nWo 4 Life: Looking Back at the Legacy of the New World Order

Kenny McKnightContributor IIIMarch 24, 2011

In the history of professional wrestling, many groups or ‘stables’ have come and gone. Many of them had short term effect on the industry, such as “Disciples of Apocalypse” and “Los Boricuas”. Most every wrestling fan has heard of “D-Generation X” or “The Four Horsemen”; two stables that were and still are spoken highly of from both fans and the wrestling industry as a whole. There is one faction however that was able to make such a strong impact that it was able to almost single handedly carry a promotion for years and at that same time was able to nearly destroy the promotion. That group is the New World Order, also known simply as the nWo.

The nWo was started when Scott Hall arrived on WCW Monday Nitro and made one bold statement to World Championship Wrestling: “You want a war? You’ve got one”. The following week, Hall introduced Kevin Nash to WCW and the two of them proceeded to interrupt Nitro in the weeks following their introduction. Their first true act of war took place at The Great American Bash, when Kevin Nash power bombed Eric Bischoff off of the entryway stage after Bischoff failed to answer with names of wrestlers to participate in a 6 man tag open challenge issued by Hall and Nash.

Shortly after their attack on Eric Bischoff, Hall and Nash’s open challenge was answered by Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage. The match was now set for Bash at the Beach, however, The Outsiders (Hall and Nash) had yet to reveal their third member. The match commenced as a three on two, though the Outsiders quickly shifted the odds to their favor through dirty tactics. Just as it looked like Hall and Nash were going to attempt to seriously injure Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, who had been gone for some time filming a movie, came out, running the Outsiders out of the ring. His next move shocked the wrestling world, as quite possibly the greatest hero in the history of wrestling turned on the fans and on WCW, delivering a leg drop to Randy Savage and aligning himself with Hall and Nash. In what is considered one of the most important interviews in the history of WCW, Hogan referred to this new faction as the New World Order of professional wrestling. The faction now had a name and was about to set off on their mission to take over World Championship Wrestling.

Hogan took no time in challenging The Giant (aka the Big Show) for the WCW Heavyweight Title. At WCW Hog Wild, Hogan captured the WCW title after help from the rest of the nWo. The group was now considered a legitimate threat to WCW, as Hogan spray painted ‘nWo’ on the belt. It was only a short time before the nWo recruited their first addition. On a telecast of Nitro, The nWo was attacking the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen when the Giant made his way down to the ring. He wasted no time in picking up Meng and choke slamming him, then turning and hugging Kevin Nash, securing himself as the fourth member of the New World Order.

The group then began it’s expansion, adding Ted Debiase and Vincent to the mix. They then set off on one of the biggest swerves in WCW history. Leg Luger was attacked by Sting outside the arena and Sting aligned himself with the nWo. Later, Sting was confronted by Luger, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair concerning his actions, given that the four of them were set to engage in a War Games match against the nWo at Fall Brawl. Sting denied the attack and claimed he was on their side; they didn’t believe him. During the war games match, Sting came out as the final member for the nWo, attacking the WCW combatants until the real Sting ran out, wiping out the nWo before leaving the cage and telling his friends who doubted him to “stick it”.

The nWo continued to expand after Fall Brawl, growing from what was originally a three man group to a huge stable that was able to rival the size of the WCW roster. Eventually, Eric Bischoff, who was the president of WCW, aligned himself with the New World Order. This gave them the power to do pretty much whatever they wanted in WCW. The group practically ran the company until Starrcade 97, when Sting returned to the ring to face Hogan for the WCW title. Sting defeated Hogan for the title and left the nWo reeling. The group did eventually get the world title back, but cracks had formed, with many of the top members of the nWo wanting their chance at the WCW title. This lead to a split in the group, creating nWo Wolfpac and nWo Hollywood.

There was a pretty strong rivalry between the two factions until Hogan announced his retirement. nWo Hollywood then began to fizzle out until Hogan returned, claiming the WCW title from Nash in a match that is remembered for the infamous ‘poke of doom’. The nWo then merged, taking the top names of the two factions and putting them into one group, leaving the rest to fend for themselves on what became known as ‘the B team”. The reunion was short lived as Hogan left again with a knee injury. What was once the most dominating force in wrestling, ended with more of a whimper than a bang. The nWo was brought back in a few other incarnations, but none of them reached the success or power of the Original nWo.

The nWo’s success lead to the forming of a few other factions hoping to cash in on the nWo’s success. Eddie Guererro put together a group of Mexican wrestlers to form the Latino World Order, which achieved moderate success in WCW before being destroyed by the nWo. WCW introduced nWo 2000 near the end of the company, but it didn’t last long as Bret Hart, who was the leader of the faction, retired from wrestling due to injuries sustained in a match against Bill Goldberg. WWE attempted to bring back the original nWo after the demise of WCW, but the group couldn’t achieve the success they attained during their initial run. Even Extreme Championship Wrestling managed to cash in on the popularity of the nWo when they introduced the Blue World Order, a parody faction that simply made fun of the New World Order and managed to make a powerful connection with the ECW audience.

Vince McMahon and the WWE portray the nWo as a group of guys who only cared about making money for themselves. They have tried to discredit the nWo and take away from it’s legacy. The fact is that the New World Order helped WCW to nearly destroy WWE and did a lot to help the wrestling industry. The New World Order helped make the Monday Night War the highlight of professional wrestling and gave us, the wrestling fans, countless memorable moments and memories that we can reminisce over for years to come.

-- Kenny McKnight