A History Of The New World Order
For more on this topic and other wrestling related videos, check out my YouTube.
For more on this topic and other wrestling related videos, check out my YouTube.
“I had hoped, initially, we’d get a successful six-to-eight-month story out of the NWO,” Eric Bischoff said. “I had no idea it would become as big as it became, and still is.”
Hulk Hogan’s initial run in WCW saw him dressed in the classic red and yellow, continuing to say his prayers and eat his vitamins and defeat almost everyone put before him. His move from WWF had brought with it a reinvigorated passion for the business, but after a while, fans once again grew tired of seeing the same 4 or 5 moves from Hogan defeating everyone on the roster.
This is when the pivotal moment of Hogan’s career occurred. He reinvented himself as a villainous heel and shocked the wrestling world.
The Neon lights were starting to dim and flicker out. As one behemoth begins to stagnate. An old rival ignites a revolution and brings in the dawn of a new age. A weathered icon has changed his colours and turned to the dark side. At his side, two outsiders – brothers in arms, who’ve recently been unshackled, and their true abilities brought in to reality. These three men, amongst other heroes of the age would blow a gust of change which would ripple through the universe for decades to come. It was time for The New World Order.
The New World Order, most commonly shortened to N.W.O were one of the most revolutionary teams in all of pro-wrestling history. They threw down the bright colours and over-the-top character traits and brought the world a sense of gritty realism which saw their new employers World Championship Wrestling beat their bitter and longstanding rivals in WWE.
Hulk Hogan had left WWE – the company which he had an instrumental part in the early success of, then the World Wrestling Federation, and headed to their main competitors – only to receive luke warm receptions from live crowds. He needed to evolve.
Razor Ramone & Diesel had dropped their monikers and became the much more real-to-life Scott Hall & Kevin Nash respectively and after a brief spell as The Outsiders. The pair debuted individually on WCW programming and promised to take over the wrestling landscape. Invaders from WWF were being seen on World Championship Wrestling for the first time. Many fans would have still believed Hall & Nash to have been contracted to WWF and this made their appearances feel all the more real.
“It was a different time,” Hall says. “The internet was not as prominent as today. People thought it was real. Other WCW wrestlers thought it was real. We sold the story that Vince sent me and Kev to join Hulk and cancel WCW.” Scott Hall
Scott Hall appeared first, making his way through the crowd during a segment on Monday Night Nitro and delivered his now infamous “You want a war” speech, promising that he had a challenge for the WCW locker room. Hall brought with him all of the charisma and charm which had been evident in his WWF run as Razor Ramone as well as his finisher, the Razor’s edge.
A man whose career spanned decades across the most popular time in the industries history. Something that Scott Hall was no small part of.
From his time in the AWA, Scott Hall with his larger-than-life charisma and his larger than most stature. To his time in the late 80s in New Japan where Hall towered over competitors as an outsider American character.
Through his run as The Diamond Studd in WCW, using the crucifix powerbomb named the Diamond drop were Scott Hall gained notoriety and was quickly signed to a new deal with competitor WWF in 1992 after WCW seemingly had nothing for his character moving forward.
Later in 1992 Scott Hall appeared as Razor Ramon for the first time, a character based off of Tony Montana from Scarface, a Cuban bad guy, just oozing with love to hate him charisma. Razor Ramon had a great run as historic Intercontinental champion and stayed with the WWF using his now named Razor’s Edge finisher, his now evolved crucifix powerbomb variant.
Where Scott Hall adapted the crucifix powerbomb once again into the aptly named Outsider’s Edge.
The Razor Ramon character belonged to WWF at the time, the company hilarious choosing to keep both Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s on-screen personalities alive in the wake of the two men’s departure. With these two hilarious and at the time much hated replacements. One of whom, the man playing Nash – went on to become an industry legend and future hall of famer, big red machine Kane.
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash became just that as they transitioned to WCW, keeping their real names and assuming a lot more control over their matches and storylines.
The depth and breath of Scott Hall’s importance to wrestling at this time is hard to over state.
In 2014 Razor Ramon was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and at the 2020 event, Scott Hall the man will be inducted as part of the NOW with Nash, Hogan and X-Pac.
The Diamond Drop, The Razor’s Edge, The Outsiders Edge. Which ever variant of Scott Hall’s you look at. It’s clear to see why so many mainly associate the crucifix powerbomb with this one man.
So influential is Scott Hall in the wrestling world, that in modern times, wrestling has seen a huge array of wrestler’s put their opponents head between their legs, spin them up onto their backs and slam them down with a move that is biblical in it’s iconography aswell as it’s destructive capabilities.
A few weeks later, Hall was joined by Nash when the pair accosted Eric Bischoff at the commentary booth. Big Sexy, Kevin Nash had all the size and power to be a top star in any wrestling promotion around the world. However, his time as Diesel in WWF saw he pick up the dubious honour of least popular and lowest drawing World Champion in the companies history. When he left WWF he also wanted to leave that part of his character behind, bringing with him to WCW a more realistic and vicious approach to his matches. His jack-knife powerbomb also came with him and it’s added venom saw many a foe laid out in the ring.
Kevin Nash was another main-stay during the early 90s. His devastating Jack-knife Powerbomb looked sickening as his opponents in WWF & WCW in the crumpled to the mat, folded in half after falling 7 feet in the air. Big Sexy sure knew how to execute a powerbomb back then.
“I just wanted to stick Bret and have him beat because ‘Taker had Bret beat and I screwed him at the Rumble and flipped him off and walked away,” Kevin Nash said. “So, in order for tit to tat, I had to have Bret beat. Bret wouldn’t take the finish. Vince caved on making Bret do the finish. And when he wouldn’t do that for business, because that was right for business, that’s when I said, ‘F*** it, I’m out, I’ll take the money from WCW, because you’re not doing what’s right.’”
At the next few events, the newly dubbed “Outsiders” could be found attacking WCW talent backstage, lurking around matches and distracting audiences from the in-ring action with their mere presence at ringside all the while, building anticipation through cryptic promos and a promise of something big about to happen. That they would be joined by a “Third Man”
Initially, the plan for the final part of the N.W.O trio was Sting. Eric Bischoff had arranged for the colourful glittering hero of the early 90s to turn to the dark side. Even though Sting ended up with his now iconic black and white look, taken from the classic film The Crow, the idea of him entering into the heel stable didn’t work out.
“Once Sting agreed to be the third man, it was literally within days that I ended up getting a phone call from Hulk Hogan and flew out to California. I hadn’t spent a ton of time thinking about or communicating with Sting about the best way to present this new character. What I’m about to say is what I would’ve hoped I’d done, I would not have wanted to see him in face paint. The idea behind the NWO was to make it more real and more believable.” Eric Bischoff
THE NEW WORLD ORDER OF WRESTLING
At Bash At The Beach in 1996 when Nash and Hall were set to take on Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Sting, the Outsiders were at a numbers disadvantage and promised to reveal the third man of their trio. In one of the most shocking and memorable moments in all of pro-wrestling history – they teamed with Hulk Hogan and formed the formidable faction – The NWO. The newly formed trio defeated the good guys when Hogan landed a leg drop on Randy Savage and covered him with what many consider to be an incredibly disrespectful manner.
At Wrestlemania 3, in one of the most iconic moments in all of Pro wrestling – Hulk Hogan swept Andre the Giant off his feet and body slammed the behemoth right into the annals of sports-entertainment legend. And although that moment is seared into most grapple fan’s memories, the historic match was actually won when Hulk Hogan came crashing down onto Andre the Giant with his finisher – the Leg Drop.
“When I dropped the leg, and nobody kicked out, it meant something. In the arena nowadays—in professional wrestling—if somebody used a leg drop for a finish, you’d probably have to come off the top of the building to get your opponent to stay down.” – Hulk Hogan
And although many wrestlers before Hogan had used a variant of a sitting leg drop onto their opponents. There is no doubt that this was the moment that the move really came into the history books of pop-culture in the United States.
