It’s now been 25 years since the formation of the New World Order, the day that forever changed the pro wrestling business. Led by Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall, the popular faction would go on to become one of the most well-known groups in the history of pro wrestling. It all began at the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view event on July 7, 1996 — a full 25 years ago today.
In the months leading up to the show, Kevin Nash (aka Diesel) and Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon) both defected from WWE for higher paychecks at Ted Turner’s WCW. Both wrestlers had begun appearing on WCW programming as part of a storyline that saw WWE stars “invading” WCW. To fight back against the invaders, WCW organized a match at Bash at the Beach with three of the company’s biggest stars taking on Nash, Hall, and a mystery opponent the team referred to as the “third man” of their group.
At the start of the match, the Outsiders (Nash and Hall) came to the ring by themselves, leaving it unclear who their surprise partner was. At one point during the bout, Team WCW looked like they were in trouble after Luger was injured and taken out of the match. Suddenly, Hulk Hogan arrived from the back to a thunderous applause, as he hadn’t been seen on television for quite some time before the event.
Because Hogan had consistently wrestled as a fan favorite hero since the early 1980s, fans naturally expected for him to help Team WCW by taking out the Outsiders. After chasing Nash and Hall out of the ring, Hogan then did the unexpected and dropped the Atomic Leg Drop on a downed Savage. With the crowd stunned into silence, Hogan delivered his trademark maneuver once again before celebrating with the Outsiders, revealing himself to be the mysterious “third man.”
After the match, which was declared a no contest, Hogan did an interview with “Mean” Gene Okerlund to explain himself as fans pelted the ring with garbage. Okerlund, whose history with Hogan dated back many years, questioned how the Hulkster could team up with people like the Outsiders. Hogan’s response gave the group their official name, marking one of the most pivotal moments in pro wrestling history.
“Well, the first thing you gotta realize, brother, is this right here is the future of wrestling! You can call this the New World Order of wrestling, brother,” Hogan said of the faction.
Of the trash that people were tossing into the ring, Hogan added: “As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in the ring represents these fans out here! For two years, brother! For two years, I held my head high! I did everything for the charities! I did everything for the kids! And the reception I got when I came out here, you fans can stick it, brother!”
After forming the NWO, Hogan ditched the red-and-yellow tights that he was famous for. Growing out his beard and switching to black attire, the wrestling legend even renamed himself as “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. The success of the NWO would lead to great success for WCW, launching the famous “Monday Night Wars” which saw the company defeat WWE in the ratings for 83 consecutive weeks. It’s hard to imagine what the Attitude Era would have been like if not for what happened at Bash at the Beach ’96.
For the group’s historical significance, the New World Order was inducted as a group into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. Representing the faction to accept the honors were Hogan, Nash, Hall, and Sean Waltman, who was one of the group’s earliest members. In honor of the group’s 25th anniversary, WWE has also been paying tribute with special programming on their Peacock channel. You can also watch the formation of the group take place by streaming Bash at the Beach ’96 on the streaming service.
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