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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking: What If... Hulk Hogan never turned heel (NWO Fantasy Booking)

July 7th 1996, the most important day in WCW history and one of the most historic moments in wrestling. The Outsider's Scott Hall & Kevin Nash would be facing Lex Luger, Randy Savage & Sting with a secret third man to be announced. The match proceeded as a 3-on-2 handicap match. In the final stages, by this point Luger was accidentally knocked out cold and taken to the back, Hall & Nash were dominating the match by nefarious means. Out comes a returning Hulk Hogan to once again save the faces in peril and restore good to the world, right? Wrong. Hogan drops the leg drop on Savage twice, revealed as the mystery third man and turning heel in the process for the first time in his career. Officially that is, realistically he was a heel in his final WWF days but the Hulkster wouldn't agree, brother. The three declared themselves the New World Order whilst being pelted with rubbish by the appalled Floridian crowd and it's an amazing scene. A perfect moment. A perfect heel turn that would change the company for the better, for a time.

The NWO would be the dominant story for the next 4 years, taking WCW to unprecedented heights through 1996 and 1997, before gradually things got worse and worse and SHIT from 1998 until WCW eventually died in 2001. The NWO is WCW's greatest success and arguably their greatest failure, letting it go on longer than it needed to and ultimately killing the company from within. That and a plethora of other reasons eg backstage politics, bloated egos and Vince Russo. The NWO was a joint effort but it kills me to admit, it wouldn't have been possible, or as successful without the biggest heel turn in the history of wrestling...or would it? Today I will be fantasy booking a 'What if' scenario. What if Hulk Hogan NEVER turned heel. Essentially this is an NWO fantasy booking. Here are some ground rules.

By never turn heel, I mean NEVER. He won't be fighting the NWO and turning heel later, as if he refused to ever ever ever be the bad guy, which sounds like a close alternate reality. Also, as I mentioned the NWO storyline carried on for waaaay too long. So I'm going to have it all wrapped up by Bash at the Beach '98, a full 2 years. "But Connor, surely Starrcade '97 was the perfect time and place for it all to come to an end?" You're right reader, for the real life timeline. I need more time so that a certain Hitman can make a name for himself in WCW. It should be obvious but I'll say I'm not going to book every week and month otherwise you'll be here all week reading this. I'll try to keep it concise because I have 2 and a half years of storytelling to go through. With all that said, what if Hulk Hogan never turned heel? Here's what could have happened.

Chapter I: The Third Man

Everything leading up the Bash at the Beach, almost everything is the same. Hall wants WCW's 3 best guys, eventually Nash debuts as the second man and they keep the third man a secret. Instead of randomly choosing 3 of WCW's best (because leaving this decision up to fate is stupid) it is announced that WCW officials have chosen Sting, Randy Savage & a returning Hulk Hogan. Lex Luger is pissed off that he hasn't been chosen, exclaiming how two former "Fed guys" are chosen over him. Bischoff explains that Luger left WCW, then came back, in their eyes making him less trustworthy. He storms off.

The main event of Bash at the Beach happens and like on real life it starts off as a handicap match in favour of the WCW. However, in the opening minutes Nash distracts the referee and allows Hall to wack Sting in the head with a pipe. He falls to the outside seemingly concussed and he is taken out of the match. The action continues and the Outsiders dominate the action by cheating behind the referee's back. Hogan tries hulking up but as he's doing that out comes Luger who tries to replace Sting but the referee isn't allowing it. The distraction allows Hall to use the pipe again to beat down Hogan. Luger is sent to the back, but out returns Sting! He begs for the hot tag, and he gets it. He stands face to face with Hall, before turning around and decking Randy Savage. He hits Savage with his first ever Scorpion Death Drop, he and Nash attack Hogan whilst Hall hits the Outsiders Edge to win for his team. The Outsiders bludgeon Hogan & Savage with the pipe, eventually security and doctors are out to aid them from harm.

Gene Okerlund interviews Sting & the Outsiders, he asks why would Sting betray WCW and these fans his response; "You know Gene, I've been in this company since 1987, nearly 10 years. I've risen to the top and I've led this company through exciting highs and painful lows. I've seen us lose our best talent to the competition. I've seen talented stars be handicapped by the lame assholes who run this company. (Nash: "I was forced to dress up like a wizard!") Hell, I was even forced to come out here with a man dressed like Robocop. But you know what I did? I came to work, got the job done and did my best to put on the best show I could. And you people could care less. You don't care, the WCW executives don't care. You're happy that WCW bring in these old has-been imports to replace REAL talent around here. You cheer your Hogan's, you cheer your Savage's, you cheer your Jim Duggan's. WCW doesn't care about me, and neither did you [fans]. You have all been brainwashed and poisoned. You want to cheer Outsiders? Fine, I invited my own Outsiders. Because this company is sick, but there is no cure. There is only Elimination. WE are the New World Order of Wrestling. And WE are going to destroy WCW and rebuild it from the ground up. [Turns to Gene] Tell those executives that The Stinger sends his regards."

