Welcome back to the Phat Daily Column. Most of the wrestling world has gone to a standstill due to the horrible attacks in New York City and Washington DC, which is totally understandable. With that, I'll remain at a standstill for another day, as we'll throw up another past PDC column in what I guess is a "Best of Tito" column.
Smackdown IS airing tonight, so for tomorrow, I'll get back to writing about the current stuff and go from there. On to the PDC.
BIG NEWS back then was the fact that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash have signed contracts with WCW, thus ending their good run in the WWF in 1996. These two key free agents were loved by the WWF fans, and WCW knew they had something big here. So with Bret Hart becoming a free agent, too, back then, WCW put on their thinking caps.
Now as the story goes, it's said that Eric Bischoff got an invasion angle from somewhere in Japan. Others claim that it was the legendary Paul Orndorf's idea to have a hostile takeover of the federation. Whatever it may be, the "creative team" at WCW decided to have Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and possibly a third HUGE wrestler (they wanted Bret Hart) invade WCW, and try to take it over. An early snag occurred, however, which went in the form of Bret Hart resigning with the WWF. So they decided to look for a 3rd man.
During this time, around late Spring of 1996, Hulk Hogan was taking some time off. I don't know if it was destiny or not, but this set him up for the perfect role. During his break, whether it be Bischoff, Turner, or anyone from WCW, Hogan was approached with the idea to turn Heel and to be the 3rd man/leader of this new supergroup attempting to rule WCW. Hogan, who actually enjoyed being a heel early in his career and noticing that "Hulkamania" was dying, agreed!
On a late May episode of Nitro, fans were treated to a rather strange sight. Scott Hall came out of the crowd, insisting that "everyone knows who I am, but what am I doing here". He would hint of some kind of takeover, which led many fans to believe that the WWF wrestlers were actually wrecking the show! The following week, Hall returned, and kept telling everyone that "we are taking over". At the end of that Nitro, however, Sting confronted Hall and slapped him in the face! Hall said he had a Big Surprise for Sting and WCW, the next week! So that following week, Kevin Nash arrives at the end of Nitro! They keep telling everyone that they are taking over, and they insult WCW, bigtime! They said they would show up at the Great American Bash 1996 for a special challenge. Nitro's ratings were getting higher because this was shocking and new at the time. Must see TV!
But these 3 Nitros sparked an actual lawsuit. The WWF claimed that WCW was making it seem like Hall and Nash were still under WWF contract, but appearing on WCW, still acting like their WWF personas. So during the Great American Bash and the Nitros after that, you could hear the commentators insist that Nash and Hall were NOT under WWF contract any more. Too late, and this lawsuit wouldn't be resolved until the Summer of 2000, and it actually almost led to the WWF buying WCW! Amazing!
The Great American Bash rolled around, and it only sparked interest for WCW more. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash confronted Eric Bischoff on the show, who in turn, was actually announced as the WCW Vice President. They laid out a challenge for any 3 WCW competitors to take them and a mystery partner on at the next Pay Per View. Bischoff accepted, and the "Outsiders", as they were originally called then, insisted on Bischoff to give them the 3 WCW wrestlers that he would choose. He refused, and then BAM, he was powerbombed by Nash off the stage. Truly an amazing moment in Wrestling history.
More and more viewers tuned in, especially with the intrigue of the "3rd Man". Who was it? Everyone and their mothers guessed who it was, and only one source ended up right, but it was little known. So leading up to the Bash at the Beach 1996, the Outsiders ATTACKED! They'd jump wrestlers here and there, they jump wrestlers everywhere! The most famous was the scene outside of the Disney location, where Marcus Bagwell, Rey Mysterio, and a few others were attacked outside a trailer. It's the famous lawndart incident with Rey-Rey, into the trailer if you remember that scene. The Outsiders also interfered during a Luger/Sting vs. Harlem Heat match, which helped Harlem Heat to win the Tag Titles. The intrigue of who the 3rd man was feuled this show, and they promised to reveal him at the Bash....
My gosh, you could just cut this tension with a knife! If you watched this show life, you were on the edge of your seat, wondering who the hell the 3rd man was. Mean Gene tried to find out throughout the show, but he couldn't. Then, the match finally arrived. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash came in, but only with themselves. NO THIRD MAN!! This baffled Sting, Macho Man, and Lex Luger, who were the chosen 3 for Team WCW. The planning of this match is SO awesome! Luger somehow gets "knocked out" during this match, when Sting hit a Stinger splash on Nash, who had Luger tied up. Luger was taken out of the match, which set up the finale perfectly.