Hogan is said to have learnt his iconic finishing technique whilst he was a wrestler in Japan.
“So when I brought it back to the States and I started dropping the leg drop, and the referee started counting, it was like a cannon: one, two, three. So I knew I was onto something. But it was just my luck that I dropped the leg drop in Japan and got the reaction that I did, so I just stuck with it.”
The leg drop stayed as part of Hogan’s finish to matches throughout his entire career. He must have punched his opponent, pointed at them and dropped the leg a thousand times. But that night at Bash of The Beach in 1996, the leg drop signified more than just a victory for the Hulkster over Randy Savage. As his leg landed on the Macho Man’s chest, it ushered in a new age for the entire pro wrestling industry.
Stone Cold Steve Austin spoke on the incident, “I was watching this with my guys before the show,” Austin said. “I said, ‘Hey, man, that’s disrespect. Am I right? Tell me about the cover. For some people, they don’t get this, but when you make a cover in that position it’s almost like, ‘Dude, you’re supposed to be here, and here I am with a little something extra.’ … I said, ‘Dude, he’s too high and not close to Savage’s body.’”
This pushed WCW to continued success in the famed Monday Night Wars in the mid-to-late 90s. Helping WCW triumph in the fabled Monday Night Wars from 6th June of 83 weeks in a row.
“The reaction of the crowd that night of the pay per view told us something different was happening,” Paul Wight said. “The anti-hero became the hero, and that was a direct parallel to what was happening in society. And so much of that night was unpredictable.”
But seemingly, the massive success of the NWO wasn’t enough for Hogan who claimed that it was in fact his idea to form the trio and turn heel at the time. Hogan stated: “I originally came up with the idea for the New World Order group in WCW. But, I wanted it to be Brutus Beefcake, The Nasty Boys and myself."
Eric Bischoff heavily disputes this claim: “I was over there kind of studying what worked over there and the differences between the way the product was presented in Japan and here in the States. And one of the things I noticed is, it was so much more real there. The storylines, the characters, the action in the ring was more reality-based. And here in the United States, it was more character, kind of comedy cartoonish. And in studying it, I was kind of watching the inter-company wars and that kind of thing. And that’s where the idea started.”
Scott Hall also disagrees with Hogan’s claims: "We had no idea who it was going to be. The whole third guy thing came up by accident. We wanted it to be hulk, but Hulk had creative control in his contract so he didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to do. We went to the ring, we hadn’t even met Hulk yet, I met him briefly at WrestleMania 9 but I didn’t know Hulk, we actually went to the ring in Daytona and Hogan wasn’t even there yet. He was on a jet, flying cross country from shooting a movie. Bischoff wanted it to be Hulk but before we went out, Bischoff told us 'If Hulk doesn't show, I’m gonna send out Sting.'"
Kevin Nash remembers things differently to Hulk too: “It was actually Eric’s idea. Eric pitched it to me. He came out to Scottsdale, Arizona and pitched the idea,” Nash explained. “I remember them doing something similar in Japan but it wasn’t that big of a deal; it was effective but it wasn’t to what the nWo became, so I said okay.
The NWO’s appearances in WCW were so believable to some, that WWF filed a lawsuit against their rivals, stating “TBS proposed inter-promotional matches in order to associate WCW with WWF” even though Eric Bischoff had clearly stated that Nash and Hall were no longer signed to WWF and even asked at Bash on the beach “Are you employed by the WWF?” to Nash, to which he responded with a resounding; “No”. The lawsuit dragged on for some time after the NWO’s debut and was eventually settled out of court.
Taking Hogan from one of the industries all-time biggest merch and ticket sellers, and a beloved good guy and turning him heel was a risk which ultimately paid off, but one which was by no means a guarantee at the time.
“I knew I could work as a heel because I’d watched so much of Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson and ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham and The Great Malenko,” Hogan said. “They’d chop, kick and beat the crap out of you, but then they’d backpedal, cross their heart, and drop to their knees the moment the babyface would make his comeback. For me, the problem was the timing. I didn’t know if that was the right timing to do it.” Hogan
PHASE ONE: EXPANSION
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In the weeks that followed Bash at the beach, the N.W.O began to expand, seeking to recruit more big names to their faction, with their end goal being to split away from WCW and remain as the domineering unit of the wrestling industry.
The first member to join was Ted DiBiase, who acted as the groups financial advisor and manager during matches. Being another ex-WWE performer helped to solidify the idea that the company was legitimately taking over the WCW brand and invading their programming.
Shortly after, Virgil another ex-WWF performer joined the NWO as their head of security under the name Vincent, a clear nod to WWE owner Vincent McMahon.
The WCW World Champion Giant initially feuded with the group, losing his belt in a match against Hogan at the Hog Wild pay-per-view. After the match Hall and Nash held the WCW belt up in the air whilst Hogan used black spray paint to mark the N.W.O logo onto it. Creating what is now an iconic image and a variant on the classic belt which would remain for Hogan’s entire run as champion.
The Giant initially resisted the group after the defeat only to quickly join them, siting their viability in taking over WCW and the increased paycheck he would receive.
“My character at the time was cartoonish, but joining the NWO gave me an opportunity to connect with a character that was more me,” Paul Wight said. “I was able to believe in what I did in a different way, becoming more real and more legitimate, and that helped me connect more with the audience.”
X-pac was another wrestler who had recently switched sides between WWF and their rivals, and with the new name of Syxx soon became a member of this ever-expanding faction.
The faction even recruited their very own match official, referee Nick Patrick who would preside over all of their shenanigans, bending the rules and turning a blind eye to their under-handed tactics during matches. This was a move of pure genius from the creative team at WCW, now there was a reason that the N.W.O could get away with causing so much mayhem and still remain victorious in the ring. It made me as a young fan hate Nick Patrick and it added to the feeling of animosity I had towards the group in general. Most people don’t like a cheater. But even less people like a cheater who can get away with it and prosper.
The N.W.O were the villains, at least initially. They were attempting to upset the status quo within their newly joined company and were set on a path of destruction over all of the companies biggest stars.
Hogan recalls: “We needed a certain kind of heat, I was someone they had loved and believed in, so in order for this to work, there needed to be the right reaction. That’s what we got when people in the crowd started throwing water bottles, trash, and everything else at us in the ring. That’s what we needed, and we got it.”
This initial success created from the birth of the New World Order, made WCW Monday Night Nitro the most watched programme on cable television, prompting the network to request a second weekly show, which became WCW Thunder.
The main man to stand up to the N.W.O proved to be Macho Man Randy Savage who was enraged when his wife and long-time valet, Miss Elizabeth joined the faction. Savage’s history with N.W.O leader Hogan and the fact that Randy was the man who Hogan originally turned on to form the alliance with Nash and Hall, made the rivalry all the more intense.
At Halloween Havoc in 1996, Hall and Nash defeated Harlem heat to become the WCW Tag Team champions and Hogan defeated Savage to retain his WCW title belt. Now, not only did the New World Order hold the passion from the fans and the attention of those in the locker room, but also all three major championships within the company. At the end of the event Roddy Piper made a surprise return and came face to face with Hogan.
With him, Piper brought a revelation. He had hinted at the fact that the N.W.O were not working alone in their coup of WCW and were in fact working with someone high up in the company in order to reach their goals. Roddy Piper revealed this person to be Eric Bischoff to the shock of many fans around the wrestling world.
At this point, there was no Montreal Screwjob nor was there an evil Vince McMahon in WWF. Eric Bischoff’s turn from mild mannered announcer into an onscreen mastermind and maniacal cohort of WCW’s biggest enemies revolutionised the way in which pro wrestling was presented forever.