Or something to that effect. That last line is a quote in reference to the Crow. I still want Sting to adopt a persona similar to The Crow. Except he thinks he's delivering justice but in fact he's the real villain. Hall & Nash can explain their personal reasons for appearing in WCW & the NWO in the weeks leading up to this show. I still think this has the same impact, because Sting also has never been a heel during his run. Also his reasoning makes sense and he told the truth. WCW went through some hard times and Sting was always there. Now he's an afterthought because they've hired talent like Hogan and Savage etc. Hogan & Savage are both kept off TV from now due to injuries sustained at the event, they can go do whatever they want for a while.

Chapter 2: The NWO grows

For the first few Nitro shows we don't see Sting in person, we see him in vignettes where he's talking about his hatred for WCW and those within it. He doesn't have his face painted, but he is partially obscured by the shadows. He drops another 'The Crow' reference talking about WCW saying "They're all dead. They just don't know it yet." Hall & Nash run things on TV. They call Sting the brains behind the operation, and the Outsiders are the muscle. They target the world champion The Giant and tell him he can either join the NWO, or be run out the company by the NWO. The Giant refuses, throwing out chokeslams to them both. The following weeks, Nash & Hall target The Giant attacking him with a pipe until eventually Lex Luger makes the save. A match is set up for the following PPV, which will NOT be Hog Wild because the Sturgis shows sucked ass and they were a financial detriment. We're going to bring in a future PPV event here. WCW Mayhem. The main event will be The Giant & Luger vs The Outsiders. It's a pretty even contest, however Luger is blasted by the pipe knocking him out and the Outsiders double team The Giant, hitting him with a double Outsiders Edge (that would look cool) for the win. Another victory for the NWO.

I liked the addition of Ted DiBiase as the manager, he was a good fit. He's brought in as the financial investor of the NWO, preparing to fund a replacement wrestling company when they destroy WCW. Hall, Nash & DiBiase claim that the NWO are now the greatest faction of all time. Out comes Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael, the Four Horsemen. Flair scoffs at the NWO's claims. The Horsemen are and always will be the greatest faction of all time. The NWO want to destroy their home, but the Horsemen shall be the last line of defence between the NWO & WCW. Flair challenges the NWO to Wargames at Fall Brawl. Sting appears from the rafters and the camera zooms in as he nods his head. They accept. The NWO call a meeting, they're happy to kick WCW ass but they're a man down. Sting tells them that they have a fourth man but he will not be seen until Fall Brawl. Also, Luger asks the Horsemen to let him take part in Wargames. None of them are willing to drop out. On the last Nitro, the NWO brutally assault Mongo McMichael, so Flair reluctantly accepts Luger as an honorary Horsemen.

Fall Brawl time. Before Wargames, some other developments. The Giant has left the Dungeon of Doom behind by now so he can defend his title against The Barbarian or Meng or something. He retains of course, but the main reason for this is to close that chapter for him. Ultimo Dragon defeats Steven Regal for the TV Championship. Elsewhere, Eddie Guerrero has taken the US championship from Ric Flair on Nitro due to NWO interference, Hall says "The NWO send their regards". He enters a feud with Chris Jericho over the US Championship and defends it at this show. The main event, the NWO (Sting, Nash, Hall & ???) vs the Horsemen (Flair, Anderson, Benoit & Luger). Hall & Benoit start, the NWO win the coin toss. Nash comes out, then Anderson, then Sting, then Flair. NWO's fourth one appears. A few minutes later Luger is out for the Horsemen wearing a Horsemen t-shirt. He grabs a Steel chair on his way in. He stares down Sting, before clocking Flair with the chair. He rips off his shirt and reveals an NWO tee underneath. He is the fourth man. WCW have been screwed AGAIN. The NWO bludgeon the Horsemen, but none of them refuse to give up frustrating Sting and his cohorts. Eventually they force Flair to watch as they brutalise Arn, spilling his blood all over. DiBiase slips in a baseball bat to Sting who is prepared to cave in Arn's head unless Ric quits. He swings and in his way down Ric finally gives in. The NWO win, once again.

The NWO now has grown to consist of Hall, Nash, Sting, DiBiase & Luger. Luger explains his reasons for joining is because Sting invited him for a conversation. They've been close friends for a real long time and he didn't understand Sting's actions, until he did. WCW held him back, they didn't want him to help or to be involved and he felt insulted. Sting opened his eyes. He's right. The WCW is cursed by greedy executives and greedy talent and they're going to burn it to the ground. On the October 7th Nitro, NWO host a 3 month anniversary party for their growing success. The night is full of surprises all thanks to the NWO. They introduce new members as Syxx & Vincent join the crew. They have matches, the Outsiders defeat The Nasty Boys to earn a tag title shot against Harlem Heat at Halloween Havoc. Lex Luger defeats Arn Anderson. The main event, Sting successfully defeats the Giant (thanks to heavy NWO interference) to become the WCW World Champion. He spray paints NWO on the belt because that always looked cool. As they celebrate, Randy Savage returns! He has a pipe in hand and he wacks Vincent, Hall & Nash but the rest all escape. Savage demands a match with Sting for the title at Halloween Havoc, the executives grant it.

