Raw Magazine interview-The Biggest, Sexiest Interview Ever - 4/03

Controversy. Wherever Kevin Nash goes, that word is sure to follow. The question - Is he good for business? Will he poison the locker room? Is he selfish? - will be asked. And the real answers to these questions will inevitably be bent, twisted and obfuscated to satisfy the needs of his detractors.
Perhaps it's the price he pays for speaking his mind, or the cost of succeeding in a highly competitive and highly publicized business. Whatever the reasons, Nash knows that, truthful or not, bad things will be written about him. He'll be the first to admit that he's no saint, but if even half of the things that have been written about him were true, he'd have been finished a long time ago.
When he was 16 and 6-feet-8 inches tall, his mother told him that 80 percent of the people in this world were going to hate him no matter what, given his size and the fact that he's got a brain. Now, he says, he's got four great friends in this business and considers himself pretty lucky.
Kevin Nash is a likable guy, and if you don't like him, it's probably because as he says, you don't know him. Spend some time with him and the following things become clear: He loves what he does and has a great deal of respect for the business, even more so after sitting out several months rehabbing his injured quadriceps muscle. He considers it an honor to work for Vince McMahon and is happy to be back in WWE. He is grateful for his family and friends, and appreciates all the fans who have supported him over the years. And more importantly, he's a lot smarter and a lot more sincere than you think.

RAW Magazine: Let's start with your injured quadriceps. How bad was it?

Kevin Nash: As far as all the injuries I've had, this was by far the most painful. When I awoke after surgery, the pain was excruciating. When you wake up and realize that they took the whole front of your leg off, it's pretty shocking. Then I was in a wheelchair for a while and felt pretty helpless.

RAW.' Did you ever think that your career was over?

Nash: It's funny. Even when I was just laying there in the back after I got injured, I remember looking at Vince and saying, `This wasn't my last match," and him responding, "I didn't think it would be." After you've been hurt so many times, you know it's going to be a long process coming back. You pretty much know what the rehab's going to be like, and the pain that's going to be involved. The hardest thing was in the beginning and getting the range of motion back, which was by far the most painful part.

RAW. Did you get frustrated at all?

Nash: I was frustrated at times because the gains don't come as quickly as you want them to. And you get lulls during your recovery process. I would be making a lot of progress, and then I'd hit periods where I'd go to two rehab sessions a day and the first one would just be trying to get rid of the swelling from the previous day's session. Finally, my kneecap realigned and the swelling went away, and I started making real progress. When you've got 40m1 of swelling in your knee joint, you're pretty much screwed.

RAW. How did you spend your time away from the ring when you weren't rehabbing?

Nash: I was in Birmingham for about three-and-a-half months, and then I came home to Florida and was able to spend time with my son and rehab there. I found a great rehab specialist named Randy Thomas, and he told me that a lot of my problems were with my other leg. So, I really had to relearn how to walk properly. I had picked up so many bad habits over the years that I would never get better unless I corrected them as well as rehab the torn quad. I'd basically take my son to school, then go to the gym and then to rehab. Then I'd pick up my son from school, and spend some time with him. At night I'd do some cardio work. It was a pretty structured schedule from about 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

RAW. Was it difficult for you to live such a structured existence?

Nash: For me, it was like [the Bill Murray movie] Groundhog Day. When you've been living the lifestyle that I've lived over the years, being in a different city every night and always on the go, it was really different. But, it was something that I needed to do. It gave me time to reflect and get my head right, to figure out what's important to me, and then move forward.

RAW. So do you feel better now?

Nash: Absolutely. Sometimes, you go so fast in life that you never get a chance to sit back and think about what's going on and what's really important. To a degree, working in sports-entertainment becomes a job. When it's taken away from you though, you realize that this is a huge part of your life. It defines who I am as much as anything.

RAW Do you appreciate the business more?

Nash: I think so. I'm definitely hungry to get back. At this stage, I've realized that I probably don't have too much time left in the business, so every minute means more. When you're younger, it's much easier to take the fans and the pop [they give you] for granted. When it's taken away from you, you realize how much it means to you. It's one thing to walk away on your own terms. It's another when it's taken away and you're not ready for it to be. It's a whole different matter.

RAW. Did you watch WWE programming while you were out?

Nash: Yeah. It was hard in the beginning. I had the office send the tapes to me because I wanted to keep up with what was going on, but it was hard. In the beginning, I would just watch the segments that Triple H and my other friends were in.

RAW. In recent months, Triple H has received some criticism in the dirt sheets and on the internet. What are your thoughts about that?

