There’s an inherent reality about the New World Order story – there’s nothing new about it.
25 or so years after the nWo “revolutionized” North American sports entertainment, there’s little that anyone can say that is truly newsworthy, or at least as far as I knew going into the A&E Biography: WWE Legends season kickoff ep.
If there’s something revealed in the broadcast that I truly did not know about, that would be my prompt for giving the documentary a high rating and label it as a must watch on demand. Otherwise, you’re not going to get much of a thumbs up from me here. There’s your warning. Let’s see how it goes.
We get the usual rundown of how the bad guys were the real heroes in the eyes of the fans as we zero in on Eric Bischoff and how he gained standing in WCW. Bisch reveals that WCW was close to being cut off by Ted Turner because of how crappy the company was as a drawing card. I’ll give a point for that one.
So Bischoff recruits Hulk Hogan and everything starts looking rosier. Hogan was ready to move on from WWE, supposedly, but this is Hogan saying it so take that with a grain of salt and take away the point from before.
Bischoff talks about the early relationship with NJPW before we transition to Scott Hall from a 2014 interview talking about leaving WWE after a contract squabble and Kevin Nash leaving, then we get the tired footage of the Curtain Call. Take away another point for that (and yes, I’ll let you guys keep track of the points).
Oh, and another lost point for no discussion about how an NJPW angle inspired the nWo in the firstplace.
We go into Hall’s Canadian tuxedo-wearing disturbance to kick off the “invasion”. Hogan comments how good it was, without any context of why he was on the sidelines in the first place.
Nash’s debut is shown next with his misuse of grammar terms. Marc Riamandi, who has been interviewed a couple times already in the show, is finally on screen with a credit of being the author of an upcoming book on the nWo. Give a point for that one, with an NHL-style trade clause that if the book doesn’t reveal anything new, the point can be taken away.
Hall and Nash have their various annoying spots in the crowd, including a spot where they come to ringside brandishing baseball bats, which apparently they were forewarned against. Cops have their hands ready to grab their guns, because apparently no one told them wrestling is scripted. Give a point for this factoid.
We move out of sequence and flashback to Hogan’s act getting tired and the Hulkster taking a hiatus from WCW to film etc. Then we go back to Bischoff talking about trying to get Hogan to switch to a heel with the nWo, and Hulk’s reluctance. Bischoff does note that Sting was going to be the original third man. I had heard Luger at one point, but Sting was bandied about too. So let’s give them half a point here.
Talk is next about how Hogan went to the 11th hour as Bash at the Beach ’96 starts. Hogan then appears and does what he did. Bischoff talks about second-guessing his decision. Bischoff talks about coining the term nWo while Hogan talks about turning his back on the kids. Take away a point for Hogan.
Bischoff then talks about having to rush to plan merch and logos. and how Disney’s team created the look. That I didn’t know. One point. We get a reel then of the original three and the 4 Life catchphrase.
We then get Syxx’s introduction into the nWo, again out of sequence since, well, he was the sixth member, not the fourth. Point lost. Hogan gaining the WCW Championship.
We then get The Giant joining the nWo and how “anyone” could be joining the new crew. Truer words have never been spoken…
BTW, they gloss over DiBiase and Virgil/Vincent joining and head straight to Bischoff joining. I guess Ted wasn’t available for an interview for the show.
Bischoff talks about how his “firing” of Randy Anderson struck a chord with viewers who thought it was real. I’ll give a half point here because Bisch tells the story in a full way, more than I’d ever heard.
We get more talk about the anti-hero nature of the nWo and how it affected true babyfaces, and how they in turn had to change their look and feel, including Sting, and how Hall helped change Sting’s look.
We move next to merch and mainstream, including Dennis Rodman joining the nWo. Rodman isn’t interviewed by the way. We get the run-in with Jay Leno as well.
The expansion of the nWo is glossed over, including Buff Bagwell shown as part of the group but no talk about the move to add members like him, Scott Norton or others. Minus one.
We fast forward to Starrcade ’97 and the Sting/Hogan Match for the gold. Bischoff, Sting, Hogan and Nash talk about Hulk politicking and a controversial end to the match, with Nick Patrick botching the fast count. Bischoff is quick not to lay blame on Patrick because of the last minute change. The new change is shown with various personalities either remembering or not remembering what happened. Give them credit – this was well presented. Give them a point.
We go quickly into the Wolfpac split-off, ignoring more history like Syxx’s firing. Lost point there. Bischoff talk about how his budget being slashed and how everything starts to spiral. We speed to the Fingerpoke of Doom and we’re now going at lightning speed. Points lost.
Hogan turns on Bischoff in his commentary while the video shows Hogan’s 2000 Presidential campaign announcement. Let’s take away a couple points for the childishness.
We then ultra-speed up to the AOL/Time Warner merger. Huh? Minus… oh forget it.
Next up is Vince McMahon buying WCW… the hell? Hogan talks about how “we would’ve had a chance” if it weren’t for the merger, cleanly glossing over his leaving WCW after the Vince Russo shoot moment. This is spiraling.
All the sudden the nWo is appearing in WWE, completely skipping the atrocious nWo 2000 silver-and-black era (which is actually more interesting than anyone gives it credit for) and the biggest killer of WCW – the superfluation of nWo members, including the B Team (no, not Axel and Dallas). Hogan thinks more could have been done in WWE, but we quickly go to the angle with The Rock, and how Hogan is cheered despite doing everything he could to be a heel. This part I can totally get. Strong stuff, would’ve been good to have The Rock comment here. 1/2 point (like it matters at this point). Hogan becomes a total face, and as he says, that’s the end of the nWo.
We skip past HBK returning as part of the nWo and the true end of the group, and go to Scott Hall passing. An emotional Kevin Nash is shown, in an incredible moment that needs to be clipped.
Bischoff talks about going to a comic con and meeting a fan who had a crappy life growing up and had the only true father-daughter time was watching Nitro with her dad. This is another spot that needs to be clipped and shown far and wide.
We close with the nWo highlight reel and induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Okay. Let me say this. The production on the doc was great, but that’s an A&E standard. The story started okay and there were a couple cool tidbits, but there’s way too much history that’s overlooked. I’d love to have heard Lex Luger talk about the Wolfpac, for example, or had perspective from Stevie Ray as one of the “also-rans” in the grand nWo scheme. Yes, there’s only two hours (less commercial time), but there’s plenty that was choppable here.
There are much better recounts of the New World Order story. I’m a big fan of the WWE Legends series as part of Biography, but this one just fell flat aside from the two moments at the end and a couple cool lesser-known factoids.