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In Defense Of… Kevin Nash

Bringing the truth to the wrestling fan!

A version of this article originally appeared on 411mania.com and was updated for the book IN DEFENSE OF… EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED. Learn more at https://www.jpprag.com

Certain people, events, organizations, and storylines in wrestling history have gotten a bum rap. Some 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!

Intro

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.

Why this?

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 buyrates 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 to 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, WCW proved not only could you put quality matches on ad-supported 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 than 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. 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 fallen. 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 than those before him since the heyday of Hulkamania, and were no better than 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 Eric Bischoff case. 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 fare as well, eventually settling at a 0.4 for In Your House 4. But look at these cards:

Royal Rumble — Diesel and Bret Hart battled to a draw, Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble

WrestleMania —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

SummerSlam — 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

Survivor Series — 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 who’s 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 flea market, and the Wolfpac shirts were the top of the top, even better than 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.

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 Sheik, 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 and 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 Power 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 than…

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 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 and 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 than 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 than a nobody. He did get one major thing out of 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!

Having not accomplished much, he left 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 later 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 Michaels 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.

Thus 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 earlier 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, and 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 exploit it to its fullest. 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. As such, 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 on a week in 2005? 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 (stay tuned)!

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 thereafter. 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 store in the mall 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! during a particular week in 2005, 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 case, 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 astounding 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.

Super Friends, unite!

While Kevin Nash was head booker, people say he only pushed his friends on the shows. Oh really? Well, we have already talked about how he lost cleanly to Rey Mysterio on Nitro, but many people will just say that Rey Rey was an extended member of the WCW Klique. Well how about on the same Nitro that Nash lost to Rey Mysterio (the night Nash became head booker), another Booker was victorious. Booker T defeated Bret Hart in a 20-minute awesome match-up.

Now, Nash and Hart had had some four-star matchups back in the WWF, but Nash was not a big fan of Hart. Even still, Nash understood that business was business, and got Hart back into the title hunt and major storylines. So on one hand he had Hart making Booker T, and on the other he had Hart reaching for the top of WCW. Mind you, Nash wasn’t even in the title hunt after “losing” to Hulk Hogan, so others were getting his spot, and not necessarily people he liked.

Speaking of titles, Booker T and Scott Steiner began a feud over the Television Title that within a few months was over the US Title. And as we know, that feud would later headline WCW in its final years. Booker T and Scott Steiner were really coming into their own under the watchful eye of Kevin Nash’s booking.

Also another title returned to prominence. For a while, the cruiserweight title almost disappeared from WCW. But when Nash took the reins, Kidman returned with the Cruiserweight belt and had excellent matches with Psychosis, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Jericho, and Mikey Whipwreck, before finally losing in an all-out match with Rey Mysterio. Later yet, Kidman maintained prominence and went on to heavyweight tag team gold with said Mysterio.

Oh, that’s right, tag team gold! Suddenly, teams were formed again with the aforementioned Mysterio/Kidman, Saturn/Raven, Windham/Henning, and a nice little team of Benoit/Malenko. The latter were treated as credible threats over everyone. Not bad for a couple of the “vanilla midgets” that one would say Nash is not high on. Wait, I almost forgot. They then went on to join the new and last Four Horsemen, cementing them as the best of the best.

But back to the World Heavyweight Championship, fellow Horseman and insane President Ric Flair went on to defeat Hollywood Hogan and take the title. And who would he defend that title against? As an interesting twist, Rey Mysterio got a shot after defeating the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow, Scott Norton, and Buff Bagwell. Still, Hogan was the definitive friend of Nash and Bischoff, yet it was Flair who got to carry the strap and take most of the focus of the show while Nash was in charge, even though Flair had a rough history with Nash, especially after the Horsemen-Spot incident.

Meanwhile, there were a few things going on that Nash doesn’t get credit for. When Raven, Hak, and Bigelow were putting on vicious brawls and showing real hardcore in WCW, Nash was supporting that. When Jerry Flynn was getting the Barry Windham push, Nash was there. When the Disco Inferno got a real finishing move and storyline with Konnan, Nash was there.

