In Defense Of...06.12.05: Kevin Nash (Part 1 Of 3) [REPOST]
In Defense of…
By JP Prag
KEVIN NASH (Part 1 of 3)
Hello all, and thanks for coming back to <B>In Defense Of…</B>! Last week, we just finished up the case of the Elimination Chamber, which can be read in Issue #4, Issue #5, and (this is the big shocker) Issue #6! Let’s just say the ten tons of steel had a huge weight lifted off its shoulders.
You see what I did there? That’s a double pun!
But perhaps you didn’t read about the Elimination Chamber, or even Eric Bischoff. Maybe it’s a funny man that brings you here today. So, for those new to the concept, this article has a pretty simple premise:
Certain people, events, organizations, and storylines in wrestling history have gotten a bum wrap. Certain writers have presented overtly critical comments and outright lies as fact, and others have followed suit. Well no more! “In Defense of…” has one reason: to bring the truth to the wrestling fan!
And that’s what I intend to do.
Wow, that voting system worked way better then I thought it would.
IN THE CASE OF THE IWC VERSUS THE ELIMINATION CHAMBER, THE ELIMINATION CHAMBER HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING A CHEAP PLOY, NO BUILD, BAD MATCHUP.
With 94% of the vote, the Elimination Chamber has been found:
Thanks for all who voted. If you didn’t get to vote last time, don’t worry, you’ll have another chance in three weeks!
And speaking of the weeks ahead, it’s time to remind you of the CONTEST!
I’m looking for a cool banner logo to put at the top of my article.
Here’s the rules/prizes:
* Design a jpg/gif logo of no more then 100K that you will send to me and give up all rights and claims and ownership to
* Be able to host the logo or have a place to host the logo for an indefinite amount of time that can handle the bandwidth of 411mania
* Nothing on there can be illegal or facetious and must include the name of the column (with the triple dots) and my name
* The winner will get two prizes:  You will get whatever you want plugged to death by me (with the exception of something incredibly illegal or downright sick) and  You can have me defend something completely ridiculous in a one shot issue. That’s right, you could ask me to defend Tommy Dreamer drinking toilet water or Chucky being the guy who was stalking Rick Steiner or Mae Young giving birth to a hand or the Red Rooster as a credible gimmick or Jerry Flynn getting a match at Starrcade, or any other such fun thing!
* All entries must be received by the end of Issue #10. So that gives you two more issues of Kevin Nash after this one and then the one issue of… well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
But enough of the old news, let’s jump into the new stuff…
Some dame walked into my office and said…
Andrew Strom, hailing from Hotmail, VA (apparently somewhere in nWo 4-Life county), had this to say:
[C]ould you defend Kevin Nash for me sometime? He gets an awful lot of Hell on the net for stuff he did, and he and Scott Hall are my favorites of all time. I believe that his "bad booking" and "lack of work rate" has completely overshadowed the fact that he was a marvelous on air character from 1996-2000. When he got back to the WWE Vince McMahon wouldn't let him be himself and he flopped because of it.
Andrew, your time is now.
Your time is up, my time is now!
You can't see me, my time is now!
It's the franchise, boy, I'm shinin’ now!
You can't see me, my time is now!
Whoops, sorry, got sidetracked…
Aside from the fact that 411’s own JT: James Thomlison of THE BEST BYTE THIS REPORT IN ALL EXISTENCE was looking forward to this article and I needed an excuse to fit him in so that you do not confuse JP and JT? Well…
Kevin Nash has been called a lot of names over the years. And I’m not talking about Diesel, Big Sexy, or the Giant Killer. I’m talking about the Lumbering Disaster, the Promotion Killer, and the Worst Drawing Champion of All Time. People attack his title reigns, his reasons for being on top, his ability as a booker, and his drive for being a professional wrestler. Instead of enjoying everything Kevin Nash has done for the wrestling business, history seems ready to write him off as a walking path of destruction and 1/1000 * matches. Well, it’s time to defend the honor of the big man, and let’s start right at the biggest lie of all:
The Worst Drawing Champion of All Time – Part 1
During my research, that term came up so many times, but there was never any proof. All I usually read was something along the lines of “Was Kevin Nash the worst drawing champion of all time? Yes he was, and the buy rates and rating prove it.” Except, that would be it. Where are the buyrates? Where are the ratings?
You know where they are: right here. Now let’s get some truth going.
