steiners the titles at 14:40. “That will not stand!” declares Bischoff, as he actually tells us outright that it’s going to be a Dusty Finish once they get to Nitro. And indeed, the titles were returned to the Outsiders, by which point the heat for the Steiners’ chase of the belts had peaked and no one cared once they won them for real. Just an average match that died once Rick got the heat, albeit one with a horrendous screwjob finish after the fact. **

US title, ladder match: Eddie Guerrero v. Syxx

Absolutely no one bought Waltman at this level even at the time, and even less so now. By this point I’m actually feeling bad for Nick Patrick, having to referee EVERY match while holding a perpetual cartoonish sneer on his face. Eddie attacks to start and they slug it out. Did no one backstage notice that these guys were basically wearing palette-swapped versions of the same gear and just not think to ask one of them to change? Actually, it’s WCW, forget I asked. Eddie tosses him and follows with a nice dive, but Syxx hits him with a leg lariat back in the ring. Eric talks here about how Syxx is “prone to concussions”, which would become a turning point in his career later in the year. Syxx pounds away in the corner while Eric drags the match to a halt by reminding us over and over…

Well, karate. But you get the point. It’s apparently of vital importance to know Eric’s personal combat sport training here while these guys jump off ladders and suffer concussions to get over. They fight over said ladder and Eddie see-saws it into his face. Eric was JUST TALKING about Syxx’s concussion issues! And they wonder why he had all the neck problems later on? Eddie chops away in the corner, but Syxx whips him into a ladder and then faceplants him onto it. Watching Eddie take all these ugly bumps is just so yucky now. They fight to the top of the ladder and Eddie gets shoved off, allowing Syxx to try the ladder ride. Eddie dropkicks him onto the top rope instead, and follows with a superplex, and they both climb for the belt. Syxx brings him down with the patented “jump inverted side kick”, but Eddie won’t stay down. Back to the top of the ladder, but Eddie bumps off and knocks over the ladder, as Syxx clotheslines himself on the top. Back to the top of the ladder and they slug it out and grab the belt at the same time, but Eddie hits him with it and retains the title at 13:50. I dunno, others have thrown a four-star rating at it, but I just don’t see it. ***1/2 They worked hard and had good bumps, but Syxx was just not believable at that level for me. Although I do find it perplexing that they had 8 million high flying cruiserweights and midcarders under contract and almost never did ladder matches. That’s like WWE’s go-to thing! Hey, we need something to fill 15 minutes on a show, let’s stick 8 guys in there and have them jump off stuff.

And we get the “payoff” for the Miss nWo pageant, as they pick the “ringer” in the form of the 50-something grandmother just to troll the fans, much like this entire show. As Dave put it, the entire show was like watching someone masturbate for 3 hours. Eric keeps hammering the joke about how they used local women to save money on travel and hotel rooms because this is supposed to be a deliberately cheap show…but from an “organization” that is also supposed to have millions of dollars via Hollywood Hogan. The whole thing is a confusing mess. Much like this show. Like, are we supposed to relate to them as street-level rebels or be impressed by all their titles and bling? This was really where the entire concept of the nWo started to get away from them completely. At least with Hall and Nash it was a straightforward invasion. Even at the time in his review of the show, Dave noted that this PPV completely exposed the nWo gimmick once and for all, and that turned out to be absolutely correct.

WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. The Giant

As it turns out, this was supposed to be Lex Luger in the challenging role, but Hogan wanted the Giant to turn for the spot. And then he immediately failed, which needlessly killed him as a top guy. Hogan of course cheats to gain the advantage and they fight to the floor, but Giant no-sells a bunch of stuff in the ring and slams Hogan. Hogan stalls for a while off that and throws the dreaded TALCUM POWDER OF DEATH in his face. Hogan chokes away while Bischoff talks about Hogan’s “23 and ¾ inch pythons”, which I’m assuming is the clever way to skirt the WWF legal team. Back in the ring, Giant gets a backbreaker and goes up, but misses a flying elbow and Hulk gets two. Hulk with the chinlock and the crowd actually gets behind Giant, so Hogan slams him and drops the leg. Giant no-sells it while Hogan does the comedy routine of not seeing Giant there waiting for him, and the chokeslam gets two because Patrick just pretends that Hogan kicked out. And then they repeat the joke three times just in case we didn’t get it. So Giant chokeslams the ref and everyone in the nWo runs in and gets beat up as well, but Hulk finally just lays him out with a guitar as there’s no finish. -** And Giant gets spraypainted to end the show as they just go with the laziest possible booking. It might have been like watching someone masturbate for 3 hours, but at least with that you get a payoff at the end. No such luck here.

The Pulse

I believe I’ve used this one before, but this was a nightmare Jim Ross mixed metaphor come to life. A clown car crashing into a train and flying off the cliff before landing on a munitions dump and exploding in a rain of red noses and floppy shoes. Even worse than being bad, however, it was boring, the same horrific material jackhammered over and over for three hours like a hack comedian telling his one joke and then repeating it ad nauseum just in case we missed it the first time. As an hour of another TV show this MIGHT have been watchable to a certain degree, but this? Uh uh. You can give them credit for trying something new, but even then, by the second Jeff Katz segment it was clearly dying and no one stopped it or called an audible. Was it the worst of all-time? No, that’s still Heroes of Wrestling. But this was a contender.