At times, my little pea brain can still not comprehend that WCW is no longer around.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? Remember back when you could flip between two wrestling shows? If Raw wasn’t presenting something you wanted to watch, more wrestling was just a button or two away. That’s obviously no longer the case, and I think that has a lot to do with the somewhat lackadaisical programming WWE presents these days. After all, fans have no real (ie, free) option for their wrestling viewing pleasure, so the McMahons have a somewhat captive audience.
When examining the downfall of WCW, several key incidents spring to mind. The bungling of the Sting-Hogan match. The hiring of Vince Russo. Eric Bischoff’s fascination with celebrities. The general ineptitude of the company in general.
However, when tracing the collapse of this once great company, one event is almost always brought up: the Fingerpoke of Doom (a phrase made popular I believe by one Scott Keith).
Let’s recap. For the past 2+ years, the nWo has been running rampant. The group, which originally consisted of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall, added members on a seemingly weekly basis. Whereas the unit at first was home to top tier players in the industry, it was eventually watered down by adding the likes of Stevie Ray, and ummmm, Buff Bagwell. Still, the nWo was where it was at, as they pulverized WCW each and every week. The nWo was the only game in town, and WCW was a bunch of hacks.
Out of the blue, a phenomenon known as Bill Goldberg hit the scene. He was WCW’s last best hope, and was even booked in a manner that he was a threat to the almighty nWo. In fact, he was even put over Hulk Hogan for the WCW World title in an event at the Atlanta Georgia Dome that set records for the company both in terms of ratings and live gate.
So naturally he was booked to lose the title to Kevin Nash at the earliest opportunity.
Now as a refresher, by this point, the nWo had broken down into two factions: nWo Hollywood, led by Hogan, and nWo Wolfpac, with Nash and Hall. Bill Goldberg didn’t fit into the equation – after all, he was over and fans wanted to see him demolish anything in his path, so behind the scenes Hogan and Nash did everything in their power to get him shunted down the card.
They were succesful, as the spotlight was taken away from Goldberg and placed on the marquee match up in the promotion: Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash.
What? You were expecing something different?
This all led up to a huge Nitro that took place, once more, at the Georgia Dome. The match was built up throughout the show, and the arena was at a fever pitch by the time the main event arrived.
Nash mocked Hogan by tearing off his shirt and making goofy faces.
Finally, the fun and games were over, and Nash beckoned Hogan to “bring it on.” Tony Schiavone went into hyperbole overdrive, stating, “This is what professional wrestling, what WCW, is all about!”
Little did he know just how right he was.
Hogan rared back, and with all his might, lightly tapped Nash on the chest with his fingertip. Nash reacted as though someone had blasted him in the gut with a shotgun, crumpling to the mat…
…and Hogan fell to the ground, covering Nash for the 1-2-3 and the WCW World title.
Both nWo factions came in the ring to celebrate Hogan’s victory, with hugs and laughs all around.
It was a swerve – the nWo had duped the fans once again.
WCW’s last prayer came out to put an end to the farce…
…but was, of course, demolished in short order.
And as the night came to a close, Hogan and Nash hugged and laughed and gloated in the fact that they were, once more, on top of WCW.
So why, you may be asking, was the fingerpoke such a big deal? It’s pretty simple. The fans were sick of Hogan, sick of Nash, and sick of the nWo. They wanted something new, something different. Hogan and Nash, having seen that new thing on the horizon, knew their days on top of the mountain were numbered. Therfore, they made a pact to ensure that they would remain at the top, whether that was what the fans wanted or not.
With the fingerpoke, WCW was sending a loud and clear message to its fans: Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash are, and will remain, your main eventers. It doesn’t matter that you want Bill Goldberg on top, because that’s not what WE< want. And if you don’t like that, well, find something else to watch. In fact, we’ll even TELL YOU what else you can watch.
You see, this debacle took place the same night as Mick Foley capturing the WWF title for the first time, a fact that Schiavone alerted viewers to with the following statement: “Fans, if you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here at one time as Cactus Jack, is gonna win their World title. Ha ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats!”
Upon hearing that Foley was about to ascend to the top of the mountain, nearly 500,000 fans switched channels to Raw.
The damage had been done, and this was a blow from which WCW would never fully recover.
So the next time WWE presents crap and you’re asking why there is no real alternative, remember: it was Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash that gave YOU the finger.