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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Rhodes turns nWo


RHODES nWo
By JOHN POWELL
SLAM! Sports

 In the 1997 SLAM! Wrestling Year-end Poll, turnbuckle heads rightfully voted nWo Souled Out as the worst pay-per-view they shelled out their hard-earned green for. Shame faced, World Championship Wrestling boss Eric Bischoff and the booking boys understood that they had to redeem themselves. This year's edition beamed out of the Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio, brought squared circle legends back to the forefront. Dusty (The American Dream) Rhodes unleashed a nightmare on die-hard WCW fans and Canada's Bret (Hit Man) Hart grappled Ric Flair in a masterwork of a match that turned the clock back about four decades to a time when the best technical skills not the biggest muscles were what mattered most.

Dusty Rhodes, the revered working man's champion and WCW colour commentator stunned the wrestling world tonight by aligning himself with Hollywood Hogan's New World Order gang. Turning his back on the WCW tradition-based philosophy he publicly endorsed, Rhodes sneak attacked Larry (The Living Legend) Zbyszko in his special challenge match against nWo member Scott Hall. Providing moral support for Zbyszko at ringside, Rhodes leapt into the ring as Hall supporter Louie Spicolli interfered.

Fans in attendance standing and cheering wildly welcoming his return, Rhodes pulverized Spicolli. Zbyszko held the former ECW grappler wide-open for Rhodes' trademark Atomic Elbow, Spicolli ducked and the blow missed hitting The Living Legend instead. Scott Hall signaled to Rhodes who removed his jean shirt to reveal an nWo T-shirt underneath. Rhodes, Spicolli and Hall beat on an outnumbered Zbyszko.

"WCW bite this!" as his parting shot, The American Dream departed with his arm draped around Outsider Hall.

FLAIR / HART Billed as a battle of the champions, former five-time World Wrestling Federation champion Bret (The Hit Man) Hart and thirteen-time WCW champion Ric (Nature Boy) Flair put on a eighteen minute clinic that should serve as Chapter One in any aspiring wrestlers' textbook. With the ever-flamboyant Flair decked out in a glittering gold robe and Hart wearing his traditional sunglasses and leather jacket, the two locked-up but Flair, the master of the mind games, wriggled out to style and profile.

Dominating the opening moments, The Hit Man wrapped Flair in his own Figure Four finishing move barely two minutes into the bout. A quick grab of the ropes on the Nature Boy's part broke the hold. Suplexing Flair back into the ring, Hart shoved him then rudely slapped him to the mat. The Nature Boy put the brakes on slipping outside to collect his thoughts.

Flair tagged as the dirtiest player in the game was the first to shred the rule book. Distracting the referee by asking to check the time with the official time keeper, Flair mule-kicked Hart in the area most men think too much with. A running knee drop to the noggin and a headlock by The Nature Boy brought out the chant...Let's Go Bret...Let's Go Bret. Hart tried his Figure Four around the ring post move but the referee would have none of it. Flair hurled Hart hard into the steel ring fence twice working on The Hit Man's knee inside the ring.

Borrowing from his brother Owen's arsenal, Hart clipped Flair in the back of the head with an Insiguri kick. The cagey WCW seasoned veteran regained the momentum putting Hit Man in the Figure Four and slapping him in the face. Clenching his fists, Hart fought off the pain long enough to reverse the hold. Nature Boy walloped on Hart's chest with knife-edge chops. They only infuriated Hart into pulling down the straps on his one-piece wrestling attire taunting Flair to dish out the pain.

FLAIR / HART A Super-Plex off the top rope prepared Flair for Hart's Sharp Shooter submission hold. At 18 minutes and five seconds, The Nature Boy shook his head in the affirmative handing Bret Hart a victory in his World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view debut.

The next WCW pay-per-view is SuperBrawl 8 on February 22nd. In the main event, Sting meets Hollywood Hogan in a match to decide WCW's world champion..

WCW / nWo Souled Out results

Super Calo / Juvetud Guerrero / Chava Guerrero / Lizmark Jr. Vs La Parka / Silver King / Psychosis / El Dandy

: Chava delivers a Corkscrew DDT to lead his team to a win.

