For anyone who has been watching WWE programming of late, it is clear that the WWE has been dropping subtle hints concerning the reformation of the New World Order.
Kevin Nash returning to the program, the use of the old NWO music as his theme song, the articles on WWE.com hinting at the reformation of the NWO and who could be in it, the backstage unrest with certain heel wrestlers, and most recently, the assault by R-Truth and The Miz at Hell in the Cell that looked like it was ripped right out of the pages of a 1996 WCW Monday Nitro.
The signs are aligning.
Now, I want to make this clear, in no uncertain terms, that I believe the recreation of the New World Order is a horrible idea.
The original NWO was lightning in a bottle. It was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that captured the imagination of the world with a timely, rebellious gimmick at the very beginning of the rise of the "anti-hero" in popular culture.
Where Superman's wholesome values were replaced in popularity by Wolverine disemboweling people with foot-long claws. Where South Park replaced the Power Rangers, and people were ready for a "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan over Hulkamania.
In addition to this, the NWO was filled with living legends and major draws. Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Giant, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner, Lex Luger and even Sting, were all members at one point or another.
Trying to recreate something that was legendary and that changed the world of professional wrestling forever, with a group of far lesser stars, in a much different wrestling environment (PG and no WCW), is an uphill battle that will, more than likely, not pay dividends.
However, if I had a dollar for every iota the WWE cared about my opinion, I would have not one dollar.
If the NWO is what they want to exhume from the grave, in spite of the fact that every single attempt from "The Poison" to "The Band" to "NWO 2000" has failed miserably, that's what they are going to do.
But, if the WWE is going to do this, then they need to do it correctly.
And thus, I have written this article to spotlight the main things that the WWE needs to do if they don't want this version of the New World Order to end up like every other version of the New World Order that didn't have Hollywood Hulk Hogan leading it.
Evolution: Four men.
Legacy: Primarily three men. (Manu was around for a brief second.)
Straight Edge Society: Three men and one woman.
The Nexus: Eight men, but then you fired one, mishandled the angle and split them in half.
The Corre: Four emasculated men wondering what they ever did to deserve to be a part of "The Corre."
The problem with stables in the WWE, is that since The Invasion a decade ago, they are just too inconsiderable to make an impact on the wrestling scene overall.
Evolution was an exception because of the quality of the men in the stable, but other than that, the WWE's idea of a stable is to encompass one main-event talent with some jobbers and give them a T-shirt.
That is not going to work for the New World Order.
If this is reborn as a movement to change the face of the WWE, it needs to be a force. And a force can't be surrounded by the locker room and beaten to a pulp the second the other wrestlers get tired of getting jumped.
A force is a group that if the locker room wants to come out and blitz, they better be ready to battle through two commercial breaks, and get ready for a skirmish that happens in the ring, at ringside, in the crowd, in the back and in the parking lot.
If the NWO is supposed to be taken seriously, there at least needs to be a dozen members. At least.
And those members need to be high quality individuals. Not Kevin Nash, The Miz and a bunch of performers who will lose the second John Cena gets to them individually.
If the NWO is going to work, it needs to be a power stable. Evolution was such an adroit stable because even if you did happen to get just one member by himself, you could still get put in the Figure Four, Batista Bombed, RKO'ed or Pedigreed.
The new NWO needs to have that same feel. That this is a capacious group of men, who are going to be a serious problem for the foreseeable future.
Otherwise, it's just going to be another group in some familiar T-shirts who'll be here today, gone tomorrow.
On a side note: I don't want to say anything, but...doesn't Buff and Vincent's pose in that picture seem a bit...um...strange?
The playing field is already seeming to be set for a company-wide war of some kind.
With the end of the Brand Extension and the creation of the "Raw Supershow," things that occur on Raw or Smackdown are not limited to just those shows.
