When I found out that the subject of this week’s podcast was going to be, the WCW’s NWO storyline, I was a little hesitant. In fact, I initially refused to do it. I still remember my conversation with Tim Dogg. “Tim” I said “I’m not just some hired gun willing to write on whatever subject I’m told to. I am a retro journalist and I take this stuff seriously. If you want a post this week, you guys are gonna have to change the topic!” Tim responded that he stuck his neck out to get me the Cold Slither blogging job and if I knew what was good for me I would shut my mouth and write the damn post “or, so help me, I’ll make you wish you had never been born.”
So, after some thought I decided that it might not be a bad idea to try and write a post about NWO. After all, it’s a good idea, every once in a while for a writer to step outside his comfort zone and take on some new territory. But where to begin? At the risk of losing all of my hard won street-cred as a walking encyclopedia on all things retro pop culture, my wrestling knowledge is sadly limited.
Sure I watched the WWF back in the 80s, I mean, I’m not a communist! It’s just that in later years when the WCW got hot and The WWF changed its name, the ladies were keeping me pretty busy. By “ladies” I mean my teachers, and by “busy” I mean sex. At any rate I didn’t keep up with it. I saw all the merchandise, I heard folks talking about it but I…didn’t even know what an NWO was. In fact, most of my memories were of Saturday morning wrestling (which came on after Garfield and Friends and before professional fishing) The rest is made up of a combination of Hulk Hogan’s Rockin’ Wrestling and me playing with wrestling toys (the still awesome WWF Thumb Wrestlers) that my parents bought me, for some reason.
Over the years it has all kind of blurred together to the point where I fondly remember Ricky The Dragon Steamboat helping He-Man to defeat the evil forces of Nermal, Emperor Palpatine and Nikolai Volkoff (I think he might have actually BEEN communist) It’s all become so confused that at times it almost seems as though wrestling was fake.
Now, I don’t mean to say that I didn’t know the basics, most of it is common knowledge. I know of course that NWO started as a small tee shirt and beer cozy company in Newport Kentucky. They were historic in that they only sold black merchandise. Featuring products emblazoned with their company NWO logo, which stood for Newport Worldwide Originals, their popularity took-off with high school males and young blue collar workers. Soon, they had gained major fame in the cut-throat world of logo tee shirts sales in Northern Kentucky. It was time to take the company to the next level. The answer seemed obvious, contract a major sports entertainment television company to create a complicated crossover, invasion storyline based on similar plots in Japanese pro wrestling for the sole purpose of selling screen-printed tee shirts! If they played their cards right, the owners of NWO believed that they might even find an angle to push their poorly selling Wolfpack line…and what followed was wrestling history.
I had a lot to learn if I was going to take that limited information and write a post on a website as popular as Cold Slither. Trying to get a little more foundation I began to ask Classick the meaning of a few terms that I had heard in some wrestling podcasts. Phrases like “Heel turn” “Face” “Go” and “Over” He explained that they had began as industry terms that eventually expanded gained use in “dirt sheets” which were wrestling magazines or websites. I then tried asking for a few more definitions. Things like “squared circle” “top rope” “body slam” and “Hulk Hogan” He said that he didn’t have time for my dumb questions and that I needed to go do some research.
Using the time honored pretend-blogger method, I got on WikiPedia and read all I could on the subject but it all seemed so impersonal. Words …stories ….facts …what did it all mean? I had to really get to know the NWO, I had to live the life, to get inside their minds. I had to BE NWO! I immediately began going bald…but just on top of my head. I let the hair in back grow long and luxurious. I started using an enormous collection of bandanas (and sometimes cowboy hats) to cover the baldness. I also practiced ripping my shirt off, randomly throughout the day. Considering the fact that I am a little less in shape than your average professional wrestler (morbidly obese) sitting shirtless at various times in the day sometimes got a bit awkward…Sunday dinner at my parents for instance. But I carried on, for the sake of Cold Slither! I grew a glorious Hulk Hogan mustache and practiced “championship belt air guitar” day and night.
Finally I was ready for the greatest NWO challenge of all. I began “Invading” things. I started small by invading my living room but between the damage to my own property and my wife’s less than supportive response, I decided to take the show on the road. I invaded a local Dairy Queen scaring away all the customers and breaking a guitar (I carry one with me wherever I go now) over the manager’s head. While I was writing NWO in chocolate syrup on the unconscious manager’s back I wondered if I was getting the full experience.
I had turned heel. I had started to act like Andrew Dice Clay. I had pushed the “creativity…not rules” philosophy of my office to the limit by driving my pickup into the side of the building, spray painting on every surface I could find, getting on the company intercom to bring everybody “following messages paid for by the NWO” I even spontaneously invaded other departments. I had been arrested three times and my wife had left me weeks ago. Is this what it was all about? Was this the true meaning of NWO? Anarchy for no purpose? In the end, I decided, sure that was it. Good enough.
I sent the draft of my blog to the crew whereupon it was immediately rejected. They put a filler post in its place and asked me very politely to “try a little harder next time.” I agreed and resolved that from now on I would FULLY understand a topic before trying to write about it. I’ve already received word, that next weeks subject is “Escape from New York” I don’t know what the hell that is either but how hard can it be?
Claymation Werewolf has an evil plan to bring about a Nostalgia Revolution for a time when cartoons were actually good. You can find more of his posts about toys, cartoons, puppets and horror on his blog at http://claymationwerewolf.blogspot.com.