At Halloween Havoc, we see the return of 'Spin the wheel, make the deal' because it's really fun. A handful of matches will have a spin the wheel stipulation. It's going to be rigged though. Eddie Guerrero succesfully defends the US title against Chris Jericho in a ladder match. The Outsiders defeat Harlem Heat in a Falls Count Anywhere match for the WCW Tag Titles. Other matches on the card worth mentioning include Luger & Syxx defeating McMichael & Benoit (Mongo eats the pin), The Giant squashes Vincent quickly. Flair faces Jeff Jarrett, who is really eager to earn himself a spot in the Four Horsemen. Flair wins, but he's taken to the limit and he accepts Jarrett into the Horsemen. "Hang on, Five Horsemen? You're nuts" bare with me young child. The main event spin the wheel match ends up being a Death match, where they must incapacitate each other until one of them cannot answer a 10 count. A brutal match between Sting & Savage. Savage has to fight off NWO interference but luckily a few allies are starting to help in the fight against the NWO. Luger & Syxx come out but they are run-off by the Steiner's. The Outsider's come out but are run off by Harlem Heat. Eventually though, Savage recieves a Scorpion Death Drop on a chair and for good measure, Sting bonks him on the head with a pipe and Savage is out cold. The NWO celebrate again, however we hear those bagpipes, out comes the Roddy Piper to confront the NWO and stand as the next challenger to the black and white corporation.

Chapter 3: The Gauntlet

Just to recap, the NWO has 5 active wrestlers (Hall, Nash, Sting, Luger & Syxx) & 2 managers (DiBiase & Vincent). The Outsiders are the WCW Tag Champions, Sting is the World Champion. Roddy Piper has just debuted. Hulk Hogan is out indefinitely. The Horsemen consist of Flair, Benoit Mongo & Anderson however Flair has just accepted Jarrett into the group. What's with that? Well, Arn was winding down his career anyway, so let's move him into a manager/enforcer role and Jarrett fills his spot as the fourth man. I was going to remove Mongo, but Arn was going to be out as a fully active wrestler very soon anyways.

During the time between Halloween Havoc and the next PPV (spoiler its no longer WW3), Syxx defeats Dean Malenko & Rey Mysterio in a 3-way for the Cruiserweight title & Eddie Guerrero retains the US title again from Chris Jericho thanks to NWO interference and he officially joins the group. Roddy Piper returns and he says he's seen it all in wrestling but nothing quite like the NWO. They are the most dangerous threat to wrestling history never mind just WCW. Piper agrees that WCW is sick, because they're inflicted with a cancer like the NWO. Dr Piper is here to cut them out. As Piper is about to challenge Sting, he's interrupted by Flair who wants to challenge Sting, out comes The Giant who wants to challenge Sting. Eventually the ring consists of Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, The Giant, Randy Savage, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko & Jeff Jarrett, all wanting a crack at Sting. Jarrett coming forward rubs Flair & the rest of the Horsemen up the wrong way. WCW executives announce that November's PPV will be called 'The Iron Gauntlet' and will consist of back-to-back matches with all 10 men. They will randomly draw a number. 1 & 2 start the Gauntlet. Whoever wins the final match will be named the number 1 contender to face Sting at Starrcade. Also during this time, the last Nitro before the PPV, Eric Bischoff sells out and joins the NWO. He's exposed by Piper, then he announces himself as the General Manager of the NWO and looks forward to ushering a new era of wrestling. In the death of WCW, from the ashes will rise NWOCW.

The Iron Gauntlet PPV. The opening match will be a NWO vs WCW multiman. Hall, Nash, Syxx, Luger & Guerrero vs Benoit, Anderson, Mongo, Rick Steiner & Stevie Ray. The NWO are victorious as the faces can't stay on the same page. Benoit and Mongo miscommunicated and fight. Steiner & Stevie have previous beef and they fight. Arn can't keep the boys together. Time for the Gauntlet. We begin with The Giant vs Rey Mysterio. For 5 minutes Rey hits plenty of his impressive high-flying moves but then makes a mistake and the Giant puts him down. Out third is Dean Malenko. He wears down the Giant with his submissions and strikes but after 5-10 minutes the Giant powers out and puts him down too. Booker T comes out number 4. He gives it a good go too, hitting 2 axe kicks but can't keep him down. He manages to kick out of a chokeslam to I imagine a big pop but he's down for a second one. Scott Steiner comes out at 5. He immediately puts the Giant down with 3 huge suplexes and pins him. That should put him over superbly. 6 is Chris Jericho. A good 15 minute match here, Steiner goes over but it's a good contest. 7 is Jeff Jarrett, before he hits the ring the referee is telling him to put the guitar away. While he's distracted out comes Hall with an Outsiders Edge to Steiner. Jeff rolls in for the quick pin. As he celebrates, Ric Flair comes out at 8. An even contest eventually won by Flair with a leverage pin, Jarrett looks cross but he's smiling impressed. 9 is Savage, we have some callbacks to their previous rivalry over 10-15 minutes. Savage goes over. Piper is at number 10 (side note: I can't believe Piper vs Savage only happened once and it was that bullshit angle at Bash '98). It's kept short and simple, but eventually Savage passes out in the rear naked choke and Piper wins. To close the show, the NWO come out and attack both men, spray paint them with NWO and all the WCW guys run them off. Sting just stands from the rafters watching down at the chaos.

