The lucrative success of Kevin Nash’s career amuses and angers people as it reaffirms two great constants of any profession – it’s not what you know but who you know, and likeable personalities have more potential for advancement than more talented yet boring people.
40. KEVIN NASH
Real Name – Kevin Nash
Aliases – Diesel; Oz; Master Blaster Steel; Vinnie Vegas; Big Sexy
Hometown – Detroit, Michigan
Debuted – September 14, 1990
Titles Held – WCW World Heavyweight Title (5x); WCW World Tag Team (9x, 6 with Scott Hall, 2 with Diamond Dallas Page, 1 with Sting); WWF Championship; WWF Intercontinental Championship; WWF Tag Team Championship (2x, with Shawn Michaels)
Other Accomplishments – Third ever WWF Triple Crown Winner; WCW World War 3 winner of 1998; Has appeared in various movies, including The Punisher, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, and Grandma’s Boy; Original choice to portray Sabretooth in X-Men
The lucrative success of Kevin Nash’s career amuses and angers people as it reaffirms two great constants of any profession – it’s not what you know but who you know, and likeable personalities have more potential for advancement than more talented yet boring people. In fact, your opinion of Nash will say as much about yourself as it does about him.
Outsports.com: Does it matter to you if a gay guy is looking at you naked?
Nash: No, as long as he’s looking and approving.
Despite his lazy reputation, Nash has actually spanned four decades as an active athlete… albeit one with a tremendous tendency for sloth-like behaviour. It all began at the University of Tennessee in 1979, where he majored in psychology whilst playing for the Volunteers basketball team. Their coach Don DeVoe, who had a successful college basketball career and led three teams to the NCAA, became so angry at Nash’s lack of work ethic that at one point the two wound up in a shoving contest. Nash wound up transferring to Europe, yet his basketball exploits were brought to a premature close after a ligament tear. Already the basic tenets of Nashdom are evident – not studying psychology, not working all that hard at his chosen sport, not taking any crap from management, not being able to avoid tearing muscles… hell, he was so lazy he didn’t even fight DeVoe but instead gave him some apathetic pushes.
Kevin Nash: I remember being inspired when I had my first chance for the WWF Championship… which it was called back then, the WWF Championship, not WWE… and I went out in front of 29,000 people at Madison Square Garden and defeated him (Bob Backlund) in a record 8 seconds.
Alex Shelley: Does the Garden even hold 29,000 people?
Kevin Nash: Well it did that night.
After spending time in Germany doing servince for NATO, itself the lazy version of a proper army, Nash went back State-side and wound up bouncing at a bar in Michigan. In a curious turn of events, this could later be passed off as preparation for his WWF role. In his defence, he didn’t know he was doing his homework at the time. In 1990 he began working for the NWA and in turn WCW, playing a variety of undercard roles that nobody could possibly take seriously. The first was Steel, one-half of the Master Blasters, the least successful of the Mad Max inspired tag teams of the period. His partner was originally Iron (Cory Pendarvis) and then later Blade (Al “The Dog” Green). Their biggest accomplishment was a victory over Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong at Halloween Havoc 1990, which gives you some idea of just how riveting this era of Nashitude truly was.
Given how much Nash came to depend on his hair, it’s disconcerting to see it began as a Tatanka proto-do
Next: Oz. No, it was nothing to do with critically-acclaimed televisual explorations of the susceptibility of incarcerated men to rehabilitation or damnation. This was 1991. This was the Wrestling Wizard of Oz. Managed by Merlin. It all unfortunately began at the inaugural Superbrawl, complete with special guest appearances by Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion. Remarkably, it was not the most bone-headed booking decision WCW would make that year. Again, there was a lesson to be learned here. The whole concept came from WCW’s warm and fuzzy new owners, Time Warner, acquiring the rights to the classic film itself and wanting to promote it in as many (inane) ways as possible. Years later, their newer owners would decide that wrestling sucked and WCW should just fuck off and die. Corporate love is a bitch, as are we all its bitches.
