The following announcement has been paid for by the new World order.
In the late 1990s, there wasn't much that was hotter, more topical or more captivating than the nWo storyline. More than twenty years ago, in fact, the first warning shots were fired by the nWo to WCW that they were taking over.
The nWo was much more than a wrestling faction. It was a major storyline, a catalyst for change, a marketing concept and a reason for fans that had abandoned wrestling for years to tune in again.
There were, of course, several different incarnations of the nWo over the years, including the original group, Hollywood, Wolfpac, Elite, Black & White, 2000 and even the short-lived WWE version. But what were the best angles, moments and matches?
In selecting the Top 50 nWo Moments, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories considered the following criteria:
What impact did it have on both mainstream and regular wrestling fans?
How memorable was the moment many years later?
Has the moment been replicated in wrestling in any way, shape or form?
How surprising or innovative was it?
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
Brother Bruti Butchered
When the nWo began taking over WCW in 1996, they initially established it would be an elite group. Hollywood Hogan's long time friend Brutus "Booty Man" Beefcake tried to join the group after Hogan captured the WCW Title at Hog Wild.... and was instead attacked by Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
World War 3
In November 1997, both WCW and nWo competitors appeared in the 60-man World War III battle royal. The ending had a twist, as WCW loyalist Sting descended from the rafters, presumably targeting Scott Hall. Instead, it was actually Kevin Nash in the Sting mask, helping his buddy Hall get the win.
In 1998, Hollywood Hogan declared that he had retired for wrestling and instead would run for President of the United States. The angle - an obvious spoof on Jesse Ventura's run as Governor of Minnesota - was short-lived and featured Hogan clumsily discussing politics to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
Although Miss Elizabeth had been a heel in WWF and WCW before, she never seemed to live the part until she joined the nWo in late 1996. During her time there, she reunited with her ex-husband Randy Macho Man Savage and often managed the likes of Eric Bischoff, Lex Luger and Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
Million Dollar Benefactor
After the initial nWo trio of Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had formed, fans were wondering who else may join the group. In July 1996, former Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase was introduced as the group's benefactor, a role that he stayed in until the following August, where he became a fan favorite.
Bischoff vs. Flair
In late-1998, a real life contract dispute between Ric Flair and WCW President Eric Bischoff was turned into a storyline when Flair returned in September and feuded with The Four Horsemen. The legendary faction reformed for one final run and targeted Bischoff's nWo, which led to a singles match between the two men.
Who's With Us?
In November 1996, nWo leader Eric Bischoff delivered his mission statement for the group: "You're either with us - or you're against us." Because he was also the highest ranking executive in WCW, he urged the locker room to convert their contracts to nWo contracts. Buff Bagwell was the first man to convert that night.
When Curt Hennig came to WCW in 1997, the former Mr. Perfect played up his past with Ric Flair and was brought in to become one of the Four Horsemen. The alliance didn't last long - at the War Games pay-per-view, Hennig turned on Flair, Steve McMichael and Chris Benoit to become part of the nWo.
The Syxxth Man
In September 1996, the wrestler formerly known as The 123 Kid joined the nWo on Nitro. He was renamed Syxx, possibly because he was the sixth member of the group, and possibly because that's the equation when one adds one plus two plus three. Still, Syxx was a core part of the nWo's Wolfpac, with Hall and Nash.
The nWo was riding high in August 1998, with Hollywood Hogan declaring no competition for him in WCW. All of a sudden, The Ultimate Warrior appeared in a WCW ring as the only man Hogan had never beat. In short order, Warrior created the One Warrior Nation (oWn) to compete with Hogan's nWo group.
Scott Steiner Joins
One of the last major defections to the nWo came in 1998, when the group was able to split up the popular Steiner Brothers. Scott Steiner turned on his brother Rick Steiner, using the turn as an excuse to complete transform his look and persona and eventually becoming the outrageous Big Poppa Pump character.
Dusty Rhodes Joins
In January 1998, a rather surprising addition joined the nWo in the form of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, as The American Dream aided Scott Hall and Louie Spicolli in an attack against pro-WCW commentator Larry Zbyszko. Rhodes became a manager for the group, primarily for Hall and Kevin Nash.
Bret Screwed Bisch
Bret Hart arrived in WCW in December 1997 and was offered a spot in the nWo by Eric Bischoff. Hart turned him down after refereeing a match between Bischoff at Larry Zbyszko at the Starrcade pay-per-view. Hart also acted as referee in the Sting vs. Hulk Hogan main event, screwing Bischoff over twice in the same show.
The nWo knew they truly arrived when they were able to get a celebrity endorsement in the form of Dennis Rodman, arguably the most controversial athlete at the time. In 1997, Rodman (a/k/a Rodzilla) teamed with Hulk Hogan against Lex Luger and The Giant, beginning a wrestling career for the NBA star.
Hot Rod vs. nWo
In 1996 at the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view, Hollywood Hulk Hogan had just defeated Randy Savage when the familiar music of Rowdy Roddy Piper played. Piper, Hogan's old WWF nemesis, had come to WCW to defeat Hogan and disarm the nWo, leading to a feud between the two icons that lasted months.
