The wrestling world changed forever when Hulk Hogan joined WCW in 1994, putting Ted Turner's company on the map and giving the WWF a legitimate business rival.
In 1996, Hogan pulled off the most shocking heel turn ever - when he aligned himself with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash at the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view to form the New World Order faction. The villainous stable took over the WCW promotion and became one of the most successful and memorable groups in the history of sports entertainment.
But over time, it was evident that WCW relied far too much on the marketing of the nWo, and the group's popularity and relevance began to fade. Before WCW knew it, the WWF was ahead in television ratings - and they would never look back.
There are many reasons why WCW ultimately failed - which led to Vince McMahon purchasing the company in 2001. The promotion's success really took off with the nWo, but the stable was also responsible for ending its success.
Hogan appeared on Booker T's podcast (h/t WrestlingInc.com), and explained the miscues WCW made with the nWo over time:
"I think that if Eric could have went back, I think he would have handled it much differently. Believe it or not, for Eric to be in that spot, it's not like he had been in 20 territories...It's not like he worked for different territories, this was his first gig and they threw him right in the main event. He's running the company, so of course you tend to make mistakes...
Even though we watered it down, brought too many guys in and didn't handle it right, a lot of guys sometimes didn't want to put their wrestling boots on. Some guys would rather talk than wrestle and all that other crap going on."
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At some point, it felt like 90-something percent of the roster was aligned with the nWo. Only a handful of superstars (namely Sting), feuded with the group on a consistent basis. The nWo would eventually break up and split into two different stables - nWo Wolfpac and nWo Hollywood. But in short time, the group predictably reunited.
While WCW continued to rely on the same old song and dance, the WWF was launching The Attitude Era - led by The Rock, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, D-Generation X and the introduction of the "Mr. McMahon" on-screen character. And because WCW wasn't willing to change - unlike the WWF - Vince's company wound up winning the bitter battle that lasted for about a half decade.
What This Means
Without Hogan, Eric Bischoff and WCW, there's no telling how different the wrestling world could have been today. Perhaps Vince wouldn't have pushed all the major stars of the Attitude Era if he wasn't feeling all the presurre. The nWo only lasted a few years in WCW, but the group's impact is remembered and celebrated to this day, and we may never see such an influential wrestling group again.