Macho Man took a shot to the nuts by dirty Kevin Nash, and he's down and out. Suddenly, Hulk Hogan arrives on the scene! The crowd goes absolutely berzerk, because Hulkamania is for saying your prayers and taking your vitamins... no evil bones in his body! He walks into the ring, and taps the ropes once, and BAM, a devastating Legdrop! The crowd's jaws and the viewers' jaws just dropped. He singles a thumb to Nash and Hall, BAM, another legdrop. Hall and Nash want one more legdrop, to which Hogan is glad to oblige to his new pupils. BAM! The greatest moment in wrestling history just occured.
The speech afterwards was just magical. "I've held my head high. I've done everything for the charities, I've done everything for the kids, and for the reception I got when I came out here... YOU FANS CAN STICK IT!!" Hogan would claim that Nash and Hall were the future of wrestling, and that collectively, they were the New World Organization of wrestling. If you weren't shocked as a wrestling fan back then, then you weren't a wrestling fan.
Ratings went through the roof! This angle was so shocking! Reportedly, it was Terry Taylor's idea to push the name "New World Order", and to have T-shirts for all of the kiddies to enjoy. So they started running their ads, like "The Following is a Paid Advertisement for the New World Order", and so forth. The next aim was the Giant, who was the current WCW World Champion. Hogan would get his title shot at Hog Wild 1996, which by the way, has an excellent Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit match on it.
Hogan got the win at Hog Wild, and he was your NEW world champion. By then, he adopted the new name Hollywood Hogan, and with WCW's pushing, they tried to NOT owe money to Marvel comics upon everytime they used his name. Now that they had the World Title, the question was who will join them next?
Great question. Another shocking moment in history occurred. Apparently, the NWO convinced Sting to join the NWO.... or at least it looked like it. Lex Luger chased someone to the outside, where he saw a limo. Out of that limo came a guy who looked like Sting, and he attacked Luger. This was the week or so before Fall Brawl 1996, where Sting was supposed to be the 4th member of the NWO and to be their 4th team member on their Wargames against WCW, who oddly had Flair, Anderson, Sting, and Luger. Sting on two teams??? Well, yes and no. During the match, the 4th member of the NWO team came out, and it was Sting? Well, not really. Good old Bogus Sting or NWO Sting was there, and to many, he actually fooled a lot of fans, again. Then, the 4th member of Team WCW came out. It was the REAL Sting! Crowd goes crazy, and the REAL Sting cleans house. Then, he walks out of the cage and walks away. You see, WCW ripped Sting all week for turning on his fans and his organization. Sting showed them that night.
The Nitro afterward was even better. He got on the mic, and with his back to the camera, he yelled at WCW for not trusting him. He declared himself a free agent. The following week, the NWO was bragging about how they signed the REAL Sting to a deal. The REAL Sting came out with a brand new look, as seen in this picture. He had the original Crow paint on (in my opinion, it's the best paintjob ever!), and he said "the one thing about the Stinger these days.... is NOTHING's for sure". He walked out of the ring, and he wasn't seen until week's later, in the rafters with FULL Crow paint on, covering his mouth.
One thing forgotten in WCW is that the Cruiserweight matches helped to fire up EVERY show. During this time, Dean Malenko, Juvy, Rey Mysterio, and a cast of others were firing up red hot openers for the shows. I wouldn't exactly say that the NWO had sole bragging rights of WCW's success, but I'd attribute most of it to them.
During October 1996, Ted Dibiase showed up on Nitro!! He just got out of his WWF contract, and he was in Nitro's crowd. He did this weird hand signal... 1 finger, 2 fingers, 3 fingers, 4 fingers... and 5 fingers! 5 Members of the NWO?!? A week later, Sean Waltman (X-Pac now) showed up in WCW, and he let off lots of NWO fliers into the crowd. He was #4. But who was #5? Everyone thought it was Dibiase, but they were wrong. He was JUST a manager. At the end of one Nitro, The Giant ran down and helped the NWO deliver a beat down. He's your #5 member, and the NWO was unstoppable!
Guess who was feuding with Hogan then? Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Ohhhh yeah! Lots of violence into Halloween Havoc, where Macho Man took a ton of beatdowns and insults to Miss Elizabeth. Macho took another loss to Hogan at Havoc 1996, and the NWO then delivered a beatdown! But a lost memory in our wrestling lives made a comeback that night. Roddy Piper made a SHOCKING appearance at the Havoc, and told Hogan that "I'm the only man you've never been able to beat". Fans were just thrilled at the revival of this old school rivalry
Next PPV was the World War 3 event. Basically, your basic beatdowns everywhere leading up to this event. The Giant won the 3 Ring battle royal, to which he would get a title shot? Yes, which would raise controversy later on for the NWO. Hall and Nash won the tag titles on this event too, to which they wouldn't lose them for a LONG, long time. Or if they lost them, they'd win them back, immediately, but never defend them for some time.