But it was not just people that were feeling the benefit of a Nash booking reign. Thunder was given a lot of focus and time, and often saw Hogan, Flair, and others in the main event scene. For a while, Thunder was being treated like a recap show, but under Nash it became must-see-TV again, and continuity spread among all of WCW television.

Still, there is one man missing in all of this that you would think would take prominence. Where was Scott Hall? Even with all his personal problems, don’t you think that if Nash were really only looking out for his friends that Scott Hall would be there? But he wasn’t. Nash knew what was right for business, and put the business before his friends, no matter how much it hurt himself.

Again, though, we have gone too far ahead. Before and after Nash was a booker, he was a wrestler. But how good of a wrestler was he?

Six moves of doom

People often say that Kevin Nash only has six moves, that he is an extremely limited worker, if the word worker can even be applied to him.

To prove this point wrong, I decided to review a match between two people that are considered non-workers by the vast majority and took Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg I from Starrcade 1998 and also a look at Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg II from Spring Stampede 1999.

OK, during the first match, Kevin Nash did the following moves (not including punching, which is illegal): collar-and-elbow tie up, headlock, knee wrench, forearm shot (legal, and a move!), hip check, elbow, boot choke (illegal, but I’ll allow it), reversal of a leg lock, reversal of a jackhammer, side slam, reverse leg lariat, jackknife powerbomb.

All right, let’s count. That’s 12 moves at least! And he didn’t even use snake eyes! Want to add a little more into the mix? In Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg II, Nash pulled off a leapfrog over Goldberg!!! Why aren’t you amazed? This is a 6’ 11” man leaping at least 5 feet in the air to get over a man running towards him. I can barely jump a foot and have about a third of the mass of Kevin Nash. And don’t we always hear about how Kevin Nash isn’t athletic and can’t pull off big moves?

Kevin Nash leaps over Goldberg.
Kevin Nash leaps over Goldberg.

Well maybe it is because he doesn’t have to. Remember during Tough Enough IV when the Bashams whipped out some excellent amateur moves on the contestants and we suddenly saw more than their brawling style, that they really are actually excellently trained wrestlers? Well, Nash is a trained wrestler. Maybe he is not as expertly tuned as Chris Benoit, but he still knows a lot more than he puts into his matches.

And why is that? Why would Nash hold back on his abilities and not wow people with his in-ring aptitude? Well, why doesn’t the Big Show pull off the Giant-sault that we know he perfected in WCW? Why doesn’t Booker T use the Harlem Hangover to end every match?

Because they don’t have to.

And it’s not laziness. It’s smart and knowing what works in the business.

I take you back to my example earlier of the mark in the jewelry store who was all excited about this match. Well, it did not end with him. Watching that match, the crowd was on the edge of their seats. They were screaming and cheering before the bell rang. The first part of the match was both men making faces at each other and the crowd. That was it! And the crowd loved every second of it.

I love to watch a Chris Benoit match any day of the week, but I think back to Royal Rumble 2003 when he fought Kurt Angle. I was there live in the then Fleet Center, and it was an incredible match. But for the first 10 minutes, the crowd could not care. This is a man who does have to lay it all out in the ring because that is the only way to get the fans to really care about him. That match is one of the best I have ever seen live in my entire life, but it pales in comparison to a match of lumbering giants.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III, or even the more recent Hulk Hogan vs. the Rock at WrestleMania… these are matches that were made by the crowd. The crowd did not care about move-for-move, excellent mat Wrestling. They did not need to see breathtaking moves with flying around blood and guts. And I do love to see these things, too, but what the crowd comes for is intensity. Their emotional involvement in the match is all that matters. And the crowd cares about Kevin Nash, whether to see him rise to the top or to see their favorite hero take him down.

Kevin Nash is a much better mat technician than he has ever gotten credit for. Then again, he had never needed to prove it in the ring. He had all the tools he needed: the crowd in the palm of his hand.

Here comes the money or Nash the humanitarian

Despite everything that Nash has given in the ring and to the business, people say he only wanted one thing: money.

