WWE puts out a more entertaining product on DVD than they do Monday nights. “nWo: the Revolution” brought back great memories. I was at WCW for all that. It was the hottest period in wrestling history. WWE’s “Attitude” era was an effort to keep up. Stone Cold Steve Austin was retaliation. Without the nWo, wrestling may have never hit those heights.
And probably never will again.
The crowd dynamic when the nWo was on fire was AMAZING. Like a neutral-site game between two great teams. A Super Bowl every night. Half the crowd was nWo, half the crowd WCW. Back and forth. Ebb and flow. WCW merchandised the nWo. Heel fans were encouraged. It was pioneering, way beyond Four Horsemen T-shirts. A REVOLUTION.
Original? No. It was a knockoff of New Japan’s New Leaders vs. Now Leaders. So what? In entertainment, everything is a lift.
Eric Bischoff had the guts to go head-to-head with Raw, and it took guts to try this, too. Bischoff undercut his own brand to create a new, temporary brand. He counted on WCW regenerating itself at story’s end. It didn’t. Done right, it could have. Better yet, the nWo could have wiped out WCW. The stronger brand could have/should have survived.
Mistakes were made. But mistakes weren’t the only reason the nWo angle ran its course. In wrestling, everything has an expiration date. The nWo was hot from its inception until the brand split. Two years. About right.
The purist form of the nWo was The Outsiders: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Their six-week two-man invasion precipitated everything that followed. They were totally believable as an invading army from WWE. Hall maintained his Razor Ramon persona. Nash = Diesel, especially then.
This, of course, led to lawsuits and got my name in front of the Supreme Court and in law books. Was I acting as a real journalist on the WCW Hotline? Probably not. But I did what I was told. I treated the nWo invasion as LEGIT. I could expose or ridicule anything else. But I sold the nWo.
And sure, I acted like Scott and Kev were WWE interlopers. That was FUN. Six-hour depositions, however, are NOT FUN.
The nWo’s early days got mostly booked by Hall and Nash. They came in strong and got over strong. The Outsiders held the whole company off with baseball bats. They were EVERYWHERE. Nitro was THEIR SHOW. Marks believed the impossible: That WCW and WWE were AT WAR. Hall and Nash sold that impeccably. Bischoff’s announcing sold it, too.
People had wanted this for over a decade, since WWE went national. They wanted the dream matches. The nWo exploited that. Some marks are just WWE fans. Some are just WCW fans. This angle galvanized both groups.
It didn’t take long to realize this was SOMETHING SPECIAL. An angle like this can’t have a bad start. Hall’s “You want a war?” promo nailed it. Scott is one of wrestling’s most underrated performers because of his personal problems. But his contributions to the nWo angle were MONSTROUS.
Hall and Nash knew, right away, where this should go. Then got it there. When Hall and Nash had control, the nWo angle SIZZLED. No missteps. No gaps in logic. No compromise. They took it ALL THE WAY.
Then Hulk Hogan got involved…
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA(105.9) . Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing [email protected] com. FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX