Kevin Nash—Night Of Champions X Factor
It’s Sunday morning and I’m thinking about today’s Night of Champions PPV and starting to get a very bad feeling. Not the one that you develop after a few too many burritos from Taco Bell chased down by a gallon of expired milk. No, that would be joyous in comparison.
This bad feeling comes equipped with emotions such as disgust, regret and disbelief. The same feelings often felt after suffering through another episode of Impact Wrestling. Especially the train wreck that took place this past week where two icons wrestled a match that never should have happened (the 1990s called and they want you to quit tarnishing your reputations).
When it comes to the world of wrasslin, I have my own sources (not specific people on the inside, but websites or “places” I frequent to get fairly credible behind the scenes information). It’s been quite accurate over the years and I tend to trust their material. With that in mind, I’ll share with you what I’m hearing.
Rumor has it that Kevin Nash is booked to make an appearance at Night Of Champions. And no matter how much Pepto Bismol I have ingested to date, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make this sick feeling go away.
The source of these feelings is as follows. I’ve been trying to buy into the idea that WWE is going to push its younger stars. For a brief time it seemed like they were on the right track. The Nexus was hot, Wade Barrett seemed credible, Rhodes and DiBiase seemed to be clicking and guys like Swagger and Kingston were making noise. The Miz was on top, and I was buying him as champ.
How will Kevin Nash return at NOC?
However, as ratings seemed to level out and stay stagnate, someone started to get cold feet. All of a sudden the Miz was a “former” champion, and we started seeing old names like The Rock (both live and in taped messages), Austin (pushing Tough Enough often live), and Bret Hart (on some Canadian dates) show up more and more. The youth movement seems to have grown to a crawl again. To top it all off, a short while back, out trotted Kevin Nash.
Now when he made his appearance at the Royal Rumble, I along with the millions watching on PPV went “Hey, cool.” He received one of the biggest pops of the night. Nash went to the ring, took the young guys moves and got promptly tossed out. On the way to the back, he and the Big Show stared each other down, and off he disappeared backstage. In that capacity I thought “Hey, great surprise moment, he doesn’t look all that bad.” I reminisced in my mind a bit back to nWo’s glory days, and then I moved on. It didn’t end there, though. Kevin Nash is still in the mix.
Now if I assume my sources end up being correct, and Kevin Nash is indeed booked for some appearance at Night of Champions, it would seem to confirm a few things:
First off, it verifies that the “future endeavoring” notification posted on wwe.com and subsequently corroborated by Nash via his twitter account addressing his supposed contract termination was in fact a work (like many believed in the first place). This would not be the first time Nash tried to work the Internet, as it is common practice now for performers to use social media to advance angles and to mislead fans.
Second, it validates that if he actually did fail a recent physical (preventing him from the originally scheduled Nash vs. Punk match at NOC), he seems to have been cleared to participate in some way at the event, hopefully in a far less physical role (perhaps in the form of safely making it through the door to the restroom, or standing up from a seated position).
Third, if he does appear at the event, that there will hopefully be some form of storyline pay off at Night of Champions as to why he was brought back to WWE in the first place. One would assume if this were the case, it would be executed as part of either the semi main event or main event of the evening.
For those who are moderate followers of the pastime called (by many) “sports entertainment,” let me briefly recap his return to WWE post Royal Rumble:
WWE had been capitalizing on a re-hash of the “Summer Of Punk” program, which previously played itself out over in ROH. Punk’s contract renewal was coming up, he went into Money In The Bank (contract expiring at midnight) facing Cena for the belt. He beat him, avoided an attempted cash in of MITB by Del Rio, and escaped through the crowd to thunderous applause from his hometown fans in Chicago (effectively leaving the company high and dry without a champion or a belt).
The next night on RAW, a tourney was ordered to crown a new champion. SuperCena went on to reclaim top spot as the WWE champion. Punk returned the following week with his WWE belt.
End result, we had two men claiming to be WWE champion. Thus at Summerslam, the two faced off to unify the belt. Punk ultimately pinned Cena. But post-match, Kevin Nash made his way to the ring through the crowd, and obliterated Punk with a powerbomb.
In typical MITB heel fashion, Del Rio hit the ring and cashed in successfully to claim the unified strap to end off Summerslam.