Triple H is drawing a great deal of enemies in Alberto Del Rio, The Awesome Truth, Kevin Nash and The Otunga Legal Council. (Wow, is that really the best name I could come with?) That crew consists of David Otunga, Vicki Guerrero, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Christian and Jack Swagger.
While most of those stars are from Raw, the inclusion of Cody Rhodes and Christian makes it a company-wide issue.
Should all of these forces band together and form a new NWO, it would only be common sense for them to stretch across both Raw and Smackdown.
The key here, is to not limit the major happenings to Raw, and then only have throwaway matches on Smackdown.
For the angle to work properly, major twists and turns need to occur on both shows. Wrestlers from both rosters need to be integrated into the issue company-wide. That includes recruiting, beat downs, defections, intertwined feuds between single wrestlers from both sides, etc...
The NWO/WCW war didn't keep all of their big bombs for just Monday Night Nitro, they also had big happenings on Thursday Night Thunder as well. It helped to keep it relevant.
And with Smackdown hovering in the low 2.0's and high 1.0's, it wouldn't hurt to give fans a feeling of "If I miss this show, I'm going to miss something important" to try and increase viewership.
I simply cannot believe there isn't a single fan-fiction picture on the web with John Cena in an NWO shirt. Not one. I mean, not even a hand-drawn one. I would've used a cartoon, even. I mean, come on, Internet, you're supposed to have EVERYTHING.
As such, we will use this picture of John Cena in a Nexus t-shirt.
I understand that Vince McMahon would rather be locked in a room together with Hulk Hogan, Shane Douglas, Jeff Jarrett and Konnan for a year, than to even flirt with the idea of turning John Cena heel.
The WWE is all about the kiddies until Linda McMahon finally gets it through her surprisingly thick skull that she will never win a U.S. Senate seat. (Seriously, Chris Benoit, "The Tip-Off Memo," steroids and wrestler deaths, pictures of your daughter in a bikini covered in oil? Come back to reality, Linda. It will never happen. I could run for that Senate seat and beat you.)
But until she abnegates that idea, the WWE is going to be a family-oriented affair. Not to mention that by reigning in the "attitude," the WWE procures much more lucrative sponsorships, because companies aren't apprehensive to be associated with them.
So, the PG era is going to be here for a while. The only thing pressing on it are slowly sliding ratings, that have decreased by about 2 million-3 million viewers since 2005.
And the captain of this PG fun-train is going to be John Cena. He's been constructed to be the biggest face in the business, whether everyone over the age of 12 likes it or not. He moves the merchandise, he draws the children, he is the man. He's like a much less prominent and charismatic version of Hulk Hogan in the eighties.
Here's the thing about Hulk Hogan, however: his act got stale. Just like Cena's has. People booed him, just like they boo John Cena. So, he flipped heel, changed the face of the wrestling world and created a tsunami so massive, it nearly wiped the WWF off of the face of the Earth.
The NWO would be nothing without 1996 Bash at the Beach and the "Leg Drop Heard Round The World."
This is why later renditions of the stable, whether done in WCW (NWO 2000), TNA (The Band) or the WWE (The Poison) were all failures. Hulk wasn't in NWO 2000 or "The Band," both of which were poorly booked and handled stables.
Hulk was removed from the NWO in the WWF, because his popularity with WWF fans was too powerful a temptation not to pull him away and bring back Hulkamania.
Without the power of the biggest face to ever become a heel leading the group, the NWO just wasn't itself and failed to make an impact.
John Cena, on a much, much smaller scale, is this generation's Hulk Hogan. (Sacrilege, I know.) But he is the company's biggest face. And if you really want the NWO to prosper, you will need to give John Cena his "Bash at the Beach" moment. He will have to drop the "Five Knuckle Shuffle Heard Round the World" and astound everyone.
This will never happen, because the WWE has become too timid to take major risks with their product. It's a shame, because in the same way Hogan going heel ignited the business, John Cena going heel could possibly spark a much smaller fire, as well.
But the WWE doesn't seem likely to gamble the millions of fans they have for the tens of millions that they don't.