Now, we enter Starrcade 1996. But before that, let's discuss an ego, shall we? Eric Bischoff was just creaming over the success of the NWO in WCW at this point, that HE wanted to be in this group. So he made an angle where he stalled Piper from getting his shot at Hogan, and where he made an agreement with the NWO after he was powerbombed at Great American Bash. It made no sense, and in my opinion, I believe that this is the FIRST flaw that WCW made as an Empire of the wrestling world. Bischoff's television time and ego would keep growing on WCW television, and fans began to get sick of it quickly. Bischoff made a proposal to WCW wrestlers to join the NWO in 30 days or so, or you're gonna get hurt. "Buff" Bagwell, Big Bubba, Scott Norton, and Michael Wallstreet pick up the offer.
Around this time, too, Diamond Dallas Page was coming into his own. Hall and Nash, both past tag partners with DDP in WCW, start courting DDP to join. DDP wanted to know why he wasn't asked to join at the beginning, and not afterward like this. DDP would become a larger force later on.
Starrcade, Starrcade, Starrcade.. featuring a dream match of Hogan vs. Piper. Before we rip that match, let it be known that Lex Luger got a HUGE win over the Giant. Sting made his presense felt in this match, as he came to the ring from the roof and placed a bat in the middle of the ring for either man to pick up. Luger picked up the bat and DRILLED the Giant a couple times to knock him out and get the BIG win. This wouldn't impress Hogan, later on. Hogan and Piper would later put on a terrible match, where Piper won by a fucking sleeper hold?!? The worst thing was the booking on the fly, which made it NON-title after the match.
Next month, January 1997, the Giant became frustrated with Hogan and the NWO. He wanted his World Title shot from World War 3, and he questioned why nobody helped him during the Luger match. Upon questioning, Hogan ordered the boys to attack! Giant was then kicked out of the NWO. Also during the beginning of this month, Masa Chono was announced to be the first ever NWO Japan wrestler! He would head up the division in Japan to make the NWO worldwide. Now I won't get into what happened in Japan (because I don't know much about Japanese wrestling), but let's just say it was pretty successful down there too. However, the WCW relationship with Japan would later fade because of the way their NWO was run.
WCW tried something new this month. They started an all theme show, which was the NWO Souled Out event! It was mainly used to milk the NWO gimmick, which it worked, and it had some key matches between the NWO and WCW. It featured two key WCW wins on the card. Diamond Dallas Page pulled a fast one on the NWO, when he was offered to join, again! He gave Diamond Cutters to anyone who wanted one that night. Secondly, Eddie Guerrero defeated Syxx (now X-Pac) for the stolen US title. The NWO took the belt from Eddie during Starrcade, and this was a ladder match for the title! GREAT MATCH by the way. Also, the Steiner Brothers got a large victory over the Outsiders when WCW referee, Randy Anderson, ran in to make the pin. The NWO referee had a mask on, but it was clearly Nick Patrick, who was beginning to become a crocked referee. Hogan gave the Giant his Title shot during this event, which resulted in the famous NWO run-in. These run ins, to my theory, ruined what could have been higher ratings, if you ask me.
The next night on Nitro, Eric Bischoff ORDERED the Steiners to give back the titles, since it was a cheap win because Randy Anderson wasn't a sanctioned NWO referee, even though the WCW tag titles were on the line. Randy Anderson would then get FIRED by Bischoff, in a sad moment. It helped heat for Bischoff for a while to be a tough boss, which Vince McMahon would use later on in 1998. But like McMahon, Bischoff would stretch his ego too much, and ruin himself.
The hype for Superbrawl 1997 had the same NWO stuff, beat downs here and there, with the usual run ins on hyped up Main Events for Nitros. Superbrawl was a card itself. It marked Syxx's first WCW title, as he defeated Dean Malenko for the Cruiserweight title. If only X-Pac could wrestle in WWF's lightweight division, now. Also on the card, Giant and Lex Luger, who formed a cool friendship then, won the titles. They were reversed the next night on Nitro, unfortunately. But the craziest stuff happened at the end of the night. Macho Man was hanging with Sting before this event, and he came down from the rafters to turn on Piper?!? Macho joins the NWO, just months after taking a pounding?
Why did Macho turn you ask? Well, WCW was now fully in "booking on the fly" mode, which meant that they scripted the shows on the night of the event! Why yes, it's practiced in the WWF right now. After this, you really see some crazy turns, and it slowly chipped away at the NWO's credibility. Not good at all. Macho, however, was a pretty intense NWO member.
Things get worse. WCW goes out and hires JJ Dillon off of WWF waivers. The WWF wasn't too happy with the way he was coordinating talent, you know, like not accepting phone calls from talent like Mick Foley before. Well, Dillon became the new "commissioner" of WCW. He would be a "Jack Tunney" like figure head in the storylines, which meant corny decisions and bad speeches. It should also be noted that Prince Iaukea became the TV champ, and Glacier and pals were having their feuds. Oh, did I mention that Syxx didn't defend that Cruiserweight title much? It was ALL NWO at this point.
