By: Adam Harrison (@AdamRHarrison) –
I t’s often hard to tell who an actor is when the cameras are turned off. How do you know what someone is like when they get paid to be someone else for a living? When it comes to the eccentric art of professional wrestling, it’s even more difficult. Pro wrestlers play the same character for years and will even maintain that persona outside of the ring. Imagine Daniel Day Lewis method acting Butcher Bill from Gangs of New York for five years or Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver for the better part of a decade. Aesthetic Magazine’s Adam Harrison sat down with wrestler-gone-actor Kevin Nash at the first ever SuperFan ComiCon in Toronto, to talk about working during the golden era of wrestling, his transition into showbiz and, of course, his taste in music. As Nash leaned back into the couch backstage and crossed his legs as if he were about to crack a beer and watch the football game, it was apparent that this man is not the outlaw he played on TV; he’s no different from your next-door neighbour… just much bigger!
When you think of a pro wrestler, the first thing that comes to mind is a humongous beast of a man with muscles the size of watermelons. Billed at 6’10’’ and 328lbs, Nash is the definition of a wrestler in the 90’s when the industry demanded size. Nash was a multiple World Champion and main event wrestler between 1993-2003, in a time known as “The Attitude Era”, when wrestling was at its peak. He competed during the Monday Night Wars, a term coined to describe the viewership battle between the two major promotions at the time, World Wrestling Federation (since renamed World Wrestling Entertainment) run by Vince McMahon and World Championship Wrestling owned by Ted Turner. Nash says the pressures of the competing companies had no affect on him. “I had guaranteed money. I had no stress whatsoever. Ted Turner signed my cheque and it came every two weeks. I just had to stay healthy,” he laughs, “and age-free.”
Nash’s first major run was in the WWF under the name Diesel (with the nick name Big Daddy Cool). He would later move to WCW under his own name (and nick name Big Sexy) where he became best known for starting up one of the most iconic wrestling alliances of all time, the nWo (New World Order) with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan. Nash compares working during The Attitude Era to what he imagines Mötley Crüe’s bus was like during the Girl, Girls, Girls tour. “It was a good time. It was about a five-year party right there. A lot of people say I should write a book about it, but like Keith Richards, there’s about a five-year period where I’d have to use back-up people to tell me ‘You did what?’”
In fact, wrestlers during The Attitude Era had quite the reputation for pranking or hazing each other. “I spent my first 3 years in the WWE with Owen Hart who was probably, bar none, the greatest ribber of all time. A lot of guys would do a rib, but he’ll actually rib himself… just to torture the guy. He’s that kind of guy.”
Nash describes a story to us where Hart gave up his hotel suite to a newly wed couple that drove him from town to town as a honeymoon present. Later, he sent the police up to the room to tell the couple they were in the room illegally. When they knocked on the adjoining door to ask Hart what to do, he handed the couple a bag of white powder that looks like cocaine, but was actually just baking flour. “The guy of course dumps it in the toilet and flushes it, thinking he’s saving Owen. And it’s basically a reenactment of Goodfellas… ‘Karen, where’s the stuff? That’s $3500!’ He stayed on it for like two days just to drive the guy insane and then finally he said ‘no man it’s just a joke, it was all set up.’”