And I can't blame them.
With the creative team they have, almost any angle is certain to be bumbled. And if they bet the farm on Cena going heel, they could lose everything they built in him and never be able to get it back. All for nothing.
Which means if you can't beat them, join them. Only in reverse and vice-versa? Wait, I'm confused...
Since it is unlikely that the WWE will change the status quo and turn John heel, then they will have to change the other status quo and have John lose. Badly.
No Superman antics. No taking a severe flagellation or two, only to come back and pick every member off, one-by-one, all by himself (Nexus). No losing the fight, but winning the war.
John Cena must be devastated. Again and again and again, in order to prove that the NWO is dominant. Cena, and to a lesser extent, Randy Orton, must fail. (Just observe what Randy Orton's failure to defeat Mark Henry is doing for Henry's career.)
I believe the WWE understands this, because of the reaction they had on the Monday Night Raw following Summerslam in 2010.
The WWE knew they failed, big time, by letting John Cena defeat Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel to end that pay-per-view. After they realized how badly they screwed the pooch, they attempted to let the Nexus win most of their matches on the following Raw.
It was too late. The Nexus died at that PPV and the entire Summer was wasted. (In much the same way the Summer of Punk is being wasted, now.)
I believe because of their failed attempt to re-establish the Nexus after Summerslam, that they did learn from the mistake they made.
Should the NWO be reformed through all of this, I believe they will schedule John Cena to lose the war, this time.
And he had better. Because I don't think the fan base can take another colossal angle getting wasted by John Cena.
John Cena losing the war against the NWO leads us to another super-entity that must lose the war: The WWE, itself.
One of the biggest bombs in booking history, is the way the WWF handled the WCW/ECW Invasion.
They dropped the ball at every possible turn.
They should have kept the purchase of WCW quiet, made it seem like the WCW went under and then brought over the talent as a surprise. Instead, they wanted to gloat publicly on WCW's show and killed the element of surprise for the casual fan.
They should have thrown as much cash as was reasonable at getting the WCW's top stars to abandon those prodigious guaranteed contracts for sitting at home. They should have given them near dollar-for-dollar buyouts. Which would've been insane money, true, but it would've been worth it to be able to eventually build two separate brands. (Which will make sense in a moment.)
Instead, they led the invasion with only Booker T. and Diamond Dallas Page being truly top-level stars from WCW. They waited far too long to actually debut it, when everyone thought it was coming right away, and then they flooded their army with wrestlers no one cared about like Mark Jindrak or Billy Kidman.
They should have never gotten ECW involved. Instead, they should've had guys like Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, The Big Show, and Eddie Guerrero jump ship, after being coerced by their old WCW associates.
This would have given them the strong main-event front necessary to battle evenly with the WWE, instead of Stone Cold and Kurt Angle leading a bunch of jobbers and mid-carders against megastars like The Rock and The Undertaker.
Lastly, and this is the most important part, when it came time for the decisive final battle, where the future of WCW or the WWE was on the line: The Invasion should have won. And with a line up like Goldberg, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan, they could've won easily.
The WWE should've come to an agreement where WCW would win its own show or two. And then they could have had a true brand extension, one for WCW fans and one for WWF fans. They would've been able to cull together most remaining wrestling fans from that period.
But, no, Vince is far too supercilious to let the WWE lose. They have to be the best, even if being the best in kayfabe, legitimately hurts the industry.
Should the NWO reform, hopefully, they will get the takeover angle correct this time. Hopefully, they will lose whatever decisive battle comes up.
The whole reason why the NWO was such a success for WCW during the 1990's, is because the NWO didn't lose the decisive battles. They would always have some swerve, some WCW traitor, some trick up their sleeve to pull it out.
It's what made it an actual war that people wanted to watch, as opposed to WCW just beating the baddies in the black in white. The NWO would've been just another stable had they not successfully defeated WCW on numerous occasions. And yes, the WCW would win some battles, too. But it was an even and exciting fight for years until it finally got stale.