Well, you had Sting, who was just about to EXPLODE on the NWO. For months, he's been walking the rafters and deathdropping whoever talked stuff on him. At Uncensored 1996, the NWO and Sting would collide. WCW had a 12 man, 3 way match for certain things on the line at Uncensored. I believe Piper would get a title shot if his team won, if WCW won, the NWO would have to cease to exist, and if the NWO won, they owned the WCW booking! I believe that's it, but don't quote me on this. NWO won, of course, but the ending was pleasing. After destroying team WCW after the match, Sting came down from the rafters and CLEANED HOUSE on the NWO!!! This was HUGE and the crowd was exploding! After this, Hogan came into the ring for some, and Sting Deathdropped him! YES!!
*****Note: It should be noted that before that Uncensored Main Event, Piper had a tryout for his team. One of the tryout's was indeed Bill Goldberg. Goldberg shamelessly doesn't mention this in his book that he was one of the Piper jobbers/tryouts.
So now the match is obvious. Sting vs. Hogan... but when? Originally it was planned for Bash at the Beach, which was a couple months away... then it was pushed back to Halloween Havoc... then finally, it was moved back to Starrcade. So from the time Sting finally attacked the NWO, he finally fought Hogan 8 Months Later!!! Interesting.
The next month (April), things get interesting. Hogan doesn't do much this month, besides his usual "I am God" interviews. But the braintrust at WCW put on a HOT feud. Macho Man disrespected Kimberly, DDP's wife to where he spray painted her and her Playboy centerfold to really piss off Page. They had a brutal battle later that month at Spring Stampede 1997, which wouldn't end that feud. Ted Dibiase would walk away from the NWO during a Kevin Nash match, where he brutalized Rick Steiner. Dissention baby! Kind of a lame month for the NWO, as we're dragging it to Starrcade 1996.
We are now in May of 1997, where we are in FULL coasting mode for WCW. Slamboree 1997 featured some very NON WCW wrestler matches. For one, it had Reggie White vs. Mongo McMicheal. It's the WORST MATCH IN THE HISTORY OF WRESTLING. Oh my God, who the hell approached Reggie White to wrestle, and who the fuck booked him to fight Mongo? The main event was Roddy Piper, Kevin Greene, and Ric Flair against Syxx, Hall, and Nash. It was a decent match, but a lame build up.
Now we are in June of 1997, which is leading into the Great American Bash. Yes, it's been 1 whole year since the Outsiders debuted. Again, we are in coasting mode, as the NWO gimmick begins to dry up a little bit. Not much Sting involvement, very little Hogan title defenses (if any). The main event of the Great American Bash was another decent Macho vs. DDP, with Macho getting the cheap win. Would you believe their feud wasn't over yet? GAB that year also featured Mongo vs. Kevin Greene, which is an eyesore at that.
Coasting along, just like WCW was doing here. In the month of July 1997, Raven and Curt Hennig arrived in WCW. This was the FIRST insider rumor that I ever picked up on the internet, and I can thank to the good fellas at Scoops for that one. I knew when both of these guys would show up, and the times they were signed to WCW. Less than 4 years later, I'm Mr. Tito! Hennig and Raven showed up on the same show, which led to the "who is in the NWO" lines. Hennig would join DDP at the Bash at the Beach 1997, but he'd walk away from DDP during their match against Randy Savage and Scott Hall. Jeff Jarrett and Mongo were fighting over the US title, and I won't say anything because I'll write longer than I currently am! During this month, Dennis Rodman joined the NWO, and along with Hollywood Hogan, they fought Giant and Lex Luger. That match is a guilty pleasures match for me, because I like that match for some reason. Luger and Giant got the win here, which led to an interesting Month of August!
August featured the mammoth push of Lex Luger He was insanely over at this point, and he was awarded a Title Shot against Hollywood Hogan. Luger's contract came up just before his monster push, and as terms of his deal, he must win the World Title once. So, Bischoff pushed him, and on a special Nitro, Luger actually won the title! That set up Hogan vs. Luger for the World Title, where Hogan won after 5 or so fake Stings came out to interfere. Blah. Konnan joined the NWO during this month, too.
It should be noted that Hogan's ego was really swelling up here. Well, it was getting bad before, you know, to where he wasn't defending the title, but it got really bad after he beat Luger for the belt. He demanded more TV time for himself, and he would fuck up the biggest match of the year, which was STILL being dragged out (against Sting).
