In Defense Of…6.19.05: Kevin Nash (Part 2 Of 3) [REPOST]
In Defense of…
By JP Prag
KEVIN NASH (Part 2 of 3)
It’s that time again! Welcome back to In Defense Of…! Last week, we started the highly anticipated case of the IWC versus Kevin Nash. But maybe you were too excited over One Night Stand and you forgot to read it! Well fear not, space cadet, In Defense of… Kevin Nash (Part 1 of 3) is still available!
But maybe you are too lazy to read part 1, and you heard that my alter ego does a stenography review every column, so you are just going to jump right on in. Well, if that’s the case, let me explain something—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.
But first we have some…
Starting off, I’d like 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 one more issue of Kevin Nash after this one and then the one issue of… well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
By the way, I’ve recently been Googling my name and have been happy to find me mentioned nicely in someone’s blog (though as my friends know I won’t even read their blogs), and was apparently badmouthed on some other site for some misspellings I had in Fact of Fiction a couple of weeks back. Much like my friends’ blogs, I don’t really read other sites anymore, as reader MATTHEW Roberts has pointed out to me before. Now, I’m not going to make the excuse that I just came off of 10 days straight on the road, followed by a 3 day visit from my mother, and was preparing for another 5 days on the road while researching/writing my own weekly column, doing my real-world job, and just barely fitting in the time for Fact or Fiction, because frankly those errors should not have happened and I apologize to anyone who was upset by them. That said, I appreciate feedback directly to me, and if you have any qualms with what/how I say something in the future, be sure to tell me directly and I’ll take your opinion under consideration. Yes, even if you are a Yankees fan.
But enough of that and the rest of the old news… wait… no, we need a little more. Let’s remind you about what you already know:
Stenographer, will you please read back a synopsis of the events that transpired last week concerning the big man?
Well, we decided to jump right in fight off the biggest lie for the big man: that he is the worst drawing champion of all time. First, we took a look at RAW ratings, and found they were not really different before, during, or after he was champion. Actually, we saw the worst RAW rating on December 23, 1996 (well after Nash’s reign as champ) with a 1.5. In actuality, RAW didn’t enter into the regular 3 or better range that we are used to until 1998. Besides, RAW wasn’t about ratings when Nash was champ, and he only wrestled on the show six times, while the rest of the roster beat up jobbers on a weekly basis. WCW forced the WWF to start to put good matches on RAW instead of using it just to sell house show tickets, but that change would be a long time coming.
The other thing WCW forced the WWF to do was have monthly PPVs, which began the In Your House series during Nash’s reign. There were a total of nine PPVs during Nash’s time as champion, and three were in our “success” range. Meanwhile, the rest featured three non-endings, two tag team matches, two times Mabel in the main event, and one time a football player stealing the spotlight. Nash can hardly be found responsible for the booking, but pretending he was his PPV average for his 12 months as champ was a 0.78 buyrate. Looking at the 12 month period from May 1996 to April 1997, the average was a 0.59, proving that Nash was not the worst drawing champ of all time.
And just to throw it in there, we had to mention that Nash made a hell of a lot of money with the nWo, and really didn’t spend much time as champ in WCW, despite his five reigns.
Still, there are many that think that Nash never deserved his chance to begin with.
Let me tell you about a little city…
Born on July 9, 1959 outside Detroit, Michigan, Kevin Nash had no idea that he was going to grow up and be a pro-wrestler. Some would have you believe he has no love of the sport, and is only in it for the money. Well, you should know that growing up he went to the arena to see The Shiek, Bobo Brazil, and Pampero Firpo. That’s right, Kevin Nash was a fan of wrestling, and had to work to be a fan as any old school kid will tell you.
But he was just a fan, and really did not have the inclination to train to be a wrestler. As a matter of fact, he was following the path of many other 6’ 11” men: he was going to be a pro-basketball player. Laugh all you want, but Nash was the second-most recruited man out of Michigan in his senior year of high school, right after the legendary Magic Johnson. He went on to play for the Tennessee Volunteers from 1979-1980, but did not rise to the top of the team. He soon found himself in Europe playing basketball there (which we see a lot more in reverse now-a-days) until he had a serious knee injury that took him out of the game forever.
Now, many other sports stars that have had serious injuries have ended up in wrestling, from Hacksaw Jim Duggan to Bill Goldberg. But that is not where Kevin Nash went next. He joined the United States Army and was stationed in Germany for two years. That’s right, the man took orders and learned discipline for two years. Actually, Nash is quoted as saying “The army taught me discipline, and the value of hard work.” Nash believes in hard work, it would seem, though others may tell you he only believes in laziness.
Not being lazy, Nash ended up in Atlanta working as a bouncer. While there, Dusty Rhodes chanced upon him and was impressed with his size, look, and attitude. He suggested that Nash go to WTBS headquarters and have a tryout.
