25 Years Ago Professional Wrestling Changed With The Introduction Of The NWO
It's been a quarter of a century since that fateful night in Daytona Beach, Florida. That night, as I was just a wide-eyed 9-year-old, changed my world completely. It was during the World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view Bash At The Beach, that my long-time hero Hulk Hogan turned heel as he introduced the 'New World Order.' Setting off a literal 'arms' race between WCW and the then known as WWF, now WWE.
I was more of a WWF fan leading up to that point, but with both Kevin Nash and Scott Hall leaving the WWF, I eventually found myself turning the channel over to TNT to see the antics those two were up to as they began to 'invade' WCW.
I remember thinking to myself at the time, how did these two WWF wrestlers get into a WCW event? I was 9, so those details of sports entertainment were foreign to me. I just couldn't help but be amazed at how these two kept disrupting the WCW broadcasts and matches.
Fast forward to that night in July 1996, a 6-man tag-team match was set up. Three WCW wrestlers versus Hall, Nash, and an unknown 3rd wrestler. The three WCW wrestlers were Macho Man Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger. Luger left soon after the match started with 'an injury.'
After Luger left it was Savage and Sting vs Nash and Hall. Savage took a low-blow from Nash while Hall distracted the ref. Suddenly down the entrance ramp walked the All-American, Hulk Hogan. Surely he would restore order and fill the whole that Luger left, after leaving injured. The ring emptied, except for the referee and a downed Savage.
Hogan entered the ring, did his trademark shirt tear, and then found himself in the corner of the ring nearest a downed Savage. Then it happened. Hogan took off into the air, only to land his trademark leg drop across the chest of Savage.
The crowd, was silent as it happened, then suddenly the arena realized Hogan wasn't there to save team WCW, no he was the unknown 3rd wrestler apart of team Hall and Nash.
Mean Gene Okerlund enters the ring asks Hogan what is going on, and Hogan turns to the camera and delivers a line that at the time gave me goosebumps as a 9-year-old.
Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me! Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking?
Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene, the first thing you need to do is to tell these people to shut up if you wanna hear what I gotta say!
Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years, for you to join up with the likes of these two men absolutely makes me sick to my stomach! And I think that these people here (points to the crowd) and a lot of other people around the world have had just about enough of this man (pointing at Nash), this man (pointing at Hall), and you want to put yourself in this group? You've gotta be kidding me.
Hogan: Well, the first thing you gotta realize, brother, is this right here is the future of wrestling! You can call this the new world order of wrestling, brother!
I sat up and wondered aloud to my dad, who was half watching, asking him how could Hogan do this to his fans? My dad didn't have an answer for me. At that moment I was furious at Hogan. But I knew I had to watch Monday Night Nitro in order to get the full story, which I did. I unknowingly was hooked on the NWO. I spent plenty of nights attending live shows like Nitro, jeering Hogan, due to his heel turn, all the while still taking it personally.
Then NWO splintered, the Wolfpac emerged and I was red and black for life. I still have a shirt reflecting my love of that team. And it all began 25 years ago today, a love affair that I don't really find time to enjoy, as those characters have all left the game so to speak, but I can still relive those moments online and through an app.
To this day I still find my stomach in knots when Hogan hits that leg drop on Macho Man. See for yourself.
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