Arnold Furious: There were times during 2002 where my interest in the WWF product dropped down to a minimum. With no competition the WWF started to coast a bit and to liven things up Vince decided to re-hire Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. These guys would have come in handy during the invasion! I had a few immediate and pressing concerns regarding them being rehired and I will address them now:
Hulk Hogan. The consummate politician, Hogan had effectively ruined WCW for his own financial betterment. He pocketed Eric Bischoff and controlled the company through his puppet owner. Vince Russo realised his hands were tied with booking Hogan and ran a shoot angle to get him off TV as he couldn’t write Hogan out of the main events due to Hogan’s contract clauses. Obviously Vince McMahon had significantly more control over Hogan and really only brought him back for the nostalgia element he’d bring. However in the ring Hogan’s last good match was six years earlier, at the beginning of the nWo angle at Bash at the Beach, and he wasn’t actually even in the match! For an actual honest to God good match with Hogan competing you have to go back to 1994 and his series with Ric Flair. His deterioration in the ring was clear-cut and he wouldn’t be doing much quality wrestling. Also, he looked older than dirt.
Kevin Nash. He’s a bullshitter and no mistake about it. Nash’s basic qualities as a wrestling guy were to establish himself and then coast on that reputation. As a booker he was a disaster, putting over his buddies and generally ignoring the talent. He referred to Benoit and Malenko as “vanilla midgets”. His first act in charge of WCW was to put himself and Hall over in a tag match and then put Hall over for the US Title. The Kliq never dies. Nash’s last good singles match was in 1996, against Shawn Michaels. The entire time he was in WCW, he used the minimum of effort but continued raking in the cash and stayed at the top of the card.
Scott Hall. Besides behaving like a total jerk backstage, as is evidenced in many wrestler interviews and Chris Jericho’s book, Hall was a liability. He was an alcoholic and when he’d been drinking he was an asshole, which is a terrible combination. I like Hall as a wrestler but his in-ring had deteriorated since switching from the WWF in 1996 and, like Nash, his last good singles match was back in 1996. The common denominator of these three then, is that they’ve not had a decent singles outing in the last six years, but they were name stars and people thought they were cool. That was the biggest issue of all. The once cool nWo was showing signs of aging. Hall was in the best condition of the three and he was 44 and broken down because of taking too many bumps and abusing his body outside of the ring. Nash was slightly younger but injury prone with bad knees. Hogan was pushing 50 and in horrible condition. These guys were not cool anymore, and that was the nWo’s main selling point.
Tangent: It should be pointed out the last “big” WCW star that the WWF signed was DDP. What did Page do tonight? Headlined Heat against the Big Bossman. That should have been a warning.
17th February 2002. We’re in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.