The event was originally conceived in 1997 as an nWo PPV, but did not generate the revenue that WCW had hoped it would, due to a low buy rate and a lack of ticket revenue from hosting the event in such a small facility. The PPV was also created as an nWo event in order to see if there was enough demand to having two PPVs per month (one as a WCW event and the other as an nWo event). Despite the initial poor review, WCW elected to keep the event on its calendar (as prior to 1997 it did not have a regular January PPV event) and Souled Out became a co-branded WCW/nWo event in 1998. This established a practice WCW used throughout 1998, as all of its pay-per-view events that year were co-branded. The co-branding continued until the following Souled Out, when interim WCW President Ric Flair declared that WCW pay-per-views would no longer carry nWo branding.
The final Souled Out event was held in 2000, and WCW renamed its January PPV WCW Sin for 2001. Since its 2001 purchase of WCW, World Wrestling Entertainment has owned the rights to the Souled Out name, but have not used it for a pay-per-view. In 2015, All WCW pay-per-views were made available on the WWE Network.
The first edition of Souled Out took place on January 25, 1997 from the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The pay-per-view was (kayfabe) presented by the nWo and the official title of the event was nWo Souled Out. The event was displayed with an "nWo dictatorship feel", and featured an nWo-themed stage and wrestling ring, a "mystery voice" that called wrestlers "losers" and other insults instead of their ring introductions as well as anti-WCW propaganda. The mystery voice would also say, "loser" if a WCW wrestler appeared to be "hurt". Stable members Eric Bischoff and Ted DiBiase provided play-by-play and analysis. The nWo's official referee, Nick Patrick, officiated all of the matches, and gave slow counts to WCW wrestlers and fast counts to nWo wrestlers. None of the WCW wrestlers had their theme music played, nor did they receive on-screen graphics during their entrances. The event also featured a "Miss nWo" contest. Fan reaction to the event was generally negative.
Scott Norton won his match after Buff Bagwell, Big Bubba Rogers, Vincent, and Mr. Wallstreet came to the ring to try to recruit Page to join the nWo. Diamond Dallas Page initially accepted, but then hit Norton with a Diamond Cutter and fled the ring, tearing off his nWo T-shirt in the process. WCW referee Randy Anderson counted the fall in the WCW World Tag Team Championship match instead of Nick Patrick, who was knocked out during the course of the match.. On Nitro two nights later, Eric Bischoff reversed the decision and fired Anderson for his actions. The belts were returned to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as a result. Eddy Guerrero hit Syxx in the head with the title belt after both wrestlers had unhooked it simultaneously; Syxx fell and let go of the belt, giving Guerrero the victory. The nWo had been in physical possession of the belt since it was stolen from then-champion Ric Flair in the fall of 1996 and claimed by The Giant as his own. Flair was forced to vacate the title due to injuries sustained in the attack where the nWo stole the belt and a tournament was conducted to crown a new champion. After Guerrero defeated Diamond Dallas Page in the tournament final at Starrcade, Syxx and The Outsiders beat him up and Syxx stole the belt again.The Giant appeared to have won the main event against Hollywood Hogan, but nWo referee Nick Patrick refused to make the 3-count. The match soon ended when the entire nWo came out and attacked The Giant.
Souled Out 1998 took place on January 24, 1998 from the Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio and featured a double main event. One notable moment of the night was when Kevin Nash attempted his Jackknife Powerbomb on the Giant. Nash couldn't lift Giant high enough and as a result Giant landed on his head. The announcers were noticeably stunned as it appeared the Giant may have suffered a serious neck injury. While he ultimately recovered, Nash and the Giant would play it off as a deliberate move on Nash's part to try to break the Giant's neck.
The originally scheduled card was heavily changed, due to the serious injuries of Bret Hart and Jeff Jarrett. Hart, who was scheduled to wrestle Sid Vicious, suffered a severe concussion at Starrcade, which forced him to vacate the WCW World Heavyweight title, and eventually retire nine months later. Jarrett, who was scheduled to wrestle Chris Benoit in a Triple Threat Theater series (Dungeon Rules, Bunkhouse, Caged Heat), suffered lingering headaches from Benoit's diving headbutt off the top of the steel cage on the January 10 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, which forced him to vacate the WCW United States Heavyweight title. Benoit was instead moved to take Hart's place against Vicious and the Triple Threat Theater series was contested between Billy Kidman and three separate wrestlers. Kidman won the first match because Dean Malenko forgot that the match rules stated that a wrestler could win by having his opponent's feet touch the floor; Malenko had rolled out of the ring to collect himself in the early stages of the match, thus losing the match per the rules. The second match of the show was originally scheduled to be a WCW World Tag Team title match between Flair & Crowbar and Vampiro & a partner of his choosing; when Flair and Crowbar jumped Vampiro during a backstage interview, Vampiro wanted to take them on himself.