The Infamous Fingerpoke of Doom Involving Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash
Ten days removed from WCW Starrcade 1998 (where Kevin Nash ended the infamous undefeated streak of Bill Goldberg), two significant blunders occurred: one involving Tony Schiavone and another involving Hulk Hogan, which led to the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom. It is a moment forever burned in the minds of wrestling fans and considered by many the beginning of the end for WCW.
By the beginning of 1999, the "Monday Night Wars" had shifted in favor of the World Wrestling Federation. Although the then WWF was firmly in control of the ratings over World Championship Wrestling, more often than not, the numbers were close.
In an attempt to salvage WCW’s lead in the ratings, Eric Bischoff had a few tricks up his sleeves.
Live Nitro vs Taped Raw
It was January 4th, 1999, and WCW was taping live for WCW Monday Nitro at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
On this fateful night, Nitro was up against a pre-taped edition of RAW.
A Bad Decision By Eric Bischoff
To sway viewers from switching over to RAW, Bischoff decided to give away the results of RAW‘s main event: Mankind’s WWF Championship victory over The Rock.
"If you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, fans," Tony Schiavone would say, "do not."
He continued, "We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here one time as ‘Cactus Jack,’ is going to win their world title. Oh, that’s gonna put some butts in the seats, eh!"
The move backfired for WCW.
Changing The Channel
Within minutes, Nielsen ratings showed that several hundred thousand viewers changed channels from Nitro on TNT to RAW on the USA Network, then turned back for the closing five minutes of Nitro after Mankind won the big title.
Had WCW not given away the RAW main event results, they would have been the victor in ratings that evening. The final ratings for the night were 5.7 for RAW and 5.0 for Nitro.
That was only the first blunder of the evening.
We were also ten days removed from Kevin Nash ending the undefeated streak of Bill Goldberg. Promoted for the main event of this Nitro was their rematch: Goldberg’s chance for revenge.
Kevin Nash claimed he had something to prove. He didn’t want a tainted victory to be how he won the top prize. It was all set. Then, Bill Goldberg got arrested.
During the episode, a crew of cops came and told Goldberg that there was a warrant for his arrest. He would later learn that he was going to be charged with “Aggravated Stalking.” He was accused by none other than Miss Elizabeth.
It couldn’t be Hollywood Hulk Hogan pulling the strings on this, could it?
Hogan Retires on The Tonight Show
"I had to come to the crossroads here," Hogan explained to Leno on the show. "I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted to do in wrestling. My family is secure. I’ve had a great career. I wanted to come on [The Tonight Show] and officially announce my retirement."
A Wrestler in The White House?
Hogan continued, "All good things must come to an end. I had a great career. The fans have been great. I love you guys and thanks for sticking with me. This really helps me segue into being the next President of the United States."
That’s right; Hulk Hogan was announcing his intent to run for President in the 2000 U.S. election.
Yet, one week later, on Monday Nitro, who does Kevin Nash see first after finding out about Goldberg getting arrested? Hollywood Hulk Hogan: the “law and order politician.”
Things were beginning to look fishy.
A Change to The Main Event
Kevin Nash soon came out and asked new WCW President Ric Flair to put Hulk Hogan in the main event. Nash knew Hogan was behind Goldberg’s arrest, and he wanted to put Hulk down.
“Big Sexy,” said he’d take them both on if Goldberg got back in time.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
Goldberg is Released
Before the “Grudge Match” took place between Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan, Goldberg was seen at the police precinct banging his head against the wall before the police informed him that Elizabeth wasn’t telling the truth and that they were releasing him.
Goldberg then stared at the police officer and stated, "Take me to the Dome!"
Although Miss Elizabeth fell apart under questioning, she kept Goldberg occupied just long enough.
The Fingerpoke of Doom – The Match Itself
Back at the Dome, the bell rang. The match started with Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash circling one another, soaking in the nuclear crowd reaction for a bit.
Then, Hogan poked Nash in the chest.
Nash immediately fell to the mat like a sack of potatoes, followed by Hogan covering him for the pin. Hulk Hogan was crowned the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
After what would later go down in the annals of wrestling history as the Fingerpoke of Doom transpired, Scott Hall (who accompanied Nash to the ring for the match) and Scott Steiner (who accompanied Hogan) entered the ring to celebrate with Nash and Hogan.
The nWo was reunited, and the good folks in the Georgia Dome were not happy.
The ring was soon covered in garbage.