And that is exactly what Kevin Nash did. Are you going to turn down an open invitation from Dusty Rhodes? The executives at Turner liked what they saw and told Nash he should enroll in the Power Plant. And so, risking everything he had, Nash did that and worked his way through the plant until he was ready to join the big show.
Except getting to the dance isn’t exactly the same as being a success.
The “Big Man” push
Kevin Nash was getting a second chance. His first dream of being a pro-basketball player had failed, but now he could live out a childhood love of pro-wrestling.
After his training period, Nash was ready to debut for Jim Crockett Promotions as none other then…
STEEL! ONE HALF OF THE MASTER BLASTERS!!!!
You see, people are under the impression that Nash, just because he was a big man, got all the breaks in the business. That could not be further from the truth. Yes, he got a lucky in breaking into the business, but he still had to work from the bottom up. And how low can you go, starting with Steel?
Well, shortly thereafter he dropped the <orange Mohawk, he became OZ, managed by the ever impressive Merlin the Wizard! Does this sound like an instant push to you?
Well how about this: After finishing as Oz, Nash moved on to become a member of the Vegas Connection as Vinnie Vegas, working for none other then Diamond Dallas Page. But this was well before DDP was WCW Championship material. Hell, this was well before DDP was WCW TV Title material. Nash was backup for a nobody, making him less then nobody. He did get one major thing out this, though: Snake Eyes! Why do you think when he drops someone face first on the top turnbuckle it is called Snake Eyes? That was his finishing maneuver as Vinnie Vegas, king of the craps!
Yes, double pun scores again!
Having not accomplished much, he left the WCW in late 1993 and signed with the WWF. Shortly thereafter he debuted as “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel… playing backup to Shawn Michaels. No, Nash was not pushed right to the top. But the fans started to get behind him, and they loved when he finally turned on Shawn Michaels. After four or five years, he had done it, Nash had worked his way to the top of the game. But he was used to following orders, he was used to doing what he was told, and he let the program be decided by those above him. He was not ready to become the booker yet, but what he saw during his own reign made him worry about the future. He had realized his worth, and wanted to make those changes when his time came again.
Aristotle’s Rules of Friendships
During his time in WCW and WWF, Nash had made friends with a short list of people. These men included Scott Hall, Shawn Michaels, the man who would become Triple H, and Sean Waltman. Nash has been accused of using these friendships, and his later friendships with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, in order to keep himself at the top. Well to that, I say, so what?
If you’ve read Aristotle, you know that he proposes there are three types of friendships:
(1) Friendships of utility, where the people do favors for one another
(2) Friendships of activity, where the people enjoy doing the same things
(3) True friendships, where the people just enjoy each other
Now, there is nothing wrong with having a friend who is just about favors and business. This is how the world works, someone has something that the other wants and a trade happens. Also, a friendship of activity can also be a friendship of utility and a true friendship can contain elements of both. So who are we to even judge what type of friendships Nash had with these people. If Shawn Michael was his true friend, could not his true friend do him a favor?
Chris Rock once noted that 80% of the people in his audience got their job because a friend recommended them. We already talked about how Dusty Rhodes gave Nash a recommendation, and that helped him get his foot in the door. But getting your foot in the door does not equate to success. You have to prove yourself, or you will be gone.
So if Shawn Michaels recommended Nash for a push for the title, so what? If Eric Bischoff was so charmed by Nash that he wanted him at the top of the game, so what? This type of personal interaction is what gave him the opportunity, but he was the one who took the opportunity and did something with it.
My company just hired eight new people. Do you know what the major criteria was for their hire? It was how well they would fit into the company, how we judged that they would be able to work with our current crew. But that got them in the door. They still have to prove they can do the work and move up the ladder. It will take time, and they will need to learn and grow. If they don’t, then their future is limited.
Nash got into a good position because of his personality, because he can fit into an organization, and because he makes people believe he has the potential. You can guarantee, though, that if he did not live up to his potential that McMahon and Bischoff would never have put up with him. Now go back to last issue and note how he drew as a champion, pay close attention to the numbers he drew. The bottom line is: the fans like him. And when the fans like you, you sell, and you work your way to the top of the game, then you are a success.
No friend can bring you to the top, only you can. A friend can give you the opportunity, and you have to take it. Kevin learned that lesson well, and also learned that when the opportunity presents itself, you have to protect yourself.
Watch out for the booker man
Nash had already seen what disastrous booking could do to a reign, even one as long as his. After the culmination of a year and half of storylines, Sting had finally defeated Hulk Hogan and the nWo. But the question remained: what now?
