The New World Order is still discussed today for the impact the faction had on professional wrestling. WCW failed to truly compete with WWE for many years until the groundbreaking storyline. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made the jump to WCW and changed the landscape of wrestling forever. The big contracts meant WCW had to do something huge with the two former WWE stars. Eric Bischoff decided to take the leap of faith by having Hulk Hogan turn heel for the first time since his Hulkamania days. Hall, Nash and Hogan gave us the original three that sparked the rise of WCW.
Fans gravitated towards the WCW product for the realism presented in the storyline of the nWo trying to take over the company. The cutting edge content provided the main reason for the Monday Night Wars to become red hot. Wrestling grew to new levels and broke all sorts of records across the board. That never would have happened without the presence of the nWo. The faction would jump the shark within a year or two due to too many members joining the group. We’ll take a look at the entire history of the group and all incarnations while breaking down the eight most underrated members and eight most overrated members of the New World Order.
16 Underrated: Randy Savage
Very few fans remember the tenure of Randy Savage in the New World Order. The legendary star joined after feuding with the faction and was initially secondary to Hulk Hogan once again. Savage did manage to have arguably the most entertaining feud during the era of the nWo. Diamond Dallas Page became a top star thanks to outstanding work in a long program with Savage. The work of Savage established himself as a relevant top name, but also put over Page as someone to treat as a credible star.
Savage also added a lot to the Wolfpac incarnation of the nWo. Kevin Nash started a face version of the faction rocking the red and black colors. Fans absolutely loved the Wolfpac during the early stages and Savage joining was a major reason why. The ability to shine without having to be in the shadow of Hogan reminded us just how beloved Savage was. Despite not being a leader, Savage helped make the New World Order a dominant group.
15 Overrated: Curt Hennig
Curt Hennig is absolutely one of the greatest in-ring performers in wrestling history. The second generation star was a genius in the ring and pulled off every move to perfection, earning the WWE name of Mr. Perfect. WCW had him work under his real name but made a drastic mistake putting him in the New World Order. Hennig actually debuted as the newest member of the Four Horsemen and it was a tremendous fit that allowed him to shine as a face.
The heel turn would come within a matter of months as he revealed the double cross. Hennig turned on the Four Horsemen in War Games to join the New World Order. Sadly, he would get lost in the shuffle and rarely did anything of note. Most fans viewed Hennig as an afterthought and he had mostly forgettable midcard feuds for the remainder of his WCW career. We all love Hennig, but the placement in the nWo was completely pointless.
14 Underrated: Ted DiBiase
The addition of Ted DiBiase to the New World Order is forgotten, but it was a tremendous choice at the beginning. Logic dictated that the nWo needed a financial backer to pull off the power they exhibited. The early days of the faction featured former WWE stars joining together to imply it was a hostile takeover of WWE coming to WCW. DiBiase recently left the company and WCW scooped him up for the role. His past gimmick of being the “Million Dollar Man” fit perfectly in the role as he retired from in-ring competition.
DiBiase’s microphone skills and personality suited the position in the nWo. The ability to provide compelling entertainment without overshadowing the stars of the group was a thin line, but DiBiase knew how to get the job done. The nWo’s best days were the initial months and DiBiase’s presence absolutely helped to contribute to the overall picture. Eric Bischoff replacing him and eventually removing him from the group was one of the first big steps in the downfall.
13 Overrated: Eric Bischoff
The decision to have Eric Bischoff replace Ted DiBiase as the mouthpiece for the New World Order was a controversial one at the time due to his lack of character experience. Bischoff shocked the world by having a tremendous personality and became one of the best heels in wrestling. The problem is he became too important, making most of the wrestlers less relevant. A large group having a non-wrestler as one of the top 2-3 members exposes the rest of the roster.
Bischoff’s ego started to grow with his on-screen presence as well. Easy E booked himself in many high-profile matches and actually defeated stars like Ric Flair. The wheels started to fall off with Bischoff trying to be “one of the boys.” Bischoff let his friends get away with a lack of commitment or work ethic because he was scoring big ratings with them. That didn’t last forever and WCW quickly saw those ratings falling far behind WWE.
12 Underrated: Scott Norton
Many of the members of the New World Order were background players. They added way too many people to the mix and not everyone had a substantial role. Scott Norton was one of the stars to luck out by entering the group within the first year. That allowed him to benefit from a time period when the group was still red hot without getting completely lost in the shuffle. Norton was arguably the strongest wrestler on the roster.
