Twenty-five years ago today, the New World Order was formed at WCW’s Bash at the Beach.
It’s honestly an almost-inarguable top-five moment in pro wrestling history, and one that set off a chain of events leading to the apex of the WCW vs. WWE (then WWF) Monday Night Wars of the late 1990s. Then, of course, the gap widened in the WWE’s favor, to the extent that Vince McMahon subsequently bought out WCW in 2001 right before WrestleMania X-Seven.
But Hulk Hogan, having been the centerpiece of the art form in the 1980s rock-‘n’-wrestling boom, and even a main eventer with the WWE into the 1990s, left the company in 1993, later joining WCW in 1994. He had still been an older version of the same guy people began growing tired of in his first two years with his new company, leading to the decision to famously turn him heel at the 1996 Bash, where he was revealed to be the mystery third-man joining newcomers Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, creating one of the infamous trios we’ve seen in sports and or entertainment.
If you were a traditionalist, it might’ve irked you, because Hogan was never supposed to become a bad guy — not to mention the bad guy. (Well, save for Hall, of course.) But, the nWo notably grew into one of the most over factions in wrestling history, and to this day, you’ll see the occasional nWo t-shirt worn by someone at an airport, a mall, a basketball game, and probably even a porno if you look hard enough.
Their infamy became influential as it became cool to like the bad guys, a sensibility that resonates with wrestling fans to this day. It’s also spread to other sports, which brings us to other divisive and successful trios we’ve seen in athletics since the nWo’s July 7, 1996, formation.
(Also, this ain’t a ranking, so go debate someone else if you’re picky about the order!)