The nWo swerve all
After their actions, Goldberg ran out and attempted to clear the ring. His efforts were futile as a just-turned-heel Lex Luger soon jumped him.
Goldberg was then handcuffed to the ring ropes and tasered by Scott Hall before having “nWo 4 life” spraypainted on his back.
The show ended with Hogan and Nash spraypainting “nWo” on the title belt.
Kevin Nash Opens Up About What Happened
Kevin Nash did not mince his words when asked if he thought this night played a significant role in wrestling history.
“The Fingerpoke of Doom was nothing,” Nash admitted. “The Fingerpoke of Doom was just trying to realign the nWo to face off with Goldberg, but Goldberg ended up getting injured.”
Nash continued, “I love how the story of my life is how I beat Goldberg to turn around and take the Fingerpoke of Doom a week later. Boy, that did me a lot of good. When you look at how people perceive the whole thing, it’s ridiculous.”
Goldberg Gave His Thoughts to Steve Austin
For his part, Bill Goldberg was on The Broken Skull Sessions with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin asked him how he took losing the title to Nash and then watching it go back to Hogan via The Fingerpoke of Doom.
“Honestly, man, at that point in my life, I just looked at it as a loss,” Goldberg shared with Austin. “I didn’t big picture it by any means because I didn’t know enough about the business. I didn’t.
“The more you analyze stuff, the more it [upsets] you off that, ‘Oh, it happened this way because of this. The front office is going this way and being run by these guys!’ I didn’t want to lobotomize myself. We do it enough as it is. I didn’t know enough to really pass judgment or realize anything. I really didn’t. I just didn’t."
Hogan Has His Say
Hulk Hogan would chalk it all up to clashing egos behind the scenes when asked about the Fingerpoke of Doom and whether it played a role in WCW’s end.
“The whole thing just went bad,” Hogan said. “Guys were showing up and going [imitating Scott Hall] ‘Hey yo, buzzkill! I don’t want to wrestle. I didn’t bring my gear.’ Huh? You didn’t bring your wrestling gear?
“I remember Scott Hall telling me he didn’t bring his wrestling gear. [Imitating Hall again] ‘I’d rather talk than wrestle. Hogan, you’re a buzzkill.’ That was the whole attitude.”
Hogan continued, “It was all the above, you know? Eric [Bischoff] was on. Then Eric was off. Eric was in the wrestling mode, and then he was in Scott Hall and Kevin Nash mode. I was in wrestling mode; then, I was influenced by people.
“It happened so fast. We really didn’t know enough about the business back then to take care of it.
“I think, looking back at it, hindsight being 20/20, I think I’d be in a place now where I could handle that success so quickly. None of us were really ready for it and the [Fingerpoke of Doom], and stuff like that was the beginning of the demise of WCW.”
The Fingerpoke of Doom was undoubtedly a disaster for WCW as it lost them viewers in the weeks and months that followed. Did it kill WCW? No, that’s not how it works. Poor management did. That doesn’t mean it was good for business, however.
There was a path they could have taken after this. They tried, but then Goldberg got injured. A controversial angle like this with a ruined follow-up will always be judged more harshly.
For The Good of Mankind
The most positive thing to come from this whole ordeal was what it did for Mick Foley.
Famously, Tony Schiavone was instructed to spoil what was going on, on WWF Monday Night Raw. Schiavone spoiled, then dismissed Mick Foley’s upcoming and triumphant WWF Championship win as an absolute joke.
It was a massive moment in Mick Foley’s career that helped cement his main event status.
When asked how it changed the perception of him in the wrestling business, Mick Foley responded, “When the taping results came out, and there was the instantaneous switching of hundreds of thousands of TV sets, I think I went from being a highly recognized role player to a leading man in WWE.”
Foley continued, “I still sometimes wonder if I wasn’t just a very good role player, but at least for a period of time, the results begged to differ.”
In hindsight, it certainly wasn’t all bad. The Fingerpoke of Doom is one of the most fascinating stories during the Monday Night Wars of professional wrestling.
It is a perfect illustration of how much the two companies pushed each other, for better or worse. Without WCW driving the legend by trashing Foley’s WWF title win, it wouldn’t have been nearly as monumental.
WWF and WCW were at each other’s throats. One wrong move, or poke, was a chance to get one up on the competition.
This was the most famous battlefield blunder of all. Somehow, the only person to benefit from WCW’s famous Fingerpoke of Doom incident wasn’t Kevin Nash, Bill Goldberg, or Hulk Hogan. It was Mick Foley, the World Wrestling Federation Champion.
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