The overall work of Norton is severely underrated. His matches were quite impressive for the short time allowed and lack of storylines. Norton is one of the few that could have actually done far more for the group. They essentially used him as an enforcer during beat downs, which was very important in the early days. Norton tagged with Buff Bagwell in the team known as Vicious and Delicious. Sadly, the company didn’t value Norton enough to do anything more noteworthy with the legitimately tough bad ass.
11 Overrated: Konnan
Konnan was a legend in Mexico and wrestling pundit Dave Meltzer compared him to Hulk Hogan when discussing the biggest draws of the era. WCW zoned in and signed him to a much bigger contract in hopes of adding the international talent. Konnan became a fixture in WCW as a member of the popular cruiserweight division. The moment of him joining the New World Order featured the first cruiserweight of the bunch to get a coveted spot in the group.
It improved his popularity in WCW and gave him more opportunities to shine. Konnan actually received microphone time and developed his personality on WCW television for the first time in his career there. The problem was his work rate started to diminish. Instead of delivering great matches like the rest of his group, he worked a slower style to match the nWo way. The lack of compelling matches made him an afterthought compared to the other hungry stars in the cruiserweight division.
10 Underrated: Syxx
WWE and WCW often saw talent go back and forth in the 90s looking for the best contract. Sean Waltman made the decision to join WCW when his friends Kevin Nash and Scott Hall formed the New World Order. WCW cleverly changed his name from the 1-2-3 Kid to Syxx and made him a member of the nWo to join his pals. The in-ring work of Syxx was unlike the other members of the group.
Instead of the typical dull match that ended with run-ins, Syxx performed at a level to match the other young rising stars in WCW. The matches in the cruiserweight division set him apart from the other members of the nWo, but he also had outstanding performances teaming with Hall and Nash. WCW treated him poorly following an injury and let him go. Waltman returned to WWE for another successful run and made WCW regret losing out on such a talented star in his prime.
9 Overrated: Bret Hart
The addition of Bret Hart to WCW could have been a huge moment to completely take charge of the Monday Night Wars. WCW was dominating WWE and added the top star from the company that left on controversial terms. Hart technically never lost the WWE Championship by getting pinned or submitting and he literally punched out Vince McMahon on his final night in WWE. That should have led to huge things in WCW.
Hart instead treaded water doing absolutely nothing until he joined the New World Order in 1998. To make matters worse, he was a member of the nWo Hollywood version and looked like a lackey to Hulk Hogan. Hart still complains about the booking of his character in WCW to this day. One of the best wrestlers of all time joined a legendary faction and did nothing of note. God bless you if you can remember any positive memories of Hart’s time in the New World Order.
8 Underrated: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner spent the majority of his career in a tag team with his brother Rick and they were outstanding together. The Steiners were arguably the best tag team in WCW history. Fans were stunned to see Scott turn heel on Rick and join the New World Order. Steiner’s new look of blonde hair and cartoonish muscles made him a tremendous heel once he started to embrace the unlikable aspect of his personality.
The New World Order helped showcase Steiner as a singles talent. It took a little while, but he found his way to the main event picture. Many consider Steiner the last great singles star and one of the rare bright spots in the final year of the company’s existence. The stint in the nWo played a big role in getting him there. Steiner also gave back to the group by being one of the last few talents to add interest in his work for the nWo.
7 Overrated: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is the first name everyone associates with the New World Order - and for good reason. The moment of Hogan turning heel to officially form the group is something no 90s fan will ever forget. It changed the world of wrestling and helped make the nWo a force to be reckoned with. Hogan rejuvenated his career and became an elite heel. The problem is he had too much power and used his creative control contract clause to call the shots.
Hogan was used to being treated like a face and winning every match. The character change saw him want to once again dominate the title picture. Hogan held the WCW Championship for the majority of the time the nWo reigned supreme in WCW. Sadly, the group became stale due to Hogan always leading the way and refusing to let others shine as bright. For all Hogan did to make the New World Order thrive, he is also responsible for the demise.
