The New World Order was a wildly successful stable. It all started in WCW, when Scott Hall and Kevin Nash—big name players from WWE—showed up unannounced and started making ominous threats about taking over. Soon, the duo was the focal point of all WCW programming. They grew even more prominent when Hulk Hogan turned heel for the first time since the Hulkamania run, and the trio positively dominated the top of the card.
Time marched on and the nWo ballooned in size, arguably diluting its quality with every new member. Nonetheless, the group was wildly popular and cutting edge on account of getting so much adoration and moving so much merchandise as a heel unit. Soon there were two separate nWos on WCW programming, and a Latino World Order, too. Just a couple years after the long story had fizzled, the nWo 2000 showed up. Years later, the group had additional runs in WWE.
Part of the nWo’s intrigue was the degree to which the group bent reality. They performed in a much grittier style than most performers of the day, and the group’s magnetic pull on new talent—particularly guys coming in from WWE—made them the constant subject of fan speculation and rumors. More than a creative juggernaut, the group actually did have all manner of insane real life stories swirling around them at any given time. This article looks back at 15 unexpected moments when members of the New World Order were at their wildest and most controversial behind the scenes.
15 The nWo Had The Police Called On Them Due To An Attack On Nitro
On an infamous episode of Monday Nitro, early in the nWo’s run, the heel group staged an attack backstage in the parking lot area, that most memorably included Kevin Nash lawn-darting Rey Mysterio into the side of a trailer.
The incident was so violent, and so unlike typical pro wrestling programming for its time that bystanders actually called police to address what they perceived as a real fight. The matter was cleared up quickly enough, but was nonetheless emblematic of how different and how eye-grabbing the nWo’s style was. The group’s antics inspired genuine fear in non-wrestling fans, and swept them up into what started as a totally fictional storyline. As time went on WCW would program toward generating responses from non-wrestling fans more and more with shocking segments and celebrity involvement that garnered mainstream media attention.
14 Kevin Nash Once Got Scott Hall Beat Up By The Nasty Boys
In an incident discussed in several shoot interviews, Kevin Nash delivered a stiff shot to Jerry Sags in a match. Sags was already hurt, and thus staying out of the action for the most part, and became enraged when he thought The Outsiders were taking liberties.
Sags thought it was Scott Hall who had delivered the blow and thus began legitimately throwing punches in front of the fans, giving Hall a beating. Nash didn’t realize The Nasty Boys thought they’d gotten a cheap shot and didn’t realize they blamed Hall, and thus was severely pissed off on behalf of his friend whom he thought they were attacking for no reason.
Rumor has it, backstage Nash backed off The Nasty Boys with a baseball bat, before going to management to demand that Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs be ousted from the company.
13 Sting Was The Back Up For Hulk Hogan, To Lead The Original nWo
As I’ll continue to discuss later in this list, there was a lot of turmoil about who the original, mystery third man would be for the nWo, joining Hall and Nash as charter members of the main event group. While it would, of course, turn out to be Hulk Hogan who led the original ensemble, Hogan and Eric Bischoff have both noted in numerous interviews that he was apprehensive about turning heel. They cite Hogan’s sense of responsibility to his fans—particularly the kids—and he allegedly didn’t cement his membership in the group until the very last minute.
In lieu of other options, Bischoff and other sources have cited that Sting was the back up plan. In hindsight, it’s almost unthinkable that Sting would fill this role, after he spent years fighting the nWo, before joining a face alternative version of the stable. We can imagine that Sting might have had a similar effect as Hogan, as a truly shocking defection and heel turn, though it’s hard to imagine that he’d have been as successful in the long-run as a top heel.
12 Hulk Hogan Flubbed The Group’s Name On Live TV
When Hulk Hogan formally joined ranks with Hall and Nash at Bash at the Beach 1996, he cut a scathing promo in which he denounced the fans and the fans responded by littering the ring with trash. While fans look back at the moment as iconic, there’s one significant error that detracted from it—in introducing the nWo, Hogan called the group the New World Organization.
The faction would quickly become the New World Order and, interestingly, WWE has since edited old WCW footage to fix the flub. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to think that wrestling’s biggest star, fresh off arguably the most shocking heel turn in wrestling history, blew his first big speech in such a notable way. Given the amount of influence Hogan had at that time, he may have even almost changed the name of one of wrestling’s biggest factions just as it got rolling.
