There is no question in the IWC that the Attitude Era in WWE programming was one of the best times to be a professional wrestling fan. The Monday Night War was in full swing with the then WWF and WCW going head to head in a ratings war that brought out the best in both companies to get the most eyes on their product.
This era brought about some of the greatest in-ring performers to ever lace up a set of boots. On the WWF side you had Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, The Hardy Boyz, Triple H, The Hart Family, Edge and Christian, and the Dudley Boyz.
On the WCW side, you had legends like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Sting, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash just to name a few of the greats of that time.
This era also gave birth to two of the most successful and controversial factions in wrestling's storied history. The WWF's Degeneration-X, and the WCW's nWo.
Both groups revolutionized sports entertainment, and with the talk of HBK making an appearance again here soon, and the mumblings of Kevin Nash reforming the nWo, let's jump into this week's A or B Series on its new night!
The splitting of the WWF backstage group known as "The Kliq" consisting of Sean Waltman (Lightning 1-2-3-X-Syxx-Pac Kid), Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (two of the founding fathers of the nWo), Shawn Michaels and Paul "Triple H" Levesque (the founders of D-X) led to the catalyst of both groups being formed.
The nWo was the first to come about on the May 27, 1996, edition of Monday Nitro with Scott Hall (who was still speaking with his Razor Ramon Cuban accent) interrupting a matchup demanding that "Billionaire Ted" pick three WCW wrestlers.
In the subsequent weeks with the revealing of Kevin Nash being his "big surprise" and the two outsiders causing mischief throughout WCW shows, the nWo came together as a whole on July 7, 1996 with the addition of Hulk Hogan who hadn't been a heel for over 15 years.
This turned the wrestling world upside down as the once squeaky-clean Hogan dropped his traditional red and yellow colors and donned a garb of all black and ran roughshod over WCW in the following years.
Despite being an idea that was originally used in New Japan Pro Wrestling, many American fans had never before seen such a hostile takeover take place. There have been few builds to match the power and emotion of the original nWo formation and subsequent takeover.
Many fans became divided as the Monday Night Wars picked up steam. Were you WCW or nWo?
Over time however, the nWo storyline became too convoluted and was split into too many factions and re-hashed many times which I feel hurt the legacy of the nWo overall.
Many of us that grew up in the Attitude Era prefer to remember the nWo as it was in the early days, rather than before Jeff Jarrett was allowed in (Yeah, I said it.) or how WWE unceremoniously buried their re-birth of the nWo after Nash's quadriceps injury, or TNA's horrible re-hash of "The Band."
Switching gears to Degeneration-X, it was never originally supposed to be an on-screen thing since WWF officials wanted to keep the remaining members of The Kliq apart on television. After some hounding from Shawn and Hunter, Vince finally allowed the two to form a stable with Chyna and Rick Rude in the group as well.
The group first officially appeared that the One-Night-Only pay-per-view in Birmingham England on Sept. 20, 1997. Oct. 13, 1997, was the first time the group had been officially called Degeneration-X due in part to the members being part of "Generation X", and Bret Hart calling Shawn Michaels a degenerate.
The group was not built as a destroyer of the WWF, but simply anti-establishment jokesters who would perform crude and vulgar humor, such as Michaels sticking the Canadian flag up his nose, or having a strip poker game in the ring.
Triple H has said that he and Michaels simply wanted to make the business fun again.
While the nWo's actions were sanctioned and talked about ahead of time in WCW, Shawn and Triple H often got fines and other disciplinary action because nothing they said or did was discussed with Vince a lot of the time, and they walked a very fine line of what the censors would allow to air.
Arguably, D-X had its best and most popular run after Michaels was forced into retirement following a back injury incurred in a Casket Match with The Undertaker. Once Triple H took the reins after Shawn "dropped the ball" losing to Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, the group got bigger with the inclusion of X-Pac (as he was called at the time), and the New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James).
This incarnation of the group gave us some of the most entertaining segments in WWF/E history with their impersonations of Vince McMahon's Corporation, and the D-X Army invasion of the Norfolk Scope when RAW and Nitro were being hosted in cities close in proximity.
Ultimately, I choose Degeneration-X, not only because I am a Shawn Michaels mark, but because D-X was so real compared to the nWo.
D-X was a catalyst that helped to create WWF's Attitude Era, and despite any incarnation of the group, D-X was always fun and entertaining to watch (arguably since the tag team version of just Michaels and Helmsley was much more tame due to Shawn's religious beliefs, and the transition into the PG Era).
I know Vince likes to bury creations that aren't his own, but the nWo did not age well. With each incarnation of the group (even the WWE one), you can tell they always wanted that lightning to strike again like it did back in 1996, and I just don't think it will happen again.
Credit where it is due however, I may have been young at the time, but I remember arguing with my father over the nWo storyline and swearing that Razor Ramon and Diesel had never left and that they were still employed by the WWF. It was an incredibly believable storyline.
So how about it, guys? Are you down with Degeneration-X or are you nWo 4-life and why? Let me know in the comments section and leave some of your favorite D-X and nWo memories.
Until next time, I'm Merlot Williams, and that's my opinion.
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