On July 7th, 1996, at WCW's Bash at the Beach event, the entire wrestling world was unglued in awe as the unthinkable happened: Hulk Hogan turned heel. The structure of both WCW and the entire wrestling industry changed forever the moment that Hogan dropped his leg drop heard around the world onto Randy Savage. As a riotous crowd threw trash into the ring, Hogan got on the mic and proclaimed his newfound allegiance to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as the third member of the New World Order. From then on, their mission statement was to take over WCW. In the process, the nWo's popularity would end up taking over wrestling as a whole in the 90s and their impact is still felt to this day. Along with being the major reason why WCW would take a lead in the Monday Night Wars for 84 consecutive weeks, the nWo would become one of the most influential forces in wrestling history. Not only did the trio start a wave of more adult-oriented content across the wrestling world—which would incidentally lead to WWE creating their Attitude Era in order to compete—the nWo would also set the standard for how invasion takeover storylines should be booked. For better or worse, this has led to several copycat groups trying to duplicate the nWo's success.
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and it can be argued that no entity in professional wrestling has been imitated, spoofed, parodied, and straight up ripped off more than the nWo has. Given how successful the nWo turned out in terms of churning in profit and intriguing storylines, it makes sense why so many wrestling organizations have used the nWo template for booking invasion angles. However, copying what made somebody else successful does not always result in success for a new entity. Occasionally, it does, and following this template has given us some of the best stables in recent memory. At the same time, it has also given us some of the worst. Below is a list of some of the best and the worst stables that ripped off the nWo.
18 Worst: The Alliance
As previously established, the nWo set the standard for what invasion stables/angles were and what they had the potential to be. In terms of such stables denigrating into overbloated, overstuffed messes that overstayed their welcome, The Alliance between WCW and ECW was all that and then some. The idea behind The Alliance was always a highly anticipated one during the height of the Monday Night Wars. When WCW finally closed their doors, fans eagerly anticipated names like Sting, Goldberg, and Rey Mysterio coming to WWE for an invasion. Except, WCW's biggest stars didn't come to WWE until long after the angle was over. When the angle started, we instead got such critically acclaimed stars as Shawn Stasiak. WCW and ECW's biggest names like DDP and RVD were quickly squashed in embarrassing fashion by some meandering storylines. It didn't help that most of The Alliance's members were defected WWE stars. From beginning to end, the whole stable reeked of missed opportunity and wasted potential.
15 Best: D-Generation X
It is hard to dispute just how much of an nWo ripoff D-Generation X was. Having debuted a year after the nWo and founded by Shawn Michaels and Triple H who both happened to be Kliq buddies with Hall and Nash, DX was just as much of a rowdy bunch as the nWo were. The only difference was that DX had an added layer of green to add to the black and white. Even though it was clear as day just how much DX blatantly ripped off the nWo, nobody cared because DX were just so darn fun to watch. Their juvenile antics coupled with their hilarious segments made WWE must see tv whenever they were on. It's easy to criticize DX for becoming more of a parody of themselves than of the nWo when they got into their later years (particularly in the 2010s with Hornswoggle as a member), but when they first were formed, they were always fun to watch and managed to give fans in the late 90s a reason to watch WWE. Whenever the nWo got a little stale, fans could turn over to WWE to see their fresher counterparts in action.
14 Worst: Aces & Eights
Much like many of the stables on this list, Aces & Eights started off as something interesting and by the end of their run, they were disappointing and long overstayed their welcome. Debuting on June 14th, 2012 as three masked men attacking Sting, their numbers would grow in the coming months. With no indication as to who they were, these masked men made it clear that their mission statement was to take over Impact Wrestling. Unfortunately, their mysterious aura and potential started to fade away as soon as each member started to ditch their masks. The group just started to feel like a significantly lesser threat when the masked menaces proved to be nobodies like Wes Brisco, Knux, and Garrett Bischoff. Perhaps our expectations were too high for just what kind of big names could've been hiding under the masks, but when the biggest names in the group happened to be The Dudley Boyz, it just made the team look like a dud.
13 Best: Blue World Order
The Blue World Order should never have been as over as they were. As ECW's satiric answer to WCW's most popular ratings generating bad guys, the bWo had a short shelf life from the start of their formation in 1996. Yet, they were one of the biggest acts to come out of ECW. Their presence even exceeded the existence of ECW as they appeared in companies like WWE and TNA long after the company went under. In their heyday, the bWo's fame got to the point that Big Stevie Cool even found himself as part of the main event of ECW's first pay-per-view, Barely Legal. No one would've ever thought that such a comedy act could sneak their way into a main event ECW Championship match, but that's exactly what happened. When Stevie, Nova, and The Blue Meanie first banded together, no one could've predicted how far their gimmick would take them. To this day, the group makes sporadic appearances in the wrestling world.