September was an intersting month for the NWO, with an INSANE heel turn by Curt Hennig. He would deceive the Horsemen, who gave him a "spot" during the famous Arn Anderson retirement speech. The NWO decided to do a parody of that special interview, which was very funny. However, it wasn't funny in that it was somewhat of a "shoot" against the Horsemen, and they had to be physically restrained from going out to the ring and actually attacking the NWO. It fired up some locker room relations, especially with Kevin Nash. However, Nash was influential backstage, which helped to bury Chris Benoit and others. Nash was close to Bischoff too, and Bischoff's relationship with Flair wasn't exactly the best here. Flair and Bischoff would clash, many times, with some of their fights resulting to lawsuits. Hennig turned on the Horsemen at Fall Brawl, in a sick door slam at the end on Flair's head. OUCH!
October rolled around for 1997, and it was Halloween Havoc time. Well, beforehand, Bill Goldberg debuted as Bill Goldberg around this time, and NOT Piper's jobber. Hehe. Since he was a former football player, take a guess on who he'll wrestle eventually? DDP FINALLY got his huge win over Macho Man at the Havoc, thus ending their long feud. It was a good one though. Piper fought Hogan in a Cage match, which we won't discuss. Too embarassing.
November of 1997 happened with nothing good, but just regular WCW dragging. Scott Hall won the World War 3 battle royal to gain a title shot at Hogan, which would cause controversy in 1998. At the end of this month, Sting and Hollywood Hogan would finally sign to face each other at Starrcade, and oh what hell that was. Also, something kind of big happens. Ravishing Rick Rude joined the NWO. It's not the joining that is big. It's the fact that he was the FIRST man to show up on two shows in ONE night! He was a part of DX of the WWF, and they taped a show. Rude was on a Pay-Per-Night basis, and he was offered LOTS of money to jump on over.... which he did since WCW was a good cornerstone of his career. Nitros ran live, which made Rude be on two shows in one night! Amazing!
But weeks after Rude joined WCW, the NWO did an angle where they took over Nitro. They did this by reconstructing the set, which took over 20 minutes to actually accomplish! During those 20 minutes, WCW fans got bored and started watching RAW! Oddly enough, there was something good on the WWF at the time, I believe it was something with Austin, and RAW jumped in the ratings, and sort of slowly grew after that. Interesting, eh?
Starrcade 1997 was supposed to be the BIGGEST BLOCKBUSTER WRESTLING EVENT EVER, but it wasn't. It was garbage, and possibly the biggest letdown show ever. Sting vs. Hogan did not deliver, thanks to Hogan's ego. Hogan did NOT want a clean win finish on Sting, despite Sting being the top draw in the company. Because of that, I declare this to be the FIRST nail in WCW's coffin for their success. The match had a badly tainted ending, where Bret Hart "claimed" there was a fast count. Bret Hart, by the way, took the out-clause in his WWF contract to be in WCW, but you know that already. Then, Sting slaps the scorpion death lock on Hogan, to which Bret, who was a special referee for another match, called for the bell. What should have been a clean finish, wasn't, and it KILLED a ton of credibility for WCW. WWF, on the other hand, was getting stronger by the moment, and WCW pulled this bullshit. Thanks to Hogan... What hurt this card more is for the fact that Kevin Nash "wasn't able to attend due to flight problems". Sure.... At least DDP won his first US Title, by defeating Hennig, here at Starrcade. DDP was getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger...
Riding on the success of WCW, they began WCW Thunder in January of 1998. After a few weeks of "high profile matches", most of the main eventers just decided to wrestle on Nitro. Thunder lost a lot from the beginning. On the first edition of Thunder, Dillon stripped the title off of Sting, and put it up for grabs at Superbrawl, and NOT that month's Pay Per View of Souled Out. Yuck. But things were just shaking up in WCW.
LOTS of political struggles backstage. Guys like Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Raven, all of the Luchadores, and much more were pulling off great matches, and getting NOTHING to show for it in return. Sure, they'd maybe fight for the TV Title, and eventually the US title, but in reality, they were better than the current main eventers. The stole the show regularly, and got mistreated for it. Hogan made sure to knock down every attempt by WCW bookers to even come close to his spot. Also, Kevin Nash was gaining lots of power, and if you weren't buddies with Nash, forget about a push! Finally, a HUGE power struggle started between Nash and Hogan. The problem was that Hogan had more control over Bischoff, and that meant a lot in this war.
Especially involving Syxx (again, X-Pac in the WWF). Syxx pissed off Bischoff a few times for his loud behavior, and for a certain cursing incident during a match that was heard clearly during a match. Then, he really got in the doghouse when he pulled down Ric Flair's trunks during a Live Nitro. Bischoff's dislike for Syxx led to a Phantom Title change between he and Chris Jericho to end the longest Cruiserweight reign in WCW's history. Syxx would later hurt himself during a match (his neck), and he kept on wrestling with the injury. Bischoff didn't give X-Pac time off to get his neck looked at, and it was only getting worse. Finally, he was granted time off, and after three months on the shelf, he was FIRED from WCW for "violating the 90 day no compete clause". By the way, he was fired via Fex Ex letter, which is why you hear that rib a lot by insiders at times.