With his now complete turn to the dark side, Eric Bischoff gave the WCW wrestlers an ultimatum. They must either give up their allegiance to WCW and join the N.W.O or become the next targets of the faction and face annihilation.
At this time, the next phase of the N.W.O began with the likes of Big Bubba Rogers, Scott Norton, V.K Wallstreet and Buff Bagwell all choosing the black and white t-shirt over the idea of being left black and blue from a beating.
One man who decided to don black and white, but in a whole different way was sting. It was around this time that it became clear that WCW’s only hope of repelling the ongoing invasion would be the man who would spend his time watching on from the rafters. Sting was the vigilante that WCW needed and would descend into altercations involving the N.W.O and serve as protector over the rest of the roster with silent attacks from his lethal black bat. As Hall, Nash, Hogan and their group focused on gaining followers and titles, Sting stayed steadfast in his belief that good would overcome evil. This rivalry between Sting and Hogan would bubble up over the next year and a half.
By 1997, Hogan had taken steps to further distance himself from his persona from his time in WWF: “I had a certain way of doing interviews, but I remember Kevin and Scott saying, ‘You don’t need to get every word in’ and ‘Just be cool.’ That changed everything. I was still in that machine-gun cadence of doing the Hulk Hogan promos, and they changed the way I delivered interviews.”
At the start of the year, N.W.O were given their very own pay-per-view by Eric Bischoff, a night themed around the core 3 of the group and styled in black, white and grey. With The Giant now removed from the faction due to his disobedience towards Hogan, the pair would meet in the main event.
It was a night filled with unsatisfying matches, Hogan and The Giant drew to a finish with a no contest, due to outside interference and lop-sided officiating. Hall and Nash lost the tag belts to the Steiners, but were immediately handed the titles back by Eric Bischoff.
I understand that this was all in service to the long-term story of the N.W.O and their evil grip over the management within the company. But watching a pay-per-view and you find out all of the finishes to the main matches don’t really matter can feel rather deflating. In hindsight, this should have been a huge red flag, a time to realise that in pro wrestling, individual shows and moments count just as much as long-term booking when it comes to the satisfaction of fans. However, this was just a taste of what was to come over the course of the N.W.O’s story as we will soon find out.
At Superbrawl in February, Hogan faced off against long-time foe in Roddy Piper. When a returning Randy Savage made his way to the ring during the bout, it seemed like Hogan was finally going to get his comeuppance at the hands of two of his older rivals. But, in an unpredictable turn of events, Savage attacked Piper and handed the victory to Hogan, before officially revealing himself as the newest member of the New World Order.
Later at the Uncensored show, after Hogan, Nash, Hall and Savage defeated two other teams they were awarded the right to challenge for any championship within WCW at a time they saw fit. As they celebrated, Sting made his way from above the arena and decimated everyone with a bat, letting the N.W.O know that even if the company was beginning to buckle under their continued assault, he would always be watching, waiting for a moment to strike.
At this time it became clear that a rift had begun to form amongst the founding members of the N.W.O with a tension between Hogan and Nash arising due to their differing desires for the group. Hogan was more interested in how the group were perceived and recruited NBA legend Dennis Rodman to the faction to help win them more fans.
"I've got Phil Jackson calling me, going, 'Where's my guy at, where's my guy at?'" said Hulk Hogan "I'm going, 'Rodman, Phil Jackson keeps blowing up my phone, you gotta go back, and Rodman says, 'I don't wanna go back.'" Hogan
Nash meanwhile was still solely focused on the domination of WCW and was concerned that Hogan was losing his ruthless touch.
This vicious approach to wrestling from Nash was seemingly too much for referee Nick Patrick and Ted DiBiase who left the group at this time. Patrick returned to being a more neutral official in matches as removed the N.W.O’s advantage whenever they wanted to cheat to win.
Without this advantage, after a year of winning, the victory streak of Hogan came to an end. When he teamed with Dennis Rodman to take on Lex Luger and The Giant at Bash at the Beach the pair came unstuck and were defeated. Leading to Lex being awarded a chance to challenge Hogan for his WCW belt.
In August, Luger forced Hogan into the torture rack during their title match on Nitro. Hogan submitted and lost the belt, in a moment which seemed like it could be the end of the N.W.O’s dominance. However, this is Hulk Hogan we are talking about. He may not be wearing his red and yellow, nor saying his prayers and eating his vitamins anymore. But the man knew how to stay on top.
Just five days later in a rematch against Luger at the Road Wild pay-per-view, Hogan was victorious and set the faction back onto the winning track.
"I was in shock. I guess the masterminds’ felt fans needed something because they laid us out week, after week, after week, which worked tremendously. However, they wanted to give the fans what we call, "give them a bone," to bridge the gap between then and when Sting was going to come back. That's an honour. I was hand-picked to do it. It was an honour.” Lex Luger
Survivor Series 1997
One of the most important and discussed moment in wrestling history is the Montreal Screwjob. So you as you can imagine, Hulk Hogan the man who is always desperate to be the one in the limelight, has his own take on the incident, he said:
"Well Bret Hart was supposed to lose to Shawn Michaels at uh, uh, WrestleMania..., uh, whatever the hell it was. You know, 16 or 17, I don't know; Where all the fans were chanting "Bret screwed Bret". Bret told Vince McMahon "I'm not losing to Shawn Michaels in Canada" and Shawn Michaels went out there and pulled a fast one on Bret Hart and held him down and pinned him and Bret couldn't do anything about it and so-called Excellence of Execution, who was supposed to be the greatest wrestler of all, little-teeny Shawn Michaels held him down and embarrassed him though. Bret Hart was being a horse's ass saying he wouldn't lose and Shawn Michaels pinned him anyway.”
The Montreal Screwjob happened at Survivor Series, not Wrestlemania 16 or 17. The phrase, Bret screwed Bret came from an interview with Vince McMahon in the aftermath, fans weren’t cheering it in the arena on the night. And probably most importantly, Shawn never pinned Bret, he famously held Bret in his own Sharpshooter submission, one of the most iconic images in all of pro wrestling history. Did Hogan really not know about how it went down? If not, why did he just make up several key details about what happened? Key details which are easily verified as false and most casual wrestling fans would realise were not true? Why would Hogan lie about an event which he had zero involvement in? It just baffles my mind.
On WCW the night after the Screwjob, the N.W.O took to the air in Canadian Flag clothing and making clear reference to the idea that Bret Hart had signed the WCW logo into the air on the previous nights WWF pay-per-view. However, it wouldn’t be Hart who would be the first to jump ship to WCW from their rival following the fallout of the screw job.
“No, no, that was Rick Rude calling me 15 minutes after Montreal went down. That Sunday night, I’m sitting in my house, with my wife and my kids… That was Rick. Rick called me. The phone was right next to the couch where I was sitting and Rick called me and he said ‘Man are you seeing this?’ I said ‘No.’ And he started explaining it to me, and he said ‘Man is there room for me there?’ ‘Oh absolutely.’ By that point I was pretty good friends with Rick, I said ‘If you’re free there’s room for you brother, come on down’, and he was there the next day.” Eric Bischoff
Famously, after appearing on a pre-taped episode of Monday Night Raw in WWF, Rick Rude made his way to WCW and appeared on Monday Nitro the very same evening, immediately letting the fans know exactly how he felt about what Vince McMahon had done and aligned himself as the newest member of the N.W.O.
PHASE TWO // STARCADE 1997
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Eric Bischoff said on the Starrcade 97 main event: “We knew what the finish we wanted was before we even got to the building. We knew before we got on a plane. We knew about it months in advance. We knew we wanted Sting to go over. How he went over, he had to go over strong. We had to end the story exactly how the audience wanted it to end, on the highest note possible. That was the finish going in.”
