By Mike Mooneyham

Feb. 17, 2002

Tonight marks the beginning of one of the most critical periods in the history of the World Wrestling Federation.

While 2001 will be remembered as the year WCW met its demise, it also began a slide for the WWF from which the company has yet to fully recover. With the lack of any notable competition, the end of the Monday night wars and the failed WCW invasion angle, the WWF has been hard-pressed to generate the type of excitement and buzz that catapulted the company to unprecedented levels during the late ‘90s.

The WWF made a major stride in bolstering its product three months ago by bringing Ric Flair into the fold. Tonight the company takes a bolder, and much riskier, step by re-introducing a threesome that Vince McMahon cryptically calls a “cancer.”

Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan will make their heavily hyped return at tonight’s No Way Out (NWO) pay-per-view. McMahon and company now seem to be putting their bets on a group that has proven, at different times, to be boon and bust for a promotion. The NWO, which debuted in WCW in 1996, initially popped big numbers for the Eric Bischoff-led outfit. When the smoke cleared, however, the company was in shambles, while Hogan, Nash and Hall were even more vested in the Millionaires Club.

McMahon, naturally, is hoping that fans remember the NWO’s glory days and not the role they played in the eventual collapse of WCW.

[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Several WWF insiders have indicated that tension has started to rise in the locker room. Hall, in particular, has already generated backstage heat by reportedly telling one WWF star: “I really like your finisher … I can’t wait to kick out of it.” Sources say Hall has managed to ruffle the feathers of several other WWF performers, but that McMahon plans to keep him on a short leash. Steve Austin reportedly has expressed serious concerns about working with Hall in a tentatively scheduled match at Wrestlemania.

Hall and Nash, meanwhile, were sent to Les Thatcher’s WWF developmental camp in Cincinnati for two days last week, reportedly to work out their ring rust, but as one source noted, “to observe how they interacted with other wrestlers.”

Tonight’s PPV from Milwaukee will mark Hogan’s first WWF appearance since August 1993. Hall (as Razor Ramon) and Nash’s (as Diesel) last WWF show was in 1996 when the two joined Clique cohorts Shawn Michaels, Sean Waltman and Hunter Hearst Helmsley for their infamous curtain call at Madison Square Garden, which resulted in Triple H being disciplined and bumped from a probable King of the Ring victory in favor of an emerging “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Hall, Nash and Hogan will appear on Raw Monday night at the All-State Arena in Chicago. Smackdown tapings will be the following night in Rockford, Ill.

– Former WCW champ Steve “Sting” Borden will be guest speaker on Feb. 24 as part of a special “He Touched Me” crusade at Miles Road Baptist Church, 816 Miles Road, Summerville. The program will start at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. For more information, call the church office at 873-7887.

Other events later that week begin at 7 p.m. and include: Rick Stanley, Elvis Presley’s stepbrother, on Feb. 25; recording artist Calvin Hunt, Feb. 26; and former biker and brawler Dwayne Blue, Feb. 27.

– For those looking for an inspirational read, Chad Bonham’s “Wrestling with God” goes beyond the ring and behind the scenes with 10 wrestling personalities whose lives were dramatically changed by an encounter with someone more powerful than any opponent they had ever met in the squared circle. Life’s greatest battles don’t happen in the ring, and Bonham does an admirable job in telling the stories of how these men were able to transform their lives after surrendering themselves over to a life-changing God.


Among those spotlighted include Sting, Ted DiBiase, Nikita Koloff, Ivan Koloff, Tully Blanchard, George South and Tatanka.

The book is published by RiverOak Publishing and lists for $14.99.

– American Classic Wrestling will present its “Love Hurts” show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Danny Jones Armory, 5000 Lackawanna Boulevard, North Charleston. Main event will be a last-man standing match with Jess Bradley vs. The Amazing Velvet. Ticket prices are $6 advance, $8 at the door. For more information, call 745-1033.

– George’s Sports Bar and Grill, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the WWF’s No Way Out pay-per-view tonight beginning at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5.

– Kevin Nash has filed a lawsuit against WCW, now known as Universal Wrestling Corp., for royalties he claims he is owed, as well as use of his name, image and persona. The suit accuses WCW of “refusing to pay royalties, underpaying them, delaying payment for years, and refusing to furnish records that would allow wrestlers to determine what percentages they were owed.”

The suit claimed he’s not the only wrestler who didn’t receive royalties due. WCW “engaged in a systematic pattern and practice designed to avoid paying the professional wrestlers millions of dollars in royalties” for merchandising and licensing activities, the complaint said. One of Nash’s attorneys, John L. Taylor Jr., says he’s preparing suits on behalf of other wrestlers.

– Former mat great Wahoo McDaniel, still in dire need of a kidney transplant, plans to leave Charlotte soon to move to Houston where he will live with his sister and brother-in-law.

– Chris Benoit, Mike Awesome and Kanyon are all looking at possible April returns.

– The Hardys, Lita, Mighty Molly and Jackie will appear on NBC’s “Fear Factor” on Feb. 25 one hour before Raw.

– Among the veterans scheduled to appear at the WWF’s Fan Axcess convention prior to Wrestlemania are The Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Jim Cornette and Brother Love (Bruce Prichard).