When Scott Hall arrived on Monday Nitro and started the road to the nWo, he couldn’t have known he was igniting a civil war that would tear WCW apart and lead it down the road to ruin. All Scott Hall knew was that he was going to do in his new promotion exactly what he did best: Shake things up.
‘You want a war? You’ve got one,” Hall snarled at his WCW higher-ups before revealing the second member of nWo the next week: Kevin Nash. At that year’s Great American Bash, Big Sexy power bombed WCW boss Eric Bischoff from the stage and made official what WCW fans had come to know over the preceding weeks: Hall and Nash, now calling themselves The Outsiders, were the future.
That fateful power bomb was delivered because Bischoff had refused to arrange opponents for a 6-man tag team match featuring Hall and Nash. At that year’s Bash at the Beach, The Outsiders revealed their third member, a recently returned Hulk Hogan. Hogan, at that time the most beloved babyface in wrestling, turned heel and aligned himself with The Outsiders, saying in a post-match interview that Hall, Nash and himself represented a “New World Order” in professional wrestling. The name stuck, and the trio eventually grew into one of the most important and influential stables in the history of professional wrestling.
Before long, the group had expanded to include The Giant (a pre-Big Show Paul White), Ted DiBiase, and even WCW president Eric Bischoff, who couldn’t stem the rising tide and allied himself with the nWo, setting up their reign as the de facto rulers of WCW until Starcade 97, when Sting returned from a hiatus to challenge Hogan for the title. The nWo’s heyday was past, but their legacy was just beginning to take shape.
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20 ECW’s Blue World Order
At ECW’s November to Remember 1996, the independent wrestling promotion run by pro wrestling legend Paul Heyman debuted its answer to the nWo phenomenon—the Blue World Order. After the example of leader Big Stevie Cool (Steve Richards), bWo delighted in mocking the gravitas of the nWo and wore ECW’s outsider status as a badge of honor. They might have been a parody of the nWo, but when ECW took over WWE Raw in 1997, the bWo earned respect—not from Jerry Lawler, but from the fans.
19 The Weird Dinner and a Movie Tie-in
At Clash of Champions 1997, corporate synergy dictated that Dinner and a Movie, a cooking show/dinner theater production that has undergone several reincarnations since, get a tie-in. For the hosts, this meant aligning themselves with the misfit faction, verbally assaulting Mean Gene, making an nWo-themed cake for their new friends, and standing idly by as a livid Diamond Dallas Page rampaged through their studio, destroying everything that hadn’t been nailed down beforehand.
So, yes, a couple of chefs were actually part of the nWo.
18 Crossing Over to NASCAR
When the nWo recruited NASCAR standout Kyle Petty, it seemed the wrestling stable was poised for a true takeover of the sports world. Petty even drove around in the #49 nWo car in professional events. But the video that revealed Busch’s allegiance to the New World Order was downright weird. “You want to be a Hollywood superstar?” Hulk Hogan asks Petty, visibly holding back an enthusiastic “Brother.” He goes on to explain Petty and nWo have struck a deal, whereby Hogan will put Petty in the movie business in exchange for tricking out his car in nWo gear.
So, yes, chefs and Nascar drivers were actually part of the nWo.
17 The Merch Rights
Last September on his podcast, Ric Flair noted that Kevin Nash was particularly angry after Hulk Hogan’s brief foray into public bigotry. Why was Nash so upset by his former nWo teammate’s screw-up? Because after WWE took Hulkamania-related merch off the shelves, he and Big Sexy reportedly lost out on a great deal of money. Between the two of them, according to Flair, they represented the final destination for 50% of the nWo’s merchandising value, which as anyone who’s ever purchased a wrestling t-shirt could tell you is considerable.
16 Larry Zbyszko brought The American Dream to nWo
In November 2015, Larry Zbyszko, Wrestling’s Living Legend, sat down with WrestleZone to reminisce about his days in the business, including his longstanding feud with the late, great Dusty Rhodes, which reached a post-prime peak during the nWo era. When discussing how Dusty Rhodes made the transition to the heel faction, Zbyszko said: "They came to me and it was up to me whether it went that way or not." While Rhodes wasn't a huge success in the faction, it's still interesting to see why he made the switch.
