July 7, 1996, WCW held its annual summer pay per view Bash at the Beach. Little did the fans know we were going to see the biggest heel turn in wrestling history. I remember watching this PPV at the age of 9 in utter shock to see Hulk Hogan side with Hall and Nash to form the NWO.
What’s even more interesting than the actual heel turn itself now, is learning that this turn almost didn’t happen.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of this heel turn and a few weeks ago I learned that this turn was almost made by another superstar. After listening to the 83 weeks podcast by Eric Bischoff, I learned that Hogan was not always on board with the move. Bischoff and WCW creative had a contingency plan in place if Hogan wasn’t going to be the 3rd guy, Sting was a viable option to make the heel turn.
During this time, Sting was one of the main staples of the WCW team. To this day, anytime I think of WCW, the first face that pops in my head is Sting. He was Mr. WCW from day one. Having him make the heel turn would have been just as dramatic, but I don’t think the longevity of the heel turn would have been as successful as the original product we got.
What made the trio of Hall, Nash, and Hogan work was the arrogance they portrayed for their characters. They owned WCW as outsiders. Hollywood Hogan was a perfect moniker thanks to Hogan being in multiple movies at this time too.
Having Sting turn on his teammates after they all painted their faces in solidarity would have been an amazing dig for fans. The heel turn could have happened 2 ways in this match.
Option 1, the match goes the same way it did, instead of having Hogan come down the ramp, Sting would receive the hot tag from Macho Man, instead of going after Scott Hall, he turns to a fallen Randy Savage and attacks him. Option 2, Sting suffers an “injury” early in the match, having to be taken to the back to receive medical attention. He comes back down the ramp when it looks like Savage and Luger are in trouble, looking like the savior for his team, then boom! He aligns with the Outsiders to be the one to break my 9 year old heart at the time.
As stated earlier, the only concern I have is the longevity of the NWO with Sting turning. When he eventually made the jump and joined the NWO Wolfpack, it just didn’t look right. It didn’t come across as believable for his character and is often a forgotten moment in his WCW career.
WCW creativity got this heel turn right the first go around and they gave fans pure gold. It will forever be marked in history as the greatest heel turn of all times. We gained pivotal moments for DDP, Sting, Goldberg, and many others thanks to this iconic move.