National wrestling alliance
“back from the dead”
The world of professional wrestling was bigger then it had ever been. “The Monday Night Wars” between WCW and WWE had catapulted pro wrestling into mainstream entertainment. The NWO, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Goldberg was household names. The TNT and USA cable networks was scoring rating highs in the cable television wars with Monday Night Nitro and RAW leading the way. Other cable networks looked to their success and wanted a taste of it themselves. They looked at the upstart promotion in the eastern United States, ECW, but everything agreed that it was too risky to put the product on the air. Other stations thought of starting up their own promotion but where scared away that the bottom will fall out of the market and the cost would outweigh gain. But one company, Viacom, took the thought to heart.
With their purchase of MTV and CMY and the newer stations VH1 and MTV2, Viacom had a host of channels with the same audience that was turning off their stations to watch professional wrestling on Monday Nights. They decided that they where going to enter the Monday Night Wars themselves but start earlier then both shows at 7 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m. They then decided to follow it up with their hit shows “The Real World” and “The Osbournes” at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. With the thinking of 2 hours of pro wrestling was enough and fans would watch their other programs instead of switching to another channel to watch more wrestling, the plan was ready to go through but they needed one more thing.
Executives knew that they needed a big star to revolve the show around. A man that everybody knew and people would follow, they looked around the world and most pitched The Ultimate Warrior as the man and they sat down with him. Contracts where ready to be signed until the “Montreal Screwjob” happened and Bret “The Hitman” Hart became available.
Viacom quickly sat down with Bret Hart and pitched him the offer. Hart listened closely as they talked about having a deal in the works with the NWA to use their name and brand. They went on to show him the budget they had for talent and what they expected of the promotion. Hart told them they where looking at the present and not the future. He convinced the brass that they needed to be a step ahead of the WCW and WWE and offer a different kind of product instead of copying them. Viacom agreed and soon Bret Hart started making calls.
WCW was in turmoil backstage as the popularity of the N.W.O. Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page has left many wrestlers on the backburner stuck in mid card duties. Hart knew one of them very well in Chris Benoit and saw the potential in others such as Chris Jericho, Eddue Guerrero, Raven, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Dean Malenko. Benoit listend to the pitch from Hart and was intrigued. He told Hart that none of them was happy the direction they where going in and planned on leaving WCW when their contracts ended. Hart asked if there was anyway they could get out sooner and Benoit said they where try. Benoit talked to others the next day and soon whispers started in the locker room and soon found their way to Ric Flair. Flair confronted Benoit about the rumors and finally Benoit caved in and told him. Flair said that he knew backstage politics better then anybody and would help them get out of WCW if he and some others could go with them.
A couple of weeks later, Chris Jericho choked out Bill Goldberg backstage before a match and was threatened with suspension by Eric Bischoff. Flair then went to Bischoff and promised him that the world would no about the incident, that the big, bad, Bill Goldberg lost a fight to little old, Chris Jericho. Bischoff didn’t like getting blackmailed but also didn’t see big things in any of the wrestlers. Flair added Bobby Heenan, Buff Bagwell, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, Steven Regal and Rick Steiner to the list of people wanting out and soon they where given their releases and signed on with the NWA.
Bret then turned to the company that was E.C.W. After signing longtime ECW wrestlers, Tazz already to a free agent contract. He helped Hart watch the ECW shows and talked about the potential of some of their stars. He had seen Raven and Shane Douglas in WCW and each man was used incorrectly and where botg convinced that they could become bigger stars if used correctly. Tazz then told Bret Hart to pay attention to Rob Van Dan and Lance Storm. Hart knew of Storm and came out a big fan of RVD’s newer style in the ring and decided they needed both men. They had talks with the men but found themselves blocked by ECW owner, Paul Heyman, to obtaining then. Hart knew the promotion needed these guys and went back to Viacom. He told Viacom that they needed these guys from ECW and something had to be worked out. Viacom confessed to Hart that before starting the NWA they looked into airing ECW but was turned off bu the violence of the company. Hart came up with an idea and they agreed on an offer to Heyman. Hart flew back to New York and met with Heyman and offered him a televison contract on MTV2 for his ECW company. The cost of the contract will be a partnership between the two brands with ECW keeping it’s hardcore style while also serving as a developmental ground for the N.W.A. Heyman was boxed into the corner and with the financial worries about ECW agreed to the deal. Soon ECW talent left for new N.W.A, knowing they had saved the company.
Bret had a great roster of talent, some new and some old but all could really put on a show but something was missing. Bret longed for his brother, Owen, to be with him but knew the contracts of the WWE and Vince McMahon left no room to get out of early. The brothers sat back and tried to plan something but neither could thing of a way. Finally Owen called Bret and told him about Sable not being happy and was ready to sue the WWE and Mr. McMahon. Hart wasn’t a fan of using women for just the looks in wrestling but he couldn’t doubt the popularity of Sable or his earlier signing of Sunny. He flew down Sable to meet with him and Viacom to get information on her problems with the WWE. Viacom loved the idea of Sable being involved with the new company and went on to offer her ways to branch off to other parts of the network, Sable agreed to sign on with the N.W.A. but Bret wanted one more thing out of her. Sable agreed and after a hefty signing bonus from Viacom offered to Vince to drop the lawsuit against the WWE if he would release Owen from his contract. McMahon didn’t like being more less blackmailed by her but much like Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman it was a deal he couldn’t pass up. The deal was finalized and after adding Ken Shamrock’s release to the pact both Owen and Ken signed on with the NWA.
Bret put on the final touches of the company’s roster with the signing of two veterans of the business in Ted Dibiase, Roddy Piper and Jimmy Hart to help him on-camera and in backstage roles. He looked at the NWA roster and marveled at the talent they were able to assemble.
He knew he had something special and on January 1st, 1999 everybody else would too.
The announce team
The announce team