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The SmarK Retro Repost – Souled Out ’98

August 24, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

– Live from Dayton, OH, home of The Rick.

– Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and making his final PPV announcing appearance…Dusty Rhodes. (cue ominious music)

– Okay, so the deal here is that some of you may know that I did a “live” report for the show back in 98, but that was when I was still honing my style, and as a result I didn’t include match times or ratings, which has led to many people e-mailing me in the years since to bug me for ratings. So here’s a completely redone version. Now leave me alone.

– Opening match: Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, Chavo Guerrero Jr, and Lizmark Jr v. Psychosis, La Parka, Silver King and El Dandy. Most of these guys are still kicking around the luchadore unfriendly WCW, oddly enough. Calo and Psychosis do a nice little sequence to start. Mike Tenay debuts, to the best of my knowledge, the “deceptively stocky” line about Silver King. Crowd gets HOT, and FAST, which was the primary purpose of doing these lucha matches to kick off the PPVs. La Parka is way over, showing how stupid and short-sighted WCW was for not pushing the guy when they saw the crowd reactions. Action here is too fast to keep track of. Silver King pulls out a helicopter slam (I love that move) to get two on Juvy. Juvy retaliates with the 450 splash for two. They all try to run through their finishing sequences, then Silver King misses a plancha and the Great Trainwreck Spot begins, with all the guys hitting increasingly spectacular highspots onto each other outside the ring. Soon, six guys are dead on the outside, leaving Chavo and Psychosis on the inside, and that ends quickly via a tornado DDT for the pin for Chavo at 9:28. Absolutely wild match. La Parka cleans house with the chair, including his own team. Crowd is just popping like nuts for him. ****

– Raven v. Chris Benoit. And so, after months of ducking him, Raven is finally forced into this. The Flock is barred from ringside. Raven has his usual pre-match whine session, then attacks Benoit as he makes his entrance and we’re underway. They brawl on the floor with ultra-stiff shots. Benoit reverses a snapmare to a backslide for two, but Raven takes over. Big “Raven sucks” chant. They fight on the floor again and Raven gives him a WICKED chairshot. He then tosses the chair in and snapmares Benoit on it. Then bulldogs Benoit on it. Man, that’s just cold. It gets two. Benoit comes back and Raven a taste of irony by hitting a drop toehold on the chair. He follows with some absolutely vicious chops and a suplex on the chair for two. Raven bails, so Benoit baseball slides him into the railing. Raven just keeps running. Benoit catches up to him on the rampway and suplexes him there. Back in the ring, where Benoit puts the chair over Raven’s face and hits the suicide variation of the swandive, knocking himself out in the process. Benoit moves first, and gets two. He tries a northern lights suplex, but Raven reverses to a DDT, but can’t capitalize, and in fact Benoit rolls over again for two. Raven goes for the Evenflow, but Benoit reverses to the crossface, and that’s all she wrote. Raven’s grin as he passes out from the pain at 10:38 is pretty creepy. ****3/4 Couple of flaws means I can’t give it ***** in good conscience. The Flock attacks and Dean Malenko makes the save, but that never ends up going anywhere.

– Cruiserweight title match: Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Chris Jericho. Jericho was not quite yet our hero and role model, as he was only into beating up Dave Penzer and stealing stuff. Jericho looks shocked, SHOCKED I say, at the “Jericho Sucks” chant that greets him. Slugfest to start, but Jericho casually brushes him off. He takes a break, and Rey does his highspot fakeout and injures his knee in the process. Rey hammers away and gets two on a victory roll. He charges Jericho on the apron, who catches him and drops him throat-first on the top rope. They fight on the floor, with Jericho using the stairs to improvise a highspot. Back in and Jericho works the knee. Rey manages a sort-of Tomikaze, but Jericho doesn’t sell, which looks weird. He bails and Rey hits a psychotic somersault plancha. Back in and Rey goes for the springboard, but Jericho knocks him off and Rey catches his knee in the ropes. Must have been legit, because they go right for the finish as Jericho ends up on the top and Rey tries the rana, but Jericho drops down and hooks the Liontamer for the submission and the title at 8:22. Rey’s knee wasn’t up to the challenge, and in fact he took MONTHS off to heal it. **1/2 Jericho destroys him for good measure.

– WCW screws over the fans by holding up the World title and signing a rematch of Sting v. Hogan for Superbrawl VIII to make up for the screwy finish of Starrcade. That match, of course, ended up with an even more screwy finish but the end result was Sting getting the title, which should have happened at Starrcade to begin with. Right, so, yeah.

– World TV title match: Booker T v. Rick Martel. Booker was a mere one-time champ at this point, having beaten Disco Inferno the night after Starrcade. This is face v. face respect type of deal. Headlock sequence to start. Martel gets a rollup for two. Booker gets a lariat for two, and a sidekick for two. He keeps working the arm. Martel comes back with a second rope clothesline, but gets caught a front kick for two. Back to the arm for Booker. Martel tries a leapfrog and gets headbutted in the Powers that Be, but he’s only faking. He gets a flurry on Booker as a result, playing a very subtle heel role. Side salto and spinebuster both get two. Martel works the back, building to the Quebec Crab. Into the abdominal stretch, which Booker escapes without breaking a sweat. Flying forearm cues the comeback, but Martel manages the Quebec Crab. Booker makes the ropes, and hits a scissors kick to take Martel’s head off. Harlem Hangover finishes clean at 10:48. Wonderful old-school match. ***3/4 Martel teases a turn, but shakes his hand. Perry Saturn attacks Martel, and Booker makes the save. Martel would end up retiring a couple of months later, cutting short an amazing comeback.