Sure, money was a major factor in Kevin Nash’s career, but it was not his only goal. As we have seen in the booking section, he cared about trying to make the product better across the board, not just himself. And yes, he did not always make the best decisions, but who has? He made mistakes, but did not let them hold him down from going ahead with plans to make things even better.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Nash had this to say about his career:

“God made me almost 7-feet tall, and now I’m 300 pounds. I don’t think I was made an accountant or a bookkeeper,” Nash said. “I was put on this earth for something. I guess this is what it was.”

Nash has an understanding of what his role is, not only in business but in life.

More so, here is an excerpt from an article in the Ottawa Sun just before TNA’s Turning Point:

“When I first broke in, I’d already had seven knee operations (from basketball). I was limited physically by a bad knee. But those are the cards that were dealt to me.

“I’m 45 years old now, but I look in the mirror and I see the body of a 35-year-old guy. I’m fortunate. I can sit back and work when I want to work and not work when I don’t want to work.

“I’m a dad and a husband. It’s a 90-minute drive each way (to TNA’s studio in Orlando), so I’m home in the morning and home at night. It’s the best possible situation.”

He’s more limited in what he can do in the ring, but that’s not such a big deal.

“I don’t think doing flips off the top rope has ever drawn money,” he said. “I’ve been in a lot of bar fights and it’s pretty much punching and kicking. I don’t remember flying off the top rope.”

Nash says some of today’s wrestlers don’t understand the tried and true formula that is wrestling.

“When I broke in, all the guys would say that less is more. A lot of these guys think more is more.

“Years ago, my four-year-old punches me in the nose. You sell it. You go, ‘Ow!’

“Sometimes, these guys don’t sell. They’re so consumed with getting everything possible into an eight-minute match.”

Nash has a deep understanding of the business and how to work a crowd, and he went to TNA to try to teach the guys there that. Was he making more than most on the card per appearance? You bet! But how long has this man been working? How much of a draw is he? He deserves his money, which is not much compared to what he was making in WCW. You read what he said, he could get back to his family in a day; it was great for him. He could give back a little while he was there. Now he is off making movies, but do not believe that he will not make an appearance now and again.

And it is not like this is the first time that Nash has tried to give back to the young generation in the business. Towards the end of WCW, Nash found himself in the role of “coach” for the Natural Born Thrillers. This onstage role quickly turned into a backstage one, as he became a mentor in all of the Thrillers’ developments. Above Average Mike Sanders, Shawn O’Haire, Chuck Polumbo, and Mark Jindrak have all gone on record to say how influential Nash was in their careers and thanked him for all his help and guidance.

Nash was a man trying to give back to a business that gave him so many opportunities. More important, he wanted others to see that opportunity was not the end all, be all. You have to take that ball and run with it, or break your knees trying.

Unbeaten Records

Just to keep these little tidbits up, here’s a few other records that Nash holds:

  • Holds the fastest time to winning the championship by defeating Bob Backland in nine seconds
  • The only wrestler in history to acquire the Tag Team, Intercontinental, and WWF Championships in one calendar year
  • The longest reining WWF/E Champion since Hulk Hogan, and longest rein until JBL
  • One of four men to retain his title at WrestleMania (Hogan, Triple H, and Eddie Guerrero are the others)
  • Got the role as Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 because he was the only person big and strong enough to fit the costume

OK, that last one was just too sweet not to put in there.

The Jackknife Powerbomb

Kevin Nash is a man who the IWC turned against because he does not appear to be a workrate king. But the man has shown a deep understanding of the business and done everything in his power to give back to it. He wasn’t the best, the top of tops, or the greatest at anything, per se. But he was damn good. Nash worked hard and tried to make every time he came out a special one, kept the crowd involved, and took the opportunities he was given to create a better environment for himself, the fans, and those who would come after him.

Kevin Nash is a man who should not have been given the harsh treatment he has seen over the years. He is a man who deserves to be given credit for everything he has done.

Kevin Nash deserves this.

The defense rests.

After the Trial

Hung Jury

IN THE CASE OF THE IWC VERSUS KEVIN NASH, NASH HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING A NO-TALENT, SELF-SERVING, FRIEND-PUSHING, POLITICKING, MONEY-GRUBBING WRESTLER WHO WAS ALSO THE WORST DRAWING CHAMPION OF ALL TIME.

