Let’s face it: it has almost always been good to be Eric Bischoff. Before he was getting paid big bucks to spend bottomless pits of someone else’s money in TNA, he was… well, doing exactly that in WCW. The difference was that starting in 1996, the spending spree was really paying off, with the New World Order angle being perhaps the hottest in wrestling history. In fact, the faction had grown so dominant that they were regularly (and intentionally) making the rest of the company look weak. Bischoff’s ultimate plan was to run the nWo as its own entity, split from WCW, but a one-off “nWo Nitro” episode operated entirely by the heel faction at the end of 1997 flopped and the idea was scrapped.
That wasn’t the first time that a product stamped with the nWo logo had bombed, though. No, that dubious distinction belonged to 1997’s very first wrestling pay-per-view, which was also supposedly operated entirely by the heel faction. Noticing a pattern yet?
I would say that Eric should have known better than to put on this experimental inmates-run-the-asylum show, but given the symbolic garbage trucks that the nWo rode into the pay-per-view on, maybe Eric did have a feeling this event would be a piece of junk. All in all, this pay-per-view would end up being about as satisfying as making out with an ugly chick.
But I’m getting a head of myself.
See, the nWo had gained a following for being rebels who played by their own rules and sought to take over the company. Put them in charge of the whole show, though, and all that anti-establishment appeal would fly right out the window.
|Sure, the company made the right call by not presenting it as just another WCW show. To that end, the arena had a distinctive set-up, with black and white decorations, a giant set of steps in the entranceway, a live band, cameras on sticks…|
|…dancers whom the commentators compared to Bond girls (though I don’t recall Pussy Galore having mall hair)…|
|…and three fat guys who sat on stage the entire night, but the novelty of an nWo-run show wore off quick.|
|Throughout the show, Ted DiBiase and especially Eric Bischoff showered praise on Hollywood Hogan, even going so far as to claim that all the promoters he made money for in the past owed him “a grebt of datitude.”|
|The rest of Eric’s commentary was about how cool it was to be around motorcycles, and he and Ted never let anything going on in the ring interfere with their ego-stroking. They couldn’t even bring themselves to abandon their “indoor voices” when, say, The Giant attempted an elbow drop off the top rope.|
|Every match saw nWo wrestlers face WCW wrestlers, and while the nWo got entrance music, every WCW wrestler walked down the aisle to silence and the smart-ass comments of the disembodied nWo announcer. You know the one I’m talking about. Not even Scotty Riggs got the luxury of theme music in his match against Buff Bagwell, which unfortunately lacked the tagline, “The American Males Explode!”|
|Ew. Never mind.|
|And just for good measure, the nWo would every once in a while pipe in a sound bite of that same voice shouting “loser” at the WCW wrestlers. It was funny for the first few matches, but as it continued on through the night, you realized it was just childish — unless you were seriously amused by Eddie Guerrero being dubbed a “Mexican jumping bean.”|
|If you thought the all-heel commentary team and ring announcer mocking the babyfaces all night was juvenile, wait until you saw the matches themselves. The #1 problem with this pay-per-view, and probably the reason it had the lowest buy-rate of the nWo era, was that it featured crooked referee Nick Patrick in each match. To the surprise of Eric Bischoff, few people wanted to plunk down money to see a faction, no matter how cool or popular, be handed victories in three hours’ worth of farcical matches.|
|In fact, besides 1995’s World War 3, where he co-headlined with 59 other guys, this event had the lowest buyrate of any PPV Hulk Hogan had ever wrestled on to that point.|
|Every match proved to be an exercise in futility for the WCW crew as guaranteed victory after guaranteed victory piled up for the heel super-group. The nWo, the badasses who had taken WCW by storm, were apparently no better than kids who played video games alone on two-player Vs. mode just so they could win every time.|
|Considering that there was, barring some miracle, no chance for the WCW wrestlers to win, it’s hard to figure out why any WCW wrestlers even agreed to be on the show. Wouldn’t the best way to combat the nWo have been to simply no-show the event, force every match to be nWo vs. nWo, and let everybody see how lame and self-defeating it would be if the nWo ever did take over the wrestling world? Which this PPV kind of accomplished anyway…|
|Now, the prospect of a glorified nWo circle-jerk still didn’t stop 5000 fans from buying tickets, but once the live audience figured out that the nWo was going to win every match, they pretty much gave up cheering… or booing for that matter. If you think wins and losses don’t matter in wrestling, watch what happens when you take away any semblance of competition. When you realize that the action in the ring won’t affect the outcome, you’re left to simply watch two guys trade moves with no rhyme or reason.|
