nWo 18 Part VI: Imitation World Order

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 V: The Third Man

It’s common for people to try to brush off the importance of the New World Order by just saying they were an idea stolen from New Japan Pro Wrestling. But you’ll notice that the nWo wasn’t an imitation of said group but just a borrowed idea made into its own. When the New World Order got going, it didn’t take long for other wrestling companies to try to make their own. This isn’t new. Probably the best example of how pro wrestling replicates a good idea is the Road Warriors. When Georgia Championship Wrestling introduced the Road Warriors, they were over huge and every territory now needed their own version. One of Scott Hall’s first gimmicks was Starship Coyote, partnered with Dan “Starship Eagle” as the American Starship. The most popular Road Warriors-esque team was of course the WWF version in Demolition, who made a name for themselves as one of the best heavyweight tag teams in the WWF. But they were still no Road Warriors.

The first nWo knockoff to appear wasn’t so much a knockoff but a parody. In Extreme Championship Wrestling they were already seeing Stevie Richards, Nova and The Blue Meanie do parodies of everything from KISS to the Jackson Five. At November to Remember in 1996, we saw the reveal of the Blue World Order. Stevie Richards was “Big Stevie Cool” to parody Kevin Nash. Nova was Hollywood Nova while Blue Meanie became “Da Blue Guy”. The group didn’t just parody the original members but brought in a consistent flow of new members, even having their own Japanese contingent. It was such a popular gimmick that it went beyond just a midcard parody and helped elevate Stevie Richards to being one of the top draws in ECW. That was until he decided to jump to WCW and eventually went to the WWF, where he continued to do parodies. The Blue World Order was so iconic to ECW, they made a return at One Night Stand in the WWE in 2005.

I mentioned the “Japanese contingent” so it would be good to bring up nWo Japan. An official knockoff, the New World Order was such a popular concept that the company it borrowed itself from, New Japan Pro Wrestling, formed their own New World Order. Also known as nWo Gundam, the group was led originally by Masahiro Chono, Hiro Saito and Hiroyoshi Tenzan and became a popular spot for gaijin wrestlers visiting Japan to join. Being an officially recognized New World Order, they appeared on WCW Nitro at times and when Syxx, Hall and Nash went to Japan for a tour, they toured as part of the Japanese New World Order. When Chono got hurt, Keiji Mutoh ended up joining the faction as the new leader and turned them babyface.

Then there’s the World Wrestling Federation. Even if their official attempt at the return of the New World Order was a miserable flop (more on that later), they certainly tried to replicate the magic of the New World Order multiple times. WCW gets ripped a lot of times for trying to steal WWF concepts, but when the National Wrestling Alliance “invaded” the World Wrestling Federation? That was their attempt at re-creating the New World Order. Remember my mention of ECW? They too “invaded” the WWF, which was a co-promotion for the first ECW Pay Per View. The WWF continued trying to form stables that would reach the height of the New World Order, at one point starting a gang war between the possibly white supremacist Disciples of Apocalypse, possibly black supremacist Nation of Domination and just Puerto Rican Los Boriquas. Finally, the WWF settled on just having two big factions in the Corporation (led by Vince McMahon) and The Ministry of Darkness (led by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer). In January of 1999, the New World Order and nWo Wolfpac had already decided to combine again to create an even bigger group. So what did WWF do in April of 1999? Why combine the Corporation and Ministry of Darkness of course! We now had THE CORPORATE MINISTRY, which at one point had 15 members and even had its own offshoot group in The U.N.I.O.N. Eventually the WWF was atop the wrestling world again and there was no need for their own New World Order… except they tried it again with the McMahon-Helmsley Regime, which was combining D-Generation X with the McMahon family and even at one point had The Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko).

You’ll notice that a lot of these groups just sound like big wrestling stables but that’s what a lot of bookers believed that the success of the New World Order was. It was a big gang that people could be a part of. It missed out on what made the New World Order so iconic (to be fair, so did WCW). This ideal would continue through TNA Wrestling as they formed everything from Planet Jarrett, World Elite, Aces and Eights and Immortal. Big groups meant to take over.

In 2002, the World Wrestling Federation had a great opportunity to try to take things back to the start. After Ric Flair was considered a 50/50 partner with Vince McMahon, McMahon freaked out. He declared the WWF to have, “cancer” and that he’d give it a, “lethal dose of poison” in order to kill the company before Ric Flair did. He did it by bringing back the New World Order at WWF No Way Out. Not just any New Word Order but the original members. So how is this an imitation? You could tell they were just going through the motions. They started out by thanking Vince McMahon and just being a bunch of tourists in the WWF. Their “antics” didn’t really feel like a takeover of the WWF at all. It was so obvious that Toronto, Ontario, Canada didn’t care at all that the New World Order was in the WWF and were ready to kill the company off, starting with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. They saw Hogan at WrestleMania X-8 and went straight into “Hulkster” nostalgia. In a week, Hogan was now a babyface and eventually the “WWE” version of the New World Order consisted of Kevin Nash, Big Show, Booker T, X-Pac and Shawn Michaels kind of. And then it was gone because Kevin Nash’s quads.

But did anyone get close to the real heart of the New World Order? Curious enough it was the WWE, years after their failed nWo attempt. It came in the form of the Nexus. Wade Barrett earned a contract into the WWE through NXT but instead of just coming in, he brought all of the other participants of NXT with him to take over the WWE. The eight men proceeded to destroy Monday Night Raw and their top stars in ways that haven’t been seen since the New World Order was in WCW. The Nexus preyed on the disorganization and mistrust on the Raw roster (my favourite Nexus moment was when they tried to invade Smackdown sans Wade Barrett and the “B Show” made sure they organized together to throw out the Nexus before they could do to them what they did to Raw) to the point where they continued to get away with their beatdowns on the roster. Unfortunately, the angle shifted from being about Nexus vs. Raw to Nexus vs. John Cena, with repeated attempts to make Cena conform to the Nexus. Cena never turned, nor did he really put Wade Barrett over as leader of the Nexus. Faster than the New World Order unraveled in WWE, the Nexus broke into two factions (New Nexus and The Corre) before dying completely less than a year later. But in the beginning? It got close.

There are so many elements to what made the New World Order what it was and everyone can have a different viewpoint to what was most important. Imitations are sure to happen when something succeeds in the business, as I touched on with the Road Warriors. Imitations never hurt the heat of the nWo; what hurt was when the nWo eventually became an imitation of itself. 18 years ago, we didn’t know what to imitate yet. We just had two men invading, stating they were about to bring their third man in.

Next week is Part VII: Bash At the Beach 1996

The photo is from Ultimate Muscle/Kinnikuman Nisei, the faction being called the Demon Making Plant.

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