TRUE STORY BEHIND NWO NITRO"
it can be told. To the average wrestling fan, the angle that ended the 12/22/97 edition of WCW Monday Nitro was nothing more
than the spectacle of Hollywood Hulk Hogan opening a mysterious gift box to find a dummy head made up to resemble his own
likeness. In reality, it was the payoff of months of secret negotiations. You see, that was not just any head. It was, in
fact, the famous Head that has accompanied Al Snow over the past several weeks in ECW.
The story is a sordid one, indeed. It has been well
documented that Tod Gordon left ECW months ago after an unsuccessful attempt to have a mass exodus of ECW talent jump ship
and sign with WCW. The plan was a complete failure...or so it seemed. For an unspecified, yet undoubtedly hefty finder's fee,
Gordon informed WCW that ECW owner Paul Heyman neglected to sign Head to a long-term ECW contract. WCW promptly opened talks
But of course, nothing in this business stays a secret for long, and the WWF soon got wind that Head was a free agent. (It
is rumored that Head's people actually leaked the news to the WWF in an attempt to play both sides against the middle, a la
Bret Hart last year.) A bidding war ensued. At one point, the WWF assumed it to be a lock that Head was coming in, and booked
Head to win the '98 Royal Rumble. The WWF wanted Head to join Degeneration X, but Shawn Michaels nixed the idea, as Michaels
has major heat with Head (Head has never had anything good to say about Michaels).
However, WCW responded with a huge offer on 12/17 (rumored
to be in the high six-figure range), and Head officially signed with WCW on 12/19. Hoping to get a return on their investment
immediately, WCW hotshotted Head's debut as the closing angle for the 12/22 Nitro. Hogan opened the box to see Head as Bret
Hart and Sting advanced on the ring (the ego clash backstage what with all that star power on at the same time is a story
in and of itself, as each one fought with the other three all weekend). It has not yet been decided whether Head will join
the NWO or side with WCW. Head's storyline should be furthered at Starrcade this Sunday.
The morale of the ECW locker room has been reported
to us as everything from "shaken" to "devastated." "When he heard the news, Taz cried for days," said our source. Head had
become disenchanted with ECW over recent weeks. At least one source reports that Head was personally hurt by Stevie Richards
working the internet with a story of going to Italy when Stevie was actually laying low to make a surprise return at ECW's
November To Remember PPV. Head and Snow had not been getting along as of late, either, as they were on opposite sides of the
fence in the Bret Hart-Vince McMahon double-cross controversy.
But the real story may be that the "pie" that is the
power base of WCW has now been cut into even thinner "slices." With Head, Hogan, Bret, Sting, Flair, Piper, Savage, Hall,
Nash, Raven, and Joey Maggs all struggling for control, experts insist that a backstage blow-up is inevitable. Only time will
tell if, to quote Jeff Jarrett, "the investment is worth the 'Head'-aches."
Harry Simon is a trivia-fueled
wisenheimer who has been writing about pro wrestling off and on for 16 years and counting. Harry has written trivia pieces
for both the Wrestling Observer and Live Audio Wrestling websites, and contributed a ton of research to his fellow Las Vegan
Mike Tenay in preparation for the first NWA TNA PPV in 2002. Harry has also done play-by-play, color commentary, and ring
announcing for indy promotions. Harry invented the Von Erich Match Rating System, which you can learn about HERE.