If the WWE wants this gimmick to work, at some point, there is going to be a critical fight, where the NWO is standing across from Triple H, John Cena and Randy Orton.
The NWO is going to have to win that fight.
If the NWO is reborn, the line-up may perhaps look like this:
Kevin Nash, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, R. Truth, David Otunga, Michael McGillicutty, Cody Rhodes and Vickie Guerrero, with John Laurinaitis being their executive-level sponsor.
Now, that's an impressive line-up considering that the first six men in the list have held a WWE or World title at some point in their careers. (Yes, Dolph counts, even if he did win it when I started eating dinner and lost it before I was finished.)
But even though six of those men have held top titles, not one of them have that "elite leader feel" that you get from CM Punk, Triple H, John Cena or Randy Orton.
Honestly, Del Rio's second reign shouldn't be happening right now. Swagger's shouldn't have happened. Dolph's almost technically didn't. Christian was actually hurt by his reign, The Miz was de-pushed from the top after WrestleMania and Nash is washed up.
The new NWO is going to need a primary leader (perhaps two) and not a single person in that line up can convince me that he has the power to stand in front of 11-men, five former (and one current) world/WWE champs and be the man.
Even if ADR is in on the conspiracy, allowed himself to be beaten up by Miz and Truth to divert suspicion and emerged as the leader, he is a weak WWE Champion right now. The WWE will need to align one of the top guys to lead the group so it can be taken seriously.
Looking at some possibilities:
Triple H is out, as Triple H is the primary enemy of all of these wrestlers. (Unless, it's all some elaborate ruse.)
Randy Orton would be a good selection as he's used to leading and makes a far better heel than he does a face. The only draw back is that as a heel, he's incredibly selfish and doesn't really have the make-up to lead long-term, as he would probably utilize everyone just for himself while in Viper mode.
CM Punk would also make a great choice so long as they didn't try to turn it into yet another one of his cult crusades like the SES or New Nexus. CM Punk would possibly make the most sense, as leading a stable three times larger than anything the WWE has experienced in a decade would be a great tool for change.
John Cena would be the most explosive pick and the one I would make if I were running the WWE. His heel change and the shock and fallout from it would be something that could turn the industry on its ear and set the course for a truly new direction in the WWE. Though it will never happen.
There are also the sleeper picks of The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels.
The Rock would far and away be the best selection. His very presence sells out arenas and PPV's in a flash. Unfortunately, his Hollywood schedule would prevent him from having such a key long-term role.
Chris Jericho would make a decent leader in his "best in the world" gimmick and his work/shoot beef with CM Punk over stealing his gimmick would make a ready-made feud for the two.
Shawn Michaels was a member of the NWO before it's final demise in 2002, when he was running with X-Pac, Kevin Nash and The Big Show. The group never went anywhere after he joined, in fact it only took about a month for it to fall apart.
He could lead a new version of the NWO, but in the same way he wasn't supposed to be wrestling in 2002, he's not supposed to be wrestling now, as he promised to stay retired.
The leader of the NWO should be able to get in the ring and mix it up, not sit on the sidelines. If HBK wrestles again, it wouldn't be a problem, however.
The Undertaker character just wouldn't fit a stable of normal wrestlers. The last time he ran a stable it was filled with vampires, acolytes, monsters and druids. That's not exactly fitting for the NWO.
Even his rebellious American Bad-A** character doesn't fit as he's supposed to be a loner who will only run with his brother, Kane.
Mick Foley as the leader of the NWO is an unfunny joke.
Then, of course, there is the most obvious solution: Vince McMahon himself. But, Vince is getting too old to wrestle in matches, and as I said with Shawn, the leader of the NWO should be able to defend himself, not have to hide behind The Miz and ADR, because he can't fight John Cena for himself.
But no one is more powerful than Vince, real or kayfabe, and his leading the NWO will give them all the stroke they need.
