I was sending a text message the other day. As I was typing the word, “being,” my phone did something that I thought was amazing – it tried to autocorrect it to nWo. I might like wrestling a little too much…
For those who remember the glory days of the New World Order, nothing else is necessary; you know the story and how awesome it was. And, you also know how horrible the group’s fall from prominence was. But, for those who weren’t around back then, this is for you.
The WWE recently released a 3-disc retrospective looking back at the history of the New World Order. It continues WWE’s recent streak of releasing solid documentaries that tell the whole story, not just WWE’s version, which has plagued some of their earlier releases.
One point that is forgotten when talking about wrestling in the late 1990s is summed up very nicely by WCW star “Diamond” Dallas Page in the disc’s opening moments: “Wrestling at that time was a 9.8 out of 10 on the ‘cool meter.’” And, it really was. The cool promotion was WWE, with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock leading the charge. But, what really hadn’t been told until now is why WWE got so hot and popular in that era. WWE got so amazing because WCW had surpassed them as the premier wrestling promotion, thanks in large part to the nWo. They had to scramble to surpass WCW and they succeeded.
The disc has a lot of new interviews with a wide variety of names from WCW, including Kevin Nash, Bill DeMott, Billy Kidman, Booker T, Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and X-Pac. Stock footage from the early 2000s from interviews with Eric Bischoff, Scott Hall, and Hulk Hogan are also included.
One of the cooler aspects is that they include interviews with two wrestlers who were children during the nWo days – Cody Rhodes and Joe Hennig (sons, of course, of Dusty Rhodes and Curt Hennig). While both wrestling promotions claimed to aim toward an 18-35 year-old demographic, wrestling really was one of the most popular things with kids back then. Both talk about how they already liked wrestling and started seeing more of their peers wear wrestling shirts and talk about the product once the nWo kicked off.
It’s not such a big deal now to see Hulk Hogan as a heel, but his turn in 1996 was groundbreaking and nobody expected it. His turn made it work. Nash stresses in his interview that they wanted everything they did to be different than the status quo. Hulk Hogan as a bad guy was different. They didn’t do wrestling promos. They almost did music videos, in black and white as well. The entire presentation was different and it worked for them.
The evil nWo ran roughshod over WCW until a silent hero descended from the rafters to take them out. That man was Sting. The 15-month angle of Sting not speaking or wrestling and just watching the nWo made for compelling television. Cody Rhodes sums it up better than I can – “It was just beautiful.” And it was. That’s how you book a storyline.
After a while, the nWo started fighting itself and split off into two groups, the black and white of nWo Hollywood and the red and black Wolfpac. When discussing the nWo, Dusty Rhodes talked about how it was so mainstream and got all of this attention from people who weren’t wrestling fans. He said the start of the downfall of the group was when it split up, noting that it was just a wrestling angle after that.Current WWE commentator Matt Striker summed the Wolfpac in his own unique way: “The Wolfpac was cool, but it’s kind of like when your little sister wants to be in the nWo. It’s like, ‘Alright, you can be in the Wolfpac.’”
I liked the Wolfpac, personally. But, a lot of people apparently did not. The remainder of the disc looks at the downfall of the group. They talk about poorly-planned storylines and a general feeling of disorganization with the group’s motives. The bloated roster of mid-carders wearing nWo colors is discussed as well. The ill-fated “nWo 2000” featuring Bret Hart and Jeff Jarrett is ripped apart for not working. And the 2002 invasion of WWE by the original trio is brought up.
Overall, it’s a nice set for the two main audiences WWE is going after – hardcore fans and nostalgia buffs. The matches on discs 2 and 3 aren’t bad either. Buy it.