|Somehow, though, the WCW won three of the matches on the card; one, a ladder match Eddie Guerrero won because the referee wasn’t involved in the decision…|
|…another, a match where Jeff Jarrett pinned Michael Wallstreet after Mongo McMichael hit him with a briefcase and threatened Nick Patrick (who for some reason didn’t just disqualify Double J)…|
|…and the tag team title match where, with Nick Patrick knocked out, WCW ref Randy Anderson ran in and counted the pin for the Steiners, awarding the brothers the tag team titles. How was this able to stand? Trick question: it wasn’t, as Eric Bischoff guaranteed that the decision would be reversed for the rest of the night, then made good on his promise by nullifying the results on Nitro. Thanks for buying the pay-per-view, by the way!|
|Basically, any WCW victory on this night was a matter of fighting shenanigans with more shenanigans, but any time it was just the ref and the wrestlers in the ring, there was no sense paying close or attention or getting invested in the match, since the heels were always safe. Every time the babyfaces were about to win, Nick Patrick would just hesitate before dropping his hand for the three, allowing the heels extra time to kick out. The announcers, of course, pretended it was a fast count. Sort of like Starrcade ’97.|
|And if that failed, well, Nick could always just pretend there was a kickout when there wasn’t, a stunt he pulled in the main event to the surprise of no one. I guess this was Hogan’s revenge for that time the crooked ref counted his shoulders down and gave his title to the Giant’s dad.|
|Said main event resulted in the same kind of big, inconclusive schmozz that seemed to end every WCW broadcast. No, I take that back. The schmozz was not inconclusive; in fact, I can draw three conclusions from the post-match beatdown: |
To make the self-indulgent spectacle that was Souled Out 1997 even worse, it was becoming evident that the nWo had become more than a tad diluted. Sure, big names like Hogan, Hall, and Nash were on the card, but so were M. Wallstreet, Scott Norton, and Bubba Rogers, all of whom got their own singles matches on this show.
So all in all, this show was just, well, I’ll let Reverend D-Von explain.
And on that note, it’s time to talk about the Miss nWo Pageant! And if you think that D-Von joke is disgusting now, keep a barf bucket on hand as you read the rest of this induction.
|You would think that the ultimate cool heels in the nWo would have had no problem bringing in hot women and objectifying the living hell out of them. Instead, Eric Bischoff and the gang cut corners by opening up the competition to anyone in the Cedar Rapids area with a motorcycle and a set of ovaries…|
|…and, judging by contestant #6, only one of those things had to still be in working order.|
|That didn’t stop everyone from hyping up the “bevy of beauties” on hand for the pageant, as Jeffrey “The Babe Hunter” Katz interviewed the cycle-skanks between every match.|
|The contestants included the classy Miss Natalie, who, and I could be mistaken here, offered “fellatio” to the nWo…|
|…Miss Lorrie, who didn’t exactly offer to unsheathe Kevin Nash’s jackknife, but that would have been a much sexier answer…|
|…Miss Rachel, who was willing to perform sexual favors to be cast as Mrs. Claus in Santa With Muscles 2…|
|…and Miss Dee, the looker of the bunch, who insisted she wasn’t some cheap hooker, but a very expensive one. An impressionable Buff Bagwell was said to be listening intently backstage.|
|Miss Connie apparently thought Tony Atlas would be one of the judges…|
|…while Miss Ila was allegedly disqualified after testing positive for Centrum Silver.|
|Then there was Miss Becky, a homemaker. That is, a housewife. So wouldn’t that make her Mrs. Becky?|
|Two women were presented as “Miss Mary” due to a graphical error…|
|…unless there really were two biker women in Iowa named Mary who inspected grain and got hot and bothered over Al Borland…|
|…which is entirely possible.|
|Finally, there was Miss Jody, who made a living by shipping, and yes, that does say, “shipping” and not “stripping.” I can’t be the only one who had to double-check that.|
|The audience’s reactions determined the finalists, but the competition (and only the competition) was just too stiff, leading to a bonus round where Lorrie and Becky each whispered something too hot for TV into Eric’s ear. If you thought this was all some sort of behind-the-scenes rib on Eric Bischoff, remember that Eazy E himself was calling the shots in WCW at the time.|
|Eric named Becky the winner, declaring her Miss nWo in his typical smarmy, sarcastic fashion…|
|…until he stuck his tongue down her throat…|
|…twice, and the viewers realized that this pageant was no joke and, yes, Eric was dead serious when he bragged about how much he loved this gig.|
The nWo never did end up as a separate brand under the Turner umbrella, but Souled Out 1997 gave us a good look at what such a promotion would have looked like.
All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute power in the hands of Eric Bischoff meant non-stop squash matches and rogering homely chicks.