1991 also marked Nash’s big-screen debut as the infamous Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, one of the most choice acting gigs given to a wrestler
At the start of 1992 came perhaps the most sensible gimmick of Nash’s career thus far – Vinnie Vegas, a conman with a penchant for wearing things that were both shiny and purple. Vinnie was briefly a part of the blink-and-you-miss-it A Half Ton Of Holy Hell stable, which was headed by Harley Race and also included Big Van Vader and Curtis Hughes. After this came the Diamond Mine, managed by Diamond Dallas Page and accompanied by Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) and Scotty Flamingo (Raven). Although at one point in time he was arguably the most talented of that group, Hall is the only member of it to have not won a singles world title. His close friendship with Nash began here of course, although he left WCW that year, as did Raven, leaving Nash and Page to form a tag team called the Vegas Connection. Years later, after both had been world champion, Nash and Page would team together as the Insiders and prove to be just as ineffective then as they were before. By the time Halloween Havoc rolled around, they were jobbing to Erik Watts and Van Hammer in a dark match. The writing was not so much on the wall as it was spelled out in bricks, yet the WWF were after someone big and tall for a bodyguard gimmick that would further propel Shawn Michaels’ singles push. With Hall able to put in a good word for him, Nash jumped ship and made his debut as Diesel at a house show in June 1993 to help Michaels retain the Intercontinental Title against Marty Jannetty.
Diesel: Shawn told me his back was hurting him, so I hit him on the back with a chair, to, you know, pop it back in place! I was doing the guy a favor, and now *I’M* the bad guy?
It was here that Nash became more successful as a wrestler than his wildest dreams could ever have imagined… possibly because his subconscious is too damn lazy to bother showing any dreams in his sleep… or at least, ones that don’t involve boobs, and how successful can a wrestler be when he’s got nothing but boobs?… well, I guess Mabel is still employed… about time for a fresh sentence, methinks. Already, Nash’s fortunate ability to make friends with all the right people was beginning to pay dividend. Nash, Michaels and Hall – and later Sean Waltman and then the future Triple H – forged the notorious backstage Clique that came to dominate mid ’90s WWF. They made a pact not just to look out for one another and not just to terrorise strip joints and ring rats together, but to do their damndest to only put one another over and to get as many favours from management as possible. Considering that Vince McMahon, by this point flailing around in a haphazard effort to refresh his product, has always been desperate to be thought of as one of the cool kids, the party-hearty Clique were easily able to convince him that they were his only worthy stars. Nash benefitted the most from such playground politics by getting to be WWF Champion for 358 days (the only longer reign since then was John Cena’s 380 day effort in 2006-7), which was indicative of the other two keys to Vince’s heart – be as tall as possible and have a fine head of hair. Fully equipped with both, Nash was turned into the heroic, star-of-the-show babyface and the WWF started running on Diesel Power… and then stalled… and then almost went bankrupt.
IGN: How much does it change your outlook, having a kid and realizing that it’s not just you you’re taking care of?
NASH: A lot of people would say that after he was born I became lazy, but I just became very super-cautious. I’m not going to let you whack me with a chair without getting a hand up now. Guys will say to you, “I’m telling you right now, man â€“ I promise you I can land you flat. I’m not gonna hurt you.” And I said, “Dude, I’m not going to be eating and drinking through a straw and in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, and you coming in the hospital and telling me, ‘Hey, I’m sorry, dude.'”
To be fair to Nash, there was little that he could have done in the position he was put in. Sure, he wasn’t a great wrestler. Neither was Hulk Hogan but he was still able to draw in the ’80s. The problem was that the WWF were booking Diesel in almost identical manner to how they had booked Hogan ten years earlier, which was conducive only to failure. Diesel was put in there with talentless lugs like Sid, Mabel and Yokozuna, yet his best matches were against smaller opponents like Michaels and Bret Hart. The audience could swallow a vat of laxatives and still not give a crap about the arbitrary evil of the Million Dollar Corporation. If they wanted to see anything in the WWF in 1995, it would have been the culmination of the Michaels/Diesel feud, which was a basic, classic blood-feud of two former friends falling out due to jealousy. When that match finally came, at In Your House 7 in April 1996, it would prove a career highlight for both men. Yet by that point Nash was on the way out of the WWF and so it meant far less than it should have done. Had they ran a longer program and held the same match at SummerSlam ’95, perhaps business could have been sustained at a higher level. Then again, maybe not. The fans didn’t want a generic tall bloke with a fondness for trucks as their babyface champion, while 1996 proved that they didn’t want a preening, prima donna poofter in that role either. In any event, dwindling business meant dwindling income for Diesel, the lowest-drawing champion in WWE history, so when he realised that he could earn far more and do far less by returning to the resurgent WCW, he jumped at the chance.
