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The Fingerpoke of Doom & The Failure of WCW

The Downfall of WCW
The Fingerpoke of Doom

Nash, Hall, and Hogan with the world in their hands (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Nash, Hall, and Hogan with the world in their hands (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Today, Professor Finnegan is going to take you down memory road, back to that oh so infamous night where Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan helped confirm how little the denizens of the WCW locker room actually cared about their fans. I’m going to be fair here and not assign blame to anyone. Nash says he started booking weeks after it happened, while Bill Goldberg claims it was all Hogan and Nash playing their creative control card written into the fat contracts Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner threw their way. From the countless stories that have been told, backstage politicking by a couple wrestlers who had far too much control over their own destinies seems the likelier story.

For those of you not in the know, this is when I explain to you what The Fingerpoke of Doom was. It happened during the heyday of World Championship Wrestling, back in the 1990’s, when interest in wrestling was great enough for two companies. WCW and Ted Turner were in fierce competition over ratings with their Professional Wrestling rivals the WWE and Vincent Kennedy McMahon. For almost all of two years, WCW handily defeated the WWE, week in and week out: until Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Attitude Era came around. That’s when the WWE finally started to catch up, making their way back to the number one spot.

Promo for the documentary series Monday Night War, which covers the competition between WWE and WCW in the 1990's (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Promo for the documentary series Monday Night War, which covers the competition between WWE and WCW in the 1990’s (Courtesy of WWE.com)

By January 4th, 1999, interest in WCW had slipped considerably, with the company losing fans nightly to their competition. Fans of the Georgia-Based promotion were growing tired of seeing the same Main Event guys since Hall and Nash first helped usher in the era of the heel, Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Once Hogan helped make the New World Order the premiere stable in Professional Wrestling, that’s all Bischoff, the chief booker at the time, ever gave a s—t about. It became all NWO, all the time. If you weren’t in the NWO, you were either not going to get television time, or you were going to be squashed during the little bit that you did by someone who was in the NWO. The entire locker room hated it and so did the fans.

So, on that fateful night in January, fans were already disappointed, due to the Main Event of Starrcade 1998. At that Pay-per-view, Bill Goldberg, who was still undefeated at the time, defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Kevin Nash. Big Sexy won the match via some interference by Scott Hall and a taser. Fans loved Goldberg and nobody wanted to see the NWO win again, whether it was the classic black and white NWO, or the f—king Wolfpac. Up to this point, it had been years of complete and utter dominance by the New World Order and any of their relating factions.

As I’m sure you’ll understand, fans were even more incensed when Goldberg was robbed of his rematch on the January 4th episode of Nitro that was promised to him the evening after Starrcade. He was “unable to make it to the arena in time,” due to being accused of “Aggravated Stalking” by Miss Elizabeth. She was originally supposed to accuse Goldberg of rape, but Bill wanted no part of that, at all. The whole thing was ridiculous. The Police station in town was right across the street from the arena where Monday Night Nitro was being held that night. It was a massive cluster-f—k that somehow, only got worse from there.

Goldberg, mere months into his career, after he won the United States Championship (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Goldberg, mere months into his career, after he won the United States Championship (Courtesy of WWE.com)

In the absence of Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash decided to offer the match planned for that night to “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. Nash was the leader of the Wolfpac, who were fan-favorites, and Hogan, who had retired (in-storyline), was the leader of the classic black and white, the heels. People weren’t happy with two NWO stars in the Main Event, but at least it looked like they were going to get a show. Instead, what they got, was Hogan and Nash circling each other for a while, only to have Hogan poke Big Daddy Cool in the chest, sending Señor Over-Sell down to the mat like he got shot.

It was awful. Then, with Nash “incapacitated,” Hogan got the one, two, three. All the NWO guys then came into the ring and celebrated, uniting both factions and shoving the whole concept of the New World Order right back down the gullets of fans who couldn’t stomach another single, solitary taste. To the point where Goldberg finally got back to the arena and ran in with Lex Luger to attack the reunited NWO members, but of course, Luger turned on him and showed that he too, had joined the ranks of the black, red, and white.

It showed how out of touch the WCW Brass was with their fans. Also on this broadcast, by the way, was the finest display of spoiler-alert be damned, underhanded business tactics that Eric Bischoff could have ever possibly managed.

Foley, celebrating with DX, after winning his first WWE Championship on the January 4th, 1999 episode of Monday Night Raw (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Foley, celebrating with DX, after winning his first WWE Championship on the January 4th, 1999 episode of Monday Night Raw (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Thankfully, all that did was give the unfortunate souls waiting for Nash vs. Hogan, another channel to tune into. The Fingerpoke of Doom is constantly cited as one of the biggest contributing factors to WCW’s demise, and it’s with good reason. It showed that they had no interest in their fans; only in what the contracts of men like Nash, Hogan, Goldberg, Hall, and many others would allow. If you let the inmates run the asylum, eventually people are going to notice that a bunch of crazy assholes are running around, calling all the shots.

And nobody wants to watch that.

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