TNA produced a plethora of poor attempts to recreate the success of the nWo, but one of the worst happened to be Sports Entertainment Xtreme - which, yes, was represented as S.E.X. Not only did the stable flop because their name was too explicit to promote (much like the company's own name), the group's members mostly consisted of washed up wrestlers who were long passed their prime and young stars being wasted in a meandering angle. Did I mention that the group was led by Vince Russo of all people? Yeah, that was a thing. Real shocker that the stable never kicked off to nWo levels of success. After just a few months, the group would disband in bizarre fashion as Russo "retired" to become a better father after Jeff Jarrett revealed a video of Russo threatening to beat his own kids. While S.E.X. struggled to sell, two good things that came out of it was that it led to the X Division stable, Triple X, being formed and it led to AJ Styles' first main event push in TNA.
12 Best: Latino World Order
While in WCW in 1998, Eddie Guerrero had a real backstage spat with Eric Bischoff over his lack of a push and wanting out of his contract. Justin Hervey, a friend of Bischoff's, gave Bischoff the idea to let art imitate life with the concept of the Latino World Order, a group of disgruntled Latino wrestlers led by Eddie who all were tired of being held back in the company. The idea actually had some potential. Despite riding the coattails of the nWo, the idea of a group of underutilized talent demanding a spot in the company taken from them by dinosaurs like the nWo could've been an interesting one. When it first started out, they were even given a good feud against Rey Mysterio who refused to join. If only Eric Bischoff cared. As much of a blatant ripoff that the lWo were of nWo, if it wasn't the real thing, Bischoff didn't care. Hardly promoted and rarely given television time, the lWo died a disappointing death shortly after three months. Appropriately enough, it was via getting beat down by the nWo. The lWo started off great and had potential to be better if WCW Creative had faith in the angle.
11 Worst: nWo Wolfpac/Hollywood
While it can be argued that the split between nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac were more spinoffs of the original nWo than ripoffs, this is still worth mentioning for just how much both groups failed to duplicate the original nWo's success. In all fairness, at a glance, the idea of splitting up the nWo into separate heel and face stables was not a terrible one. The nWo was popular enough that it was clear that fans wanted to cheer for them and so it makes sense to create a face stable out of the group. The biggest problems lied in the execution of that idea. For starters, Sting joining the Wolfpac was dumb. No matter how much of a face team that the Wolfpac were, it made no sense to include the man who worked desperately to destroy the nWo just a couple years prior. The biggest issue was the endgame. That endgame being not only that both teams regrouped as part of one big swerve on January 4th, 1999, but it was done via The Finger Poke of Doom, one of the most maligned moments in wrestling history.
10 Best: The Shield
While The Shield were less invaders looking to take over WWE and more like justice enforcers, there were enough broad comparisons to the nWo during their run from critics (most notably Chris Jericho during an old Twitter spat with Seth Rollins) that they deserve a mention on this list. Whether or not they were in fact another nWo ripoff is debatable, but what isn't debatable is just how prolific their run together was. All three men emerged from The Shield as three of the company's biggest singles stars. Many would argue that The Shield's run put them in a prestigious league with some of the greatest stables ever created; up there with the likes of The Four Horsemen. The three added to each other's strengths and hid each other's weaknesses. Together, The Shield were an essential stable and made top stars out of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns.
8 Worst: Nexus
At a time where the WWE product was growing increasingly stale, the Nexus seemed like a breath of fresh air when the group made their debut on June 7th, 2010 on Monday Night Raw. During a main event between John Cena and CM Punk, audiences were stunned to see the rookies of NXT storm the ring and dismantle everything and everyone in sight. No one could have ever asked for a bigger way to make an impact and the stable were immediately hot in their quest to take over the WWE. From the group's not-so-humble beginnings, this angle appeared to be a compelling way to create a sea of new stars, but as with most unique opportunities, WWE squandered this one. The group lost tons of momentum when John Cena toppled the group at SummerSlam 2010. Their aura was never the same. There were sporadic opportunities to revamp the group when Punk became the new leader and Barrett headed a spinoff group called The Corre, but nothing came out of either instance. It’s disappointing to look at Nexus’ potential and see how badly their booking forced them to fade into obscurity.
