When Scott Hall showed up on the May 27, 1996, episode of World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) flagship show, Monday Nitro, it signaled the beginning of an invasion. Indeed, "The Bad Guy" said he was bringing a buddy with him from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) -- even though he didn't use those exact words -- and they were declaring war on WCW.
So when Kevin Nash showed up on Nitro on June 10, 1996, we knew they meant business. The two came to be called "The Outsiders" and set about systematically taking over the company (and a commanding lead in the ratings war with WWF every Monday night).
Their first match would take place on this date in WCW history (July 7, 1996) at the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view (PPV) at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. The set up was simple: Hall and Nash told Eric Bischoff, whom they had been pestering for weeks, to find three of his best employees to go up against them and a mystery partner they would name later. So that's exactly what they did, with WCW holding a draft of sorts and coming up with three of its biggest stars at the time: Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger.
The three babyface WCW stars decided to paint their faces like Sting in a show of solidarity to provide an even more competitive feel to a match that was tugging hard on fans loyalty strings. Hall and Nash appeared sans a third man and despite the urging of "Mean" Gene Okerlund to reveal their partner, said that he was in the building but they didn't need him just yet. This was brilliant because it gave the commentary team of Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan something to speculate on throughout the 16 minute match.
The psychology of the match itself was also genius, as Lex Luger was taken out early with a kayfabed injury. This led to Heenan calling for another member of WCW to come down to replace him, which would provide an added twist once another wrestler came out because fans couldn't be sure if he would be there to take Luger's place or he would be the third man The Outsiders had spoken of.
Indeed, after a sequence inside the ring led to Hall, Nash, Savage and Sting being laid out at once, Hulk Hogan came down the entrance way to a loud ovation from fans at the arena. Schiavone and Rhodes were ecstatic at his arrival, as they assumed this meant he was coming down to aid WCW in place of Luger. Heenan, meanwhile, wondered aloud if he was the third man, an idea the other two passed off as preposterous.
When he got in the ring and The Outsiders cleared out, this seemed to confirm he was on the good guy's side. He ripped his shirt off and threw it out at them on the outside, furthering the notion.
Then, the payoff.
Hogan pushed referee Randy Anderson out of the way before bouncing off the ropes to land his leg drop finisher on a prone Savage. It was as though the entire arena had the wind sucked right out of it, like every man, woman, and child in the building couldn't even draw enough breath to their brains to comprehend what they had just witnessed.
Hulk Hogan had turned his back on WCW and joined The Outsiders.
The Hulkster finished off his assault with one more leg drop and Hall and Nash climbed in the ring to mock count to three. Sting helped Savage to the back and Okerlund made his way back to the ring, which was quickly filling with as much trash as the fans could pelt it with, to demand answers from Hogan.
He proceeded to cut one of the best promos of his career. Here it is, in its entirety:
"Mean Gene, the first thing you need to do is to tell these people to shut up if you want to hear what I got to say. Well the first thing you've got to realize, brother, is this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the new world order of wrestling, brother.
"These two men right here came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me, brother? Well let me tell you something, I made that organization a monster. I made people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan, got bigger than the whole organization, brother. And then Billionaire Ted, amigo, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan. Well Billionaire Ted promised me movies, brother. Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars and Billionaire Ted promised me world caliber matches. And as far as Billionaire Ted goes, Eric Bischoff, and the whole WCW goes, I'm bored, brother.
"That's why these two guys here, the so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They're the new blood of professional wrestling, brother. And not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan and the new blood, the monsters with me, we will destroy everything in our path, Mean Gene.
"As far as I'm concerned, all of this crap in the ring represents these fans out here. For two years, brother, for two years, I held my head high. I did everything for the charities, I did everything for the kids, and the reception I got when I came out here -- you fans can stick it, brother. Because if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn't be here. If it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would be still selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, all these Johnny-come-latelies that you see out here wrestling wouldn't be here. I was selling out the world, brother, while they were bumming gas to put in their cars to get to high school.
"So the way it is now, brother, with Hulk Hogan and the new world organization of wrestling brother, me and the new blood by my side, what cha gonna do when the new world organization runs wild on you? What cha gonna do? What are you gonna do?"
And the NWO was officially born.
The Bash at the Beach broadcast famously went off the air with Tony Schiavone striking the perfect tone, despite all his misgivings as the lead blow-by-blow guy for WCW.
"We have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, for Gene Okerlund ... I don't know. I'm Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell. ... Straight to hell."
Watch the match and the aftermath below.