Welcome to the 10 part installment looking back at the New World Order, quite possibly the greatest wrestling faction of all time. With World Championship Wrestling and the World Wresting Federation going head to head on Monday night’s and battling each month for Pay Per View domination, it seemed to be a give and take battle each week. But with the creation of the New World Order, WCW broke through and gained an advantage that lasted for nearly two years of Monday Night domination. Come take a trip back and remember that when you’re nWo, you’re nWo for Life. Last week was Part I: The Bad Guy Brings A War
“New Japan Pro Wrestling”
For most people, this is the known origin of the New World Order. But why New Japan? Just because Eric Bischoff said so? And what exactly was it about New Japan Pro Wrestling that inspired the formation of the New World Order?
But we’re going to have to come back to New Japan because this runs a lot deeper than a Tokyo Dome show on April 29, 1996. We’re going right to the Bible. Even Arn Anderson realized that.
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While the Bible doesn’t really say the term, the book of Revelations does discuss the takeover of the world by the Anti-Christ right before the trumpets call for the return of God and the End of Times. It’s a passage that is constantly debated, but the idea is there. A group forms to lead to the destruction of the world as we know it. It’s exactly what Arn Anderson was discussing.
There have been other uses of the term “New World Order” in the 20th century, from fear of the Illuminati to Free Masons to H.G. Well’s novels The Open Conspiracy and New World Order. The three most important details to any conspiracy of a New World Order one must remember is:
- It’s a group trying to take over on a global scale.
- It is created by the elites and/or those pulling the strings behind the scenes.
- You do not know who is going to end up being a part of the New World Order.
Whether it be in the biblical sense or the political/corporate sense, a New World Order is supposed to take over the world as you know it. It involves wolves hidden as the sheep and it might take a while for everyone to realize that they make things black and white; good vs. evil.
So is that what the New World Order was in Japan? Not quite. In Japan, it was simply an invading promotion. The invading promotion was UWF International, a shoot style wrestling promotion in Japan. Before the popularity of MMA, Japan had wrestling promotions which worked matches that looked like it was the UFC before UFC even existed. While some of the wrestling and strikes were stiff and legitimate, there was still a booked winner and loser. Pro wrestling legend Lou Thesz even endorsed the promotion as their commissioner and he, along with ace Nobuhiko Takada, proclaimed themselves true pro wrestling compared to New Japan Pro Wrestling. UWFi was extremely successful for a very short period of time in the early 90s, until credible challengers to face Takada slowly disappeared. It made shoot style look like a fad. UWFi was now in financial trouble.
In 1995, a proposal for a co-promotion took place between UWFi and NJPW. This came similar to what happened between WWF and WCW in a sense, only the decision angered Thesz enough to leave the promotion and take the belt away with him. Much like the WCW wrestlers rarely beating the WWF stars in the Invasion, UWFi shoot style fighters lost most of their matches against New Japan Pro Wrestlers. With one exception.
Takada defeated Keiji Mutoh to become IWGP Heavyweight champion.
This was a very big deal. An outsider from an outside promotion just walked into foreign territory and won their title. It made up for most of the losses on the undercard. While only champion for a few months, Takada’s reign sent waves throughout Japan. It gave UWFi the legitimacy they needed and when Takada faced former champion Shinya Hashimoto on April 29, 1996, Eric Bischoff was in attendance. He saw exactly how much an outsider holding the belt meant to the people of Japan.
But was this Bischoff’s first experience with an outsider group coming in? Hardly. Or rather, it wasn’t the first for World Championship Wrestling. See, you might think of Sting when you think of WCW but back when they were still Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988, they purchased Bill Watt’s Universal Wrestling Federation (no relation to UWFi, but a fun coincidence in name). Instead of immediately closing it down and swallowing up their talent, they brought in UWF talent and their titles. This ended up including some of WCW’s biggest future talents like Sting, Rick Steiner, Jim Ross, and the Fabulous Freebirds. But instead of putting any of them over, they trashed the lineage of UWF and eventually cleaned up the former stars to no longer be known as UWF alumni. It was an invasion that failed before it began.
The road to the New World Order still has another stop, and this time it doesn’t involve WCW or Japan. Instead it involves the World Wrestling Federation. In 1992, the WWF entered a handshake agreement with the USWA, Jerry “The King” Lawler’s stomping grounds. This included WWF wrestler appearances in Memphis and opened the door for a lot of USWA’s homegrown talents to come to the WWF including Jeff Jarrett, Mabel, and Brian Christopher. But things got more interesting in 1993 when Jerry Lawler beat up Bret Hart at the King of the Ring. This led to Owen Hart going to the USWA to challenge Lawler. Sure enough on June 21, 1993 Owen beat Jerry Lawler for the USWA Unified World championship. This immediately turned every single WWF outsider who made appearances in Memphis into a heel. Lawler won the belt for his 15th time soon after, but the war was on. It was during this war that Vince McMahon first appeared as a heel on TV, in this often lost but memorable promo.
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Unlike the UWF or the later UWFi invasions, Vince McMahon was front in center as the man who pulled the strings in the invasion. There was a face to the multiple wrestlers coming in. It truly felt like a company invading another company. The USWA rivalry lasted for much of 1993 and saw title reigns by Owen Hart, Tatanka and “Macho Man” Randy Savage before Jerry Lawler was charged for having sex with a minor and the WWF cut ties with anything Lawler related in late 1993.
There have been other “invasion” storylines but nothing to the level of UWFi and “McMemphis” at that point in time. In molding the idea of the New World Order, Bischoff had a ground work laid out by others to begin his booking. And while he had help and while the idea wasn’t necessarily original, forget about originality. In pro wrestling and in any art, it’s all about remix. It’s all about taking what has worked in the past, what hasn’t worked in the past, what’s working now and what isn’t working now and using that framework with a new idea/twist to figure out what can work for the future. Bischoff had assistance by others (Scott Hall wasn’t just the first member of the nWo. Much of their image and mannerisms came from him) and a lot of things came into being he might not have planned out, but he deserves credit for pulling the trigger. When Scott Hall came out and announced there was going to be a war, the biggest advantage in Bischoff’s vision was this was a war where you didn’t know who the other side was. People knew who was in Bill Watt’s UWF. People knew who was in the World Wrestling Federation. People knew who was in UWFi. Nobody knew who Scott Hall was bringing. One could assume he meant the WWF, but that assumption was preposterous. Even if they were looking at Razor Ramon standing in a WCW ring on Monday Nitro.
It’s that final element of surprise and mystery that made the New World Order unlike anything seen in professional wrestling at that time. The next surprise would be difficult to hide, seeing as he stood at nearly seven feet tall.
Next week is Part III: The Adjective Player
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