21 YEARS AGO TODAY: nWo 4 LIFE

Today is the 21st anniversary of a sacred day in pro wrestling: The day Hulk Hogan turned bad at WCW’s “Bash at the Beach” PPV and founded the New World Order. #nWo4Life

I was there at Daytona Beach, Fla., employed on the fringes of World Championship Wrestling. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it.

Pro wrestling doesn’t even pretend it’s not “fake” these days, much to the profession’s detriment. The crowd response to Hogan going heel was one of the last truly organic, emotional and visceral reactions in wrestling’s history.

But once Hogan joined the nWo, it was doomed.

It was a real catch-22, to be sure. Hogan joining the nWo pushed the angle over the top and gave it that defining moment.

But, at that point, Hogan took control of the angle. So the nWo angle became mostly about Hogan, which made the nWo less cool and revolutionary with each passing day. It started to fizzle at the very moment it peaked.

Witness the Starrcade ’97 PPV. Hogan was supposed to beat Sting via a fast count made by crooked ref Nick Patrick. Except Hogan talked Patrick into making a normal count, which made Bret Hart’s insistence on restarting the match (which led to Sting winning the WCW world title) nonsensical.

Starrcade ’97 was supposed to be huge for Sting and Hart (who had recently arrived in WCW). Hogan ruined it, and didn't lose a second's sleep over it.

Hogan was all about himself. That was his instinct, and he indulged it 110 percent every chance he got. Incredibly selfish.

Other mistakes were made with the nWo angle:

*Too many joined, including too many non-stars, which led to an absurd split into two factions.

*Eric Bischoff took over leadership of the group, which made zero sense: Why would WCW’s corporate chief forgo that to join the insurgents? Eric made a lot of great decisions. That wasn’t one. It was supposed to be an invading army from WWE. Ted DiBiase in charge was perfectly logical.

*WCW never got its heat back. There was no winner. A big-money feud isn’t supposed to just peter out.

The nWo made WCW wrestling’s No. 1 promotion.

But WCW went out of business in 2001. What a crazy story.

 
Mark Madden

Mark Madden

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