Ratings before the launch of Nitro in September 1995 are hard to come by, but I managed to find some. Before we delve into that, though, we need a little history lesson. Monday Night Raw launched in 1993 as an hour-long show with one purpose: to sell tickets. Back then, the WWF’s business model was use the TV time to highlight their big names beating jobbers and then use the time during the show to advertise local house shows and the major PPVs. Money came from seat sales and merchandise. When Monday Nitro launched, the WCW proved not only could you put quality matches on free TV, but that there was lots of money to be made from increasing ratings and charging higher advertising rates. The Monday Night Wars changed the way the wrestling business was run and made money. Now we see that house shows are about practice while the PPVs and programming fees are where the WWE makes all of their real money. Ticket sales are really secondary.
That said, before September 1995, rating for Monday Night Raw were generally in the high 1’s and low 2’s range. Do you know what they were during Kevin Nash’s reign as WWF Champion (as Diesel)? In the low to high 2 range. Ratings never got above 3 during his reign, but then again, they did not get above 3 until February 19, 1996. But as soon as that 3 threshold was broken, it was lost again with most weeks in the low to upper 2’s (with one 4.7 in the middle). Then, from May 20, 1996 to April 28, 1997 ratings dove again into the low 2’s, and then some 1’s. This also included the lowest rating ever with a 1.5 on December 23, 1996. It would not be until January 1998 and forward that RAW started to put on ratings higher then 3.0 on a regular basis.
So yes, ratings of RAW during Diesel’s reign were hardly the best compared to the top of the WWF/E’s run, but they were a far cry from the worst. And when he was champ (at least the first six months of his reign), ratings were not even a consideration or a factor of success.
But even if they were, Diesel could hardly be blamed for the low ratings on Monday night. During his entire reign, Diesel fought 6 times on Raw. Six! Well, seven if you count the show where he fought Razor Ramon twice. And the rest of the time, he wasn’t always on the show or even commenting. The man was not a factor in what was going on during WWF TV. On a weekly basis, you were more likely to see Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Mabel, 1-2-3 Kid, Shawn Michaels, Davey Boy Smith, Razor Ramon, Bam Bam Bigelow, the Undertaker, or a slew of jobbers. Yet, those men who were actually performing on RAW do not get blamed for the low ratings, while the man who made six match appearances takes all of the blame onto himself. How unfair.
The Worst Drawing Champion of All Time – Part 2
But if ratings were not how you would judge a champion, then what would you?
House Shows are one way to look at it. We said they were important to the WWF at the time. Unfortunately, finding house show attendance figures from 10 years ago is a bit of a challenge (if anyone has a database of WWF/E gate, attendance, and merchandise sales figures that they’d like to be rid of, be sure to contact me and we can negotiate. I’m looking at you, Mike Tenay!). I will say this, though: the WWE has cancelled a number of shows in the past month alone. That is how far down they have come. RAW, SmackDown!, and PPVs are not selling out arenas. WCW faced a similar problem after the end of the nWo era. And before 1995, the WWF was not selling out arenas, and after 1996 they were not selling out arenas. Nash’s attendance figures were no worse and no better then those before him since the heyday of Hulkamania, and were no better then those who came after him until the nWo and later Attitude Era. And since the end of attitude, attendance figures have fallen to similar levels.
Still, we need some hard numbers. Let’s take a look over to the other side of the coin: PPV buys.
After Diesel won the title, he went on to a nearly one year reign. During that time, Royal Rumble drew a 1.0 buyrate, Wrestlemania drew a 1.3, and SummerSlam had a 0.9. Those three PPVs were well within the “success” range we defined in the Defense of Eric Bischoff Part 3. Want to know more? The first four In Your Houses EVER were during Diesel’s reign. You have to realize, the idea of a PPV outside the Big 5 had never been attempted before, but the WWF needed to respond to the monthly PPV model that WCW had launched. So the idea of the minor PPV was born with In Your House 1, as Diesel defeated Sid Vicious by DQ for a 0.83 buyrate. Not a bad way to start at all.
