World Wrestling Entertainment announced their first two inductions to their Class of 2020 Hall of Fame: the New World Order (nWo) (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman) and Dave Bautista.
The Rise of the nWo
On July 7, 1996, three of the biggest personalities in World Championship Wrestling ushered in what is many considered the modern golden age of the industry, the Attitude Era. Hogan, Nash, and Hall united as one of the most dominating forces in professional wrestling as the New World Order (nWo). WWE informed ESPN they’re inducting the three along with Waltman as the first inductees to the 2020 WWE Hall of Fame. The group is likely headlining the 2020 class leading into WrestleMania in Tampa, Florida.
The 1996 WCW Bash at the Beach marked one of the biggest heel-turns in wrestling. The scheduled main event was The Outsiders (Hall and Nash) and a mystery partner versus Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger. The match initially started as a 2v3 handicap. The match finished with Hogan’s emergence. Initially presumed as an assist to Savage, Sting and Luger, ended up with Hogan attacking Savage with his leg drop finisher.
Fans who followed “Hulkamania” in Hogan’s days as the top babyface in then-World Wrestling Federation, and later made the exodus to WCW, were in disbelief. Their hero turned on them and joined with the Outsiders. Soon to be joined by Waltman, the foursome went from the most hated to the “embraced rebels” disrupting the synergy of WCW. You either hated them or wanted to be them. The four previously established themselves as top stars in WWF before signing with their rivals. During his AWA days, Hogan started as a heel managed under “Classy” Freddie Blassie.
Now Two-Time WWE Hall of Famers
Each original member was already previously inducted: Hogan in 2005, Hall in 2014 (as Razor Ramon), Nash in 2015 (as Diesel), and Waltman in 2019 (as X-Pac of D-Generation X). Waltman adopted the name Syxx in WCW as a play on his previous character, The 1-2-3 Kid in WWF. Bollea adopted the name Hollywood Hogan.
The group expanded to several factions during their WCW run with seven incarnations. From the original group, there was nWo Hollywood, nWo Wolfpac, nWo Elite, nWo 2000, nWo Japan, and The Wolfpac. WCW Executive Vice President Eric Bischoff drew inspiration from a similar angle used in New Japan Pro-Wrestling in April 1996.
Bischoff used the staple comprised of former WWF talent for WCW Monday Nitro to counterprogram WWF’s Monday Night Raw in “The Monday Night Wars”. The group’s popularity grew so immense most of the WCW roster at one point became members including the “victims” at the 1996 Bash.
WWE-Attempted nWo Revival
Following WCW’s demise in 2001, WWF owner Vince McMahon purchased the company’s assets. Once Hogan, Nash, and Hall’s contracts expired with Time Warner as part of their original deal for WCW, McMahon signed them to be part of the group’s revival for WWF. Undercutting their impact as a force and instead, calling them “company killers,” the trio fell behind the eight-ball upon their return.
Injuries and fans’ refusal to accept “Hollywood” as a heel forced changes within the group. The group disbanded in 2002. Shawn Michaels was the only WWF member of the nWo, who never worked in WCW. Triple H never joined despite his status as Kliq member and DX’s leader. There were 62 members among all incarnations.
Divide and Conquer
The founding of the group owes its roots to the WWF’s Kliq, comprised of Michaels, Hall, Nash, Waltman, and Triple H (Paul Levesque). When Hall, Nash, and Waltman left for WCW, Michaels called the Kliq’s separation as an “expansion” on WWF TV. While the three formed what’s to be the nWo, Michaels, the former Hunter Hurst Helmsley, and Chyna (Joanie Lauer) ended up forming D-Generation X (DX).
When Michaels took a sabbatical for his back injuries, Triple H took over as leader recruited the recently fired Waltman (rebranded as X-Pac) and The New Age Outlaws – Billy Gunn (Monty Sopp) and Road Dogg Jesse James (Brian James).
What nWo was to WCW, DX was to WWF with screwball antics, double entendres, and counterculture attitude. Without the nWo, there is no DX. Some may argue nWo deserved induction first, but it’s WWE who won the Monday Night Wars.
”The Animal” Dave Bautista
WWE informed People of Bautista’s induction. The six-time WWE World Champion was one of the most dominating physical specimens in the company’s history. Despite having a late start in professional wrestling at the age of 30, Bautista surged through the ranks of the company during the Ruthless Aggression era.
Initially a tryout at the WCW Power Plant in 1999, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker rejected Bautista. Before signing with WWE, he honed in his mixed martial arts skills. He had an opportunity in 2000 signing with Ohio Valley Wrestling to train in the WWE system. Brought up to the main roster in 2002, the company set him up with D-Von to debut as Deacon Bautista.
In 2003, Batista’s biggest opportunity came when WWE placed him in Evolution. Triple H, the top talent at the time, led the four-man stable which also included 16-time world champion Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. As WWE’s answer to WCW’s The Four Horsemen, the four won all the company’s major titles at the time.
Citing disillusionment, Batista left the company in 2010 and made two two-year stints in 2013 and 2018 before retiring in 2019. He became one of WWE’s biggest success stories in Hollywood following in the footsteps of the likes of Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and John Cena. The 50-year old thrived in his breakout role as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). The role allowed him to display charisma, never such seen in WWE television.
Batista reprised Drax for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). He returns for the third GoTG film. In addition to his success at Marvel, he’s landed memorable roles starring alongside Daniel Craig in the Bond film Spectre (2015) and the critically-acclaimed Blade Runner 2049 (2017) for Denis Villeneuve. He reunites with the director for the upcoming Dune.