15 A Simple Torn Muscle Ended nWo’s WWE Return
In July 2002, Nash was featured as part of a 10-team tag match during which he suffered a freak injury: a torn quadriceps muscle. The same injury had befallen Triple H just a year earlier, and The Cerebral Assassin managed to power through the fight. But Nash’s enormous frame couldn’t stand on the torn muscle, the referee threw up the X sign to show someone was injured, and Nash was sidelined for nine months. Scott Hall had already been suspended by WWE and Hogan was enjoying a Hulkamania renaissance in his old colors, so WWE had no nWo left to market and it fell to the wayside
14 Giant Haystacks Helped Bring the Giant Up
When Big Show was still The Giant and wearing the requisite (for giants) Andre-style one-strap singlet, he faced off against another big fella, then going by the name of Loch Ness. Most knew the wrestler by the name Giant Haystacks and the pair made up one of Paul Wight’s earliest feuds in WCW. The momentum generated against Loch Ness (not the finest incarnation of Haystacks) made The Giant and obvious candidate to join nWo as one of its earliest recruits.
13 nWo: Pacific Edition
At the very height of its popularity, the nWo became a global phenomenon that incorporated personalities from Japanese professional wrestling as well as the ranks of the WCW. First among these superstars was Masahiro Chono, who turned on his manager before a match with Chris Jericho and aligned himself with the New World Order. He would soon recruit The Great Muta and create a tag team that would eventually cross the Pacific and create nWo Japan, which not many casual wrestling fans know existed.
12 Randy’s Ripley’s Family
In 1950, The Macho Man’s father, Angelo Poffo, capitalized on his fame as a part of the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not franchise and became one of professional wrestling’s biggest stars in that era. Poffo had made his way into Ripley’s by performing 6,033 consecutive sit-ups. Extreme levels of fitness ran in the Poffo family and Randy would soon be on TV screens all over the world hawking Slim Jims and laying the smackdown on anyone stupid enough to get in his or Miss Elizabeth’s way.
11 Bray Wyatt, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are the WWE’s Reigning nWo Legacies
When Curtis Axel dressed up as Hulk Hogan last year as part of the WWE’s “Meta Powers,” what even many die-hard fans might not have remembered was that he was imitating his father’s old teammate. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig became a member of nWo in 1997 and sided with Nash’s Wolfpac after the split. Meanwhile, as Mr. Wallstreet, Michael Rotunda, best known as IRS, had teamed up with the nWo relatively early, accepting an invitation from his former tag team partner Teddy DiBiase. At home were bouncing baby boys Bo Dallas (with a creepy grin) and Bray Wyatt (with the severed head of a goat on a stick)
10 nWo Bischoff = Mr. McMahon
Before the owner of WWE was the snarling master heel and AARP steroid posterboy known as Mr. McMahon, he was simply Vincent K. McMahon, bow-tie wearing announcer. No one knew he was the owner of the company and he seemed to like it that way. But after Eric Bischoff began to insert himself into the ring during the nWo feud, first against them and then in their favor, it set a precedent for combining business with kayfabe that WWE has since latched onto with all its might. So, we can think Eric Bischoff for WWE's continued use of The Authority.
9 Dusty Rhodes and Big Bubba Rogers: Working Men with American Dreams
While any fan of nWo could be prompted to remember Dusty Rhodes’s cameos with the group, and Big Bubba Rogers (WWE’s Big Boss Man) had enough of a stay in nWo to make his mark, it’s less common knowledge that it was Dusty who gave Big Bubba his first break in the wrestling business. Dusty was the head booker at NWA wrestling when an underutilized jobber named Ray Traylor showed him that special something The American Dream needed to see. Before long, the Southern behemoth was wrecking limbs and rings all over the WWE and WCW.
8 The Macho Man’s Missed Opportunity
As a member of nWo, Macho Man Randy Savage added a proud coda to the end of one of wrestling’s most storied careers. But that career almost didn’t even get started thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals, of all things. As a recent high school graduate, Randy Poffo was scouted by the Cardinals and played several seasons of minor league baseball as a catcher, batting .286 in his first season but never standing out enough to be promoted to higher leagues. Pro wrestling superstars often come from athletic backgrounds, but the primary crossover tends to be football, from Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar to Titus O'Neil, making Macho Man’s background unique.