So yes, the other In Your House PPVs did not fair as well, eventually settling at a 0.4 for In Your House 4. But look at these cards:
Diesel and Bret Hart battled to a draw, Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble
Diesel defeated Shawn Michaels, Lawrence Taylor defeated Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event
In Your House 1
Diesel defeated Sid Vicious by DQ
King of the Ring
Mabel wins KoTR, Diesel and Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Sid Vicious and Tatanka
In Your House 2
Lumberjack match: Diesel defeated Sid Vicious
Diesel defeated Mabel
In Your House 3
Diesel and Shawn Michaels defeated Yokozuna & The British Bulldog for the World Tag Team Championships
In Your House 4
British Bulldog d. Diesel by DQ
Bret Hart defeated Diesel for the championship
Three non-endings, two tag team matches, one PPV headlined by a football player, and one match with Mabel. That’s enough to anger any wrestling fan into not wanting to watch WWF, go to their shows, or order their PPVs.
And whose fault is that? Did Kevin Nash go to Vince McMahon and say, “Vince, I want to fight in a bunch of matches that don’t have endings. And while you are at it, could you make Mabel the King of the Ring?”? Of course not! The WWF bookers and Vince McMahon are responsible for the content and results, not the man with the belt on his waist.
But let’s pretend it was all Nash. Let’s say Nash is 100% responsible for the PPV buyrates. During Diesel’s 12-month title reign, the average PPV buyrate was a 0.78. Yes, that is below our minimum overall success range, but it is not the worst of all time. From May 1996 to April 1997 (or July 1996-June 1997, depending on how you round), the 12-month average PPV buyrate was a 0.59 for the WWF. So there you have it. Diesel was not the worst drawing WWF champion on PPV buys either.
Wrapping up the numbers
Was Diesel the best drawing champion of all time? No. Were his ratings on Raw, house show attendances, and PPV buyrates somewhere from mediocre to mildly successful? Yes. Were they the worst ever? Absolutely not.
Kevin Nash may not have been the best champion ever, but he was a far cry from the worst. He went out, did his job, had two 4+* matches with Bret Hart, and did what he loved to do: wrestle. And we’ll prove his love of wrestling soon enough, don’t you worry.
His real success came later when he left the WWF and returned (that’s RETURNED) to WCW to join with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan as the nWo. And there is no denying the impact he had in the nWo and the money that was made from it (and don’t tell me I have to go out and show how much money the nWo made, please). The nWo would not have been anything like it was without the attitude, personality, and storylines involving Nash. There’s very little to look at as far as championship reigns, since reign #1 lasted a week, #2 two months, #3 two hours, #4 a week, and #5 a month, so that is not where to look at Nash’s drawing ability. The man generated money away from the title. He was an important player when he was at the top, and made money with all those around him.
Just as another example, I was selling wrestling shirts (FULLY LICENSED!) around 1997 or so at a flee market, and the Wolfpac shirts were the top of the top, even better then Austin at times. Nash makes money, maybe not Hulk Hogan or Rock money, but money nonetheless.
Say what you want about the politicking and booking and whatnot, the numbers prove it. Whether ratings, PPV buys, house show attendance, or merchandise sales, Kevin Nash is far from the worst. As it stands, he’s a draw—and a money generating one at that.
That brings us to the end of Part 1. Hope you enjoyed a long look into the truth. When we come back, we’ll go a little further back in time and look at the pre-wrestling life of Kevin Nash, his beginnings in the business, and spend some time examining Aristotle (I’m not kidding you, so you better study up!).
Can’t wait until next week, and have already read Aristotle? Well, I’ve got a couple of ECW-themed recommendations for you (this being ECW: One Night Stand Sunday. Be sure to come back to 411 tonight for all the late breaking news and results!).
Even though it is after the fact, go check out Ronny Sarnecky’s Piledriver Report on Hardcore Homecoming! This is probably one of the best essays I have ever read. Not essays about wrestling. Essays. Period. And I read WEB DuBois, George Orwell, and Shin Zhou. Check it out.
Speaking of sort-of ECW, fellow Sunday columnist Ryan Byers of Cheap Wrestling for Cheap People fame fills in for JT over at the <Byte This Report (JT, the one week that you aren’t there and I plug you twice? For sad!). Byers gets major props for installing the ECW BS-O-Meter. If there’s one thing I can’t stand even less then negative opinions becoming the “facts” of the world, it’s rewriting history and drinking the Kool-Aid of those who do it. Good job in pointing out the truth, Ryan. Except for that John Cena crack at the beginning. That ain’t be not cool, yo.
Hopefully, despite all the ECW goings on, you’ll continue to read more IN DEFENSE OF…! And tune in next week for In Defense of Kevin Nash (Part 2 of 3)!!
Until then, the defense rests.
Know a particular person, event, organization, storyline, etc… in wrestling history that needs a defense? E-mail the One and Only JP at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to hear your case.