With the recent release of the nWo DLC pack for WWE 2K14 (a game we liked very much, despite some gripes) fresh on my mind, It’s gotten me nostalgic for one of the absolute best stables in wrestling history. I came into wrestling right before the Attitude Era really took off in the Spring of 1998. The nWo, in its initial conception of a force out to destroy WCW, had already ran its course by the time I started watching but I did get to see it splinter into nWo Hollywood (led by Hollywood Hogan) and nWo Wolfpac (led by Kevin Nash). I was also around to see the two groups reunite into nWo Elite before ultimately disbanding forever. Later attempts of nWo stables were attempted (one in 2000 featuring Nash, Hall, Jeff Jarrett, and Bret Hart and one in WWE that was too little, too late) with mixed results for both incarnations.
Both the greatest strength and greatest weakness of the nWo was always its size. At its height of dominance, it boasted a membership of well over twenty wrestlers…including an international incarnation in Japan. With a stable of that size, some members must have cut the mustard better than the others. Today, I’m going to separate the men from the boys with a look at the nWo’s worst five members of all time but keep in mind I’m not ranking them based on wrestling ability. This list is more based on their effectiveness as an nWo member.
I hesitate to even put Mike Jones, AKA Virgil, AKA Vincent on this list of worst nWo members because nobody represented the colors of the black and white better than him. He was brought on as the Head of Security shortly after the debut of the nWo in 1996. His security services came courtesy of the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase which was a revival of a role they had carried out years earlier in the WWF. Dibiase didn’t stick around long in the nWo, but Vincent would prove to be the rock of the group and last for nearly all of its WCW incarnations.
But, the dude didn’t offer anything valuable to the stable. He was more of a cheerleader than wrestler and only ever had one singles PPV match where he fought nWo member Stevie Ray in a Harlem Street Fight match over control of the NWO B-Team. I’ll repeat that name again: The nWo B-Team. It really sums up everything that needs to be said about why Vincent was one of the worst members of all time.
4. The Disciple
This bearded biker dude that served as Hulk Hogan’s bodyguard during his brief tenure in the nWo is assuredly better known to fans as Brutus Beefcake. He was a wrestler that was past his prime when he joined the group so his value to them was nil from the start. He was brought on because Hogan is his real-life best friend and that’s how they roll. I don’t believe the Disciple ever got any higher profile singles matches than the ones he had on WCW Saturday Night or WCW Worldwide. He mainly ensured victories for Hogan over joke opponents like Jay Leno and Karl Malone. He didn’t even do a good job of being Hogan’s bodyguard as he got abducted and brainwashed by Warrior (who was feuding with Hogan). The Disciple actually ended up turning on Hogan and joining the oWn (One Warrior Nation, another very, very, short-lived off-shoot).
3. Horace Hogan
Horace Hogan debuted in ’98 as part of Raven’s Flock, but would soon be brought into the nWo by the strangest of circumstances. He was offered membership by his real-life uncle, Hulk Hogan, but was then savagely beaten by the steel-chair wielding Hogan as an example of the depths of cruelty Hogan would resort to in order to beat the Warrior. (Yeah, that guy, again.) But, oddly enough, Horace responded to the act of cruelty not in anger but by aiding Hogan in his match against the Warrior and became a long-time member of the nWo B-Team.
His membership in the nWo involved lots of in-fighting over who was the leader of the B-Team and plenty of Saturday night matches. OK, I’m sure he got his share of Thunder matches as well but not any that made an impact for the nWo. He was just another dude that happened to wrestle wearing an nWo shirt and offered nothing more than pity and shame for the Hogan name. And speaking of pity and shame brought to a revered wrestling family…
2. David Flair
Member 1999 (1 month)
…I call to this column Exhibit A: David Flair. The embarrassing wrestling and acting abilities of David was brought to us by his real-life dad Ric Flair. He was immediately rushed into a spot with the nWo despite having debuted on TV less than a month before. His nWo membership occurred during a Flair/Hogan match in which he tasered his dad and turned heel, allowing Hogan to score the pinfall. Flair was soon paired up with a rookie Torrie Wilson and proceeded to do nothing but bad promo spots during his tenure in the nWo. He very shortly made up with his dad on-air and was awarded the U.S. title belt because Ric gave it to him as a present. The most damning thing about David Flair joining the nWo in 1999 was that he was part of the nWo Elite, the supposedly ultimate incarnation of the group. His spot in the group turned it into a joke and the nWo would ultimately never be taken seriously again.
1. Booker T
Member: 2002 (2 weeks)
I’m not doubting the wrestling ability or legacy of Booker T at all when I say that he is, unquestionably, the worst member ever of the nWo. It’s not his fault. He joined the stable at their lowest point during the absolute nadir of the organization. His membership came about at exactly the same time his historic tag-team with Goldust formed. He was in a heel group but was so obviously babyface with Goldust. It’s no wonder he got literally super-kicked out of the group by a new de facto leader Shawn Michaels. There was no impact to be made by Booker T nor any value to be contributed when the stable itself was dead in the water. To put it simply, Booker T was the worst member of the nWo because he was barely a member at all.
Rest in piece, nWo. You revolutionized the pro wrestling business but you overstayed your welcome, invited too many friends to the party, and outright embarrassed yourselves. Still, we love you and thank you for all the wonderful memories even if those memories do contain Vincent lurking in the background of almost every picture. (Just kidding, Virgil.)