Pro Wrestling: Jim Cornette and the 1998 NWA Invasion of the WWF
The year was 1998 and WCW was killing the WWF in the "Monday Night Wars". They struck gold with the NWO takeover and this left the WWF reeling. The bloodletting wouldn't stop for the Fed as the entire company plunged more and more into disarray as top talent were jumping ship to WCW.
How could Vince McMahon possibly compete against Eric Bischoff? Bischoff, a man who threw Ted Turner's money around like it was nothing and was behind one of the hottest angles in wrestling ever, is still talked about to this day.
Enter the NWA, the National Wrestling Alliance. The NWA is the oldest wrestling sanctioning body, but the NWA of 1998 was a joke compared to its former self, the territories were dead and gone, a dried up relic of days past.
All the top talent in the country were either working for the Fed, WCW, or ECW, but McMahon was desperate though and brought in Dennis Coralluzzo, the head of the NWA. Coralluzzo along with Jim Cornette, an NWA mainstay, brought the NWA titles with them and that's where the angle was set to fail.
Only the most hardcore of wrestling fans knew about the long and fabled history of the NWA, leaving the casual wrestling fan of the day in the dark.
Who cared about the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship? It was a title my grandpa probably knew and followed, but anything to gain ratings will do.
Jeff Jarrett, a career midcarder, defeated Blackjack Windham to win the NWA North American title after Cornette interfered on his behalf. Shortly thereafter, they were joined by the Rock 'n' Roll Express and the NWA stable was formed.
Worthless title No. 2, The NWA World Tag-Team Championship, was awarded to the Rock 'n' Roll Express by Jim Cornette.
They defended it a couple of times against other jobber teams and no one cared—but if you listened closely, you could hear Eric Bischoff laughing while throwing big heaps of cash in the air.
The NWA gained another member, as Barry Blackjack Windham turned on his partner Blackjack Bradshaw during an NWA title match between Bradshaw and Jeff Jarrett.
This was odd to me, as the original Black Jacks were a big part of the NWA; it would seem fitting to add the New Black Jacks to this NWA stable, as it wasn't like they were doing much to begin with.
While the NWO had high-profile feuds, the NWA battled against the likes of Bradshaw and the Headbangers, real five-star match material.
This angle started in December of 1997. By March of 1998, it was way past abysmal: Jarrett left and vacated grandpa's title, while the Rock 'n' Roll Express were kicked out for losing the NWA tag titles to the Headbangers.
Worry not, for their replacements would be the jobber team of Bombastic Bob Holly and Bodacious Bart Gunn, the New Midnight Express! More on them soon in part two of "New and Unimproved".
The New Midnight Express gained a measure of revenge by reclaiming the NWA tag titles from the Headbangers. After the match, NWA Champion Dan Severn made his debut, potatoing the Headbangers out of the ring and joining Cornette's NWA.
The stable slowly died off as Windham left for WCW and Severn turned his attention on a singles run, leaving only Cornette and the New Midnight Express, a team he hated working with.
That lessened the name of the Midnight Express. They had one forgettable feud with the New Age Outlaws and the stable was done with by August of 1998.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Jim Cornette and the original and true NWA. What I don't like was this bastardized version, which was nothing more than a cash-in on the hope it would steal away some of WCW's fans.
The promotion started out as a member of the NWA. It hoped to draw fans of the original NWA. The problem was that most NWA fans weren't into WWF's crash tv and their cartoon product of the past. The NWA Invasion failed for many of the same reasons why the New Midnight Express and New Black Jacks failed—what worked once may not work twice.
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