Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow and Brian Damage
At the end of May 1996, just over 20 years ago, Scott Hall debuted on WCW Nitro in an angle that would eventually lead to the formation of the New World Order (nWo). In this latest Top Five, to mark that 20 year anniversary, we list our favourite and most memorable nWo moments.
5. DDP Joins the nWo?: This is such a cool, cool clip. By this stage it was early 1997 and the nWo stable had grown significantly from just Hall, Nash and Hogan. By now, Buff Bagwell, Fake Sting, Vincent and many, many others now made up the group. However, another addition did make sense: Diamond Dallas Page. At this point he was disliked by the WCW fanbase and had a link with both Nash and Hall from their previous WCW runs. On the episode of Nitro, Hall and Nash offer DDP a nWo shirt then turn round to celebrate. By time Nash turns round, DDP has already hit Hall with a Diamond Cutter and is fleeing the ring – rejecting advances to be the group’s 14th man.
4. Rey Mysterio as a Human Dart: The nWo were hotter than hot in the early months and rode roughshod of every single WCW star in their path. During the Nitro on July 29, 1996, Jimmy Hart rushes out and calls on camera men to hit the back to check out the action. We return to the back and Arn Anderson and Buff Bagwell are lying prone in the car park. Rey Mysterio Jr. then emerges from a trailer and he leaps onto Kevin Nash. Nash easily catches him and throws him like a dart into the side of a trailer.
3. Icon vs. Icon: One of the most iconic matches in WrestleMania history took place at WrestleMania 18 pitting the ‘Immortal’ one against ‘The Great One’. A clash of generations as the nWo’s Hollywood Hogan locked horns with The Rock. The greatest in-ring match? No. But a crowd reaction like none other and the sort of dream match that doesn’t come around all that often anymore.
2. Hall Declares War: Scott Hall had not long left WWE, where he performed as Razor Ramon. During a nothing match on Nitro, Hall walks through the crowd, grabs and mic and steps into the ring. Nobody expected it and nobody knew what was coming next. But displaying mannerisms of Razor Ramon – something that would soon stop – Hall declared war on WCW and left fans wondering if there was a real invasion of the WCW from up north.
1. The Third Man is Revealed: What a moment. After more than two decades being a firm fan favourite and being the man that helped launch the WWE into a global phenomenon, Hogan’s act had grown stale. But what nobody expected was a heel turn but that’s exactly what happened at Bash at the Beach. During the match pitting Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man against Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Hogan made his way out. As Luger had returned to the back earlier due to injury, fans in attendance assumed he was Luger’s replacement. What they didn’t expect was for Hogan to drop a legdrop on Macho Man and end over two decades as a babyface.
5. nWo Nitro: So everybody knows that the nWo got their own pay per view (Souled Out) but the December 22nd 1997 episode of Nitro was the first – and only – episode of nWo Nitro. This just so happened to be the go-home Nitro before Starrcade 97, at which Larry Zbyszko defeated Eric Bischoff to keep Nitro in the hands of WCW. The reason I’ve picked this, slightly obscure, moment is because it was a milestone in the actual objective of the nWo angle. The concept was not just a faction, rather a rival/parasitic promotion that would eventually branch off from WCW. Thus, seizing control of WCW’s flagship show was a big moment in this angle. FYI, had this idea not bombed the plan was for the nWo to control Nitro while WCW would control Thunder – which would debut in early 1998.
4. Parody of The Four Horseman: Everybody loved DX’s parody of The Nation, but that idea was a direct rip-off of an old nWo segment from the previous year. It came hot on the heels of Arn Anderson’s ‘My Spot’ promo where he handed Curt Hennig, not just a spot, but his spot in The Horsemen. Cue plenty of spot puns from Kevin Nash (as Arn Anderson) while Syxx (as Ric Flair) was hilarious despite being no more over-the-top than the real Flair. I guess you have to see someone else behave in that way to realise just how ridiculous the Ric Flair character was…… and still is!
3. “You Want A War…”: I’ve been watching WCW and WWF from 1996 in real time and have just reached the point where Razor Ramon starts showing up on Nitro. Even with the benefit of hindsight this seems like a genuinely innovative angle given the context. It was just a couple months ago I was watching Hulk Hogan and The Macho Man defeat several comic book villains inside a Doomsday Cage Match. So far at least, Razor’s – he has not been named yet – appearances have been treated as real, and something very different to what we usually see. Even though I know what is going to happen it is still compelling to see.
2. Every nWo/Sting angle prior to Starrcade 1997: The build to Hollywood Hogan vs. Sting for the WCW/nWo Title at Starrcade 1997 was a thing of beauty to the point that I cannot pick just one moment. Sting was WCW and his vigilante persona was the perfect opposition to the ultra-cool heels of the New World Order. WCW did so well building anticipation for Sting’s first match in 18 months that Starrcade 1997 was WCW’s most successful ever PPV and still ranks in the top 20 Wrestling PPVs of all time. Bear in mind, WCW was only around for another four years and there have been 19 Wrestlemanias since Starrcade 1997. Shame the actual match sucked…
1. The Third Man Revealed & Formation of The nWo: The nWo is rightly regarded as one of the best wrestling angles ever executed. It was so successful that within a year of its inception WCW’s books were balanced after years of loss making. Having said that, one could argue that it was all downhill after the initial angle at Bash At The Beach 1996. Financially that is obviously not the case, but the definitive moment in the group’s history has to be its formation and the heel turn of The Immortal Hulk Hogan. His subsequent promo where he lambasted fans while garbage rained down on him from the crowd was an absolute masterpiece in its simplicity.
5. Eric Bischoff Turns Heel: Many will say that this wasn’t a great moment for the nWo angle, but I disagree. Bischoff in his position of power gave the nWo legitimate power. It also served Bischoff well as a heel because he was so natural in that role.
4. Sting joins the nWo…or does he? Another “Holy Sh!t” moment with viewers including myself stunned to see Sting join the nWo. At least that is what we were led to believe. It tuned out to be a fake Sting and creted the single greatest character and match build in years.
3. Rey Mysterio used as a dart: Of all the numerous beat down courtesy of the nWo, this one involving Mysterio was the most effective and actually caused viewers to call the police in a panic. That in itself is very impressive.
2. Scott Hall Declares War: Seeing Scott Hall appear on Nitro was almost surreal and the promo he cut felt real and genuine. Even though many knew he jumped ship to WCW, nobody expected this type of angle.
1. Hulk Hogan joins the nWo: This has got to be #1 simply for the affect it had in turning around WCW’s fortunes. To finally see Hogan turn heel made sense and was extremely powerful. It gave Hogan’s career a second life and instantly gave the New World Order street cred.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.