This one is a little strange. But allow me to explain. 18 months is a long time in pro wrestling. But a year and a half is what the initial meeting between Sting and Hulk Hogan deserved. A slow drawn out story which would have fans captivated every week, reaching a peak at WCW’s biggest show of the year and the end of a storyline which would live long in the memory. Which it does. For all the wrong reasons.
“Sting and Hulk Hogan were the two franchise guys, and the franchise guys were butting heads over what was going to happen. One guy came up to me and told me to fast count to give him some heat and give him an out, while the other guy said, ‘Don’t fast count it. Just keep it nice and slow.” Nick Patrick
Nick Patrick, established WCW wrestling referee admitted that Hulk spoke to him and rigged a part of a match between him & Sting at Starrcade 97. The ref was asked by Hogan to make the pin count as slow as possible, making Sting look weak after the beating he had received and the loss from Hogan, Eric Bischoff wanted their to be a fast count, so that Sting would look strong in defeat and further add to the idea that the referee was on the side of Hogan and the N.W.O all along, and Nick Patrick got caught in the middle.
“The person in charge didn’t want to make a call. He didn’t want to decide.” Nick Patrick
Interrupting Hogan’s celebrations, a debuting Bret Hart made his way to the ring and explained that the referees fast count was illegal, declaring himself the ref and making the match restart fairly. Seems pretty straight forward. Until we listen to Nick Patrick and find out that he was instructed to make a normal speed pin count, a fast count and a slow count by different people backstage and didn’t know what to do, resulting in the original pin from Hogan to Sting a normal paced call, thus making Bret’s interruption seem like a villainous move and diminishing his esteem with the crowd.
In this moment, Hogan shows just how well he understands the subtleties of pro wrestling and how just a small difference in how a match plays out can have huge ramifications moving forward. He showed that he was willing to yet again go behind the back of the performer he was facing in the ring and make unagreed changes in order to make himself look better.
As Starrcade went off the air, the fans in the audience and at home were left confused. Bret Hart’s debut felt oddly timed and lacklustre. Hogan, the villain seemed like he had been screwed out of his victory and Sting the hero even in victory with the WCW title around his waist, was the one doing all of the plotting. Nothing felt right and it led to weeks of uncertainty from the company. The controversy of the finish of the match continued on after the show and the title belt was made vacant until Sting and Hogan could resolve the debate on who the true WCW champion was. Replays of the referee count and Bret Harts actions were played and discussed the following week on WCW television.
PHASE THREE // 1998
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The way in which the crowd had been so dissatisfied with the Hulk and Sting encounter, meant WCW needed to attempt to rekindle the feud quickly. This led to a rematch at the Superbrawl pay-per-view. On February 22, 1998 Sting beat Hogan to win the WCW World Heavyweight title.
A moment which was hard earned and well-deserved by Sting. But on another level, benefitted Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. They had waited in the wings and never attempted to challenge whilst Hogan was the champion. But now, with the leader of their group de-throned, they grabbed at the opportunity.
On the same show, Scott Steiner betrayed his brother and became the latest member of the N.W.O faction.
By March of 1998, WCW’s rivals were beginning to make Stone Cold Steve Austin their main star. With this change, brought with it increased viewership and higher ticket sales, something which directly damaged the bottom line of executives inside World Championship Wrestling.
Leading up to the Uncensored show, Hogan and Randy Savage were embroiled in a game of one-upmanship, as each tried to show that they were the best wrestler in the N.W.O. This led to a steel cage match where the pair attempted to settle the score once and for all, but no victor was declared on the night. After the match, Randy Savage declared that Hulk Hogan and his fellow N.W.O team mates were conspiring against the Macho Man. In the main event of Uncensored, Scott Hall attempted and failed to take Sting’s WCW belt away from him.
To fight back against the momentum beginning to gather inside WWF, decision makers at WCW pushed Monday Nitro to 3 hours in order to sell more advertising slots. This 3 hour show has since been preferred by WWE in the modern day, a change which many of the show’s detractors online say is a leading issue in the declining quality of WWE’s weekly shows.
And even back then, going from a 2 to 3-hour weekly show caused a steady but noticeable decline in quality as the material in each programme was either spread thing to accommodate the longer time slot, or in many cases, simple meant that WCW were forced to present fans with lower quality matches to fill time.
This was an issue which was only worsened when WCW executives decided to add another show to their weekly line up. On Thursday nights, they would display their brand-new Thunder show in August, with the idea that eventually the N.W.O would grow large enough in order to create a second roster to fill out Thunder’s airtime.
It was around this time that Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan began to show that their clear differences were beginning to have a strain on the group. When Hogan attack Nash after they had wrestled as tag-team partners, it was clear for the world to see.
When it came time for Hulk to once again challenge for the N.W.O title, it was now held by his fellow group member and long-time rival Randy Savage.
During the match, Kevin Nash came out to powerbomb Hogan as retribution for the Hulkster’s recent blind side attack. But as Bret Hart managed to lay the limp Hogan’s arm over the also seemingly unconscious Savage, Hogan won back his WCW title.
At this moment, the first major fracture within the N.W.O, tore the entire group apart.
PHASE FOUR // N.W.O OFF SHOOTS
“The nWo Wolfpac was during the Monday Night Wars. That was during a time the business with WWE and us was at its peak. That was a fun time. I have great memories of that” Lex Luger
In April of 1998, Kevin Nash and Randy Savage came to the ring and were joined by Konnan, Miss Elizabeth, Curt Hennig, and Rick Rude. They were the N.W.O Wolfpac and would be identified by their classic N.W.O t-shirts, but instead of the classic white and black, wore red instead.
To oppose the newly formed red and black Wolfpac, would be a team spearheaded by Hogan, known as nWo Hollywood and would feature Eric Bischoff, Scott Steiner, Scott Norton, Vincent, The Disciple, and Brian Adams.
Scott Hall was away from WCW at this time and fans begun to speculate which side he would join upon his return to the ring. Initially when he made his way back, Scott Hall joined Kevin Nash in red, before switching sides to the black and white team with Hogan.
"So in order for nWo to have their own show, and have their own roster to deep enough to sustain a two, or at some point a three hour show. There had to be more nWo members and eventually peel off and turn on the original nWo and all that kind of storyline gaga. But I was building up the nWo roster so I could eventually have WCW on Thunder, nWo on Nitro and have my two companies so to speak battling each other. Good idea, bad idea, doesn’t matter at this point, but that was the idea." Eric Bischoff
The Red and Black Wolfpac were not the only break away from the original N.W.O line-up. Not by a long stretch. Throw in the Hollywood N.W.O led by Hogan and that’s 2. Count the original group and that’s 3. But what if I told you that before it’s eventual demise, the N.W.O would have no less than 15 split off groups and variations.
In the same way that anything in pop culture that becomes successful, ends up spawning imitators and off-shooting brands who all want a slice of the finances attached with such a popular product. The N.W.O was the hottest thing in all pro wrestling. And not just in North America either.
In this video, I want to take a look at these various iterations and find out which of them worked and put simply, which of them flopped.
N.W.O IN JAPAN
From 1996 the buzz of the N.W.O had already reached Japan. A year later in December of 1997, on an episode of WCW Nitro, Sonny Onoo was interviewed b Gene Okelund. The pair discussed Masahiro Chono’s employment status with New Japan Pro Wrestling and the status of his contract.
This led to Chono appearing with an N.W.O t-shirt on, to proclaiming that he has turned down New Japan’s contract offer and was to be the newest and first international member of the New World Order.
Travelling back to Japan, Masahiro Chono became the N.W.O’s representative and an invader in his home country. Quickly setting to work building the N.W.O Japan, Chono was joined by Hiro Saito and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. The environment was different, but the intentions of the N.W.O was to remain. The Japanese outfit aimed to add more members in their pursuit of dominance over the New Japan roster, leading to an approach being made to Keiji Mutoh, the man behind the Great Muta character.
