This week will mark 20 years since Scott Hall made his triumphant(?) return to WCW--unannounced--declaring war on WCW on behalf of the WWF. This would serve as the prologue to one of the most influential stories in modern pro wrestling history, the New World Order. Over the following decade and a half, the nWo in its many incarnations spanning three organizations produced many memorable, if not controversial moments.
But what's the greatest nWo moment of all time?
Earlier this week, we took that to you, the Cagesiders of the galaxy. Safe to say, you guys have some pretty long memories. With that...
The top ten nWo moments of all time.
(as voted by you, the Cagesiders. So it's your fault if this list doesn't meet your expectations.)
10. Goldberg defeats Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
So, who wants to light a few million dollars on fire? Step on up, Eric Bischoff.
In September 1997, Bill Goldberg made his WCW debut. Over the next few months, he not only cut through the competition, he was seen as a shining light against the dark clouds of the nWo. Oh, and he was an unstoppable force of nature, and that spooked the hell out of them.
It was only a matter of time that the next man up was Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The nWo leader and WCW world champion was set to face Goldberg in a non-title post-Nitro dark match at the Georgia Dome, but gotta chase DEM RATINGS, YO, and Hogan vs. Goldberg was changed from non-title "send the fans home happy" match to main event world title match on Nitro.
With over 40,000 people watching in the Dome and millions watching at home, Goldberg did to Hogan what he had done to most anyone that opposed them: cut through them like a hot knife through butter except that the knife was a bald-headed monster, and the butter was a mid-40s Hogan.
Goldberg defeated Hogan and took his rightful place as WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Of course, Goldberg was hardly treated like the top star he was, what with Hogan's creative control and all, but that's a different story.
9. New Sting beats up Old Sting.
Protip, you guys: do not piss off Sting.
On the October 21, 1996 Nitro, Sting... well, fake Sting, took on Mr. JL (you may know him as Jerry Lynn). That's when Sting showed up.
The real one.
In black and white.
You know, the colors of the nWo.
After real Sting beats on fake Sting, the nWo tried to sell the franchise of WCW of joining their crew, only for Sting to let them know that he wasn't in their price range (good for him; get that Hogan money). His last line would follow him for the remainder of his career--and would also be the last words Sting spoke on camera for 15 months: "The only thing that's for sure about Sting is nothing's for sure."
8. Icon versus icon.
It was never supposed to happen, but by the time it was over, we were glad it did.
When Hollywood Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF in 2002 alongside the rest of the original nWo cast in Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, many people were excited. One of the most successful stables in wrestling history wreaking havoc on a new cast got us salivating. Hell, their impact was immediate: they cost Stone Cold Steve Austin the WWF title at the aptly-named No Way Out, then damn near killed The Rock with a big rig in a 24-hour period.
None of that mattered a month later. Not to the fans at Skydome in Toronto, not to the fans watching at home. This was Hollywood Hulk Hogan, legend and icon in the wrestling business, taking on The Rock, legend and icon in the wrestling business in the making. The bout was far from a five-star classic, and is just above your standard Hogan match. But that crowd was up for everything. In fact, they were so up for everything (hell, they gave the heel Hogan a rousing ovation throughout the match), they basically turned Hogan face.
Yup, the electricity of the people killed the WWF version of the nWo straight dead. They would spend the next few months trying to revive it by adding X-Pac, Big Show, Booker T, and Shawn Michaels, but the group never had a chance after Wrestlemania X8.
7. DDP fakes joining the nWo.
It didn't take long for the nWo to establish themselves as the new bullies in the yard, what with WCW's best getting constantly beaten down at the hands of the group. The message was clear: join the nWo, life is good. Don't join the nWo, life is hard.
By early 1997, the nWo had grown to include Ted DiBiase, The Giant, a fake Sting, Sean Waltman, Virgil, Nick Patrick, Miss Elizabeth, Eric Bischoff, Marcus Bagwell, Mr. Wallstreet, Big Bubba Rogers, Scott Norton, and Masahiro Chono. Six months in and we're already reaching "too many cooks" levels.
Around the holidays, they were looking to add Diamond Dallas Page to the group. It made sense; WCW fans hated him, his stock was rising, oh... and there was the fact that Page had history with both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (Hall as the Diamond Studd of the Diamond Exchange, Nash as Vinnie Vegas of the Vegas Connection).
They made a more direct sales pitch on the January 13, 1997 Nitro. Following a win over Jerry Flynn, DDP was confronted by the Outsiders and they offer him an nWo shirt. Diamond Dallas Page, nWo member #14...
