On July 7th, 1996 WCW hosted its annual summer Pay-Per-View Bash at the Beach, a night that would not only change the company, but professional wrestling as we know it, forever. As the main event pitted WCW babyfaces: Sting, Lex Luger, and Randy Savage against invaders Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, the infamous duo known as: The Outsiders.
The two WWE defectors had caused immense chaos since they had crashed onto the scene in WCW. Booked as invaders, rather than members of the roster, Nash and Hall ran a muck; constantly interfering in matches, attacking guys with baseball bats and chains, and even taking over production of Nitro on a few occasions. The tag match was set up as a 6-Man-Tag, as The Outsiders claimed to have a third man who was working with them on the inside. However, at the opening bell, Hall and Nash stood alone against three of the biggest stars in WCW. Regardless they assured everyone – the third man was in the building.
The match itself wasn’t anything too special by today’s standards, but the tension surrounding the night was nothing that fans had ever felt before. Nobody knew who the third man was, the fans, the boys in the back, even some of the production crew wasn’t aware of the plan. As the match forged on, no matter how much the WCW hero’s tried, The Outsiders always found a way to come out ahead. Making the fans frustrated at every turn, with them begging for something to change.
Just like that, when all hope seemed lost, WCW’s biggest star, Hulk Hogan’s music blasted and the man with the 24′ pythons – draped in red and yellow – came marching down the ring to help his friends. The crowd went ballistic, while they had become bored of Hogan’s “Eat your vitamins and say your prayers” gimmick, they could care less. Their hero had arrived.
As Hogan entered the ring, The Outsiders slid out, seemingly in retreat. As Hogan stood next to a grounded Randy Savage, his former Mega Powers partner and friend, the crowd was electrified. Hogan was here to save WCW and help his old friend.
How wrong they were.
Faster than anyone could blink, Hulk Hogan – life-time good guy – turned around and dropped his signature leg drop right on top of Savage’s neck.
The crowd went from roaring applause, to seething rage. As the crowd threw trash and obscenities at Hogan as he went for his second leg drop. How could anyone blame them for their reaction? Their hero, had been stolen from them.
The crowd’s anger only grew as the Outsiders made their way back in. Stomping the rest of the WCW front line to pieces, including an overly eager fan who tried to storm the ring from the crowd. The chaos was a perfect setting for what came next, as Gene Okerlund came asking what was on everyone’s mind, “What the hell just happened!?”
Hogan would then go on to drop one of the most infamous and important promos of not only his career, but in wrestling history. As he explained that the era of the Red & Yellow was over, Hulk Hogan was dead and a new world order was here. Their plan, not just take over WCW, but all of professional wrestling.
The moment was monumental on multiple levels. As no other group blurred the lines of reality and fiction like they did. Never had Hogan been a bad guy. Never had anyone seen such a dominant group of men since the Four Horsemen, and above all, nobody else made bad – look so damn cool.
As months went on, the nWo (New World Order), would begin its reign of terror that would last for years in WCW. As the nWo grew in numbers, so did their popularity. WCW soon realized that the nWo was bigger than just a heel-stable, they were a brand that eclipsed WCW itself. Crowds went from booing the bad guys to brandishing their White and Black pride, and everyone wanted to join in on the nWo train.
The group itself would total to over 60 members in history. As superstars from all over WCW, NJPW, and WWF/E would join the group. The group included a number of celebrities as well, including Dennis Rodman and most recently Kendall Jenner (named an honoary member by Konnan in 2017).
As the years went on, the group would have its share of problems. As WCW made the group bloated, stale, and directionless by the late 90’s. As the ratings plumbed, the nWo went from cool and edgy – to complacent and dull. While the group would make an appearance in WWE, well past the founder’s primes, by 2002; the party was over and the nWo was no more.
However, the story of the nWo and its creation is not defined by how it died, its how it lived.
As the group’s popularity grew, so did WCW. As WCW would become the leader in Professional Wrestling, beating WWF/E in the ratings in consecutive weeks from December of 1996 to late September of 1997. The group would feud with some of biggest names in wrestling history and make stars like Goldberg and Sting into beloved babyfaces for years to come. They would begin the trend of powerful heel-stables, leading to the creation of groups such as D-Generation-X, The Corporation, Evolution, The Nexus, The Shield, The Bullet Club, and more!
They would push WWF/E creatively like they never had been before, causing WWF/E to change its philosophy, and create more edgy, fast paced, and mature programming that we all remember in nostalgia. A time called: The Attitude Era. Were names like: Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Mr. McMahon, and The Undertaker became house hold names. Along with seemingly hundreds of other superstars.
When they were at the top of their game, the nWo wasn’t just the coolest thing in professional wrestling. They WERE pro-wrestling. They helped shape an incredible time in professional wrestling, and are apart of bring pro-wrestling into the mainstream, as it is today.
It is because of their contributions, that we thank the nWo …. 4 Life!
- Caseside Seats