In wrestling, there are two main divisions of characters – Faces, which are presented as the good guys, and heels, the bad guys. For his entire professional career, Hulk Hogan had been a face, and a babyface at that – often seen as the most heroic of the group. However, when Hogan left the WWF and made the switch to WCW, he became the leader of the New World Order (NWO), a villainous faction in the company.
Black t-shirts and rebellious attitudes led to immense popularity among fans, despite being the bad guys of the show. Thanks to this popularity, WCW became the new leader of the wrestling game, pushing WWF back a step.
A New Company
In 1994, wrestling was vastly different from when Hogan had started wrestling. After testifying against McMahon, Hogan signed with the WWF's biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Hogan was immediately the company's biggest star. Hogan's contract was not only huge financially, but it came with something that wrestlers would have killed to get: creative control.
Hogan not only had control over his own storylines but over sections of the company as a whole. One of the things he did with the control was to bring in young stars he thought would be successful, such as Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Triple H.
While WCW was a force to be reckoned with for a time, it soon became clear it wasn't going to last. Many people have pointed at Hogan and his creative control as the cause of the company's issues, but Eric Bischoff, the WCW manager, has denied it. In fact, Bischoff said he could count the number of times Hogan forced Bischoff to change something on two hands.
Kevin Nash has said in a tongue-in-cheek manner that Hogan frequently flaunted his control. Again, Hogan only had control over his own angle and matches. Some of the decisions he made hurt the WCW, but to say he was the reason it struggled is to give him too much credit.
Hogan switching to WCW and becoming part of the NWO kickstarted a renaissance in the wrestling world that would allow this unique version of entertainment to reach heights hitherto unseen. Chief among the reasons was the switch of such a famous face to such an incredible heel. Hogan was at the center of every wrestling fan's mind, and there were plenty of pay-per-view specials that featured him as the main event.
He even “wrestled” against random celebrities such as Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls, and “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. At one point, Hogan also fought in a tag team match with none other than Mr. T in his corner.
The Beginning of the End
WCW and Hogan were on the wrestling throne, but it wasn't long before the pendulum swung back the other way. In 1998, McMahon changed the WWF's direction to be more like shock TV and built it around the crass and dynamic Stone Cold Steve Austin. It left the once-revolutionary WCW concept looking tired and old in comparison.
In 2000, the WWF had again eclipsed the WCW, while infighting and bad management had crippled the WCW. In 2000 alone they lost something like sixty million dollars. They tried to bring in former WWF writer Vince Russo, but this ultimately spelled disaster, thanks in large part to Hogan.