"Buy The Shirt!"
Before the nWo came along, very few wrestling heels were able to sell their own merchandise to fans. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and The Giant made it cool by airing a grainy television commercial in which they asserted buying an nWo shirt would make a fashion statement. "Buy The Shirt!" Nash kept demanding.
The Giant Joins
In September 1996, The Giant became the first person outside of the original trio to join the nWo. On Monday Nitro, The Giant came to the ring, presumably to save his teammates in The Dungeon of Doom from an attack, but instead turned against them and joined the nWo for the first (but not last) time.
The Outsiders Explode
The unthinkable happened at Slamboree 1998, when the makeshift team of Sting and The Giant faced The Outsiders of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Instead of helping his partner and longtime friend, Hall turned against Nash and sided with Giant, signaling the end of his relationship with Nash.
Eric Bischoff Joins
The ultimate insult to WCW's locker room took place at the World War 3 pay-per-view in 1996 during a contract signing between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Eric Bischoff, at the time merely a WCW executive, turned against Piper, signalling that he had been with the nWo all along.
nWo World Champion
While the nWo was officially born in July, it wasn't until the following pay-per-view that the group held any official power in WCW. At Hog Wild, Hollywood Hulk Hogan defeated The Giant for the WCW World Championship, which he then spray-painted and declared it to be the nWo World Championship belt.
Macho Man Joins
Randy Macho Man Savage had been one of the most persistent thorns in the side of the nWo since its inception. So fans were shocked when Savage came to ringside for Hollywood Hulk Hogan's match with Rowdy Roddy Piper at SuperBrawl 1997 and aided Hogan, officially joining on with the nWo.
Hogan vs. Goldberg
One of the biggest matches in WCW history happened on Nitro on July 6, 1998, with nWo World Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan defending his title against undefeated star Bill Goldberg. With the entire nWo threatening to interfere, Goldberg still kept his record intact, pinning Hogan to win the title.
Tonight Show Takeover
In the summer of 1998, Jay Leno was kicked off the set of his own talk show by the nWo's Eric Bischoff and Hollywood Hulk Hogan, who proceeded to use the set to conduct their own talk show. Leno would get the last laugh, however; he and Diamond Dallas Page defeated Hogan and Bischoff at Road Wild 1998.
Icon vs. Icon
The biggest moment during the WWE run of the nWo took place at WrestleMania X-8 when fans were given an all time dream match - Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. While the Toronto crowd turned Hogan babyface by the end of the match, it was an iconic wrestling moment that included the nWo.
Hogan vs. Sting
The biggest single match involving a member of the nWo took place at Starrcade 1997, when Sting took on Hollywood Hulk Hogan in a match that had been built up for over a year. Sting managed to capture the WCW World Championship and also gain a measure of revenge for WCW fans who had seen the nWo take over.
Head of Security Vincent
After Ted DiBiase joined the nWo in 1996, it made sense for them to also hire DiBiase's former bodyguard Virgil. Rechristened Vincent (a spoof of WWE head Vince McMahon), he was dubbed Head of Security and continued on with the group for three more years as a bodyguard, manager and tag team competitor.
The nWo wasn't just a North American phenomenon - nor was it limited to WCW. In December 1996, New Japan star Masahiro Chono formed nWo Japan, a group that would later include Hiro Saito, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, The Great Muta and American nWo members such as Scott Norton, nWo Sting and Buff Bagwell.
Shawn Michaels Joins
WWE's version of nWo didn't have many highlights, but one happened on Raw in June 2002. Kevin Nash assumed leadership of the faction and promised to "rock the WWE's foundation" by announcing the newest member of the group -- Shawn Michaels, who had retired from wrestling at that point and was long off television.
Perhaps the least-remembered of all the nWo splinter groups, the new World order was resurrected in late-1999 by a group that was led by Bret Hart and included Jeff Jarrett, The Harris Twins and nWo alumnae Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. The group was marred by dissention and split for good in April 2000.
In March 1997, WCW decided to mix fiction with reality. On an episode of Monday Nitro, Eric Bischoff was confronted by Dr. Harvey Schiller, the President of Turner Sports, about he was running both WCW and nWo. Schiller fired him (in storyline, anyways), making for a memorable television moment.
In January 1998, The Giant was near the top of the nWo's hit list. The man who would later become The Big Show was challenging Kevin Nash in a match at the Souled Out pay-per-view. When Nash hit his patented jackknife powerbomb, The Giant was dropped on his head, with WCW banning the move afterwards.
One of the great things about the nWo is that no one could tell when a turn was necessarily coming. This was evident in June 1997 during a match between Kevin Nash and Rey Mysterio Jr. After Nash won the match he began assaulting Mysterio, and Rey's longtime friend Konnan turned against him to join the nWo.
Throughout the WCW vs. nWo conflict, one constant was that Sting was always opposing the rebellious faction. So fans were shocked in September 1996 when Sting allegedly attacked Lex Luger in a parking lot. It was later revealed that it was nWo Stin - an impostor - who supported the nWo's efforts for many years.