Three big developments occur on the path to Starrcade. First, Lex Luger defeats Ultimo Dragon to become the TV Champion. Second, Eric Bischoff holds a recruitment day and a bunch of midcard/lower card talent sign up to the NWO these are the ones in real life (Buff Bagwell, Bubba Rogers, Michael Wallstreet, Scott Norton & Masahiro Chono) but also their first female acquisition, KAORU from GAEA wrestling. She appeared in the IRL WCW women's tournament and I think she'd be a good fit. Thirdly, Eric Bischoff offers an 'All or Nothing challenge for this years Starrcade. 9 matches, NWO vs WCW. If WCW win overall, the NWO will dissolve for good. If NWO win, they will own the intellectual property of WCW. The offer is accepted. The stakes are at their highest.

Match 1 is Bagwell, Rogers & Wallstreet vs Harlem Heat & The Giant. A clean, decisive win for team WCW to kick off the show. Next is Lex Luger vs Chris Benoit, a competitive match largely controlled by Benoit but Luger manages to steal a win off a DiBiase distraction, the score is tied. In match 3, Syxx successfully defends the Cruiserweight title against Dean Malenko. Match 4 is Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton vs Jeff Jarrett & Ric Flair. Jarrett grabs his guitar and aims for Chono but accidentally hits Flair instead, costing them the match. The NWO have a 3-1 lead. Next, WCW pull one back as DDP pulls out a victory over Eddie Guerrero, capturing the US title in the process. Afterwards though, The Outsiders defeat The Steiners to retain their tag titles, 4-2 to the NWO. A special Bullrope match next between Eric Bischoff and Dusty Rhodes. It won't be very good so we'll keep it short, Dusty kicks Eric's ass and pulls 1 back. Next, a women's match for the newly introduced WCW Women's Championship between KAORU and Madusa. Sonny Onoo interference backfires and Madusa rolls up KAORU for the win and the title. Its 4-4 going into the main event.

Not just any main event. A dog collar match between Roddy Piper and Sting for the World title. The last time Piper fought at Starrcade, he defeated Greg Valentine in a dog collar match, that was 13 years prior. It's a back and forth violent match. The NWO try to get involved but the WCW guys come out to keep them at bay. Hulk Hogan is here! He makes his return after 5 months away. He has a pipe in hand and is ready for some vengeance. It seems like we're about to have another case of Hogan returns, saves the day and it's all thanks to him. However, he swings and misses Sting and busts Piper's face instead. Sting pushs Hogan out the ring and pins Piper. NWO have won, they now own WCW. A lot of cheap finishes so far, but that is what the NWO is about. They cheat and claw their way to the top by any means necessary.

Chapter 4: New Year, New Me

December 30th Nitro is the last WCW themed Nitro, there's no NWO to be seen and it's promoted as a celebration of the history of WCW. Promos and matches from various WCW alumni giving thanks to the company and the fans for everything. It's main evented by DDP retaining the US championship against Ric Flair, they shake hands and celebrate together. The first Nitro of 1997 on the 6th of December, is a full theme change like what they did in real life. Black and white logo, black and white advertising, new show music and intro package. A full revamp. Eric Bischoff opens the show and says he still has all the WCW talent under contract and he's not just going to fire everybody. That wouldn't make business sense. Everyone is on 3 month probation, they better prove they're worth sticking around otherwise they're going get the sack. Sting rappels down from the rafters and this was not agreed upon. They've succeeded, they killed WCW. They just need to run Savage & Hogan out of the company and they have achieved their goal. (They don't want to just fire them because they're on fat contracts worth millions so they would lose a lot of money, instead they want to make them quit). Bischoff stares at Sting for a second, before smiling and agreeing, starting by putting Hogan in a 3-1 handicap match tonight against The Giant & the Nasty Boys. Randy Savage will transition into a Backstage role, where he will fill jobs such as fry cook, janitor and what not.

The year 1997 will be a year of dominance for the NWO, whilst also slowly creating dissension between Sting & Bischoff who both identify themselves as the leader. Sting is still focused on the original goal, removing the old guard and starting a fresh promotion for deserving wrestlers to prosper. Whereas Bischoff is greedy for as much power and control as possible. Leading up to NWO Souled Out, Hogan is on TV every week in a 3-1 handicap match and he loses them all. He also is full of remorse and regret, blaming himself for this and for the first time doubting that the power of Hulkamania can fix this. Savage is forced into doing backstage chores and is belittled by DiBiase and Vincent whilst doing so. Nick Patrick signs a contract to be the first ever NWO referee. Bobby Heenan signs a contract to be NWO's first official commentator (why did they not do this IRL? He's the best heel commentator ever). Steve McMichael abandons the Horsemen to join the NWO, the stable now at 15 core members (13 wrestlers, 2 managers) and the Horsemen temporarily disband.

At the Souled Out PPV, it's mostly NWO guys vs non-NWO guys. The Steiners defeat the Outsider's when Rick intimidates Patrick into making the 3 count. The NWO try to recruit DDP who initally agrees after he defends his title against Scott Norton, before dropping Bischoff with a diamond cutter and escaping through the crowd. Syxx loses the Cruiserweight title to Rey Mysterio in a ladder match. Jeff Jarrett defeats Ric Flair by cheating and he officially joins the NWO. The show is main evented by Sting vs Chris Benoit, where during a referee bump Sting actually taps out but isn't seen. Bischoff sends out the NWO goons who beat him down, Sting retains but he's not happy about it.

