top of page

WrestleWatch Vault: nWo Souled Out 1997

I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to 2020! I'm in the process of sorting out my physical and mental health, and one thing that's helping me with the mental side of things is a steady diet of pro wrestling! Today's entry heavily features some inductees in the 2020 class of the WWE Hall of Fame- the New World Order. In the mid to late 1990s, this faction of wrestlers "took over" WCW, At the turn of the New Year in 1997, the nWo invasion stepped up a notch when they held their own PPV, titled Souled Out. Before I review the event, let's have a look at who (or what) the nWo is.


World Championship Wrestling was funded by the billionaire Ted Turner. This meant that they had an extremely large budget to work with, and could offer top wrestling stars very lucrative salaries, attracting main eventers from the WWF and convincing them to jump ship to WCW. The first major star was Hulk Hogan, who- as much as I'm not a fan of him, WAS pro wrestling in the 80s and early 90s- and he was soon followed by Macho Man Randy Savage. In 1996, WCW experienced something of a paradigm shift with its next two acquistions.

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who were best known in the WWF as Razor Ramon and Diesel, chose to try their talents down south. Hall would be the first to make an appearance on WCW television. Without a reference to his prior wrestling name, Hall grabbed a live mic on Monday Night Nitro and said, "You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here." He would soon be joined by Nash, who quickly made his monstrous presence felt by powerbombing announcer (and WCW president) Eric Bischoff. Dubbed "The Outsiders", Hall and Nash were portrayed as invaders from the WWF. But when they had their first official WCW match, it changed the course of wrestling history.

At Bash At The Beach 1996, Hall & Nash were set to face Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger, with the identity of their partner being a mystery. As the match commenced, Hulk Hogan was revealed to be the third man, and thus, the New World Order was born. Hogan was the quintessential babyface to that point in both his WWF and WCW runs, so for him to become a villian was unthinkable. He would adopt an egotistical persona (which, based on everything we've seen from Hogan over the years, better mirrored his real life personality) and would henceforth be known as "Hollywood Hogan".

The nWo quickly grew in numbers from the orignal three of Hogan, Hall & Nash. Sean Waltman- who was known as Syxx during his time in the nWo- was not the fourth member to join, but is getting shoehorned into this HOF induction because he's a member of the Kliq, and apparently all the Kliq members need to be 2 time HOFers. Backstage politics... anyway, Ted Dibiase was revealed as a "financial backer" of the nWo, and in November 1996, it was revealed that Eric Bischoff was in cahoots with the nWo all along. The fourth actual wrestler to join nWo was The Giant (better known as Big Show). Then Syxx, Big Bubba, Michael Wallstreet, Scott Norton, Nick Patrick, Virgil all joined... by the end the nWo was overflowing with members (no homo).

The Show

First of all, the aesthetic of this show was amazing. Taking place in January 1997, I can't help but compare it to WWF production values of the time. Contrasting with all the gaudy colours that the Federation had, especially at the In Your House PPVs, and the sleek black and white design that the nWo had oozed cool. I didn't watch all the shows leading into this event, so I don't know WHY the nWo were given a PPV... I guess Bischoff was still the WCW president, but wasn't their a higher commitee, like a Board of Directors to answer to? Anyway, it all looked really cool, very modern, like it wouldn't have looked out of place as a early 2000s PPV. Bischoff and Dibiase are on the commentary team for Souled Out, so we can expect some very biased soundbites throughout this one. Also, the WCW wrestlers appearing on this show didn't get music, and the nWo voiceover intro usually said something insulting to introduce them, which I thought was pretty funny.

Match 1: Masahiro Chono def. Chris Jericho (at 11:08)

Thoughts: Jericho was the plucky babyface representing WCW, while Chono was a nWo member. I forgot that WCW had a good relationship with Japan and frequently featured Japanese wrestlers on their programming. Chono had the size and power, and while Jericho had heart, Chono would prove to be too much. Jericho tried to fly, and Chono knocked him off the top rope through a table, quickly following up with a big kick to the head for the win. Good action to get things started. (**1/2)

Match 2: Mexican Death Match- Big Bubba def. Hugh Morrus (at 9:03)

Thoughts: Don't let the name fool you, this was nothing like the deathmatches that Mick Foley and Terry Funk competed in, featuring barbed wire and fireballs. No, this was just a Last Man Standing match, and a pretty plodding one for the most part. Morrus gets the advantage with a steel chain, and Nick Patrick admonishes him even though its no DQ because he's an nWo referee. Gotta love those corrupt officials. Bubba (by the way, not Dudley, this is the man better known as Big Bossman) gets the win by basically trying to murder Morrus, running him over with a motorcycle. BIschoff was a big bike nut, so the Souled Out stage was covered in bikes. Points for a creative, if OTT, finish. Hey, if there's no rules, why not run someone the fuck over? (**)

Also, they're running some sort of weird "Miss nWo" beauty pageant thing in between matches. The women don't seem to want to be there, and the sound system isn't great for them so they can't hear the questions being asked. Kinda awkward. I guess, they figure "hot chicks=ratings"? Some of them were nothing to write home about though, in all honesty.