That question plagued WCW for the next year as they began to lose focus and the WWF caught up in the ratings, having finally found their attitude. Things began to shift internally, and Kevin Nash was given a chance he never knew he could have.
Kevin Nash joined the booking committee in late 1998 and began to use his influence. Remember, though, that Bischoff was still around, as were others, so final decisions were not his. So when Starrcade 1998 rolled around and Kevin Nash had a match against Goldberg for the World Heavyweight Championship, do not think for a minute that he booked himself to win. He wanted to win, I’m sure. Who wouldn’t? Who would pass up the chance to be champion?
But let’s go back for a second. Like we said, since Starrcade 1997 WCW was lacking in direction. The nWo had split into the Wolfpac and Hollywood, and Hogan had gone into semi-retirement. The WWF had finally caught up to the WCW in ratings, and had overtaken them. But that was not horrible. For instance, on the January 4, 1999 edition of the Monday Night Wars, WWF had a 5.7 rating and WCW had a 5.0 rating. That is a combined 10.7 for wrestling! What did Raw score last week? A 3.8?
That was also the night of the Nash vs. Goldberg rematch from Starrcade, which turned into the Nash vs. Hogan-coming-back-from-retirement match when Goldberg got arrested for sexually harassing Miss Elizabeth which in turn turned into the infamous FINGER POKE OF DOOM!
If Nash had so much power, why would he allow himself to just lose to Hogan? Because at the end of the day, Nash knew what was good for business and that there were other decisions to make. He had proved that he could draw money without the title, and saw the reformation of the nWo as a way to make more money for himself, his friends, and WCW.
And did Nitro die right after that? Absolutely not! The next week drew a 5.0 rating again, and a 4.4, 5.0, 4.7, and a 5.7 in the weeks after. Nitro would remain mostly in the 4’s until the end of April. Back then, it was said that this was terrible, and these were horrible ratings, and that the bookers were destroying everything. Looking back on it now, the WWE would love to have ratings today as good as during that particular death of WCW. But we let the stigma of these being “terrible ratings” persist through time, even though they are excellent ratings, even compared to Rugrats.
Now, let’s return to Starrcade 1998, which pulled in a 1.15 buyrate, well above our “success” range. As a matter of fact, I was in a jewelry store in the mall buying my then-girlfriend a gift when I overheard another man in the store talking about the upcoming match. Now, I cannot remember the last time I ever heard someone talk about being excited for a match and event, hearing a mark just going on about it in the middle of a store. I was actually much more jaded due to reading too many internet reports, but this man’s simple love of the suspension of belief, him wanting to just see two big guys beat the crap out of each other, reminded me of why I was a fan. Suddenly, Starrcade looked a whole lot better.
Nash won with the help of a taser. That hardly seems like the mark of a man trying to put himself above everything. Don’t forget that Nash was a face at this time, too, so we are not talking about a heel just dominating the show. No, that turn would have to come a couple of weeks later.
Still, Nash was not in charge, and time moved on. But people were interested in him. Heck, that Nitro above was in the Georgia Dome and drew 40,000 people! 40,000 for a regular Nitro? How many people showed up for SmackDown! last week, 8,000?
But despite Nitro doing well, there was little fanfare going into Souled Out and SuperBrawl, and their buyrates proved it.
Immediately following SuperBrawl, Nash was given the book. He wanted to change the program and stop the hemorrhaging from the last year. To begin with, there were more backstage vignettes and skits, to add more solid entertainment to the show. Next, matches began to have more concrete endings, less run-in and garbage collections. Nash realized that the run-ins of the past were just that, the past. Times had changed and he wanted to change with them. Finally, he decided that no one was above losing, especially himself. So to set things right and let everyone know the tone, he lost to Rey Mysterio cleanly on Nitro.
The effects were seen right away. Uncensored drew a 0.73 buyrate. Nash was doing his job.
Still, things would turn against Nash. Just as we noted in the Bischoff articles, Time Warner Corporate was not in the position of supporting WCW. Standards and Practices interfered, they would not let them make many changes, and soon Bischoff was fired and the whole company was about to go through an amazing transformation.
But even with his limited control, people still say Kevin Nash only looked to make things better for himself and his friends. Well, we’ll have to take a closer look at that.
That brings us to the end of Part 2. When we return, the Big Man goes to the ring for the third and final time. We’ll spend some time looking at who Kevin Nash was really helping, and it wasn’t always his friends in the insane asylum. Then, we’ll actually talk about some of Nash’s wrestling skills, including who he made and just how many moves he learned in the Power Plant. Additionally, we’ll look at Nash’s motivations in the business, and the legacy he has tried to create. And on top of all that, we’ll look at just some pretty cool things that Nash has during his life, just because.
So be sure to tune in for the thrilling conclusion of In Defense of… Kevin Nash (Part 3 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.