Building towards NWO Superbrawl, Bischoff strips the Steiners of the tag titles for their aggressiveness with the referee. He announces a tag team tournament to crown new champions. The Steiners are cheated out of their match by the Outsiders who reach the finals, however they will face Jarrett & Mongo who also reached the finals. Madusa loses the women's title to KAORU. Sting acknowledges that Benoit had him beat and offers him a rematch. Bischoff criticises this decision, but Sting wants fairness as he sees Benoit as a great athlete. Savage has managed to annoy Luger into giving him a TV title match at Superbrawl. Hogan is still sulking about his lack of hulking. This brings back Roddy Piper, who blames Hulk for getting involved and needs to stop whining about it like a bitch. He slaps Hogan, calls himself his greatest rival and if anyone can get you off your ass and fighting this war it's me, setting up their icon vs icon match at Superbrawl.

So Superbrawl looks like this. The Outsiders win back the tag titles in a first NWO vs NWO match. Mysterio retains the Cruiserweight title against Ultimo Dragon, Syxx & Eddie Guerrero. Lex Luger loses the TV Championship to Randy Savage. Hulk Hogan loses to Roddy Piper and declares Hulkamania has drew it's final breath and that he should retire. Piper says he just needs to reinvent himself, we need to evolve if we're going to beat the NWO. Piper offers a handshake, and the Rowdy Maniacs are born. DDP continues to hold on to his US title in a battle royal featuring all NWO guys. In the main event, Sting defeats Chris Benoit CLEAN to retain the championship, demanding the NWO do not get involved.

By this point, Sting has been hanging around with the NWO less and less. He operates from the rafters and occasionally comes down to talk with associates like Hall, Nash & Luger but he never speaks to Bischoff and he does not get involved with the NWO's running of business. Until now. The first ever person to be kicked out of the NWO is Ted DiBiase. He questions how Eric has been handling things and feels a lot more money is being spent than necessary (Bischoff has been gifting motorbikes, throwing parties & concerts, the usual stuff you can expect). Bischoff orders NWO undercarders to put the boots to him. Sting challenges Bischoff on this and says he is not in control around here, this was not supposed to happen this way. Bischoff stares Sting down, but again plays nice and apologises but he saw it as a necessary downside for their continued growth. Sting had a vision for this new future, and it didn't look like this. Bischoff asks if Sting is the leader of the NWO. He says there is no leader, we are a united movement. Bischoff doubts that, but if that is the case then why is he the one who deserves to be the world champion? Eventually Sting is goaded into defending the world title against Lex Luger, a match both men are reluctant to fight in. Also Dennis Rodman joins the NWO like in real life cos that was cool.

At Uncensored, here's what's going down. Ric Flair & Chris Benoit defeat Jeff Jarrett & Mongo McMichael in a Steel Cage match with help from Arn Anderson. DDP finally loses the US championship to the NWO, losing to Eddie Guerrero. The Rowdy Maniacs defeat the Outsider's & The Steiners for the WCW Tag Titles. Randy Savage defends the TV title against Syxx, Syxx is screwed out by Vincent and Savage is revealed to have joined the NWO. Sting retains the world title in the main event against Lex Luger, although he catches Bischoff looking to get involved in some way.

Randy Savage explains "if you can't beat them, you join them" as his reasoning for joining the NWO. It's not a very creative reason, but I mean it works? NWO wanted rid of him initially, but Bishoff's vision is about money and success. Savage is money, so if he's willing to be on board then that's a win to him. Syxx is gone and heading to WWF at this point. Sting does not agree with this decision but Bischoff and the boys tell him to relax, NWO are doing it their way. Sting has had enough. He was trying to just let things go but he's watched how the NWO operates. Every week they screw people out of matches, they play for themselves. This is no longer about the greater good. The NWO is a brand, a money making machine and it's against the ethos he started it with. Sting wants the NWO to change or it will be shut down. Bischoff is about to sound off but he's interrupted by Hall & Nash who promise Sting that they'll make some big changes.

At Spring Stampede, we still get Randy Savage vs DDP because it was a great feud that elevated DDP to the main event scene. DDP wins the TV title in a no DQ match. The Rowdy Maniacs lose the tag titles to the Outsiders through a miscommunication, after the match Piper violently attacks Hogan calling him a red and yellow fuck up. Eddie Guerrero defeats Rey Mysterio to retain the US title and also win the Cruiserweight title. The main event is a 6-man eliminator between Ric Flair, The Giant, Booker T, Lex Luger, Jeff Jarrett & Masahiro Chono for the number 1 contender. Chono is eliminated first, then Flair, then the Giant leaving Booker in a 2-on-1 disadvantage. Booker manages to pin Jarrett leaving him and Luger. Eric Bischoff is out with a chair to wipe out Booker. Down comes Sting! He takes the chair away from Bischoff and Booker uses the distraction to defeat Luger and be named the new number 1 contender. Post match, Sting sizes up Bischoff when he's attacked from behind by the Outsiders! The NWO destroy Sting, all of them except for Lex Luger who stands there conflicted. Like what happened at Bash at the Beach the year prior, Sting is bludgeoned with the pipe and is out of action. Bischoff takes the world title and leaves with it.

