This week’s Something To Wrestle With with Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson covered a highly-anticipated episode documenting Kevin Nash’s time in the WWE as Diesel. This week was just part one the Nash spotlight as the two recount Big Daddy Cool’s swift rise to the top of the card in 1993 to winning the WWE Title at the end of 1994.
Prichard thought the Diesel character (whose name was invented by Shane McMahon) was a badass, larger than life star that fans gravitated to because of his heelish attitude, but believes the company lost that steam with Diesel when they tried to humanize him by calling him by his real name and mentioning his college basketball background.
“All of a sudden, we went from characters and you went from what was cool and what the audience was buying, which was Diesel is an ass kicking heel to he wins the title, has a spat with Shawn, he becomes this jokester and ‘Hey Bobby Backlund, Bowtie Bob!’ And shit like that. Leading the office singing Christmas Carols and stopped being Diesel. He does an interview where JR talks back, ‘You played basketball in Tennessee…now, Kevin…’ I didn’t want fuckin’ Kevin Nash. Kevin Nash wasn’t the guy the audience fell in love with. They fell in love with the nasty heel Diesel.”
“Diesel was a heel and we made him, we took Diesel away from him, JR starts calling him ‘Kevin.’ I don’t know who the fuck Kevin is. I don’t care who Kevin is. I cared about my guy Diesel and when we humanized him, I think at that moment, Diesel lost all of his momentum when we made him champion the first time as a babyface and tried to present him as a legitimate athlete with legitimate credentials. Who gives a fuck? Nobody gives a fuck. They want to be entertained, they want characters and there are people that want the legitimacy well then go to something legitimate. If you want story and entertainment then that’s what we’re trying to give and when it got to be a departure from what we had been doing. I think that’s where we lost them. I think that’s where it just became, ‘I don’t want Kevin from Tennessee. I want Diesel. I want the badass.’
“We took him from being a larger than life character and made him the guy next door that goes to college and plays basketball. Wasn’t good enough to go pro. Didn’t play for a major university, and I’m not knocking anybody that plays college athletics in any way shape or form because that’s a different level than, ‘Hey, by God, I made the high school football team or the basketball team.’ Helluva athlete, but if I wanted to watch a mediocre basketball player, you can watch that all day long somewhere. If I want a larger than life, kick ass fuckin’ Diesel, that’s my guy. Not the guy that fuckin’ went in a dorm in east Tennessee. I just hated it, I fuckin’ hated it.”
Later on, Conrad brings up the always held notion that Nash’s WWE Title run in 1994-95 made Diesel the worst drawing champion in the history of the company, but pokes a few holes in that idea by mentioning some previous attendance numbers.
“Diesel has often been referred to as ‘The worst drawing champion in WWF history’ and in my notes I wanna ask ‘when did you start to notice a dip in house show business, but if you remember when he won the fuckin’ thing as MSG, there’s only 7,000 fans there and 7,000 fans in Huntsville would be a helluva house. 7,000 fans in Madison Square Garden means you probably lost money running the damn building.”
Bruce however, does recall putting a lot of the onus on Nash, but looking back realizes that one can’t put all the blame on him.
“People put the heat on Diesel. I did. I remember the night we went to shoot the angle with Goldust and Razor in Bangor, Maine and Vince was in with Razor and Goldust or whatever and I’m outside with Hunter and Diesel. And Diesel says, ‘You know, ‘I’m the lowest earning WWF Champion of all time.’ I said, ‘Well it goes hand-in-hand with the lowest drawing WWF Champion.’ Kevin and I had a few heated words at that point and you look back and it’s true, yeah, but you can’t, when you truly look at it in hindsight and you look at it with fresh eyes in a fair assessment, he didn’t inherit, no. He didn’t inherit anything. He inherited the championship at a time when the business was at a low point and there wasn’t an awful lot for him to work with from that point moving ahead and I think that as time went on, Diesel did become a draw and he did get into a position where, yes, he did draw money and obviously did well enough that he was able to parlay that into a hell of a deal at WCW. So as much as I’ve picked on Kevin before and I’ve picked on DIesel and all that shit, make no mistake about it, you can’t put all of it on him and he was doing what he was told, he was still green and doing what he was told. And that falls on us. That falls on us, from the creative people that were allowing it to happen and I was apart of that…”
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)
You can listen to the entire episode below as Conrad and Bruce talk all the details on Big Daddy Cool and you can get all the detailed notes of the episode (and more) by signing up for AdsFreeShows.com: