Previously on the Best and Worst of Nitro: WCW shit the bed at Starrcade, followed it with a feel-good Nitro that looked to finally change the direction of the company, then quickly ruined that and erased fans’ remaining good will with the Fingerpoke Doom Now, after a week of doubling down on how bad that was, it’s time for another pay-per-view. Butts! Seats! Heh!
Click here to watch the pay-per-view on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes of WCW Monday Nitro on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page and all the episodes of Thunder on the Best and Worst of Thunder. Follow along with the competition here.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW nWo Souled Out, originally aired on January 17, 1999.
Worst: The Daves I Know
Welcome to Souled Out III (1999), a pay-per-view that opens with a fake Presidential address (pictured) to explain how World Championship Wrestling is “back” and “in control” again. You can tell this is true because WCW still put “nWo” on the logo but crossed it out. That’s a company dedicated to not making the New World Order the point of literally everything that’s happening. Please do not note that this pay-per-view takes place three weeks after the nWo shocked Goldberg with a cattle prod to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, two weeks after the nWo transferred the belt back to Hulk Hogan with the Fingerpoke of Doom, and a week after the nWo humiliated The Giant and politicked him out of the company. So, you know, a strong time for WCW.
But hey, maybe Souled Out’s show-opening mission statement suggests that Souled Out in itself is the beginning of WCW getting its act together and finally ridding itself of the t-shirt and JNCOs mafia. What better way to show that than by having the President of the United States get handcuffed to the ring ropes and be forced to watch while nine people assault and whip his teenage son to death?
Incredibly, the centerpiece of the pay-per-view is nWo member Curt Hennig and nWo associate Barry Windham, united by their shared hatred of both the Nature Boy and rap, teaming up to face Ric Flair and the debuting DAVID Flair. I don’t want to immediately start dumping on Big Dave’s abilities in the ring, but if you ever wondered whether or not Windham was good enough to have a three star match with a broomstick, the answer is “yes,” with the understanding that David Flair is giving him less to work with than an inanimate fucking object. There are times when Windham and Hennig have to go full Abbott & Costello to David’s Mummy, cowering in the corner with their eyes bugging out and their arms extended like nothing in the world could’ve shocked them more than his slow, rigid movements and perfect posture. When he’s not redefining what it means to be a technical wizard in the ring, David’s standing on the apron clapping his hands like a sea lion and looking a young Cody Rhodes if Cody had never stretched or exercised in his life. Fun note: he once pinned John Cena. True story.
To best illustrate the figurative and literal “carry job” happening here, the finish is centered around Coach Arn Anderson sneaking into the ring and attacking Hennig with a tire iron. Hennig’s supposed to collapse and David’s supposed to collapse onto him, but Hennig can’t trust David to do even the simplest gestures and has to pull him by the shirt on the way down. I think 13-year old Charlotte who had never trained to wrestle a day in her life was already better at this than poor David.
After David “gets the win” and “pins Mr. Perfect,” the nWo wanders in for a 10-minute beatdown. This is the price you pay for even momentarily getting a leg up on the New World Order. Ric is handcuffed to the ropes, Buff Bagwell provides the assist on some classic schoolyard bullying (pictured, above), and Hogan whips David with his HOLLYWOOD PRESIDENT weight belt. It’s like when the Mad King Aerys executed Rickard and Brandon Stark, basically. Robert’s Rebellion starts around Uncensored ’99, although Tywin Lannister (Vince McMahon) opening the gates of King’s Landing (WWF) to the rebels goes in the wrong direction. The Mad King’s daughter DOES eventually destroy us with fire, though.
So, the nWo stands tall. At least we can be confident that this is the one segment where that happens, and that the rest of the pay-per-view is … [stares at results] hm.