Initially resistant, after a hard-fought set of matches between Mutoh and Chono, the pair shook hands and sent speculation buzzing around the pro wrestling world. Soon after, The Great Muta explained his decision to join the N.W.O Japan group, but still wanted to remain loyal to New Japan in the process.
This led to a period where the Japanese team would travel for televised matched in the US on WCW television and began to align themselves with their American counterparts in the process.
N.W.O Japan was briefly joined by the likes of Buff Bagwell, with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall joining them on a tour of Asia in 1997. The team of Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton and Chono had an match against 3 members of the 4 Horsemen, including Ric Flair on an episode of Nitro.
When Sting joined the group, it led to a match of the N.W.O Japan challenging for the New Japan Tag Titles. Sting would also compete with the group against the likes of teams such as New Japan Sekigun and the pairing of Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh.
By 1998 Masahiro Chono had become the IWGP Heavyweight titleholder and New Japan’s new champion, making the N.W.O Japan faction with Chono at the helm, more relevant than ever. However, in September, when he was side-lined due to a neck injury, Keiji Mutoh stepped up as the face of the group.
With the new leadership, N.W.O Japan began to change its course and head in a lighter and more honourable direction. Keiji Mutoh was a good guy at heart and even though he had aligned himself with Chono to protect his career in Japan, Mutoh always knew what they were doing was wrong.
When Masahiro Chono returned, with him he brought fury in the face of the new way in which Mutoh was running the ship. This led to a separate breakaway faction in Japan, led by Chono and known as Team 2000.
With him, Chono brought Jeffrey Farmer aka NOW Sting, an imposter of the popular WCW character. And Mike Rotunda with him alongside Japanese wrestling legend Akira and MMA champion Don Frye to complete the new line up.
Over the next few years, the team would feature mainly in segments which heavily focused on the rivalry between the warring N.W.O Japanese factions. Mike Rotunda left to travel back to WCW state side and Sting eventually left the group when his extended tours of Japan finished.
At this time, Masahiro Chono defeated N.W.O Japan and absorbed its members into his own, now mega group. Team 2000 featured the likes of Japanese wrestlers such as: Satoshi Kajima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and long time New Japan booker Gedo. The group in hindsight, also hosted a number on international stars who would go on to make massive names for themselves later in their career.
Dr Death Steve Williams was a part of the faction at one stage. Under another disguise, as The Black Tiger, Silver King, who you may remember from his time in WCW or more recently his starring role as Ramses as the villain in 2006’s Nacho Libre. Eddie Guerrero travelled to Japan and featured at this time for Team 2000. As did a fresh-faced Great Khali as his revered Giant Singh character. And Scott Hall featured on several occasions for the team whilst on tours with New Japan.
By 2002 the group had disbanded with the various competitors spreading their wings on their own personal journeys. For a team which was built as a response to N.W.O Japan, which itself was in turn created as an off shoot of the original American New World Order. Team 2000 was more successful and created a larger legacy for its members than most logic would dictate.
After Kevin Nash had dissolved the N.W.O Wolfpac he once again reunited with Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash in order to rekindle the initial spark which turned the super group into a household name.
Using this instance as a reason to cut some of the less popular members from the pool drawn of Wolfpac and Hollywood N.W.O talent. The group was, for a brief time, streamlined, featuring some of the biggest names in pro wrestling at the time and certainly the lion’s share of main eventers within WCW and would run for a successful 8 months.
The N.W.O Elite comprised of Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Scott Steiner, Konnan, and Lex Luger. And would later feature Buff Bagwell, David Flair, Torrie Wilson, Disco Inferno and Miss Elizabeth as it seemed WCW couldn’t control their urge to add ever increasing numbers to their factions. Even when it was clear that this bloated approach was not only becoming stale for the fans at home watching the screen, but the bloated roster was forcing the company to haemorrhage money on it’s plummeting decline from atop the wrestling world.
VISCOUS & DELICIOUS
When WCW President Eric Bischoff was unveiled as the mastermind behind the formation of the N.W.O he delivered a strongly worded message to the entire WCW roster. Bischoff declared that either the wrestlers in the locker room must join the faction or face destruction at their hand.
Marcus Alexander Bagwell was floating around in a directionless and fairly forgettable duo alongside Scott Riggs known as the American Males. A name which was fittingly bland for this pairing. So when Bischoff delivered his ultimatum, Bagwell turned on his partner and aligned with the N.W.O with the help of Scott Norton who had also decided to side with the New World Order.
As a faction within a faction, Norton and Bagwell became the Viscous and Delicious arm of the N.W.O competing in matches against any team who dare oppose their ever growing stable.
However, at this time, the WCW tag division was dominated by two teams. One of which were the almighty Steiner Brothers. The other was the pairing of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. So with their new allegiance to Hall and Nash’s faction, Viscous and Delicious had put themselves in a position where they had no chance to move up the card and challenge for the WCW tag titles.
It didn’t help their case in the eyes of the bookers, that Scott Norton was also signed to a contract in Japan which left Bagwell stuck in pointless singles matches, meaning the team had no real chance to build any real chemistry and seemingly never clicked with fans.
BLUE WORLD ORDER
When Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie begun making their names in front of the rabid ECW crowd, they did so by parodying famous pop and rock bands as they made their entrance to the ring. Most memorably, the pair performed a rendition dressed as the Jackson 5 and infamous glam rock band Kiss. So when Raven’s character rose to prominence and wanted for his entrances to feature modern rock music, the trio seemed like a perfect fit.
However, following their first outing as a unit, as Raven made his entrance and Richards and Blue Meanie backed him up with a musical parody, the response was much greater than anyone behind the scenes could have predicted.
The group were greeted by Bubba Ray Dudley backstage after the event who remarked that their work was superb and that he’d love to see them parody the biggest thing in wrestling at the time, which of course brings up to the N.W.O. Or in this case, the B.W.O. After seeking the permission for ECW owner Paul Heyman and agreeing with Raven to part ways. At November To Remember 1996 inside of the ECW Arena.
The Blue World Order originally featured Stevie Richards as Big Stevie Cool a parody of Kevin Nash. Da Blue Buy who’s take on The Bad Guy Scott Hall was made all the more hilarious by their opposing visual appearances. And rounding off the trio was Hollywood Nova filling the role of Hulk Hogan.
The group would eventually feature Thomas The Inchworm Rodman, 3 and a half a clever pun on Syxx’s character and the aptly named Stink, the B.W.O’s answer to WCW main eventer Sting.
Stevie Richards quickly became the stand out of the group and was pushed heavily throughout this time, making it into the main event scene and challenging for the ECW World title. However, after suffering a serious injury at the hands of Terry Funk when he landed awkwardly on the guard rail surrounding the ring, Richards was forced to temporarily step away from ECW in order to recover. In his absence the group had lost their front man and eventually collapsed in 1998.
This would not be the end for the B.W.O however. What was created for a single show and massively outperformed it’s expectations created a small but lasting legacy within the pro wrestling landscape. It may just be a silly parody, based off childish humour and slapstick, but something about this whacky group dressed up in blue endured.
In 2005 when WWE had bought the rights to the ECW brand and put on their One Night Stand pay-per-view, the B.W.O were reunited to the delight of wrestling fans of that era. Joey Styles proclaimed when the group made their entrance: "If any gimmick never deserved to make a dime and made a boatload of cash, this is it! And the best part is that they (WCW) couldn't sue us, 'cause it's a parody!"
Over the next couple of years the B.W.O featured as a team against groups such as The Mexicools. Their most famous incident came when JBL tracked down The Blue Meanie during a mass-brawl in the ring and attacked the smaller man for real. This left the Blue Meanie in a right state, bleeding from his nose and mouth with the crowd wondering what they had just witnessed.