A fond farewell… Nash, Hall, Michaels and Helmsley break kayfabe in MSG
By any reasonable expectations, Nash would have done a few PPV main events in WCW before gradually settling into a generic mid-card role. Eric Bischoff had bigger plans and, having brought Hall over with him, Nash wound up at the epicentre of the New World Order. With the WWF left to pathetically continue to promote the Diesel and Razor Ramon characters on their cards, not to mention bitterly filing a lawsuit over WCW kinda-sorta portraying Nash and Hall, the Outsiders, as still being WWF employees, the nWo caught fire in a massive way and sent WCW into the pop culture stratosphere in an unprecedented fashion. While in retrospect most of WCW’s cards at this stage were dull and repetitive – especially by 1997, when the WWF finally began to evolve – at the time it felt fresh and exciting. Although the Outsiders were doing as little in-ring work as they could possibly get away with, even on PPV, people still reacted to their charisma, much as management reacted to their every whim. Of course, Hall’s personal problems started to overcome him, just as Nash began to covet the head booker position. And thus began the downfall.
Nash comments on the Fingerpoke of Doom and more
Nash had come from a spot in the WWF where he could get anything he wanted to happen to happen. Now, he found himself in the same promotion as Hulk Hogan, who was long since used to getting his own way at all times and for more money than anyone else. They both held creative control in their guaranteed contracts, they both perceived themselves as being the top dog in the company, and they were both in more or less the same on-screen position. Emulating their backstage rivalry on TV by giving Nash the Wolfpac faction would have been fine and dandy, except the nWo were still in existence, so now there were two groups doing the same act and it was 1998. Bischoff, the jester supreme of the backstage courtyard, found himself trying to juggle too many balls at once as other concerns were also demanding attention – i.e. Sting’s new character, Bret Hart’s post-Montreal career, Goldberg’s rapid rise, Ric Flair’s eternal popularity, the debut of Thunder and the WWF’s new Attitude. Money couldn’t solve everything, talent had to count for something, so Nash found himself given the book and promptly made himself the first person to pin Goldberg (with an assist from Hall, naturally). Swerving the fans out of a Starrcade rematch thanks to an angle in which Miss Elizabeth accused Goldberg of rape, which was wildly inappropriate both for all involved and for WCW itself, the next step was thoroughly backwards – reuniting the nWo… whilst dropping the title to Hogan… in a free TV match… which was literally nothing more than a fingerpoke. Although WCW’s downwards spiral would continue for another two years, the WWF was on such a run by this point that nothing short of a miracle or a disaster could have put WCW back on top. Although he was by no means the sole company killer, he was one of the many hands on the trigger. Nash had helped to both start and to lose the Monday Night Wars, yet his bank balance certainly won.
