SOULED OUT ’98 Bookings
#1 Contenders Match to the
World Heavyweight Championship
Hulk Hogan (nWo) vs Shawn Michaels
The new World order were furious that Shawn Michaels stopped them from leaving Starrcade with the World Heavyweight Championship. Hollywood Hogan was especially mad that Shawn would rebuke their offers to join the nWo, which he thought was a “done deal” because of his friendship with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx. Throughout the month, Shawn Michaels found a way to avoid any physical contact with the nWo, who were obviously trying to track him down. Both HBK and the fans seemed amused by the game of Cat And Mouse, but it further enraged Hollywood Hogan. Not wanting the former WWF World Champion to get a shot at Sting before he did, Hogan challenged HBK to a #1 Contenders Match to take place at SOULED OUT, with Sting not having to defend the belt at that event.
Souled Out Top Contenders Battle Royal
(Final Four Enter Contender Tournament)
A few of the top names in WCW made it known publicly that they were happy to see Sting back, and to see the WCW World Heavyweight Championship finally out of the control of the nWo, but that they still wanted to be able to reach the main event even while Sting had the belt. They wanted it for personal gain, and to keep the nWo away from getting the chance to get the belt back for one of their members. The front office decided to setup a Battle Royal, the majority of the 16 competitors coming from outside the nWo:
- Booker T – despite defending the World Television Title at the event, and having a shot at the World Tag Team Championships, Booker T said that a Battle Royal was like a street fight, and he liked his odds even if he had already competed twice that night.
- Curt Hennig – due to his failure to defend the United States title against Diamond Dallas Page at Starrcade, and needing a lot of help to beat Ric Flair the months prior, Hennig was kicked out of the new World order. He’s hoping to use the Battle Royal to re-establish himself as a singles competitor.
- Dean Malenko – when Chris Benoit decided not to be in the match, Ric Flair lobbied for Malenko to get an opportunity to compete.
- Diamond Dallas Page – when he tried to decline the opportunity so he could focus on the United States Championship, Eric Bischoff laughed it off and said he must be afraid of losing the belt to Buff Bagwell, and that DDP needed to compete in both if he was a “Peoples’ Champion”.
- Eddy Guerrero – in the days following Starrcade, Eddy Guerrero partied so much to celebrate his victory over Dean Malenko that when he reappeared in WCW, he was noticeably heavier, and Chris Jericho requested that he have to weigh in. Guerrero weighed-in heavier than the Cruiserweight limit and was stripped of the belt. Because of that, he was free to compete in the Battle Royal.
- Fit Finlay
- The Giant
- Lex Luger
- Ray Traylor
- Ric Flair
- Roddy Piper
- Steve “Mongo” McMichael
- Steven Regal
- Ultimo Dragon
- Randy Savage [nWo]
Some tensions arose because some of the competitors were also booked in other matches on the card. Several individuals turned down opportunities to compete in the Battle Royal and weren’t part of the 16 named competitors on the night of the event:
- Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner – wanted to focus on defending the World Tag Team Championships
- Stevie Ray – wanted to focus on the World Tag Team Championship match
- Chris Benoit – wanted to focus on taking out Raven, despite Ric Flair saying he should be in it.
- Raven – when asked about why he removed himself from the Battle Royal, Raven gave a speech which was a bit too cryptic to totally understand, but he essentially indicated that Darwin was wrong, and that the rats will always be the survivors, despite not being the fittest.
Sting & The Giant vs The Outsiders (Hall & Nash) [nWo]
Although the first order of business for The Outsiders following Starrcade was to be an attempt to get another shot at reclaiming the World Tag Team Championships, which they failed to do at the December pay per view, Sting had other plans. He had already taken care of Hollywood Hogan and the World Heavyweight Championship, but now he wanted to take out the other two top members of the new World order, along with The Giant. Having been a former member of the nWo who was unceremoniously removed from the group and attacked repeatedly by Kevin Nash, The Giant wanted retribution and gladly agreed to team up with Sting.
World Tag Team Championship
Steiner Brothers (c) vs Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)
The Steiner Brothers were enjoying their sixth reign with the WCW World Tag Team Championships, but Harlem Heat were hoping to begin an 8th reign with the belts they hadn’t held in 15 months. Stevie Ray wasn’t happy with the fact that Booker T was splitting his time and focus by attaining and defending the World Television Title, nor that he was planning on competing in the Battle Royal at the pay per view, but Booker T assured his brother that they were going to win the tag titles and nothing was going to stand in the way of that.
United States Championship
Diamond Dallas Page (c) vs Buff Bagwell [nWo]
The new World order wasn’t pleased with Curt Hennig’s loss at the hands of “blue collar” Diamond Dallas Page at Starrcade. For that, and other reasons pertaining to his efforts in prior pay per views, Hennig was removed from the nWo to go “find his own way without their help”. The group weren’t content to let DDP continue to hold the United States Championship, however, and they called upon Buff Bagwell to target the championship. DDP didn’t care who his opponent would be until he caught Bagwell trying to flirt (somewhat aggressively) with Kimberly Page (DDP’s wife AND lead Nitro Girl) backstage.
World Television Title Match
Booker T (c) vs Rick Martel
The World Television Title needing to be defended at each televised event, Booker T battled tirelessly to keep it once he won the vacated belt shortly after Starrcade. In the final week before Souled Out, Booker T and Rick Martel battled to a time-limit draw.
Raven’s Rules Match
Chris Benoit vs Raven
Having defeated Saturn at Starrcade, it became apparent to Chris Benoit that he was going to have to defeat Raven himself to finally distance himself from interactions with The Flock. Raven first indicated that Benoit would have to run the gauntlet of Flock members to get another opportunity, but during the first leg of the match, Raven pushed Kidman aside and beatdown Benoit, not letting the other Flock members get involved in the brawl which was otherwise evenly matched.
Match for the Vacant Cruiserweight Championship
Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho
When Eddy Guerrero finally showed up on Nitro a week after Starrcade, it was evident that his celebrations from successfully retaining the Cruiserweight Championship against Dean Malenko had left him overweight. Chris Jericho smartly requested that the front office make Eddy Guerrero get weighed, and surely enough, he was now above the Cruiserweight limit. With the Cruiserweight Championship now vacated, a couple lucha libre tornado matches were established on Nitro in the weeks to follow, and the two winners were Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho. During the contract signing between the two, Jericho seemed disappointed that Mysterio got bigger cheers than he did, and when Rey tried to leave the ring, Jericho attacked him with the clipboard the contract was on, then slammed him through the table.
Continue to the Results for SOULED OUT 1998!