Hardcore wrestling fans love to look back in history at great angles and compare them to today’s product. One of the greatest angles of all time involved World Championship Wrestling’s’ New World Order (NWO). They had attitude, new members seem to jump in every week, and they took over the WCW events wearing cool black and white gear. (That did change with the NWO Wolfpac, who were black and red). Comparably, TNA Impact Wrestling’s storyline has been dominated for well over a year by a group called Aces & Eights. They appeared in black and white shirts and masks and beat down many of the TNA stars during their build up.
Sounds pretty similar, doesn’t it? Certainly you have the same guys behind the TNA angle in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, so there will be some that draw lines between the NWO and any TNA angle that they develop. My take is that there are some key differences between the NWO and Aces & Eights that are worth considering.
Timing the turn. Both angles featured a heel turn by a key wrestler. For the NWO, that turn came at the beginning when Hulk Hogan betrayed the fans to join Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to take over WCW. TNA let Aces & Eights appear slowly, in masks, leaving the fans guessing. It took several months in TNA before Bully Ray was ultimately revealed as the President of Aces & Eights.
The Role of the GM. In the NWO angle, the GM was Bischoff, who ultimately flipped and became one of the leaders of the NWO. Hogan, as the GM of TNA, gave glimpses that he might turn at times, but to this point continues to be the face of TNA against Bully Ray and his brothers.
After the reveal. The NWO was unstoppable, won championship gold, and added new members almost every week, becoming a second brand for WCW. Aces & Eights, on the other hand, showed weakness even before Bully Ray’s turn, with key group members “unmasked” before their leader was introduced. After the turn, Aces & Eights appeared unable to beat anybody, losing match after match. Their tough persona to me was totally gone after all eight members were run out of the ring by a returning 55-year-old Sting.
The end of the run. In the original NWO, the angle ended with two groups: the NWO Elite and the NWO B-Team. The Elite group dissolved quickly, leaving four members in the NWO-B Team as a comedic group of jobbers. Aces & Eights went a different route, with members “thrown out” of the group for losing matches or challenging Bully Ray.
In the end, you had a four-man NWO, and at this writing a three-man Aces & Eights. Is Aces & Eights a copy of the NWO? My view is that each angle in history stands on its own, including this one. Looking back, one can see that both made good and bad decisions along the way. Unfortunately, like so many wrestlers approaching retirement, these angles simply went a bit longer than they should have.