The NWO was a phenomenon. The angle/wrestling stable started in 1996 when Scott Hall made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro. This was before the internet was a huge part of our everyday lives and most fans did not know that the artist formerly known as Razor Ramon had left the WWF and signed with WCW. Many fans, myself included, thought it was the long dreamt of cross promotion between WWF and WCW. World Championship Wrestling even played it that way. Scott Hall sold this ‘invasion’ angle very well and a couple of weeks later he was joined by the second ‘invader’ Kevin Nash, formerly known as Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Due to a lawsuit from the then WWF for false advertising, WCW made it clear both men were not a part of the rival wrestling organization and were working ‘independently’. Nash and Hall became known as The Outsiders and began dismantling the WCW roster. Even though the NWO was the key to launching the Monday Night Wars into the stratosphere and helping to make wrestling the biggest form of entertainment at the time, the cracks in the storyline could already be seen. Two men who made their careers in the WWF were beating the hell out of WCW staples which made the promotion look bad, but it did not seem like the higher ups in WCW realized this or perhaps did not care.
Overall, the angle was entertaining and got over with the fans big time. They started branding some of the PPV’s as NWO run and their t-shirts and other merchandise were big sellers. The NWO angle gave WCW the edge in the Monday Night Wars which they had for a little over a year and a half. Then things started getting convoluted. By late 1998 the NWO split into 2 rival factions (NWO and NWO Wolpac) with the majority of the WCW roster being allocated to either group. It seemed as though they forgot that the big draw was NWO trying to take over WCW, not actually succeeding and having approximately 30 members. The angle became too big for its britches and overwhelmed the creative team with all of the individual egos they had to appease. Slowly but surely the NWO fizzled out as did WCW as a whole. Without the NWO storyline it seemed as though WCW’s creative team had nothing left. In 2001 WCW went under and was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWF seceding the Monday Night War to the most well known wrestling promotion in the world.
In 2002 the WWF/E brought back the original three members of the NWO (Hall, Nash, and Hogan) mostly to show they were no match for the WWF/E roster. Besides Hogan having a very memorable match at WrestleMania that year against The Rock, the NWO was gone shortly after and despite a forgettable quasi-reunion in TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) in 2010 they became another memorable past wrestling angle.
The NWO storyline was initially highly entertaining and kept me interested, but over time it became very predictable which can, and will, doom any angle. If handled correctly, this group could have lasted a good 5 years, but instead lost its momentum in just 2-3. During all of this the WWF kept plugging away and introducing the world to now legends and household names like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Degeneration X, etc… Individuals and storylines that kept things fresh and interesting while WCW put all of it’s eggs in one basket called the NWO.
The New World Order was a great idea that was initially executed fairly well, but egos and weak creative teams could not maintain it.