It came to light that Blue Meanie had legitimately stood up the JBL backstage after the pair were involved in an altercation which ended with the Meanie calling JBL a lockeroom bully. This drew the angered reaction from JBL at the ECW show, which proved that he was in fact a bully just as The Meanie had proclaimed.
This led to the B.W.O taking on JBL in a no disqualifications match in which Stevie Richards almost took JBL’s head off with a sickening chair shot. And Blue Meanie got the win.
This real-life drama could not serve to elevate the group unfortunately and they silently faded away from TV appearances before being released by WWE.
Since 2010 the Blue World Order have featured sporadically in various iterations over the years. Different members of the group have reunited in the US, Europe and Japan and have gone on to appear in TNA, Chikara and One Pro Wrestling in the UK.
To add to the already ridiculous nature of these mind-bending factions comings and going. We even saw a fake Blue Meanie featured at TNA Hardcore Justice 2010 under the name of The Blue Tilly.
BLUE WORLD ORDER JAPAN
But I can go even further than that. Just as the original N.W.O had spawned a Japanese variant. So did the B.W.O, when at ECW Barely Legal Taka Michinoku, Terry Boy, and Dick Togo were rebranded as B.W.O Japan and came out in their very own versions of the classic branded t-shirt.
Whilst I explain this, you’ll have to bear with me as it gets rather convoluted. The Blue World Order Japan was a parody of New World Order Japan an off-shoot brand of their American counterparts. Whilst also being a direct reference to the original B.W.O from their interactions on ECW programming and the fact that they took their name directly from said group. The B.W.O is a parody of the original Hogan, Hall and Nash brand of N.W.O. Meaning that The B.W.O Japan, although only briefly existed as a parody of a parody of a wrestling group from 4,000 miles across the globe.
Although their brief run in ECW, which for a while saw them referred to as B.W.O International, only lasted a short while. They faced off against The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Gran Naniwa and had their most notable showing at ECW’s first ever pay-per-view Barely Legal in 1997.
The members of the group found themselves signed to a contract with WWE shortly after. They soon dropped the B.W.O name and became Kai En Tai instead. With Taka Michinoku and Funaki choosing to keep the blue and white appearance throughout most of their careers.
PHASE FIVE // THE FIRST CRACKS APPEAR
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In 1998 the talk of the WCW wrestling fans, was surrounding the ongoing feud between the N.W.O Red & Black Wolfpac and the original Black & White Hollywood N.W.O.
At the time of the split between the group, Scott Hall was injured and had spent some time off screen healing. Whilst he was away, people begun speculating as to which team he would align himself with upon Hall’s return.
Their answer came in May of 98 at the WCW Slamboree pay-per-view, when Hall arrived for his match alongside Kevin Nash, wearing the red and black of his long-time friend’s faction. This lengthy companionship between the two men came to an almost immediate halt however. As Scott turned on Nash and revealed that he would instead be joining up with Hogan and the other half of N.W.O.
Over the following months, operations were back to normal as the storyline of the New World Order continued to be about which wrestler would join up with what group and then, who would eventually defect. This period saw The Giant, Lex Luger and Randy Savage amongst others joining and leaving the group.
Most notably, this was the time when Sting, the man who had previously been the one leading the charge against N.W.O, finally buckled and became a part of the Wolfpac, complete with red and black face paint. For some, it would have been incredibly exciting to see what the future had in store, with a man in Sting, who most would have never expected to change allegiances. For me, watching as a little kid, I got a sinking feeling in my gut.
I still believed in kayfabe. I didn’t want to see one of my favourites in the Stinger join up to the N.W.O. If Sting can change his mind and be corrupted to what I saw as the ultimate evil in pro wrestling at the time, then surely, nobody is safe. I thought to myself that with Sting incorporated into the faction, this would signal the end to WCW and the rest of the roster were bound to crumble at the might of this mega power.
Now, as an adult. I have such a different feeling on Sting joining the Wolfpac. Yes, his rare appearances with his stand-out red and black pain and attire are undoubtably memorable. He looked so menacing in this get up.
However, I now look back at this moment as the start of the end for the N.W.O and by extension World Championship Wrestling. If the writers and bookers were willing to throw sting to the same fate as half the roster, then what makes him special. His defiance in the face of Hall, Nash and Hogan was what made him so important to the company.
WCW were about to begin to crumble, due to the infectious nature of the New World Order. But not in the way I thought when I was younger.
THE FINGER POKE OF DOOM
The upcoming year was about to become so convoluted and the timeline so messy that even watching at the time, things began to become confusing and hard to untangle.
In December of 1998 at Starrcade Kevin Nash faced off against Goldberg and challenged him for his WCW World Heavyweight title. Goldberg was at the pinnacle of one of the greatest and most contested winning streaks in modern wrestling history. Whether you believe Goldberg’s streak was real or in-fact the numbers were inflated in true pro wrasslin style, there is no doubt that Goldberg’s phenomenal burst onto the scene made him into an instant star. During the match, Scott Hall appeared dressed as a member of staff in the arena and jumped up onto the apron. Shockingly, pun intended, Scott had with him a taser, and he zapped Goldberg whilst the referee and both Nash and Goldberg were distracted.
This left Nash with the chance to pin his downed adversary and end the streak. Becoming the WCW champion in the process. Fans, including myself at the time, were disappointed in the was in which Goldberg was seemingly cheated out of his title and the prestigious streak. But it is unquestionable that the actions witnessed on that night created long lasting and iconic pro wrestling moments.
The wrestling world was eager to see what would happen in the presumed rematch. One month later in January, the stage was set for Kevin Nash to defend his newly obtained gold, this time without the help of Scott Hall. Fans were clamouring to see their favourite in Goldberg put the record straight and reclaim what many believed was still deservedly his.
So when we tuned in to Monday Nitro to see the match, you can imagine how disappointed I felt when another N.W.O scheme had got in the way. Members conspired to have Goldberg detained and thus unable to compete. Leaving a path for the returning Hogan to face off for the title against Nash.
Hogan was one of my least favourite wrestlers in WCW. I also hated all forms of the N.W.O. I was seven. Of course I wanted to cheer on who I perceived as the good guys. So instead of getting to see Nash destroyed at the hands of the rather exciting Goldberg. I was stuck watching two wrestlers who I didn’t much care for, in a match I didn’t really want to see.
However as many of you probably already realise. Things for little chubby 7 year old me, were about to go from bad, to much, much worse.
Nash and Hogan postured and glared across the ring from one another. The crowd are at fever pitch. Their ruckus excitement only adding to the electric atmosphere emanating from the two men under the spotlights.
The two giant men slowly circle one another, measuring up, before coming slowly together in the middle of the ring. I was beginning to get caught up in the atmosphere of the event, sitting at home, with my eyes glued to the TV screen.
Then Hogan poked Nash with a single finger. Nash collapsed in an over-the-top and theatrical fashion and the crowd’s palpable excitement in popped. The fans drop their arms and open their mouths in confusion. Some of them probably didn’t see the quick flick of the pinky from Hogan, and those who did were surely not aware of why it had caused such a reaction from Nash.
Before anyone had time to process what they had just seen, Hogan laid upon his downed opponent and claimed victory and the WCW title. A few hardcore Hogan fans celebrate briefly, amongst a crowd of bewilderment.
As Scott Hall and Scott Steiner climb into the ring, Nash and Hogan regain their feet. All four men hug in celebration as it becomes clear that the men were all in on this together. I could not have been more unhappy with this outcome as a child. Even with the explanations coming from commentary, I was confused. I could not work out what had just happened, which made me upset.