Chapter 5: The New NWO

Months of tension between Bischoff and Sting has finally blown up and Sting has been forced out of the NWO. The black and white faction has grown beyond his goal and no longer line up with his ideology. He wanted WCW to die and a new, functional and fair company would be born in its ashes. He was blinded by his rage that he did not see what the NWO was becoming. A dictating corporation just as evil as WCW was perceived to be. Bischoff, Hall & Nash all take turns trashing Sting for being the weakest member of the NWO, not being dedicated to the real cause. Making as much money as possible. On the first Nitro after Spring Stampede, Bischoff demands that Sting defends the WCW Title against Booker T tonight or he'll be stripped. Of course, Sting was incapacitated by the NWO so he doesn't answer the call. The main event of the show will be an all-NWO battle royal to crown a new World Heavyweight Champion. The winner will face Booker T at Slamboree for the big gold. It gets down to the final 2, Savage & Hall. DDP runs out and attempts to clothesline Savage out the ring but he misses and wipes out Hall. Savage wins.

At Slamboree, Eddie Guerrero succesfully defends the unified US Cruiserweight championships against Dean Malenko & Ultimo Dragon. Scott Hall faces DDP for the TV title and wins thanks to Savage interference. Michael Wallstreet fills in for Hall, teaming with Kevin Nash against The Steiners for the tag titles. The NWO lose thanks to Wallstreet, Nash jacknife powerbombs him and tells him "You're out". Hulk Hogan defeats Roddy Piper in a No DQ match. In the main event, Randy Savage comes out wearing the 1991-1994 WCW Heavyweight title with NWO spray painted across it. He retains the world championship against Booker T, the main event spot should cast a nice light on Booker T for his singles push.

I'm just going to push on through PPV shows over the summer. Your usual NWO TV dominance and antics that happened at the time occur. The Great Muta & Tenzan join the NWO as part of the NWO Japan. Next we have the Great American Bash. KAORU vs Madusa in a title vs career match, Madusa wins and does not retire because that was silly. Eddie Guerrero defends the US title against Jim Duggan, the pride of America. This one is just for me. Nick Patrick is the referee and Guerrero just plasters Duggan with chair shots and frog splashes. Eventually Guerrero wins by TKO as Duggan isn't medically able to continue and he is carried out. Bye Duggan! Immediately after, Eddie defends the Cruiserweight title against Chris Jericho and he loses it! Hall, Nash & Luger take on the Steiners & Flair. The WCW boys win as Luger takes the pin. The NWO start to question if Luger really is NWO 4 Life. Randy Savage defends the world title against DDP in a falls count anywhere match and he wins, DDP came close but the usual NWO shenanigans prevent him from victory.

We are heading towards Bash at the Beach, a full year since the birth of the NWO. In celebration, Bischoff wants to recreate the previous year's match but on a bigger, grander, more epic scale. He proposes a big 5 v 5 NWO vs WCW elimination main event. Hulk Hogan manages to kidnap Eric Bischoff and force him to put the company on the line. In return, if WCW lose Hulk Hogan must join the NWO. The NWO announce their team as being Hall, Nash, Savage, Jarrett & a mystery 5th man. WCW's team is Hogan, DDP, Harlem Heat and their own mystery 5th man. Also on the show is Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko & Chris Jericho in a 2 fall match. The first fall is for the US title (won by Malenko) and the second is for the Cruiserweight title (won by Jericho). Flair can still feud with Piper, he Piper wins this match. The NWO come out with Dennis Rodman who isn't the 5th man, but he gets himself involved in the match throwing the occasional move at the WCW faithful. They start the match at a disadvantage, just like last year. WCW's 5th man is the debuting Curt Hennig. Jarrett is the first man eliminated by Hennig and NWO are two men down. However, in a remake of last year it turns out NWO's 5th man is Stevie Ray! He blindsided Booker T and he is eliminated. Suddenly, NWO are up 4-3. Hennig eliminates Stevie Ray but he is taken out of the match by Hall. Hogan hulks up and he takes the fight to the NWO. He and Nash Brawl on the outside and get double counted out (gotta protect the stars, brother) meaning DDP is on his own at a 2 v 1 disadvantage. DDP slides out of the Outsiders Edge and hits a diamond cutter, leaving him and Savage alone. He looks ready to win, but due to interference from Dennis Rodman, the NWO just manage to survive and score the victory. Hulk Hogan must join the NWO. (Stevie Ray might sound like an underwhelming turn, but I believe Booker's popularity will make it effective in the overarching story.)

I said that Hogan would never turn heel and that is still true. Remember when John Cena had to join the Nexus? I'm basically doing that. He's told that he must be in the NWO and follow orders or he'll be fired, blacklisted and never wrestle again. Hogan reluctantly accompanies them to ring, he is forced to say how good the NWO is and join in on beatdowns. He's still a face but he's forced into doing heel things. Also, Ric Flair reforms the Horsemen consisting of himself, Benoit, Malenko & Hennig. He throws out the challenge for a 4 v 4 at the next show, WCW Mayhem. Also, we begin to see Sting again, lurking around the rafters but he doesn't say anything. He has red face paint now.