– Scott Hall v. Larry Zbyszko. Larry, as always, was pissed off at the nWo for various reasons. Hall had nWo lackey-in-training Louie Spicoli with him, so Larry grabs Dusty Rhodes from the broadcast position to watch his back. Larry uses some amateur stuff to start and they exchange wristlocks and abdominal stretches. Hall takes over, and they do a boring mat exchange and the crowd start dueling chants of “Hall sucks” and “Larry sucks”. Hall gets the fallaway slam, but Larry escapes the Outsider’s Edge. Ref gets bumped, and everyone comes in. Dusty disposes of Louie, then takes off his shirt to reveal…an nWo shirt. CUE THE PORNO MUSIC! DQ at 9:18, and a major-league beatdown on Larry results. Tony and Bobby groan in pain. *

– Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton & Konnan v. The Steiner Brothers & Ray Traylor. Tony is still broken up, so Mike Tenay comes out to back him up. This is the exact same match as these guys did a million times in 1997, all building to Scott Steiner’s heel turn in February of 1998. The storyline here is that Rick and Ray don’t want to tag in Scott, because he’s being a jerk. Tony writes off the DEAD crowd as being in shock over Dusty. Sure. Rick gets beat on for a while. A LONG LONG WHILE. Big Poppa Pump gets the hot tag and kills Konnan with a Steiner Screwdriver that’s closer to Rikishi’s finisher – the Fire Thunder Driver. It gets the pin at 12:17. Yawn. Ѕ* Cute bit on the outside as Dibiase gets a shot on Vincent, as a kind of “wink wink” moment for the old WWF fans.

– The Giant v. Kevin Nash. This was supposed to be at Starrcade, but Kevin Nash is a tool, so he no-showed. Jobberitis of the knee, I hear. Headlock by Nash leads to a suplex and elbowdrop by the Giant. Stalling follows. They exchange running clotheslines (well, “running” is relative in this case) and gets the boot choke in the corner. Nash clotheslines Giant to the floor and actually tries the pescado, but Giant catches him. Hogan comes around and whacks Giant with a chair. Giant barely beats the count back in and Nash takes over. Giant shrugs him off and they do the Kane-Big Show double-boot spot. It gets two for Nash. Giant comes back with the big boot. Bischoff hops on the apron and gets chokeslammed, but Nash tosses the INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF COFFEE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MOCHA LATTE OF DEATH into Giant’s eyes and then does the infamous messed-up powerbomb for the pin at 10:44. That would be the powerbomb that triggered the “Attica” angle for Nash where the powerbomb was “banned” for months. Match didn’t suck, by the way. **

– Ric Flair v. Bret Hart. Hart holds a headlock to start, then quickly goes for the figure-four. Flair makes the ropes and they fight over the wristlock. Flair bails. Back in and Hart goes back to the headlock. Flair uses that old standby, the thumb to the eye, to take over. He counters a sleeper with a suplex for a double KO. Flair gets a low blow and runs through the usual. Bret comes back with a bulldog, then starts working the knee. He goes for the ringpost figure-four, but it backfires. Flair goes to the knee himself now. Bret gets an inside cradle and backslide for two. Flair clips him and gets the figure-four. Bret reverses and comes back. And it’s…it’s…wait for it…wait for it…FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Superplex leads into the Sharpshooter for the submission at 18:01. And that’s that. ***1/2 Not quite the 1992 Iron Man match, but pretty damn good.

– Common sense would dictate end of show, but this is WCW we’re talking about, so the main event is…

– Lex Luger v. Randy Savage. All those who care say “aye”. Stalling to start. Savage gets some cheap two-counts. Liz chokes Lex out and lend a hand, and Lex chases. Savage gets him from behind and they fight into the crowd. Back in, Luger comes back, and the nWo comes out. Savage collides with Hall, Torture Rack at 7:06, goodbye. DUD nWo beatdown results, Sting makes the save, end of show.

The Bottom Line: Well, the first two matches make this an automatic thumbs up right off the bat, but there’s more to this show than that.

First of all, this show is practically dripping with politics, for several reasons. This show is a couple of months before the Big Fall for WCW as WWF won the ratings war for the first time, and the cracks are showing. Luger-Savage was arbitrarily made in the “main event” even though the advertising was focused on Flair-Hart. The show (and all other 1998 shows) were dubbed “WCW/nWo”, thus diluting the product. The show did a monster buyrate for January (1.0) and featured all clean finishes (save one), thus threatening the position of everyone not featured on the show (namely Hulk Hogan and DDP) who didn’t know how to deal with that sort of booking. As a result, WCW thought that they needed to re-focus on the nWo, and the Wolfpac was born, and that’s what killed them for good. Superbrawl did a good buyrate, but the writing was on the wall, and no matter how much the fanbase wanted something OTHER than the nWo (in this case, Bret Hart and later Goldberg) it was just more and more of the same, until finally it no longer sold, and by then it was too late.

Still, this show is awesome, one of the best WCW has done in the modern era, and is well worth a look two years later. Strongly recommended.

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