Match 3: Jeff Jarrett def. Michael Wallstreet (at 9:22)

Thoughts: I had no idea Double J was in WCW at this time. I guess he bounced between feds a lot in the 1990s. Michael Wallstreet is the former IRS, and I don't recall him having barnburner matches in that gimmick, at least. This bout is pretty painful, felt like a lot longer than 9 minutes. The crowd doesn't care about either wrestler much, so it's not a great atmosphere. Nick Patrick is being really overtly biased- when Jarrett locks in a Figure Four, Patrick literally drags Wallstreet to the ropes for a break. The finish comes when Mongo McMichael interferes (with Debra- there's a lady that helped get me through puberty). Mongo hits Wallstreet with a briefcase, and Patrick begrudgingly counts the 3. WCW get on the scoreboard. (*)

Match 4: Buff Bagwell def. Scotty Riggs (at 13:51)

Thoughts: Wait, whose idea was it to give Buff the longest match on the show? Since I didn't watch WCW back in the day, whenever the name Buff Bagwell comes up, I just think of how badly he stunk up the joint on Raw with Booker T in 2001, effectively killing Vince McMahon's interest in reviving WCW as a brand. So you all have Buff to thank for the Invasion angle being a complete abortion. Anyway, I got sidetracked. Bagwell teamed with Riggs as the American Males, so this is their big break-up match. Buff tries to bring some aggression into it by throwing Scotty into the guardrail, but there's not a whole lot of life in this one. Buff debuts the Blockbuster finisher, which looks good, for the win. It's cool to go back and see things like that- bit of a commonplace move now, groundbreaking at the time. Still a pretty lame match, sorry Buff. Maybe I need to see some other matches, but from what I've seen, he doesn't have the stuff. (*1/2)

Match 5: Scott Norton def. Diamond Dallas Page (via countout) (at 9:39)

Thoughts: Finally, a WCW guy the crowd gets behind. The nWo attempted to recruit DDP previously, but he rejected them. DDP gets some good moves in on Norton, who is a real tank of a man, but can't manage to hit him with the Diamond Cutter. For any kids reading, the Diamond Cutter was the RKO back when Randy Orton had acne and braces. The crowd pops when Sting makes an appearance in the crowd- he spent like a year doing the tortured soul Crow gimmick before actually taking on the nWo physically. Speaking of the nWo, Buff Bagwell comes back out with a new nWo shirt and a few black and white buddies in tow, once again offering Page a place in the group- in the middle of the damn match. Page accepts the shirt, puts it on... and then hits Norton with the Cutter before running off into the crowd. Huge crowd pop. Okay match, but it's the angle that really makes this work (**)

Match 6: WCW World Tag Team Championship- The Steiner Brothers def. The Outsiders (at 14:43)

Thoughts: We enter the star portion of the show. There's no denying how cool Hall and Nash were at this time. They dominate early on with a mix of big power moves and underhanded tactics. I think that's something that made the nWo work well- sure, they were a heel faction, but they were still credible and dangerous when you strip away the cheating and other shenanigans. Hall and Nash isolate Rick, and maybe the beatdown goes a little too long, as the crowd (and me) get a bit restless rather than anxious for Scott to get the tag. The hot tag still gets received well, and Scott comes in blazing to show off his incredible strength. Bischoff and Dibiase say something about Scott having a back injury, but the future Big Poppa Pump wasn't showing any ill effects- particularly impressive was a T-Bone suplex on Nash where he absolutely launched the 7 footer. After a ref bump, Rick hits Hall with a top rope bulldog. WCW ref Randy Anderson jumps the guardrail and counts the 3! Steiners take the titles while Bischoff is besides himself on the headset. Pretty good stuff overall. (**3/4)

Match 7: WCW United States Championship- Ladder Match- Eddie Guerrero def. Syxx (at 13:48)

Thoughts: Viewing this understanding the context and time period they were in, this was a really cool match. It was long before Edge & Christian and the Hardyz were doing all kinds of crazy ladder match shit, and almost a decade before Money In The Bank even came into existence, so Eddie and Syxx did some nice work here. Since they really only had HBK vs. Razor to refer to, they brought something fresh, both to wrestling in general and this PPV. The undeniable highlight of this is when both men are standing on the ladder, and Syxx jumps up and fucking dropkicks Eddie off the ladder! That's an awesome spot even by today's standards. Eddie wins by showing the early signs of the "Lie Cheat and Steal" gimmick- both men grab the belt at the same time, so Eddie smashes Syxx in the face with it! Bischoff cries about Eddie using an illegal object, and this was the highlight of the show by a considerable distance. (***1/2)

Match 8: WCW World Heavyweight Championship- Hollywood Hogan and The Giant fight to a no-contest (at 10:52)

Thoughts: It was fantastic to see a young and slim Big Show, moving around as well as he did. Hell, he may have made Hogan interesting! I'll admit that I like Hogan a lot more as a heel in the nWo... his Hulkamania babyface schtick is just too cheesy for me. But The Giant looks like a million bucks in this- he flies off the damn top rope with an elbow drop but misses... that may have killed old man Hollywood if it connected! He then proceeds to no-sell Hogan's shit, big boot, nope. Leg drop, nah, he's back to his feet- with incredible quickness- and hits a chokeslam. The Bisch is once again losing his shit... and just about everyone in the nWo hits the ring. Giant starts handing out chokeslams left and right... and then Hogan strikes with a guitar that knocks the big man out. Dibiase hands Hollywood the spray paint, and the champ writes "nWo 4 life" on Giant's back. Thunderous chants of "We Want Sting!" to end the show. (***)

Overall Thoughts

Souled Out was a really interesting concept that worked in some ways, and totally missed the mark in others. It was an ambitious use of the nWo angle, and as much as this show got critically panned, I don't think it really hurt the heel faction. I also don't think the show is as bad as some corners of the Internet Wrestling Community make it out to be, the last hour or so was actually a pretty watchable effort, where WCW valiantly tried to overcome the anti-establishment rebels. Bad times don't last, but bad guys do. Hey, yo.

Score: 6/10

Until next time, take care,


    Like what you read?

Donate now and help me

provide fresh news

and analysis for my readers   

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
Who's Behind The Blog
Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

  • Patreon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter Basic Black
bottom of page