Time for Mayhem. Booker T defeats Stevie Ray, getting revenge against his former partner. The Four Horsemen defeat Hall, Nash, Luger & Guerrero. During the match two Stings appear. One of the distracts whilst the other attacks and drags Luger away leaving them at a 4-3 disadvantage. DDP & The Giant lose to Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman thanks to heavy outside interference aiding the NWO. After the match Rodman slaps a diagruntled Hogan and starts a brawl between the two. DDP manages to defeat Randy Savage in a Steel Cage match for the World title. Unfortunately, he would be stripped the next night because the referee who counted the pin wasn't the one assigned to the match (Nick Patrick).

Chapter 6: The downfall

The NWO are beginning to lose more matches. Once they were unstoppable and won by any means necessary. Now, WCW are privy to their tricks and are able to overcome the odds. On Nitro we have a rematch between Savage & DDP and this time DDP wins for real as Hogan intentionally botches an interference, costing Savage the match. Eric Bischoff fires Hulk Hogan, and tells him to have fun trying to get work on the indies. Bischoff schedules weekly title defences for DDP against Muta, Guerrero & Jarrett and each time DDP manages to pull out a shock victory against the odds. At Fall Brawl, he books him in a triple threat against both Hall and Nash and guarantees a new champion will be crowned. NWO bring in some new recruits in Konnan & Psychosis. We have our Wargames match, and the WCW faithful assemble a team of Booker T, The Giant, Chris Benoit & Curt Hennig. The NWO will have Randy Savage, Stevie Ray, Psychosis & Jeff Jarrett (also I know Jarrett left for WWF but if he's embroiled in the hottest angle in wrestling I'm fantasising he sticks around). At Fall Brawl; Eddie Guerrero takes the Cruiserweight title away from Chris Jericho (like IRL), The Steiner's lose the tag titles to Great Muta & Konnan due to Rick not being able to perform his best anymore, which Scott is slightly frustrated at. DDP retains the world title as for the first time Hall and Nash are not on the same page, both men wanting to be the world champion. In the Wargames match, The Giant enters last and he's wearing an NWO shirt. It seems hopeless for WCW, except its a swerve and the Giant wipes out the NWO and helps team WCW secure a victory.

On the path to Halloween Havoc, Eric Bischoff acknowledges the NWO has been lacking in form recently and he reminds them all what they have built together and they must not forget everything that Uncle Eric has done for them. During this segment, Sting rappels down and grabs the Great Muta, attaches him to his harness and they go up into the rafters. Nowhere to be seen. At Halloween Havoc, Dean Malenko loses the US title to Jeff Jarrett. Eddie Guerrero loses the Cruiserweight title to Rey Mysterio in that AMAZING title vs hair match. The Steiner's challenge Konnan and a NWO partner for the tag titles, Konnan's partner is revealed to be Scott Steiner who turns on his brother and they beat him though Rick shows some fight. Scott Hall drops the TV title to Chris Jericho thanks to Kevin Nash botching an interference. DDP retains the world championship as Scott Hall intentionally costs Nash the match to get payback for his botch earlier.

The final major event before Starrcade will be the second ever Iron Guantlet. Determined to take the championship away from DDP, Bischoff books the 10-man Gauntlet to be for the World title itself and DDP will enter at number 1. The participants are Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Masashiro Chono, Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Jeff Jarrett, Psychosis & the champ DDP. DDP starts and his first opponent is Bagwell. Buff taunts the crowd, turns into a diamond cutter and is pinned immediately. DDP is ready to go. 3 is Psychosis, who hits some flashy offence but after a couple minutes he dives right into a diamond cutter and is eliminated. 4th is Chono, they have a technical wrestle for 5 minutes until again DDP nails the cutter for another elimination. 5th is Jarrett who immediately gets himself DQ'd by knocking DDP out with a guitar. Hope seems to be lost. Randy Savage is 6th. He immediately goes for a pin but there's a kick out! He works over DDP for 10 minutes and goes for the diving elbow drop. DDP reverses it into a crucifix pin for the Elimination. 7th is Scott Steiner, on his way to ring he is chased off by Rick Steiner and Scott does a runner, getting counted out. 8th is Eddie Guerrero. They wrestle a competitive match for 10/15 minutes and DDP nails a diamond cutter for the Elimination. He's going all the way! Scott Hall is 9th. DDP takes the fight to him but his tank is on empty. Eventually, he is caught with the Outsiders Edge and Hall pins him. Our final match is Scott Hall vs Kevin Nash. They go back and forth and Hall catches Nash in a small package and wins the Gauntlet. He wins his first ever World championship (honestly, I just want to see Hall win a world title at least once, he deserved it)

The next Nitro, all of the NWO except for Hall are out in the ring and they're celebrating the world title finally returning where it belongs. We hear Hall say "I wouldn't be so sure of that homes" He appears on his own backstage in a mysterious location. He's eventually joined by Great Muta, then Lex Luger, finally Sting. "While you've been out here ruining the business, my friend Stinger here has been assembling the Wolfpac. Uncle Eric, the NWO's days are numbered." Like the previous Starrcade, a challenge of grand proportions is made. An 11 match card of NWO vs WCW. If NWO win, all non-NWO wrestlers will either be forced into an NWO contract or fired. If the WCW stars win, then NWO lose control over the company's intellectual property and WCW is restored to it's former production. 2 weeks before Starrcade, Curt Hennig betrays his fellow Horsemen and joins the NWO. He cites Flair as is reasoning, Flair thinks he's some great leader when Hennig was always thejr greatest asset and should have been treated as such. The NWO guaranteed him the world championship if he jumped ship, and he couldn't turn that offer down.