A moment which will go down in infamy as one of the most controversial occurrences in all of pro wrestling history, broke my seven-year-old brain. Now, in hindsight, I can see It as both one of the most brilliant pieces of storytelling in order to create hatred towards a set of characters, and also a moment which fundamentally undermines the entire foundations of the industry.
It was a clear reminder to children around the world, that nothing you see within the ring in WCW was spontaneous, with the combat being choreographed and every story scripted.
Whatever you feel about the finger poke of doom. It’s hard for me to think of a more memorable moment from my time watching WCW in the UK as a kid. For me, no matter how much mental anguish it caused me when I was younger, it will forever be iconic because of that.
That night of the finger poke of doom proved so divisive, that the management in WCW decided to have a complete overhaul of the N.W.O and created 2 brand new versions to appease fans. With one faction being known as NOW Elite which absorbed some members of the Wolfpac and retained it’s red and black branding.
The group featured some of WCW’s top talent in; Hogan, Nash, Hall, Buff Bagwell, Scott Steiner, Lex Luger and Miss Elizabeth. Whilst the remaining members of the old version of the N.W.O stayed in black and white and consisted mainly of mid-card talent and those who WCW creative deemed less than A tier performers.
N.W.O BLACK & WHITE
The likes of Brian Adams, instead of Hulk they had Horace Hogan, Scott Norton, Stevie Ray and Vincent. But seemingly making a team out of B-listers didn’t go over well with fans who coined the name N.W.O B-Team, which caught on with commentators on the show. The N.W.O was the place to go when you couldn’t make the grade with the Elite. As WCW pushed forward with their team-based approach to creating stories for their shows, they seemingly carried on piling any and everyone into poorly fitting groups.
The Giant and Curt Hennig came together to form this rag-tag group of under achievers. The N.W.O Black and White only served to prove that not everybody can succeed when forced into such groups. With the team having a forgettable run within the company and if anything, diminished their standing within the eyes of fans with their place so clearly marked outside of the main event. Even the likes of Mr Perfect and The Big Show who both had incredible careers elsewhere, couldn’t shine when stifled by so many other competing voices.
They would prove to be the least successful of the N.W.O variants and one of the most short lived.
With interest in the N.W.O at its lowest point by the middle of 1999, the groups had fizzled out, with Hogan returning to his original heroics and good guy persona. But WCW head office knew that without the full force of their most popular team, they would continue to struggle against their rivals in WWE in the ongoing Monday Night War.
In an attempt to revitalise interest in the group the N.W.O 2000 were deceived, with the heavy emphasis on new in New World Order.
On The Formation of the N.W.O 2000 faction. When Bret Hart said: "The Band is Back Together". Little could we have known just how badly this concept would fail.It was meant to be a reinvigoration of the group. With the hot addition of Bret Hart who was raring to be at the centre of something important in WCW since his widely anticipated arrival in the company. It looked like everything was laid out perfectly.
Then Bret Hart was severely injured during a match against Goldberg at Starcade. He suffered a serious head injury and was forced to rehabilitate before it eventually causing him to retire. This left his newly formed N.W.O without their main selling point and took away the importance of faction. People wanted to see Bret Hart in WCW. Him being aligned with the New World order brought Bret Hart fans to the brand. And now all of that was lost.
Kevin Nash took over as de facto leader once again. A role which he was more than capable of. Yet one which Nash would have preferred not to have taken. At this point Kevin Nash was challenging for the World title and was the on-screen commissioner for WCW, all the while helping to book matches and even going so far as to help write lines of dialogue and story beats in the back. But, Kevin Nash is a hard working and intelligent man. So he persevered. Then, Nash sustained a terrible ankle injury and was himself forced to take an extended break from in-ring action, stepping down as the leader of the group and leaving a large void in his wake.
The rest of the N.W.O 2000 was now comprised of Scott Hall, Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, Ron and Don Harris and some ring girls who were there merely in order to gain the lusty teenage boy demographic. Who would step in to become the leader of the group. J-E-Double-F-J-A-Double-R-E-Double-T. That’s who. And it wasn’t enough. There was such a gulf in class between the likes of Kevin Nash and Bret Hart, to take that lineage and their history in the business as champions. They made sense as credible leaders of WCW’s most important faction. Jeff Jarrett did not. When he suffered a concussion and was taken off screen to recover, the N.W.O 2000 faded out of existence just 4 months into the millennium for which it was named.
PHASE SIX // INVASION
When the N.W.O appeared in WWE at No Way Out in 2002, it was a huge declaration from Vince McMahon. That the biggest and only place for pro wrestling was now his all-encompassing megalith.
If you wanted to see the original trio of Hall, Nash and Hogan, you’d better tune in to WWE. On screen, Vincent Kennedy McMahon had brought in the N.W.O as his allies and henchmen. There to help McMahon in his battle for ownership of the company with Ric Flair.
At this time, Hogan became embroiled in a feud with WWE’s biggest star The Rock. The pair going on to have one of the most historic WWE matches of all-time at Wrestlemania 8. Though Hogan suffered a defeat at the hands of his younger opponent, the fans were on his side. The N.W.O were supposed to be the antagonists. They were brought in as the bad guys. So to have Hogan garner such a positive reception, arguably a louder set of cheers almighty Rock. Then something needed to change.
Hall and Nash came to the ring and attacked Hogan after the bell, adding insult to injury and removing him from the group. This led to Hogan teaming up with the Rock and taking on his former allies in tag competition.
By April of 2002 The Big Show and X-pac had both been recruited to the N.W.O once again and made up the four-man team which continued to aid Mr McMahon in his conquest over Ric Flair.
In May, the next month Scott Hall was involved in an incident whilst on tour involving alcohol. And seemingly, out of nowhere was fired by WWE. This signalled the end for N.W.O within the company. A fact that was cemented when Kevin Nash sustained a career threatening injury.
And, though it had started with one of the most iconic and explosive moments in all of pro wrestling history, the historic New World Order dissolved from our screens with little more than a wimper.
"When the WWE version of the nWo angle was unfolding, I got a call from Jim [Ross], which really surprised me because of the tension in the relationship. He was very professional but very distant and offered me an opportunity to come in and join WWE as part of a storyline. Now, I’m never one that’s like, I’m only interested if you tell me what the story is. But he offered me an opportunity to come in, and the timing wasn’t right for me. It just didn’t feel right. Jim wasn’t being as forthcoming as I would hope he would be, at least to get me excited about it. So, I passed on it” Eric Bischoff
Just as the invasion angle left many fans asking for more and asking what could have been, thus the storyline of the N.W.O followed suit. Forever leaving one question unanswered, what could have been?
N.W.O IN TNA
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Hall, Nash and Hogan met up once again in TNA originally stated that they wanted to get the Band back together. However, all three men where way past their primes at this point and through injury and fatigue were not able to perform at the high level we had seen through their runs in WCW and WWE.
Hogan arrived just as he did in WCW, later than Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, something which signified this time, that he was more focused on being a singles competitor.
Way into the final stages of his career, Hulk’s inability to perform in the ring meant he relied more on soap opera style segments involving false marriages and his daughter’s music career. And just as everything in TNA at the time was a poor attempt to rekindle the fire brought fourth by its predecessors, the company even brought Sting and Hogan face to face one last time.
The results were to be expected with the feud between the pair merely a shadow of what could have been during their prime at Starrcade back in 1997.
Scott Hall continued to struggle with drug and alcohol abuse and spent several spells away from programming, leaving Kevin Nash without a faction for large periods.
Nash himself shone during this era, his charm and charisma really coming through as the big man was allowed more microphone freedom and used it with a flourish.
After several forgettable years, the three parted ways once again and for the first time, it truly felt like this was the end of the road.
N.W.O IN WWE
At Survivor Series in 2014, the unimaginable happened. A moment which many fans thought impossible. When Sting interrupted the authorities match and caused them to lose, a spark was ignited more than 20 years in the making.
