Tony Schiavone and Conrad Thompson are at it again with another edition of “What Happened When Mondays” and this MLW Radio Network podcast will most likely never disappoint. On the most recent show they delved into the circumstances and controversy that surrounded nWo/WCW Souled Out 1997.
The almost two-hour podcast was jam packed full of vulgarity, hilariousness, and information. It was mentioned to Schiavone in the early moments of the podcast that he is the equivalent of Bob Saget in the world of professional wrestling due to the fact that he was a wholesome father figure to so many growing up, but now he is revealed to be a foul mouthed pervert (especially if Debra is the topic of conversation).
This is a summary of just a few key points, as are all articles on Still Real To Us concerning “What We Learned” from any given podcast. Therefore, it is highly suggested that you, our amazing (and intelligent) readers check out the whole thing for yourself.
But in case you don’t have the time, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered.
Laying The Groundwork
1996 ended with Roddy Piper challenging Hulk Hogan to a match at Starrcade. Piper went over Hogan by submission at Starrcade and the nWo was as hot as ever.
Schiavone says that he can’t comment as to exactly why WCW kept bringing Starrcade to Nashville every year, but he does say that the Music City was a great place for WCW. He explains that WCW didn’t jump around as much as the WWF did during that time period because there weren’t a lot of buildings that they could go into because Vince still had a stronghold over some of the business. They were essentially being shut out of the larger buildings in other markets.
WCW was still a national company operating on a regional basis. Tony says that it might have boiled down to a lack of confidence as to why other markets wouldn’t take a chance on WCW as well. WCW was six or seven months into the nWo story, and their merchandise was selling like hotcakes. Therefore, in January 1997, the nWo was given their own pay-per-view.
Souled Out was in fact, sold out. The nWo was a fantastic property of WCW and Eric Bischoff actually entertained the notion of running nWo and WCW pay-per-views as separate entities.
Schiavone says that when the nWo first started there was thought that they wanted to make nWo a separate brand. WCW actually entertained the notion of raising the price of their nWo merchandise at one point due to the fact that they were selling so much merchandise.
The nWo’s Fist Pay-Per-View Becomes A Reality
Tony says that he was supportive of the nWo getting their own PPV because the angle was hot. He does say that although there was a lot of “ass kissing” backstage, everyone agreed that it was a good idea to give it a shot. Schiavone reiterates that he didn’t work on the marketing, booking, or promotional end, therefore he wasn’t privy to know every specific details about what was going on backstage. But, he says that everyone on the production side of the company was in favor of the event.
The event took place on a Saturday night because the next night was Super Bowl XXXI. The intro of the pay-per-view with the nWo receiving a police escort while riding in garbage trucks to the event was pre-taped the night before.
The pay-per-view had a very different look to it as they laid black carpet over the mats at ringside, and dressed the arena in a nWo look, however the matches weren’t up to par with what was expected.
Conrad reads that Meltzer’s poll gave the show a resounding “thumbs down” of 97.8%. Schiavone says that there was some heat between Bischoff and Meltzer at the time, but Tony also comments that Meltzer seemed to have a problem with anything that he announced.
Tony later recants his statement about Meltzer hating everything that he does, but he did put Meltzer over for having a lot of powerful opinions in the business. He says that while they might have disagreed with his critiques at the time, twenty years later it is hard to deny that Dave Meltzer was correct in his analysis.
The Production Of Souled Out
Tony says that Eric Bischoff and Ted DiBiase did a good job throughout the pay-per-view on commentary. However, Schiavone does say that Bischoff going into story mode as he went on about how the nWo was going to change things got stale over the event. Tony explains that while Eric and Ted were great talkers and had elements of play-by-play announcing, it essentially turned into a 2 ½ hour long heel promo.
There was no classic ring announcer during the intros to a match, instead a voiceover was heard slamming WCW in tongue-in-cheek fashion. Tony says that the classic voice of the nWo who did all of the nWo promos was a WCW producer named Neil Pruitt.
Tony says they featured Meng, Arn Anderson, and other WCW wrestlers in the crowd just watching the show because they were in the building anyway. He explains that due to the fact that there was three-feet of snow outside in Cedar Rapids, the WCW guys weren’t going anywhere, therefore they used them on the show.
Nick Patrick’s Involvement
Nick Patrick was the only referee used on the show because he was the nWo referee. Tony says if you watch the pay-per-view closely you can see Patrick running back to the ring during the entrances before some matches because he had to go backstage to get a drink and wipe himself down between contests.
Tony says that Nick Patrick started in the business to be a professional wrestler, but he eventually found his talents were better suited as a referee. Patrick was playing the character as a heel referee, and Schiavone says that the heel announce team coupled with the heel ref was just too much for the show.
Tony says that the Gorilla Position in WCW was named after father of Nick Patrick, Jody Hamilton. Hamilton was the masked assassin when he wrestled and they named the spot after him because he would always sit there. Schiavone says that they also called it the Gorilla Position at times, but it was commonly referred to as the “Jody Position.”
Insight On WCW’s Creative Problems
Tony says that they had a meeting at Hulk Hogan’s house one time and Eric Bischoff told him that he didn’t like a reaction that Schiavone gave saying, “That reaction was so s—– that I wanted to reach through the TV and grab you by the neck.” Tony says that he replied, “well I’m sorry I had no guidance.”
At the time, Tony wondered if they were considering putting him in creative but he later rethought that due to the fact that he still found himself sitting around waiting to hear what he was supposed to say about the terrible angles that the booking committee came up with. Tony explicitly mentions the Yeti among other angles that didn’t pan out too well (to put it lightly) as instances where he didn’t know what to say about something going on, and nobody knew what to tell him to say on the microphone either.
Schiavone says that although there were more people involved in the creative process at WCW, Eric Bischoff was the head of the booking committee with Terry Taylor and Kevin Sullivan were right under him.
Adding To The nWo – Quantity Does Not Equal Quality
The nWo put out an “open invitation” for the entire WCW roster offering anyone a chance to join the faction and Buff Bagwell accepted the offer. Tony says that he can’t remember a specific time when he thought that the nWo was getting too large, but he does say that it got watered down in a hurry.
Schiavone says that trying to transition Vincent from a bodyguard to a wrestler wasn’t a good idea. Tony explains that there were so many members that some of them only appeared on the WCW Saturday Night television show. Tony says that he considered those people the “knock off nWo members.”
He says that he didn’t know whether or not the thinking was to make everyone a member of the nWo at a certain point ,or just have them move over to the side, but they certainly gained in numbers which didn’t turn out to be a good thing.
What Hurt WCW The Most
Tony Schiavone and Conrad go through all of the finishes on the pay-per-view and attention is brought to the fact that the event had a lack of real finishes. Tony says that the thing in his opinion that hurt WCW the most were all of the screwy and non-finishes that the company went with in big-match situations.
Tony also says that no-shows at live events hurt the business a lot as well. Conrad acknowledged that the booking committee loved to book match endings for heat’s sake, but Tony says it was a large combination of things that went wrong for WCW.
Tony explains that a lot of the non-finishes were due to the fact that creative simply wanted to push angles along. Therefore, the bookers looked at the pop more than the actual finish at times to decide whether or not something was effective.
Many more topics were covered on this show and there is no shortage of profanities throughout. Tony Schiavone should probably change his middle name to “NSFW” at this point. Tony and Conrad talk about the Miss nWo contest and how awkward that segment got during the broadcast, exactly how much planning went in to this show, and they break every match down in great detail. MLW keeps putting out great podcasts and this edition of What Happened When Mondays is no exception.