They say it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts. That would make a very fitting epitaph for one of professional wrestling’s true malingerers (or “survivors”, if semantics is in play here). It’s apparently irrelevant to all and sundry that his matches invariably suck and he hasn’t drawn a dime (or a penny) in what feels like centuries. Likewise, his toxic associations and propensity for egocentric outbursts seemingly mean nothing in the grander scheme of things, because after all: where would the wrasslin’ business be without Kevin Nash?
There is some revisionist debate as to whether Kevin Nash ever even had a “prime” to speak of; however, for argument’s sake lets assume he did and, by definition, he’s well past it now by at least a full decade. That’s a very long time to be crap at your job and still remain gainfully employed. Alas, it’s better to be lucky than good: yet another idiom that suits old Kevin to an absolute tee.
As I write this, the listing and over-budgeted TNA is yet again entrusting Nash with a so-called “money feud” with company founder Jeff Jarrett. Though legitimate history exists between them, that is not a sufficient enough excuse to dredge up a period most would prefer remain forgotten. WCW – circa 1999 to 2001 – was an altogether dismal and desperate place, and Nash – pretending to be a booker and “star” – played a major role in its untimely demise. As for Jarrett, he was arguably the least credible heavyweight champion of the era, and as far as Mr. “Rope Opera” goes: Jim Cornette has pretty much covered everything in this area that required attention.
It is unclear what TNA hopes to accomplish from pitting a decrepit fifty year old against the always tiresome Jarrett, other than salary justification. Oh yes: Despite serving zero purpose, the marks in charge of TNA see fit to furnish our Kevin with an outlandish salary befitting his status as a grappling legend, and why not? This is after all a man who when it comes time to do the job, conveniently suffers a mild “heart attack”. This is also the man who has consistently campaigned for the reinstatement of another man who needs to stay the hell away from pro wrestling, lest he wind up just another wrestling statistic in an orchid casket before too long.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I am not the president of the Kevin Nash fan club. Truth be told, I think the man is a cynical careerist with an almost non-existent moral compass. I think he has plotted, connived, manipulated and undermined to remain in a money position, and had the gall to pass himself off as an all round decent fellow in the process. He (and others like him) are a by-product of wrestling’s dark heart: A business without rules or representation, capriciously overseen by those to whom Machiavelli is an icon and an example. It is Darwinism run riot, and it is the root of so much strife in professional wrestling. Life is full of bastards, but in most other situations time is the enemy of the corrupt, and they cannot survive forever. That Kevin Nash is still employed, trusted and even defended proves – beyond a doubt – that the professional wrestling industry is fundamentally flawed.
Of all the many idiotic acquisitions Dixie Carter has made, none rank higher than Kev’s buddy Scott Hall. Unlike Nash, Hall was once a great performer, who shone without needing others to make him look good. Sadly, the latter stages of the Scott Hall odyssey have been little more than a depressing decline into alcoholism and ultimate ruination. The flabby, caustically unwell approximation of the once great “Bad Guy” has been almost painful to observe. Scott Hall’s life has totally unravelled amidst a business that has always been very quick to take and reticent to give back.
Do not however – for one solitary second – blame the woe of Scott Hall entirely on the wrestling business. This is a man who, time and again, blew chances at redemption and eventual peace. He simply hasn’t been inclined to help himself and take that first, necessary step to recovery, and thus the business has just chewed him up again and again. His continued involvement in the business is both supremely unwise and terminally irresponsible. Now and for all time, Scott Hall needs to stay away from professional wrestling or it will kill him. For all his stupidity and selfishness, no one wants to see that happen.
Details have gradually emerged as to extent of Paul Heyman’s interest in TNA. Needless to say, if Heyman were to become involved he’d want absolute control over every facet of the company. A lot of people have considered the possible course of wrestling history had Heyman possessed the money (as well as the creative beans) to keep ECW ticking over. Make no bones about it; the modern wrestling industry was more or less informed by the rise of ECW and the ideas and principles it espoused. The idea of an energised and aggressively motivated Heyman shaking WWE out of it’s near unbreakable malaise is both exciting and quite desperately tantalising.
Alas, thanks to the washed up and overrated likes of Nash and Hulk Hogan, this is all still a pipedream. Heyman would have no time for the nonsense and chicanery that surrounds the likes of Kevin Nash, and he would expect wrestling’s very own silver fox to serve a legitimate purpose sans his usual preferential treatment. Needless to say, the Kevin Nash myth was not constructed and perpetuated in such conditions. Nash has been (and always shall be) a quite hideously unmotivated worker who applies the minimum effort whilst exacting the maximum cost. Like so many in TNA, his presence is deleterious and almost entirely without purpose.
Say what you will about Ric Flair – and he has been deservedly chastised, in my opinion – but he has spent much of his TNA tenure working with newcomers and, in the case of Jay Lethal, doing his level best to make a star out of some extremely impressive raw materials (like he has done throughout his career, to be fair.) Though his ego has routinely run wild (and Flair’s forays into the ring should be kept to an absolute premium) Flair is more credible and useful than Kevin Nash could ever dream of being. In the end though, none of this actually matters. As long as at least one idiot with a large chequebook is calling the shots, Kevin Nash will find himself financially rewarded at the expense of the wrestling industry and wrestling fans alike. To paraphrase Ellis “Red” Redding in The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy working, or get busy working others…” Damn right.
Daniel R. Browne.