The New World Order will go down as one of the most revolutionary and biggest factions in wrestling history. A number of wrestling stables have come and gone. And long before the nWo was formed at Bash at the Beach 1996, there had been a number of stables in the wrestling industry. The Four Horsemen, the Million Dollar Corporation, The Dungeon of Doom, just to name a few. But none of them were as dominant, as risky and as impactful as the nWo. These guys ran the show in WCW, had their own PPVs and proved to be WCW’s biggest gun in the Monday Night Wars. So it’s quite astonishing how disappointing the WWE’s incarnation of the stable was when the group were brought onto WWF television in February 2002.
However, the majority of the failures for this story wasn’t actually down to the writers. There were a number of reasons for the storyline going south including injuries, messy divorces, personality conflicts and a number of wrestlers leaving the company. Had all the members involved been healthy and here to stay, then who knows how WWE would have booked it…
However, it’s time to see how I would book it. Had Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall been fit and here for the long-haul, how would I have booked the nWo’s arrival at the WWE in 2002….
Before getting on with the storyline, I first want to bring up the YouTube video which led to me to doing this particular storyline. It comes from a website I actually used to write for as a wrestling columnist… WhatCulture. WhatCulture have been expanding their output regarding wrestling content and began a YouTube channel with wrestling videos galore. Like a lot of WhatCulture content, most of them are list videos. For example, “10 Shocking Moments in WWE”. Things like that. However, they’ve recently began a fantasy booking series themselves called “How WWE Should Have Booked…”.
The host of this video series, WhatCulture writer Adam Blampied, talks about how he would have booked a certain WWE Storyline himself. A video of his recently caught my attention though. It was a video of how WWE should have booked the nWo storyline in 2002. The video’s down below for you guys to watch and I suggest you do.
As much as I appreciate Adam’s attempt at this storyline, I felt obligated to do my own version of the storyline in a “How I Would Book…” installment. Obligated because 2002 in WWE always felt to me like the Family Guy TV series… a lot of noise but not a lot of development in storylines. That’s not to say that it was a bad year or that Family Guy is bad. Hell, a lot of wrestling fans don’t really care about long-term storylines just as long as they get the action. And it’s not like the WWE were in competition with anyone at the time.
However, I always felt that the nWo should have been immune to this as the stable was of such importance that the program should have been revolved around it. If you’re going to do a storyline with the nWo coming to the WWE, IT HAS TO BE LONG TERM. And that was really the issue with the nWo after Wrestlemania. They had the idea of Hollywood Hogan turning face at Mania and had little idea what to do next, other than add in a few new members. If we’re coming up with an alternative storyline, let’s hopefully have one that has a lot of substance to it and last quite a while…
Like Adam does, let’s run down how the original nWo storyline went down and the state of the WWE around that time…
That picture is pretty badass isn’t it?
The storyline really began when Ric Flair became Vince McMahon’s business partner when he bought the stocks of the Alliance’s Shane and Stephanie McMahon after the conclusion of the 2001 Survivor Series PPV. Vince had so many problems with having to work with Flair, largely due to him having to share power with somebody else. He wanted to destroy Ric Flair as destroying lives turned on him… I’m not joking. He actually said that! Skip to 1 minute 53 seconds into this video if you don’t believe me!
Ric Flair and Vince McMahon would meet in a street fight at the 2002 Royal Rumble, with Flair picking up the win. Vince McMahon cut an epic promo on a later episode of SmackDown!, stating that Ric Flair was trying to destroy the WWF. Vince said if anyone was going to do it, it would be him. He said he was going to inject the WWF with a lethal dose of poison. He announced he was going to kill the WWF… with the nWo.
The nWo arrived at the No Way Out pay-per-view, with Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall arriving on the scene. On their first night, they would cost Steve Austin the Undisputed Championship. On RAW, Hogan was challenged to a classic match-up against The Rock at Wrestlemania, which he immediately accepted. Hogan and the nWo would try whatever it took to injure The Rock before the big match but The Rock would still make it to the PPV at Montreal. In a match which saw the fans side with Hogan, The Rock scored the victory. Following this, Hogan shook the Rock’s hand and would turn face once more….