The firing pissed off Kevin Nash BIGTIME, and basically shot down his motivation completely. Well, he was losing motivation before that, as he wasn't quite in wrestling shape as he used to be at this time. But this was said to be the "final straw" for Nash, and some suggest that he began to purposely destroy WCW after this. Ha, we'll get to that later when Nash becomes booker. Why Bischoff gave him the book in late 1998 after betraying him in early 1998 is amazing.
So back to January 1998. Great show all around, featuring Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair, Benoit vs. Raven, and a few strong midcard matches. The midcarders are banging the door down! By the way, this big win by Bret Hart would scare Hogan that he'd use his power to bury Hart from any chances for Hogan's spot. Damn him! Souled Out 1998 also had Luger vs. Macho Man as the main event, which only God knows why. Weak main event for a good all around show. No World Title on the line, which really shot down some more credibility. This card also featured the match we were supposed to get at Starrcade, which was Kevin Nash vs. the Giant. This is where the Giant was dropped on his head. I don't blame the Giant totally here. Nash has powerbombed him before, but that was a while ago. Nash lost muscle tone and Giant gained weight... thus the disaster of that powerbomb.
Superbrawl, in Febuary of 1998, was the LAST great WCW card before they'd crumble to #2 in the wrestling world. Sigh. It featured a great Television Title feud between Rick Martel, Perry Saturn, and Booker T. It's sad to see Martel injure himself too, especially after getting himself in great shape and making a spectacular comeback to wrestling. Damn it! DDP vs. Benoit was AWESOME! Macho lost to Luger here, to which led to Macho's exit from the NWO or something of that nature. Sting won the World Title, but of course, it was tainted again with Hogan's Ego. Sting couldn't pin Hogan on his own finisher, but he needed Macho to properly put away Hogan. Sting wouldn't hold that title for long, although he was the most over in the company.
HOWEVER, Superbrawl should be remembered for the fact that Scott Hall was pissed off at Hogan and WCW for not letting him get a Title Shot at Superbrawl, like his win at World War 3 should have led to. Yes, he'd get his match the next month, but he was angry. This, and with the fuel of Syxx getting fired, really angered the former Clique members to dismantle WCW on purpose... or so they say.
On to March 1998, where WCW was crumbling. At Uncensored, a good 3 Way Dance between Raven, DDP, and Benoit was held, to which Raven won his first title. Bill Goldberg was getting hot around this time, and the next night at Nitro, Goldberg destroyed Raven to win his first US title. Hall got his title shot, but the damage was done. We were served to "Age in the Cage", with Hulk Hogan and Macho Man trying to relive their 1989 Wrestlemania 5 match. Meanwhile, the WWF is putting on fresh matches and new ideas.
By April of 1998, the WWF is neck and neck with WCW. WCW totally shot themselves in the foot this month. The NWO gimmick was wearing thin, and getting on everyone's nerves. Then, at Spring Stampede 1998, we are treated to a Sting lost to Macho Man. And guess what happens the next night on Nitro? Hollywood Hogan defeats Macho Man for the World Title. Hogan would keep that belt until Bill Goldberg defeated him in August. So for 4 fucking months, WCW had Hogan as their champ, while the WWF had Stone Cold Steve Austin as the champ. Gee, what show will wrestling fans watch for a better champ? Austin vs. McMahon was insanely picking up during this time.
After Savage lost to Hogan on that Nitro, Savage and Nash started a SEPARATE New World Order. Enter the NWO Wolfpack, which was the worst group ever. It was really the ones who Hogan avoided against his pals who won all booking power. The Wolfpack did NOTHING against the NWO Hollywood, because Hogan struck down ALL title shots against any members of the Wolfpack. ALL WORLD TITLE SHOTS! I'll prove that with our "superstar" matches at Road Wild and Bash at the Beach.
The only thing this Wolfpack vs. Hollywood war produce were some tag matches with the members. Joy. Scott Hall was sort of an undecided member during this time, but he tagged with Kevin Nash anyway to fight Sting and the Giant for some reason. Hall turned on Nash to join NWO Hollywood, but things got screwy even after that. Giant joined Hollywood just after he won the Tag Titles with Sting, and Sting would join the Wolfpack. Luger also joined the Wolfpac during this time, as if you cared. It would later produce a pretty exciting match between Giant and Sting for the Tag Titles. Sting would win, and he would trade the title like the Minnesota Wrecking Crew on who would defend it for team Wolfpack.