For the first six months of the nWo storyline, referee Nick Patrick was constantly being accused of being a member of the group, after favoring the faction over wrestlers such as Sting, Randy Savage and Chris Jericho. By December 1996, Patrick was aligned with the nWo and wore the official colors.
Wolfpac In The House
Although Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx had referred to themselves as The Wolfpac, it wasn't until 1998 that it became an official group that separated from the main nWo. Featuring Nash, Randy Savage, Konnan (and later Lex Luger and Sting), wearing a red and black variation of the traditional nWo colors.
In January 1997, the nWo became more than a mere faction when they hosted their own pay-per-view known as nWo Souled Out. The show had a different look and feel to most WCW shows, and featured a main event of Hollywood Hogan retaining his WCW World Title against top challenger The Giant.
Bischoff Calls Out McMahon
In May 1998, nWo leader Eric Bischoff crossed the line between fiction and reality, appeared on Nitro and challenging WWF head Vince McMahon to a match at their upcoming Slamboree pay-per-view. While no match obviously happened, it represented the gutsy attitude of both Bischoff and the nWo.
nWo Civil War
After Sting captured the WCW World Title at Starrcade 1997, cracks began forming in the nWo, with Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Eric Bischoff and Randy Savage all taking shots at each other. This dissention resulted in both red and white nWo groups that ended up feuding with each other.
There have been several incidents of vehicular harm at the hands of the nWo, but perhaps the most dramatic one took place in 2002. The Rock had just agreed to take on Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8, and Hogan drove a big rig truck right into an ambulance that had The Rock inside of it.
Human Lawn Dart
In July 1996, the nWo were just beginning to establish their dominance over WCW, and were shown attacking random wrestlers backstage. Rey Mysterio Jr., at the time the Cruiserweight champion, attempted to ambush Kevin Nash, and Nash tossed Mysterio's body into the side of a trailer like a human lawn dart.
DDP Doesn't Buy The Shirt
One person who didn't buy the shirt was Diamond Dallas Page. In January 1997, DDP's old friends Kevin Nash and Scott Hall gave him an nWo shirt as a recruitment tool. DDP refused and gave his patented Diamond Cutter to Hall, signaling an extremely popular babyface run for the future yoga instructor.
In November 1997, nWo leader Eric Bischoff decided that WCW's flagship program Monday Nitro should be exclusive property of the nWo. The group even filmed an introduction for nWo Nitro. Eventually, the idea was shot down after Bischoff lost a match to Larry Zbyszko at Starrcade 1997.
nWo vs. DX?
It probably happened 15 years too late.... but a fantasy battle of sorts between the nWo and D-Generation X took place at WrestleMania 31, when the founding members of both factions interfered in the Sting vs. Triple H match. Although many of the members were past their prime, it was still a classic moment.
Kevin Nash Debuts
In June 1996, before the nWo name had even better uttered, Scott Hall promised Eric Bischoff a big surprise the following week on Nitro. The surprise turned out to be Kevin Nash, who had just finished up a major run in the WWF. Together, Hall and Nash laid the foundation for the nWo
Enter The Sting
For nearly a year and a half, Sting had largely disappeared from WCW programming, miffed at the dissention that had been caused by the nWo. But it wasn't until WCW Uncensored in 1997 that The Icon emerged from the rafters, attacking each nWo member and pointing his baseball bat at Hulk Hogan.
In February 2002, an increasingly psychotic Vince McMahon hatched a plan to destroy the World Wrestling Federation rather than cede power to Ric Flair. He signed the original nWo (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) to the company, with the faction making their WWE debut at No Way Out (nWo?).
The Farce Horsemen
The nWo was feuding with The Four Horsemen in August 1997 when they decided to spoof the legendary faction on Monday Nitro. During the parody, Syxx was dressed as Ric Flair, Konnan was Steve McMichael, Buff Bagwell was Curt Hennig and Kevin Nash was a particularly mean-spirited Arn Anderson.
Scott Hall Debuts
In May 1996, Scott Hall came out of the audience to interrupt a match on Monday Nitro. He then cut a scathing promo on WCW's executives, stars and fans and declared that he was taking over the promotion. Little did anyone know at the time how accurate his declaration would turn out to be.
Red and White Unite
On January 4, 1999, Hollywood Hulk Hogan returned to WCW and challenged the World Champion, Kevin Nash. After the infamous "Fingerpoke of Doom" finish that saw Hogan regain the title, several members of the nWo red and black and white and black reunited, creating a much more powerful group to defeat.
Third Man Revealed
On July 7, 1996, the stage was set as The Outsiders of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were finally set to take on WCW's best (Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage) in a six-man tag team match at Bash at the Beach. However, Hall and Nash were suspiciously short a third member and wrestled the match anyways. Once Luger was injured, Hulk Hogan emerged from ringside, presumably to aid Sting and Savage, and turned heel, making for the biggest nWo moment in wrestling history.