Worst: A Knee Jerk Reaction
After we’re done getting the State of the No Union Address from Ric Flair, we find out that Bill Goldberg has been — make sure you’re sitting down for this — attacked in the locker room. He’s supposed to face Scott Hall in a stun gun ladder match in the main event (as Russo’s not there yet to put the taser on a pole), but how will the guy who never takes damage or believably sells being hurt beyond shaking his head in confusion for a few seconds recover in time?
I remember Scott Keith’s old write-up of Souled Out referencing this as, “most boring ladder match I’ve ever seen,” and that’s an understatement. You may be shocked to find that the best combination for a gimmick match requiring dexterity and athleticism is somehow not a guy in the middle of having his real-life drug and alcohol problems turned into a wrestling story as he lives them and clumsy-ass bull in a China shop Bill Goldberg. Here’s Bill tripping over the ladder a second time trying to get out of the ring.
In true WCW fashion, Goldberg calmly blades in front of everyone, meaning they have to up the boredom ante and show a majority of the match from a wide angle. It’s not like they could’ve just, you know, not written unnecessary blood into the match when they knew showing it would mean everyone at home being forced to watch from the nosebleeds. Unless they’re just trying to get fans to not notice what happens to Goldberg when a match goes 17 minutes.
The finish is cute, even though it’s not particularly well done. The concept is that Goldberg’s going to throw the stun gun into the air, Halls going to reach up for it, and Goldberg’s going to spear him. Only it takes Goldberg like 40 seconds to make sure he and Hall are in the right place for the spot, and they’re too close for the spear to hit with any impact. So it’s just like, “you ready? You sure? You sure you’re ready? Okay, get ready. One … two … LOB!” [bunny hop tackle] An ‘A’ for effort, I guess. Goldberg poses over Hall’s body and finally jabs him once, for like half a second, with the taser. This triggers a run-in from Bam Bam Bigelow, which immediately turns into Hall no-selling the electricity to stand up and shock them both into helplessness. So that’s two main event matches in a row on a single pay-per-view in which the nWo lost only to shrug it off and beat everyone down anyway. Cool.
Worst: In A Completely Unrelated Story, The nWo Dominates
Konnan is mad about Lex Luger’s sudden but inevitable betrayal on Monday Nitro and wants to show him that only he, the man who was kicked out of the nWo Wolfpac, is truly nWo Wolfpac. What he’s not anticipating is interference from recent Goldberg wrangler Miss Elizabeth Lubetsky, who shows up looking like an entire neighborhood of brick shithouses to spray him in the eyes with nWo® brand paint. That means that everything even mildly important on the first pay-per-view of WCW’s return to tradition and good sense not involving a murdered hobby horse is centered around the nWo kicking everybody’s ass.
What’s the opposite of putting butts in seats, and why do they keep doing it?
Seriously, That Was All The Important Stuff
Well, except for Norman Smiley showing up with the remains of Chavo Guerrero Jr.’s murdered hobby horse in an urn and then throwing dead horse dust in Chavo’s face to win the match.
Best: Norman Smiley Showing Up With The Remains Of Chavo Guerrero Jr.’s Murdered Hobby Horse In An Urn And Then Throwing Dead Horse Dust In Chavo’s Face To Win The Match
If you haven’t been following along with the Best and Worst of Nitro column and just stumbled into this after Googling “WCW Souled Out 1999 terrible,” here’s a quick recap. Chavo Guerrero Jr. was driven to apparent madness by the emotional manipulation of his uncle, Eddie, and has been learning to cope with it via his close, emotional relationship with a cock horse named Pepe. Norman Smiley, a cruel British sex monster who is terrified of anything stronger or more dangerous than his pelvic thrust, has been targeting and, at times, sexually assaulting Pepe.