Nash: I don't understand what the criticism is. Is it that he works too hard? That he's the best guy we have? That he's a professional? When I watch the show, he shines week in and week out. I think the thing about this business is that once you get in it, and start to get popular, the internet fans get behind you and ask when are you going to get your chance. All of a sudden, you get a big push and become a megastar, and with that comes power. Anybody who can kind of call their own shots and has some power, the "smart" fans hate. Now you've become a Superstar and eclipsed what they thought you could be, and you become the Antichrist to them. How is that possible? All Triple H is, is the best guy we have. He can have a good match with anybody. I think another thing is that he is so good at his character that people think that that's really him. In reality, he's one of the nicest human beings that anyone will ever meet. But because some people get so involved in his character, they think that's how he really is, and they grow to dislike him based on that alone.

RAW. Another guy who received some criticism in the past few months was Stone Cold Steve Austin. When he left WWE a lot of people bashed him, but you weren't one of them. How did you feel about that whole situation?

Nash: To me, the guys bashing him never had to carry the load. You've got a locker room full of guys saying, "I can't believe he left," and it's the same guys who are saying that the guys on top have been holding them down. When we were out, I didn't see anyone grab the ball and run and score a touchdown. I didn't see anyone pick up that slack. Guys in the top spot continue to stay there for a reason. It's not that the other guys aren't talented. There's not a guy on the roster that's not incredibly talented, but there are a lot of things that go into being on the top rung. There's a reason why 'Taker is where he is-the guy is believable. He is a bad ass. Believability is a huge factor. If you're a small guy, people have a hard time believing that you can beat one of the bigger guys. There's a pecking order in life, there's a pecking order in society, and there's a pecking order in our business. That's just the way it is.

RAW. Is there a generation gap between some o f the newer guys and some o f the people like yourself, Undertaker, Austin and others who have been around a long time and been through a lot?

Nash: I think the biggest thing is that the guys you just mentioned were in the business when we worked 17 days on and 13 days off. The business was different. Those guys were your family because you spent way more time with the boys than with anyone else. And, the business was down; so in order to make money you had to run it like that because the profit margin was so much lower than it is now.nnI walked into WWE when Hogan was walking out the door, and we had to build all new stars. I remember 'Taker breaking ribs and putting a flak jacket on and not missing a shot, flying all day to Israel. He and I sleeping side-by-side on a tiny locker-room bench. This was back when he was the Deadman and he couldn't let his character show pain. He was working with Yokozuna and Yoko's giving him a Samoan Slam, and 'Taker couldn't let it hurt him. I don't even know how he could sit up with a couple of broken ribs and a flak vest. Everybody worked hurt. Everybody worked every night. It was just different because we were trying to dig the business out. A lot of the guys here now broke into packed houses. I remember when I first came back and a lot of the guys would say, "We've got a horrible house," and I'd be like, "It looks pretty good to me." I've wrestled in Philadelphia in front of 1200 people. Now that's a horrible house.

RAW: Is there any difference in the locker room now than when you first came back with Scott Hall and Hollywood Hulk Hogan in 2002?

Nash: I think I'm part of the team now. Before, I was an outsider. I think the guys want to see me come back. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt out there.

RAW. Is it more comfortable,for you?

Nash: I was fine in Los Angeles, when I first came back in 2002. If people don't like me, then they don't know me, because that's the only reason you won't like me. I'm a pretty likable human being. I don't have any malice towards anyone. I remember when I came back last year and Austin had heard through the newsletters and other people that I was an a******. He thought that I had changed since we were riding around together. Then we had a pretty long night in Rockford, Illinois, where we had to work until like three in the morning. He said "Man, you're the same guy I went up and down the road with." I said, "What did you expect?" He said, "Well, you hear stuff in this business, and you're not around here. I thought you were a f'n a******. " I said, "No, I'm still me." I don't think anyone really changes too much. I've seen a couple of guys get big heads, but that's about it.

RAW. What are some of the biggest differences between WWE now and when you were WWE Champion in 1994-95?

Nash: To me, it's how big WWE is. Globally, we're so much bigger. The business was down when I first came here, and it's a bit down from its high a few years ago. But the business being down now is still so much higher than when I was Diesel.

RAW. When you went to WCW, you and Hall really changed the business by bringing the anti-hero to the forefront. Did you guys consciously plan to change that dynamic or were you just being yourselves and it caught on?

Nash: The one thing is that the Kliq used to sit in our car and talk about our direction. There are two things that sell: sex and violence. Any time our business gets real hot and does huge numbers, the microscope gets back on it, and it usually gets toned down. Back then, we knew we had a small moment to be ultra-violent. They asked us what we wanted to do, and we said that we just wanted to be thugs. We only had two guys. Eric Bischoff told me that he didn't see much difference between WCW and WWE, and I told him, "Two of the top WWE guys have come into your organization and said they are taking over, and the people believe that the two of us could do it." If Sting and Lex Luger would come to WWE, the people would think they were going to get eaten alive. Because we were New York guys, people thought that we could come down and kill the guys in WCW. I've always equated the WCW push when we were hot with the New York Mets. WWE was always the Yankees; WCW was the Mets. Then like anything else, egos jumped in and people didn't want to do business. It was a good situation because I think what happened was that we pushed WWE and Vince McMahon. And when you put any fight in him, he's going to come out ahead.