Bret Hart would keep *hinting* of his heel turn in favor of the NWO during this time, which was to avoid a MONEY MAKER of Hogan vs. Bret Hart. Damn you Hogan. By the way, Chris Benoit continued to job and get held down, along with the rest of the WCW outstanding midcarders.
Bash at the Beach got worse for WCW. They invited Karl Malone and NWO member Dennis Rodman to play wrestling for the Malone/DDP vs. Hogan/Rodman. Sure, it got nice media attention, but it didn't do shit for wrestling fans. Even worse, the next month we are treated to DDP/Jay Leno vs. Eric Bischoff/Hogan. By the way, Hogan and Bischoff's egos were getting WAY out of control, in that they hogged lots of Nitro time to set up these stupid, childish angles. It did put DDP in a position to become the next main eventer, which is the only damn plus out of this mess.
In the month of August, WCW did something BIG. The famous Georgia Dome Nitro was coming along, and it was time to provide a spark for WCW fans again. Why? WWF was starting to pull away, so rather than having a build up for Goldberg vs. Hogan, because Goldberg couldn't be held down, they decided to have it on the Georgia Dome Nitro. What a huge match it was too, scoring the highest wrestling rating of a wrestling show, ever, at its time. Goldberg got the clean win too, although Hogan agreed to job the title away if and only if he would be the first to beat Goldberg back. This clean jobbing by Hogan is why Goldberg is pushing for Hogan's return, now!
By the way, the projected match for Goldberg vs. Hogan was Starrcade 1998. So Goldberg couldn't lose until then..... 4 months away! With an over-dominating champion, a midcard roster that was getting the shaft from Hogan and no respect from Eric Bischoff, and for the fact that WCW was pushing "wrasslin" and not a mixture of wrasslin/sports entertainment like the WWF was, put them in quicksand. They were falling badly! Scott Steiner, however, did turn NWO on his brother around this time. The beginning of Big Poppa Pump, although it was rather slow to rise to today's standard....
September got worse! By the way, the Wolfpack is totally held back, and all hope is lost of them getting any shots at the title. The Warrior made his WCW debut, and challenged Hogan! Warrior's entrances and horrible mic skills murdered him from the start in WCW, and he never fully recovered. He would then fight Hogan at Halloween Havoc in a truly terrible match in October, and was ousted just after his final Nitro appearance after Nitro. He tried this "One Warrior Nation", which is the NWO spelled backwards if you don't get it. He stole the Disciple away from NWO Hollywood, which actually trashed the Disciple's career forever. Thank God. Havoc did have a good main event in Goldberg against DDP for the World Title, so I guess the pain isn't all that bad.
Also on Havoc, it featured the match between Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Remember, Hall turned on Nash back there, but this angle got worse during this time. WCW decided to go Russo and do something shocking here! They incorporated Hall's actual drug problem into an angle, which is what I fucking hate sometimes about wrestling. He'd come down acting or actually drunk for his matches, which bothers me. Get him some help, and keep it off TV! It was a sickening angle.
Hogan saw the ratings slips after Havoc, and he announced to the world on Jay Leno's show, the man who beat him earlier, that he was retiring. Actually, it was an evil plan for Hogan to take time off and return to "spike" the ratings. That way, he could blame the midcard guys for not gaining ratings, which he did! Some of you are always shocked when I bash Hogan, too. Hogan retired, and Scott Steiner was named the NEW leader of NWO Hollywood.
Another bad thing happened around this time. Eric Bischoff was in panic because his shows were going to shit, so what did he do? Push the great midcarders? Oh no. Bischoff decided to give booking responsibilities to Kevin Nash, who has never booked in his life! Nash is now in control of the company, and whoever kisses his ass gets the push. It's so true during this time. That's why you see Konnan winning, and losing. Winning and Losing. Konnan and Nash would be friends one night, and enemies the next. Guys like Chris Jericho really got the shaft, being booked in bad matches or jobbing hard. Nash then proceeded to book himself to win World War 3 in 1998, which put him to fight Goldberg at Starrcade 1998. Hogan was supposed to get that match, but he's "retired", remember? Hogan has more evil plans for beginning of 1999, which I'll get to in a little bit.
The NWO has pretty much died at this point, with many of the wrestlers taking time off because it's that easy to do. Jericho's contract is going to end sometime in 1999, and guess who sees no potential? Nash. He jobs him out at Starrcade, to which we don't see much of him after that. The Giant's contract, too, was running out, and for the fact that nobody gave a damn about him in WCW, he was jobbed out at Starrcade too. Funny how Wight is close to Hogan, but Hogan held him down. The Giant never saw success after he lost to Sting, and became an overweight project for the WWF to handle. Nash became the first to defeat Goldberg, as Hall would come in and do his little shockstick screwjob ending. Nash booked himself to be the 1st Goldberg defeat, and to be World Champion. Wow.
