Lanny Poffo isn’t the only genius to grace a wrestling ring and isn’t the greatest to have done so either.
Kevin Nash is a man who will always be met with snorts of derision from certain sections of the wrestling audience. He’s as polarising a figure as you’re going to find this side of late-2000’s John Cena. He’s mocked for his well-documented quad injuries, for a disastrous run atop the WWF in 1995, and for being a part of the death of WCW.
Because of all of this his immense contributions to the wrestling world are often overlooked and outright ignored. The truth of the matter is that Nash changed the business forever; in doing so became wrestling’s unsung underrated genius.
Think about it for a second. This is a man who went from being forced to portray Oz, a dead-end gimmick destined for the scrap heap, to reigning as a multiple time World Champion. You don’t go from one to the other without having a business savvy about you.
The first sign of those smarts in action can arguably be found in his forming of key relationships within the industry. It’s something he is often derided for, but that’s ignoring just how genius his actions were in helping to create the Kliq as a powerbase.
They may not have been at all popular with the boys, but does that matter when it’s those relationships that guided him to the WWF Championship and moulded him into one of the hottest commodities in wrestling? He was then able to parlay that success into what has to be considered his masterstroke.
When Hall and Nash made their jump to WCW contracts were handled in a very different way that was unsustainable. Guarantees were not really a thing for the most part and it often led to wrestlers holding up promoters for more money, ala Ultimate Warrior, as well as promoters screwing over talent who only had a handshake and a smile to rely on. The Outsiders changed all of that.
It started with Scott Hall signing with WCW. His contract was extremely favourable as it was negotiated by Barry Bloom, a premier sports agent. Aside from the large amounts of money promised to Hall, the most notable thing was the favoured nations clause.
It meant that Hall could name ten wrestlers from outside of WCW and if the company hired them to bigger contracts, then Hall would automatically have his wage raised to be in line with them. Of course, Nash was one of those names and he negotiated for more money than his Kliq counterpart, bringing both of them up to a huge guaranteed income.
Things get hazy when you discover that Hall and Nash were actually signed to a ‘deal memo, ’ which promises the agreed terms contract will be signed. Although this does not prohibit the talent from showing up on WWF programming in the interim.
This is why WCW offered even more money to both men after WWF promised to be bringing Razor and Diesel back to Raw. Obviously a part of this development was luck on Nash’s behalf, but you’d be remiss if you thought that he didn’t stir the pot behind the scenes and play the situation for all the financial gain he could.
In the end it is said that both wrestlers got an extra four hundred thousand dollars when they signed on the dotted line. A number that increased even more when big money acquisitions such as Bret Hart were brought on board.
Nash may not have acted alone in these negotiations but that doesn’t change the fact that the big man played a pivotal role in changing the way that contracts were handled in the major wrestling promotions. He brought in an increased level of security for talent who previously could have been left with nothing at the whim of their employer. That is something to be celebrated, even if Bischoff has tried to downplay it in recent years.
Beyond the paradigm shifting contract, you also have the fact that Nash was one of the three men to form the nWo and in doing so propel WCW ahead of the WWF for 83 straight weeks in the ratings. Let that sink in for a moment. Kevin Nash was a vital part of almost killing Vince McMahon’s steroid infused funhouse.
The nWo was something new, fresh in its cocky self-assurance. They were the original cool heels and their effect can still be felt today. WCW gets quite rightly bashed for the inmates running the asylum, but is it any wonder why that was the case when the first inmates to rise up brought with them such prosperity. Nash and company forced Vince McMahon to change the way in which he did business. They forced him to switch things up and bring about the Attitude Era. Without them there would be no D-X, no Bullet Club, and no Elite.
Say what you will about his matches, the truth is that Kevin Nash enjoyed longevity like few others have experienced. He continued to be a part of major storylines and events long after most of his peers had called it a day. Now retired, he’s earned the right to sit back and enjoy being a true blue legend in the world of wrestling.
With all the talk about wrestlers wanting to unionise, and very rightly so, you can’t help but think that if one of them stepped up and played the Nash role in this movement then it could have already become a reality by now.
Perhaps people need to take notes from the master of exacting change.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Impers0nalJesus. Thanks for reading!