One thing rarely brought up in the dialog is the fact that Vince McMahon, R. Truth and The Miz would have a common gripe as they were all fired from their positions.
No matter who would end up running the NWO, it has to be a powerful person, and right now, with Kevin Nash or The Miz being the best two options for the position, out of those who are open enemies to Triple H, the NWO lacks that power punch at the top.
Another thing the WWE has failed to do with its stables since Evolution, is to provide feuds within the group for individual members.
Let's reflect on the Nexus for a moment: What critical feud did any of them have individually? It was all about Wade Barrett and John Cena. The rest of those men only served as fodder for that feud.
They were either beating down faces in the back, jumping John Cena, or getting isolated and destroyed by John Cena.
But none of them had an individual beef with any WWE Superstar. And that's one of the main reasons why the Nexus became platitudinous to many fans quickly, because the members were just doing the same thing every week.
A Skip Sheffield and Sheamus feud could've been nice. Perhaps a rivalry between Evan Bourne and Justin Gabriel? Something to let the other men shine as more than just lackeys for Barrett.
It didn't happen. And as a result, even after the disintegration of the Nexus, The New Nexus and the Corre after it, there isn't a single man involved, who has established himself as a character or presence on the WWE roster except for Wade Barrett. (And they're even botching him.)
This is something that the NWO excelled at, however.
Everyone had a problem with someone personally, outside of the overall NWO vs. WCW framework. It made for exciting feuds because within those clashes, the overall implications they had for the war were a factor as well. It was cyclical: The war made the feuds exciting and the feuds made the war exciting.
Whether it was Randy Savage vs. DDP, Scott Steiner vs. Rick Steiner, Curt Hennig vs. Ric Flair, Kevin Nash vs. The Big Show, The Steiners vs. The Outsiders, everybody had an exciting feud going on.
Imagine how bland each of those characters would've seemed, if all they did was follow out behind Hulk Hogan and get beat up by Sting every time he descended from the rafters?
Scratch that analogy. Because if you told most of those guys they had to sit behind one star and be a lackey with minimal mic-time and no feuds to get themselves over? They never would've agreed to be booked into the NWO in the first place.
As mentioned before, with a roster that has six World or WWE champions, there are no shortage of men who can carry a single feud or tag-team feud within the framework of a NWO vs. WWE battle.
There's no excuse for not utilizing them should this NWO reformation happen.
My all time favorite NWO moment, was when the NWO Wolfpac faction went absolutely berserk on the NWO Hollywood faction and assaulted them with a vicious onslaught, while wrecking the backstage area for the entire show.
They chased Scott Hall around bars and left him head first in a bathroom toilet. They flipped over the Hollywood limousine with a forklift and beat it with sledgehammers. The had a locker room brawl where Scott Steiner kept hitting the police.
Sting and Bret Hart had an eight minute war in the backstage area where Hart tried to run Sting over with a motor cart. (It wouldn't start.)
It was absolute pandemonium all night long.
And it was moments like that that made the NWO great in its heyday.
The locker room clearing out and fighting all around the ring, superstars defecting like Scott Steiner at SuperBrawl VIII or Curt Hennig at Fall Brawl 1997 in the War Games, (Side Note: WWE bring back the War Games! I'm serious.), Sting descending from the rafters and laying out NWO members, the NWO taking over Monday Night Nitro, on and on, these shocking moments made the NWO what it was.
You can put a dozen men into the latest variation of the NWO, but if it's just plain matches and run-ins week after week, you might as well not even bother. Don't put on the same segments, just with someone wearing a black and white t-shirt.
You have to push the envelope if you are going to do this angle. In my favorite moment of the NWO, there was not a single drop of blood shed. There was not a single curse word uttered. No Nitro Girl popped up and took off her top (though that would've been hilarious.)
It didn't take blood, gore and nudity to make a great moment, just something that hadn't been done before. An all-night long backstage brawl between 10-12 men, in this case.