If you thought 1998 was hell, you ain't seen nothing yet. Before the first Nitro of 1999, Hollywood Hogan wanted back in. So what does the head booker, Kevin Nash, do? He gives into Hogan's creative demands and agrees to job the title to him on that very first Nitro of 1999! Better yet, Nash comes up with an idea to reunite the NWO, because if it worked in 1996, it could work in 1999, 2 and a half years later! Yipee!! So in early January of 1999, Nash was "touched" by Hogan, and Hogan pinned him to become World Champion again. Nash got up and hugged Hogan, which lost all of my respect for Nash as a wrestling fan (I liked Nash as a wrestler then), as did Scott Hall, and the same for Buff and Scott Steiner. The NWO Elite.
The funny thing about this was the fact that the remaining NWO Hollywood guys remained together.. You know, Vince, Scott Norton, Stevie Ray, Bryan Adams, and Horace Hogan... they remained a faction until each of them went their own separate ways. We won't even dare discuss their angles or matches.
During that night, they had Goldberg arrested in a stupid angle involving Miss Elizabeth. Goldberg was now the main enemy against an army of 5. Or where they? The NWO Elite failed quickly. Nash didn't even care to wrestle anymore, although he let Rey Mysterio get a big win over him at Nitro. Rey-Rey has always been a Nash buddy. After his match with Goldberg and short US title reign, the stupid ladder match, at Souled Out, Scott Hall< hit the rehab center again, unfortunately. Hogan didn't wrestle much at all, despite being the World Champion. Then, Buff and Scott Steiner actually started to hate each other in real life. They then turned Buff face, eventually, to feud with Scott Steiner. They would actually "shoot" on each other during interviews. Classic.
Hogan would eventually drop the strap down to Ric Flair at Uncensored 1999, but things got a little better. There was a thrilling 4-Way match with Hogan, Flair, Sting, and DDP at Spring Stampede 1999. DDP won his first, and VERY MUCH DESERVED World Title then, but this was Hogan's last run in WCW for a while. He badly screwed up his knee in this match, which is one of the rare times that an injury has put him on the shelf. By this time, the NWO was officially fizzling, and so was WCW. They were WAY behind the WWF at this point. By the way, did I mention that great talent wasn't able to break through the glass ceiling, still? Bischoff refused to push anybody under 40.
WCW would go on to put on boring, stupid stuff with Nash as booker, and WCW was spending lots of money on wrestlers who took a ton of time off. Finally, the Time Warner guys had enough. So before Summer, Eric Bischoff was FIRED as WCW President. Bill Busch was brought in to "clean things up" or to at least make an attempt at it. Nash was stripped of his booking power, and a team headed by Kevin Sullivan was booking the shows. The summer of 1999, we witnessed crap that no wrestling program should ever have. I refuse to go into detail of this torture!
Of course, Vince Russo was brought in, and if you remember my column last week, you should recall the he brought back the New World Order, which consisted of Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Jeff Jarrett. The foursome would later pick up the returning Scott Steiner, who just came off some bad back problems. However, it was just a last ditch effort by Russo, which never really caught on with fans like he thought. Injuries did hurt this group, and Russo tried to relive Survivor Series 1997 (don't you even ask) with a stupid screwjob submission with Roddy Piper calling the Bret Hart vs. Goldberg match, when Hart had Goldberg in the sharpshooter at Starrcade 1999.
Hall, Nash, and Scott Steiner would remain uninjured, but their careers went off in a different direction once Russo was fired. Nash acted like a dumb commissioner, Steiner got in trouble with the law while trying to be an OK US champion, and Hall went for the title Superbrawl, but he was arrested during a WCW trip to Germany, and never asked back. Ever.
To this day, the NEW WORLD ORDER name hasn't been brought back yet. However, many will claim that the "New Blood" or the "New WCW" are NWOs in disguise. Whatever. But you must understand that the original NWO, for the first year or so, was SCORCHING HOT! In fact, it changed wrestling forever and finally gave WCW some recognition, instead of being just second best. Why was WCW soo Huge back then? Because it did something original. With the current WCW, maybe they should attempt that, and then make a magical rise to the top again.
The WWF, especially, should take a look at how only the main eventers were focused during WCW's reign at the top. It most certainly seems like it now, with the WWF top 3 always winning (Triple H, Austin, and Rock). But we'll just see how they end up.
But anyway, I suggest renting Bash at the Beach 1996 or buying it, because it IS wrestling history. The Hulk Hogan heel turn is the single moment that changed wrestling forever. (Update: The WWF, who owns WCW now, has no current plans to bring back the New World Order, and probably never will. However, Hall and Nash MIGHT sign with the WWF sometime next year, so you never know.)
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