Before heading home for Thanksgiving last week, I was at the airport terminal waiting for the incoming flight to arrive. As the passengers got off of the flight, I was shocked to see Scott Hall exiting the plane. As the son of Bill Apter, I got to meet my fair share of superstars as a kid, but Scott Hall was a guy who I had never gotten the chance to talk to in my childhood. I introduced myself and Hall gladly agreed to take a photo with me, even with the clumps of people around the gate in the airport. This moment inspired me to write about the formation of the NWO as I remember it.
Just about 18 years ago, wrestling fans witnessed one of the biggest heel turns in the history of the sport. With the return of Sting still fresh in the minds of WWE fans across the world, I think it is time to continue to dive into the so called “heyday” of the WCW. Don’t get me wrong, I was a WWE guy back then too. Who didn’t like Razor Ramon, Macho Man, Diesel, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels? Yokozuna & Tatanka were also great to watch. Once the big names began shifting to WCW, I did as well. Without Hulk, Diesel and Razor, the WWE was lacking some of the star power that made it so good.
The formation of the New World Order was one of the most memorable moments in wrestling. It all began with Scott Hall appearing at a WCW event back in May of 1996.
“You know who I am, but you don’t know why I’m here.”
“You want a war? You’re gonna get one”
Hall demanded that Ted Turner find his best three guys for a “war”, suggesting that he had allies on the way. The next week on Nitro, Hall again interrupted the WCW broadcast and had a run-in with Sting, who was clearly insulted with Hall’s attitude towards Randy Savage, Lex Luger and himself. That night, Hall told Stinger that he had a “big” surprise for him. A seven foot monster of a man to be exact.
Soon, Hall was joined by his WWE counterpart, Kevin Nash, in June of ’96. While Hall and Nash started to make fans change channels, the WWE still remained ahead in the ratings. That was before this moment at the Great American Bash, when Eric Bischoff let the duo of former WWE stars know they would have their first WCW match at Bash at the Beach. Bischoff withheld the names of the three competitors that Hall, Nash and their third man would be opposing. That didn’t sit too well with the Outsiders, letting Bischoff know of their displeasure with a vicious punch to the gut from Hall and a powerbomb into the commentator’s table from Nash.
That one scene sparked the beginning of a long standing competition between WCW and WWE, known better as the Monday Night Wars. With Hall & Nash continuing their plans of a hostile WCW takeover by appearing at will during WCW events, the Bash at the Beach event was shortly upon us and the Outsiders were up against WCW icons, Sting, Macho Man and Lex Luger.
When Hall and Nash came down the run way for their match during Bash at the Beach, it was clear that their mystery guest was not with them, leading Gene Okerlund to confront the two about it. The Outsiders said the third man was in the building, but they didn’t need him there at the time. The match started out badly for the WCW team, with Lex Luger being removed from the match on a stretcher due to injury.
The WCW team of Sting and Macho Man looked to be close to victory after a late tag towards the final minutes of the match, but things took a turn when Nash landed a punch below the belt, sending Savage to the ground in pain. The referee was dealing with a pesky Scott Hall, who had interfered when Sting & Savage began to take the upper hand.
With all four wrestlers laying in the squared circle and the ref confused, the “Real American”, Hulk Hogan, emerged from the entry way. The capacity crowd was going nuts as their savior, Hulkamania, was coming to the rescue to put an end to Hall & Nash for good. As Hogan entered the ring, Hall & Nash quickly slid out of it, leaving him alone with an almost lifeless Randy Savage on the ground. Little did we know at the time, Hulk had other plans up his sleeve as he unexpectedly laid his signature leg drop upon the chest of Randy Savage as the fans erupted in a shockwave of boos. A man who had been a good guy for so long in the WWE was now with the bad guys and the fans were furious, showing their disgust by throwing their trash into the ring.
1996 was one of the most lively years in wrestling during that decade, if not the most liveliest. That one leg-drop delivered by Hogan to the chest of Randy Savage changed wrestling forever.
The original theme of the NWO still resonates with fans to this day..well at least does with me. Why? Because when you are with the NWO, it’s FOR LIFE.