Slowly but surely everything from the 1990's is becoming nostalgic. We're already past the 20th anniversary of the beginning of that decade. Trends, fashion, and even music from the '90s are either way out of style or "cool" because they're "old." One entity from the '90s that will always be cool is one of the most popular wrestling factions of all-time...the nWo. Ok, maybe they weren't cool when Virgil was brought into the mix, but you all know that you wore the original nWo t-shirt with pride.
It's nearly impossible to believe that it has been 15 years since the "Real American" Hulk Hogan joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall on that infamous night in 1996. It was the most shocking occurrence to take place in professional wrestling since the beginning of the "modern" era. How could the ultimate hero to millions of fans actually turn heel? Today you may hear fans claiming to have known that the "third man" to join Hall and Nash would be Hogan all along, but that claim is similar to baby boomers claims to have been at the original Woodstock--millions more say they were there than actually were.
The real question would be if WCW actually knew what a money maker they had run into. Obviously the angle would not last forever (although it certainly seemed to) but its impact on the business itself both on screen and off undeniably has.
In the late '90s one could barely venture out of the house without seeing either an Austin 3:16 or nWo t-shirt. The original designs of both shirts undoubtedly still reside in many drawers and closets to this day. Many obviously listened when Kevin Nash famously requested that fans "BUY THE SHIRT!"
It wasn't long after the formation of the group that fans began demanding action figures of the trio. Custom painted nWo versions of previous Hogan, Hall, and Nash figures began popping up on the internet seemingly every hour. Interestingly enough, the first licensed nWo figures did not even include Hall and Nash. Following his defection to the group in early 1997, "Macho Man" Randy Savage actually became one of the first two nWo action figures. A series of four two-packs produced by Original San Francisco Toymakers and released exclusively through Figures Inc. included a two-pack of Savage and Hogan. Although not initially planned as nWo figures, when shipped they were indeed in black and white attire. Figures of Hall, Nash, and others were eventually produced in many sizes and styles with a few even making it into the legendary WWE Classic Superstars line over a decade after the nWo's formation.
Needless to say, the merchandising did not end there. Take any item which is released for any blockbuster movie and you'll find an nWo equivalent for it. While WCW had an impressive run of merchandise before the nWo's creation, one could argue that they may have gained even more footing into the area than even the WWF at this point in time. Finally, WCW was getting press and mainstream media coverage that they could have only dreamed of before.
Some will argue that had the nWo been kept limited to the original three members that it would've remained relevant a lot longer than it was. All good things must come to an end. Despite the inclusion of nearly half of the WCW roster, it had to come to a conclusion sooner or later. Personally, I would've enjoyed seeing a definitive end, maybe even similar to Hogan's recent turn in TNA with the Hulkster returning to the side of good to end the evil that he helped create.
In the past year both WWE and TNA have shown that the nWo's influence remains with the factions known as Nexus and Fortune. Although neither has had the success of the nWo, it's telling that the wrestling organizations continue to try and emulate the style and actions of the notorious and groundbreaking group so many years later.
The preceding blog entry was NOT paid for by the New World Order.