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Monday, March 23, 2015

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WIRTB Review: The Souled Out Series Volume One (1997)

Apparently, I have a death wish with regards to shitty PPVs. After going through Greed, WM27, Backlash, Superbrawl, Mayhem 2000 (ya fat asses), and others...I've taken on the unenviable task of reviewing all four parts of the Souled Out PPV tetralogy. I am Speed on the Beat, and this is WIRTB Review, the review series (sometimes wrestling, sometimes movies, sometimes Chris Webber's rap CD) where I review the crap, so you don't have to.

Our first volume falls on the date of January 25, 1997. Our descriptors indicate that "Hollywood Hogan defends [his] WCW Title versus The Giant, Hall and Nash defend the Tag Team Titles vs The Steiners [and more]." So, at least I'll get some Steiner here, right? Eh, let's get into it.

We open to a grainy B&W video of the nWo army being driven into the city on trash trucks. Syxx lets us know that this is going to be sweet (I'm not sure about how "too sweet," it'll be, brother. Gotta be specific) and Eric Bischoff says nWo's going to change the world. Let me remind you, before I forget (even though WCW doesn't let you), this PPV is branded as the first nWo PPV, because nWo took over a WCW PPV in a way that'll make you beg for the Anonymous GM. In reality, it was a marketing plan to see if a two-PPV month plan could work and if nWo PPVs had any draw. 

We spend the first four minutes or so with the nWo outside and outside of the arena, looking like old white guy rejects from the Straight Outta Compton movie. We're given something which resembles a long take meets a home video recording, then our logo. But, of course, we're given more promos for the PPV, with Bischoff talking about the nWo like some sort of authoritarian monstrosity. Five minutes in and I already feel like my brain cells are dying.

Oh, hey, it's Fake Sting.

FINALLY, we're taken ringside with a boatload of overhead pyro (not 2000 WCW-levels, but pretty bad still) and Bischoff speaking again and introducing the nWo big three. This feels so cartoony. Hall, Nash, and Hogan talk back and forth to each other via big-ass screens and tell us that WCW sucks and doesn't exist anymore, because nWo has "souled out." I'm going to go out on a limb and guess we're gonna get a lot of "soul"/"sold" puns tonight. "Trillionaire" Ted DiBiase is shown in his first WIRTB Review appearance on commentary with Bischoff and we're finally under way with our first match.

The "mysterious announcer" calls Chris Jericho into the ring to face off against Masahiro Chono. The crowd is dead. The camera is wonky. And this feels like someone just smuggled their 1990s camcorder into the arena and recorded a house show. I get that that's the gritty feel they're going for, but for fuck's sake: if you've got a trillionaire beneficiary backing your wrestling coup, would it kill you to actually shell out some cash to make your product look better than that which you are splintering from?

Bischoff tries to put over the "nWo Beauties," but they look more like they fell off the side of a dope fiend's stolen Nova. And just like "Children's Story," this match serves up a cautionary tale. WCW was one of the only American federations who didn't (always) make their Asian wrestlers into Hong Kong Fuckheads. If you were Japanese and wanted to get over in America, you'd say "fuck you WWF. Let me get my money, ECW. I'm going to WCW." When WCW went under, you got Kung Fu Naki and Engrish Yoshi Tatsu doing their shtick. Thankfully, WWE has learned the error of their stupidity and is letting Hideo Itami actually be KENTA, aside from his name. But, in 1997, there'd be no real way Japanese talents'd get big in America unless it was WCW.

With that said, more of this match than needed is spent focusing on the WCW crusaders and the like and shitting on WCW than the match itself. Camera angles tend to not capture some of the action (at least they may've inadvertently invented Selfie Sticks). On top of that, nWo has their own ref. So, pretty much, we already know that nWo will win--even if they lose--pretty much every match.

Anywho, Chono starts out on top and takes it to Jericho. "USA" chants start out (for a wrestler who's from Winnipeg, you idiot) and Ted puts over Chono's STF hold. This match is pretty interesting, since I've seen a limited amount of Chono's work. I'll be honest: for me, it'd be a decent introduction to Chono's work. But, please, for the love of pie, watch this son-of-a-bastard-maker on mute because fuck Bischoff's commentary. Chono, after some slow counts, and a rebound, gets the Yakuza kick for the quick count win.

