Timeline: The History of WWE: 1995
As told by: Kevin Nash
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
With the swirling controversy of Kevin Nash blaming the downfall on wrestling on putting the belts on smaller guys, I came into this 2 Disc Set with a lot of animosity. I’m annoyed by my own opinion that Nash’s best buddy isn’t exactly a different size than the names he named, and that the difference in passion between Shawn Michaels and Eddie Guerrero is astronomical.
No matter what Nash says on this DVD.
Setting aside the knock on one of professional wrestling’s most beloved and respected talents, Kevin Nash is, to most of us “smart” types, one of the biggest examples of a locker room politician, a booker of the modern sense, and a guy who did …. well, not so much with what gifts of size and athleticism that he had.
Sure, he’s always going to be considered top tier because of his Outsiders association, and his legend is vastly made on the “kliq” faction that he either lead or mostly lead, depending on which member of that faction you talk to. But on the other hand, he’s one of the political and creative forces that were involved in the demise of WCW, his actions and commentary over the years has always rubbed the ‘hardcore’ section of the fanbase the wrong way, and his matter-of-fact delivery seems to be one of arrogance as opposed to understanding.
But in watching the DVD, with the established format, theme music and adept handling of the questions by Sean Oliver, I have to say that I have come out of it with a newfound respect for Mr. Nash.
No, I’m not reconsidering my knee-jerk antipathy to everything Nash says, but I do ‘get’ his approach a little better.
I am still mystified by a guy who says that the times have changed, but then says ten minutes before that the biggest problem with booking is having guys go out and get only 60% of the direction. (Seems to me that the biggest problem with booking is that true professional wrestlers should be doing 90% of the direction on their own, and the guidance of the booker should be rock-solid and specific to the finish and maybe some big picture points.)
Nash, however, provides an awesome insight into things and an understanding of the year 1995 that no one else is going to offer. Nash is, on many levels, the biggest talent on the Timeline/History series, and that makes the price well worth it.
In terms of providing that insight, there’s always a grain of salt with the guest stars, and with Nash, there are more than a few places where I was analyzing for the ‘tells’ and the probable misdirections, half-truths and prevarications. I think that’s the best part of Kayfabe Commentaries – trying to figure out the honesty levels and trying to psycho-analyze everthing.
Which, by the way, is vastly more entertaining than watching the mainstream product these days.
Early on, there were some jump-cuts, some places where Nash was avoiding the camera or Sean Oliver, or was otherwise showing body-language and facial expressions that suggested he was dancing around some questions.
But as the DVD progressed, there was a sense that Nash settled in and had everything under control.
I didn’t get a feel that he was going to be outlandish, although there were more than a few places where I shook my head. The schedule/traveling always seems like it was vastly more busy than it was. (1980’s WWF was an ongoing travel grind. Prior to the 1980, there was a big nightmare of a schedule for the top of the card. Early to mid-1990? I’m not so sure, not so quick to fall for the ‘we walked in the snow uphill both to and from the venue’ stories).
I’m also not quite as accepting of the whole “kliq” thing.
From the overstatements about Michaels to the statements that they ‘weren’t trying to run the company’ – when they clearly were trying to hold up things more than just clarifying things, Nash isn’t presenting his opinions as much as he’s fashioning the mythology and the legacy and the history – albeit in true Vincent K. McMahon fashion.
There’s something about his dodges and explanations that he wasn’t really given the opportunities as Champion, even as he was never quite the level of success that he’d like us all to believe. As much as Nash suffered from what CM Punk suffers (and a slew of Champions in between), I find it ironic that Nash sidesteps any commentary of the same. In other words, the history of the WWE from 1995 to today shows that Champions being held back, booked to fail, unable to break out is a recurring theme.
Yet Nash seems to want to portray this as being different with him.
Of course he does, because otherwise all the talk about showing up Vince really doesn’t add up.
One of the more interesting stories Nash presents is the influence Hulk Hogan had on him. Hogan’s mainstream success showed a lot of guys that they could play the game as well. (It’s been told to me that Hogan did more with less than any other Champion in pro wrestling history.) Nash being a mark to size and such, and finally getting close to Hogan at a show, realizing that he’s only 6’4” and not being 6’9”, plus the level of athleticism on display, is what made Nash try out the wrestling business.
His comments along the way are a lot more respectful and interesting than I expected.
Nash speaks highly of Jim Ross, of Larry Zbyszko, of Chief Jay Strongbow, and of others who helped him out, respected him or did the same with others (especially Scott Hall). He talks respectfully about wanting to show others how to work, and was annoyed at Jerry Lawler -- Lawler told Nash that he had spent 25 years learning the business, and Nash would have to learn it for himself, that he wasn’t going to teach him anything.
Those are levels that surprised me about the man.
Sure, he’s no friend of the smarts, or smart marks, but he seems to know that the smart subset of the wrestling fan is the target audience for the business. He jokes about how such fans complain about a PPV, say they will never buy another one, and then buy the next one regardless.
Very interesting from a guy who seems so dismissive of most fans.
What also intrigued me was his attitude towards other wrestlers. While the “kliq” is legendary as having their friends and foes, there is an understanding now that there were other factions with similar power (ok, mostly the Undertakers’ group), but also that while the “kliq” may not have liked a guy (say, Scott Bigelow) than they could respect him as a worker.
Of course, Nash can then turn around and bury guys, gals and reputations with the best of them
There are parts of the DVD that made me question motivations and parts that made me scream certain words – both positive and negative — but in the end, I was vastly entertained and the format and the History concept once again proved valuable. Taking a walk through nostalgia with Kevin Nash brings up some crazy stories, some not-so-very controversial comments as well as a great deal of insight from one of professional wrestling’s biggest power brokers.
This DVD brings about a very interesting take on a guy whose relationship to wrestling fans has always been strained. Again, the biggest surprise here was that Kevin Nash came across as a guy who has a passion for the business, who’s been through the business on multiple levels, and who may be outspoken and controversial way too often – but in the end, I found Nash to be a lot more enjoyable as a wrestling personality than I could ever imagine.
Who knows if that was the same then as now, but Nash is either well on his way to establishing himself as a ‘good hand’ and polishing his image, or he’s definitely got his working boots and political hat on for wrestling fans….. well, those same smarts that will likely buy the DVD.
No matter what you want to say about Nash, no one ever called him stupid!