RAW. Did you and Hall have a feeling that you were embarking on something different?

Nash: I thought so. Even when I was here as Diesel and talking to Vince near the end of my first run here, I could see things changing. We both saw the movie Heat, and I mentioned that I wanted to change the Diesel character. Babyfaces had always been like when Luger was here - the red, white and blue clean-cut guys. I felt that the anti-hero was where society was going. I remember talking to Vince and asking him about who he rooted for in the movie Heat. Did you want [Robert] DeNiro or [Al] Pacino?" I asked. And he said, "DeNiro." And I said, "He was the heel." And he said, "Yeah, you're right. He was the heel." But he was cool, and he was sort of babyface because the story made him babyface. Vince kind of let me go with that and let me cut a promo saying that my year with the title was the worst year of my life and so on, and I dragged the belts and kind of changed the way it was done. We just kind of took that and ratcheted it up with the Outsiders. We made it a bit more violent.

RAW: What went through your mind when Eric Bischoff showed up here?

Nash: I didn't know he was coming. Hogan and I had pitched him coming in when we first arrived to try and get more of a poison coming in. We were told "maybe later." When he showed up, though, it was a surprise. The biggest surprise to me was when I walked into Nassau Coliseum for SummerSlam and saw Eric and Vince talking to each other. It's weird. Eric's talent now, but he was my boss for six years.

RAW. There's been a bit of controversy lately about Tough Enough. Does it harm the business? Does it expose too much? How do you feel about the show?

Nash: To me, it's a situation where the concept is good. Reality shows sell, and we're a business. I'm sure it brings revenue to the company, so from a business standpoint it's a good thing, a plus. As far as exposing the business, they teach the contestants how to do the mechanics of wrestling, and the show demonstrates that it's not that easy to do what we do.

RAW. So you think that it might actually make people admire what you do more?

Nash: I just think that people need to realize that you can win and get the contract, but that doesn't mean you'll really make it full-time in WWE. There have been so many people in and out of the locker room in the 15 years I've been around. It's one thing to get your foot in the door, it's another to actually contribute. Maven seems to be very level-headed. He's a nice guy; he's improved. I think the same of Christopher Nowinski, and they've both got a chance. I don't hold any animosity towards these people because they haven't so-called "paid their dues." My position is, "Go ahead, take my spot. I'm not going to give it to you. If you're better than I am, take my spot" Everybody signs his own contract, everybody makes his own deal. I don't have enough real estate in my brain to worry about that. It's not going to make or break my day. I'm going to make or break my day. Get in my way, and if I get the chance, I'm going to eat you. That's the way I am. If you can take it away from me, great. But I haven't seen many yet who can.

RAW. Have you ever given any thought to writing a book?

Nash: The thing is, I wouldn't want to write a book unless I could tell it like it really was and is. I've got a six-year-old son, and I've got more skeletons in my closet than Arlington Cemetery has. I don't want to open that up. If he wants to ask me questions when he's 16 or 17, and I can look at him and say, "Yeah, there are a couple of things I did that I shouldn't have. I've made a lot of mistakes in life and done a lot of things I shouldn't have." But since this injury happened, I've been' able to look back and say maybe this is God's way of saying, "Clean up your life and make better decisions." I've tried to limit my consumption of alcohol, and I've tried to clean up my life. The injury was fortunate in a way because I was able to spend a lot of time with my son. I've been fortunate that although I'm separated from my wife, I've always been able to spend time with him. With the injury, I was able to spend a lot more.

RAW. When you come back and wrestle, does it make any difference that he'll be able to watch now?

Nash: Yes, it does. I think that I'll take him on the road this summer and let him know what his dad does. When he's with me, he sees all these people come up to me and he sort of knows why, but not really. He asks why people come up to us all the time when we're out. Why do we get to go inside the clubhouse when we go to ballgames? I don't think he really understands that. Once he sees that people come to our shows and scream and have a good time, and that's why we have the things that we have and are able to live like we do, he'll be better for it. He needs to understand where this all came from and why I'm so protective of him. Plus, when I was a kid I used to love going to work with my dad. I'm looking forward to it. Who knows? Maybe he'll get the bug and want to lace up his boots some day.

RAW. You've been called just about everything - good and bad - over your career. How would you describe yourself?

Nash: Let me put it to you this way: If I go to your house for dinner, take two bites, and it tastes like old underwear, I'm not going to finish it.

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