“NASH, a sci-fi action adventure comic, blasts into the future world of 2023. There is no money, no middle class, no justice and no hope. Food is the only commodity in a world divided into social casts: the affluent elite who live in the domed citiesand tattered poor who inherited the unwanted waste lands. Out of this desolate land steps Nash, a massive man with a plan, intent on giving the establishment in the cities a butt kicking and the poor of the waste lands a piece of the pie…”
Yes, Big Kev has his own comic book… buy here
His bank balance continued to win after WCW did officially collapse, as he got to sit at home and collect his guaranteed AOL-Time Warner salary for most of 2001. Soon afterwards, Vince was again in a quandry and again turned to the supposed cool kids by bringing in Nash, Hall and Hogan as the nWo in February 2002. After Toronto decided that they really liked Hogan after all, he was turned babyface and pushed to the top with laughable results. Hall drank the Atlantic dry on a plane ride from Europe and was fired. Nash decided that he would indeed have a match on TV, yet he lasted all of six seconds before tearing his quadricep and crying like a bitch. The nWo were quietly disbanded by Mr McMahon in a rather sad end to the stable’s history. A return to action in 2003 allowed Nash, Michaels and Helmsely to all touch one another in public again, which at least kept them happy, yet by now Nash had the knees of an arthritic sloth and the sole memorable happening of his year was having his hair shaved off by Chris Jericho. Nearly five years later and the flowing lock fortunes of both men have been reversed. Facing problems with his neck and shoulders as well as his knees, Nash took time off to have surgery and WWE chose not to renew his contract.
Since then, Nash has had various stints with TNA. His first began in 2004 and involved the usual clutch of unreliable misantropes – Hall, Waltman, DDP, Vince Russo, Bob Backlund, hell, even Randy Savage at one point. Jeff Jarrett, almost as desperate for popular vindication as Vince and still running on an inflated and misguided sense of self-worth following his involvement with nWo 2000, at first aligned himself with Nash as part of the Kings of Wrestling group, then feuded with him whilst leading his Planet Jarrett stable. Regular people might vent their frustrations on a blog or some such nonsense; Jarrett does it on a national level with his own wrestling promotion. Anyway, Nash had another injury (staph infection) and so pulled out of a scheduled Lethal Lockdown match on PPV. He returned a few months later to challenge Jarrett for his title on the Bound For Glory 2005 PPV, yet cancelled at the last-minute due to chest pains, which were later attributed to a mild cardiac episode. TNA brought him back again in April 2006 and rather bizarrely had him enter and disparage the X Division. Although the Paparazzi Production videos TNA put online with Nash and Alex Shelley were entertaining, his personality overshone that of his X Division opponents, who received scant attention to such matters from the booking team, and so nobody wound up benefitting from the one-sided feud. When the time came to put reigning X Division champion Chris Sabin over on PPV, a mysterious neck injury reduced Nash to the sidelines. After some time off, he returned in October in a number of non-wrestling roles, which included colour commentary, hosting the Paparazzi Championship Series, being rather too fond of Austin Aries, got Jay Lethal to fall in love with the Macho Man, turned Sonjay Dutt into a guru of some sort, managed Shelley and Sabin, and played psychiatrist to Kurt & Karen Angle. When the time came to get back inside the ring, Hall was not too far behind in making an appearance… and then no-showing a PPV for old times’ sake.
“Now granted, after traveling up and down the road the last ten years with Scott Hall, I’ve lost a couple of brain cells… my question is, what the hell happened to that sweet little rasslin’ show we were doin’ every Monday? I mean, where in the hell is the Dog when you need him?”
“For old times’ sake” is as good a way as any to sum up Nash’s continued involvement with wrestling – or TNA in general, for that matter. He has made tentative forays into the world of acting, yet in that industry he will always be nothing more than a jobber. For instance, his most memorable role to date was dressing up as the lovechild of Dolph Lundgren and Tugboat to put over the Punisher:
(At one point Nash was due to play Sabretooth in X-Men but scheduling conflicts led to the role being given to Tyler Mane, his stuntman, who had previously wrestled for WCW as Big Sky and teamed with none other than… Vinnie Vegas.)
So, what is the legacy of Kevin Nash? Winning a bunch of titles, including the two most important of the 1990s? Being a founding member of the most dominant backstage faction of the WWF and the most dominant on-screen faction of WCW? Husband and father of one? Always being ready to lend a witty quip if not a worthy match? A loyal friend with a knack for exploiting mere acquaintences, yet having precious few enemies? Lackadaisical grandstanding that never forgets the importance of being idle? Turning out to be one hell of a shoddy booker?
Ah, bugger it. Let’s just do this the lazy way…
Can talk a little.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.