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Ask 411 Wrestling: What Were the nWo’s Best Matches?

July 26, 2021 | Posted by Ryan Byers

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Long-time questioner Michael comes at us with three unrelated queries:

#1 – What do you think were the 5 best matches involving NWO members during their WCW run (not the WWE run)? And since the NWO wasn’t officially launched until after Hogan turned, the Bash and the Beach match doesn’t count.

The nWo was known for being a huge angle, but it wasn’t exactly known for producing the best in-ring work. As a result, this was a question that I really had to think on, particularly because you just had so many nWo members and, consequently, so many wrestlers whose work you have to consider. Ultimately, though, I’d go with the following five:

Eddie Guerrero vs. Syxx (Ladder Match) – Souled Out 1997: The in-ring work that Sean Waltman/Syxx did when he was part of the nWo often gets forgotten, in part because his run was relatively short and in part because it was overshadowed by the bigger personalities of Hogan, Hall, and Nash. However, Waltman was still an excellent performer at this time, and he fit right in with a cruiserweight division that at the time included guys like Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and Rey Misterio Jr. If Syxx was wrestling on a WCW show, he was almost always in the best match (unless other cruisers outshined him), and perhaps his single best outing was this ladder-based-bout with Eddie Guerrero, at a time when that genre of match was still relatively new.

Dean Malenko vs. Syxx – Superbrawl VII: Normally when I put together a list like this, I try to diversify the matches so that I’m not always just talking about the same wrestler(s), but the nWo’s wrestling was generally so subpar and Syxx was generally so good that I couldn’t help but include two of his bouts. So, once you’re done checking out Guerrero/Syxx, go watch this encounter with Dean Malenko, whose family actually helped train Waltman when he was breaking into the business.

Lex Luger & The Giant vs. The Outsiders – Superbrawl VII: Some people might be surprised to see this match on the list, because the Giant was still pretty green here, Kevin Nash has never had a reputation as a workhorse, and Luger & Hall, though they have both turned in some excellent matches at points in their careers are guys who tended to work up or down to the level of their opponents. However, for whatever reason, these four with flawed track records came together and put on a perfectly acceptable main event level tag match here. It’s not an all-time classic, but, again, given the general limitations of the nWo, it worked very well.

The Steiner Brothers vs. Masahiro Chono & The Great Muta – Bash at the Beach 1997: Often forgotten among the ranks of the nWo membership are the Japanese stars who joined its ranks, working in the black and white in both their native country and, from time-to-time, in the U.S. Chono and Muta, two of the absolute biggest names NJPW had to offer at the time, were among that group, and this match represents a fun back-and-forth encounter between them and the Steiners, who had plenty of experience working with teams from the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

”Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page (Falls Count Anywhere) – Great American Bash 1997: One of the big knocks against WCW by WWF loyalists is that they never made their own stars, which is a) hypocritical, given that the WWF made its name in the 1980s by raiding established stars from other territories and b) incorrect, because they did make a handful of their own stars, including DDP. Perhaps the biggest contribution to establishing Page as a top guy was his feud with Randy Savage, an nWo member at the time. Of their singles encounters, this is the best remembered, and for good reason.

#2 – What’s the one wrestling company you’d associate with the following talent? Like If I said “Von Erich’s, you’d say WCCW.”(I’d hope) Same concept for:

Hulk Hogan: The WWF and it’s not even close. I don’t know how somebody could even justify a different answer here.

Bobby Heenan: Probably also the WWF. My not going with the AWA may just be personal bias since I am too young to have seen him there as it happened. WCW doesn’t work for me because, as good as he was on commentary, Brain was better as a manager in my book.

Sid: If I’m being honest, because he bounced around so much, I don’t associate Sid with any one promotion. However, if you were going to put a gun to my head and make me pick one, I would say he feels a bit more like a WCW guy. Even though he headlined two Wrestlemanias, in WCW he felt more like a monster in his own right, whereas in the WWF he felt more like fodder for their babyfaces.

Gene Okerlund: WWF. Again, if I saw more AWA in first run, I might feel differently.

Brian Pillman: WCW. Some people might go with the WWF because Pillman was involved in some memorable angles when the promotion was just starting to heat up, but I saw most of his WCW run before that, going back to the Flyin’ Brian days, so I associate him more with that promotion.

Big Bubba Rogers: The fact that you used this ring name as opposed to the Big Boss Man immediately makes me think of Rogers as a WCW/JCP guy as opposed to a WWF/WWE guy.

