On this day, 20 years ago, three former employees of the then World Wrestling Federation, would join together at WCW’s “Bash at the Beach,” to create one of the most important factions in the history of professional wrestling.

In the greatest heel turn in the history of the sport, Hulk Hogan would betray WCW and drop his famous leg drop on Randy Savage in the main event of the evening. He would go on to join Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, giving one of the infamous promos of all time:

Hogan would go onto call his group the “New World Order,” and would begin a storyline that would reshape the history of professional wrestling.

The original concept was actually a rehash of an angle that was run by New Japan Pro Wrestling. Eric Bischoff presented the concept to Hall and Nash, that they were going to be a group of renegades that were going to show up unannounced, and take over WCW.

On May 27, 1996, without saying who he was, Scott Hall debuted on “Monday Nitro,” and said that he was going to go to war with WCW. The following week, Kevin Nash made his return to the company, and did the exact same thing.

The belief in the eyes of the fans was that Vince McMahon had sent Hall and Nash to invade his competition, and put them out of business. It also fulfilled the fantasy of every wrestling fan at the time, that wanted to see who would win in a battle between WWE and WCW.

As the weeks went on, The Outsiders continued to enter the arenas through the crowds, armed with baseball bats, and made their mark on the company. However, they needed one more guy who was already established in WCW, to join the renegades and make the invasion complete.

Everything would eventually come to a head at “Bash at the Beach,” as Hogan joined the group, and the rest is history.

In my opinion, the nWo was the first deep “reality” story in the history of professional wrestling.

A year prior to Hogan forming the group, he was getting a negative reaction from fans. Not only were people were not buying his “American Hero” gimmick anymore, but the product that was being put out by both WWE and WCW was very cookie-cutter, and very black and white. There was no grey area, and everyone was getting tired of it. They wanted something more contemporary.

This angle filled that niche.

However, more importantly then the actual storyline itself, is what it did for the landscape of wrestling as a whole.

There was a strong belief that because of the nWo, WCW was going to put WWE out of business. As a result, WWE was forced to step up their game, and change the way that they ran their company.

They began to film “Monday Night Raw” live every week, as opposed to every other week. They also give the fans high-quality, pay-per-view caliber matches for free on TV.

It also forced WWE to create more edgy and modern programming, which established perhaps the greatest era in professional wrestling history, “The Attitude Era.” If it wasn’t for the nWo, superstars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Degneration-X and others would not exist.

As a result of WWE becoming a better product, it created “The Monday Night Wars,” which was perhaps the greatest time in professional wrestling history. Wrestling became more popular and mainstream then it ever had been before, with ratings going through the roof, and both companies establishing their places outside of the sport.

In short, the success of the nWo demanded that WWE be better. And it created a system of how that company has been run for the past 20 years, and still exists today.

Unfortunately, the nWo storyline ran into some issues over the years. The group became oversaturated, and the politics backstage led to a lot of issues with how everyone was booked. Hogan having creative control of his contract, a lack of leadership from the powers that be, and injuries that occurred at inopportune times, forced the writers to change their plans as the storyline went on.

This led to some not so great moments in the history of the nWo. The “Fingerpoke of Doom” in 1999, and the reformation of nWo 2000 in WCW are a couple of examples. After McMahon purchased WCW in 2001, the resurgence of the nWo in WWF in 2002 didn’t work either. This was mostly because Hogan had garnered such a positive reaction from the fans, that they had no choice but to turn him face.

All of these factors ultimately led to the group’s demise in July of that year.

However, you cannot argue the legacy of the New World Order on the history of the business. Professional Wrestling would not be what it is today without Hall, Nash and Hogan doing what they did on that fateful night 20 years ago. I predict that there will never be another storyline as crazy, and as revolutionary as this one.

Because when you’re nWo, you’re nWo…4 LIFE!



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