I think I've gotten the quickest "fuck this company" going in WIRTB history. Sadly, they all seem to be coming from WCW.

Next, we get Hugh Morrus versus Big Bubba, which ends with Bubba running Morrus over with a bike. A fucking bike. Out of all the wild and crazily fucktarded things I've seen in WCW, and I've seen monster trucks drive off sides of buildings, this takes the cake. Why? There's no real rhyme or reason behind it. It's just like "hey, I'm nWo. I break the rules. Lemme try to kill this fat fuck with a bike just because he's WCW." Not only that, the sell job of Hugh Morrus on the bike hit was horrible, compounded by the atrocious camera angles.

Artist's rendition.
We go back to the "nWo Beauties," one of which looks like what you'd get if you crossed Luanne Platter with some rum and a glory hole (in other words, Mama Platter for the KOTH fans out there). When asked what she'd do to get into the next WCW movie, she responds with "whatever it takes."

Can you shoot me so I don't have to watch the rest of this goddamned PPV?

The next one up, this derp-faced blondie (see a recurring theme here, guys?), is asked what her price is, since our intrepid interviewee has about "$1.50" on him. Her priceless response? "You can walk away with a big bill." Afterwards, we get some fifty-seven-year-old looking silhouette dancing to generic grungy hair metal as we prep for our next match. But, first, nWo has a website! On NETSCAPE! Man, I miss the '90s.

Jeff Jarrett and Mr. Wallstreet are our next competitors. So, we have Bray Wyatt's dad getting ready to kick Double J's ass because this is the nWo--oh, wait what's this? Mongo comes out and hits Wallstreet with his briefcase for a Jarrett win. Lemme get this straight: your faces of the evening (WCW) have resorted to heelish tactics to win because...why exactly? Eh. It's WC--I mean, nWo in 1997. Nothing makes sense anymore, but it's still drawing ratings, so it must be right, right?

Scotty Riggs and Buff Bagwell battle next. This match lasts almost fourteen minutes. That's all I want/need to say about it. Most of that fourteen minutes is spent having Ted and Eric man-gushing over Bagwell in some way or another.

Anywho...DDP and Scott Norton get into the ring. DDP smokes a cigar and looks like a drunk. Norton decides to beat the crap out of DDP. We get the millionth "loser" chant from the anonymous fucktard in the back. This match was a lot of nothing, until the end. Every nWo lackey comes out and tries to recruit DDP. DDP accepts, but just like Cena with The Nexus, he says "fuck you heels!" and double turns, runs into the crowd, and tears off his nWo shirt in the process.

FINALLY! After more fuckery, we get some wrasslin' gawds. Hall and Nash versus THA STEINA BROVAHS! This is going to be...oh, never mind. Not even Scott Steiner can save this shit show. In some overbooking, the Steiners win because the nWo ref was knocked out. The WCW ref comes out and then counts the pinfall for the Steiners. Bischoff then says "hey, tomorrow, on Nitro, I'm going to make this shit not happen" (or something along these lines) and lo and behold. Monday comes around and the Steiners are stripped of their belts. Yep. Sounds like something out of the WWE in 2015 playbook.

Eddie and Syxx square off against each other for the U.S. Heavyweight title. Here we go: the only match which doesn't end because of interference. Why? It's a ladder match. Syxx has some sort of Redneck Kung Fu meets X-Pac thing going and it's kind of badass. And our announcers put over Eddie's Mexican background--by being racist. Yay! A solid match between Syxx and Eddie, but the selfie stick camera angles make me want to vomit something fierce. They really fuck up the match. But, eventually, Eddie gets the win after Syxx gets KTFO with the belt (since they'd both grabbed it at the same time).

After the nWo Beauty Contest (spoiler: no one wins in reality), we get Hollywood Hogan with lifts in his boots squaring off against The Giant for the Heavyweight Championship. And, because WCW, we get a schmozz to end the goddamned thing. The Giant had the belt won, but nWo comes out and starts attacking Giant. This is probably the tenth of a couple hundred face/heel turns by Paul Wight in his career (even though it wasn't really a turn) thus far.

Yep, that bad.

Join me next time for either Souled Out 1998 or a bonus episode TBD.


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