Booker T: WCW. I’m sure that if I crunched the numbers, he was probably a WWE employee for a longer period of time, but the fact that I watched him come up in WCW makes my brain slot him there.

Ricky Steamboat: JCP/WCW. His entire WWF career has basically been reduced to one match, so it’s difficult to associate him with that promotion.

The Road Warriors: JCP/WCW. Similar to Big Bubba, Michael put his thumb on the scale a bit by virtue of the name that he chose to use, though even without that factor I probably would have come up with the same answer, because their WWF run was a relatively brief period of their career and they were not used to their fullest.

Curt Hennig: WWF. This is one where his run in the Fed as Mr. Perfect is so memorable to me that I hear “Curt Hennig” and think “WWF” even though it was not his primary gimmick name there.

JYD: Mid-South. Even though I didn’t watch Mid-South wrestling as it was happening and had to come back to it later on, having studied and read up on the history of the promotion, the Junkyard Dog is so integral to that history that I have a hard time categorizing him anyplace else.

Stan Hansen: AJPW. Even though he was a memorable character in the United States, Hansen was a significantly bigger name in Japan, first in NJPW and second in AJPW. Though the New Japan run came first, the All Japan run was longer and thus sticks out in my mind more.

Paul Heyman: ECW. In the grand scheme of wrestling history, ECW is now a very small piece, with the promotion lasting only a handful of years. However, Heyman is so closely associated with it and its cult following that it’s still the first promotion that I think of when I hear his name.

Rick Rude: Like Sid, Rude is a guy who changed promotions so much that I don’t personally think of him as having a “home” company so to speak. I would probably slot him with the WWF, though, because his angles were more memorable there (hello Cheryl Roberts) even though WCW booked him like more of a legitimate main eventer.

#3 – Who do you think are some of the most underrated wrestlers in terms of interviews? And Overrated?

Though I don’t think of him as being underrated by historians, I think that one guy who has been forgotten as a really good promo is Harley Race. He was not loud or bombastic, but he had a quiet intensity that lead you to believe that this was a man who could very easily murder you with his bare hands.

I also think that Jimmy Hart became such a cartoon character in his later days that people tend to forget that he had the ability to cut a legitimate, money-drawing promo when the occasion called for it.

As far as overrated promos go, it’s hard for me to call a promo overrated because, if it does its job of drawing money, it’s effective regardless of whether I personally like it.

However, there are some people out there who really seem to think that Mike the Miz is great, and I’ve just never gotten it. It always sounds as though he’s acting to me, and I’ve never been able to suspend my disbelief and lose myself in his performance as I can with the true greats.

Tyler from Winnipeg is dusting off his purple-and-white striped hoodie:

Does Viscera get into the WWE HOF? Who inducts him if he gets in?

I have a hard time seeing that happening for a couple of different reasons. First off, the company doesn’t seem to like to induct too many wrestlers who died young, and, when they do it, it’s usually reserved for guys who are significantly bigger stars than Viscera was, oftentimes those who have connection to some living wrestler that the E still as a good relationship with. Secondly, with Vis being deceased, the company most likely would be working with his family on the induction, and his widow signed up to participate in the recent concussion lawsuits against WWE, meaning there is likely no love lost between those two sides.

If the big guy did somehow get inducted, probably the most likely person to induct him would be Kevin Nash. WWE usually likes to load its slate of inductors up with guys that it considers to be stars, and Nash is certainly one of those. Plus, Nash is the guy who wrestled against Viscera in the latter’s highest-profile match, the WWF Championship bout at Summerslam 1995.

Speaking of 1995 PPVs featuring Mabel, here’s Chris S.:

Could you re-book King of the Ring 1995?

I’ve actually done this already, back in June of last year.

That last question was a bit of a non-starter, so let’s give Chris S. another shot:

How would you re-book Wrestlemania IX IF: 1) You get Warrior vs. Bret; 2) you get Hogan vs Bret; 3) you get Savage vs Bret; and 4) and if you just get the card/talent as is.

