The New World Order was one of the most important stables in wrestling history. The faction included top tier stars like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall out of the gate. It made waves with Hulk Hogan’s monumental heel turn after over a decade as the top face in the business, in addition to including Eric Bischoff’s heel turn to launch the first heel authority figure on that scale for a national wrestling promotion. The angle made a lot of money as the cornerstone of WCW’s success during the Monday Night War and later a major faction for WWE as well.
For all of the ways in which the nWo worked, the stars it made, and the creative successes it enjoyed, it also had its less favorable side. The group bloated to way too many members until stars like Chris Jericho have openly discussed not wanting to be a part of it, because he knew he’d have a better chance to stand out on his own than beneath the shadow of so many big stars. Moreover, there’s a very real argument that the nWo lasted too long and that additional incarnations after the original were at best unnecessary, and possibly lazy on the part of the powers that be in WCW and later WCW.
In the end, there were talents who absolutely loved being affiliated with WCW for the creative opportunities it opened, the way it pushed their careers, or simply the fun they had while working as part of the group. There were also, however, those guys who came to regret their involvement in the stable. This article looks at ten wrestlers who loved being in the group and ten who haven’t been so complimentary toward that time in their careers.
20 Regretted It: Curt Hennig
Curt Hennig joined the New World Order at Fall Brawl 1998 when he betrayed the Four Horsemen align with the newer heel faction. Hennig drew huge heat with that moment, but it’s noteworthy that fans tend to forget what came next.
Despite Hennig being widely respected as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, he quickly became ‘just another guy’ in the nWo ranks, scarcely working anything but mid-card matches. There’s a very real argument that his last best years got squandered in this under-appreciated role, when he might have instead been cast as one of the top names opposite the faction.
19 Loved It: Kevin Nash
As Eric Bischoff has articulated time and again on the 83 Weeks podcast, the underlying story of The Outsiders, and by extension the New World Order, was that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were under appreciated WCW talents who went to WWE and became stars. Here they were back in WCW to take out their frustrations on their former employer and its roster.
Nash was living his gimmicks as a defining cool heel who got over huge as one of the nWo’s top stars. He would go on to win championships, work main events, and even spend time in the booker’s chair based on the success of the faction and his major role in it.
18 Regretted It: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner may have enjoyed more career advancement coming out of his nWo membership than any other performer. He went from a perennial top tag team wrestler to a main event heel who revealed a huge personality recast as Big Poppa Pump.
Steiner didn’t seem to much enjoy this period, though, having repeatedly blamed Hulk Hogan and others for holding him back and keeping him from realizing his full star potential. Freakzilla is notorious for being cantankerous about people who rub him the wrong way, but seems particularly consistently bitter about how things went in the late stages of WCW.
17 Loved It: Scott Hall
Scott Hall was the original member of the New World Order, appearing in Nitro solo to launch the angle. From there he was consistently one of the best featured members of the faction, his fate often intertwined with that of Kevin Nash, including multiple runs as tag team champions.
Perhaps best of all for Hall, the nWo represented a period when he proved himself as a great wrestling mind and got the opportunity to exercise his creative chops. That’s true for not only the stable itself, but also helping craft other gimmicks and storylines, including claiming responsibility for Sting’s Crow gimmick.
16 Regretted It: Bret Hart
From how he tells it in his book, Bret Hart never really wanted to go to WCW. He signed when WWE couldn’t honor his financial agreement, not to mention that Shawn Michaels curried David over him, culminating in Survivor Series in Montreal.
In WCW, Hart was used erratically to say the least including bouncing in and out of the nWo ranks more than he liked, more than he thought the fans could logically follow. Perhaps worst of all, being in the group prevented Hart from being a rival to it and ever realizing a proper main event program with Hulk Hogan, which he had wanted since his original world title reign in WWE.
15 Loved It: Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff claims credit for The nWo concept and key plot points in the group’s evolution. Not least among those moments was he, himself, being revealed as a member of the faction.
Bischoff largely pioneered the heel authority figure role as the nWo’s figurehead leader and both a real life and kayfabe power broker for WCW. One need only rewatch Bischoff’s work in this role to see he was having a lot of fun playing a smarmy villain and running with one of the coolest groups in wrestling history. That set a precedent for heel authority figures, that are still being used to this day.
