Never Turn Your Back: nWo Wolfpac Was An Underrated Stable (& WCW Ruined Them)
The mistakes of WCW are still second-guessed today with over two decades passing since the company went out of business. The nature of wrestling will see the bad overanalyzed long after the fact, but some of the criticism towards WCW turns into revisionist history from fans and pundits.
One odd decision to get hate from various pockets of the wrestling community was the New World Order splitting up. The Wolfpac specifically has been accused of being an unnecessary act that harmed the company’s future, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. WCW found great success with the act and it was the ending of the Wolfpac that provided the long-term negatives.
WWE’s Role In Harming Their Legacy
The biggest win of Vince McMahon’s career was standing tall at the end of the Monday Night Wars. WWE not only outlasted WCW, but McMahon purchased the library of WCW at an extremely cheap price. Vince’s ego reached new heights knowing he had nearly full control of the wrestling industry.
The dozens of WWE productions and documentaries looking back at WCW painted the Wolfpac as a turning point in the company falling apart. WWE’s narrative claimed that fans were confused about the group splitting up into too many versions. This simply isn’t true when watching back the shows or even living through the Monday Night Wars in real-time.
How The Wolfpac Took Over WCW
WCW thrived with the New World Order on top, but the act started to grow stale. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were the only two names from the group consistently in the main event picture. The stable splitting into two factions allowed Kevin Nash to break out as a face leading the Wolfpac. Nash thrived as a charismatic charmer getting to show his full personality without sacrificing for Hogan.
Two huge moments for WCW in 1998 featured Lex Luger and Sting jumping ship from WCW to the Wolfpac. Fans who already enjoyed the cool dynamic of the nWo finally had a productive way to cheer the faction when playing faces featuring two WCW icons.
The storyline of the Wolfpac recruiting Sting was arguably WCW’s best angle of the year. Luger and the fans convincing Sting to join created an all-time loud pop when he revealed his Wolfpac shirt for the first time. The emotion of such a reveal is hard to book, but WCW made it happen with a surprisingly great build.
Konnan benefited almost as much as the others by getting more promo time and showing his personality. Fans tried to recite his promos in Spanish during Wolfpac segments much like WWE fans during Road Dogg’s entrance. Most importantly, the ratings and buy rates were still huge in 1998 allowing WCW to hold their own against Steve Austin’s run as the face of WWE.
How WCW Killed Their Hottest Act
The crowd reaction for the Wolfpac made them the hottest act in WCW after Goldberg. There were even many fans cheering for Nash to end Goldberg’s undefeated streak at Starrcade 1998.
WCW’s bigger problem was reuniting the nWo and ending the Wolfpac by having Nash drop the WCW Championship to Hogan with the infamous “finger poke of doom.” This horrible move was the real turning point for multiple reasons. The disgracing of a prized world title was bad enough, but the ramifications ruined all the momentum of the Wolfpac.
Nash was once again secondary to Hogan entering tag matches with a now heel Luger. The prior few years of top success for Luger ended around this time with him never feeling like a main eventer again. Konnan moved down the card after showing loyalty to Rey Mysterio against Nash and getting kicked out.
WCW dropped the ball by making Hogan the top star and having everyone move back in lower positions. The fan love of the Wolfpac could have seen that act thriving for at least another year with new members rotating in and out. Hogan’s version of the nWo Elite ended a few months later making this all for nothing.
NWo Wolfpac’s Legacy
WWE may have buried the Wolfpac in various productions, but they clearly still love making money off the act. Sting’s Funko Pop with the red face paint was one of the hottest sellers for the valuable toy line.
Merchandising rights to the red and black t-shirts, hats and jackets are always successful on WWE Shop when in stock. Celebrities have been shown rocking their merchandise, like Aziz Ansari hosting SNL and Kendall Jenner being spotted by paparazzi in a giant Wolfpac shirt.
Any fan to watch back WCW PPVs and Nitro from the latter half of 1998 will see the Wolfpac getting huge support with massive pops and the live atmopshere coming off like a party. If you were a wrestling fan in that timeline, there is a great chance you were declaring “Wolfpac 4 life” with your friends.
Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling gave us the greatest version of Nash, an incredible rebirth of Sting, the last great run of Luger and the peak of Konnan all in one group. However, the greatest accomplishment from the Wolfpac was creating an act that will still provide goosebumps watching their entrances and promos back today. Don’t turn your back on the Wolfpac, even if WWE documentaries say otherwise.