7 Best: SCUM
Before entering WWE as Kevin Owens, Kevin Steen lost a Mask vs Career match against El Generico at ROH Final Battle 2010. When Steen returned to ROH, he made it known that his new mission statement was to kill Ring of Honor and rebuild it in his image. This not only saw him form S.C.U.M. with pals Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino, but it also saw him win the ROH World Championship. At first, this angle played out as your typical invader storyline. That is until almost a year into S.C.U.M.'s reign of terror when the group became overcrowded. With several new additions like Matt Hardy and Rhino, it was clear that Steen was having a change of heart. Originally, Steen loved wreaking havoc with his two buddies by his side, but seeing how bloated his stable had become, ROH fans could tell that Steen wasn't enjoying himself anymore. At times, when the newly congested S.C.U.M. ran rampant on ROH TV, Steen was the only one not taking part in the carnage. It didn't help that the longer Steen's title reign lasted, the more Steen started to embrace ROH's company and fanbase. This character development that slowly teased Steen's inevitable face turn was a fascinating one that made the run-of-the-mill invader storyline feel fresh.
5 Worst: The Band
Hulk Hogan entering TNA's doors in 2010 did a lot more harm for the company than it ever did good. One of the worst things that came out of Hogan's arrival was that it gave TNA a reason to try to "get the band back together," as Nash alluded in the weeks leading to Hogan's arrival. When Hogan finally did show up, Nash propositioned Hogan to recreate their nWo success alongside Scott Hall and Sean Waltman/Syxx-Pac. Hogan would decline Nash's offer, stating that it "was a different time" (if only TNA shared that sentiment) and so The Band replaced Hogan with Eric Young. Apart from being a poor attempt to copy a stable from a bygone era long after the originally stable overstayed it's welcome, The Band was just too tame a version of the nWo to ever be taken seriously. There was something about it that was just so vanilla compared to the original WCW version. If you're going to create a ripoff just to tone it down, what's the point?
4 Best: Bullet Club
After only debuting a few years ago in 2013 on NJPW's doorstep, The Bullet Club have managed to take the wrestling industry by storm. Originally helmed by Finn Balor (formerly known as Prince Devitt), the group gained a new level of legitimacy when AJ Styles took over as their leader in 2014 and brought the IWGP Heavyweight Championship with him. Now with the stable led respectively by Kenny Omega and Adam Cole in the NJPW and ROH branches, Bullet Club have made their mark in several wrestling companies with huge success. As a takeover stable, Bullet Club have long since taken over the wrestling world and have created mega-stars out of many of its members in the process. From the black and white color scheme right down to the Too Sweet hand gestures, Bullet Club have clearly taken some cues from their nWo predecessors. And yet, Bullet Club continue to be entertaining without feeling like a stale attempt to recreate a gimmick from the 90s.
3 Worst: The Club
And here we have a ripoff of The Bullet Club, which in itself was a ripoff of the nWo. It's like ripoff inception or something. When AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows all reunited under the WWE banner and even reformed their Club (minus a Bullet), their latest run together had potential to be just as successful as their New Japan days. Unfortunately, WWE had no intention to recreate the success of the Bullet Club. Instead, Anderson and Gallows were subjected to playing lackeys to Styles in his feuds with Roman Reigns and John Cena and as a whole, the trio never made a profound impact in WWE. Together, they frequently took losses and as the WWE Draft proved, the three were better off separated, or at least Styles was. AJ Styles went to Smackdown to become WWE Champion while Gallows and Anderson went to Raw to become literal ball busters on the losing end of their feud with The New Day. It was clear from the get-go that this Club was shy of a few much-needed bullets.
2 Best: nWo
Yes, the nWo is the best ripoff of the nWo. No, we're not saying that the nWo are ripoffs of themselves, but they did ripoff an invasion that took place in Japan before their creation in WCW. Eric Bischoff has admitted numerous times that he took inspiration for the nWo from an angle he saw in Japan after attending a NJPW show called Battle Formation in 1996, the same year that the nWo debuted. The angle centered around another company, UWFi, trying to invade NJPW. The presentation was different from that of the nWo and the ideas contributed from backstage WCW heads and the nWo members helped make the nWo unique, but they were essentially the same idea and Bischoff essentially ripped off his nWo idea. What made nWo stand apart is that their popularity helped them exceed their original predecessor so much so that many today don't even realize that nWo was a ripoff. While the nWo didn't exactly set the invasion angle trend, they for sure popularized it.
1 Worst: Immortal
Immortal represented everything that was terrible about the nWo. Whether it's the fact it was overcrowded with too many stars or the fact that it was used as a spotlight for old talent who passed their prime and ignored the new stars, Immortal was just an awful excuse for an nWo ripoff. The World Champion of the group was Jeff Hardy, who as a natural babyface who crowds loved to cheer for probably wasn't the best fit for the group. Kudos to TNA for at least taking a risk with trying something different in a Jeff Hardy heel turn, but that doesn't excuse the rest of their crappy booking for Immortal. After a contrived set-up and a year's worth of storylines that felt boring by today's standards, the only payoff was a Hulk Hogan face turn alongside Sting at Bound for Glory which only led to Immortal quietly disappearing. It was a flat attempt at a stable that no one benefited from.
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