For the sake of letting everybody know what I am working with, according to Solie’s, the WWF roster for April 1993, when Wrestlemania IX took place, looked a little something like this:

Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana, Brooklyn Brawler, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Jim Powers, Koko B. Ware, Rick Martel, Ted DiBiase, Virgil, Jim Duggan, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, The Bushwackers, Typhoon, The Undertaker, The Nasty Boys, The Mountie, I.R.S., The Beverly Brothers, Doink, Tatanka, Owen Hart, Barry Horowitz, Papa Shango, Crush, Fatu, Samu, Razor Ramon, Bob
Backlund, Yokozuna, Terry Taylor, Damian Demento, Marty Jannetty, Bam Bam Bigelow, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Jerry Lawler, Lex Luger, Giant Gonzales, Brutus Beefcake, Men on a Mission

For this thought exercise, even though they were technically on the roster, I will not be using Randy Savage or Jerry Lawler (except when Chris has told me to use Savage) because they were more announcers than anything else at this point. I am also going to try to keep everybody in more or less the same babyface/heel alignments that they were in at the time of the event.

And, in case anybody out there is not familiar, the actual Wrestlemania IX card looked a little something like this:

a. Tito Santana vs. Papa Shango (dark)
1. Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels
2. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers
3. Doink vs. Crush
4. Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund
5. Money, Inc. vs. Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake
6. Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect
7. The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales
8. Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart
9. Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna (which is less a match and more an MITB cash-in before there was such a thing as an MITB cash-in)

My understanding is that my first assignment from Chris is to re-book this card under the assumption that Bret Hart versus the Ultimate Warrior could be on the show. If that were the case, I would probably put on an nine-match show as follows:

1. Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Owen Hart
2. Doink vs. Tito Santana
3. Razor Ramon vs. Jim Duggan
4. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers
5. Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
6. Ted DiBiase (w/ I.R.S.) vs. The Undertaker
7. Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
8. Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna
9. Bret Hart vs. The Ultimate Warrior

First off, let me just say that this is not a particularly deep roster to work with, which makes the whole exercise pretty difficult, and what I’ve gone with here is making certain that the biggest stars in the company are represented while trying to upgrade the match quality a bit.

The initial two matches, Bigelow/Owen and Doink/Santana, are there primarily to give us servicable undercard bouts that help establish two new heel acts that the Fed was going to be relying on more heavily over the summer. Bam Bam and Owen, who were left off the actual show altogether, could gel together pretty well if Bigelow’s matches with Bret Hart are any indication, while Doink versus El Matador if given time could be a big upgrade over Doink versus Crush.

The Ramon match is also meant to help establish him, and, though Duggan would probably not be an upgrade over Bob Backlund in terms of in-ring quality, it at least would be in terms of star power.

The Steiner Brothers versus the Headshrinkers was probably the best in-ring match on the actual Wrestlemania IX card and I don’t see you getting a much better tag match with established teams, so I’m keeping it.

Luger and Tatanka did relatively well against each other when they faced off in 1994 with the heel/face roles switched, so the idea here is to give Luger a decent match while freeing up Mr. Perfect to do something later on the card.

DiBiase/Undertaker is a match that never really happened – at least not on a high level – and with I.R.S. backing him up, the Million Dollar Man could present a credible threat to the Dead Man and certainly drag a better performance out of him than the Giant Gonzales did. Also, using hindsight, this might help set up the Undertaker/Million Dollar Corporation feud that went on for a while when DiBiase retired from the ring and became a manager.

Michaels/Perfect is obviously on the card to give it at least one match with the potential to break the **** mark.

Hogan/Yokozuna is there primarily to highlight Hogan, though it probably would have been a decent match, much as their later encounters were.

And, of course, Bret Hart vs. The Ultimate Warrior is the bout that Chris asked me to include on the show.

If we were to switch out Hart versus Warrior for Hogan versus Hart, my re-booked card probably would not change all that much. Yokozuna would be freed up, so I would move him into the Ted DiBiase spot against the Undertaker and likely just leave Money, Inc. off the show altogether. If the match I am given to work with his Hart vs. Savage, then the card remains exactly the same, just with Savage replacing Warrior.

Finally, if I am given the entirety of the talent roster and no matches that I “have” to book, I would revert to Hart versus Yokozuna (which wasn’t a bad match if you scrub the Hogan involvement afterwards) and turn DiBiase versus the Undertaker into the Undertaker and Hulk Hogan against Money, Inc., which in my mind is a significantly more interesting match than Beefcake and Hogan against Money, Inc. because you can play off of the history that Hogan and Undertaker have together from 1991 and the history that DiBiase and Undertaker have from the Million Dollar Man having initially brought Taker to the WWF.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.

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Ask 411 Wrestling, nWo, Ryan Byers