WWE Magazine (8/02)
Basking in the Heat
by Mike Fazioli

Credit for this article goes to http://www.clique4life.com

X-Pac hears your chants, and he knows what's really behind them...

They're the people you love to hate: professional irritants, athletes who get under your skin simply because they know how. If they're you're opponent, then can take you out of your game with a mere word or gesture. And even if you're the most mild-mannered fan, you see them in action and find an almost visceral spew of venom and rage rising from your body and leaving in the form of denigrating or vulgar chants.

The NBA had Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer, former teammates for the Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" teams. The NFL had Deion Sanders and Bill Romanowski. In baseball nobody elicited more hatred than the late manager Billy Martin. And in World Wrestling Entertainment, this dubious honor undoubtedly belongs to X-Pac. But before you break into the time-worn "X-Pac Sucks" chants, take into account the one other thing these men have in common : They're all winners. Champions. Catalysts for some of the greatest teams of all time. Men, who in their heyday were at the very top of their profession.

Nothing creates more animosity than jealousy, and nothing creates more jealousy than greatness. So before starting to chant "X-Pac Sucks", you must accept the reason why you are getting on X-Pac's case in the first place: the man is a winner. He is undeniably great, and has been so for many years, despite being barely past 30 years old. He has been a member of two of the greatest factions in sports-entertainment history - the New World Order (nWo) and D-Generation X (DX) - and has played a major role in the staggering success of both groups.

It's an impressive resume, a fact which X-Pac is well aware of. He is not shy about his talents, nor should he be. He hears the chants, but they only feed into his anger and make him even greater. And without exception, X-Pac calls it like he sees it. WWE Magazine sat down with him recently, and he was characteristically blunt in his conversation. So if you're still compelled to tell X-Pac he sucks, go ahead. Just know that you couldn't be more wrong.

"I pride myself in my work," X-Pac says. "You can ask anyone I've teamed with or wrestled against, and they'll tell you I don't suck. My peers' opinions are what count to me, not a few thousand people who don't know their a$$ from a hole in the ground. But it's their opinion, and I guess I should respect that. But uneducated opinions don't mean anything to me."

Winning means everything to X-Pac, who definitely falls in line with the thinking espoused by the legendary Vince Lombardi : "Winning isn't everything-it's the only thing." If that observation is true, than X-Pac is doing just fine indeed. As the 1-2-3 Kid and later X-Pac in the WWE and Syxx in WCW, he has won 10 championships-and counting.

He is also proof of another classic sports quote, this one from baseball legend Leo Durocher : "Nice guys finish last." X-Pac decided early on that he wasn't in the business to be everybody's buddy, play up to the crowds or to be loved. Given the choice between the adulation of fans and self-appointed internet critics or a championship belt around his waist, the title wins every time.

That's not to say that X-Pac isn't a good person, however. With family, friends, and confidants, he is polite and gracious. But the ring is X-Pac's office, and between the ropes, he's all business. To get the business done right, you need an edge. Inside the ropes, the pleasantries must end and the run for championships begin.

"Everybody's got a good side and a dark side," he explains. "I choose to let my dark side hang out when I walk through the curtain, so I don't have to show it when I'm sitting here talking to you, at home with my family, or out in public."

X-Pac's ability to separate his everyday life from what he needs to do in order to be successful at his craft is obvious. But many of the fans who fill arenas with jeers and derisive chants are failing to differentiate between X-Pac's often-abrasive in-ring conduct and his tremendous talent. They chant "X-Pac Sucks"-or worse-because their personal dislike for him clouds their judgment of his abilities.

He's certainly not alone in receiving this kind of treatment, but that doesn't make it any more tolerable. "Some people really seem to believe I suck when they say that. Whatever," X-Pac says. "The people who wrestle against me know differently. They used to chant "Rocky Sucks." The tell Kurt Angle he sucks all the time."

"People say, "It's not personal, it's business," he adds. "Well business is personal to me. I take things personally. Things hurt my feelings."

But in the great tradition of the Rodmans and the Deions, X-Pac doesn't retreat into a shell to hide from the jeers. He doesn't b!tch, cry or moan, "Why me? Why don't they like me?" Instead, he takes the insults and internalizes them, making that dark side he reveals in the ring even darker. The chants and nasty catcalls stroke his inner fire, making it burn even stronger, elevating his game in the ring even higher. Often such action will make him raise the stakes, causing him to willfully commit acts that will further inflame and enrage fans.

It takes enormous intestinal fortitude to walk to the ring wearing the mask of a beaten Kane-a Superstar long beloved by fans and whose brutal beatdown and humiliating unmasking by X-Pac and his nWo cohorts disguised as fans. The wrath of the fans is one thing, but when it comes to taunting the massive Kane-never mind grapefruits, that takes watermelon-sized cojones. When Kane returns, angrily seeking out the man who beat him and stole his mask, he won't have to look far. X-Pac has never been one to back down from a brawl.

Whether it's Kane or any other Superstar hunting for X-Pac's head, one thing is certain : arenas will be packed with fans screaming for X-Pac's destruction. They will demand it. And as always, they will overlook his talent and accomplishments, while chanting that he sucks. X-Pac won't enjoy it, but more importantly, he won't let it interfere with the matter at hand. He'll revel in the hatred and then, odds are, he'll go out and win.

"I let that dark side all hang out, and then I get a big reaction," he says. "I'd rather have that, though, than silence. I'd rather be hated than ignored."

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