Since his appearance at Summerslam, he had showed up on multiple episodes of RAW, most notably during segments where he:
1. Stated that he received a text message from HHH telling him to “stick the winner of the main event” (so Nash did just that given he thought he was helping HHH)
2. Engaged in some questionable verbal duals with Punk (depending on who you talked to, some actually suggested that Nash owned Punk but for the most part, his mic work was seen as subpar in comparison to earlier promos in his career and to Punk)
3. Caused a distraction during a Cena vs Punk No. 1 contender’s match (which allowed Cena to get the win)
4. Signed a contract with Johnny Ace (aka John Laurinaitis, executive vice president of talent relations, he’ll have you know) to become a full-fledged member of the roster (no longer just under a Legends contract)
5. Was announced as having been booked to face Punk at NOC only to be pulled from the match the same night that it had been announced in the first place (HHH, just before going off air, made it HHH vs Punk instead)
6. Was subsequently fired by HHH, only to leave the building in a limo with Johnny Ace.
Conspiracy theorists who recently read that Punk was booked to go over Nash at NOC instantly jumped at Nash’s alleged history of reluctance in putting talent over. Some even suggesting he may be feigning injury to avoid doing the job. Others suggest that the match was changed because he signed on to do a new film (and there was some stipulation or clause in the contract that would prevent him from participating in an all out match due to injury concerns).
There’s nothing to my knowledge that substantiates him trying to back out of the match, although it does make you wonder. Something tells me, however, that while that kind of “stunt” may have played itself out in WCW and even in TNA, it would certainly not be happening on Vince McMahon’s watch.
Nash was nowhere to be seen this past RAW, however, that doesn’t mean he’s really gone anywhere. In the wonderful world of wrestling, performers never seem to go away for good. See Flair, Hogan, Sting, Edge, etc… In fact when I came across details suggesting that Nash would be back at Night of Champions, it certainly didn’t surprise me. What it did do was cause me to ask myself in what capacity would he be returning. The possibilities are endless, and for the armchair booker, one’s mind should be running wild (not quite as wild as Hulkamania in its heyday, but pretty close).
If we assume Nash does show at Night of Champions, there must be some premise for including him in the event. When you consider all the possibilities, and the players who have been linked to Nash to date, there are various possibilities. What follows are what I consider to be a few of the possible scenarios which may play themselves out at Night of Champions.
These are not listed in any particular order, but I will highlight my preferred outcome, not because I suggest creative will use it, but rather because I think it provides the best storyline and richest number of options for additional ideas and mileage in the angle (subsequently generating interest in the product and increasing viewers and PPV buys).
I opted to use a few criteria to assess each potential scenario:
Motivation—There must be an underlying motivation as to why Nash was injected into the event and/or storyline.
How it happens—What action does he take? Is this merely a one shot wonder, or will Nash continue playing some recurring role?
Pros—Why is bringing him back in this manner a good thing? What positives can come from this?
Negatives—Why is bringing him back in this manner a bad thing? What negatives can come from this?
How it culminates—Nash won’t (I sure hope not) stay around forever, how or when does this angle “end?” What sends him back to the woodshed?
Who it helps—Which members of the roster gain a rub, or benefit from this approach?
Who it hurts—Which members of the roster get buried, or suffer from this approach?
Probability of happening
What is the likelihood that this scenario will actually will happen?
1. Nash is Del Rio’s hired heavy
- Motivation—Del Rio is rich and well, Nash has an affinity for the almighty dollar.
- How it happens—Nash comes out to aid Del Rio and prevents Cena from recapturing the title via some nefarious means.
- Pros—This could involve little in ring action (which would hide his limitations at this age) and keeps the belt on Del Rio (appeasing the anti Cena fans). Keeping the belt on a Mexican (as WWE tries to strengthen its hold on that market) is probably a good business decision.
- Cons—This may make the recently crowned Del Rio appear too weak. A heel champion who needs help or who needs to cheat to win is not a new concept, but given his lack of sustained push over the last year, IMHO, he needs to be able to get clean wins on his own to legitimize him as a long term main event performer.