In the months that followed, Sting continued to appear sporadically on WWE programming and eventually challenged Triple H to a match on the biggest stage of them all.
At Wrestlemania 31 WCW legend Sting made his debut in WWE to face off against Triple H in a moment that fans of the attitude era in the late 90s had waited decades to see. With the N.W.O and their rivalry with Sting being the biggest part of WCW programming, it was only natural that fans would want to see members of D-Generation X, one of the driving forces behind WWF’s success over their rivals, face off in what many considered to be a dream match.
Perhaps it was 10 or even 20 years too late, but nethertheless when Triple H and Sting came face to face, it felt like all my childhood wrestling fantasies came true. So, you can only imagine my excitement when during the bout, other historic members of DX came to the ring to aid Triple H in his conquest. Then, just as things were starting to look uncomfortably unfavourable for the man behind the black and white face paint. That classic static noise sounded around the arena and that guitar begun to strum.
Hogan, Hall and Nash in classic black N.W.O t-shirts made their way to the ring and fans around the world were reminded why pro wrestling is a form of entertainment quite unlike any other. On the surface, it didn’t make sense. A group of ageing men, standing around in their pants, one of them has face paint and a baseball bat, the other with a sledgehammer in his hand who is an executive at the very company that is putting on the event.
But that is pro wrestling, sometimes, even if it doesn’t make sense, it can still hit all of the right notes. Sting and N.W.O were always rivals, after all they had been through, why would the trio come to his aid? But in the moment, it became about WCW versus WWE and a instance of pure entertainment delight. Hogan destroyed everyone with his classic punch and listen to the crowd routine and Kevin Nash even pretended to tear his quad. Before Shawn Michaels delivered a sweet chin music to Sting.
Triple H eventually defeated Sting and how could he not. Yes it would have been excellent for the newcomer to the company to pick up a massive victory. But it was clear that the story that was being told was bigger than the two men in the ring. It was WWE vs WCW for one last time. And in Vince McMahon’s eyes, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
After their appearance at Wrestlemania, there was talk amongst the wrestling community of a full-time return for the N.W.O in WWE.
Kevin Nash said on the possibility: "I would like to do it as a manager. Maybe bring a nWo stable in and then be their manager. That way all I gotta do is powerbomb somebody at the end of the night, make it easy on me and still get the payday."
PHASE EIGHT // TOO MANY MEMBERS
By the end of the N.W.O’s run in WCW they had seen 41 members wear their t-shirts and announce that they were N.W.O 4 life. That’s an entire wrestling companies roster, all aligned to a single faction, albeit one that was split into several different versions.
Here is a brief list of every single member. Scott Hall. Hulk Hogan. Kevin Nash. Randy Savage. The Giant. Lex Luger. Shawn Michaels. The Great Muta. Curt Hennig. Booker T. Dusty Rhodes. Eric Bischoff. Scott Steiner. Bret Hart. Rick Rude. Sting. Jeff Jarrett. Buff Bagwell. Torrie Wilson. Scott Norton. The Disciple. Louie Spicolli. Ted DiBiase. Fake Sting. Vincent. Michael Wallstreet. Dennis Rodman. Kyle Petty. Ron and Don Harris. Big Bubba Rogers. Stevie Ray. Disco Inferno. Nick Patrick. Masahiro Chono. Miss Elizabeth. Syxx. Konnan. Horace Hogan. David Flair. Brian Adams.
It can be hard to really wrap your head around.
This list contains some of the most iconic and influential performers to ever step between the ropes. The Great Muta is one of the defining faces of the 80s and 90s in Japan and revolutionised the idea of horror and mysticism in pro wrestling.
Konnan went on to found AAA in Mexico and reinvigorated the lucha libre scene with his involvement in Lucha Underground. Dusty Rhodes was instrumental in the early days of NXT and the development of characters within the brand. Booker T led the way for African American performers both in WCW, WWE and his own wrestling training gym. Shawn Michaels, Mr. Wrestlemania is widely thought to have had some of the greatest matches in WWE history and was an enormous part of their success during the attitude era and beyond. Jeff Jarrett started the promotion TNA and although it went through some rough patches, has been revived like a phoenix in the modern era.
"I don’t want to say it can’t happen, because anything can happen in the wrestling business, but it would take a special dynamic. There were only five of us, and we never washed it down. NWO ruined themselves by letting everyone join. I think there were something like 350 members, right? There were five members of DX, and we all clicked and knew our positioning. We worked together to make something special, and we knew how to feed off each other to make it work." Billy Gunn
However, there is a downside to the N.W.O collating this huge roster of stars. The original ideas of 3 members meant that each member had their role and knew how to play it, at times, perfectly.
Hogan was the frontman; he would regularly be in the main event of shows and challenge for the companies top belt. Nash and Hall initially played 2 roles. They were Hogan’s right and left hand, they supported his efforts to be the top champion in WCW. Whilst at the same time, remaining both regularly challenging for the tag titles and often featured alongside Hogan in pay-per-view main events. All three men, charismatic and entertaining in their own ways with clear differences allowing new audiences to clearly define these roles. With 41 members, this feeling was destroyed.
Be honest. How many of the wrestlers which I named in the previous list did you know for certain were in the N.W.O at some point. Okay, that’s easy enough. But could you remember when they joined and to which factions they were a part? So many forgettable members of the N.W.O throughout it’s history is one defining factor in the downfall of the group and in part the company which it had been instrumental in making so popular.
"It's also the first time I've ever been in a faction. There's a reason for that, I don't play well with others. I never really wanted that. I remember back in '98, one of the suggestions was for me to be in nWo and I was like absolutely not. There's 15 guys in the nWo. They don't need me and I don't need them.” Chris Jericho
Forget about the impact that the N.W.O as a stable had, for one moment. Just think about how much it’s members would go on to change the wrestling industry and how different the grappling landscape would be in the modern era without them.
LEGACY OF THE N.W.O
In a match against Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania, The N.W.O recruited what could possibly be the most unusual members to its ranks. Playing into the idea that Bray Wyatt’s fied persona would stop at nothing to warp the minds of his opponents, we were gifted with a rare revisit to the familiar black and white.
Coming through the entrance in the iconic T-shirt, John Cena strummed his air guitar and delivered to us unsuspecting fans his best rendition of the N.W.O’s entrance. A man who has, for the most part, stood alone in search of personal glory within WWE. John Cena has looked the same way for the majority of his long-spanning career. Seeing him presented this way was a real treat and an image which will live long in my memory.
Complete with flickering black, white and grey textures on screen and what is one of the best pro wrestling themes of all time. John Cena and Bray Wyatt paid homage to those who came before and inspired them and reminds us just how influential the reach of the group has been.
The N.W.O logo has completely transcended pro wrestling. There are many out there in the modern day who would be able to recognise the classic stencil outlines, but whom may have no idea who the New World Order was or have even ever watched a wrestling match. And for good reason. It’s iconic in a way which little else from WCW or even WWE has managed to emulate. A icon which brings to mind ideas of counter-culture, nostalgia from a by-gone-era and a rebellious spirit which so many of us shared during our adolescence.
We all have our own individual opinions about the many varying versions and brands of N.W.O. We also hold our own thoughts when it comes to the countless members which inhabited these teams. But as a unit, on the whole. The N.W.O was the equivalent of a lightning strike, caught in a bottle. WCW threw 3 men together who had previously no chemistry on screen with one another. Gave them a name and a motivation and sent them out onto our screens. The ferocity and speed with which us fans attached ourselves to this new form of pro wrestling presentation, couldn’t have been predicted by anyone. And will likely never been repeated, at least not frequently.
The group were revolutionary within American pro wrestling and would go on to forever change the grappling landscape. Leaving a trail which over the following 2 decades many wrestling companies would attempt to chase.
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