Sunday, June 18, 2006

How the mighty have fallen

In my opinion Kevin Nash is one of the greatest big men in the world of wrestling. While he might not be as physically intimidating as Andre the Giant or the Big Show, Nash has great charisma and can really work the mike. I'm one of those old fashioned wrestling fans that usually boos the bad guys and cheers the heroes, but Nash played one of the wrestling villains that I could really dig.

Last week Mr. Nash returned to the wrestling ring for the first time since last October, IIRC. He had some chest pains the day before he was to main event at a TNA pay-per-view. His spot on the card went to Rhino the War Machine, who enjoyed a brief title reign as a result of this lucky break. I don't think I had seen Nash wrestle since around the time of the Finger Poke of Doom incident, so I was looking forward to his TNA X-Division debut. While I had hoped for a classic David-and-Goliath match, what the fans got was a cheap gag non-match. Nash's opponent was a midget wrestler. (I know "little person" is the current label, but in the neanderthal halls of rasslin' the correct term is still midget.) Basically, the joke was that Nash was mocking the size of the average X-Division participant and X-Division wrestler Chris Sabin in particular.

So Nash beat up a midget for a couple of minutes, while the announcement staff did their best to play up the travesty of it all. Not a bad way to sell Nash as a disrespectful heel, I suppose. And it might have worked too, had Nash not blown out his trick knee at the end of the match. As a youth Nash had desired to play in the NBA. He was semi-pro for a couple years in some sort of European basketball league, as I recall. But his bad knee prevented him from getting into the big leagues and he ended up in pro wrestling instead.

This isn't the first time Nash has injured himself in the ring. He once attempted to give the Giant (now known as the Big Show) a jack-knife powerbomb. I'm not sure the exact injury, but it was something in the leg, maybe that same old knee blew out. Anyway, he couldn't complete the maneuver and dropped the Giant on his head in a way that can legitmately snap your neck. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin nearly saw the end of his career from a similar injury. But the Giant is even bigger than Kevin Nash. Attempting that powerbomb was akin to Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3. And to this day Hogan has a torn muscle from that feat of strength! There's no shame in failing to lift one of the biggest wrestlers in history.

But blowing out your knee after beating up a man a third your size? That's a pretty big pit for your reputation to climb out of. Really, only the fact that Nash is pals with TNA ownership can save him now. Between the bum knee and the chest pains I wouldn't clear Kevin Nash to wrestle in Jeff's Wrestling Federation, and I doubt Vince McMahon would have a different opinion. Add on top of that the humiliation of injuring oneself while beating up a midget, and a smart man might decide to hang up the wrestling tights. I'm not sure Nash's ego will let him do that. As I write this I don't have the results of this Sunday's TNA pay-per-view. Rumours on the internets indicate that Nash intends to show up. Will his scheduled match with Chris Sabin go as planned?

All I can say is that Nash really needs to consider this: what does he have left to prove in professional wrestling? He's been world heavyweight champion in both WCW and WWE. His tag team with Scott Hall was probably the best heel tag team of its era. He was a major contributor to the New World Order story arc, perhaps one of the greatest plotlines in the history of pro wrestling. In sumo once you you achieve the rank of Yokozuna (grand champion) no one can take that title from you. But a wise Yokozuna retires before he becomes an embarrassment to the sport.

UPDATE: I didn't order the PPV but I've read some results. Nash showed and had something resembling a match with Chris Sabin. Nash's sidekick Alex Shelly involved himself in the match, perhaps moreso than most outside interference bookings. Nash got the win. Is that the end for Mr. Nash? Lots of great wrestlers have had less than stellar final matches. Arn Anderson's final match was tag-teaming with Steve "Mongo" McMichaels against the Quebeceurs.