: After the match, La Parka brains the opposing team and his own with a steel chair knocking them all out. He does a little strut (the chair under his arm) as he splits.

Winners: At 15 minutes and 4 seconds, Super Calo / Juvetud Guerrero / Chava Guerrero / Lizmark Jr.

Raven Vs Chris Benoit

: An announcement is made as Raven is in the ring guarded by his Nest. WCW officials have decided that The Nest is banned from the ring during tonight's match and that Raven must wrestle. Raven says "I don't need anyone".

: At 2:19 in the Anything Goes match, Raven chairs Benoit over the back. Heenan says "They heard that one back in Canada."

: Benoit puts Raven in the Crippler Crossface. Raven smiles enjoying the agony but fades into unconsciousness.

: The Nest attempt to do a number on Benoit but Dean Malenko does the save. Malenko and Benoit trade respectful glances heading to the dressing room on separate routes.

Winner: Via submission, Chris Benoit at 10 minutes and 37 seconds.

Chris Jericho (challenger) Vs Rey Mysterio Jr. (champion) Cruiserweight Title Match

: Jericho is wearing a Rey Mysterio T-shirt.

: The commentators sell Mysterio's knee injury throughout the encounter.

: Mysterio's move from the top rope is flipped into the Lion Tamer and he submits.

: The crowd boos Jericho's win. Jericho responds..."You like me. You really really like me."

: Jericho rips off Mysterio's knee brace, chains his leg to the steel ring steps and clobbers the exposed knee with a metal equipment box. Mysterio has to be carted off.

Winner: and new WCW Cruiserweight Champion...Chris Jericho at 8 minutes and 17 seconds.

: Roddy Piper calls Sting, Hall and Hogan to the ring. He announces that Hall deserves his shot but can't challenge the WCW Champion (a title shot awarded when he won World War 3) because there isn't one. Piper declares that Sting will meet Hogan at SuperBrawl for the belt. Hall abandons Hogan and Bishcoff in the ring shaking his head in disgust. Bischoff wonders aloud..."What's going on with Scott Hall?".

Rick Martel (challenger) Vs Booker T (champion) WCW Television Title match

: At 7:18, Booker T lands the Harlem Hangover for the 1-2-3. At first an angry Martel takes the belt then he reconsiders, gives the belt to Booker T raising his arm and shaking his hand.

Saturn comes out of the crowd attacking Martel. Booker T saves Martel.

Winner: ...and still WCW Television Champion...Booker T at 7 minutes and 18 seconds.

Scott Hall Vs Larry Zbyszko

Winner: Via disqualification, Larry Zbyszko at 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

Konnan / Scott Norton / Buff Bagwell Vs The Steiner Brothers / Ray Traylor

: Traylor and Rick won't tag Scott in until the very end of the match.

: Scott drops Konnan with the Screwdriver Piledriver for the win.

: Scott and Buff continue their posing competition. Dibiase, Rick and Traylor argue with Scott but the team is still together.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers / Ray Traylor at 12 minutes and 16 seconds.

Kevin Nash Vs The Giant

: Hogan and Bischoff are at ringside.

: The Giant slams Nash at 9 minutes and 36 seconds in.

: The Giant chokeslams Bischoff off the apron and into the ring.

: Hogan hands Nash a decanter of hot coffee. Nash pitches it in The Giant's eyes and punches him "below the belt". Nash Jack Knife Power Bombs The Giant who appears to land quite awkwardly on his neck. The trainers come out and wrap The Giant eyes in bandages.

Winner: Kevin Nash at 10 minutes and 33 seconds .

Bret "The Hit Man" Hart Vs Ric "Nature Boy" Flair

Winner: Via submission...Bret Hart at 18 minutes and 5 seconds .

Lex Luger Vs Macho Man

: Hall comes down carrying a chair. Hogan tries to stop him. Irish whipped into the ropes, Macho knocks Hall off the ring apron. Hall falls on Hogan. The nWo assail Luger. Sting saves Luger and clears the ring. While Sting has Hogan in the Scorpion Death Lock, Luger Racks Nash.

Winner: Lex Luger at 7 minutes and 5 seconds via disqualification .

Total event time: Two hours and 45 minutes..