With 89.7% of the vote, Kevin Nash was found:

NOT GUILTY!

Response

Wrestlers like Kevin Nash were often the favorite of many people who felt they were alone in the world. Seeing a singular defense outside of their own community meant a lot to these people and was a common theme throughout the entire run of the article.

Nash has always had my respect. He’s a class act all the way, and he has a deep respect for his fans (I do a lot of artwork for his webmaster for his Official Fanclub). I’ve met and spoken with him several times now and he’s a good guy who cares a great deal about the business. Your defense of him and his contributions to the wrestling biz was A-1. I applaud your courtroom prowess.

Not Guilty!

Valentina

[Let’s] just say that the Kevin Nash you see in the ring and on TV is the exact opposite of the real man.

I was privileged to be able to attend his first fan club dinner last Dec in Orlando. We were promised a few hours with him, dinner, one picture and one autograph….. the man spent over 6hrs talking to us and sharing stories. He posed for any and all pictures we wanted….. signed anything he [was] asked…. including one member’s lower back…. and was genuinely sorry to leave us. He gave each of us a hug and thanked us personally for “coming all this way just to see me”. Kevin and his wife even went out and purchased a new camera/printer combo so we could all have immediate photos of him with us… and group shots…. a nicer and sweeter man [cannot] be found.

Thanks for FINALLY defending him!

Bobbi

These were hardly the only people who had spent time with Nash in person, as I told Bobbi in my response:

You are very welcome Bobbi. I’ve heard from a few other people who attended the same dinner, and all said equally great thing about the man. I really enjoyed defending Nash, and have been glad to hear other people’s wonderful real world stories with him.

Of course, although the numbers were fantastic for this case, there were people who voted guilty:

[Y]ou’ve conveniently skewed some of the facts in favor of making Kevin Nash appear like the misunderstood saint of wrestling.

Prince Zardos

But it was those earlier fans who had met Nash in person who provided the fodder for my reply:

Strangely enough, a number of people who have met Nash have written in, and the words “humble”, “selfless” and “really cares about the fans” came up a lot. I don’t think my facts were skewed to make Nash look like a saint, but they were definitely designed to highlight the good that he has done. Generally, I believe the facts (or more so opinions/lies) are skewed to make Nash look like a terrible person. Like I said in my article, he’s certainly not the best, but deserves better than we give him!

More responses were closer to this, which is exactly what the intent of this article was:

I think you put up a good case for the Big Man. I had read a lot of what other people have had to say about Kevin Nash over the years and even though I try to keep an open mind about things, I guess I just assumed that most of what was said was true. Great job.

Quique74

This was my perspective as well, as I told Quique74:

Thanks for reading Q, and I’m glad I could change your mind. Honestly, I was surprised by a lot of what I found out about Nash as I was doing my research. I did the same thing you did, and there was no reason to believe otherwise. Everything I’ve read about Nash sounded like it could be true! But I’m glad to help the Big Man get a fair shake, and hopefully we’ll see more of these Kevin Nash facts popping up than the lies we’ve read for years!

And while changing others minds always made me happy, I was most delighted to hear perspectives like this one:

I have to say, you’re one of two IWC columnists I actually enjoy reading on a regular basis.

You don’t have the preachy, self-righteousness of [others], and you actually have a point to make, unlike oh-so-many others.

Even if I were to disagree with your defense of Kevin Nash, I could still actually read your column enjoyably, and not feel as if I were being preached to, or called stupid for disagreeing with you….

-Sincerely,

Chuck Stahlheber

I blanked out the name of the columnist that Chuck mentioned, but nothing tickled me more than being the antithesis to this person who I was basically writing the article to.

The original version of this article appeared on 411mania.com and can be found on jpprag.com:

Part 1 — June 12, 2005 * Part 2 — June 19, 2005 * Part 3 — June 26, 2005

IN DEFENSE OF… EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED
IN DEFENSE OF… EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED

IN DEFENSE OF…

EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED

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