Make this angle exciting with defections, inter-stable fights, backstage brawls, politics on camera, over-the-top stunts and surprises. What goes on outside of a wrestling match is just as important as the matches themselves.
In fact, half of the time, it is the events that occur outside of a match that make the biggest impact on the fans.
I don't think Stone Cold ever had a "Zamboni Match" the last time I checked.
The WWE needs to go the extra mile and truly shock the fans like they used to.
And here is where my irrational fandom kicks in.
Every single thing that I just suggested would be the right way to get a new NWO over?
The WWE not only has to execute it, the also have to execute it in such a way that we don't think they're just copying what WCW did wholesale.
Because if they do the exact same thing, people are just going to get turned off, feeling they've already seen it done before.
So, the WWE has to figure out a way to create a faction, start a company-wide war, and fill it with entertaining moments, twice weekly, without repeating, verbatim, anything that was successful before.
It's not easy. But, that's what we pay them to do. We plunk down our hard-earned cash on an event ticket or PPV because we want something new, exciting and entertaining.
The WWE already has one strike against them because the NWO isn't new. So they had best make it exciting, entertaining and innovative.
Perhaps try fighting in new places, creating an NWO Heavyweight Title, or try creating new match types through the stable.
One thing I've always thought would be an interesting idea to try is "Capture the Flag". Put some kind of stipulation on the line that the losing side has an important member terminated.
Then place a heavy object in the middle of the ring, and have both sides fight to gain the object and bring it back to their "base" which would be located on opposite sides of the arena. It would be like a massive hardcore brawl and the side to get it back first wins.
(This is probably why I'm not a WWE booker...)
While that's probably not the greatest idea in the world, you have to start thinking outside of the box like that in order to pique people's interest.
The reformation of the NWO would be an opportune time to experiment with new concepts.
Just make those concepts better than mine.
This is probably the most important thing on the list.
The WWE has a horrible habit of not knowing where to go with things, and so they just make them disappear or blow them up.
Yes, the WWE ruined the Nexus angle by having them lose at Summerslam 2010. But while fans were wondering how they would turn it around and mused which large superstars would be injected into it from the roster, the WWE just split it apart into two impotent sections until it vanished over time.
Fans wondered for months on end: "Who is the anonymous Raw general manager?" Everyone from Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon to Michael Cole and Stone Cold Steve Austin was thrown out as possibilities.
Instead? The GM Booth rarely even appears next to Cole anymore, he hasn't gotten a text message in months and it's been phased out completely since Triple H took over as COO. (You might as well have made him the Raw General Manager and then promoted him to COO via storyline. Why not actually wrap up an angle you start on internationally viewed television?)
When things get complicated or botched, instead of working through it, they just throw it away and completely disregard the fans interest in it.
Nine times out of ten, with an angle that features so many wrestlers, the NWO storyline is going to get botched, twisted and convoluted along the way.
The WWE needs to work through those moments and not just have some giant fissure emerge from out of nowhere and have them all break up. If the writers don't know where to go next, brainstorm on it until you can figure it out.
Don't just have it disappear like the armbands on David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. (Seriously, who came up with that name?)
If you're going to start the New World Order angle, see it through.
If you just gave up on everything that didn't work right from the beginning, you may have future endeavored "The Blue Chipper" Rocky Maivia, and we wouldn't even know who The Rock is today.
I'm not saying that this latest version of the NWO is going to be as powerful as WCW's first version, or even the Wolfpac. (And that's if the WWE is even going to actualize another NWO.) But, we will never know what it could become, and who's careers it could launch, if the organization vanishes in six months.
Like my great-grandma Cobbcorn used to tell me: "Winners never quit and quitters never win."
"And if you steal one more cookie out of my cookie jar, I'm going to blast you in the mouth with a steel chair." (She was a mean old bird.)
Finish what you start, WWE. You're a multinational organization worth nearly half a billion dollars.
Why do I even need to tell you that?