The NWO threatens a comeback. Mike Flaherty wonders if this marks a brave new world or the beginning of the end
Vince McMahon
Credit: Vince McMahon: WWF

The NWO threatens a comeback

So, Kane and Big Show are at each other’s throats (ooh…scary), Maven’s heading into his 16th minute of fame (aww), William Regal’s terrorizing the federation with his brass knucks (inventive, huh?), Billy and Chuck are getting closer than ever (yuck), and Triple H and Stephanie are headed for a split (mazel tov, Hunter!).

But, despite all those diversions on last night’s ”RAW” (Mondays, 9 p.m., TNN), there’s only one important issue for self-respecting WWF marks: Vince McMahon’s teasing decision on last week’s ”Smackdown” to revive the erstwhile WCW heel faction, the NWO. Translation: Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Michaels, and, incredibly, Hulk Hogan, are returning to ”that very ring.” Vinnie Mac has ostensibly given co-owner Ric Flair two days in which to sell his stake in the WWF; if not, he’s bringing in the big boys to set things right…or wrong.

That’s the disturbingly brilliant part of this high-risk maneuver. McMahon seems to be acknowledging the widespread fan fear that the addition of Nash, Hall, Michaels, and Hogan — along with their mammoth egos, myriad personal issues, and dubious locker-room reputations — has the potential to poison the proverbial well and send professional wrestling back into the Turner-produced ice age of WCW’s waning days. He’s actually using them as a threat, implicitly suggesting that the NWO’s return would be tantamount to suicide. Talk about a work-shoot.

I know I’M scared: The prospect of four creaky old egomaniacs taking the spotlight doesn’t fill me with hope. That said, Michaels and Hall will likely be the more gratifying additions; it’s the presence of the lazy, lumbering, grandstanding, no-selling Nash and Hogan that hint at darker days to come.

Apparently, a lot of current WWF superstars are none too happy. According to reports, locker-room morale is deteriorating as a score of mid- and ?upper card workers dread losing their pushes and their standing in the face of all the A-list star power. We’re now looking at a main-event-level talent pool consisting of Austin, Rock, Triple H, Angle, Undertaker, Booker T, possibly Jericho and Van Dam, in addition to the aforementioned warhorses. Even with the upcoming split (now rumored to occur post-”Wrestlemania”) and additional house shows, the WWF is scheduling to accommodate two promotions. It’s difficult to imagine that the hard-working likes of Lance Storm, Tajiri, Christian, Edge, Benoit, Tazz, Regal, Rhyno, Kidman, and others aren’t going to get screwed.

The question is, will the fans lose too?

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