Oh yeah and Stone Cold Steve Austin beat Scott Hall, in case you were wondering what that Austin beat down led to….
The nWo would then be drafted to RAW in the brand extension and the group brought in a number of new members, including The Big Show, X-Pac, Booker T and even Shawn Michaels. However, with injuries and wrestlers leaving the company, the angle was eventually scrapped in July 2002.
Needless to say, the nWo didn’t QUITE go as well as we hoped. To be fair, a lot of it was out of the writers’ hands. Kevin Nash getting injured and Scott Hall leaving the company were things they just had to work with. However, there was ONE slight thing which I think we need to re-write. In some ways, it’s a very pivotal moment in the storyline as well as one of the great Wrestlemania moments. It is… Hollywood Hogan turning face once more at Wrestlemania 18. In fact, Hogan wouldn’t have been the loser if I’d booked it – he should have won it.
When looking at this in hindsight, what were the long-term implications of The Rock pinning Hogan at Wrestlemania that night? What exactly happened to The Rock AFTER that night? He left for a few months, came back to win the Undisputed Title and then left once again. At the end of the day, Hogan was going to be there the next month while The Rock wasn’t. So why not give the nWo storyline the added umph by having Hogan going over?… well obviously by shenanigans. But it can’t just be Hall or Nash coming out to help Hogan. It has to be someone special, someone that could give the nWo that added shizzle to their group. In step the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels…
Shawn superkicking Rock would be the perfect way for Michaels to return to the company. Also, I think Shawn being in the nWo was one of the better decisions with regards to that storyline. Shawn could have been the Deputy Leader of the group, acting as the adviser to Hogan. Hogan’s the King and Michaels is Hand of the King. Hogan can rest easy knowing Shawn is working to make sure his group falls in line. The Chief Whip, whatever you want to call him. And bring him into the fold by helping Hogan beat The Rock.
Now I know what that would do to The Rock’s Wrestlemania record if Hogan went over. He lost to Austin at Wrestlemania 15. He lost the fatal four way at Wrestlemania 2000. He lost to Austin AGAIN at Wrestlemania 17. And now he’s losing again. Worst of all, it’s the third time that The Rock has lost due to shenanigans and outside interference at a Wrestlemania. Well at least he’ll win at Wrestlemania 19…
But I outweigh Hogan’s importance in the nWo storyline as being more of a relevancy to The Rock’s. If Hogan loses, the stable loses credibility. Kevin Nash wasn’t even on the card and Scott Hall lost to Austin. Hogan needed to win this match and in doing that, him and his group are stronger because of it.
So what happens next?
The next night on RAW, Shawn Michaels cuts a promo about targeting all of the so-called “all time greats” of the WWF. He says that all the so-called greats of the WWF are nothing but frauds compared to the likes of himself and the Immortal Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and needed to be punished by the nWo. Shawn says it takes an all-time great to know one and he knows that the “Great One” The Rock could never hold a candle to himself or Hulk Hogan. Shawn says it’s up to the nWo decide who truly is worthy of being considered a star in the WWF. Stone Cold Steve Austin interrupts the nWo and challenges Hogan to a match on RAW that night. However, Hogan says there’s a better time and place for him to put the rattlesnake in his place. Vince McMahon comes out to make the tag team main event of The Rock and Steve Austin vs The Outsiders, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.
The Rock and Austin take over in that main event when Hogan comes out for the DQ. Hogan and the rest of the nWo batter Austin. Michaels delivers Sweet Chin Music to The Rock and tells Nash to get him a chair. He takes out The Rock with chair shots to the leg and Hogan drops the leg to end RAW standing tall. This little beat down writes The Rock off of television as he takes his sabbatical. I’ve decided to input the real-life absence of The Rock into this storyline as it still works as he is initially taken out by the nWo. When he returns in June, he’ll be looking for revenge for Michaels, Hogan and the rest of the nWo.
That wraps up part one. I’ll admit, we haven’t covered a lot of time yet with the nWo storyline. However, check out the Armbar Express and follow @TomRobinson5199 for part two of this storyline where things get interesting.
We look at the draft lottery and how that will affects things and what will eventually lead to the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Hollywood Hogan match we’ve all wanted to see.
Happy 19th anniversary to the New World Order!