- How it culminates—One way this could come to a head involves a build to Nash and Taker at Mania. Hear me out! Nash would need to stay out of the ring and play enforcer for Del Rio here and there leading up to Wrestlemania (you could even have him written out for a month or more due to a suspension). Eventually, Taker returns and wants to rid the “cancer” from the locker room and there you have your Wrestlemania match for the streak.
These days no one believes for a second that the Undertaker will ever lose at this event. Having Nash go against him provides a slight glimmer of hope if you play up the fact that Nash might be lobbying HHH out back to give him the win (as they are known to be good friends). Maybe you even throw in Del Rio buying additional manpower to beat Taker down to weaken him for Nash (as a return favor for Nash having protected Del Rio all year long).
- Who it helps—Overall, it should help Del Rio. If booked properly, Nash does generate interest (even though sometimes it is negative). Keeping Del Rio as champ for a solid year or so would do numbers for the viewership in Mexico and for tours in that area. Not to mention its a little payback for his having had his push derailed on a couple of occasions in the last 12 months.
- Who it hurts—If you think about the youth on the roster, whenever you focus on an older guy (Nash), a younger guy has to take a seat on the bench. That’s not good long term. So guys down in FCW would need to get more comfortable in their recliners as there would not be as many call ups to the main roster given Nash taking up a spot.
- Probability of it happening—30 percent
2. Nash and HHH are back in the Kliq and buddies again
- Motivation—These guys have a long history of being friends and selling the idea that Nash has manipulated his way back to the top is not a stretch.
- How it happens – Nash shows up at Night of Champions and takes out Punk giving HHH the win.
- Pros—From a believability perspective, it’s a plausible storyline (not one that people maybe like, but I think it’s easily one people could buy happening).
- Cons—This just may turn off a whole slew of fans that have such disgust and distaste of Nash (based on days in WCW) that they decide to tune out going forward. Nash is a very polarizing individual, like it or not.
- How it culminates—Nash lingers around like a bad smell for a while. Maybe you even trot out Michaels and tease him coming back for a semi reunion. Push comes to shove, Michaels declines, walks away and in the process, gets beaten down senseless. And as a measure of revenge, who challenges Nash to a match, but John Cena. As a result, Cena would be avenging Michaels (the darling of the wrestling world) and in beating Nash, would win over his haters.
- Who it helps—It would definitely help Cena as no doubt he would be (in part) cast in a role to go against Nash and/or HHH. The more positive reaction a guy (or gal) gets, the more merchandise sales they will likely generate. PPV buys might not move up or down substantially, but I think a positively viewed Cena gets more t-shirt buys plain and simple. And that’s cash in McMahon’s pocket. So while Cena may already have his fanbase, there could be anti Nash fans who come to his side (seeing him as the "lessor of two evils").
- Who it hurts—I think it could hurt the entire locker room morale as the perception (rightly or wrongly) could be that there is a big power play in progress and that’s not a good thing. It also puts the focus on Cena and some may feel that it’s time to spread the love, and focus on some of the other talent for a change.
- Probability of it happening—10 percent
3. Nash is McMahon’s goon
- Motivation—McMahon wants to get rid of HHH as COO (no one likes to be ousted from their job, even if HHH seemed unhappy in having to relieve him of his duties in the first place). McMahon flashes cash at Nash and of course, Nash says “how high shall I jump sir.”
- How it happens—Nash comes out during the HHH vs Punk match and takes out HHH. Punk gets the pin, thus relieving him of his COO duties. Punk doesn’t want the win after Nash’s powerbomb, but after giving HHH the GTS, he is ok with securing the pin (somehow legitimizing the win).
- Pros—This is a situation where Nash could be a bit of a one hit wonder. This doesn’t really involve any long-term involvement on his part. It can switch focus to HHH and Vince and Nash can really just disappear forever into the darkness unless they want to spot use him somewhere down the line.
- Cons—We’ve seen enough McMahon power struggles to last us a lifetime. There is nothing original about it and I’m not sure anyone is clamouring for another iteration of this.
- How it culminates—Nash can literally be gone after Night of Champions. He gets his supposed payday for taking out HHH and goes away. Or, if they want to bring him back for a RAW and let HHH murder him (as part of the storyline assuming you want HHH to come out ahead in the McMahon power struggle in the end) you go that route.