Starrcade '97, a crazy stacked card with EVERYTHING on the line. Things start good for WCW. Chris Jericho retains the TV title against Masahiro Chono. Goldberg squashes Mongo McMichael in seconds. Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko defeat Konnan & Buff Bagwell for the Tag titles. A 3-0 lead for WCW. However, NWO pull it back with 4 back to back victories. Bubba Rogers defeats The Giant thanks to Vincent interference. Eddie Guerrero defeats Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight title. Scott Steiner defeats his older brother Rick Steiner. Curt Hennig (pulling double duty) defeats Ric Flair in a no DQ match. 4-3 to the black and white. Booker T defeats Jeff Jarrett for the US title to tie up the score. Curt Hennig defeats Scott Hall to win his first World Championship (another thing I just want to see). DDP & Larry Zbyzsko defeat Scott Norton & Eric Bischoff to tie the score at 5-5.

The main event sees Sting, Lex Luger & the Great Muta vs Kevin Nash, Randy Savage & Psychosis. A sports entertainment war, there's two ref bumps which allows the NWO to cheat and gain an advantage. The third referee to come out is Nick Patrick, until new music plays and the debuting Bret Hart steps out. He knocks down Patrick, locks him in the Sharpshooter until he passes out. Bret undoes his jacket and reveals a referee shirt. He gets in the ring and stands face to face with Sting, before turning and knocking out Randy Savage. Savage eats a Scorpion Death Drop and the pin. WCW win and regain control of their own show. The show closes with Tony Schiavone saying "tune in tomorrow night for the first WCW Monday Nitro in a full year!"

Chapter 7: Aftermath

I've written a lot so I'm going to keep the rest of this as short and sweet as I can. WCW programming returns to normal, the first Nitro after Starrcade is a celebration of the arduous war WCW have been through to get to this point. Hulk Hogan returns and gets a match with Eric Bischoff where he kicks his ass. Bret Hart says he has come to WCW to kill the NWO. The NWO reminds him of a certain kliq of ego's back in another company that he hated. NWO already have done a lot of damage but there's still time to make things right. He's the hitman for a reason and he has a hitlist to run through. Everyone in the NWO is on it. Everyone he defeats must leave the NWO, says newly appointed WCW Commissioner Dusty Rhodes. Bret Hart defeats Vincent, Bubba Rogers & Scott Norton on TV leading up to Souled Out. On PPV, Hart defeats Jeff Jarrett. Also on the show, Hennig retains the world title against DDP, Kevin Nash defeats Scott Hall and Rick Steiner gets a win back against brother Scott.

On TV, Hart defeats Steve McMichael, Masa Chono & Buff Bagwell. At Superbrawl, Hart defeats Eddie Guerrero in a great battle. Hart defeats Tenzan & Konnan on TV, then beats Scott Steiner at Uncensored. He defeats Stevie Ray & Psychosis on TV, then defeats Randy Savage at Spring Stampede. Kevin Nash tries to put Hart on the shelf but Hart fights through injuries to defeat him at Slamboree. At the Great American Bash, Goldberg challenges Curt Hennig for the World title so Bret Hart challenges Sting. He wanted a match against Sting anyway, as a battle of the identical submissions. However, he also feels Sting needs to accept responsibility for what he caused me, and the hitman is here to deliver vengeance. Sting understands and accepts the challenge. A back and forth match eventually won by Hart who makes Sting tap in the Sharpshooter. They shake hands afterwards. Goldberg defeats Hennig via DQ at the Bash so Hennig is still the champion going into Bash at the Beach. Hart vs Hennig main event, and it's the last match with the NWO in existence as Hart defeats Hennig, becomes champion and the NWO is dead for good.

From here, I'd have Hart go on and fight Hogan and beat him for the Wrestlemania 9 debacle. I'd have some dream matches like Hart vs Malenko, Benoit, Mysterio to name a few. Eventually, Goldberg should really be the next champion. Maybe Hart drops it beforehand so he doesn't have to face him and have his career ended? Just how I'd do it.

So there we have it. That was a big boy. A 2 year NWO story through highs and lows. I rebuilt the story of an organisation tearing WCW from the inside, with the leading characters all having sound and justifiable reasons for doing what they did. I did it all without a certain balding, handlebar-moustached brother to carry it from the front. You could argue my lack of Hogan wouldn't be great for the ratings, but I think that the NWO story alone was so intriguing and fresh that it would draw enough for them. Thank you for taking the time to read the article. Let me know if there is anything else worth rebooking or looking into. Until next time, see ya!


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