Scott Hall gets a surprise Diamond Cutter and DDP takes off through the crowd an instant hero to WCW fans everywhere. It was one of the rare times WCW got one over on the black and white.
What? He tripped. He tripped.
6. The nWo gives the Big Gold Belt an extra coat of paint.
Shortly after Hulk Hogan joined the nWo, they would introduce one of their trademarks: tagging stuff with spray paint. Right out of the gate, they tagged WCW's logo with huge white sheets and the nWo letters. They would tag a broadcast trailer, people, pretty much anything they felt like. They were marking their territory.
After Hollywood Hogan won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Hog Wild in August 1996, Hogan spray painted the WCW world title belt. THEY SPRAY PAINTED THE DAMN WORLD TITLE BELT, ARE THESE PEOPLE SERIOUS? The very belt carried around by the likes of Ric Flair and Sting and Big Van Vader... hell, even HULK HOGAN for FIFTEEN MONTHS... is getting spray painted with the nWo letters. The disrespect of these guys.
5. Scott Hall declares war on WCW.
When WCW introduced Monday Nitro in 1995, they wanted to make it clear that WCW was the new hotspot, "where the big boys play", if you will. Combine that with how the show gave away results of taped RAW shows, and it was clear they were coming for the WWF's heart.
Well, WWF wasn't going to let this act of aggression stand, by God. On the May 27, 1996 Nitro, one of their own paid WCW a visit and was gonna give them the what-for. It was Razor Ramon, real name Scott Hall. And he on behalf of the WWF was declaring war on WCW.
At least, that's how it was presented on Nitro. And it was brilliant.
Hall, last seen in the WWF as Razor Ramon, but recently returned to WCW, was presented as an outsider from "that fed up north" that was a little bit tired of WCW's shit. Hall demanded WCW send three of their best, because "that fed up north" was sending three guys and they were gonna kick their ass and take ALL THE WAY OVER.
Ramon's--Hall's--invasion of WCW was the prologue to one of the most gripping and significant storylines in wrestling history.
4. The nWo Wolfpac.
Come on, you know the words. Wolfpac is back causing mass destruction. Guess who's here, the bad boys of wrestling.
But how did we get here?
Over the course of nearly two years, the New World Order had grown to be quite huge, reaching over a dozen members at one point. By early 1998, the group had beaten, well, pretty much everyone in WCW. But when Hollywood Hogan failed against Sting at Starrcade 1997, the cracks began to form.
Scott Hall wanted to be world champion. Randy Savage wanted to be world champion. Hogan wanted to be world champion. The rift only grew when Syxx was released while still on the disabled list. Suddenly, it was every man for himself, and it only grew when the world title found its way back to Hogan again. Because of course it would find its way back to Hogan. Eventually, that forced the nWo, which was cannibalizing itself on its own success, to make a choice: ride with Hollywood, or join Kevin Nash with the Wolfpac.
Randy Savage, Konnan, Dusty Rhodes, Miss Elizabeth, Rick Rude, Curt Hennig, and Konnan all chose the Wolfpac. Though fans were at first confused about the whole thing, when the red and black added Sting and Lex Luger, fans had made their decision: Wolfpac for life.
3. Nobody jacks Scott Hall and Kevin Nash around.
Two weeks after Scott Hall invaded WCW, Scott's really big friend Kevin Nash joined the party. You may remember Kevin Nash as Oz. Vinnie Vegas. WWF triple crown champion Diesel, including a full year as WWF Champion. Lack of knowledge of basic grammar aside, Kevin Nash warned Eric Bischoff they weren't there to play; they were there to kick ass.
They continued to poke and prod Eric Bischoff and WCW brass to get a threesome together to challenge the WWF outsiders. The poking and prodding hit a fever pitch at The Great American Bash Hall and Nash demanded the names of the three men that would challenge them, because they had a third and they were ready to fight to the death. They wanted names and they wanted them now.
Eric, like a man who owes the mob a few hundred thousand bucks, asks for a little more time. If they waited until tomorrow night's Nitro, they'll get their three guys. That wasn't good enough. Tired of getting the runaround, the WWF invaders took matters into their own hands. Hall punched Bischoff in the gut, and Nash powerbombed him through the stage.
THROUGH. THE STAGE.
The soon-to-be-nWo was not playing games, kids.
2. Hulk Hogan is the third man.
Younger fans will just have to take my words for this.