6 Underrated: The Great Muta
The New World Order expanded outside of WCW and North America by adding Japanese wrestlers to the group. New Japan saw their own version of the nWo with members joining during their time in WCW. The most popular star to join the faction from Japan was The Great Muta. Between his excellent in-ring work and the fascinating look with his face paint, Muta brought his legendary status over to WCW.
Fans took to Muta in the early days of WCW and he shined in a great feud with Sting. The decision to put him in the nWo was a wise one. WCW fans knew enough about him to buy it and Japan fans started to take note of the WCW landscape. Everyone benefited, and Muta looked as cool as the other side of the pillow with his nWo face paint. WCW could have allowed him do more during his appearances in the New World Order, but he still added a credible member that delivered international success.
5 Overrated: Sting
Sting is often known as the man who finally stood up against the New World Order and prevailed. The future would see him inexplicably join the Wolfpac version of the group months after his return to the ring. Fans loved the Wolfpac and they were definitely faces, but it made no sense considering Sting spent years battling everything nWo related after they ruined his life. Sting joining the cool new incarnation of the group just made him look like a fool.
To make matters worse, Sting did little of note in the group and served as a secondary member to Kevin Nash. Sting basically fell lower down the card, due to his involvement in the group, rather than sticking with the successful loner crow character. The merchandise to come from the red face paint made up for it and WWE sells Wolfpac Sting items to this day, but it was a terrible move for him at the time and it definitely harmed his career.
4 Underrated: Dennis Rodman
Hold the skepticism. Dennis Rodman does deserve a lot of credit for his presence in the New World Order. The NBA superstar was one of the most popular athletes in the sport with his unpredictable demeanor making him a fascinating character. Rodman also happened to be on the legendary Chicago Bulls team under the leadership of Michael Jordan. WCW convinced him to not only appear on television, but become a wrestler.
Rodman made the nWo cooler by association and added a mainstream factor to help get the word out. The star power of Rodman was on display most when WCW somehow convinced Karl Malone to wrestle a match with Rodman in tag action. Fans of all sports and entertainment were captivated by the weirdness of it all. Rodman even missed out on practice during the NBA Finals to show up on Nitro. The Worm committed more to the nWo than some of the actual workers.
3 Overrated: The Giant
The first wrestler to join Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in the New World Order was The Giant. Hogan defeated Giant to win the WCW Championship and Giant later stopped trying to beat the faction by joining them. The nWo added the biggest man on the roster to help establish more dominance, but Giant just looked sillier in the group. Instead of dominating other top stars, Giant fell into the background of the powerful faction.
There was almost no focus on Giant until he was kicked out of the group for wanting to have a bigger spot. The sad part is that he could have become a big star by choosing to stand up against the nWo, but he just joined them again. Fans had no idea how to view him, watching the big man bounce around from the WCW to New World Order. It made the group silly and The Giant benefited very little from the booking.
2 Underrated: Scott Hall
Scott Hall’s debut on WCW television was the fascinating first step in creating the New World Order. The former WWE star teased something big was coming and everyone was put on notice. No one else could have pulled this off as well as Hall did. Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash each added something as special, but neither man had the presence or believability of Hall in the role as the first outsider talking about what was coming.
The overall presence of Hall in the nWo was tremendous as well. There was no one parallel to Hall when it came to being cool in a wrestling ring. His work played a huge factor in the nWo shirts selling like hot cakes and fans prioritizing Nitro over Raw. Sadly, Hall never received a big push like Hogan or Nash in the singles role. The talented star could have been the WCW Champion and main-evented many more PPVs, but he was always booked in a bit secondary to Hogan, Nash and Savage.
1 Overrated: Buff Bagwell
There has never been a wrestler more overrated than Buff Bagwell, especially when it comes to his time in the New World Order. Following years of underachieving, Bagwell received the break of a lifetime when booked to turn on American Males tag team partner Scotty Riggs and join the nWo. Bagwell continued his track record of failing to live up to the potential WCW believed he could reach. Unlike other members of the group, Bagwell had quite a few interesting storylines that always flopped.
Bagwell teamed with Scott Norton and Scott Steiner on different occasions in the group. Naturally, his partners carried him and he didn’t stand out in any way aside from his chiseled look and ridiculous top hat. Bagwell could not perform to the level of his peers in WCW. The worst part is he always got to wear the nWo colors and helped to cause the downfall. When people talk about the stable having too many members, Bagwell should be the first name mentioned, as he had no business being in the New World Order.