14 Regretted It: Scott Norton
Scott Norton was a unique powerhouse who had largely built his name working a stiff style in Japan. As part of the New Works Order, he represented an imposing physical presence, but never really accomplished anything of note during his time with the group.
One of Norton’s most famous backstage moments during this era came in bucking his stablemate, Scott Hall. Chris Jericho recounted in his first book that after Hall bullies him Norton came to Jericho to tell him to stand up for himself, or else Norton would do it for him, and it probably wouldn’t look good for Y2J. Clearly, Norton didn’t love working with Hall or other talents who bullied their way through the locker room.
13 Loved It: Fake Sting
Jeff Farmer was a solid enough hand, but had a largely forgettable wrestling career until he landed an unusual role in WCW. Amidst kayfabe intrigue about Sting potentially betraying WCW to join the nWo, Farmer played the heel faction’s version of Sting, going so far as to briefly, originally pass for the real deal.
In the nWo Sting gimmick, Farmer found direction, enjoyed the spotlight, and went to frequently play the role in Japan, even after the nWo had dissolved in the U.S. Farmer's role in the nWo angle was a key aspect to it and it's by far the most success he enjoyed in the company.
12 Regretted It: David Flair
To this day, it’s not entirely clear if David Flair ever really meant to have a pro wrestling career. When he became an integral part of WCW’s programming around his father, though—particularly in betraying him to join the New World Order—he got rushed into a featured role he was ill-equipped for.
Flair was in the spotlight before he was fully trained and didn’t really have a fair opportunity to live up to his father’s legacy. Between that and the eccentric character he wound up playing it’s little wonder that he looks back on his WCW tenure with chagrin. Conrad Thompson referenced communicating with him about some of his work on Nitro for 83 Weeks and Flair predictably reacted with embarrassment at being reminded about it.
11 Loved It: Buff Bagwell
Marcus Alexander Bagwell was a clean cut baby face character with a great look but limited wrestling talent or direction as a personality. His fortunes took a big turn when he became a part of the New World Order, espousing his new heel Buff Bagwell persona.
Bagwell became an upper card threat, teamed up alongside big men like Scott Steiner and Scott Norton as a brash, young talent who may well have moved up the card even further had WCW lasted much longer. The only regret from Bagwell's perspective is he stayed in the group too long, as he really should've remained a babyface when coming back from his long-term neck injury.
10 Regretted It: Syxx
Sean Waltman made perfect sense for the New World Order given his edgy persona and real life friendships with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. However, his run with WCW wound up being short lived before he was let go. Despite internet rumors that Eric Bischoff let Waltman go to send a message to and rein in Hall and Nash, Bischoff has suggested instead that it was a result of Waltman having substance use issues.
Waltman has fired back that he was clean during his time with WCW, so the truth of the matter remains muddled. Regardless, Waltman seems to overall regret his time at Syxx. Immediately after, he went back to WWE under the moniker of X-Pac with D-Generation X.
9 Loved It: Konnan
As Eric Bischoff has discussed on the 83 Weeks podcast, Konnan positioned himself as a go-between for many luchadors coming into WCW and management. Bischoff alluded to this role not being entirely altruistic, but also a vehicle for Konnan to position himself in political power and get what he wanted out of the company, including a plum spot with the nWo Wolpac.
While Konnan was already a legend in Mexico, his time running with the face red and black version of the nWo may well have represented his peak in the eyes of U.S. wrestling fans. The nWo provided him a big spotlight with the company.
8 Regretted It: Dusty Rhodes
Cody Rhodes has commented on his father resenting old wrestlers who came back long past their primes to hog the spotlight. It seemed that Dream wasn’t entirely comfortable on camera for that very reason as he got up in years.
Dream joining the nWo made sense to the extent that he represented the heel super group truly taking over, consuming even such a face icon from the previous generation. However, Rhodes was used sparingly in an on-screen role with the group and it’s telling that he abruptly dropped out of the group and resurfaced on WCW’s side of the war without any real explanation.