- Who it helps—Helps the McMahon’s maintain their perennial craving for spotlight. I guess it’s a tried and true formula to some degree given that in the end, it seems the talent always gets the win. it’s been done before., but it’s all about the execution.
- Who it hurts—It goes back to the premise that the mid-card and youth movement is stuck in nowheresville when they do these little McMahon power struggle angles. The angles tend to focus on the same people, and they rarely if ever introduce any new blood into the feud. A guy like Zach Ryder is going to disappear, and others like DiBiase Jr and Sin Cara may as well just start applying for jobs as Wal-Mart greeters because there is nothing good to come from it for them.
- Probability of it happening—15 percent
4. Nash and Cena are working together (Cena heel turn)
- Motivation—Nash and Cena end up on the same page when it comes to the crowd and how they view them. Nash convinces Cena that the people are his enemy. Just like how many despise Nash due to his past transgressions, they hate Cena even though he’s always tried to please them. As a result, they are sort of “kindred spirits” in feeling that they are unfairly being judged, and vow to take on the roster (and the WWE universe).
- How it happens—Nothing more difficult then Nash helping Cena win the title back from Del Rio. Standard entrance through the crowd, Powerbomb, AA from Cena, and the win goes to the “new” bad guy, SuperCena. PPV ends with Nash holding Cena’s hand (with belt) high.
- Pros—There have been many calling for a Cena heel turn for some time now. There is still the build towards Wrestlemania, which will be Cena versus Rock. McMahon may believe that his best bet is a true heel vs face matchup. And one way to get that is to give us a heel Cena (leaving Rock to play the returning favourite).
- Cons—There would need to be a lot of salesmanship on the part of the WWE to make us believe that this is in fact a legitimate storyline. The two have NO history together, and nothing points towards this being a viable option. It puts far too much focus on Nash, and I don’t think there is any intention of that happening.
- How it culminates—Rock is set to come back for at least a couple of PPV’s (rumoured) before the big faceoff next April in Miami. Cena starts suggesting that Rock doesn’t have it in the ring anymore, and feels he has to prove he’s worthy of the main event at Mania. As a result, he says he has to go through Nash to get to him. For us to believe Nash has any chance whatsoever of winning that kind of encounter, somehow Rock would need to get a significant beatdown beforehand and fed into a waiting Nash in the ring. Rock still of course comes back to beat Nash convincingly, and thus finally ending Big Lazy’s television presence. Rock hits all of his trademark moves on mark, and legitimizes the fact that he’s back and ready to go. Rock and Cena are now set for Mania.
- Who it helps—In this case I think the prime beneficiary again is Cena. Right now we have clearly seen he can operate in a ring (and out for that matter) as a face. And for a couple of years now, he has been living as a tweener splitting his fanbase between the women/kids and the male demo (the former love him, the latter not so much). We’ve yet to see a recent sustained heel run by him and it would do a lot in terms of proving he has depth of character to spend time in that clear heel role. It also would allow some mid to upper card face talent an opportunity to work with Cena (which isn’t available now due to the number of guys like Ryder, Morrison, Cara, etc… who are all cast in the face role).
- Who it hurts—This route would hurt a lot of people. The main recipient of pain would be McMahon and the bank account. Let’s face it, Cena is the man and is expected to be the man for the next 10 years. He still generates a lot of cash in the form of merchandise and gates. PPV buys are harder to put a finger on but t-shirts and wrist band sales (and so on) can be tallied up to produce some numbers. In the same vein as Hogan, Cena is a prime candidate for the “Make a Wish Foundation”, and various other charities, and the fledgling movie making arm of WWE. You turn him heel, you appease many in the IWC and the young male demo, but you cause a lot of pain in a whole bunch of other areas.
- Probability of it happening—5 percent
5. Nash and Johnny Ace are trying to take over
- Motivation—Johnny Ace doesn’t like the fact that HHH got cast as the new COO. He feels he’s been the heir apparent to running the company for some time now, and whether HHH is the son in law or not, Ace feels he should be “the guy” now that McMahon is out of the picture. So he brings in Nash to double cross HHH and help take him out.
