Rewind back in time, if you will, to 1996. Pro wrestling had two major promotions in the United States with major television deals in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) on TNT and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on USA. The two also had competing programs on Monday night, WCW with Nitro and the WWF with Raw is War.
At first, neither side separated itself from the other. All the usual gimmicks were in play with a lot of the same old characters, many of whom were responsible for the downturn in the pro wrestling business in the first place. They prospered, quite frankly, because there was only so much creativity to go around and as a wise man once said, it takes a while before a wrestler can actually make money wrestling.
Then, opportunity presented itself.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had their contracts come up in early 1996. WCW had deep pockets and wanted to sign top talent away from the competition and there was little the WWF could do about it. Considering they were able to get a "Favored Nations" clause written into their deals, it was a no brainer for the two to jump ship.
Their doing so, along with Eric Bischoff taking creative liberty with an idea from New Japan, would ultimately result in the formation of what would come to be known as the New World Order (nWo).
The story of the nWo is a fascinating one because it was this group, more than anything the WWF did, that kick-started the "Attitude Era" in pro wrestling. They were cool before Stone Cold Steve Austin ever really caught on and they were already deep into their run before D-Generation X became a legitimate group.
Here's an awesome episode of WWE Legends of Wrestling with Kevin Nash, Jim Ross, J.J. Dillion and Michael Hayes talking all about the stable and its legacy:
As touched on in the video, the nWo would ultimately overstay its welcome and indirectly lead to the death of WCW in 2001. Eventually, they ran out of babyfaces to act as foils and the group became so large it more or less encompassed the entire promotion.
It wasn't always that way. In fact, one could argue Sting's run in 1997 as the tortured soul out for revenge and justice with a dark, bat-wielding, face-painted character was one of the best by any character in the last 30 years.
Here's another awesome video of Sting terrorizing the nWo all throughout 1997:
We could go over how badly WCW screwed up with the nWo but that's no fun. So let's leave it with one more video of Kevin Nash letting us know he was the official "1998 Cannonball Champion of Spring Break."
Feel free to post your favorite memories of the nWo in the comments section below.