7 Loved It: The Disciple
There’s little doubt that Brutus Beefcake owes a lot of his career to Hulk Hogan. While few will stand up for Beefcake’s in ring talent, talking skill, or charisma, he nonetheless found himself in featured roles in WWE and later WCW, most often in Hogan’s orbit on account of their real life longstanding friendship.
Beefcake went through a lot of gimmick changes in his time with WCW, with most of them being major flops. The last major role as The Disciple saw him as a key sidekick to The Hulkster, once more having an impact on main event level matches.
6 Regretted It: Ted DiBiase
After a lengthy run with WWE that made him into one of the biggest stars in wrestling, Ted DiBiase, no longer an in ring performer, made his way to WCW to work a manager-type role. He was introduced as the money behind the New World Order, in an homage to the Million Dollar Man gimmick that was synonymous with him.
Many fans may not remember DiBiase’s work with the nWo, and indeed it was fleeting. He has implied in shoot interviews since that he was meant to be more of a mouthpiece and figurehead leader for the group, but that that Eric Bischoff usurped that role for himself when the angle caught fire. It’s unclear if that’s exactly true, but DiBiase would work with the group only for a limited period before inexplicably turning face to manage the Steiner Brothers for another short spell.
5 Loved It: Stevie Ray
Booker T is a wrestling legend at this point who captured world titles in both WCW and WWE. His real life brother Stevie Ray started in WCW as his tag team partner, billed as Harlem Heat. As Booker began to take off as a singles star, it’s reasonable enough that WCW experimented with pushing his larger brother, too.
Between in-ring skill, charisma, and talking abilities, Ray unfortunately didn’t represent any of the tools to be an upper card guy. He quite arguably peaked when WCW booked him for its oddball three-way War Games match as a partner to Hollywood Hogan and Bret Hart, opposing an all star cast of former world champions. It’s a historical anomaly that Ray was involved as he never would rise up close to that level. Nonetheless, his role in the nWo gave him the biggest spotlight he ever enjoyed.
4 Regretted It: The Giant
The Giant was an early addition to the New World Order as the super group demonstrated its dominance by racking up the very best talent available. In a few months, he’d be out of the group, but he’d cycle back around in time.
Looking back, the man now best known as The Big Show has balked at that time with WCW for having too many turns and nonsensical storylines for fans to keep up with. While WCW did afford him a launching pad and a number of big pushes, it’s clear that doesn’t approve of the big picture of how he was used during these early stages of his career.
3 Loved It: Vincent
Vincent—previously known as Virgil in WWE—isn’t typically looked at as such a great wrestling talent. He was competent in the heater role, though, that he most famously played behind Ted DiBiase in WWE, and went on to play for the nWo at large during his WCW tenure.
Vincent’s involvement in the group is representative of both the bloated nature of its roster and WCW cashing in on any recognizable star from WWE. Had he not been in this group, it’s hard to pin down how it would have made any difference at all for them. Nonetheless, Vincent got a second big run and a steady WCW paycheck out of it.
2 Regretted It: Michael Wallstreet
Mike Rotunda became best known for his WWE persona as Irwin R. Schyster, but before and after he played that gimmick, he worked in WCW with another financially themed gimmick as Michael Wallstreet. His second time around in that role, he joined the nWo, only for WCW to apply an oddly contrived kayfabe contract stipulation that barred him from being a part of the group. In either case, he was mostly used in the lower card at that point and didn’t have a significant impact on storylines.
For his part, Rotunda has commented in shoot interviews since that WCW was disorganized and mismanaged, hinting that he felt his character was misused during this time. It would appear that he’d have just as soon stayed out of the nWo fray.
1 Loved It: Hollywood Hogan
By 1996, the red and yellow hero version of Hulk Hogan was played out. The Hulkster had had a truly iconic run in WWE and gone on to draw attention in rebooting his run in WCW. However, after the first year—let alone two—of his WCW tenure had gone by, fans were en masse rejecting seeing the same old thing, and Hogan getting featured at the expense of younger guys and traditional WCW stars.
Without Hogan’s heel turn that in so many ways set the New World Order on fire, Hogan may have been forced into retirement, or at least had to spend years away from the business in order for fans to clamor for a return of their super hero. Hogan wound playing about as good of a lead heel as he had been a lead face and adding a crucial chapter to his storied career.