For a while now I’ve wanted to highlight a wrestler interview. Several names sprang to mind. Flair and Hogan always provide some lunacy when interviewed. Mr Anderson has been known to bend the truth in an attempt to protect his employer’s image and phrases things in a beautifully stupid way while doing so. Even John Cena will come out with some nonsense on occasion, if it means he can protect the good ship WWE.
But one man stands above all other when it comes to putting his foot in his mouth. Kurt Angle. There are few men who started out in wrestling with as much mainstream credibility as the ’96 Olympian. Over the years he’s frittered that away with tall tales and absurd claims. Remember when he said he was going to join UFC? Maybe he was going to join an MMA group but UFC boss Dana White said it wouldn’t be his. That showed Angle up as a man detached from reality. If that wasn’t bad enough he then went on to insist (in several different interviews) that White had expressed an interest in bringing him in, but was keeping it a secret.
That’s just an example off the top of my head. There are others and you should be able to find them on Google easily, should you wish to.
I’m not going to look into an entire interview by Angle, just his response to one question. Angle appeared on the PW 24/7 radio show a few weeks back and among the questions the hosts asked him was one regarding WWE’s recent use of ‘Big Sexy’ Kevin Nash. Here’s Kurt’s response:
"I love him to death. I know why he went to WWE. He wanted the carrot. He wanted that carrot they dangled in front of his face. But has the WWE used him the right way since he came back? No. Kevin should come back to TNA where they can use him the way he should be used. WWE thinks he’s old and washed up but TNA doesn’t think that. TNA wants Kevin Nash. He is so gifted, talented, and popular. I want him back in TNA because he’s one of my best friends."
Let’s begin with those carrot comments. What Angle refers to as a carrot is a contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much Nash has signed for but knowing his track record of negotiating enviable deals and the fact that one of his best friends is in a position of authority in WWE it’s almost certainly in the upper reaches of six figure sums.
If a similar “carrot” was “dangled” in front of Angle he’d return to the company too. In exchange for a large amount of money Nash appears weekly on TV, with large gaps often coming between these appearances during which he gets paid to sit at home or work whatever independent shows he feels like. He works house shows infrequently. That’s a very good deal for a 52-year-old man who has not been an effective draw since 1997 and whose knees are knackered.
Angle opines that Nash should go back to TNA to be used correctly. That simply won’t happen. As I recall the way TNA intended to reintroduce ‘Big Sexy’ to television earlier this year was as part of a reformed Main Event Mafia. How would being part of a group past its best have benefited Nash, or anybody else for that matter?
Were Nash to return now he would be working for a company that is booked in part by Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo. Those are the three men most often credited with running WCW out of business. That’s the promotion in which Nash lost his lustre as a performer, and on their collective watches. What makes Angle think those three men know how to book Nash now, after more than a decade of getting it wrong?
Fans may not like seeing him in such a prominent position of WWE’s flagship show but considering his limitations he’s being booked very well. I’d much rather see a young guy like Mason Ryan or Brodus Clay in the position Nash is in as it would be giving a young guy the chance to shine and establish themselves as someone the audience can believe in, but that’s another point for another time. At his age and with ability level Nash couldn’t hope to be used better at this point in his career. TNA could not offer Nash anything more.
WWE thinks Nash is old and washed up? By wrestler standards he is old. The only other currently active over-fifties of note are Hogan, Flair and Sting. When the majority of wrestlers are in their twenties and thirties a man of 52 is old.
As for washed up I’ve already said that Nash’s drawing power peaked in 1997. He isn’t washed up, but his best days are clearly behind him. The fact that WWE have gifted him a strong push and are planning a pay-per-view match for him against one of their few remaining headline talents indicates that they don’t think he’s washed up either. If they did they he wouldn’t be in the position he’s in.
“TNA doesn’t think he’s washed up,” says Angle. That’s a company that routinely overlooks its own young prospects in order to push former WWE and WCW guys. Of course they’re not going to think Nash is past it.
Is Nash gifted, talented and popular, as Angle claims? Gifted and talented are pretty much the same thing so let’s just say talented. I’d say that at times in his career Nash has shown he’s very talented. He was one of the three men that made the original nWo storyline so compelling and successful. Before that he worked enjoyable matches in the WWF with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and Bret Hart. His opponents may generally be regarded as the better workers (and rightfully so) but there are examples of great matches out there in which Nash was not just a passenger.
His biggest talent over the years has been his ability to verbalise. His recent WWE run has indicated that that skill may be on the wane but I’m sure with a tighter focus and more input from the writing team Nash can still deliver on the mic. So Angle’s right on his first “two” counts: Nash is talented.
Popular, though? I don’t think that’s a word that can be applied to ‘Big Sexy’. Many fans hate him for a number of reasons, most notably his perceived laziness and his awful booking of World Championship Wrestling. A lot of wrestlers have stated their dislike of the man too, citing the above reasons as well as his deceitful attitude.
So Angle’s incorrect there.
Angle’s final line undermines everything else he’s said anyway. By stating that he wants Nash back in TNA because they’re close friends Angle has given up all subjectivity. He just wants his mate back so that can pal around backstage. That’s fine, but for Angle to criticise WWE’s use of Nash simply because he wants his pal backstage again is ridiculous.
There we are. That’s Kurt Angle successfully proven wrong several times over. My work here is done.