11 Eric Bischoff Stole The Idea For The nWo From Japan
The nWo was positively cutting edge in so many ways. Part of the appeal was that mainstream American wrestling had never seen an angle like it, in which a large heel force invaded a wrestling company and threatened to take it over.
Eric Bischoff has been very candid in a number of interviews about the genesis of the idea. He attended a New Japan show centered on the concept of a rival promotion, Union of Wrestling Forces International invading. Bischoff certainly stylized and took liberties with the concept, but in casting Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, and later guys like Sean Waltman, Ted DiBiase, and Virgil as key personalities in the group, he suggested WWE launching an invasion of WCW. Bischoff used that insinuation as key point of intrigue to draw fans into the nWo storyline, creating dream matches and atmosphere unpredictability, much like New Japan had.
10 Vince McMahon’s Lawyers Forced A Change In The Early-nWo
While this factoid tends to get lost to the sands of time, at the very beginning of the nWo angle, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash weren’t even referred to by name. Hall used his Razor Ramon accent and look, and the implication seemed to be that it was not Hall and Nash, but Ramon and Diesel from WWE who were challenging the WCW roster.
WWE pursued legal action that led to Eric Bischoff asking outright on air if the guys were representing WWE (they said no). WWE persisted, claiming that WCW was marketing inter-promotional matches and still implying that WWE wrestlers were involved in their show. From there, WCW dropped some of its pretenses, addressing Hall and Nash by their real-life, legal names, and moving toward properly introducing the nWo faction.
9 Bret Hart Was Originally Supposed To Lead The nWo
Kevin Nash and Eric Bischoff have each talked about early plans for Bret Hart, rather than Hulk Hogan, to be the mystery third man upon the launch of the nWo at Bash at the Beach 1996. The idea was that with Hall and Nash each portrayed as outsiders from WWE, Hart would be the perfect choice to complete the trifecta from up north.
While there were talks about signing Hart to a WCW contract, Hart wrote in his autobiography Hitman about how Vince McMahon persuaded him otherwise. McMahon purportedly suggested WCW wouldn’t know what to do with him, and convinced Hart he wouldn’t be happy there. Ironically, less than two years later, McMahon would renege on the 20-year deal he had given Hart, and Hart would be on his way to WCW just the same after the Montreal Screwjob. Hart would eventually join the nWo, but not to nearly the effect he might have had in 1996.
8 Shawn Michaels Joined The nWo… 5 Years After He First Wanted To
It’s well-documented that Shawn Michaels was close friends with his fellow Kliq members, including Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Sean Waltman. There came a time around 1997 when he was very unhappy in WWE, particularly after his compadres had left for WCW. At this point Michaels approached McMahon about letting him out of his contract, because he wanted to go to WCW and reunite with The Kliq, and likely would have wound up being a member of the nWo. McMahon both wouldn’t release Michaels from his contract, and gave Michaels advice against signing there when he did have the chance.
As it turned out, Michaels would ride out his wrestling career with WWE, but he did get the chance to work with the group. He joined the WWE version of the group for a short spell in 2002 that led to HBK’s full-time return to the ring after severe back issues kept him out of the game for four years.
7 Scott Steiner Mauled Diamond Dallas Page
As Hulk Hogan took a backseat and spent some time away from the ring, Scott Steiner got the reigns of the nWo toward the end of its initial run. Around this time he got involved in a heated personal issue with Diamond Dallas Page. A lot of the details vary from source to source, but the gist is that Page’s real-life wife Kimberly accused Tammy Sytch of drug possession. Though Sytch (better known as Sunny) was cleared, Scott Steiner took offense on her behalf and went after Kimberly, and then DDP. The issue started backstage, but continued with Steiner cutting a promo that walked the line between storylines and reality, calling out Page.
Page confronted Steiner backstage and the two wound up in a physical scuffle. Again, accounts vary about exactly what went down and how Page faired against the stronger, more skilled Steiner. Regardless the exchange culminated in Steiner going for Page’s eyes, and leaving his face in bad shape for the days to follow.
6 Eric Bischoff Meant It When He Challenged Vince McMahon To A Fight
In the build to Slamboree 1998, Eric Bischoff put out an unconventional challenge, calling out Vince McMahon. He invited his business rival from WWE to come to the WCW PPV and fight him in the ring. Common sense tells us this was a publicity stunt, and there was little chance McMahon would show. As angry as he might have been with Bischoff for threatening to put WWE out of business, fighting on Bischoff’s home turf, in front of Bischoff’s paying audience wouldn’t compute—and that’s if McMahon was up for a public shoot fight at all.