7 Rick Rude Once Threatened Ultimate Warrior’s Life
Neither Warrior nor Rick Rude were considered the easiest superstars to work with in their day, and when The Ultimate Warrior was enjoying his post-WrestleMania glow after vanquishing Hulk Hogan in the biggest upset to date at the Show of Shows, he and Rude clashed in particularly aggressive fashion. When Rude felt that Warrior was doling out too many stiff shots in the ring, he confronted his opponent. Warrior was, by all accounts, less than moved by Rude’s pleas: So what did Rick Rude do? Threatened Warrior’s very existence, that’s what. That kind of mean streak is what made Rick Rude an obvious early addition the nWo!
6 nWo Japan’s Masahiro Chono Had a Very Ironic Encounter With Stone Cold
Any wrestling fan worth his or her salt can tell you that Stone Cold Steve Austin’s golden era was effectively ended by Owen Hart when he broke Austin’s neck with a mis-executed piledriver. But not as many are familiar with the fact that Austin had done the same thing to future nWo mainstay Masahiro Chono when the two were wrestling for NWA in the 90s. Chono attempted to put Austin in position for a tombstone but Austin reversed it before he lost his balance and delivered a piledriver instead, breaking Chono’s neck. The Japanese legend had to change his style to adapt to the injury.
5 Yet Another Dusty Rhodes Connection
When WWE’s Virgil was in WCW as Vincent, he became famous as the nWo’s head of security, but his real claim to fame was in McMahon’s promotion. As Virgil, he laid waste to opponents in the ring and now spends his days tweeting IHOP and Denny’s coupons to his followers. But his famous ring name came from The American Dream himself. Born Virgil Runnels, Dusty Rhodes’s given name was the basis for Virgil’s in-ring persona, before he went to WCW and was awkwardly named after Vince McMahon.
4 Hulk Hogan Was Literally Beaten Into the Wrestling World
When a young Terry Bollea first showed up at the gym of the legendary wrestling instructor Hiro Matsuda, Matsuda doubted the boy’s dedication and directed his veterans to work him out so hard that he was on the verge of fainting, and then decided to seriously test his mettle by breaking the young Hulkster’s leg. When Bollea, who had been 6’0’’ and 195 pounds as a 12 year old, returned to Matsuda’s gym a year later, the legend and his cohorts knew that Hulk was a born wrestler. He was a professional less than a year after that.
3 Scott Steiner Was Investigated for Terroristic Threats
Scott Steiner and Hulk Hogan were once nWo brothers, even siding together with the Hollywood faction after the Black & White/Wolfpac split. But by 2015, Hogan’s was one of the many wrestling relationships Steiner had decided to burn to the ground. After telling an interviewer that Triple H would have never been in wrestling if he weren’t with Stephanie McMahon and spending years denigrating Ric Flair in print and on screen, Steiner allegedly made such violent threats to Hogan’s wife that they were considered by authorities to merit the term “felony terrorist threats.”
After landing in San Jose for WrestleMania last year, Steiner allegedly grabbed Hogan’s wife at the baggage carousel and told her he was going to “kill Terry” after his plane landed.
2 Konnan was Ringside When Perro Aguayo was Killed
Rey Mysterio is well-known for being on the receiving end of the infamous “human lawn dart” maneuver during which Kevin Nash threw him across a parking lot like a toy, but his connection to the nWo doesn’t end with this great bit of television—it ends with one of Pro Wrestling’s worst in-ring tragedies. In a tag-team match featuring Mysterio, Perry Aguayo took a series of bumps before taking the position to be 619ed by Mysterio. One of the bumps, probably one sustained outside the ring before returning to be dropkicked, had caused spinal trauma, and by the time Mysterio had finished delivering his signature move, Aguayo was beyond saving. Medics tried unsuccessfully to revive him for an hour. And the first one to come to his aid was none other than the nWo’s lesser known member, Konnan.
1 Buff Bagwell: American Gigolo
Anyone who remembers the nWo remembers Buff Bagwell, second only to Val Venus in sheer homoeroticism in the squared circle. He was a solid wrestler with decent technical skill and muscles on top of his muscles. So maybe it’s not so surprising that in 2014, Bagwell took his buff bod and put it on the market, becoming a gigolo on the site cowboys4angels.com. His profile detailed his wrestling career and also described Bagwell as a “real southern gentleman” who “once again is ready to hand out a few roses and entertain you for the evening, but if that’s not your cup of tea, he will forever be your Buff The Stuff Bagwell.”
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