After appearing in Rocky III in 1982, Hulk Hogan's stock rose dramatically. Vince McMahon Sr. didn't like that so much, so he sent him on his way from the WWF. He landed in the AWA, and that superstardom he suddenly had got him close to the world title, but no cigar as her wasn't a Friend of Verne (Gagne, the owner and founder of the AWA). Vince McMahon Jr. took Hogan back, and within a month of his return was the WWF Champion. In less than two years, Hogan became the face of professional wrestling in the United States of America.
THE FACE. OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING.
He was wrestling's ultimate good guy, but by the end of the 1980s, his act was beginning to wear thin, and it only aged with the passage of time. Not even a change of scenery to WCW in 1994 changed that. The faces may have been different, but much of his schtick, both in and out of the ring, remained the same.
And yet, what he did at Bash at the Beach on July 7, 1996 still remains arguably the most shocking act in wrestling history.
The Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, entered into the "Hostile Takeover" match against a WCW triumvirate of Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and Sting. Luger was taken out early, evening the bout at two men each. See, the Outsiders, who claimed they had a third man, didn't have a third man.
Then comes Hulk Hogan, who had become the face of WCW since signing with the company two years prior. Yeah, he had pretty much taken it over, what with his booking and bringing his old WWF buddies from the 80s along, but he also brought with it national credibility. And now, the Outsiders were so screwed.
Then Hogan dropped the leg on Randy Savage. Hulk... that's Randy Savage right there, you know that, right? Another leg drop. Then a third.
The Outsiders had their third man. And he was on the inside the entire time. Hulk Hogan, the face of professional wrestling for a decade and wrestling's goodest good guy, had gone rogue. It was unthinkable. It was unimaginable.
It was a stroke of genius.
It could have been Lex Luger, who left the WWF just as the Monday Night Wars began. It would have made sense. Really, it would have. But it wouldn't have had nearly the impact. Go on. Imagine Luger giving the same promo. You know, the one Hogan gave when he went ALL THE WAY IN on WCW and its fans (promo transcript via IMDB.com):
Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me. Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking?
Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene the first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if they want to hear what I’ve gotta say.
Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years for you to join up with the likes of these two men absolutely makes me SICK to my stomach! And I think that these people here and a lot of people around the whole wrestling world have had just about enough of this man and this man and you want to put yourself in this group? You’ve gotta be…kidding me!
Hogan: Well the first thing you’ve gotta realize brother is that this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling brother. These two men came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering about who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me brother?
Okerlund: I’ve been there and done that. You have made the wrong decision in my opinion.
Hogan: Well let me tell you something, I made that organization brother! I made the 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 entire 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, Eric Bischoff and entire WCW goes, I’m bored brother. That’s why I want these two guys here, these so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They are the new blood of professional wrestling and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, the new blood and the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path Mean Gene.
Okerlund: Look at all of this crap in this ring! This is what’s in the future for you if you want to hang around the likes of this man Hall, and this man Nash.
Hogan: As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in this 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 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 still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all of these "Johnny come latelys" that you see out here wrestling wouldn’t be here. I was selling the world out brother while they were bumming gas to put in their car 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. Whatcha gonna do when the New World Organization runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do? What are you gonna do?
The shocking heel turn would revitalize Hogan's career, turn WCW into a wrestling superpower, and alter the course of the wrestling business forever.
No big deal.
1. Rey Mysterio: human lawn dart.
With the nWo fully assimilated into WCW programming, there came a new problem: how does WCW deal with it? I mean, it's three guys against a whole company. They should be able to take them, right? Right? Right?
On the July 29, 1996 Nitro, we found out that the answer was an emphatic nope. Near the conclusion of a tag team match at the halfway point of the show, Jimmy Hart rushes out and demands a cameraman get to the back because the Outsiders were there. They are there. And Arn Anderson and Marcus Bagwell were in the fetal position. Did I mention the Outsiders had baseball bats?
Scotty Riggs emerges from a nearby trailer to check on his tag team partner before gets quickly disposed of. Then Rey Mysterio Jr. emerges from the trailer, and he leaps onto Kevin Nash. Nash easily catches him and introduces his head to the broadside of a trailer. Like, here's Rey, here's a trailer, boom. Triple 20 on the trailer.
Hall and Nash walk to a waiting limo, and Macho Man Randy Savage leaps onto the roof of the limo before it takes off.
In that one minute, none of which the in-house crowd saw because they didn't think to provide monitors, the New World Order sent a very stern message: they were playing to win, and they were not playing by anybody's rules but their own. Of all the beatdowns they would administer over the next few years (and there would be A LOT OF THEM), this is perhaps the most memorable, which is why you voted this as the greatest nWo moment of all time.
Miss anything? Give a shout in the comment section.