After a good night's worth of attempts, Tsu Tain Guu Faitaa downed Cho'gall last night, an exciting accomplishment! As we posed for a guild screenshot I looked at the giant misshapen ogre mage and wondered how much most players actually knew about him. He's been such an integral antagonist so far in Cataclysm, but his roots actually go way, way back.
To some degree, I'm almost sad to see him die so early into the expansion. I'd have loved to see a few storylines revolving around his past and about his old enemies, rather than solely focusing on his new role as "crazy cult leader."
Remember, Cho'gall fought in the First and Second Wars, when the demon blood-crazed Horde invaded Azeroth. Many veteran Horde soldiers such as Varok Saurfang, Drek'Thar and Eitrigg would definitely remember Cho'gall and despise him. As Gul'dan's most loyal, trusted minion, the ogre mage and the Twilight's Hammer clan would represent everything these old soldiers regretted about their past. We've fought alongside Saurfang and Drek'Thar before, why not give Eitrigg a moment in the spotlight! He was great in the Shattering novel when he gave Garrosh a verbal backhand to make him realize Magatha's treachery.
On the other side of things, I'm sure many Alliance characters would have a hate-on for Cho'gall because of his close association with Gul'dan, and simply for the fact that he was part of the Old Horde who hasn't changed his ways or repented in any way. He represents everything they fought against and died for. There's many, many people who could fall into this category - Alleria Windrunner, Turalyon, Danath Trollbane, Kurdran Wildhammer, etc. Of course, most of the Second War veterans are stuck in Outlands, but returning to Azeroth because of Cho'gall's re-emergence would have been a nice way to bring them back into the story.
Speaking of Outlands, what about the Draenei? As Gul'dan's most trusted follower, Cho'gall would have been very prominent in the terrible genocides that took place on Draenor. He was one of the only ogre-mages in the Horde (if not the only one), let alone in a leadership role, so I have to imagine Velen knew of him and his involvement. Keep in mind that Gul'dan was fond of torturing and sacrificing Draenei captives, including Draenei children - it's very likely that Cho'gall assisted him in these gruesome endeavors, as muscle, if not demented student. If the always-peaceful Velen ever wanted someone dead, it would be Gul'dan, but after that it would probably be Cho'gall.
Another link could be with Varian and Garona. Varian hates Garona for murdering his father, King Llane, but what he doesn't know is that Garona was magically forced to do so by Gul'dan and the Shadow Council. Garona and Llane were actually friends, so Llane's murder torments her to this day, an act of defilement that earned the Shadow Council her eternal ire. If Varian ever listened to the full explanation (hey, we can dream), who knows? He could find in Garona a kindred spirit - perhaps the only person who would want to avenge Llane's death as passionately and for as personal reasons as himself. Cho'gall was a member of the Shadow Council and is now one of the last remnants of that group/era - if anyone is going to take the fall for Llane's murder, he's basically the only one left.
As for Garona, she's already got enough reason to want Cho'gall dead, but in the comic series Cho'gall actually ups the ante. He uses Gul'dan's spell to control her again, and orders her to assassinate Anduin, Thrall and Varian at a peace conference. (Which is yet another reason Varian would want Cho'gall dead.) He also kidnaps Garona's son Med'an and tries to use him in some unholy ritual meant to resurrect C'Thun. He fails (which leads to his bizarre and grotesque physical transformation), but I'm sure Garona isn't too pleased. Actually, scratch that - she's DEFINITELY pissed, as her quest dialogue conveys when you meet her in Twilight Highlands. However, Horde players do work alongside Garona to stymie Cho'gall's efforts in Twilight Highlands, and fight alongside her in the final quest, so she does actually get some nice feature time.
Don't get me wrong, I think they've done a nice job of showing off Cho'gall extensively, while avoiding the campy Lich King "I *could* kill you, but I'll let you live for my own amusement" factor that was so common in Wrath. The cultist/Elemental Invasion quests were an effective way to re-introduce Cho'gall and explain just what he's been up to, and his weird dialogue, disturbing character model and just generally creepiness have made him a solid villain. I just wish they would have worked in some of his past history too - he's been around since the beginning of Warcraft, something somewhat lost with his new Cataclysm role! But alas, now he's dead and it's too late.
Oh well. As long as Blizzard doesn't drop the ball with the Turalyon/Alleria/Deathwing/Sylvanas resolution, I'll be happy. ;)