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On this date in WCW history: Chris Benoit wins the world title at 'Souled Out' before bailing for the WWF

Chris Benoit won the world heavyweight championship for the first time on this date in WCW history, defeating Sid Vicious at "Souled Out." But it wasn't long after that he bolted for the WWF.

World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late 1990s was a toxic environment that fostered some of the most ruthless politics in history. The major players like Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash did everything they could to keep smaller talent -- vanilla midgets, as they referred to them -- far down on the totem pole.

Take Chris Benoit, one of the most talented workers on the roster for a number of years. He worked as hard as anyone but his upward mobility was limited and he, along with others like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko, eventually grew tired of it.

By the time he was finally awarded the world heavyweight championship, which he won on this date in history (Jan. 16, 2000) at the Souled Out pay-per-view by submitting Sid Vicious, it was too late.

The very next day, he dropped the belt in the trash on his way out of the company. He was headed for the greener pastures of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), where he would once again find initial difficulty but ultimately make his way to a WrestleMania main event title victory over Triple H and Shawn Michaels in one of the greatest triple threat matches in history.

Quite the career path.

Here's the video of his win over Sid at Souled Out:

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