Nonetheless, Bischoff spoke about it in the Monday Night War documentary, and claims he meant the challenge. He even recounts that Hulk Hogan told him it was a bad idea because McMahon was crazy enough to show up and might really hurt Bischoff. Bischoff claimed he was comfortable with the risks—saying he’d at least hold his own as a trained martial artist, and that if he did get beat up, he could take it, and it would be worth it for business.
5 The nWo Is The Only Stable To Appear On Both Nitro And Raw
The Monday Night War marked a tumultuous time in wrestling. It wasn’t unusual for talents to bounce from one wrestling promotion to another—sometimes back and forth like Jeff Jarrett, or even appearing on the two different shows on the same night like Rick Rude.
Intellectual property rights and timing being what they are, it was highly unusual for a faction to jump from one company to another, though WWE would come to reference legendary groups like The Four Horsemen, and acknowledge factions like The Dangerous Alliance on documentaries.
The only stable to actually be a part of the show for both WCW and WWE, though, was the nWo which, of course, spanned so much of Nitro’s run, only to wind up a force on Raw for the better part of a year down the road.
4 The WCW Locker Room Really Was Angry With The nWo
WCW told the story of the nWo as an invading group and, over the years to follow, focused booking around all of WCW banding together to fight back the insurgents. There was no real invasion, and there were a number of real life friendships behind the scenes between WCW and nWo guys, such as DDP being close with The Outsiders. Just the same, there were also some real tensions.
A number of lower card performers in particular resented the nWo for dominating WCW programming and getting more opportunities. Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero were among the parties to speak retroactively about how much anger guys had toward the nWo brand, and particularly guys like Hogan, Hall, and Nash for raking in the dough and getting a disproportionate amount of high profile opportunities.
3 Kevin Nash And Scott Hall Didn’t Know Who The Third Member Of The nWo Would Be At Bash At The Beach
While it’s difficult to believe, and accounts have varied as to exactly what was going on, both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash have claimed that they were not sure who the third man would be to complete their team at Bash at the Beach 1996.
This is a big deal given that Hall and Nash had become one of the hottest main event acts of their era, and whoever the third person was revealed to be was going to make major headlines, regardless of his identity. By that time, Bret Hart, who was originally in the running, was decisively out because he’d stayed put in WWE. Hulk Hogan seemed to have been the plan. But whether it was a matter of maximizing chaos and mystery, or Hogan was really that unsure he wanted to turn heel, it seems there was still possibility Sting might be revealed as the third member of the group.
Regardless of the long-term storylines to follow and Hogan being better at playing heel, it’s fortunate Sting wasn’t the guy, or it would have been terribly confusing that he fought against Hall and Nash all match long, only to join them.
2 Diamond Dallas Page Helped Conceive Of The nWo
Diamond Dallas Page had been close with Scott Hall, and to a lesser extent Kevin Nash, during their first tours of WCW, before WWE made them superstars as Razor Ramon and Diesel. Page has said in interviews, and Eric Bischoff confirmed in WWE’s nWo documentary, that Page was instrumental as a go-between to get the guys re-signed to WCW in 1996.
Moreover, Page notes that early brainstorming about the nWo angle happened between him and Bischoff in Page’s garage (he was neighbors with Bischoff at the time). Ironically, Page was quite arguably the biggest WCW star of his generation (besides Goldberg) to never actually join the nWo. Behind the scenes, though, he was instrumental in getting the concept off the ground. Page would get a rub off the group for declining membership, beating back The Outsiders, and ultimately scoring victories over Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan that helped make his career.
1 An nWo Match Gone Wrong Led to Kevin Nash Slapping Roddy Piper Backstage
WCW was nothing if not star-studded in the late-1990s, and the deep roster gave way to inter-generational in-ring wars. That included Roddy Piper squaring off against The Outsiders, and one particular match that came across poorly.
While the details are sketchy about exactly what went wrong, the crux of the matter is that it led to Kevin Nash either slapping Piper across the face or punching him to the floor (depending on the account). The story got new life nearly 20 years later when Piper discussed it on his podcast, claiming he backed down Nash. Nash took to Twitter to denounce Piper and clarify his recollections. Sean Waltman was quick to back Nash’s story on social media. Rather than continue the disagreement, Piper came across as genuinely confused and conceded that maybe he misremembered. The general consensus from people around WCW at the time seems to be that Nash’s version of the story was on point.
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