This led to Pepe’s birthday party, wherein Norman butt-fucked birthday cake onto Chavo’s person and stole away Pepe to the parking lot so he could assassinate him in an enormous, industrial-strength wood chipper. Yes, Norman rented woodworking machinery and a team of workers to set up a wood chipper in the parking lot of an arena during a wrestling show so he could arrive uninvited to a toy’s birthday party and dramatically kill it. And then he brought the shredded up horse fluff to a pay-per-view in a decorative vase and used funerary equipment and a finely ground equine plush to outsmart his opponent like some kind of Urn Anderson. Norman Smiley should’ve beaten Goldberg, don’t @ me.
Also, Perry Saturn Has To Wear A Dress Now
Perry Saturn loses to Chris Jericho at Souled Out and makes good on his word as a man to spend the remainder of his in-ring career wrestling in a dress, despite the fact that he’s being overtly and blatantly screwed by a WCW official who hates him and doesn’t have to obey the honored stipulations of a guy who enlists Bristol Virginia’s finest Tinder matches as his personal security. Yeah, Saturn rolls up Jericho with a small package and Scott Dickinson physically rolls them over and counts three faster than it would take you to recognize that a red light’s green, and still Saturn’s like, “WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY.”
Meanwhile Jericho’s looking at his watch like, “is it August yet?”
The Rest Of Tonight’s Souled Out* Card
*actual attendance 10,833 in a venue that holds 13,500
The opening match for Souled Out ’99 is an unannounced Chris Benoit vs. Mean Mike Enos match, which is absolutely the kind of thing you should be spending 10 pay-per-view minutes on. Benoit wins, of course, with a diving forehead attack to Enos’ shoulder, which knocks Enos out somehow and DOESN’T give Benoit further brain damage. You know, sometimes you let yourself forget enough to watch a Benoit match and kinda get into it again, and then he jumps off the top rope with his arms out and lands brains first on his opponent’s strongest and sharpest bones and you’re like, “ugh, right, sorry.” This would be surprisingly great, like a lot of Enos’ lost WCW mid-card matches, if not for the overwhelming, smothering amount of reality rightfully wrapped around Benoit’s in-ring legacy.
“What belongs on pay-per-view even less than Chris Benoit vs. Mike Enos,” you might ask? How about eight whole minutes of FIT FINLAY against HEAVY METAL VAN HAMMER? I’d be mad if this shit started up in the middle of Nitro, how am I supposed to handle it on PPV? Whew, we finally have proof that Finlay could beat Hammer. I know wrestling fans were losing their minds over that timeless hypothetical. What’s next, Brad Armstrong versus Johnny Boone? Were Vincent and Hardbody Harrison too busy to go 15 on pay-per-view?
Bam Bam Bigelow takes a few minutes between main event run-ins that make him look like a corny jobber to pin Wrath. Tony Schiavone notes that, “I tell you what, Wrath will come back to fight another day, one blemish on your win/loss record isn’t going to ruin a career,” which is funny because one loss has clearly already done that.
Finally, everyone involved in the Latino World Order angle unfortunately curbed by Eddie Guerrero’s New Year’s Day car accident are still like, “uh, what do we do now?” so they have another fatal four-way for the Cruiserweight Championship. It’s mostly three guys falling to the floor at the same time so the fourth can get a running start and jump at them (pictured), but it’s Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis, and Juventud Guerrera, so it’s the only thing worth watching between horse dust and creative oblivion. Kidman retains by waiting for Mysterio to start a springboard plancha animation, then quickly hitting his dangerous-ass shooting star knee drop to the middle of your goddamn face before it can finish.
Like the rest of WCW, the cruiserweight division is trying to figure out what’s happening to pro wrestling in 1999 and doesn’t get its shit together until Spring Stampede.
Tomorrow Night On Nitro:
It’s time start getting ready for SuperBrawl IX as Eric Bischoff loses a vital Just For Men® sponsorship, Scott Steiner harasses the Nitro Girls, WCW prepares to open the NITRO GRILL, and Bam Bam Bigelow, Goldberg, and Scott Hall have a triple threat match to settle the score from Souled Out.
yes, it also ends in an nWo run-in, why do you ask