- How it happens—Again, pretty straight forward in that Nash shows up to cost HHH the match against Punk. Punk maintains his cool factor even though the spotlight is being ever so slightly turned in someone else’s direction. HHH loses his job but rarely needs to wrestle because he’s doing promos and vignettes touting how he is going to get his job back. Maybe after an extended period, Nash convinces Ace to let him fight HHH for the COO job back. By that time Nash will have finished this movie he’s rumoured to be shooting, and will be in as good a shape as he’ll probably ever be for a guy his age (which don’t kid yourself, is fantastic shape), HHH will have been allowed to work on business behind the scenes and is ring fresh, and we got a one of match to spice up one of the weaker PPVs.
- Pros—This would allow both performers (Nash and HHH) to have limited in ring action. Nash because, well, when he performs he gets hurt. HHH moreso for the fact that he is transitioning into a corporate guy (off screen) so he has less time to spend in the gym (as he should be scouring the world for the next big thing not named Lesnar).
- Cons—There is some risk in that the focus on guys like Punk (who had been red hot as of late) as well as the development of the youth movement will suffer. Sometimes it seems McMahon wants to head in only one shiny direction at one time, and the other guys on the roster seem to suffer. Nash has a fickle fanbase as well. Those who remember him as a big a**kicking machine will soon see that he is not that lethal in the ring anymore. Once he’s exposed for his average in ring abilities some may turn on him real quick and join the throngs of fans already calling for his head based on his WCW reputation.
- How it culminates—Of course HHH would come out on top in the end. He is the heir to the throne and we all know it. HHH would need to bury Nash for good and send him back to the geriatric ward where he belongs. Knowing Nash, as long as he is getting a nice paycheck in the short term that is probably fine by him. So it could culminate against at one of the less popular PPV’s and be perhaps a semi main event. The match would be a “loser leaves WWE” type match. Nash can go out with a whimper, and HHH can hang the trunks back up again for a year to focus on business. McMahon will be brought back into the picture. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him side with Ace for the feud and then make up with HHH at the end.
- Who it helps—I don’t think Nash is the name that will spike the ratings (I don’t think it has happened to date) but it may pull back in the casual viewer who is still clamouring for a full fledged return to the attitude era (which Nash, although having been mostly on the competition side at the time, is associated with). It will allow some of the talent to develop on the main roster with perhaps less main event pressure. Perhaps part of the plan is to bring up some youth, or focus on guys like Rhodes and DiBiase without putting them directly in the main event where they may feel they’re still not ready (see Rhodes as IC champ and his recent win over Orton). Nash and HHH are older, but they have the name recognition, and they have generally been successful whenever the story has been right.
- Who it hurts—Almost the same argument is could be made in that this could result in stifling of the youth movement. It’s hard to put new guys on the top when you have dinosaurs ruling the roost. It will entirely depend on whether they make this angle or feud a centerpiece on RAW and Smackdown moving forward, or whether it is merely a side dish. It also hurts the company’s credibility in terms of their predilection for wanting to highlight TNA and their use of old over the hill talent (if they are going to do the exact same thing).
- Probability of it happening—40 percent
Bottom line, I think it boils down to one of two scenarios. Either Nash and Del Rio are going to be linked, or it will be another episode of family squabbles starring the McMahon’s (and Nash will be linked with Laurinaitis). I would like to see them head in a direction where Del Rio plays a significant role (so having him be his hired heavy is my preference). I am nervous, however, that we may be in for another episode of “the dysfunctional McMahon family” and yet another power struggle involving HHH, Vince, Johnny Ace, sprinkled with a little Nash will take place over the next three to six months.
There you have it. I have sat and played “armchair quarterback” as many of us all like to do from time to time. One thing seems fairly certain though. I believe we will see Nash at Night Of Champions in some form.
I only hope that whatever role he plays leads to interesting possibilities, elevation of as many talents as possible, and limited ring action on his part. He should not be cast in a role that sees him hogging the spotlight. He should not become a lingering presence that is long past it’s expiration date (just like the milk I may have drank earlier).
It’s time to turn the page regarding the “in ring” and “television worthiness” of some of these elder statesmen. Nash is at the top of my list. He has value in terms of his shoot interviews, indy booking appeal, and autograph signings, but he should not become a permanent fixture of Monday night.
That’s my take on the situation. I’d welcome yours.